Most people have a specific destination in mind when they plan a destination wedding. For Provincetown, that’s more often than not the beach. And for good reason: the town beaches give a lovely backdrop of MacMillan Wharf or Fisherman’s Wharf, and are especially beautiful at sunrise; Herring Cove Beach is simply magnificent, with the sun setting into the water and Race Point Light in the background. One could go on and on …
But today I want to make a different suggestion. If you’re not intent on getting married on the beach, you might consider Suzanne’s Garden on Commercial Street in the East End.
I’ll quote here from the Building Provincetown blog, which tells the story of the garden beautifully:
Patience et longueur de temps font plus que force et que rage.“Patience and time do more than strength and passion.” The aphorism, from Jean de la Fontaine, is — fittingly — the motto of Suzanne’s Garden, a public park that took form in a most unlikely way over a rather long span of time. To begin, it occupies a small fraction of what was once the Sears family estate, one of the “great lots” that ran from harbor to ocean until the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The property was purchased in 1959 by Avrom “Arlie” Sinaiko (1902-1984), a doctor and a sculptor, and his wife, Suzanne Sinaiko (1918-1998). This was once the yard of 606 Commercial [could this be where the Ford was half-buried in 1969?] but was split off by the Sinaikos when they sold No. 606, and retained as a vacant lot.
The Sinaikos’ son Jonathan (b 1950) got an idea into his head when he was in his 20s. “I asked my mother if I could put a vegetable garden on the lot, which I did for several years until my mother proclaimed: ‘I can get vegetables at the A&P. I want a flower garden.’ And so it was transformed into a flower garden. For whatever reason, perhaps because my mother was a European refugee of the war, perhaps because she was an artist who loved people and believed in their inherent goodness, she never put a gate on the garden, so it was open to whomever wished to enjoy it.”
Jonathan, a filmmaker, maintained the garden for 10 years after his mother died, but in 2008 faced the financial reality that he could no longer afford to keep the entire lot, running through to Bradford Street, which the garden and his mother’s studio occupied. Rather than part with the entire lot, he came up with the idea of splitting off the 5,600-square-foot garden and selling it to the town as open space for $335,000, or roughly $60 a square foot.
Town officials balked. They had assessed the land value at $50,000 and questioned Sinaiko’s financial assumption that the parcel could be used for a condominium development. Nonetheless, he pushed ahead. Sinaiko obtained a second appraisal that assumed the parcel would be used as a parking lot. That came in at $250,000, which was still a long way from the town’s comfort zone, even though it was the line Sinaiko said he would not cross. At the annual Town Meeting of 2009, voters approved the $250,000 expenditure, 192 to 41. The cost was offset later that year by a $130,000 grant from the commonwealth.
Suzanne’s Garden opened in 2009. Not that it was ever closed.
And so it remains today, a beautiful public garden for anyone to enjoy. Come to read, come to think … or come to get married! I’ve celebrated many weddings here, from extremely informal to very impromptu, and they have all been beautiful. Why not consider Suzanne’s Garden if you’re planning a wedding on the outer Cape?
And when you get married—get married in PTown!
Okay, so the weather this year is showing itself to be a little bipolar (with emphasis on the “polar,” it was 33 degrees F when I got up this morning!), but that doesn’t mean that the outer Cape isn’t beautiful—and a gorgeous backdrop for a wedding!
The whales are here, as they are every spring, and you can see their blows from the beach at Herring Cove. Amazing multicolored birds are stopping off on their way to wherever their migratory journey takes them. Crocuses and forsythia and other determined flowers are throwing even more color our way.
I haven’t seen anyone comfortably wearing shorts, mind you, but shops are opening, restaurants—some of them new to us this year—are getting ready, and once again it’s becoming difficult to drive on Commercial Street because of the people walking there on the weekends. All very good signs.
So… if you’re thinking of a spring wedding, don’t give up! Any of the dozen or so local wedding officiants will be happy to help you put together a ceremony that you’ll cherish, and with a little luck, the weather will be on your side.
And when you get married … get married in PTown!
Spring seems to have finally arrived, though I write that with some trepidation, as we had a decent snowstorm precisely a week ago today. But the sun is out and there are plants pushing up through the ground with determination and even the famous outer Cape wind seems to have softened a bit. The whales have returned and we can see them right off Herring Cove Beach.
And in spring, of course, one’s mind turns to weddings. In fact, today I’ll be having my first pre-wedding meeting with a couple getting married this summer.
