And with this wildlife I thee wed
Every woman can remember her wedding like it was yesterday.
What could make such a major life event even more memorable? Tying the knot and then feeding a giraffe, perhaps?
A wedding at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center can make that your reality.
“Having a wedding at Fossil Rim is an experience that, not only the bride and groom will enjoy, but all of their guests will also get to see all sorts of animals while enjoying the calming atmosphere and beautiful scenery,” said Lodge Manager Dawn Sorrells. “In the spring, when the landscape is green and thriving with baby animals frolicking about, you can imagine how beautiful of a wedding setting that is. The fall is a great time for a Fossil Rim wedding, as well, with the foliage turning beautiful colors of maroon, yellow and brown across this hilly terrain. If you are looking for a natural setting for your big day, this place can offer an atmosphere that just can’t be duplicated in the city.”
Kristen Culp, Fossil Rim staff member since 2009, recently got engaged and has put plenty of thought into the possibilities of an event at the wildlife center.
“If you are looking for a venue that feels outdoorsy, rustic, or ‘country’, you should consider Fossil Rim,” Culp said. “It has several venues for varying group sizes and each has its own special features. If you like nature, animals and/or conservation, and are looking for your wedding to stand out from the rest, I strongly encourage you to check out the options Fossil Rim offers.”
When a bride-to-be needs to delve into the details, Sorrells will be ready to answer all the wedding what, when and where questions.
“First, the time of year will dictate the pricing,” she said. “I’ll ask the number of guests they intend to invite and see if they want to use The Lodge and/or the Foothills Safari Camp cabins for their guests to stay in overnight. Will they need catering provided for a reception and a rehearsal dinner?”
Because the only thing more uncertain than what life might throw at you is Texas weather, Sorrells said it is essential to have a bad weather backup plan, for which she can provide suggestions.
“I encourage them to come out and see this place before making any major decisions, because there are many choices at Safari Camp and The Lodge for ceremony settings,” she said. “The number of people attending is key in regard to chairs, tables, tablecloths, etc.”
Culp knows which setting she would choose for the ceremony.
“I would prefer to have my ceremony at Safari Camp,” she said. “There are often animals walking nearby, headed back and forth to the pond neighboring the venue. I’ve attended a wedding there, and it was lovely to stand under the trees and enjoy an outdoor ceremony. The glass-walled pavilion is beautiful and an excellent place to have an intimate dinner while still viewing the wildlife outside.”
One key regarding decorations is that open flames are not permitted and the plug-ins for lighting are limited, so battery-operated candles have often been utilized.
“On the topic of lighting, the time of day may need to vary according to the season,” Sorrells said. “Most weddings will need to be in the early afternoon, which provides plenty of time to get those perfect pictures when the sun is setting.”
Fossil Rim animals, while often unpredictable, can provide an awesome element of their own to the festivities.
“During one wedding, our sandhill crane decided to be a part of the ceremony, walking back and forth nearby as vows were read,” Sorrells said. “A wedding party once took their guests on an abbreviated tour of the park and was able to get photos in their wedding attire with giraffes and zebras in the background. Another time, we had animal care staff put out food near the watering hole outside the Safari Camp and the animals stopped by to eat during the reception.”
As someone who once worked on the animal care staff at Fossil Rim, Culp said she would definitely be interested in incorporating the wildlife into her wedding experience.
“Among the different ways you could put a wildlife spin on your wedding, taking a tour would be of greatest interest to me,” Culp said. “Having photos of you and your wedding party with exotic animals in the background, or maybe feeding the giraffes, are amazing opportunities. Additionally, you have the satisfaction of knowing that hosting your wedding at Fossil Rim is contributing to conservation, both financially and by raising awareness for the threatened and endangered species that live at Fossil Rim. Having your wedding there is an excellent option for a unique celebration that gives your guests a fantastic experience, plus you’ll contribute to a 501(c)3 nonprofit that is involved in national and international conservation projects.”
While her professional title relates to lodging, Sorrells prepares the buffets for overnight guests and the menus for dinner-and-tour events, so she loves the dining aspect that a wedding entails.
“We can offer many different menus for food,” she said. “Depending on your preference, it could be barbeque, Italian, or Mexican, among other choices. My staff and I can prepare all or part of the menu. We can’t, however, allow outside caterers to use our kitchen for insurance reasons.
“We have had a couple of families bring in barbecued meats and we provide the sides. We mainly utilize a buffet style because of the cost difference as compared to more expensive sit-down menus.”
Culp is quite familiar with her coworker’s cuisine.
“I have never been disappointed in anything Dawn has cooked!” Culp said. “Fossil Rim has a wide menu and can accommodate many different dietary needs and preferences. The food is delicious, the presentation is professional, and the staff are warm and courteous. What more could you ask for?”
No detail is too small when it comes to Fossil Rim wedding planning.
“We strive to make sure we have top-quality choices for all your wedding needs,” Sorrells said. “That’s why we try to iron out all the specifics at least a month in advance to make sure we can find what is requested and make your experience great.”
If you are also looking for the perfect venue to host an anniversary, family reunion, corporate event or retreat, or maybe a birthday party for an adult, keep Fossil Rim in mind. To learn more about weddings or other events you might be considering, go to Weddings or call (254) 898-4268 and ask to speak with Dawn.
“If you want your wedding to stand out from the rest, and you want to support an amazing conservation facility, come visit Fossil Rim and see what we have to offer!” Culp said.
-Tye Chandler, Marketing Associate