Bonsai Expo at Duke Gardens

Over the weekend, we went to the Triangle Bonsai Society’s Expo at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University.


I’ve always loved the living art of Bonsai, a beautifully grown and trimmed tree or shrub in perfect miniature.


There were Pines, Junipers, Ficus and even Azaleas.






One gentleman even had a rock mounted to resemble a miniature mountain range.

Bonsai mountain range

I really enjoyed the afternoon admiring and learning about these small masterpieces.

Have you ever attended a Bonsai event or have grown a Bonsai tree yourself? I’d love to hear about it.


6 Nontraditional Places to Have a Romantic Wedding

I had my wedding traditionally in a large church with a long aisle but more and more these days people are branching out with wedding venues. Although the possibilities are unlimited, this blog post and my time is not 🙂 So we will look at 6 nontraditional places to have your romantic wedding.

engagement ring

1. The Beach – I love the beach; the sand, the sun, the waves, the messy sea gulls (well, maybe not them). Weddings on a beach can be very romantic and have lost that wild hippie label. You can make it formal with a full bridal party and chairs or more relaxed with just close family and friends in beach wear.  My friend’s son got married on a beach in Virginia and they used large rocks to outline a circle in which the ceremony was performed at sunset. What could be more romantic than that? (If you are having it on a public beach be sure to check any rules/ordinances that may apply.)

wedding at the beach

2. A Fire Station – Say what?! This is basically any job or hobby related venue. If the groom is a fireman, you could have the wedding at the station or take a truck or two to an offsite venue. I’ve seen weddings where the bride and groom stand under an archway made by the extended ladders of two firetrucks decorated with ribbons and flowers. It can be very romantic for someone who puts their life on the line to help others. This can also include police, plane jumpers, musicians or military themed weddings.

wedding at fire station

3. State Parks – If you are like me and love to camp and hike in the state parks then this wedding venue is for you. A few years ago we camped at Letchworth State Park in New York (beautiful park! a must-see) and they had 3 weddings in that weekend. Taking your vows with a backdrop of trees, trails, waterfalls or scenic views can be romantic indeed. A few things to remember, your guest will probably have to pay the day rates of the park, many parks are alcohol free and there may be some restrictions on fires and decorations so check with the park office.

wedding at a state park

Letchworth State Park

(This is one of the three waterfalls at Letchworth State Park.)

4. Botanical Gardens – What could be more romantic than love and flowers? Garden weddings often have a picturesque fountain, glass-walled atrium, lily ponds or landscaped pathways to make your wedding photos beautiful and uniquely yours. Not only will you have flowers in your bouquets but all around you (do watch out for bees).

wedding at a botanical garden

5. In a Barn – Were you born in a barn? Well, maybe you were or maybe you just love the farm life or horses. A wedding could be a lot of fun in a barn setting, especially the dancing:) My niece had a country-themed wedding where she and the bridal party wore cowboy boots. Maybe the bride could arrive on a beautiful stallion or the whole wedding party could arrive in a horse-drawn carriage decked out with flowers and bows.

wedding in a barn

6. Winery – If you are big wine tasters or like me live in an area conducive to grape growing you may consider having your wedding at a winery. Many wineries are in old, historic buildings which along with the vineyards would make very romantic photo memories. You could arrange for wine tasting and tours at the reception.


Wherever you decide to hold your wedding, know that outdoor venues are subject to the weather. Perhaps you will want to arrange an alternative rain option just in case 🙂 Your wedding guests will tend to be less accommodating when soaking wet. Although a little rain during your wedding day symbolizes wealth and good fortune, so don’t stress it, if it happens.

If I ever decided to renew my wedding vows, I would most likely choose a state park or botanical gardens.

Which would you pick? Or if you had a nontraditional wedding venue, where was it? I’d love to hear about it!

Check out some of my other posts involving weddings:

Crazy, funny marriage proposal

Would you wear a wedding pantsuit?

6 Feng Shui tips to make your wedding lucky