Brides head outside for elegance

Thursday, June 1, 2006

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Tom Fedor⁄The Gazette
Terry Warfield helps a bride-to-be try on a wedding gown at TLC Bridal Boutique in Frederick on Saturday.

In recent years, more brides have been choosing to hold their weddings outdoors resulting in a picturesque backdrop for taking vows.

Gardens, parks and golf courses are increasingly popular venues for the ceremonies in Frederick County.

As the summer begins, bridal shops, wedding photographers and outdoor wedding venues are gearing up for a rush of seasonal business. Meanwhile, many brides looking forward to an outdoor dream wedding are starting to hustle toward that goal.

Ceresville Mansion on Liberty Road in Frederick, with a backyard garden, reflecting pool and wedding terrace, is booked each weekend through October, said office manager Barbara Miles.

‘‘People like it because it just looks so nice with the wisteria and reflecting pool,” Miles said.

Miles said staff often must make last-minute changes for unpredictable weather. Like many outdoor venues in Frederick, Ceresville Mansion provides a large tent to allow brides to hold the ceremony outdoors in the event of rain. Couples may also choose to wed in ballroom reception areas during inclement weather.

‘‘That’s something we deal with all the time,” Miles said. She said business slows during July as couples fear the weather will be too hot for guests.

In addition to gardens, couples are also turning to parks and golf courses for scenic backdrops, said Valeri Dawes co-owner of TLC Boutique bridal shop on Market Street.

For example, at Musket Ridge Golf Club in Myersville, lakes and wooden bridges abound on hundreds of lush green turf and mountains offer a scenic horizon for wedding day photographs. Dawes fits many brides planning to wed at that and other golf course venues.

Dawes said many brides year-round are searching for the perfect gown to accommodate spring and summer outdoor weddings, tending toward lighter flowing material for beach settings and more classic gowns for garden and reception hall events.

‘‘The beach wedding is very distinct,” Dawes said. ‘‘[Those brides] prefer chiffon with flowy, lighter material. ... The gown you choose is based on where you have your wedding.”

She said many Frederick brides hold ceremonies as close as Baker Park in downtown Frederick or as far away as Jamaica, Cancun or Las Vegas. One local bride is anticipating an outdoor wedding on a yacht in Baltimore harbor soon, Dawes said.

Kim Hobson of Mount Airy found her dress at Dawes’ boutique before she held her outdoor wedding with now-husband Ray Hobson last November at Morningside Inn. The facility includes a renovated barn, now a reception complex and bed-and-breakfast, on a 300-acre farm in Frederick.

Hobson, who was prepared to move the noontime ceremony indoors in the event of poor weather, said she chose an outdoor venue for the scenic fall atmosphere, which provided rich hues of gold, orange and green.

‘‘The pictures were beautiful,” Hobson said. ‘‘It was a perfect, beautiful sunny day. It was certainly my day.”

Kitty Gialanella, a photographer for A Personal Touch Photography studio in Frederick, said as warmer weather arrives, more wedding parties request to have group portraits shot at Baker Park near a bridge on the grounds.

The first outdoor wedding she photographed this year was April 28, she said, at the Tea Room, a recreational area in Gambrill State Park that allows couples to wed for a small fee.

‘‘It was just beautiful,” the photographer said. ‘‘I do a ton of weddings there. ... Outdoor wedding season has most definitely started.”

Many local bridal shops and wedding service companies — including limousine services, pastry shops, salons, seamstresses, florists and others — have united into one organization called the Frederick Area Bridal Network. For more information, visit