This is Our Story

Hi there! Welcome to our blog! We are Derek and Jody, the owners of Crooked Willow, and this is our story!

It all started in Hastings, MN, where we both worked corporate jobs. Derek was an engineer and Jody was an account executive for a healthcare and insurance company. Derek also began working on the local planning committee in our township at the time. Coincidentally, his very first case was assisting the founding of a new wedding venue in the area! Derek became friends with the owners and, in the process, learned a lot about the wedding venue industry.

Innkeepers Derek and Jody embrace outside of the inn

Not long after this, we realized we needed a change. We were growing tired of working in the corporate world and longed to spend more time with our two kids, Thomas and Tallie. We had driven by the Crooked Willow property countless summers on the way out to our family cabin. It was only an antique shop at the time, but we thought the property was beautiful! We would always ooh and aah at the gorgeous land through the car windows! One day, Derek was driving by and saw a “for sale” sign out front. We knew that was our chance! We quickly sold our house and moved into our friend’s basement while we closed on the property!

Thankfully, we didn’t have to build our dream alone! Our vision of an industrial yet elegant wedding space came to life with the help of Lois Schmidgall, the former owner of Creations, an Event Studio and the former owners of Crooked Willow, Terri and Chris Anderson. Terri and Chris have been instrumental and very supportive along the way. They continue to be good friends of ours to this day! We also roped in two of our best friends, Rob Johnston and his wife, Kristina, who have construction and design backgrounds.

As with any new venture, it hasn’t always been easy; but we wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world! We get to spend more time with our family, all the while creating special moments for hundreds of other families who visit our grounds!

“Crooked Willow isn’t just our business. It’s our home.”


As we look ahead to what will be our busiest wedding season yet, we can’t help but be thankful for this dream come true!

Derek and Jodi with their family on the lawn