Wedding venue

Event Center Opens in Crosslake, Specializing in Weddings – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

CROSSLAKE — When Haley Van Buren decided she needed a bigger venue for her wedding just a month before the big day, little did she know the last-minute change would lead to a business opportunity.

Her parents, Ben and Jill Gibbs, own a building on County Road 3 in Crosslake and gifted the empty space to their daughter for her wedding.

Jason and Haley Van Buren tied the knot in October 2021 at what is now the Gathering Event Center in Crosslake. The Van Burens run the business in the building owned by Haley’s parents, Ben and Jill Gibbs.


The wedding took place on October 9, 2021, and shortly thereafter The Gathering Event Center was born with Van Buren and her husband, Jason, as managers.

“I just wanted a space where I could host all my guests and not worry about the weather,” Van Buren said of her wedding.

She’s a DIY frugal and she really enjoyed decorating the space for her wedding.

“It was so much fun,” she said. “I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like.”

The wedding with 225 guests was all she wanted, and friends approached her parents asking if they could get married and hold events in space. Some people were interested in buying the decor.

“I wanted more people to use it,” Van Buren said, noting that she spent so much time putting everything together for her wedding.

Now The Gathering has decor — including tables, chairs, place settings, candles, signs and many other items — for all 12 weddings booked this year. The bride and groom have many choices and options without any two weddings being alike. Articles are continually being added.

“That’s our hope and our goal for this space is that people can show up and have everything they need for a wedding on a budget,” Van Buren said.

Ben and Jill Gibbs, owners of the Gathering Event Center.jpeg
Ben and Jill Gibbs of Crosslake are featured in the building they own which recently opened as The Gathering Event Center in Crosslake. Their daughter and son-in-law, Haley and Jason Van Buren, run the business.


The Gathering isn’t just for weddings. Pequot Lakes High School is interested in using the space for prom next year, and the company can hold celebrations of life, birthday parties, graduation parties, fundraisers fundraisers, baby showers, family reunions and community events – all at an affordable price.

“We just want to serve people who want to do it affordably,” Van Buren said, noting that she and Jason are recent college grads with student loans, so they understand a lot of people’s need to watch out. costs.

They offer weekend packages for $5,000 or less that include use of the event center for the rehearsal dinner, wedding, and gift opening.

“People just want space and don’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars,” Van Buren said.

The aim is to compile an information book listing bakeries, caterers, photographers, videographers, hairdressers and florists in the region for weddings.

The Gathering Event Center can accommodate up to 300 people and will also provide outdoor space for weddings and events.

It’s our hope and our goal for this space is that people can show up and have everything they need for a wedding on a budget.

Haley Van Buren

Van Buren, her husband and parents are also working on opening a 25-person vacation home rental near The Gathering as a place where nuptials could stay and prepare for weddings and where retreats could take place.

Van Buren grew up in Crosslake and met her husband at Bethel University in St. Paul. The couple lived in the Twin Cities until they recently moved to Crosslake to run their business.

“I always wanted to come back to Crosslake,” Van Buren said.

For more information about The Gathering Event Center, visit

Nancy Vogt, Managing Editor, can be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at