On Locations: Opera, Gardens, and a Park, Too!

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
Front entrance to the Monticello Opera House

Front entrance to the Monticello Opera House (all photos personal)

Heading home from our trip to Honey Lake Plantation, we decided to add a second, unofficial, site-visit to the day and pulled into an empty parking lot just across from the back of Monticello Opera House, one of the other venues I’d scoped out online.

It’s hard to miss, if you’re looking for it, as it’s smack in the middle of town, catty-corner to the courthouse.  Imposing red brick, great wood and a convenient gazebo in the back would make for quite a doable location for us in that same, tucked-out-of-the-way feeling.

Since we didn’t have an appointment–it really was just a spur of the moment thing–we contented ourselves with the public-access areas: the backyard and what we could see from the sidewalks.

Having checked out their rates online, I knew that the rental fee for the ballroom was nominal compared to some, and on-par to the location fees of HLP, and came with adequate tables and chairs, as well. We could bring in our own catering, alcohol and pretty much everything else.

They’d recently had an event (or were just about to have one), so looking in the big windows out onto the street and sidewalk we could see the space set up with banquet rounds. There’s certainly enough space for our little group and then some, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

The gazebo in the back was what I was truly concerned with, as I’d only found 1 picture of it online and that’s just not enough to base a plan on, at least not if you’re me! The back is almost totally paved, there are old-fashioned street lamps circling the patio and the gazebo is nice and roomy with more than enough space for 50 chairs, give or take.

Back patio and gazebo of the Monticello Opera House

A view from the side street, pardon the rain-drops, it was a little drizzly.

A better view of the Gazebo, foliage and lighting in the back of the Monticello Opera House

This is more the view the ceremony guests would have.

Looking down the street-side of the Monticello Opera House

Those windows go all the way down to the entrance at the corner.

View from the street-side windows into the hall at the Monticello Opera House

Peek-a-boo, I see you! Wood floors and plenty of room.

Of course, it wasn’t exactly love at first site. I’m curious as to how parking works for events there (with no designated lot that I could see), the fact that it is 30 minutes away and without on-site lodging, and the fact that just anyone driving or walking by could look in and see us.

I’m not a fan of the fishbowl.

However, the price is in range, it would work as an all-in-one location and Mr. RT really liked the gazebo out back (but was worried about traffic causing issues, so close to the street as the ceremony would be).

Oh, and did I mention that the Monticello Opera House is supposedly haunted?! (For us, that could actually be a plus.)

This was not the only unscheduled recon we did…


Front and corner of Tallahassee Garden Center

Front and corner of Tallahassee Garden Center

The next venue didn’t require quite as much stealth as the last, but it wasn’t an official site-visit, either. In fact, we got to see the space in full-swing as we visited during the flurry of bridal shows that year.

I actually drive by the Garden Center (home, unsurprisingly, of the Garden Club) quite regularly, but I’ve never been inside or prowled the grounds until that day. My mother, however, has attended a wedding there and she said it was very beautiful.

North of Downtown, I’m not sure TGC is far enough North to be considered midtown, but it’s not far away, either. There’s plenty of parking, a brick patio, and narrow gardens on both sides of the renovated, yet still historical, house. We discussed it and decided that the front-of-the-house would probably be the best bet, were we to use this space for the wedding.

The ballroom, inside, is supposedly large enough to fit something like 90, banquet-style, though it’s hard to picture when it’s set up with vendor displays. There are also several other, smaller, rooms that we’d have access to and a stage in the ballroom where, honestly, I see the dessert buffet rather than a band.

We did have a few concerns, though, with the space. One is traffic–there could very easily be cars whizzing past while we say our I Do’s and that’s not the best situation. (In fact, I was in a friend’s wedding once when a group of motorcycles–and their riders, of course–came past during the early part of the ceremony. Being perverse, they made the block and came roaring back around, revving their engines through the soloist performing The Lord’s Prayer.) Also, T thought the house felt a little too closed-in, which I can definitely understand.

Side garden, deck and patio beyond at the Tallahassee Garden Center

A side garden, looking towards the back with the deck and patio just beyond

From the side garden a look out the front yard and towards the street

Where the tent is, the guests could be seated, on either side of the walkway

The other side garden, leading around to the rear entrance and parking of the Tallahassee Garden Center

Continuing around the other side of the house, this garden leads back towards the parking lot and rear entrance

We’d have to get a bartender if we wanted to serve alcohol, but there are services where we could provide our own booze and just have them serve it. The usual liability rider is required but we could use any caterer we wanted and tables, chairs, etc. are all available on location.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that, by attending the bridal show, we received a 20% off offer for the rental of the space, which would knock $200 off our Saturday rental (which we’d just put towards the liability rider and a portion of the bartender’s fee). The very nice lady even extended our coupon/certificate so that our date would be covered. You have to appreciate that!

Plus it’s in-town, plenty of hotels around and might be far enough out of the way to not be influenced by football traffic (maybe), should there be a home game that weekend.


A pretty green space and pond overlook from Dorothy B Oven Park

A pretty green space and pond overlook from Dorothy B Oven Park

Since we had time to kill on a pleasant Sunday afternoon between the Garden Center bridal show and meeting up with some friends for general hanging out and supper, we decided to wander around a local, city-run park that is another popular spot for Tallahassee weddings: Dorothy B Oven Park.

In addition to paths and green spaces, some fountains and a gazebo (none of which I’d really seen before), there’s a decent-size house on the property that can be rented for various functions.

Just before Mr. Road Trip moved to Tallahassee, a friend of mine got married and had her reception here, so we both sorta remember what the inside of the house looked like. Of course, that day lived up to it’s April showers rhyme and it felt a little crowded and dark inside–T and I, along with another friend of ours, retreated to a back room to get away from the crush of people.

Patio and house at Dorothy B Oven Park

the view from the patio towards the house and it’s sometimes-screened porch

Since this was another bit of unscheduled recon, we contented ourselves with following the trails around the park, sitting in the various swings, and peeking in the windows for a refresher course on the house. The camellias (?) were also in bloom, so I took a lot of unnecessary flower pictures that I’ll spare you the viewing of.

The main downside to DBO is the largest room of the house is just slightly too small to accommodate our upper limit of guests all in one room, certainly not with any room to dance. Of course, there could be ways to work that out, but it’s a concern nonetheless. Also, the closed-in feeling would likely permeate this place as it did the Garden Center.

Still, the gazebo really is pretty and is a straight shot from the house–it’d make a very pretty walk to and from.

Path leading from the house to the gazeboThe path leading from the patio to the gazebo

The gazebo at Dorothy B Oven park

And a close-up of the gazebo, itself.

Historic homes, of course, come with a long list of dues and don’ts, can’ts and won’ts, and you have to be extra careful around the antiques. I want people to be able to relax (not that we’re a destructive lot), not worry about nudging something out of place.

So the hunt continued…

How many sites did you visit before deciding on your location?
Did you ever peek into a potential venue’s windows out of curiosity?

One thought on “On Locations: Opera, Gardens, and a Park, Too!

  1. Pingback: On Locations: The Tallahassee Garden Center | Third Time Bride

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