Planning and executing a wedding can be exhausting. By the time the big day rolls around, the happy couple and their families are often too tired to enjoy it. But the Gardens at Malmaison, a one-of-a-kind event venue and restaurant in St. Albans, has a romantic atmosphere that casts a soothing spell. “It’s almost impossible to feel tense here—it’s such a tranquil haven,” says Datra Herzog, who acquired the business six years ago. “The rolling hills and scenic views are breathtakingly beautiful, and the gardens are right out of a fairy tale.”

    The area is steeped in history, she adds: St. Albans, settled by German farmers above the Missouri River, was once a rest stop for paddle-wheeler steamboats. “The scenery is so striking that Lewis and Clark delayed their trip west so Lewis could explore Tavern Rock, a nearby sandstone bluff and cave,” Herzog says. Originally built in 1843 as a barn, the venue’s main building was transformed and expanded in 1928 by Irene Walter Johnson, wife of philanthropist and International Shoe Co. founder Oscar  Johnson, who renamed it The Old Barn Inn. It was a popular dining spot for St. Louisans until about 1968, then sat vacant for 20 years until new owners, inspired by its romantic aura, christened it Malmaison, after Napoleon and Josephine’s French country estate. “I changed the name to The Gardens at Malmaison in 2004,” Herzog says. “We completely restored the place, adding an outdoor kitchen, bar and tent that made it a perfect venue for private parties.”

        Today, the site and its nearby sister venue, The Studio Inn at St. Albans, also owned by Herzog, host more than 50 weddings, receptions, rehearsal dinners, private parties and corporate events each year. “We can accommodate celebrations ranging from small and intimate to elegant and grand,” Herzog says. “The French country style dining rooms at Malmaison are just right for smaller weddings, and our outdoor gardens and patios can accommodate about 200 guests comfortably—more if you add a tent.” Malmaison, known for its excellent American and French country cuisine, caters all events at The Studio Inn.

    But romantic atmosphere, lush gardens, country charm and fine food aren’t the only reasons for the popularity of both venues. “Brides and their families are looking for convenience, too, so we offer them one-stop shopping,” Herzog explains. “You write one check, and we take care of everything—tents, tables and chairs, china and flatware. We also have a list of preferred vendors, if you need an expert photographer or floral designer. We can work with just about any budget, and we’ll plan and coordinate the entire event, if you like.”

    Herzog and her experienced staff offer each bride personalized attention. “We focus on every detail—that’s how we turn their dreams into reality,” she says. “It’s our pleasure to create a celebration that you and your guests will cherish for years to come. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and we want it to be memorable—and enjoyable.” 

On the Cover: The Gardens at Malmaison and nearby sister venue, The Studio Inn at St. Albans, offer romantic settings for weddings, bridal showers, receptions and rehearsal dinners. The historic venues, surrounded by tranquil gardens, are also ideal for corporate events. For information about Malmaison, call 636-458-0131 or visit; for information about The Studio Inn, call 636-458-5356 or visit

Cover design by Erica Fisher | Cover photos by kathie belfield of Memories Are Forever