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Jenna and Corey’s Wedding – October 11, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Jenna and Corey’s connections go way back to the early 1990’s when they both went to Mankato State University. They knew some of the same people and hang out at the same places, however, their paths never crossed.

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They did finally meet in 2001 when they were employed by the same company. That holiday season, Jenna picked Corey’s name out of a hat and became his “Secret Santa” for a week. They would rarely talk as they worked in different departments. Also, Jenna had three small children and Corey was single, living a bachelor lifestyle and they had no common ground at the time.

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Fast forward to 2011.  Jenna had not heard, or seen anything of Corey for about 8 years. In August of 2011 Jenna took a different position in Northfield Lines, Inc. which she had been employed with for 13 years and Corey was the trainer for her new position. That day they talked, laughed and finally put two and two together with all the “connections” they had. Jenna said, “This is so cliché, but it really DID feel like we had known each other forever”.

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They continued to work together and became good friends, then best friends and then one day, they fell head over heels in love with each other! They became engaged November 1, 2013 when Corey surprised Jenna by proposing at a very special place for him in his hometown of Apple Valley. He had arranged for dinner that evening and had packed a bag for her. At the restaurant her three children were waiting at the table to surprise her! They were all in on it! SHE SAID YES!

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Their wedding weekend had finally arrived and they had the wedding of their dreams with very special family and friends there to share the experience! Jenna and Corey enjoyed a fabulous rehearsal dinner hosted by the groom’s mom Mary Jane and the bride’s parents Jeff and Sandy Landon in the Retreat House. The dinner was provided by Catering by Valeri Ann.  The guests enjoyed a “home cooked” meal complete with Valeri’s famous homemade pies. Many lucky guests had the best seats in the house in the porch which overlooks the whole country estate.

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On Saturday, the guests arrived soon after 5:00 and greeted one another in the fireside room with Maucieri’s bar open. Many of the guests arrived in style in a Northfield Lines, Inc. coach. The 6:00 ceremony was held in the garden.  Corey did not see his beautiful bride until she walked down the aisle with the glow of the sunset at her back. The groom had tears in his eyes as Jenna walked into his “forever” and they said their I DO’s. Her three children were by her side. It was a brisk evening with a clear blue sky that quickly turned to a beautiful fall orange glow as the sun set on the happy newlyweds.

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After the ceremony the Event Center was inviting with a roaring fire and Beth from Maucieri’s Catering waiting with Antipasto. The dining room was decorated with a rustic vintage bling and lots of candles with olive organza and burlap and a beautiful mix of white flowers. The head table was set for 24 in a Regal setting in the middle of the dining room which allowed family and friends to surround the couple and celebrate with toasts of well wishes.

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The celebration was very kid friendly with a children’s meal with their favorite chicken strips along with fruit and veggies.  The kid tables were covered with white and brown paper to allow the kids to customize the décor themselves with colors. The bonus room was also designated as a “Kid’s room.”

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Maucieri’s Catering served a buffet dinner starting with the bride and groom. They enjoyed a Caesar Salad, fresh bread, Sicilian Green Beans, Roasted Garlic Baby Reds, Chicken Light Italian pasta and slow roasted beef with Brandy peppercorn Sauce or Red Wine Mushroom Sauce. Cake was later served to the guests. Beth also served Maucieri’s fresh baked pizzas from Pine Peaks’ very own Mugnaini Wood Fired Oven during the dance.

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We, at Pine Peaks, would like to wish Jenna and Corey the best of luck and love in your lives as husband and wife. May your future be filled with many more “Regal” celebrations with family and friends. We were honored to host your wedding celebration.

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See the rest of their Facebook Wedding Photo Album here.

- Dave and Julie Peterson

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Meet Wood Carver – Ben Semler

Posted on by davepeterson

Ben Semler is a well experienced and talented wood carver. After watching his dad carve beautiful sculptures as a hobby, Ben decided to try it out a few months later. The two eventually kept with it and started selling their hand carved products full time. His dad has played a huge role in his inspiration to start carving wood sculptures.


When Ben started carving, he made many different things. The first major project he ever attempted was a bear; which ended up looking like a pig. After hours of trial and error, he finally carved a bear to his liking.