I like doing that. Is it absolutely necessary to meet every couple I marry before the day of the ceremony? Of course not. Chances are that we already have had plenty of contact via email as we’ve worked out the specifics of the ceremony—or of the whole wedding, if Get Married in PTown is doing the planning and organization—and so we all know what’s going to happen.
But there’s a spark between people when they’re together, isn’t there? Something that isn’t easy to define but is definitely there, a connection that doesn’t necessarily make its way through emails or Skype or phone calls. And I like that connection. When we’re finally standing together and I’m asking people to commit to each other, it’s good be able to have a sense of these two people taking this tremendous daring step together. Does it change the ceremony? Not particularly; but it adds to it.
For many, this is the most important step of their lives, the most important day they’ll ever share. It does seem that having a connection of the person instrumental in making it happen would be a good thing for the couple, as well.
That’s why I include an optional pre-wedding meeting in my pricing for the ceremony. It just makes sense.
So … it’s spring, time to schedule yours! And when you get married … get married in PTown!
At a guess, 90% of the weddings I perform are at the beach. That makes sense: wedding destinations become destinations specifically for the unique features each place has to offer.
And 90% of the beach weddings I perform are at Herring Cove.
Why? Let me count the reasons … Herring Cove is one of the few places on the east coast where you can watch the sun dip into the ocean at sunset and color the water with brilliant hues. There is lovely sand, there are some of Cape Cod’s famous dunes, and there’s a fantastic view of Race Point Light in the background… it doesn’t get much better than this! It’s a wedding photographer’s dream destination, with the only problem being the occasional wind—not necessarily good for brides, grooms with long hair, or female wedding officiants!
It wasn’t always that ideal for weddings, of course. In the 19th century, much of the current beach was underwater and known as Lancy’s Harbor. At that time, a group of fishermen’s huts called Herring Cove was nearby (in the days before gasoline-powered fishing boats, it paid to be closer to the water when setting out!), named for the piles of herrings that could be regularly harvested on the beach.
Natural changes in topography, combined with the fishing fleet’s new motors and the completion of a new highway, made the beach accessible to the public in the 1930s, and it was named “New Beach” as it grew for the first time into an increasingly popular resort destination. (That highway, by the way, is U.S. Route 6, which runs from Herring Cove all the way to Long Beach, California.)
In the 1950s it was still somewhat associated with fishing and the sea, as New Beach served as a measured-mile course, with three pairs of “targets”—tall towers used by offshore sailors and fishermen to determine a precise half-mile or mile. Even that last connection to fishing is gone now, and it’s all about the sun and the waves, unless you count the tourists who today stand on the beach with their fishing lines, hoping for something for supper … or the boats you can watch going out and returning, chugging past the beach on their way to and from Provincetown Harbor.
In 1963, New Beach officially became “Herring Cove,” though there are no longer piles of herring to be had here. Instead, couples—like Eugene and Rodrigo—come to watch the sun slide into the water and commit themselves to each other, surely a brave and daring endeavor … and the best reason of all to come to Herring Cove!
So you’re all set to get married, and you want to do it in the very picturesque Provincetown … but then there’s that pesky marriage license. Massachusetts requires three days of waiting before the wedding? I’d rather spend the three days on my honeymoon!
If you’re already here on vacation, three days isn’t a problem. But if it is, don’t worry: you have options.
- Doing it the traditional way. This means arriving at the town clerk’s office and applying for your license three full days before your wedding. The good news is that the weekend counts into the three days. The bad news is that it’s still … three days.
- Getting a waiver (known as “marriage without delay”) in Orleans. Orleans is the closest town to Provincetown that has a court, and a waiver of the three-day waiting period can only be granted by a judge. You will need to go to the Orleans District Courthouse, 237 Rock Harbor Road, Orleans, MA, 02653, where the waiver will be granted … at a cost of $195.00. Call the clerk’s office for more information at (508) 255-4700 or (508) 255-4701.
- Getting the waiver in Hyannis. The Barnstable County Probate and Family Court, located at 195 Main Street, Barnstable (Hyannis’ legal name), MA, 02630, will also grant you a waiver for $65.00. Call the domestic relations department at (508) 375-6722 for more information.
So there you have it. Remember that regardless of the waiver, you must apply in person and together. You do not need witnesses, a blood test, or citizenship papers. So plan ahead, and you’ll be able to see everything go smoothly when you arrive for your wedding.
And remember: when you get married, get married in PTown!