We can’t all be Kate Middleton and marry a prince. But do we really want to get married royal-style, anyway? Fairy-princess glamour is appealing, but royal nuptials are so very public. You can have an English-style garden wedding in the Los Altos area without traveling to London.
All you need is a garden that is both elegant and rustic. Two pocket-sized, historical gardens on the Peninsula allow you to hold just such an intimate and refined wedding.
Close to home
If you’re after the allure of the past, the Los Altos History Museum, located at 51 S. San Antonio Road, and its garden offer a venue with a tangible sense of history.
The Craftsman-style J. Gilbert Smith History House, a shingled farmhouse built in 1905, is the gem at the center of this little historical world. Its wide porch draped in honeysuckle exudes a country charm.
“The fact that it’s a very rustic almost-farmhouse is very appealing,” said Mark Perry, facility and rental manager.
In the garden, heritage oaks and apricot trees from a long-gone orchard are reminders that this was once a working farm.
“One of the main things that people like here is that it’s an outdoor venue,” Perry said.
A brick courtyard with antique-style verdigris lamps becomes an intimate setting for weddings that take place amid native California plants and ornamental cherry trees. Lights strung in surrounding trees are shaped like tiny birdhouses that glow at night.
Best of all, it’s a historical world that you can make your own. According to Perry, some clients have chosen to swathe the birdhouse lights in paper shades, or brought their own lanterns and tea-light luminaires to create a romantic effect of soft lighting at dusk. One wedding party turned the gazebo with its two large picnic tables into a boisterous “kids corner” full of activities and games.
Take a Gamble in Palo Alto
The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, located at 1431 Waverley St. in Palo Alto, offers another English-garden-style setting for weddings. Tucked at its center is the historical Gamble House, built in 1902, but the garden’s beauty and variety are the main attractions.
“People come here because it’s so pretty,” said Executive Director Vanessa Roach. “Any time of year, there’s something spectacular.”
The formal gardens surrounding the house retain a classical, historical feel: A cherry-tree-lined walkway features a sundial at its center and a grotto fountain at one end; a rose garden traces the circular lines of what used to be the grounds for playing clock golf. These areas have a “neutral palette and lush greens that provide a nice backdrop for photos,” Roach said.
Elsewhere, a Mediterranean garden presents a very different profile, as do the bright aisles of flowers that converge on a latticed gazebo.
“People love that there are different settings,” Roach said.
It means they can, for example, hold the ceremony under a canopy on the house lawn, amid dripping wisteria; have a champagne toast in the tiny teahouse courtyard; and enjoy a sit-down dinner in the restored carriage house.
If the ceremony or reception is held in the house, the garden is visible from every window, so that “you are very much a part of nature, though you’re in the house,” according to Roach.
“To be right in the middle of the garden is so special,” she said.
The Gamble garden has scheduled a Bridal Faire May 15. The garden and indoor rental spaces will be set up to demonstrate how one might use them for a wedding.
With a bit of lace and antique porcelain, you can celebrate an English-style garden wedding without worrying about the rain – or your carbon footprint.
For more information and rental rates, contact the Los Altos History Museum at 948-9427, ext. 12, or the Gamble garden at 329-1356.