Ben likes to get to work by 8:00 AM and sets up his work space in the parking lot of his stores. Having six successful stores, a day off is not an option for Ben! He carves everything by himself in parking lots so people can watch him work. He enjoys them coming up to him inquiring about his work as well as seeing the fascinated expressions on their faces. If it rains, Ben still works outside. He has invested in an easy-up tent for the cold and rainy Minnesota days.



After an order is complete, Ben’s mother will custom paint it, if requested. She works alongside him while his father works at a separate shop.


The most popular piece of art that Ben carves are 3 foot bears. He can get one done in two to three hours! Bears and sitting eagles are about 85% of his work. The most requested bear sculptures are ones that have a “Welcome” sign or “Go Away” sign carved on them. Ben enjoys carving eagles. Once the eyes are carved out, the expressions of them come to life. He exclaimed to us that he can, “Turn a log into things that look pretty cool.”


When driving past Ben’s store in Brainerd one day, we noticed an eagle with babies and got very interested in his work. We wanted a cool piece that represented Pine Peaks’. Ben met us at the resort and we now have his work on display for all to see.



Ben’s relationship with Pine Peaks has helped is wood carving profession a great amount. At weddings, the guests love his work! We refer Ben to any guest that is interested in his amazing carvings. He has sold stuff out of state and is looking forward to what his future holds.



We, at Pine Peaks, want to thank Ben for the beautiful carvings he has created for us and look forward to having him as a preferred vendor.

- Dave and Julie Peterson

Related Images:

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Erin and Keith’s Wedding – September 13, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Erin’s closest friend, Dani, and Keith’s closest friend, Joe, happened to be brother and sister which led them to be introduced to one another at Joe’s high school graduation party in 2007. Keith thought she was pretty and Erin was intrigued by his shyness.

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Erin decided to steal Keith’s number from her sister’s phone and made the first move. She sent him a text to which he was pleasantly surprised and asked her to a movie, “Chuck and Larry”. After the date, Erin thought he would kiss her. He didn’t. Several dates later he still hadn’t kissed her so she kissed him! They became an exclusive couple shortly after.

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Erin was attending college in Duluth and Keith was working in Princeton, so they struggled through the first 5 years of their relationship long distance. As graduation from Pharmacy school approached, Keith decided to seal the deal! He proposed February 11, 2012 using a candy box while Erin was mid nap and they were alone at her parent’s house. She was completely surprised and he had picked out the perfect ring! After the initial shock wore off, SHE FINALLY SAID YES!

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Keith and Erin bought a house in Princeton, MN in January 2013 where they live with their puggle, Penny. Erin works as a pharmacist and Keith works in production at a distillery in Princeton. After 7 years of dates, first times, good times and hard times and when the timing was right, they decided to tie the knot.

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The couple toured many wedding venues before deciding on Pine Peaks for their wedding weekend getaway. They wanted an up North, weekend-long affair where they could spend quality time with their family and friends surrounding the event. Many venues in the Brainerd area offered this destination type experience but were lacking something so important-privacy!! They did not want to share their wedding with another couple, or a connected bar/restaurant or strangers on a golf course. They wanted privacy which is exactly what they had at Pine Peaks.

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The rehearsal dinner was held Friday night, barbecue style, with Erin’s dad grilling his famous pork chops! They were able to comfortably host the rehearsal for 40+ people inside the Retreat House and it was a blast! They had the entire wedding party and their significant others stay with them in the Retreat House which gave everyone a chance to get to know each other.

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The décor in the dining room was romantic with Kate from Bloom Designs doing the decorating. The Bride just loved the bouquets Kate put together and said, “These are just perfect with all my favorite colors.” The pink flowers popped against their colors of navy and grey.  Erin made the fireside room her own using many of Julie’s decorations.

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Saturday was chilly, but the wedding was BEAUTIFUL! The bride was walked down the aisle with her father to an awaiting groom. They said “I DO!” and the party began! The kids had their own gift bags waiting for them at the guest book. What a cool way to make them feel special! All of the guests enjoyed the popcorn bar!

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Maucieri’s Catering worked their magic with Kate leading the show. The dinner was amazing, once again Chef Brian out did himself. The guests were served a plated Caesar salad first, than a buffet of green beans almandine, maple leaf chicken and slow roasted beef with brandy peppercorn sauce with Tony Maucieri Sr. at the carving station. Great job again, Maucieri’s!

