We LOVE Brookside Gardens! They have quite a few strict rules for events but their event planning team is really responsive to your questions and requests, and on the big day they really mobilize to do everything on their part to make the day a success! We really loved working with Nora.
Beautiful setting and the cost goes towards keeping it that way.
Our experience with Brookside Gardens has been bumpy from Day 1. They practically never answer their phones. Their turnaround time to return your voicemail isn't impressive and the staff is less than professional - most of them seem to be part-time employees who never know how to answer your questions. Regardless of this experience, we decided to host our wedding there because the gardens themselves are breathtaking. The beauty of the gardens did not matter in our case as we could not host our reception on the Gude Garden as planned and paid for!
Here's our story: The day before our wedding, there was torrential downpour. However, weather for the day of our wedding was 75-80 degrees. While the grass was wet that morning, it would have dried off by our reception time at 5:00 pm (and it did!). Regardless, BG refused to let us tent the Gude Garden so we wouldn't ruin their precious grass (the rental company had OKed to tent the garden)! The alternative was to get some special flooring which was over $5,000!! So, we had to move our reception indoors. Now if the grass was still wet and muddy to walk in, I would have understood. But by the time I arrived at BG around 2 pm, it was dry and there were park visitors strolling everywhere! Our reception could have taken place outdoors, if it wasn't for the staff at BG being unreasonably difficult :(
Needless to say, I would not recommend BG to anyone. I wish I had taken fellow brides' advise here on WW and not contracted with them for my wedding. While it may be a little late for me, it's not late for you. Brides-to-be, trust me, you can find other prettier venues with competent staff to host your wedding! If you love BG, take your pictures there (pretty sure it's free since it's a public park) and host your wedding somewhere else!
Brookside Gardens is a gorgeous site for a wedding ceremony. In the end, the event went off beautifully - the staff were on site and restricted access to the ceremony site as they were supposed to. They reserved parking spots for us and had the chairs set up without a hitch. Leading up to the ceremony, however, we were not feeling very secure. We never seemed to be talking to the right person when we contacted the gardens with questions, and the people we talked with werent very helpful. We were concerned about parking and about options if it rained; we always felt like we weren't getting a straight answer or any kind of commitment from them. In the end, everything went beautifully, so I would recommend them. I would suggest though that they should try to make their clients feel a little more secure during the planning stages. Just realize that you are not dealing with an event planning organization, per se.
We had a small ceremony at the Tea House. They set up the chairs for us and blocked off the entrance during the time we rented to ensure no strangers wandered in. I even got to ride down to the Tea House on a golf cart in the 80 degree heat! Nora was very professional when we signed our contract and answered all our questions and concerns. Great place if you want to be in a nature setting. We didn't use decorations because we didn't want to take away from what nature offered. Everyone said we chose a great venue for the ceremony. I am glad we chose Brookside Gardens. We had difficulty finding a venue for 20 people or less that was scenic and cost efficient. Brookside was exactly what we wanted.
Brookside Gardens was a lovely place to have our wedding. It's a great backdrop for pictures, our guests raved, and we look forward to visiting in years to come and remembering our wedding day. We had our ceremony and cocktails in the fragrance garden and our reception in the visitors' center, and these spaces were blocked off from the general public during the event. Nora, Maryanne and everyone we dealt with was very nice, and we especially appreciated rides from the man with the golf cart.
However, we endured needless stress in the months leading up to the wedding because of communication problems. If you're planning to have your wedding here, first know that there is not always someone in the office, and not once did I actually reach them when I called. You have to leave a message, and then someone might call you back the next day if you're lucky.
There are also a lot of rules. For instance, we were not allowed to serve red wine or liquor. You also have to rent a dance floor and PA system if you want to have dancing-- there is no dancing allowed on the carpet, and their PA system is apparently unsuitable for music.
But what bothered me was that it cost 50 percent more than we initially expected. Brookside tells you that you have to rent an additional hour to set up chairs for your ceremony. But what you don't learn until later is that you also have to pay an additional hour if you want to be in the garden after the ceremony, such as for a cocktail hour. And the garden and reception hall essentially rent separately, so when our caterer had to arrive an hour early, we had to rent an extra hour for the garden and an extra hour for the reception hall, at about $400 an hour for each.
I suppose it was not entirely Brookside's fault, but we chose the venue in part for what we believed was budget-friendliness, and it turned out it was more expensive than many of the choices we ruled out for being too pricey. I guess the moral is, unless you have your wedding in your own back yard, you're going to get gouged one way or another.
We love the gardens and were relieved to find out that they block off your wedding from the public so that there aren't random people walking through your ceremony. There were a few hidden costs which we weren't aware of (i.e. having to pay an extra hour before the ceremony for time to set up chairs) and the staff is very particular about what you can and cannot do, but we still felt that we had a beautiful wedding there.
The venue is very pretty and all our guests complimented the site on our wedding day. However, we had a lot of regrets having chosen the site due to their lack of professionalism and information. The staff we worked with were all very nice to us, but this doesn't mean that they were easy to work with. Different staff told us different things at different times and the manager would not honor the promises her staff gave us. We were very stressed out trying rent last-minute equipments and rooms. During the walk-through before our contract, they explained us about their equipments at the site, but we found out a week prior of the event that most of them are not included in the contract and worse, some of them are just not rentable. The price only includes the location. They do not provide any other services. If you book this site be prepared to do all of the work necessary to put on an event yourselves (i.e. full service catering, wedding coordinator, renting audio equipment). They make you put down a deposit but do not let you use any equipment other than their tables and chairs. Beautiful site, but very difficult to put together a decent wedding here. You just can't appreciate the site if you're constantly stressed out. I would not recommend this vendor to my friends. If you want nice pictures, just go to take pictures. I heard that groups less than 10 people can come to take pictures for free (but this might also not be true).
