Last weekend I enjoyed a fun date at the New York Botanical Gardens. Located in the Bronx, New York, I first discovered this oasis while working in the fashion department at ESSENCE magazine. A gorgeous floral dress story was photographed there and the images were pure eye candy. The finished pages looked as though they were shot in Costa Rica or some other far away land because of the lush greenery and picturesque landscapes. And when I learned that the hidden gem is also a go-to venue for NYC brides in the know, I was even more intrigued.
PROS: This place is just plain pretty — over 200 acres of pretty, too. And while there are venues that offer similar views in the NYC burbs of Long Island and New Jersey (but not with nearly as much history), I adore that these gardens are located in the Boogie Down Bronx. I just enjoy things that are a little off the beaten path…sorta like my preference of The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park over the predictable Central Park. The space offers the best of both worlds in a sense, the conveniences of a city wedding with the subtle touches of a county one. The cost to rent a space in the Gardens is quite affordable by most standards for a NY wedding — just $400 for the Snuff Mill (now the Stone Mill) in 2007. And there’s plenty of parking for guests; a luxury in The Big Apple.
CONS: While the costs associated with renting venue space here is practically peanuts, the Gardens mandatory vendors charge anything but. I was actually alarmed by how much the catering cost alone — think along the tune of $200 per person (YIKES!). Check out Abagail Kirsch for specifics — I’m not sure how much negotiating can help out here but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
BRIDGETTE’S VERDICT: Keep the NY Botanical Gardens in mind for a small, intimate wedding of 50 people or less. By all means if you have the finances to host a large wedding there, rock out! But for most working-class folks, there are other more affordable options. However, since personal photography is permitted in the Gardens with the exception of select exhibits (sans tripods), I say consider the Gardens as the location for your engagement pics. There are thousands of trees, a plethora of colorful flowers and even rivers and charming bridges that anyone would look breathtaking photographed in, especially two people in love.