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For God’s sake, get me to the arboretum, the museum, or the esplanade on time!
By Lucie Nelka |

Sure, everyone agrees that love is a many-splendored thing. And because that’s so, all your family and friends are teary-eyed and excited for you-the newly engaged cou- ple-when you announce your intentions. Loved ones gather together and throw parties in your honor to herald the upcoming union. But, beware. At these joyous occasions, the happy revelers proceed to whirl around you and your intended, each spurting out wedding-day ideas and taking his turn at cornering you in the kitchen, eager to present suggestions on how your perfect day ought to be celebrated. I know. Being only three months away from my own matrimonial march, believe me. I know. I had one dear aunt inform me that harvest gold and avocado green were the official colors of a May wedding. Another fond friend urged me to wear a crocheted wedding gown, even though I looked like an afghan in motion in it. Someone else said she wouldn’t make the wedding unless I penciled her in to sing “Ave Maria” in Latin. (Ideal, she reminded me, for my own Catholic service.) She’s not coming.

Which is all to say that the fun and glow of planning a wedding usually stops after you’ve worn your engagement ring the first twenty-four hours. There are a lot of decisions to be made, you bright-eyed brides and grooms to be, but first and foremost is the question of where to wed. It’s wise to decide early on, as many places have waiting lists of up to two years-and that could strain the patience of any engagee. To take some of the guesswork out of that all-important decision, we present our list of fifteen romantic spots in which to say “I do.”


Fort Worth Botanic Garden, 3220 Botanic Garden Dr. North. This 114-acre oasis has six spots available for weddings- the lower and oval rose gardens; the horseshoe circle garden (surrounded by crape myrtle and blooming annuals); the display garden located near the gazebo; the perennial garden; and the fragrance garden, punctuated with herbs and annuals. Each garden is at its peak sometime during the months of May through November, so it’s best to call before setting your date to make sure the desired spot is in full bloom. The Botanic Garden furnishes nothing but Mother Nature and the space, which rents for $100. Only a few chairs (which you provide) are permitted for the immediate family, and, although no amplified music other than the Wedding March is allowed, you may bring in non-electric musical instruments and record or tape players. Deco- rations may be imported but nothing can be at- tached to trees, plants, or buildings. For more infor- mation, call (817) 870-7686.

Dallas Nature Center. 7555 Wheatland Rd. Undisturbed pastures of wildflowers provide a romantic spring-to-summer backdrop. In June the center will begin accommodating wedding parties of any size looking to use its outdoor pool and pavilion. (Sorry. Only in the movies can you actually stand in a field of flowers and profess your love.) The space is rented on a half-day basis for $100 for the outside areas, $175 for both outside and inside facilities. The Nature Center has a full dining and kitchen area, and food and alcoholic beverages are permitted. Call Brian Williamson at 296-1955 to find out more.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society Headquarters, 8617 Garland Rd. The five gardens near the DeGolyer Estate are exquisite wedding sites. Overlooking White Rock Lake, the gardens are best when the roses and wisteria are in bloom and the weather is still bearable, which means that a spring wedding would be ideal. A full kitchen is available and you can provide your own caterer or choose from several they recommend. The space rents for $700, which reserves the spot for four hours. To make an appointment call 327-8263.

The Garden Room and Courtyard at the Hotel Crescent Court, 400 Crescent Court. Nestled between the hotel and the shops at The Crescent is an old English-style garden, complete with cobblestoned walkways and climbing rose bushes. (Should the weather turn bad. inside rooms are held on reserve.) Rental rate is solely contingent upon food and beverage costs and there is no minimum. To use the grounds and the accompanying all-glass greenhouse, contact Phyllis Venners at 871-3200.


