To celebrate its 125th anniversary, St. Martin’s by-the-Lake Episcopal Church in Minnetonka is re-enacting the first wedding the congregation held in 1888.
The charming, cottage-like, brown clapboard church sits near the banks of Lake Minnetonka and has long been a popular spot for weddings — some 700 have been held at the church since its founding.
On Sunday, the church will relive its inaugural and most notable wedding — that of Lucy May Camp to Henry E. Von Wedelstaedt.
Camp’s father, Major John Camp, was a Civil War veteran who was in the lumber business and lived near the lake. He commissioned famed architect Cass Gilbert (who designed the Minnesota State Capitol, U.S. Supreme Court and Brooklyn Bridge, among other notable structures) to build it.
Camp had it built for two reasons, said the Rev. Dave Langille, the church’s current rector. “One, his daughter was getting married. But also in commemoration of his three other daughters, who died as children. It was called the Camp Memorial Chapel originally.”
Very little about the Victorian-era church, which seats close to 150 people, has changed since it was built. Langille notes the sanctuary is still intact and “the inside of the church, it’s entirely unfinished. It’s still the Georgia pine Major Camp shipped up here for it.”
As part of the wedding re-enactment, the bride will be portrayed by the great-great-granddaughter of the original flower girl. And the flower girl will be portrayed by the great-great-great-granddaughter of the original flower girl. Wedding participants will be in period costume, and there will be liturgy and music from the era.
The wedding is being performed by Bishop Brian Prior, the bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. Married couples are also invited to renew their vows. A Victorian-themed tea will follow. “It’s important to focus on the history for one moment and celebrate that,” Langille said. “It’s a pretty neat history.”