Surrounded by bountiful flora and hanging baskets of cascading pothos and ivy, Lenore Boberg and Nathaniel “Nate” Turner said, “I do.”
The couple wanted a one-of-a-kind venue to go with their “Till Death Do Us Part” theme. Guests were encouraged to wear black.
Finding the perfect place was easy for Lenore Turner (nee Boberg). She knew she wanted something small and considered an elopement ceremony but did not want to get married at the courthouse.
It was late February and Turner was considering places in downtown Monroe when she thought of The Conservatory at 21 W. First St.
“I love the store. I think it’s beautiful in there,” Lenore Turner said.
A phone call to Stuart Eastman, owner of the store specializing in house plants and home accessories, sealed the deal.
The West First Street shop’s wide selection of plants offers a tropical atmosphere and it was exactly what Turner had envisioned. Instead of renting plants to fill a room, they rented the house plant boutique.
The Turners invited 70 guests to attend their wedding on May 14 – Mother’s Day. Their parents, Judith and Michael Boberg Sr. and Pat and John Turner Sr., were integral to the special event along with Lenore’s sister, the Rev. Deanna Paulin, who married them.
When it comes to the actual cost of the wedding, Turner admits her case is unique.
“I had people that did a lot for my wedding, so I did not have to pay for a lot of traditional things,” she said. “After food, the venue, decorations and the cost of my dress, Nate’s clothes and shoes and including tips for people, everything was about $3,000.”
At The Conservatory, the Turners used the shop’s plant lab to set up a cake, catering and favor table.
“They have a few tables that are used to display the plants that we were able to use. Our head table was one of their tables and we used a couple of smaller ones,” she said. “The chairs were rented and I brought in cocktail tables I had borrowed from friends. For our favors, we gave away mini succulents and mini cactuses we purchased through The Conservatory.”
The Turners incorporated dark red and lavender as part of their wedding décor but relied on the natural beauty of the plants to create a romantic atmosphere.
For their out-of-town guests, they offered Michigan products like Faygo pop and Better Made chips.
“People at the shop were amazing to work with. They were very helpful and supportive,” Turner said. “They made me feel like they cared about the day as much as I did and, as a team, they care about the shop. They are passionate about what they do there.
“For me, keeping it as local as possible was important to me. Monroe has a lot to offer. A big part of that is starting the conversation and reaching out. It’s one of the perks of being in a small town.”
Following the wedding, Turner posted photos on Facebook which has prompted more business for Eastman. The shop is preparing for a wedding next month and renting plants for other events.
Eastman admits with Turner it was a first-time request but he welcomed the idea along with the opportunity to add the service to his business profile.
At The Conservatory, couples can get the feel of an outdoor wedding – rain or shine – and can include up to 80 guests.
“Before Lenore had called about the wedding, we were already doing bachelorette and bridal showers, Mother’s Day parties and date night,” Stuart Eastman said. “We were considering weddings and it was through Lenore’s excitement that it became a reality.”
The Turner wedding was the first physical wedding at the shop. However, Eastman and his staff began providing plant rentals for weddings not long after the business opened in 2020.
“When a wedding is booked here, we offer all our plants as decorations and our staff will move any of our plants around to fit a vibe or atmosphere,” he said. “We allow our guests to bring in their own food, which they can set up in the plant lab. We have two areas where people can get ready or take pictures of the bride and the groom getting ready.”
The shop also has recently remodeled a full bathroom for the bridal party to use while getting ready. There are tables in the shop which can be used along with 50 wooden chairs that can be set up for the ceremony.
“For our weddings, anyone can book them on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” Eastman said. “We’re open to days during the week. Usually people don’t want to get married during the week, but if they did we would make every effort to accommodate them to the best of our ability.”
Fulfilling Turner’s request has been good business for Eastman and his staff.
Along with a July wedding, he has rentals for four additional weddings.
He said plants provide a warm, organic feel to a special event and, unlike flowers, they don’t die.
“Some customers feel renting the plants are a better value than flowers. They don’t have to pick up the plants or drop them off. That’s a service we provide for an additional fee,” he said. “For color, we can always add flowers to the plants and use them as centerpieces. Our most popular plant for rental is our bird of paradise.”
The “majestic plant” is often used on each side of a wedding arch or at the ends of the bridal table.
“A lot of people getting married these days are getting married in industrial areas like converted warehouses or car factories. Our plants provide some warmth,” Eastman added. “It’s an organic piece that ties in the wedding scene and provides a pop of color. A lot of our plants are not just green. We have deep purples, pinks and deep reds.”
The Conservatory is offering discounts on plant rentals and wedding bookings through Sept. 30, 2023. Interested parties must mention they read about it in The Monroe News. More information can be obtained by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling the store at 734-244-4889.
If you’re planning a wedding and looking for a unique venue, below is a list (but not limited to) of possibilities available in the Monroe area.
Other unique wedding venues
If you’re planning a wedding and looking for a unique venue, below is a list of (but not limited to) possibilities available in the Monroe area.
Agua Dulce Coffee & Tea
Address: 114 W. Front St., Monroe
Fee: $300 for three hours
Capacity: 25 people indoors; outdoor arrangements available
Contact: Owners Anthony and Sheryl Trujillo, 734-682-5427
Four Star Greenhouse
Address: 1015 Indian Trail Road, Carleton
Fee: Starting at $600 for two hours and goes up to $1,000 for six hours. Chairs and audio equipment can be rented.
Capacity: 250 people
Contact: Debbie, event coordinator, 734-654-7480
Gazebo at Riverfront Park
Address: Next to the Knights of Columbus Hall on the River Raisin
Fee: $100 for city residents and $150 for non-residents
Capacity: For very small weddings
Contact: City of Monroe’s finance office at 734-240-7250
Other city of Monroe park locations can be rented by visiting forms.monroemi.gov/Forms/Park_Fac_Permit.
Loranger Square Pavilion
Address: Downtown Monroe
Fee: $50 per use
Contact: City of Monroe’s finance office at 734-240-7250
Michigan Museum of Horror
Address: 44 S. Monroe St.
Fee: $500 for two hours; $1,200 for six hours
Capacity: 50 people indoors; 300 people outdoors
Contact: Owner Nate Thompson on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nate.thompson.5070276