The establishment of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden over a century ago paralleled the modern development of New York City. As skyscrapers, paved streets, and bridges grew like weeds, it was nearly impossible to find a soft spread of grass or blooming flower garden. Not much has changed to the concrete jungle that has come to define the cityscape. And thankfully, not much has changed to Brooklyn Botanic Garden since opening in 1911. It continues to be a designated green public space where people can come and get lost in the mesmerizing splendor of nature. It is no wonder then that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an in-demand venue for couples planning their wedding in New York City.
We have had the pleasure of doing a handful of Real BB Weddings at Brooklyn Botanic Garden over the years. Working with clients to create their dream wedding, we can’t help but use the garden’s natural beauty as inspiration for flowers and décor. The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens skilled and friendly staff also makes our job here enjoyable. Since summer and outdoor weddings go hand-in-hand, we thought now would be an excellent time to feature Brooklyn Botanic Garden in our BB Venues We Love blog series. Here, Charlotte Johnston, the venue’s Catering Sales Manager, shares her insight on what makes Brooklyn Botanic Garden one of the best places to have a wedding in New York City.
Couples have a pick of wedding venues to consider in New York City. What makes Brooklyn Botanic Garden so unique?
What makes this venue so exceptional starts with the fact that you are in such a historically picturesque location. Brooklyn Botanic Garden has been open for over a century now and most of the garden and surrounding landscape are exactly how they were when it first opened. Being able to walk around and experience this unique slice of history is special. You are also immersed in a natural setting full of flowers, plants, and trees in the middle of New York City – guests are completely transported from a busy urban environment to a lush paradise.
Can you tell us about the spaces available to couples planning to get married at Brooklyn Botanic Garden?
We offer two main spaces for weddings – The Atrium Building and Palm House. The Atrium is an ecologically sustainable building, constructed from the trees that once grew on the grounds. Designed in a sinuous shape of a leaf, The Atrium is more modern in look and feel with glass walls that offer a majestic view of the Cherry Esplanade. It’s smaller compared to the Palm House and seats up to 125 guests. Seating up to 250 guests, the Palm House is a more classic space with glass from floor-to-ceiling – you feel like you in the outside even while inside. During the day, the space basks in gorgeous natural light while at night, glowing candles create a romantic mood and ambiance. The building’s entrance leads out to the Lily Pool Terrace, which provides a perfect backdrop for cocktail hour.
Can you tell us about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden experience? How does your planning and work ensure that your clients have the wedding of their dreams?
Once we book a client, we work with them right up until the big day and a special relationship develops over the course of planning their wedding. I always start by asking couples to list the three main things that are most important to them. Is it the food? Décor and ambiance? The music? This pyramid then forms the foundation to visualize and ultimately actualize their dream wedding.
In addition to offering access to a variety of gardens, terraces, and forest, we also offer world-class catering from Patina Restaurant Group. Many of our clients are foodies and the menu is very important to them. A major component of planning is the tasting when we talk with couples about any special requests they may have regarding their personal tastes, cultural backgrounds, and dietary preferences.
Sprawling with lush flowers, picturesque grass lawns, and towering trees, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a breathtaking natural gem – people forget that they are still in one of the world’s biggest cities when they are there. How can a couple make the most of this on their special day?
Couples have the option of having their ceremony and cocktail hour outside, which offers that extended ‘in nature’ experience. The garden makes a breathtaking backdrop for photography – there are so many charming spots for couples to take their wedding photos. Additionally, our Conservatory houses three different temperature-controlled spaces – you can be getting married in the middle of winter, but still take photos in which you are surrounded by tropical flowers or desert botanicals.
One nice perk that we extend to the couple’s guests is that if they arrive early, they have access to the gardens and are free to explore and enjoy the grounds before the ceremony and reception. Our horticulture team does an amazing job making sure that the garden is in bloom all year round.
Does Brooklyn Botanic Garden accommodate a space for the bride and her bridal party to get ready?
We do have suites for a couple and their wedding party to get in those last-minute touches on details such as hair, makeup, and accessories. These spaces also offer couples a chance to relax with their closest friends and family before the big event.
After the ceremony, we set up a canopy for newlyweds to retreat to and share a quiet moment with each other. They can take a breath and enjoy a glass of champagne before heading back out to the party to entertain for the rest of the evening.
How far in advance should a couple who wants to get married at Brooklyn Botanic Garden contact the venue? Do seasons affect availability?
If you want to get married at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, we recommend calling 12 to 16 months in advance. Our busiest seasons for weddings are spring, summer, and fall. We have made a point to promote how magical the garden is during winter. There’s such an intimate, sultry feel here when it’s cold and snowing outside. Lately, we are seeing a trend in couples wanting to get married at the garden during what is typically considered the ‘off season.’
Do you offer a vendor list to your clients? Do couples have the option to bring in their own vendors?
We do have a preferred vendor list which is given to clients when we first meet. I have personally worked with all the vendors featured. I always tell couples that even if they don’t move forward with us, the list can be used as a great reference for professionals in the wedding industry. They are more than welcome to bring in their own vendors. I will note though, because we are such a unique venue, there are guidelines that must be followed. Our recommended vendors know the spaces, load ins, and logistical details well, ensuring that the production of big events is smooth and successful.
Cuisine is a very important component of a wedding and often reflects a couple’s tastes and cultural backgrounds. Can you tell us about the various catering options that you offer?
Going over cuisine is one of our favorite parts of the planning process. Our chef can always curate a menu for you. But it’s more fun for everyone when a couple tells us about their favorite dishes and what they would like to see served during cocktail hour, dinner, and for dessert. There has been a high demand for vegan fare lately. We are getting ready to host an Indian wedding with a full vegan menu, which will celebrate Indian culture with their families’ traditional recipes.
Cocktail hour also gives couples a chance to choose drinks and food that reflect their personality, style, and cultural backgrounds. We had an Irish couple get married here. During cocktail hour, they served small bites of corned beef and cabbage, washed down with mini Irish whiskey shots.
We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to do a handful of weddings at Brooklyn Botanic Garden over the years – it’s been great to see how the venue works with all the different styles. We are wondering what are your favorite ways to see the venue decorated?
This is a great question. I love seeing the Palm House decorated with bud vases or small arrangements accentuated with pops of color and warm candlelight. On the other hand, I’ve seen stunning tropical-inspired tablescapes featuring bold palm fronds and exotic botanicals. Between the color and shape of the lush greenery, light hued linens, and dramatic lighting, this decorative style brings the ‘wow factor’ and photographs beautifully.
Just about everyone working in the wedding industry was impacted by the pandemic last year. This wedding season feels very different – what are you most excited about?
Everyone just wants to get married now. As cliché as it sounds, love is in the air. The shared sentiment among our couples seems to be, “I just want to marry my fiancé and have an amazing time with my friends and family.” Just last weekend, the bride said to me, “I’m nervous about everything except about marrying my future husband.” I told her, “That is what tonight is all about. You know that you are making the right choice. And we are here to take the rest of the stress off your shoulders, so you can enjoy each and every moment.”
What a heart-warming thought to leave us with! A big thank you to Charlotte for sharing her knowledge and insight on Brooklyn Botanic Garden with us!