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Cake and cupcakes were made by Kakes by Kelsi. Amazing! The guests danced the night away until Kate from Maucieri’s baked her homemade pizzas in Pine Peaks own Mugnaini Wood Fired Oven.

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The night and day were AMAZING and exactly what they had hoped for according to the newly married couple. They enjoyed a Honeymoon in Jamaica and returned to Minnesota for the “Happy Ever After!”

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We, at Pine Peaks, were honored to host this lovely, romantic wedding! We wish Erin and Keith luck and love for an eternity. Be HAPPY!

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View Erin and Keith’s Facebook Wedding Album here.

- Dave and Julie Peterson

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Natalie and Cody’s Wedding – October 4, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Natalie and Cody met during Geometry class in ninth grade. At the time, they were both dating other people, but developed a casual friendship over the years in high school. It wasn’t until their senior year when Cody and Natalie became really close. She had just broken up with a serious boyfriend over the summer and he was struggling in his serious relationship with his girlfriend. For whatever reason, they spent hours during a group get-together talking about these broken relationships. They continued this honest conversation over the phone and then in person until they found every reason to be together.

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Natalie and Cody planned to end their relationship when they left for college since he was going to Houghton, MI and she would stay in the Twin Cities. It wasn’t easy, but they maintained a long distance relationship. In total, they spent 2 ½ years seeing each other from weekend to weekend. Looking back at their relationship they have no doubt it was God’s will and strength that got them to where they are now. They are so excited to finally be together!

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The weekend had finally arrived! They were getting married at Pine Peaks Event Center!  Friday morning was chilly and the first dusting of snow was there to tease us all. The final touches were made using the decorations provided by Pine Peaks and the many brides before that “paid it forward” and left decorations for others to use. Their theme was romantic and rustic; the bride had a great sense of style putting it all together.

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Friday night, the rehearsal and Groom’s Dinner were held with family and friends coming together for fellowship and to share stories of the couple. The night was amazing finishing with a sauna in the back yard.

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Saturday arrived and it was time to say “I DO”! Cody did not see his beautiful bride until 3:00 as she was walked down the aisle escorted by her father for the beautiful garden wedding. He was in all WHITE and full of emotion as she walked toward him. During the lighting of the Unity Candle, Natalie’s father sang a beautiful song to the couple. There were no dry eyes in the crowd. They said their vows and were announced husband and wife!

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The guests were warmed by the roaring fire in the fireside room after the ceremony where Wes from Maucieri’s was waiting to start the celebration.  Bruschetta and cream puffs with olive cream cheese were served by Kate of Maucieri’s Catering as appetizers. The Grand March with Deandre of Premier Entertainment announcing the wedding party got the party started!

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Dave announced the menu and Maucieri’s Catering started dinner with a plated strawberry spinach salad. Then Chef Brian wowed the guests with fresh bread, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Almandine, Maple Leaf Chicken and Filet Mignon buffet. Fabulous!

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The guests were treated to cupcakes made by Reed’s of Crosslake and then they danced the night away with Deandre of Premier Entertainment leading the show. Later in the evening Kate of Maucieri’s Catering made fresh baked pizzas in Pine Peaks’ own Mugnaini Wood Fired Oven.

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We, at Pine Peaks, wish these high school sweethearts the best of luck and love in their journey as husband and wife. Be Happy and enjoy the ride!

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View the rest of the couple’s Wedding Photo Album here.

- Dave and Julie Peterson




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Ashley and Jason’s Wedding – September 27, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Ashley is a Dental Hygienist/Dental Assistant and Jason is a Carpenter and they now live in Park Rapids, MN. They met in Jason’s home town of Breckenridge while Ashley was attending college.

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In April of 2012 they bought a house that was built in 1907. In December of 2011, the 104 year old house had an electrical fire that was contained to the attic and was destined to either be burned for firemen training or demolished and sold as a building lot. They purchased the house with big dreams of restoration in mind. Together, they have been making those dreams a reality!

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Ashley and Jason were engaged in December of 2012. They chose Pine Peaks as their destination wedding retreat knowing they could customize it and make it their own. Ashley has an amazing sense of color and style for decorating and Jason can build and make anything happen. Jason built the beautiful arbor on site that the couple said “I DO” under as well as the custom chalk board they used for a program.

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The backdrop to the head table was multiple doors that the couple had removed from their home and restored. The two parlor doors on the ends are from Julie’s homestead. This made a dramatic vintage background for the bridal party.

