As long as there have been weddings, there have been garden weddings. Couples have been married outdoors since time immemorial. For centuries, the concept of paradise has been embedded in the notion of a garden of extraordinary beauty and delight – and what couple wouldn't want to begin their lives together in paradise? Long after the honeymoon, when the order of the day has more to do with mommy duty and diapers than with daffodils and dahlias, couples still cherish the memory of having friends and family gathered in the gracious, natural, personal setting of a garden. As you consider what wedding venue best reflects your own taste and style, here are a few reasons that bride after bride has chosen the garden for her special day.

A garden setting is classic, not trendy.
When you look at your wedding photographs years from now, you'll thank yourself for choosing the timeless beauty and classic sophistication that a garden wedding has to offer. Whatever the wedding trend of the day, a garden wedding is always in vogue and represents timeless elegance and sophistication. From ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 /Perth, Australia to the Grand Tetons to Shaker Heights, Ohio, people all over the world get married in gardens. Today's fashionable venue may be gone in years to come, but brides will still choose garden weddings as long as people are still getting married.

Garden weddings offer variety.
OK, so everyone loves garden weddings. "What's going to be different about mine," you may ask yourself. Everything. No two garden weddings are alike. There are as many different kinds of gardens as there are kinds of people: formal, whimsical, lush, sparse, modern, traditional – and everything in between.

Your choice of a specific garden for your wedding will have everything to say about your individual style. At Cleveland Botanical Garden, there are dozens of gardens, each with its own distinct personality – an all-time favorite is the Japanese Garden; its formal splendor evokes a sense of importance, ritual and spirituality. In addition to the choice of location, much depends on the time of year and the nuances of the day. The soft lilac of a spring garden gives way to the rich peaches and baby yellows of summer and to the burnt oranges and plums of fall.

Garden weddings are gracious.

Experts agree that there is nothing more gracious than inviting wedding guests into your own home. If you're lucky enough to have a terrific home garden, you're all set. Those in the business often refer to gardens as outdoor "rooms." By having the wedding in your own private garden "room," maybe your parents' garden, years of memories and the feeling of home create a built-in level of warmth and intimacy for you and your guests.

Even if you're a city-dweller, live in an apartment building, or gardening isn't your thing, you can still offer the graciousness of an outdoor wedding. Remember – at the end of the day, the graciousness comes from the hosts, not the setting. Northeast Ohio has no shortage of beautiful outdoor spots.

People love being outside.
It's relaxing. It's fun. It won't feel stuffy. Bowman Beeman of Gates Mills, Ohio says that he and his wife, Sara Guren, chose to do both their ceremony and reception at Cleveland Botanical Garden because "we're both passionate about being outside. Our guests had lots of room to mingle and roam and to treat the many different gardens as different rooms." Your guests won't ever feel stifled. And if you're doing a garden ceremony, the informality of being outside is a very nice counterpoint to the formality of the wedding ritual itself.

The Flowers.

Weddings and flowers go together like … well, weddings and flowers. People often choose to get married outdoors because of the abundance of fresh blooms: the tulips in early spring, the dogwoods and azaleas in May, the roses in June, the colorful hydrangeas in midsummer – the list goes on. You may want to choose the date of your garden wedding on the basis of what's in bloom at a particular time of year. Let's face it: You decorate your ceremony and reception site with flowers and greenery to add an ambience of  romance. In a garden you’re already surrounded by flowers and greenery.  While you'll still need to plan on bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces, you could save on your décor budget by marrying in a flower garden.

You'll love your wedding photos.
Many couples have photos taken in a garden even if their wedding didn’t take place there. The beautiful creamy white of a bride’s gown and the deep-black of the groom’s tuxedo make for a beautiful contrast against the green textures of outdoor foliage.

Whether you choose a formal garden or your parent’s backyard garden, a garden setting can add an element of serenity and romance that you just can’t find indoors.  Be sure to check out the Ceremony & Reception Reference Guide in our magazine, Weddings in Cleveland to locate other local venues that offer outdoor party areas. Mother Nature is one guest you’ll be glad you included in your celebration.

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