Old City Park, 1717 Gano. Just on the outskirts of downtown stands the tiny Pilot Grove Church, a nondenominational chapel built in the 1890s. Located across from the park’s gazebo (also a popular site for weddings) is the chapel with its whitewashed exterior and old-fashioned steeple. Seating 125 well-wishers, it’s complete with the original wooden pews and a small pump organ. The church, which was recently equipped with central heat and air, rents for $300, plus a $50 refundable security deposit. Call Betty Kelsey at the Dallas County Heritage Society, 421-5141.

Park Cities Baptist Church, 3933 Northwest Parkway. Park Cities Baptist Church has three sites open to non-members. Ellis Chapel seats 400 guests; for smaller groups. Narthex Chapel, located near the main sanctuary, accommodates up to thirty-eight persons. If you’re planning to haul in dozens of toaster ovens, the main sanctuary will seat 2,200 of your friends and family. Fees range from S25 to $750; Saturdays are reserved for members of the congregation, Reservations should be made three to six months in advance and are handled through Mary Dominy at 369-8211.

Perkins Chapel on the Southern Methodist University campus, Mockingbird at Hillcrest. This red brick, Georgian-style church with its dramatic center aisle and arched stained glass windows seats 350 to 400 people. The chapel rents for $325, which includes one hour of rehearsal, the services of an organist, and directed parking for wedding guests. Perkins Chapel has four weddings a week, held on Saturday only, and they are spaced three hours apart. Perkins is a popular wedding spot, so it’s wise to call as soon as you’ve set a date. To reserve the chapel, call Betty Tucker at 692-3035.


Park Suites Hotel. 13131 N. Central Expwy. The romantic site here is the atrium. a spacious, light-filled indoor garden. Carefully plotted ponds of goldfish, greenery galore, warm terra cotta and brick fixtures, and a gazebo centerpiece all provide the perfect solution if you want an outdoor wed-ding but don’t want to hassle with the weather. Decorations may be brought in and the hotel provides a piano at no extra charge. The atrium seats seventy but the area is large enough for many more gazers if they don’t mind standing. Weddings are performed weekdays and Sunday after 5 p.m., and Saturday after 11 a.m. The cost is $500. Call Norrice Auen at the hotel, 234-3300.

Marriott Mandalay at Las Colinas, 221 E. Las Colinas Blvd. in Irving. Few things are as romantic as standing near the Venetian-style canal that winds its way through the heart of Las Colinas and empties into Lake Caroline beside the Marriott Mandalay. The courtyard of the hotel is a lush green garden bordered by the waterway. Ceremonies for 150 in this outdoor niche run anywhere from $750 to $1,000, a price that includes rental of chairs, latticed archway, runway, gazebo, and an indoor room as backup in case of bad weather. (The price decreases if you hold your reception in one of the ballrooms.) Music and flowers may be provided by the hotel or supplied by the wedding party. Call Cathy Alloy at 556-0800.

The Adolphus, 1321 Commerce. Most of the weddings at The Adolphus are held in the Grand Ballroom, elegantly decorated with a twenty-three-foot muraled ceiling, hand-blown chandeliers, and arched windows. (Other banquet rooms on the mezzanine level are also available for smaller groups.) Generally, if both the wedding and reception are held here, the ceremony is performed in one half of the ballroom and the reception in the other half. For the wedding, the hotel provides risers and chairs and an outside florist may bring in floral arrangements, candelabras, and other room decorations. The rental of the room for a wedding service alone is $200-$500 depending on the size of the room required. (If the reception is also held here, the price is lower.) To find out more, call Dawn Rosenquist at 742-8200.


The Science Place, located on the grounds of Fair Park. Getting married in the company of computerized dinosaurs, we’d say, is pretty darned unusual. One couple who tied the knot here opted to have the dinos roar on the appropriate cue. but after all, the bride was decked in flaming red. If wild things are for you. the museum rents for $500-$l,500 depending on which section of the building you use. It’s available any day after 5 p.m. Call Alice Riggins at 428-7200.