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The bride used many of Pine Peak’s decorations; however came with a trailer load of her own to set the stage for their very own vintage wedding. The cut and dried hydrangeas and ball jars Ashley had painted made beautiful centerpieces in the dining room. They also customized the fireside room with photos, doors and other personalized the décor.

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Saturday arrived and the whole bridal party got ready in the Retreat House. Ashley and Jason had their first look under Pine Peak’s oldest tree. Jason was so excited that he didn’t wait for Ashley to reach him and touch his shoulder. He just turned around to see his beautiful bride!

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The September day was perfect with 80 degrees, a light wind and a blue sky with a scatter of puffy white clouds. The yellows and reds of Fall had arrived which made a magnificent backdrop for the event.

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The couple wanted a variety of backdrops for their photos so they made use of Pine Peaks’ beautiful property and then took their photographers around Crosslake. One of the nearby locations included Dave and Julie’s lake home where they took amazing pictures at the gate as well as by the lake. Stunning intimate photos with just the bride and groom were taken while the wedding party remained at the Event Center and greeted the guests during the Social Hour. By the lake, Ashley’s dress became muddy when the photographer had her spin while dancing! Julie had the pleasure of scrubbing her gorgeous satin gown right in her lake home!

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The 2:00 outdoor garden wedding was perfect! The many styles of mint green dresses the bridesmaids wore along with their cowboy boots were fabulous. The Groom and groomsmen were all “GQ” in their jeans and vest. A very classy, casual look. Ashley was escorted down the aisle by her father to her happy groom. Brian Keske, a family friend played guitar under the evergreens for the service. The couple said “I DO”! and then together sealed a Memory Box that Jason had made which was filled with love letters to each other as well as advice from others to be read at their first anniversary. They were introduced as husband and wife and the “Happily Ever After” began!

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The reception started with Hor D’oeuvres for the guests served by Kate of Maucieri’s Catering. They enjoyed Rumaki, BBQ meatballs and Antipasto. During the dinner, instead of the traditional clinking of glasses to have the newlyweds kiss, it sounded like percussion as the guests shook Tic Tacs!! (Nice touch Ashley!) The fabulous cake and cupcakes were made by Ashley’s cousin. They used Pine Peaks’ prep kitchen to put it all together and then staged it in a gorgeous cabinet that they later gave to the couple to use in their new house.

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Chef Brian of Maucieri’s Catering was amazing with his Atlantic Salmon and Maple Leaf Chicken. The guests also enjoyed a Caesar Salad, Green Beans with Almonds on the side and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. The guests are still talking about this wonderful feast! Later in the fireside room Kate made homemade pizzas in Pine Peaks very own Mugnaini Wood Fired oven.

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As the sun was setting on Pine Peaks, the photographer used a drone to video the couple in the garden where they had earlier said there vows. What a great way to capture the moment. The love between the couple is evident in the photos seen here that Julie was fortunate enough to take.

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The couple has a beautiful one year old Golden Doodle named Jaxon who was on site to congratulate Ashley and Jason. He did great with photos! They also have a 6 year old Quarter horse named Tanner who did not make the trip. The paint mare that was in the photo hanging above the fireplace was Ashley’s first horse no longer with the couple.

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We, at Pine Peaks, were honored to host Ashley and Jason’s wedding weekend EXTRAVAGANZA! We wish you luck and love in your future together as you continue to build your home and lives as husband and wife. May Ashley’s keen sense of design and color always inspire the builder in Jason…and they lived happily ever after.

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View the rest of Ashley & Jason’s wedding photo album on Facebook.

- Dave and Julie Peterson

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Erica and Cory’s $40,000 Wedding – June 28, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Erica and Cory had the wedding of their dreams at Pine Peaks’ Retreat and Event Center on June 28, 2014!  Check out their amazing love story which is featured on our web site as Erica and Cory’s True Love Story.

They were the lucky winners of Pine Peaks’ $40,000 wedding giveaway!  With the generous help of numerous local vendors and the meticulous planning of the bride, the wedding weekend on was a SUCCESS!

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Cory is originally from Corcoran, MN and Erica is from Fargo, ND. They were able to plan a true destination wedding while being stationed in the military many states away from Pine Peaks.  The vendors were all available and eager to help the couple throw the romantic elegant affair they had always dreamed of.

