You’ll undoubtedly look at several different venue options as you plan your wedding. One of those options near Anna Maria Island is a bit more on the extraordinary side.
Rising majestically above the treetops in a secluded section of Robinson Preserve is the NEST. Designed as a 900 square-foot treehouse, the primary purpose of the NEST is to serve as an educational facility and fun canopy play zone for children of all ages. Its treetop perch also can play host to your wedding.
With gleaming wood, a wrap-around deck, and water views from three sides, the NEST is Manatee County’s hidden gem. Nestled into its own clearing and surrounded by towering gumbo limbos, banyans, and other native Florida trees, the NEST is only visible from two of the many walking trails winding through the expansive Robinson Preserve. With its own parking area, restrooms and grounds, it provides a perfect setting for an intimate wedding.
While the building itself can only hold up to fifty guests, the NEST and its surrounding grounds can accommodate a guest list of up to 150 people. When you rent out the NEST for your wedding or rehearsal dinner, you can rent out the grounds and the treetop canopy zone as well, closing the area to the public. If your event is in the evening, it’s good to know that Robinson Preserve closes to the public at dusk each day, giving you and your wedding guests more privacy under the stars in the nature preserve.
Several spots are available to couples who want to say “I do” in the treetops. Ceremony sites include in the NEST itself, near the waterfront, under an oak tree, or in front of a banyan tree. More adventurous couples can even get married on one of the rope bridges in the canopy zone.
The space also lends itself to customizing your reception however you’d like with a buffet, sit-down dinner on the lawn, or a food truck fiesta for your guests.
Anna Maria Island residents Alli and Chandler Hardy celebrated their wedding at the NEST, a site that she said was a dream come true for the couple and their wedding guests. While Alli had initially planned a destination wedding on a tropical island, she found the perfect venue close to home. Once the NEST was booked, Alli focused on the details working with local friends and vendors. Bride Alli designed her own florals. Hair and makeup booked on location at Alli’s business; she owns Salt and Scissors Salon. Local island favorite Trevor Bystrom performed the music. Mark Labriola, friend and co-owner of Harry’s Grill, acted as officiant as a special request from the bride.
Though not a typical place for a formal wedding, Alli said the NEST is a great option for a fun wedding, especially one where many children will be in attendance. While the children played in the canopy zone, Alli said adult guests enjoyed cocktails, food from various food trucks and relaxed at fire pit tables the couple provided for the event.
“If you want to have a fun wedding that people will remember, this is the place,” Alli said. One guest even enjoyed the wedding so much that Alli said she and her fiancé decided to also hold their wedding at the treetop venue.
Rentals for the NEST are handled through the Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources department. The department’s Outreach & Events Specialist Crystal Scherer gives the inside track on what couples considering the NEST for their nuptials can expect.
Scherer says there are a couple of different rental options for weddings at the NEST. Couples with an intimate gathering of fifty or less can just rent the building or elect to rent the building and the grounds. If the grounds are not also rented, the canopy zone play area remains open to the public. Crystal also provides couples with suggestions for using the space, approved vendors, and best practices for a flawless celebration.
She points to the view of the preserve as the bay windows and elevated outdoor deck give a bird’s eye view of the lush greenery and waterways surrounding the venue. Whether you are getting married under the banyan on the lawn or hosting your reception, guests will be sure to remember this magical location.