June wedding

Newly planted red roses surround the fountain and heart-shaped pavilion at the International World Peace Rose Garden at the state Capitol. (Photo courtesy of International World Peace Rose Gardens)

A famous Sacramento rose garden is a popular setting, but it’s off limits for gatherings during the pandemic

Here’s another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic: June rose garden weddings in Sacramento.

Late spring and early summer are prime wedding season in Sacramento’s beloved International World Peace Rose Garden, a landmark on the state Capitol grounds.

With its heart-shaped pavilion and dozens of inspirational plaques bearing words of love, the half-acre garden is a favorite spot for weddings as well as engagements and other romantic events. (In a 2018 SN&R reader suvey, it was named “The Best Place to Visit on a First Date.”)

But with restrictions on gatherings of any kind, this Sacramento tradition appears on hold, too.

“I am still getting requests for weddings,” said T.J. David, the garden’s co-creator and chief operating officer. David refers those requests to the California Highway Patrol, which handles permits for gatherings on the state Capitol grounds.

“The state Capitol is not approving permits for events through the end of June,” David said this week. “We’ll wait and see if that changes at the end of June.”

What will happen to June weddings already permitted is unclear. On its online calendar, the CHP still lists at least nine June weddings plus another eight in July that were approved before the coronavirus shutdown.

“The garden is a living artistic canvas of roses of various colors and fragrances.”

T.J. David, co-creator and CEO, International World Peace Rose Garden

Considered one of the nation’s best public rose gardens, the World Peace Garden has hosted hundreds of weddings as well as post-wedding photo shoots. Part of its appeal: This venue is available for free. The only catch, event organizers need a valid CHP permit. The garden (“Area No. 1” on the State Capitol permit website at capitolpermits.chp.ca.gov/) can be reserved up to 12 months in advance.

In anticipation of a busy wedding season this summer, David and his volunteers, along with the state Capitol maintenance crew, made several major improvements to the garden during the winter. Decomposed granite walkways were replaced with pavers—much better for walking down the aisle in high heels.

Near the garden’s arbor entrance, David added several deep red “In the Mood” roses to create a dramatic backdrop for photos. The garden’s large fountain is surrounded by the same red roses.

The planting was designed “to create a new highly photogenic area with a high number of various angles to delight garden visitors and photographers,” David said. “The garden is a living artistic canvas of roses of various colors and fragrances.”

Overall, 40 new bushes were added to the Victorian-inspired garden, bringing its total to about 700.

Right now, the garden is at its peak of bloom with a spectacular display of “living bouquets” for the public to enjoy. And weddings or not, the garden continues to be open free daily to visitors from sunrise to sunset. Smell (and photograph) the roses all you like.

But hands off. “The garden has a policy of ‘Do Not Pick the Roses,’” he said, “so everyone can come and enjoy a lovely experience of waves of roses in bloom.”

(Photo courtesy of International World Peace Rose Gardens)

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