Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When Garden Geeks Get Married

Apparently I'm somebodies wife as of Friday April 17th, 2009.

The ceremony took place at the Oak Park Conservatory which is about 5 minutes from my house.

When we were trying to decide where to get married, there were really only two places that we even considered. One was the Unity Temple in Oak Park and the other was the Oak Park Conservatory. Both are in our community (keeping things local really appealed to my inner-hippie) and both quite lovely for completely different reasons.

The Unity Temple is a smallish Unitarian church designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Because we are an inter-faith couple we really appreciated the symbolism of the Unitarian church (embracing and celebrating diversity) and even though I'm not exactly and architect aficionado, I could totally see myself bragging to all my friends that I'd gotten married in a historical church designed by FLW. But, when I walked into the Oak Park Conservatory, I knew that was the place.

If you know me at all, you'll know that nothing terrifies me more than the thought of people sitting on pews staring at me wearing a big white dress. The Oak Park Conservatory was the perfect size and atmosphere for people to be standing with us instead of staring at us which is what we both wanted. It was the perfect canvas for our perfect day.

If you love gardens and you are getting married I'd recommend checking out your local conservatory. It's like having an outdoor garden wedding without the risk of the weather ruining everything. We were surrounded by beautiful sweet-scented flowers. My favorites were the giant snapdragons that you see in the pictures. The deep red ones were amazing against the lighter pastel colored ones. The other nice thing was that our our guests were able to roam through the other garden rooms before and after the ceremony which kept them occupied with no effort on our parts.

I also loved that the flowers in the conservatory served as instant free decorations for our ceremony and obviously made a beautiful backdrop for our pictures. Spending a million dollars on flowers to decorate a church that would then be discarded just seemed so wasteful to me. This way we were able to use what was already at the conservatory and our very reasonable rental fee went to support the conservatory which made me feel good, too.

In case you're wondering, the wedding was lovely. We had 10 guests and besides the part where I started crying hysterically while trying to say my vows (like ugly-face crying where I had to say "can you please give me a moment") which started a chain reaction of crying which included grandfathers and photographers, everything was just perfect. Our dinner reception was right down the street from the Oak Park Conservatory at Philander's Restaurant in the Carleton Hotel. They were great to work with and I'd recommend you check them out for dinner, or your private party.

Did you get married in a conservatory or an outdoor garden? How was it? I'd love to hear about it. And you know me, I love the funny ones so please let me know if there were any storms or bee stings!

garden photos courtesy of Shannon

22 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Gina and Mr. Wonderful! It sounds like your wedding was just beautiful. I love that you ended up supporting your local conservatory---wish I would have thought of that for my own wedding! My husband and I got married in a Lutheran church (but we're both technically Catholic, and actually not religious at all---don't ask...) in August. It was 93 degrees on the day we got married, and there was no air conditioning. I thought I would pass out in my big white dress in front of a bunch of people I barely knew. Yours sounds much more pleasant :-)

    I'm so happy for you. Congratulations!

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  2. Aww, that's so beautiful! I've never been lucky enough to get married, although I do have a wonderful guy to live with. One day....

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  3. Congrats! The last wedding I attended, the bride sobbed thru the whole thing. That was over five years ago and they're still happily married.

    The Oak Park Conservatory looks like a fabulous setting for a wedding.

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  4. Gina- I know you already know this story, but I never give up the chance to tell it again. We got married in the south garden of the Art Institute of Chicago in August almost three years ago. We made use of a convenient loophole in park district / Art Institute policy where, because the garden didn't have gates at that time, they were unable to "rent" it to us which only meant that WE GOT TO USE TO SPACE FOR FREE (since they couldn't keep the public out, they couldn't charge us money to use it). We had 20 guests who sat on one of the low walls around the olive trees. We then had brunch right there in the garden catered by my wonderful mother-inlaw. We rented tables and chairs from the Art Institute, and they were nice enough to turn on the fountains for us a couple hours earlier than usual so we could enjoy them. The weather was beautiful, and somehow the magnificent surroundings made my mother forget about the fact that we weren't in a church and didn't have traditional vows. I couldn't have asked for anything better! If anyone is looking for a place to get married, I definitely recommend the Art Institute's "South Garden", although I noticed that they have installed gates so the free-bee loophole may no longer be applicable.

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  5. My Mr. Wonderful and I got married in a garden--in our own backyard! It rained the day before, but the day of our wedding was gorgeous. We married at sunset and partied with our friends and family into the wee hours. We both thought it was the best wedding we'd ever been to! :)

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  6. Congratulations! That seems like a perfect setting for a smaller wedding.

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  7. Congratulations!!!

    I was married in the Sinnissippi Park greenhouse in downtown Rockford, IL. It was a December wedding and the greenhouse was filled with poinsettias - I would have preferred a less RED background but it was very pretty nonetheless. The only cost was a special use permit from the city and we had the whole place to ourselves. We had a minister, a concession to my in-laws, but I would have preferred a civil ceremony. One of my favorite pictures was taken at sunset with the winter light diffusing through the cloudy glass. I really should scan those pictures someday... it's only been 14 years!

