Waterfall near Valley Green Inn, Wissahickon Park, Philadelphia

Where I’m Getting Married

June 2, 2012

in Nature, parks, Philadelphia, wedding, Wissahickon Park

When I was in college, I did work study in the English department office. This was probably a conflict of interests given that I was an English major and basically made copies, filed and ran errands for the people who, at one point or another, were my professors. I don’t think my grades directly benefited from it, but I did form a solid rapport with many of the faculty, including the two chairs of the department.

One of the strongest relationships I had was with the secretary for the department, Francine. A married mother of four boys, she was petite and red-headed, as clever as she was kind. She had her first grandchild while I worked with her, and the little girl was her sun and moon. I always thought it was a combination of Francine not having a daughter of her own and me missing my own mother one state over that brought us together (they finally got to meet, four years later, on the night of my graduation baccalaureate mass when they coincidentally stood across from each other as my class proceeded down the aisle into the church).

Image courtesy Creative Commons

Francine would sometimes invite me to art museum exhibits and brunches on the weekends, such a stark departure from my normal life as a poor, immature 19-year-old consumed with studying and frat parties. It gave me a chance to be a bit classy and eat  something beyond microwave pasta bowls and pizza. One Sunday, I joined her and another faculty member for brunch at a place called Valley Green Inn nestled in the Wissahickon Park area of Philly. It was dimly lit and cozy even in the late morning as I ate biscuits and scones slathered in real jam, poached eggs with a sauce Id never had, greens and potatoes and strong coffee with these grown-up ladies whose reasons for wanting to spend time with me I could not fathom. Afterwards, I returned to my books and the red, plastic cups foaming with beast beer and food not fit for anyone.

The inn presided over the burbling Wissahickon Creek, a favorite playground of local ducks. You could hike or bike and take in the mini waterfalls that spilled over the rocky ledges. That was the first place I ever smelled “creek scent,” as I came to call it. It was a spicy mix of earth and water and air that tingled my nose and made everything seem clean. In the fall, the park was a postcard of red, yellow and orange leaves kept back by wooden fences. It looked how I imagined most of Philly was before the buildings and cars and people came, before it became smoggy and congested and full of garbage and bad attitudes. In the early years of forming a career, trying out relationships and trying to make ends meet, I would come to this park for my peace.

When Brendan and I started researching wedding venues over Easter, we originally started with the Jersey Shore (we already knew we wanted to get married outside, not in a church). But none of them spoke to me. They seemed nice enough for other people’s weddings, but they didn’t feel right for my wedding. We moved the research across the Delaware River to the Philly side and I began to realize I didn’t want a uniform-looking reception venue. I wanted something almost old-fashioned, warm and cozy and surrounded by nature.

The light bulb went off and I turned to Brendan and asked, “What about Wissahickon Park?’ Waterfall near Valley Green Inn, Wissahickon Park, Philadelphia

“I love that place,” he said.

I looked to see if Valley Green did weddings — they did and for a really affordable price. I looked up reviews and emailed the onsite coordinator, who previous brides had raved about. Valley Green did the ceremony outside by the creek, the catering, the wedding cake and the floral arrangements. It was exactly what I needed planning from so far away.

I hemmed and hawed for a few weeks, wanting to be completely confident in such a big, costly decision. Actually, I was 99% sure about Valley Green, but kept switching between wanting a Friday or Saturday wedding. Then an email came through from the coordinator saying there was only one Saturday left for the month of April in 2013. At 6:30 a.m. one Friday while on my way to work, I called Valley Green and put down our deposit. The wedding coordinator then told me something that made the decision seen even more right: the woman she had replaced had herself moved to Australia and then returned to Valley Green to get married while still living abroad.

So on April 6, 2013, I will get married in the beautiful Philly park I found as a teenager to the Philly boy who I found in Australia, bringing this love story — the one between me and Brendan and me and Philly — full circle.

18 Comments - Add Yours!

  1. Ali

    That’s so great that you found a place that fits you so well. I love when things work out like that. And it’s great that the venue handles a lot of the other details, that was so helpful for me when I was planning my wedding last year.

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Ali! It’s interesting that some people know actually what they want for their wedding and where they want to get married and others need to go on a journey to reach that decision. That’s fantastic you had so much taken care of by the venue — I’m sure it alleviated a lot of stress.

  2. Amy

    Oh Lauren, that’s fantastic! It really is meant to be when things just fall into place like that. Such a sweet story behind your venue – I’m sure your wedding will be amazing. 🙂

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thank you so much Amy! I’m sort of shocked I picked a place in Philly over the Jersey Shore, but it’s all about what feels right I guess.

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Heather! How are you going with the venue search? I’ve been following your dress hunt, but wasn’t sure if you had picked a place.

  3. Lauren Post author

    It almost feels like an enchanted place — I might need to change out of my wedding dress to go play amongst the water and trees 🙂

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  5. Laura

    So exciting for you – congrats! Again, sorry am so behind in catching up on your posts. Will you have a party in Australia as well for friends?

    My sister got married this past summer on Martha’s Vineyard and one of my fave things about the wedding was a basket of flip-flops [thongs!] they put out, male and female sizes, for guests to take, so they could ditch their heels and painful ‘dressy’ shoes, and have a dance and relax. it was the hit of the wedding!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Hi Laura — Martha’s Vineyard, that must have been amazing! Were you in the wedding? I really love the flip flop idea — I think guests would get a kick if we wrote “thongs” on the basket since that has a different meaning in the U.S. 😉

      I think we will have a party here in Oz afterwards. I’m just not sure when!

  6. laura

    The Vineyard wedding was gorgeous- small, no bridal party. I love the ‘thongs’ sign idea – a nice little nod to oz!

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