The Lagoon at Fair Park. This is one of the few quiet spots on the fair grounds. Picture yourself standing next to a pond filled with lily pads and blooming water plants and surrounded by a grove of live oak trees-this is the place for a lovely, tranquil wedding. Depending on the size of your chosen area, that peaceful, easy feeling will cost a maximum of $300. If it’s just you two, the minister, and the wind, it’s as low as $50. Now, if it’s a dancing fountain production you want, the esplanade located nearby is a long stretch of flowing activity spanning the equivalent of four city blocks. Tree-lined and sandwiched between the art deco Centennial and Automobile buildings, this location may be used at any time and in any month except October, unless it’s your burning desire to marry in the midst of 80,000 fairgoers. $400 reserves the whole area. Call 670-8795 for information.

Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Har-wood. If you prefer to have Renoir and God as your witness, and you’re an associate member of the DMA (the membership fee at this level is $1,500), then the contemporary collections wing is perfect for a reception. (You’ll have to go to City Hall to marry, though, as the actual wedding ceremony cannot be performed here.) A security fee of $10 per person with a $1,500 minimum is required, and catering must be provided . through the museum. In addition to the wing, two outdoor spots are available-the ceremonial entrance and the sculpture court-yard, which are tented and floored for the festivities at an additional cost of $1,500-$8,500 (the fee is determined by the size of the party). Receptions may be held after 5 p.m. every day except for Thursday and any time on Monday. Call Richard Suttman at 922-0220 for more information.

Union Station, 400 S. Houston St. In true ; Texas tradition, the Grand Hall in Union Station is incredibly grand. This sprawling, brick-tiled room has a forty-eight-foot vaulted ceiling, a large gazebo in the middle, and immense all-window doors that open to a stone-pillared patio overlooking Ferris Plaza and the lights of downtown. A changing room for the bride and groom and a piano are provided at no charge. Additionally, since Union Station is managed by the Hyatt Regency Dallas, arrangements may be made through them to accommodate out-of-town guests and for special honeymoon packages for the newlyweds. The rental fee for the Grand Hall is negotiable, based on the quantity of food ordered. Make reservations through Lyn Sholl at 651-1234.

Texas Queen Riverboat, departing from Elgin B. Robertson Park on Lake Ray Hub-bard, I-30 and Dalrock Rd. Imagine a sunrise service or a moonlit sail aboard this doubledeck paddlewheeler. The Texas Queen holds 175 guests who’ll have the perfect view of the two of you from either the enclosed air-conditioned dining room or the covered open-air observation deck. You can charter the Texas Queen for $600 an hour with a minimum cruise time of three hours. Food, beverage, entertainment, and flowers are provided at an additional cost. In case of bad weather, the captain will host the party dockside. (No, he won’t marry you. That isn’t done any more.) Call Judy Deisher at 226-8343 or 722-0039.


If Dallas is typical of other major metropolitan areas, 50 percent of its citizens claim membership to a church, but only half of that number regularly attend services. That leaves a lot of folks looking for just the right person to perform their wedding. Enter Dr. Mike Renquist (shown above), a warm, personable pastor of the people.

It’s easy to trust your hearts to Renquist, who in the past eighteen years has married more than 300 couples. “I perform my weddings with integrity, purpose, direction, and with blessings,” says Renquist. “A marriage is a public affirmation of one’s love of another, and because of that I customize my words to match the uniqueness of that love.”

Renquist spends as much time as it takes to establish a relationship with those he is to marry because he wants the couples to feel at home with him. “There’s nothing worse than feeling as if a stranger is standing before you,” he says. And he wants them to be comfortable with the idea of designing their own liturgy, including the wedding vows, if that’s what they want. During these meetings, he closely watches the way a couple interacts, the way they talk about their love. He notes all the individual subtleties in the relationship so that he can incorporate these personal touches into his service.

Renquist says he’s always on call and ready to marry, anytime, anywhere-in gardens, on boats, in hotels. “Because God is love and love is here, God is here.” says Renquist, “regardless of where ’here’ might be.”

Contact Renquist at 352-7644.

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