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Pine Peaks Retreat and Event Center was pleased to host the wedding of this wonderful couple. Family and friends arrived early with the couple to create a fabulous romantic décor unique to Pine Peaks.  Erica’s dad, Gary, made a custom wooden beam which was hung above the head table, and Kate, from Bloom Designs, hung a variety of candles and flowers which framed the head table with elegance and bling. Kate also decorated the tables with grand fresh flower arrangements and candles with a romantic mix of textures and colors combining elegance and class. The Bride’s bouquet was filled with vintage jewels which added bling to the fragrant floral mix.

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J.F Kruse Jewelers of St Cloud provided custom made jewelry for the bridesmaids and custom made flasks for the groomsmen. They also made stunning jewelry for the bride, Erica.  How fun to go jewelry shopping! We can never get enough bling! J.F Kruse Jewelers has new location in St Cloud is that is amazing!

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The bride’s dad also made a grand wooden arbor to surround the couple during their I DOs. The arbor was as finely finished as custom cabinetry. (They were generous enough to leave it for other brides and grooms to use!) Kate also provided fresh flower arrangements to enhance the arbor. A romantic flair was added with white draping to complete the romantic, elegant feel surrounded by Pine Peaks’ garden. The setting was perfect.


The Groom’s Dinner and rehearsal was held on Friday night. Kate of Maucieri’s Catering threw a fabulous celebration in the Pavilion. Chef Brian grilled steaks perfectly from Grand Champion Meats of Crosslake, MN. They were fabulous next to the corn on the cob, roasted garlic baby reds and prosciutto wrapped shrimp with baby asparagus.

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Saturday began with the team from Captivating-Beauty giving the royal treatment to the bride and all of her bridesmaids. They did hair and makeup right in the salon of the Retreat House. The women looked like they were ready for Hollywood! The groom and groomsmen were not left out as they were provided tuxes from Arlene’s Bridal and Tuxedo Shop. Each of the groomsmen chose their own shoes to make sure they were comfortable. Likewise, Erica had each bridesmaid choose their own dress and shoes to allow them to wear something they liked and to allow them to actually wear them again. This made for an interesting mix of designs and textures tied together with Kate’s amazing bouquets.

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Kelli of Kelli Engstrom Photography was there to capture the day. She has done numerous weddings at Pine Peaks and knows the property is a “photographers’ dream”. Kelli captured the essence of the day with candids as well as group photos around the whole property. See her amazing work at    Michael Girling, videographer of VidStar Productions also captured the whole day. Thanks to Kelli and Michael, Erica and Cory’s wedding memories will be recorded forever.

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If a sprinkle is an indication of good fortune, the couple will be RICH with a very blessed life! The ceremony was brief as it was shortened by a short but heavy rain shower.  Jim Olsen, an instrumental guitarist, started the ceremony with music for the processional. The Officiant, Lisa Cassman was able to ask the important question and get a quick answer. The ceremony was cut short, but contained the I DOs needed to seal the deal!


The reception was a GRAND affair and the guests were treated like royalty. A champagne toast was given in honor of the nuptials.  Good wishes and blessings were given to Erica and Cory by all of the guests. Kate of Maucieri’s Catering, along with her talented group, served butler passed appetizers.  To satisfy the guests’ sweet tooth, Party World provided a punch fountain as well as a chocolate fountain. Ole and Lena’s Sweet Revenge provided truffles which the guests could customize.


Clyde, owner of Safe Ride Shuttle Service, escorted the bridal party around town to help celebrate after the ceremony. Clyde also shuttled family and guests to and from Pine Peaks Lodge and Suites of Crosslake who provided rooms to the lucky couple to share with some of their guests. Many of the wedding guests enjoyed the up north décor of the beautiful Pine Peaks Lodge and Suites in downtown Crosslake for the weekend and also enjoyed their pool and even a complimentary breakfast!

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Maucieri’s Catering plated a feast for the guests. Chef Brian out-did himself with fresh bread, a house salad, chicken parmesan topped with provolone cheese and gravy served over fettuccine, cheese tortellini with pesto cream sauce and Sicilian green beans. Amazing! As a Pine Peaks’ tradition, Kate later in the evening also baked fresh made pizzas in the wood fired oven.

