Marrying in the Magic Garden

In 1983 Carole Demas and Stuart Allyn approached the Caramoor administration with a unique request: could they get married on the Caramoor grounds? Thirty years later what once was out of the ordinary and a do-it-yourself adventure is now an endearing off-season tradition and a smooth as silk operation, with a catering company and other vendors available to help occasions run effortlessly.

Ms. Demas and Mr. Allyn met on the set of The Magic Garden, a children’s show broadcast on WPIX from 1972 to 1984. Ms. Demas hosted the show along with Paula Janis and a few puppet friends, while Mr. Allyn, a Broadway sound designer, worked behind the scenes. Because they met in one “magic garden,” they wanted to celebrate their wedding in a real-life magic garden – the flowers and greenery of Caramoor’s enchanted landscape.

“Looking for a possible wedding site, we fell madly for Caramoor,” Ms. Demas recalled. The couple hoped to create an elegant, fun, and memorable event with enough room for all their friends, not to mention a couple of beloved TV puppets: Sherlock, a pink squirrel; and Flapper, a colorful bird. There was only one slight problem – Caramoor had never hosted a wedding. The couple convinced Caramoor’s administration to treat their nuptials, puppets and all, as an experiment.

On August 28, 1983, Ms. Demas and Mr. Allyn gathered their guests on the lawn. “In the sweet green Caramoor morning, awakening birds were singing their hearts out,” Ms. Demas recalled. “Special guests in aisle seats raised bowers of birch branches, to which we had tied hundreds of streaming ribbons, to make a long canopy for the processional. Our reception was a huge picnic, with individual lunches packed in baskets. Many of our guests sat on the grass, on large checkered tablecloths, under the Caramoor trees. We had a chocolate wedding cake, made to resemble the big Manhattan building where we lived.”

The experiment was a huge success. “After everyone was gone, Stuart and I stood there, hand-in- hand in that magical place, and just grinned at each other,” Ms. Demas said. “The good news is we are still happily married, our wedding is finally all paid for, and nobody has ever forgotten it! Best of all, we found we had begun Caramoor’s tradition of being a perfect place for a wedding.”

Today, Ms. Demas, who originated the role as Sandy in the Broadway run of Grease, is actively performing in concerts and cabaret. She and Ms. Janis continue to tour with their live “family concerts.”

In the years since Ms. Demas’ wedding, private events at Caramoor have grown from “experimental” to “experienced,” even rated by brides in The Knot magazine Best of Weddings 2010 Pick.

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