Sweet Magnolias Event Space Blooms With Possibility

by | Jun 2024

Tara Carlson

Tara Carlson. Photo: Chris Emeott

From baby showers to graduation parties, Sweet Magnolias welcomes all types of parties.

Birthdays, graduations, engagements … moments like these happen every day. But turning a typical day into a true celebration involves more than just a $7 greeting card and a bunch of colorful balloons. When it’s your turn to celebrate, you want it done right.

Tara Carlson has been working in florals since she was 15 years old and has always been driven by her passion for it. Carlson went on to graduate with honors from Hennepin Technical College’s Professional Floral Program in 2002, adding a depth of knowledge to her breadth of hands-on experience. Carlson purchased Sweet Peas Floral in 2006 and became a Certified Floral Designer through the American Institute of Floral Design in 2017.

Once an expert in the floral industry, Carlson wanted to expand her horizons by dabbling in events. “I always thought it would be fun to have an event venue, and Woodbury doesn’t have anything that’s intimate where you can bring in your own food.” Carlson also has friends in the restaurant business, many of whom have alluded to sizable food and drink minimums for events. That being said, the event industry remains steady, if not booming. So when the opportunity came to purchase the space right next to Sweet Peas, Carlson jumped.

Then came the transformation of the space, fueled by Carlson’s vision. “I didn’t want it to look ‘farmhouse’ like Sweet Peas,” she says. “Sweet Magnolias has a ‘Southern charm’ feel but is modern and clean, neutral with an open ceiling, warm lighting and some simple greens and vines, so you can take it whatever direction you want.”

Sweet Magnolias Event Space

Photo: Sweet Magnolias

Banquet tables are perfect for gifting displays and serving food, while high tops offer space for conversation and mingling. There is also a private bathroom and a kitchen for prepping, staging and utilizing as storage. Most unique to the space is the hand-built bar, gifted from Salon Ultimo owner, Chris Schultz, made from leftover materials from its own remodel.

Thus far, the space has been brimming with birthday parties, bridal and baby showers and grooms’ dinners, as well as corporate events and seminars. The space is perfect for staying cool during hot summer graduation parties and would even be suitable for celebration of life services, among others. Carlson says, “The décor isn’t what makes the room … it’s the food, ambiance and people.”

The biggest hurdle is sharing the parking lot with so many other businesses, “Parking is somewhat limited,” Carlson says, “But evenings after [5 p.m.] it opens up,” which explains why weekends and evenings tend to be a popular time slot for clients. Also popular among clients is the flexibility about catering. Carlson provides endless resources to ensure each event goes off without a hitch, including local restaurants and businesses that are stellar event partners. That being said, bringing in your own treats is totally acceptable as well, with ample storage in kitchen coolers.

When Woodbury resident Amy Tannahill was asked to co-host a 50th birthday for a neighbor and friend, a great rental space was non-negotiable. And as a party rental and decorating business woman herself, Tannahill knew the ambiance could make or break the event. Luckily for Tannahill (and her neighbor), Sweet Magnolias was a dream to work with, helping create a magical birthday celebration worth remembering for years to come.

“The space at Sweet Magnolia’s was perfect for a small, intimate gathering (30–50 people),” Tannahill says. “It truly had everything we needed to make the party a success.” The birthday event featured food from Angelina’s Kitchen and refreshing drinks served from the bar. “The space was immaculate and beautifully decorated with linens and greenery,” Tannahill says. “And it’s large enough to allow guests to easily have access to all of the essentials without having to move too far away from conversation.”

Both Carlson and Tannahill warn potential clients about waiting to book. “I have a feeling this space is going to become more and more popular [among] Woodbury residents and surrounding areas in the near future,” Tannahill says. “My advice? Book for your event now. You won’t want to miss out on this fabulous space.” Similarly, Carlson says, “I would hold the space as quickly as you can; it fills up fast. You will have time to figure out the details later.”

Carlson hopes to offer classes in the future. “I’d love to have specific themes, like January could be building a terrarium, March would be all about bulbs.” Given the partnership between Sweet Peas and Sweet Magnolias (and the interior connecting door), collaboration of floral-based events or classes would not only be fairly seamless, but would be a dream come true for Carlson.

Fresh Arrangements

If you’re in the mood for florals this summer, stop into Sweet Pea’s Floral. Its coolers are always packed with fresh arrangements, often different from those featured on the website. “When the coolers need to be filled, that’s when we get to be creative,” Tara Carlson says. When the weather is hot, however, remember to keep your bouquets out of the sun. “We have the cooler space,” Carlson says. “Or you can rent Sweet Magnolias for an hour, arrange bouquets yourself however you’d like and store them until it’s time to grab them!” Although you can’t go wrong with any type of flower, Carlson says her favorite is the cymbidium orchid. Carlson offers more of her go-to picks below:

  • For summer events, such as baby or bridal showers: “Roses, chrysanthemums and thistle always hold up well. Stay away from hydrangea and dahlias if the florals will be outside in the elements,” Carlson says. “We use floral that is more on the ‘dainty’ side, more feminine, like ranunculus, anemones and garden roses. We do a lot of single stems in bud cases for showers we hold at Sweet Magnolias.”
  • For graduation parties: “Usually for Woodbury High School, we recommend white chrysanthemums with a little blue thistle or delphinium to tie in the blue. Babies breath in Mason jars with a blue ribbon is always popular as well,” Carlson says. “For East Ridge High School, typically we’ll stick with white flowers, like chrysanthemums or roses as well. We do use a lot of the white gerbera daisy with a black center to pull in the black … We’ll then use other elements to pull in the gold and black, like ribbon or colored grasses.”
  • Most popular in the summer: “Most popular in Minnesota are peonies, dahlias, flowy orchids and, of course, roses are always popular,” Carlson says. “Pastels are a top choice in florals: corals, soft pinks and buttery yellows.

Sweet Magnolias
783 Radio Drive Suite 113
Facebook: Sweet Magnolias
Instagram: @sweetmagnoliasevents


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