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Doug Taylor of Action Entertainment and his team of gallant Percherons took the Bride and Groom on a sunset horse-drawn carriage ride around the 80 acre estate. Some of the lucky kids at the event were also given a ride around the farm. The couple appeared to be right out of a movie as they pulled up to the Event Center greeted by cheering guests.

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JP and Deandre of DJ Entertainment played all of the couples’ favorite tunes and the guests danced the night away. A very playful bride and groom enjoyed every minute of their dream wedding weekend! So many lifetime memories were made.

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We at Pine Peaks, along with all of the vendors, would like to thank Erica and Cory for their military service. It is people like you who help to ensure that we have the freedom to enjoy our lives as we know it.  We wish safe travels on your honeymoon provided by Bursch Travel and we also wish Erica and Cory the best of love and good fortune in their lives as husband and wife! Congrats!


-  Dave and Julie Peterson


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Meet Photographer Kelli Engstrom

Posted on by davepeterson

Kelli Engstrom might have grown up in suburban Ham Lake, but throughout her childhood, her family vacationed in Crosslake, MN – home of Pine Peaks. Her favorite thing about Crosslake is the area’s beauty and capturing it with her camera.


Today, she’s Pine Peaks Retreat & Event Center’s preferred photographer,

Looking back, Kelli says she was always the one in her family taking photos and documenting memories. To hone her skills, she continued to practice and educate herself on the art of photography and sought artistic mentors. She’s never viewed photography as just “pointing and shooting;” for Kelli, photography is a form of storytelling, and that’s exactly what she tries to do with every project.


When she was 18, she decided to move to Crosslake and enrolled in Central Lakes Colleges Business program. A year later, Kelli got her first “real” photography gig, shooting a wedding. She didn’t know the couple – they hired her based on a referral. From that point on, Kelli had a grip on what it takes to be a professional photographer.

With Kelli’s strong ability to find the story using imagery, it was only natural that, in 1996, she would take her passion for photography and combine it with her business degree to start her own photography business, Kelli Engstrom Photography.


Fast forward to 2011 – Kelli attended a small wedding networking event in Brainerd, MN, where she met Dave Peterson, owner of Pine Peaks Retreat & Event Center. They instantly clicked and discovered that they had many mutual friends – everyone knows everyone in the Brainerd Lakes Area! They became a referral source for one another and have watched each other’s businesses’ grow!

When Kelli isn’t busy capturing memories at Pine Peaks Retreat & Event Center, you can find her snapping photos of family reunions, families, children, seniors and youth athletes. Her favorite photos to take are family portraits because of the variety in the shoots. She also enjoys wedding photography for the same reason; every couple is different and she loves capturing memories from their unique days.

Caitlin and Cody's Wedding at Pine Peaks Retreat & Event Center - Kelli Engstrom Photography

Kelli says, at the beginning of a wedding photography partnership, she arranges multiple meetings to get a feel for exactly what style of photography fits the couple best. She recommends a mixture of traditional and fun wedding photos. She says, many times, couples come with hundreds of pins from Pinterest of photos as inspiration – inspiration to which they trust Kelli to add her own creative twists. And, after 19 years in the business, Kelli knows what she’s doing!

After each wedding, Kelli uploads all of the photos onto her computer for editing. At night she becomes  a “photo editing ninja” – mainly because her days are jammed with taking care of her kids, volunteering at their schools and going to hockey games.


These days, it takes Kelli between 20 to 24 hours to edit photos, and couples receive the finished product within two weeks after their wedding. She’s got an expert grip on it, but digital editing wasn’t always a part of Kelli’s routine. When she was a new photographer, she used good ol’ film along with film canister -  a set-up many youngsters might mistake for tiny tupperware. With film, there aren’t any second chances. There’s no previewing the photos or photoshopping them in post-production. You have one chance and one shot, and this is a craft Kelli has mastered.

Although she uses a digital camera today, she’s thankful that she first learned how to capture beautiful photos using film; now, she doesn’t need to second guess her camera’s settings, she just knows. It’s second nature to her.

Kelli has been working with Pine Peaks Retreat & Event Center from the beginning and our relationship is stronger than ever. Whether or not you are planning a wedding at Pine Peaks, we encourage you to stop by Kelli’s website, “like” her photography page on Facebook and connect with her on LinkedIn!


