I had the pleasure to tying the knot last week, on October 7. I’m a lifelong resident of the New York area, and my fiance’s been here since her childhood, so we definitely wanted a wedding in New York. I came up with typical ideas that a clueless groom-to-be might come up with. I first thought of the top of the Empire State Building, before a whole lot of people told me how cheesy that idea is. Plus, it turns out that they only hold weddings once a year on Valentine’s Day, that only a few people can attend, and that they whole a bunch of weddings at once. None of that worked for us.
Then I thought of getting married on the home plate of Yankee Stadium. You can imagine how my fiancee reacted to that idea.
That’s when my sister suggested the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Now, I’m a huge, huge fan of Botanical Gardens. I’d been a member of the Queens Botanical Garden for several years, which as many botanical gardens around the country give “reciprocal admission” to other gardens. Using my Queens Botanical Garden membership, I’ve been able to go to several amazingly beautiful gold coast mansions on Long Island (think The Great Gatsby), as well as the wonderful Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix when I went on business trips there a few years ago. Funny, but the free admissions I get to botanical gardens around the country more than pay for the price I pay each year for membership. And each botanical garden around the country really reflects the flavor of the local area.
We thought of getting married in the Queens Botanical Garden first, which has a cute wedding garden (think a Thomas Kinkade painting). But that garden seats under 60 people, not nearly enough for us. The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx was another possibility (we’ve been to the Orchid Show and the wonderful Holiday Train Show there), but as far as weddings go, it was a bit too large and expansive for us.
I’ve already written a gushing review on Yelp about the caterer / organizer for our wedding in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but in this post I wanted to give some kudos to the garden itself. In order to save a little money, we decided to have a wedding in October. I joked with people that this was perfect timing–perfect in the sense that it was perfectly positioned AFTER the summer roses had faded and BEFORE the fall colors. I was hoping and hoping that the fall leaves would turn earlier this year, but alas, it’s still green as of this writing.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the garden early on the morning of our wedding and got to spend some time alone in the garden. All over I saw amazing colors.
The wedding itself was amazing as well. At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the caterer does all the receptions (and many of the ceremonies, including ours) in the magnificent Palm House in the middle of the garden. Here’s a picture from one of our guests.
I’ve been to a lot of weddings in my life, but there was just something special about this one, and it wasn’t just because it was mine It was wonderful to see our guests not only enjoying our wedding, but afterwards being able to go out and enjoy the beautiful gardens with their families. From their Facebook posts, I could see they fell in love with it. It felt good to bring awareness to these families who would be back and would tell their friends about it.
From my perspective, I knew I had to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for my wedding, and so there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that a big chunk of my payment for this wedding went to help the BBG rather than just line the pockets of some gargantuan wedding mill or reception hall. They do a wonderful job of maintaining the garden year-round and providing residents of the New York area with very beautiful, relaxing, and even educational displays of nature.
One very, very cool thing about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden itself is that they have a gift shop that is second to none. Along with the usual trinkets and tchotchkes, they also have a variety of books on horticulture written by their own experts, as well as meaningful and sustainable gifts that further their mission.
I owe a lot of thanks to the BBG and their excellent on-site caterer for providing a wonderful wedding for my now-wife and I and our 150 guests. If you’re planning a wedding, be sure to put your local botanical garden on your list to see what kind of wedding packages they offer. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden like the BBG, you’ll not only help a great cause, you’ll also give your guests the wedding of a lifetime.