A Nontraditional Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wedding

August 21, 2023

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wedding Photographer | Brooklyn Wedding Venues | Brooklyn Botanic Garden Weddings

A custom purple wedding dress. Guest performances. Throwing stuffed animals instead of bouquets. THIS was Jenn & David’s oh-so-unique Brooklyn Botanic Garden wedding at The Palm House!

Mixed gender wedding party, Brooklyn - Kathryn Cooper Weddings

A Unique Wedding at a Most Beautiful Botanic Garden

For a decidedly unique twist on a wedding—think purple wedding dress, a non-flower bouquet toss, and a nontraditional first dance—was Jenn & David’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden wedding.

Photographing this Brooklyn wedding was a match made in heaven, because offbeat weddings are my specialty. Having a run-of-the-mill ballroom wedding? I’m probably not the photographer you’d choose. Throwing a multicultural celebration with wacky elements, in an incredibly unique wedding venue? Now you’re talking.

Because Jenn and David are a creative couple, and because I’m a creative wedding photographer who caters to offbeat and nontraditional weddings, and it’s no coincidence I was hired to shoot their celebration! In fact, Jenn and David found me to photograph my wedding through Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)! Offbeat Wed is the wedding publication for unique ideas, inclusivity and diversity, and vetted vendors in the not-your-typical weddings industry.


But…I get ahead of myself. There were a number of reasons Jenn & David’s wedding at the gorgeous Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or BBG, was awesome.


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a beautiful oasis in the middle of New York City’s best borough (ahem). It features different types of gardens, large open lawns, a rose garden, ponds and water features, large fields for picnics, unique species of flowers, greenhouses, and more. Jenn and David held their wedding on one of the garden’s lawns, and had their reception in the Palm House.

Aside from being a beautiful botanical garden wedding venue, the BBG is, well, an awesome garden! Visitors from all over the city can enjoy the gardens revolving exhibits, colors, conservatories, and more. Plus, it’s adjacent to the Brooklyn Museum, so you can make as long a day of it as you want.


A Wedding at The Palm House Brooklyn


The Palm House, also known as The Palm House Brooklyn, is amazing for any type of event. For weddings it can seat up to 250 people, or 150 – 200 people quite comfortably, with a dance floor. A Palm House wedding here in the city showcases 30-foot ceilings, an all-glass building, beautiful uplighting should you get it (and this is THE place to get it, and have the lights synced to music), and everything else. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Palm House is all-inclusive, meaning your ceremony, chairs, linens, food, alcohol, cake, etc. is all included in the rental price.


Akwaaba Mansion in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

While most people who have their wedding at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (better known as the BBG) get ready at a nearby hotel, David and Jenn hosted their wedding weekend at The Akwaaba Mansion, a unique Bed & Breakfast with Afrocentric furnishings, right in historic Stuyvesant Heights.

Their mixed gender wedding party all got ready in the mansion, which was a flurry of activity with me and my second shooter, 4 hair and makeup artists, 2 videographers, 20 wedding party members and friends…you get the picture.

One of the stars of the day was Jenn’s fabulous dress, handmade by Mark Zunino (yes, the Mark Zunino who makes custom pieces for the likes of J. Lo, Elizabeth Taylor, Sofia Vergara, Angelino Jolie, and plenty more. While many famous designers don’t live up to the hype, this dress was a complete showstopper, shimmering in not just purple, but different shades of periwinkle, dark pinks, maroons, lavenders, and more depending on the light. Jenn’s custom Mark Zunino dress—and the fact that she wore a purple wedding dress—pretty much made my day as a wedding photographer!

Akwaaba Mansion wedding


Other awesome offbeat details:

  • Jenn’s bouquet was made with antique brooches-
  • David wore a teal tuxedo
  • The bride changed into another purple dress—this one a vintage Betsey Johnson—for their reception
  • Instead of throwing a bouquet, the bride and groom each threw a stuffed animal
  • Rather that wedding gifts, this activist couple had people put marbles, equaling $1 each, into vases representing different causes they care about
  • The ketubah was hand-made by a local artist, and incorporated meaningful parts of Brooklyn, as well as mini-scenes that matter to the couple
  • …and much more

Their first look was full of joy, followed by a few photos around their vintage NYC taxicab.


The Moment: Jenn & David’s Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wedding

Finally, it was time for portraits in the botanical garden and set up!

Once we got to the BBG, we went in the back entrance and were finally met by their wedding planner. I took the couple around to the BBG Rose Garden, the Japanese Pond, and a few other parts of the park. It was a hot day, and luckily a few members of the wedding party who have difficulty walking were able to use their manned golf cart to get around the large grounds.



Admittedly, the best part about having a Brooklyn Botanic Garden wedding is getting the grounds all to yourself. Keeping that in mind, you definitely want to make time for photos following your wedding ceremony, because how often do you get to take majestic photos in a botanical garden quite like this place?! After the gates close at 6pm, you’ll probably be in the middle of your ceremony…but following that, I advise extending your cocktail hour so you can do photos in flattering golden hour lighting, with 0 guests.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a wonderful oasis in the middle of Brooklyn. As a young adult, I went there as often as I could to photograph the beautiful blooms, as it feels you’re anywhere but in the middle of one of the most famous cities in the world.

