Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So You Want To Get Married At…The New York Botanical Gardens

The Dream. The New York Botanical Gardens, located in the Bronx, New York. Being a Bronx native, and knowing when they changed it from Bronx Botanical to New York (around the same time that the Bronx had to give up the 212 area code for 718), I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Gardens. Growing up, I attended their farming for youth program very very early on Saturday mornings, would come home with a Ziploc baggie that contained two radishes and 6 leaves of lettuce and wanted to make a salad right away.

Every couple wants to have a celebration that they have an emotional tie to, or in the very least, is convenient to the location of their wedding. The Gardens were both for us. So we booked an appointment, thinking that at the very least, we would know what we were up against in terms of cost and standards, as Abigail Kirsh is the gold standard in New York, if you care about those things. At this point in the engagement, two weeks in, we didn't know what we cared about just yet.

I left with jelly knees, wanting to curl myself up into the fetal position in their conifer forest.

For a Saturday wedding, as our church does not do Fridays, the cost is $250 per person, not including tax and tip, so add about 30% on top of that 250. And they only take cash or check. Now, I don’t advocate credit card usage for weddings, but sometimes you gotta go to the mattresses, the amex mattress specifically. Jelly….knees. If you can afford it, go for it. The food looked amazing, the service they provide you is not to be matched and I have it from good authority that the food tastes amazing. It is the cookie that all cutters were made to copy.

You should also know that Abigail Kirsch catering is the sole caterer of some of the most high profile locations in New York, if you can afford them. The prices vary, but not by much. Also, they restrict you to specific florists ($$$$) and require a pretty hefty location fee, that is not tax deductible.

My great MOH, my sister, quickly scolded me for even going to the Gardens and then made me go to almost all of the catering halls in Westchester County (to the north of the city) on the VERY SAME DAY. Well, let me tell you, that was the mother of all reality checks. But it did give me a sense of what was out there, and there are some affordable options to be had. I didn’t want any of them, but at least they were there. In the end, we are planning a non-cookie cutter wedding, that represents us, not the wedding industry that places like Abigail Kirsch founded and helped foster.

My advice to newly engaged couples: Do not go to your dream location without a firm sense of your budget and alternatives already in line, with appointments made, otherwise you are in for a world of inflated expectations and high levels of disappointment.

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