    The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts so many weddings they have to line up for the picturesque spots on Saturdays. I preferred the privacy of our ceremony. We also just stood around, no chairs or hundreds of people staring.

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  8. We got married on the deck of the house I grew up in under an apple tree. The tree's trunk split during Hurrican Gloria and my grandfather saved it by tying it to the deck supports with a bicycle tire to protect the trunk from the rope. Against all odds it survived and thrived. Years later after my grandpa passed, we were tearing down the old decks and installing one large one instead beyond the footprint of the old decks. My mother insisted that my stepfather not cut down "her dad's apple tree," so the new deck was built around the apple tree! I felt as though grandpa was with me as I made my vows (in front of a drunk judge, but that's another story). Reception for 100 on the lawn under a big tent and although it poured in the morning, it cleared up in time for the ceremony and reception with only a short rain delay because I was getting married under that apple tree no matter what!

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  9. Marion in SavannahApril 28, 2009 at 6:08 PM

    How wonderful to check your blog again and find such wonderful news! All best wishes for years and years and years of happiness together. Mr. Marion in Savannah and I were married in our small Episcopal church in NYC 40 years ago. The choir director's wedding gift was an anthem (I was in the choir) and our local watering hole, where we had the reception, gave us a free open bar for 4 hours. A grand time was had by all, but there were no flowers except those on the altar. Again, you have our love and prayers for a long and happy and blessed life together.

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  10. Hey now! Where are the photos of people?? I want to see people with smiling faces and cake and flowers and tears! Yeah!

    My DH and I got married in a gazebo in a tiny little wooded park in Zionsville, Indiana. A small gifty/crafty sort of town with brick streets. The little park was perfect, ferns around the gazebo and all the trees were turning because it was the first week of October. We donated $50 to the Zionsville park district for use. I wore decorated blue jeans, red boots and a red pashmina wrap. DH wore a jacket he bought at Goodwill. He forgot his suitcase which has the rings in it so while I was finagling a courier from Chicago to Indy with said suitcase, he ran to Walmart and bought $9 backups. The actual rings arrived within an hour of the wedding so we didn't need to use the backups. His suitcase changed hands 4 times before it got to Indy with the rings safely inside. Many, that was nerve wracking. Not to mention that the cooler at the reception venue was too cold and cracked the ganache on the cake. Luckily, we got strawberries from a nearby grocer and covered it. Oh, and then mom had a panic attack right before the wedding and had to be rushed to the hospital so she missed the wedding and my aunt gave me away. Overall though, at least we got hitched after waiting for 13 years.

    So, yeah, I wanna see the drama. Cuz you know, every wedding has some.

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  11. Hey, congratulations!!! I had no clue that was in the works, and I'm surprised any garden geek would have the fortitude to get married in springtime - when there are so many other tasks that beckon! (the same issue I have with Passover in the spring, actually)

    Sounds like it was a beautiful day. Wishing you many wonderful years together.

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  12. Gina: Congrats! So....where is the picture of the bride and groom? Sounds like it was intimate and lovely and I hope you have an exciting and wonderful life together!

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  13. It sounds loverly. I would like to get married in my own back yard. Under the pergola. My yard is so, so small, it would have to be a small invitee list.
    We've been together almost 11 years. Life just keep getting in the way of making any plans to do it. I think it'll probably be a city hall one, spur of the moment.

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  14. Sweet! My best friends got married at the Garfield Park Conservatory. It was a beautiful and dramatic setting.

    The OP Conservatory was an excellent choice.

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  15. Congratulations on your wedding! A Conservatory Wedding is so pretty -- alas, I did not have one. But I love OP, I went to school there.

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  16. The Spouse and I got married at Promontory Point on the Lake Michigan shore. I envy you all the flowers at the conservatory, but with all the allergies in my family, it was probably best to have a pollen-free event!

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  17. Aw, I got teary-eyed reading this Gina - sounds beautiful and romantic. Congratulations to you and Mr. Wonderful!

    Lawn Man & I got married on a beach in the Caribbean. It was beautiful and very HOT, and the poor guy was sweating bullets in his long-sleeved shirt and tie. (You can tell in the photos, which is why I bought Photoshop after we came home, so I could 'fix' his shirt in all the pictures. Otherwise he wouldn't have let me show anyone the pictures. :)

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  18. Wow, Gina, that's so cool. Congratulations to you and Mr. Wonderful. I hope that you'll enjoy a long, happy married life as I have these past 45 years.

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  19. Congrat and good luck in the future!

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  20. Oh I would really like to see a picture of your wedding. It sounds wonderful. Congratulations!

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  21. Congratulations, Gina!!! What exciting news--and I think it's great that you were emotional enough to cry during your wedding, even if it was the ugly-faced kind.

    Very cool where you got married AND why you chose it. I bet it was just gorgeous. :)

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