Now that Referendum 74 is passed, gay couples across the state wanting to get married can begin to apply for licenses starting December 6. Kingston’s famed Heronswood Gardens is inviting 20 same-sex couples to be among the first to say, “I do” in private ceremonies three days later, on December 9, from noon to 5:00. Couples can invite up to 12 guests to watch as a wedding officiant unites them in matrimony during 30-minute ceremonies. All couples and their guests are welcome to stroll around the gardens and take photographs.
The colorful gardens of Heronswood have a colorful past. Heronswood was established in 1987 by plant hunter and horticulturalist Daniel J. Hinkley and his partner Robert Jones, the garden’s architect. Hinckley and Jones ran it for ten years and took it to a level of international renown. Then at the turn of the new century, Burpee Seed Company bought the gardens and closed them to the public. Hinkley and Jones worked with Burpee for a while after the purchase but then left after a difference in vision. In 2006, Burpee removed the nursery and some of the display gardens, transporting them for reinstallation in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, Burpee auctioned off the property, and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe purchased it in July. The Tribe has been working with Hinckley and Jones to restore the gardens over the past four months.
Ginger Vaughn, the Director of Client Relations for Heronswood, says the facility is being provided for the purpose of the weddings free of charge, although, she adds, donations are welcome. Heronswood won’t open its doors as a wedding facility officially until the spring, but Vaughn says, “The opportunity to host same-sex couples as they celebrate their special day was too important to pass up.” The Tribe supported Referendum 74. Noel Higa, Economic Development Director for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, said, “Heronswood is a magical place that has touched the hearts and lives of many people. We can think of no better way to show our support and express our congratulations to the gay community than to welcome same-sex couples as among the first to get married there.”
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe was originally known as the Nux Sklai Yem or Strong People. They are descendants of the Salish, who settled in the Puget Sound basin and surrounding area around 2400 B.C. The Port Gamble reservation was established in the late 1930s on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula. The Tribe currently boasts about 1200 members.
For your same-sex wedding reservation, contact JoAnn at 360-297-6305 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Heronswood is located at 7530 NE 288th St. in Kingston.
Photos courtesy of Heronswood.