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Dinner for Two: Botanic Garden celebrates romantic evening with couples who were married there

The Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern recently hosted a delicious and romantic dinner under the Heritage Pavilion for eight couples who were married in the Garden over the years. It was a beautiful walk down memory lane!

"Celebrate your love!" That is what eight couples who were married at the Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern did on Thursday, May 2, 2024, as they enjoyed a private, elegant dinner in the Garden. The evening, as one couple shared, was ”a very classy, fun evening with a great venue of all the sights and sounds of beautiful flowers blooming and birds chirping.”

The Botanic Garden at Georgia Southern University, traces its roots to the meeting of Daniel Bland and Catharine O'Neill in 1914 at the First District Agricultural & Mechanical School, now Georgia Southern University. Upon marrying, Bland was gifted land by his parents and developed the landscape found at the Garden today! He was a self-taught naturalist with a huge interest in native plants and other classic favorites.

The Garden’s 11 acres of historical farmstead, gardens, and woodlands are a delight to the eye.

The dinner place setting

Todd Beasley, Ed.D, Director of the Botanic Garden, his wife Amy Allen, and garden employees Kathy Tucker and Becky Akin were brainstorming on how to get the community more involved with the Garden. Visiting the garden is the first step, followed by learning more about and attending Garden events, and finally, becoming an ambassador for what a living museum of plants is all about.

Beasley added that research has shown people are more likely to return when special events, education opportunities, and exhibits are happening. That is how this special evening became a reality. The Garden staff invited all who had been married at the Garden to return.

"This [was] the first time for this event,“ added Beasley. “We have approximately 20 weddings a year."

Doug & Nicole Reynolds, married in April 2017

Gardens have long served as a source of romantic inspiration according to Brides magazine, transforming any space into that Magical Garden you dream about. They offer a setting that is peaceful, tranquil, and in tune with the natural world.

Tucker, who is the Garden's Education Coordinator, has kept incredible records since she started at the Garden in 2008. After the idea was born, the group sent an e-vite to all couples previously married at the Botanic Garden, to revisit and enjoy a romantic dinner-for-two to celebrate their garden wedding.

Nine couples, whose time married ranged from 1 ½ to 19 years, happily responded, and eight were able to attend. The couples who attended came from a variety of professions including law enforcement, medicine, administration, education, and sales. Some have children (including two sets of twins and two soon-to-arrive newborns in the group!) and some none.

Casey & Angela Whaley, married in December 2016

However, they did have a common thread: they were all married in the Garden and thrilled to be back. It was a perfect opportunity to ‘reminisce and recall’ their special day.

Their romantic evening began with a stroll to the Heritage Pavilion, where they were greeted with a champagne toast and hors d'oeuvres including chicken salad, cheese, crackers, and fruit. Nine sweetheart tables were strategically placed for intimate dinner conversation. Crisp table linens, colorful flower centerpieces, and soft classical romantic music by Carlos Carvajal created the perfect ambiance.

A three-course dinner of honey-buttered croissants, strawberry garden salad, a choice of pan seared salmon or chicken breast with garlic butter cream sauce, rice pilaf, and balsamic glazed asparagus was offered, followed with a luscious dessert of chocolate or red velvet cake. All of the delicious dinner was exclusively prepared by Kateisha Broomfield, owner of T's Southern Kitchen & Catering.

Bobby & Sarah Fisher, married in November 2015

A refreshment table with signature botanical cocktails and assorted beverages was made available. The celebration tickets included a one-year Sustainer Membership for each couple, as well. The couples were elated! 

One of the wives, married 12 years ago at the Garden, commented smiling, “I like having a quiet dinner with my husband and no family interruptions!" While another couple, married there 14 years ago, said, “It was a lovely evening with delicious food, great company; and the Garden was beautiful.”

Beasley and the team are working diligently to keep the Garden on the radar at the university, as well as in the city and region. This garden is special and has a lot of potential to be a ‘role model.’

Tim & Shelvy Humphrey, married in December of 2022

"We will continue to strategize how to activate spaces to have multiple areas to choose from to be the premier destination for weddings, engagements, business events, parties, and milestone celebrations,” Beasley said.

They also aim to begin opening on Saturdays, starting in March of 2025.

“One great aspect of the Botanic Garden is that it is for everyone," Beasley added. "You do not need to be a member to visit the Botanic Garden. Have your own date at the Garden; bring a picnic! How can you go wrong in a beautiful setting at $5.00?”

A beautiful setting for the romantic dinner

Visit the Garden

  • Address: 1503 Bland Ave., Statesboro GA 30458
  • Admission: Students are FREE; Admission for the general public is $5
  • Membership: A variety of memberships are available allowing FREE access and discounts to numerous programs.
  • Hours
    • April-October: Monday-Friday, 9:30am-7:00pm, Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm
    • November-March: Monday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm, Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm
    • The Garden is closed on Saturdays and University holidays.

For more information, call the Garden at 912-478-1149 or stop by the office at 1201 Fair Road. You can visit the Garden website here or follow along on Facebook and Instagram at @botanicGSU.