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Kari and Tyler’s Wedding – September 20, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Tyler grew up in Burlington Ontario, Canada with his two brothers Ryan and Adam. An avid hockey fan and referee, Tyler chose to venture to the States to attend St. Cloud State University for Sports Management and History. Upon his arrival, he joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity where he would meet many of his now close friends and his future wife.

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Kari grew up in St. Joseph, MN with her sister, Krista. She went to school at St Benedict’s for a year before transferring to St. Cloud State University for Film Studies and Creative Writing, where she honed her love of storybooks and film. There, she reconnected with an old friend who brought her out to meet some of his new fraternity brothers and her future husband.

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It was Wednesday, which usually meant Buffalo Wild Wings for the boys of TKE. That night, Kari’s friend Eric, a member of TKE, invited her to join them for wings. After a short while, a handsome stranger walked through the door. His dark hair and strut caught the eye of Kari immediately. She leaned over to Eric and said, “Please tell me he’s coming over here because I may have to marry that man.” Eric looked over, laughing, and said, “Yeah, that’s Canada, but you might have to fight for him!”

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The boy known as Canada came right over and sat at Kari’s table, handing out greetings to his friends. Finally, she introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Kari.”
“Hey,” he replied, quietly. “Canada. Well, everyone calls me Canada.”
She smiled. “Does Canada have a real name?”
“Tyler Harrison.”

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Two weeks later, Tyler skipped out on a party to see Kari again. They talked, danced, and he walked her and her friends back to campus. One week later, on October 15, 2007, he asked her to be his girlfriend.

On June 11, 2011, an 80’s themed party was thrown for Kari’s college graduation. About two hours into the party, Tyler brought in a large box. He made her open it right in the middle of the party. Inside the first box was another box. Then another. Then another and so on.


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On each box, a line of a poem was written. On the last box, just a question mark was drawn. Then, on the inside of the box that held the ring, there was a note that said “Marry Me?” Of course she said YES!

Kari and Tyler chose Pine Peaks as a destination wedding venue nearly 2 ½ years ago and were thrilled with all of the additions and improvements that were made to the property since that time. A pavilion, prep kitchen and buffet area were added to the Event Center. The master suite in the Retreat House now had a Salon!
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They fully enjoyed the entire Country Estate especially the use of the house which allowed their family and friends to come together for the whole weekend. They arrived early and used many of Julie’s collection of decorations to make the space their own.

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The rehearsal and Groom’s dinner were held on Friday night in the Pavilion. A gathering of family and friends from two countries broke bread and told stories of how they knew the couple. A fabulous feast was enjoyed.

On Saturday, the wedding was held in the garden before the rain blessed the couple with “good luck”. Tyler saw his bride for the first time that day as she walked down the aisle all smiles escorted by her father. They recited their own vows of commitment and then excitedly said, “I DO!”

Very quick outside photos were taken prior to the skies “blessings” and the party began! Fabulous appetizers were served in the Fireside Room by Maucieri’s Catering. The guests enjoyed Italian sausage with cheese on rye, fresh made bruschetta and deviled eggs.

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The Grand March was held as the bridal party was introduced to the crowd in the dining room. The guests of honor where then introduced as the newly married Kari and Tyler! They shared their first dance together as husband and wife in front of the whole crowd.

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Dinner was served by Maucieri’s Catering with Chef Brian at the helm. Everyone enjoyed Slow Roasted Beef with mushroom demi-glace’ sauce, Maple Leaf Chicken stuffed with Canadian Bacon and provolone cheese, Green Beans Almandine, Three-Cheese Au gratins, Caesar Salad and fresh bread. Way to rock the meal Chef Brian!

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The evening cleared up and a happy couple walked into the sunset! The celebration continued with dancing and fun. Beth of Maucieri’s Catering later served a Pine Peak’s tradition of fresh pizzas in the wood fired oven.

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We were truly honored to host the wedding celebration of Kari and Tyler and wish them a fairy tale life of luck and love! Stay true!
- Dave and Julie Peterson

Click here to view Facebook for Kari and Tyler for September 20, 2015

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“I Now Pronounce You” – A Wedding Officiant Interview

Posted on by davepeterson


With everything that goes into a wedding, it can be easy to overlook the person who makes the official moment when two people are officially married a reality – the wedding officiant.

Today, we’re going to turn the spotlight on Lisa Cassman, our distinguished minister who performed our $40,000 wedding winners’ ceremony.

