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How to get married in a community garden in NYC

As a native NY-er its my duty to give you a little history lesson first 😂 Community gardens are woven into the fabric of our city landscape here in the Big Apple. The epicenter of the community garden movement is in the East Village.

In the 1970s, much of the infrastructure of NYC collapsed. There was a famous quote immortalized on the cover of the Daily News from October 30, 1975, in which then-President Ford responded after NYC asked for federal funding to save our city:

FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD

And that’s kinda what happened. We were left to fend for ourselves—and fend we did—even as many of the buildings of the LES crumbled and collapsed, leaving empty plots in their wake. Eventually local residents swooped in and turned those empty lots into gardens . . . beautiful gardens . . . intoxicating gardens . . . magical, enchanted, living, breathing, tantalizing, secret gardens . . .

Fast forward to 2024. These gardens are cultural and community cornerstones. The love and care that has been poured into them for decades, not to mention the commitment of the volunteers, is awe inspiring.

I myself was married in a community garden, right next to the compost pile(!). In reality, most NYC community gardens are a scattershot of overgrown plots. And while I didn’t care and don’t regret my decision to have a garden wedding back then, I can still see and smell that malodorous compost when I close my eyes!

Now, with a decade of scouting out and searching for the most beautiful, private, outdoor wedding venues in NYC under my belt, I have found a few contenders for “Most beautiful NYC Community Garden,” one very special one in particular of which I’ll tell you about shortly.

I’m talking about gardens that are focused on flowers such as peonies, dahlias, hydrangeas, dogwoods, flowering vines, and gorgeously photogenic “Pinterest-worthy” horticulture . . . rather than just potatoes, kale, and composting.

We are here to talk about how to get married in a community garden in NYC. Let’s say you have started down the path of planning your own community garden wedding in NYC . . . God bless you, the brave ones who venture out and plan on your own!

Of course it’s possible to DIY and many have done it. Even me! But there are a lot of frustrating hurdles to jump thru when it comes to planning a wedding in a community garden in NYC. This is where familiarity is the spice of life. At EIF, we have been through everything and Bob’s your uncle when it comes to planning this type of NYC wedding. And we do this full time for a living. We know the ups and downs of coordinating just this type of event, and we’ve seen it all.

Here are just some of the issues (featuring two famous sought after community garden wedding venues) we have run into along the way:

COSTS AND RESTRICTIONS

  1. Jefferson Market Garden – Take, for example, the Jefferson Market Garden, made famous for Miranda’s wedding on Sex and the City (S6/E14). I have done weddings here and it’s an idyllic spot, no doubt. And they know it. They provide exactly twelve chairs and there are no restrooms. There is no contingency plan for inclement weather, no food or beverages allowed, nor are rehearsals allowed. And the cost for all this restrictive minimalism is FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Thank you . . . next.

  1. Elizabeth Street Garden – This gem of a garden, amazingly located in the heart of NoLIta is beautifully adorned with statues and sculptures, charming walkways, and captivating foliage. They even have a huge fig tree. On any given day you will find the fashionable SOHO set hanging out and reading books of poetry or sipping on a matcha latte. This place is très chic. The cost for open public hours is $1,500 per hour. And when they say “public,” well, they mean public. There is not a square inch that is not occupied. But the good news is that you can hire the garden privately for a mere FIFTEEN THOUSAND dollars! (And they make you sign a clause saying that the park may or may not be shut down and they cannot guarantee your date.)

You want a community garden wedding, but . . . is this all giving you a ton of anxiety?!?

I don’t blame you!!! It makes my nerves stand on end also, but rest assured I am sharing this info to save you hours and hours of emails and stress.

To even inquire about availability, you usually have to wait a week or two for a response as many of these gardens are nonprofit volunteer-run spaces.

I have a remedy, though.

So, without further ado, I share with you one of my favorite NYC garden wedding spot: The 6BC Botanical Garden!

Enter thru a large cast-iron gate into this lush, magical, garden oasis. 6BC is an absolute work of art. Once inside the gate, a welcoming entryway arbor leads you onto winding stone paths of horticultural decadence. There are tons of hidden nooks throughout. There is even a tree house. Yes, an actual tree house! It’s a bit small for photos but as a fun spot to visit and peer out over the garden. There is also a koi pond and even a small waterfall (miniscule, but still, running water gets me every time . . . especially as a respite from this amazing concrete jungle that is NYC).

I have been coming to 6BC Botanical Garden since the 90s and I have been hosting intimate weddings and elopements here since 2014. In 2023, I was asked to run their wedding outreach. I couldn’t say no. This garden has given so much to me, to my couples, and to the community.

The 6BC Botanical Garden has regular public hours, but as a member I have access to the garden during nonpublic hours, which is when I recommend hosting your intimate wedding with Eloping Is Fun.

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