Have you ever attended a boho wedding?
My husband, Al, and I have been married 14 years now, yet people still talk about our wedding. We are known to do our own thing, so a standard wedding and wedding venue did not appeal to us. Looking back, ours was a very Bohemian wedding, though that wasn’t a trendy word back then. Why?
We had a zoo wedding. Not as in our wedding was a zoo. Our wedding was at a zoo. And yes, it included live elephants!
Because we are from different spiritual backgrounds, plus we love being in nature, we decided right away that we wanted an outdoor wedding and rustic venue. We looked at numerous parks throughout Central New York. Then looking up wedding location phone numbers I stumbled across a listing for our local zoo. The thought of getting married at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo made me laugh and I was immediately intrigued.
When you have an outdoor boho wedding and reception, it is really important to come up with a Rain Plan. We live outside of Syracuse, NY near Lake Ontario. Our weather can be very quirky here. The folks at the zoo informed us that they were just building a new entrance with a green events facility. We met with the staff, toured the zoo, inside and out, and knew we had the perfect place for a boho wedding. We literally signed onto blueprints. We also crossed our fingers that our guests would not be arriving to a huge pile of dirt the following year.
So Plan A was to have a fabulous outdoor wedding and reception. Plan B, the Rain Plan, was to use the new lobby and green reception area. So here’s how it all went down:
Thankfully, we had an amazing July evening wedding with gorgeous weather! The zoo closed at 4:30, so we scheduled our wedding for 6 pm. That meant an all-hands-on-deck just over an “hour of power” to clean the place, set up, decorate, get ready, greet guests and be ready to roll with the ceremony. Phew! It was tight! After directing a lot of decorating traffic I got into my wedding dress at about ten of.
As our guests arrived, they were greeted at the door by a zookeeper and a talking parrot the zoo uses for education. Then guests were led through double doors into the courtyard. We had a short ceremony in front of the courtyard flamingo pond. And then the celebration truly began!
The Cocktail Hour
During our cocktail hour, we encouraged our guests to grab a drink and wander about the zoo. We rented the whole zoo just for our guests. Many of the animals are nocturnal, so they become most active after the zoo closes. And they know when it’s their dinner time. While the animals were being fed by the keepers, we also had roaming waiters greeting our guests with hors-d’oeuvres and drinks on the various zoo trails.
We used the cocktail hour to have our photos taken about the zoo. We also paid to have the elephants and keepers present for fence time. Our guests could get up close and personal with elephants Siri and Romini and get their photos taken. Their keeper was keeping them amused by feeding them jelly beans, though Siri thought my bouquet looked like the best treat.
After the cocktail hour, we all met back in the courtyard for dinner and dancing under the stars. We had a wonderful live Big Band playing at the gazebo. As it got dark, zoo volunteers lit hundreds of votive candles throughout the courtyard. The candle effect was so beautiful! We topped the night off by slicing into our 3-tiered elephant iced wedding cake which sat on top of a Raymond Waites elephant cake stand.
Our boho wedding was definitely original. It was win-win-win for everyone. People talk about the event to this day. They often comment that ours was one of the most fun weddings they have ever been to. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo used our wedding experience and photos for years to market their green facilities. And we not only had a great time throwing a fabulous party “our way” but the money we paid for the reception went to helping the zoo and the endangered animals they care for.
P.S. We had a unique honeymoon as well. We took several weeks to travel about 3,000 miles through Alberta, Canada, visiting Calgary, Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Jasper National Park, Edmonton and the Canadian Badlands where I signed us up for a dinosaur dig. As a wedding gift, the staff at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo arranged a behind-the-scenes day for us at the Calgary Zoo. What an amazing trip for nature and animal lovers!
We hope our unique boho wedding inspires you to think out-of-the-box when planning your wedding. Take a look at the Adventuring section on this blog to see what other fun we’ve gotten into since getting married.