The wedding chapel attached to my home on the NE corner of 10th avenue and Milwaukee street in the Congress Park neighborhood of East Denver, has a high arched ceiling, stained glass, and lots of art (see gary-theartist.com). A single large room extended on one side by an aerie, the chapel accommodates parties of up to twenty people. For larger parties I can suggest various venues — whether you want an urban or mountain setting, a roof or open air. I’ve performed wedding and renewal of vows ceremonies in country clubs and trailer parks, botanic gardens and driveways, at Red Rocks Amphitheater, on Flagstaff Mountain, in parks throughout the Denver metro area and lots of backyards.
The experience a wedding ceremony affords me surely influences how I feel about the venue. Those in the open-air theater on Flagstaff Mountain west of Boulder have all been wonderful – lively couples, excellent musicians, and delicious fare at the receptions that followed. The place itself, while not spectacular, has a nice vista to the east, plenty of evergreens, and surprisingly good acoustics.
Red Rock Amphitheater
Red Rock Amphitheater, nestled among giant red sandstone structures carved by nature, has an exciting feeling that’s probably enhanced by knowing the talent that has graced its stage – John Denver, Judy Collins, the Beatles. Red Rocks became even more special when a German lad and his American fiancée asked me to officiate their wedding there. I asked the gentleman if he’d like me to give him his vows in German, a language I learned while a graduate student. “Jawohl, das waere schoen (Yes, that would be beautiful),” he replied. That prompted the bride to put a request to me. “Do you think you could say a blessing over the wine we’ll drink from the glass Jonathan will then smash?” Knowing how brief the blessing is, I felt confident saying, “Not only will I bless it, I’ll do it in Hebrew.” A Jewish friend was happy to teach me the blessing and to the utter delight of the bride’s Jewish mother, I pulled it off. How many other Denver wedding officiants have spoken German and Hebrew as part of the same wedding ceremony – and in so gorgeous a setting as Red Rocks! I was high for days.
At the east end of Denver’s Cheesman Park stands a white marble Roman style pavilion modeled on the Parthenon in Rome. Adorned by flowerbeds and fountains in summer, trees and an almost unobstructed view of the Front Range year round, it’s a popular spot. I did a wedding on its south side one Saturday while another took place in the other end of the building. Near the fountains three quinceaneras (hispanic coming of age ceremonies for fifteen year old girls) were underway.
Museum of Nature and Science in City Park
For nifty vistas you can’t beat that on the west side of the Museum of Nature and Science in City Park. The great grassy meadow, the large lake backed by the funky yellow building behind it, the downtown skyline, and the distant Rocky Mountains. Early in the morning, when dew sparkles the grass and sunlight skims the lake and bounces off the aforementioned funky architecture, it’s a magical place.
Denver Botanic Garden
The Denver Botanic Garden has intimate nooks, an open area where a tent can go up, and a grassy-sided theater in the round. If you love flowers, this may be your spot. While renting space there is pricey, you and a few guests willing to stand can go in for the price of admission, proceed to the spot of your choosing, and have me marry you. No florist required.
Finally, for intimacy, good vibrations, and the irreplaceable feeling of being at home, your backyard is perfect. Your guests are close to you as you exchange vows and feel very much part of the action, as opposed to mere spectators. Part of my job is to bring your guests into the energetic circle that embraces you, and it’s a whole lot easier to do if they’re bunched close to you, as they inevitably are in a backyard.