We had our ceremony here and it was very beautiful. All in all the wedding was wonderful.
A few things to be concerned about using this vendor includes the following:
(1) Their staff is not the greatest honestly, so make sure that you have all of your paperwork in order and know exactly what you are paying. In the end we worked out that we were overcharged for the event. Also, they require a 1000.00 deposit. Keep in mind that it will take them at LEAST 2 weeks to get the deposit back to you.
(2) Depending on the garden you choose (We chose the fragrance garden) the scenery can change. For our wedding they decided that they wanted to do food plants... so there were really not alot or any flowers in the flowerbeds. This was not a huge issue because it was still a beautiful area and day but for future brides this is important to keep in mind that how the garden looks now will not be what it looks like later.
(3) They told us last year when we arranged the venue that they would be able to provide us with chairs in the garden for a fee, to this date they STILL do not have chairs available, so you will have to get another vendor to cover the breakdown and setup of chairs. We had to keep calling them to make sure concerning the chairs, and thank goodness we did.
(4) Don't expect this vendor to be in touch with you too much, as we had to keep calling them in order to make sure everything was ok. There were many times where we had to resubmit paperwork because they lost it... its a good thing that my husband and mother keep excellent records.
Brookside Gardens is a beautiful place to have an outdoor wedding. However, if you decide to have it here, know that plans change--and often last-minute! It didn't rain on our outdoor wedding, which was great. BUT we originally planned to have the ceremony at the Japanese Teahouse, which we discovered was swarming with giant bumblebees the day before the wedding. So we decided to move the ceremony to the lawn. On the wedding day itself, Brookside informed us that the spot we picked is a liability for them (a hill) so they made us move it again to another lawn in the garden. In the end, it all worked out, but it was definitely stressful, on both me and my wedding planner.
Like others have said, Brookside is not really a typical wedding venue business so they do not provide good service around these kinds of things. But they will be accomodating when they can. All in all, I had a good experience.
The service I received from the staff was beyond terrible, communication wasn't there at all. Was lied to several times and then I was hung up on by a supervisior. After my now husband called and tried to figure out a resolution, things got to a point where I was willing to have the ceremony there because the place meant a great deal to me and I wasn't going to let the staff ruin my day. They called my husband on the day of the rehearsal asking if we wanted to set up a rehearsal time, even though we had done this a few months previous. They stated nothing about needing to come to the visitor's center to check in, they claimed to have had a staff member present at our rehearsal time, not true. They gave us no direction on where to get dressed or how to "stage" before the ceremony. Thanks to my wonderful husband and groomsmen, things went of easily the day of.
We had our wedding in April and were blessed with good weather. Our pictures are gorgeous as many of the spring tulips have bloomed. Like some of the other brides, I was nervous about weather since our booking was for an outdoor wedding. We were told we'd be accommated of an indoor wedding if it rained, however it wasn't certain where it'd be. I had vendors to come to decorate the gazebo and chairs/podium/mic to be delivered. I wanted more reassurance that we'd be able to accommate our guest of 100+. Luckily, we had good weather. I don't know how plan B would have turned out. They say they don't book 2 weddings in a day, but they can book 2 events which could affect your plan B.
Just keep in mind, Brookside Gardens is a park/garden before a wedding business. If you decide to have your wedding here, keep an open mind, they are not like most of the other vendors you'd work with. It will be gorgeous and you are helping out the Montgomery County parks - which is a great cause as well.
I had my ceremony here at the Japanese tea house and worked with Ivy. I had the best experience with this team of people. I went back and forth with my dates and times and they kept me in the know as to what could work and what was best. They offered recommendations for rehearsal dinner places, photographers etc. On the day of there was so much rain and I was a stressed bride, but Ivy worked with me and my family and we got it all together. I would get married all over again at this venue and work with the same people. They were timely in returning information/receipts. Beautiful garden area no matter what area you choose!!
I had my August wedding at Brookside Gardens and it was enchanting! I worked mainly with Nora and Ivy who were SUPER accommodating to my schedule--I planned the wedding from out of town and flew in to check out vendors. I got married in the Fragrance Garden and had my reception in the Brookside Reception hall. We were concerned about heat, humidity, and rain---we had none of the above! It was a beautiful place to get married. The Gardens provided a wonderful backdrop for a very special day!
We would recommend the garden for a ceremony. The area we reserved for the ceremoney was blocked off when we arrived.
Brookside Gardens is a wonderful place to have your wedding ceremony. We considered the quality of service, outstanding. We worked with Nora and Ivey and both provided wonderful service. Although not required by contract, the Gardens provided a rain site, if needed. Fortunately, we did not need it. We were able to talk with staff when we had questions and all were very responsive, professional and kind. We consider the cost to rent the site quite reasonable. We had to place a security deposit and the Gardens quickly returned the deposit without our asking.
The Gardens are beautiful, unique, and will provide your guests with a wonderful place to relax before your wedding and for many visits afterward.