From the time she was a teenager, Cassman was compelled to join the ministry. After high school, Cassman realized this dream by getting her pastor’s license, and then enrolling in college to obtain a BA in Christian Counseling. Cassman describes herself as non-denominational.

When it comes to officiating marriages, Cassman says her favorites are destination weddings. She has a passion for travel, and finds each of these unique sites to be especially rewarding.

Part of Cassman’s duties as minister involve arranging the order of her ceremonies, decisions which rely heavily on constant communication and idea swapping with couples.

She stresses the importance of a rehearsal the day before the wedding; that way, everyone from future spouses to wedding party to minister are on the same page, and the possibility of anything surprising or challenging on the big day is significantly diminished.

With regard to Erica and Cory’s wedding, held here at Pine Peaks on June 28th, 2014, Cassman didn’t have a whole lot of face time with the couple prior to the big day. She was, however, in touch with them on a regular basis beginning in February.

She says, without a doubt, the best part of the entire process was finally getting to meet the couple face to face.  “I didn’t meet them until about an hour before the ceremony,” Cassman explains. “But, they were very easy going and cooperative with getting the ceremony together.”

We here at Pine Peaks tip our hats to Cassman, and those like her, who play such a special role in making dreams come true!



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Kari & Matt’s Wedding – September 6, 2014

Posted on by davepeterson

Kari and Matt met in Homer, Alaska in July 2012. Matt was there working during the Summers on a halibut charter boat and Kari was visiting with her friend and her husband as well as Kari’s sister. Kari not only caught monster halibut and tons of salmon, but also caught the love of her life.

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They returned to Alaska the next year in July 2013 and everyone thought Matt would propose but he held out until September when he brought her fishing at the Kenai River. Matt pretended that his lure kept snagging and that he needed to change it. He pulled out the tackle box and handed it to Kari to choose a new lure. Inside buried in the lure beads was her RING! SHE SAID YES!

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Kari and Matt knew they wanted an outdoor wedding and a special place where all of their friends could gather and hopefully enjoy the outdoors as well. Since they were interrupting most of the groomsmen’s hunting season they chose “we interrupt hunting season” as their theme.

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The couple arrived early at Pine Peaks and quickly transformed the Event Center into their own. The groom’s mom, Kim, picked flowers from her garden for the tables which brought the room to life! The mix of colors and textures complimented the rustic theme.

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The Groom’s dinner was held Friday night “picnic style” with full utilization of Pine Peak’s prep kitchen and pavilion after a run through of the ceremony. Family and guests enjoyed a full night of getting to know each other and reminiscing about how they knew the couple.

The wedding day was “ROYAL” inside and out. The early Fall day was 70 degrees with a bright royal blue sky which matched the Wedding Party’s attire! The colors of the earth and sky came together with their beautiful flowers.

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The joyful I DO’s where shared in the garden with a clear blue sky overhead. To signify their union, the couple watered a “Unity Tree” together which they will plant and watch grow together. Family and friends cheered as the newlyweds were introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. and the celebration began!

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The reception was held in the Event Center and pavilion. The dinner followed with Chef Brian of Maucieri’s Catering stealing the show with his fabulous Italian buffet dinner. The guests enjoyed a house salad with fresh bread, Sicilian green beans, Rose’ pasta, slow roasted beef with brandy peppercorn sauce topped with fresh parmesan cheese. Wearing one of his many hats, Tony Maucieri Sr. served the tender beef to the guests.

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The couple decided to forgo the traditional wedding cake and served a Crosslake favorite “ice cream cake” made by Lake Country Crafts and Cones. The choices were white chocolate raspberry truffle fudge or French silk pie ice cream cake which was served butler style by the Maucieri’s team to the delighted guests. The celebration continued with a dance that went well into the night. Kate of Maucieri’s Catering made her specialty fresh baked pizzas in the wood fired oven. The guests are still talking about the wonderful food experience this wedding offered!


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Along with being a fishing guide, Matt also has a business in the spring guiding snow goose hunts so they chose a snow goose as their mascot for the fireside room. We wish the Newlyweds a lifetime of adventures and hope that they enjoy the hunt together. May they forever “catch” all of life’s blessings with the same enthusiasm and love that they shared with each other today!

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- Dave and Julie Peterson

Click here to view Facebook for Kari and Matt September 6, 2014

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