Lush, Dark Florals Turned This Horticulture Center Wedding Into an Enchanted Garden

The moody color palette was an unexpected twist for a spring celebration. 

horticulture center wedding

Dana Martin, in a pretty Pronovias gown with floral embroidery and bow straps, posed for photos with Samuel Givens in the glowing late-afternoon light at their Horticulture Center wedding. / Photography by MLE Pictures

The Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park is always a gorgeous choice for an outdoor wedding. Its greenhouse aesthetic provide a natural backdrop for florals — installations that hang from the ceiling, fill the centerpieces and accent ceremony arches. And much of the time, those blooms lean a bit more bright or desert-inspired. Not here. Insteady, they’re moody and enchanting, dripping with rich scarlet hues. See all the stunning designs, photographed by MLE Pictures, below.

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Sexy. Dark. Intimate. Lush. These are the words Dana Martin, an occupational therapist, and Samuel Givens, a project manager, use to sum up their March 2022 wedding. But before there could be a celebration, there had to be a meet-cute — which took place during Super Bowl LII weekend in 2018. (Yes, that Super Bowl.)

Sam, who lived in Washington, D.C., at the time, came to town to watch the game. Dana lived in Old City, and that Saturday night, she went to a gathering Sam also attended. Though Dana’s impression of Sam was that he “loved to be the life of the party” while she’s “naturally shy,” she felt they hit it off. So she asked the host to connect them. 

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A few weeks later, they went on their first date, and three years after that, Sam popped the question during an off-season Shore trip. Their resulting Big Day at the Horticulture Center, an exhibition hall and greenhouse in Fairmount Park, can be defined by its stunning jewel-toned color palette, from the blue-and-red tablescapes to the abundant flowers.

The bridal bouquets, ceremony arch and hanging installation teemed with burgundy protea, amaranthus, scabiosa, agonis, eggplant dahlias, black ‘Baccara’ roses, dark purple ranunculus, white waxflowers, and eucalyptus parvifolia. The centerpieces matched the head-table installation — but the latter brimmed with 250 stems of flowers.

reception horticulture center wedding

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Sam’s mother surprised the couple with a welcome sign by OnionSisterCreative bearing pictures of their dog, Moose, and cat, Zeus. Plush velvet furnishings by Maggpie Rentals beckoned guests to relax during cocktail hour.

A vintage candelabra the bride purchased in Canada and two antique frames were set up beside the guest book, which was gifted to the couple by Sam’s sister. 

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Even the ruby-hued Isgro Pastries cake was a statement piece — so much so that the maid of honor’s father thought it was fake and stuck his finger in it. “We all still laugh about this,” Dana says.


Despite the faux pas, the cake-cutting later that evening was the most sentimental moment for the newlyweds, who chose the bakery in the Italian Market because it’s Sam’s favorite neighborhood in Philly. Sweet! 

Photographer & Videographer: MLE Pictures | Venue: The Horticulture Center | Event Design & Coordination: Events by Merida | Florals: Fabufloras Design | Catering: Constellation Culinary Group | Cake: Isgro Pastries | Gown: Pronovias from Mari Mi Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Bonobos | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN | Hair: Amanda D’Andrea Hair | Makeup: Makeup by Ali for Aleksandra Ambrozy | Invitations: Zazzle | Officiant: Clarence Givens (groom’s father) | Transportation: Kevin Smith Transportation Group | Music & Entertainment: DJ Christian Lucas from EastCoast Entertainment | Lighting: Revolution Event Production | Photo Booth: The Yellow Mirror | Cocktail Sign: Ellen Schaefer Art | Welcome Sign: OnionSisterCreative | Furniture Rentals: Maggpie Rentals

Published as “Dana & Samuel” in the Winter/Spring 2023 issue of Philadelphia Wedding.

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