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With recent renovations to the Mansion House — where most brides yearn to exchange their vows, thanks to the wraparound porch that overlooks Druid Hill Park — the Maryland Zoo has weddings booked every weekend for the rest of this year.
“We anticipate next year will be even bigger,” says Jane Scheffsky, assistant director of group sales for the zoo, which also offers the stunning Lakeside Pavilion for ceremonies.
Photo Ops: Just-wed couples get a personalized tour of the zoo in a 1960s-style golf cart. Some favorite spots to capture quiet moments together:
Lions. You're royalty for the day, so why not get your picture snapped with the king and queen of the jungle: a male lion named Tsavo and a lioness known as Cuma.
Flamingos. You already have something blue, so why not something pink too?
Champion Tree. A huge Osage orange tree near the Lakeside Pavilion is a favorite for bridal party and family group shots.
Animal Ambassadors: Although the zoo does have an 18-foot python who can attend your cocktail hour, the snake isn't the most popular choice. More requested animals: penguins and ravens (for the Baltimore Ravens fans, of course). Volunteers bring the animals to the cocktail hour to interact with guests, as well as get some one-on-one time with the bride and groom.
Details: Wedding packages start at $2,200, while elopement packages (booked 60 days in advance) are $1,995; 410/396-7102.
For the past two years, the hands-on CuriOdyssey Zoo and Science Center has been offering weddings in their animal habitats and Redwood Hall, an event space built from repurposed wood.
“We have about two weddings booked per month for the next year or so,” says Laura Ellison, manager of guest services and events.
At any time during the festivities, guests can meander through the park and visit the wild-critter habitats, including a walk-through aviary that's home to nearly two dozen native birds, such as herons, coots and green-winged teals.
Photo Ops: The butterfly and hummingbird gardens are popular picture sites, but brides and grooms also like to have their photos snapped with other “couples” at the zoo, including North American river otters Gunner and Belle, bobcats Frankie and Caro, and the zoo’s most unconventional couple — a North American porcupine named Peanut and her roommate, Diego, a Channel Island fox.
Animal Ambassadors: Zookeepers can bring one or more critters out to visit guests for up to 30 minutes at a time, including tortoises, lizards, owls, raptors, hedgehogs and ferrets.
Details: Event pricing for Redwood Hall starts at $450 per hour; 650/340-7565.
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