I captured some fun portraits around the 52-acre botanic garden, then captured them signing their custom ketubah. While in the Palm House, my second photographer and I captured all the little details—namely, treasured antique colored glass vases and absurdist old books, following their early 20th century theme.

A Perfect Summer Wedding in Brooklyn…and Lots of Laughter


Every last detail had been thought of for this unique and colorful BK wedding. Even their friends handing out programs were cigarette girls! Their chuppah had a custom-made quilt with beautiful colors, and the flower girls had bubble machines.

But really, as soon as the wedding was in place and their flower man, Jerry, had thrown the last petal (see below), Jenn walked in, arm around her friend, the center of attention in her incredible purple Mark Zunino dress. She could barely contain her joy as she ran down the aisle to her fiancé. Keep in mind, this wedding was 3 years in the making, having been delayed, re-delayed, and re-re-delayed due to the pandemic.

Their Jewish wedding featured circling the groom and then circling the bride, readings and blessings from many of their friends, and SO much laughter. ChatGPT played a decent-sized role in the wedding, as several speakers (among them a Pulitzer Prize Nominee) decided to read some decidedly unique AI-created blessings. If you use ChatGPT for wedding vows, do so at your own risk!

After their triumphant glass breaking and kiss, they practically ran down the aisle. Up next was cocktail hour, and as someone who has photographed hundreds of weddings around the globe…this wedding at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden may have had the most delicious food I’ve had all year. The food was unique, plentiful, and super high quality. Unique grilled cheese platters, passed appetizers, a Middle Eastern appetizer station, sushi and sashimi, grilled meats, and more delighted the palate. Union Square Events runs all the catering for BBG weddings, and I’m a big fan of their food.

A Very Colorful Palm House Reception


A guest-led series of performances by the botanic garden’s fountain followed cocktail hour, and featured quite the assortment. During it all, guests could mill about the now-private Brooklyn garden grounds, find their tables in the card catalog, or nosh.

Following an outfit change and the changing of the lights in the magnificent Palm House atrium, everyone was introduced, and dancing commenced. Since David chose not to go up in a chair for the hora, Jenn took one of her bridespeople up with her, much to the glee of everyone.

Their nontraditional first dance and more dancing commenced, followed by many toasts…and lots of delicious food. There are hundreds of photos, and to narrow it down to just photos in this post is nearly impossible. And they say Brooklyn weddings are all the same?! I think not!

More food and dessert than could be had was presented, from cherry ice cream sandwiches to passion fruit chocolates. Delicious!

The lighting went from white to purple to rainbow, making the dance sets a delight to photograph. I even took them outside for an end-of-the-night portrait in front of the glowing Palm House. Congratulations, Jenn & David!

Sure, I may have gotten home at 2 a.m., but documenting this one-of-a-kind wedding at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was as fantastic as it gets~

Vendors listed below

www.kathryncooperweddings.com
Dancing the hora at Brooklyn Botanic Garden wedding

Vendors
Photographer: www.KathrynCooperWeddings.com
Getting Ready: https://www.akwaaba.com/
Wedding Venue: https://www.bbg.org/
Bridal Salon: https://www.instagram.com/bridalreflectionsny
Dress Designer: https://www.instagram.com/mark_zunino/
Brooch Bouquet: https://www.instagram.com/evaromitaart
Florist: https://www.florescentnyc.com/
Wedding Planner: http://www.ashleymchamblin.com/
Program Art: https://www.instagram.com/si_fraser/
Videographer: https://alostepic.com/
Tuxedo: https://www.bindleandkeep.com/

Kathryn Cooper Weddings: Brooklyn Botanic Garden | Botanical Garden Wedding Venues | Brooklyn Wedding Photographer

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Oh my gosh that one indoor shot with the dark wood and bright purple dress! It’s so luxe. Beautiful photos!

These gardens are amazing and offer so much variety for photographs! Always love the colours in your photography and they look like they had a blast, thanks for sharing!

Wow! That purple dress and all those purple details are just everything!!!! I love when couples choose fun and non traditional for their wedding!

Its soooo colorful and amazing! I love everything about this wedding, but especially that the bride and groom made their wedding completely their own and unique and true to them!

This is beyond cool, I love how well thought out and unique, out of the ordinary this wedding is! And you captured it so beautifully – the venue, the splash of colors (that dress is so bold and absolutely stunning), and of course the happiness of the couple + the guests. Amazing work!

Wow!! This is so fun and I love it! And the library card to find your seat was so clever – honestly so many cool ideas! 🙂 This looks like it would have been a blast and your photos are so beautiful! 🙂

STUNNING! This wedding was so curated for the couple I mean a purple wedding dress?! I am here for it! This was a beautiful shot day

Wooow this is so unique..from that ahhmazing purple number to the teddy bear throwing. So very beautiful, too. Wishing the couple an amazing life together, and kudos for such amazing shots of this day!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden looks like a fantastic space for a wedding. This looks like such a fun day that must have been a blast to be part of!

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