Garden Party: 5 Beautiful Venues for Your Outdoor Soirée

Let Mother Nature do all the decorating for your big day by choosing a romantic and lush garden venue
From: Spring/Summer 2017 edition
The stately manor house and gardens of Bloedel Reserve

There’s an undeniable romance to spectacularly colored gardens filled with fragrant flowers come spring and summertime, and if you’re lucky enough to say “I do” between April and August in the Pacific Northwest, in-season blooms and abundant greenery will be bountiful. Seattle couples don’t need to travel far to find sanctuary at one of the oases found in the city, nearby suburbs or on the neighboring islands. Swoon-worthy spots range from extravagant, English-style gardens with rolling lawns to exotic botanical gardens and tranquil Japanese-inspired landscapes, so consider these new additions and all-time classics for your special day.

BLOEDEL RESERVE

Sweeping vistas, woodland trails, expansive gardens and soothing water features are just a few of the stunning features found at Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. For the first time since opening to the public in 1988—it was originally the home of timber giants Prentice and Virginia Bloedel—the beautifully maintained 150-acre property is opening its gardens to two weddings per year for those who want to indulge in an exclusive splurge; couples marrying at the reserve have access to the site and amenities for a three-day period. Expect an abundance of candelabra and other primroses, royal azaleas, magnolias and a multitude of species of rhododendrons all over the grounds. A vast array of perennial shrubs and trees native to the Northwest also give the property a magical, woodland garden feel. Ceremonies held on the outdoor lawn areas can accommodate as many as 300 people, while the former 1920s-style.

Bloedel residence offers a resplendent event space and unimpeded view of Puget Sound, and can accommodate 75 standing guests. For a more intimate affair, choose the ’60s-style Japanese guest house, designed by Paul Kirk, which can hold as many as 40 guests for a standing cocktail reception. For dinner, bring in your own caterer, to be approved by Bloedel’s on-site event planner, or choose one from the reserve’s preferred caterer list.

The details: A full buyout of the wedding property is $50,000, with a $10,000 deposit due upon booking. Couples who wed here are required to become members of the Bloedel Society, which is an additional $10,000.

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Froggsong Gardens || Photography by: Freebird Photography

FROGGSONG GARDENS

Ideal for city-dwelling couples who dream of a destination wedding without going far from home, Froggsong Gardens—a property managed by Herban Feast (the owners of The Foundry and Sodo Park) since 2014—is located an hour from Seattle by ferry on Vashon Island. The enchanting 16-acre garden escape, created by owners Cindy and Steve Stockett, is reminiscent of an English estate, filled with a variety of blooming spring bulbs, such as French tulips, classic Dutch tulips, daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths, crocuses and lilies. (There’s even a hedge maze worthy of a Jane Austen–esque romantic tryst.) The sloping lawn next to the recirculating stream that flows through the property is often used for cocktail hour, but is also perfectly suited to a ceremony. The venue’s covered pavilion and adjoining patio also offer elegant options for celebrations. Plated fare is served on site by Herban Feast’s award-winning catering team. Past menus have included sweet potato and Dungeness crab cakes; roasted beet and pistachio salad baby spring greens with herbed chèvre and a mint-citrus vinaigrette; and peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin.

The details: All-inclusive price ranges from $150 to $225 per person for a gathering of 100. A nonrefundable deposit of 25 percent is required to reserve a date.

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A secret garden gazebo at Heronswood || Photo courtesy of Heronswood garden

HERONSWOOD GARDEN

Founded in 1987 by gardeners Dan Hinkley and Robert Jones, Heronswood Garden, a botanical garden in Kingston that opened to weddings in 2013, is renowned for its ample collection of flora from all over the world, boasting more than 8,000 plants species. The fragrant gardens, bursting with magnolias, irises, geraniums, dogwood, peonies, lady slipper orchids as well as the magical blue poppy and the astounding Himalayan lily, are just a few of the flowers you’ll find.

Ceremonies often take place in the well-groomed potager garden—made up of eight garden beds containing a variety of flowers, shrubs and trees and further defined by natural stone pavers that create interconnected walking paths—or on one of the expansive lawns that can accommodate parties with as many as 150 guests. Entrances to the garden are marked with formal hedges and are perfectly suited for wedding photos, which look like something out of a fairy tale. After the ‘I dos,’ direct guests to the venue’s grand wedding tent, outfitted with a fabric ceiling and twinkling lights; there, they will enjoy a custom dinner menu designed by Market Fresh Banquets and Catering.

The details: A wedding held here includes access to the garden grounds, custom tent, bridal suite and groom’s quarters, plus chairs for the ceremony and reception, tables and linens for the reception, cash or host bar and bartender (alcohol not included), cocktail hors d’oeuvres package, and clean-up of grounds for $4,800 for 100 guests; $3,600 for 50 guests. A 50 percent deposit is required.

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The lush urban Conservatory || Photography by: Chris Klas Photo

VOLUNTEER PARK CONSERVATORY

Set in Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park, the Volunteer Park Conservatory offers couples an intimate garden ceremony site to share with close friends and family, all without the risk of getting wet. Built by the Olmstead brothers in 1912, the Victorian-style greenhouse, inspired by London’s Crystal Palace, sustains an assortment of rare ferns, bromeliads, palms and cacti. Couples who book here don’t have to fret about flowers and decor; only hand-held bouquets, corsages and boutonnières are allowed. Say “I do” in the Seasonal House, with its ever-changing spectacle of seasonal flora and space for as many as 25 guests, or opt for exchanging vows amongst vibrantly colored bromeliads and air plants in the Bromeliad House, which can accommodate 12 guests. Afterward, head elsewhere for dinner and dancing, as no food or beverages are allowed in the conservatory.

The details: $150-per-hour site fee with a two-hour minimum; $25-per-hour fee for a park attendant to be on site. No set up is allowed; chairs provided upon request. Ceremonies are not permitted during public hours, which are 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

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Tranquil Kubota Garden || Photography by: Neal and Saskia Photography

KUBOTA GARDEN

A 4.5-acre spread in the middle of South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a remarkable landscape rich in history. Designed by landscape designer Fujitaro Kubota, the garden opened in 1927 and soon became a cultural keystone for the Japanese community in Seattle. Now a historical landmark, the tranquil garden—tucked away, with streams, waterfalls, ponds and rock outcroppings—remains a peaceful retreat in a bustling neighborhood. Ceremonies held here must take place in the Kubota Terrace; its open lawn can accommodate as many as 150 people. Perhaps the most famous spot on the site (and thus a favorite photo op) is the bright red “Heart Bridge” surrounded by blossoming rhododendrons. For an additional fee, couples can personalize the picturesque setting with a stage or tent.

The details: $175-per-hour site fee with a three-hour minimum; $25 per hour fee for a park attendant to be on site; $75 catering fee; $75 special equipment fee. No alcoholic beverages or amplified sound allowed. Professional photographers are required to have a permit to take pictures in the garden.