In the future, saying your formal “I Dos” in Lansdale’s Memorial Park will require some rules to follow and fees to pay to the borough.
The parks and recreation committee will begin working on a policy for future use of Memorial Park for formal wedding ceremonies. The policy will include language on fee structures and rules and regulations.
The parks department received a request for a wedding on July 14 at 3 p.m. in Memorial Park.
The committee eventually recommended last week for borough council to approve the wedding, with the understanding that the borough may require insurance and fees to be paid for employee overtime.
Parks director Carl Saldutti said the committee usually goes ahead and OKs informal wedding ceremonies in the park.
The ceremonies usually occur at the hill in Memorial Park, behind the tennis courts.
Saldutti added that even post-wedding photos following a ceremony at a church are no problem.
“Some of the requests typically used to be informal and more casual where the mayor would go out and officiate and 50 people show up. You would have a quick 15-minute ceremony, take photos and leave,” he said.
Now, the committee will have to start looking at creating a real formal policy because wedding requests are starting to move away from being informal and casual, he said.
“We had some phone calls about people wanting to come in, put up a canopy and tents and do a full-blown wedding,” Saldutti said. “I don’t know if we can accommodate that.”
He said there were no requests that included a reception, but that could come down the road.
“I think the more informal kind of ceremonies would work at that site,” he said.
The July 14 wedding – which includes a bride from Lansdale and a groom from out of the area – would involve the party bringing chairs to the event in the park to accommodate the older guests.
“We haven’t had that yet, and it raises the level a little bit,” Saldutti said. “We’re happy to work with the groups and individuals that come forward.”
Saldutti said fees begin to add up when a parks employee has to attend the event and make sure the party is in compliant with what they said they were going to do and with what was approved by the borough.
“The next thing to look at is charging a nominal fee to recoup some of the costs we might have to make sure everything is in compliance,” Saldutti said. “There’s administrative work that goes into that. And that’s overtime, if the wedding’s on a Saturday. It’s something we really should give some consideration to.”
Committee chair Mary Fuller said that a bride and groom would pay a fee anyway to a church.
Fuller said there is a facilities rental policy for White’s Road Park, Stony Creek Park and the parks and recreation building that can be used as a structure for the wedding policy. The borough charges rental fees for use of the gazebo at Stony Creek Park, the activity room at the parks and recreation building and for use of the entire White’s Road Park and amphitheater.
Furthermore, there is a wedding policy in place already just for White’s Road Park.
Although the committee recommended approval of the wedding, Fuller wanted to be careful about setting a precedent.
“If we agree to do this, we’ve set a precedent. We have to make sure that whatever we say ‘yes’ to, we are prepared to continue saying ‘yes,’” she said.
Saldutti said he had reservations about the chairs due to potential property damage.
“Memorial Park has a high water table, and the ground is often times soft and spongy,” he said. “In the spring, it might be too soft and wet in there, based on weather conditions. In midsummer, it dries up, no problem. If we tell them to bring in chairs, then we have to talk about insurance also.”
Committee member Steve Malagari entertained the idea of making a designated wedding ceremony spot at Memorial Park, complete with proper drainage.
“The borough could say, ‘yes, it’s permitted here’ and that’s where they have it,” Saldutti said. “But, I don’t know of one wedding that took place that wasn’t at that particular location. That’s the spot.”
Saldutti said the use of White’s Road Park for a wedding is far different than Memorial Park.
“If someone wants to get married in the borough, and they find Memorial Park is the location, and we have something set up for White’s Road Park, those are the two spots. Here are the two locations and we have a policy for each,” he said. “We’re not going to stop a person that gets together with a dozen people and they go into Wissahickon Park and have a ceremony. We are not going to be concerned about that. We have to be concerned about ones that are larger and more formalized.”
If couples were not amenable to the fees and rules of the park, then they would have to come up with another idea, Saldutti said.
He added that there would be no chance for the applicant to recoup money paid for insurance and such should the wedding get rained out.
“Everyone runs that risk with any outdoor event,” he said.
Fuller knew that risk all too well, referencing 2011’s original Founders Day event.
“You never know,” Fuller added, “when a hurricane may come through town and ruin a whole year’s worth of a planned event.”