Whether you are planning your walk down the aisle or in search of a spot for a corporate event unlike any other, look no further than Wandering Tree Estate. Located in North Barrington, this ten-acre gated estate, situated on a private lake, is well known for its many exquisite gardens, each one more beautiful than the next.
The history of the property began nearly 50 years ago, when Harvey and Elaine Silets purchased the estate as a second home. The Silets Family, who lived in Chicago in a Gold Coast brownstone, wanted something a little closer to home after years of driving the family back and forth during the summer in an old Volkswagen bus, with dad stuck back in Chicago at work. And the family has called it home ever since.
One of the most famous, and possibly the most surprising, features of the estate is its model train gardens. These impressive garden railways were developed and built by Elaine Silets, the Train Lady, who has also been called on to design model train layouts across the country, both commercially and for private individuals. Silets has had a passion for trains since childhood—quickly tiring of her dolls, she moved on to her older brother’s train set.
With tracks covering nearly a half-acre, Wandering Tree’s trains run throughout the gorgeous gardens, through tunnels, over bridges, and beside waterfalls. And each train car itself is sizeable: about the size of a shoebox, with ten to fourteen lines of trains running simultaneously across the tracks.
This passion for locomotion extends beyond the garden railroad—Silets has also built a private train museum on the property. A wedding or other festive celebration at Wandering Tree allows you access to the entire property, including the museum. With the ability to hold up to 275 guests—and the fact that the estate only does one major event per weekend—the world (or at least the whole estate) is your oyster.
At Wandering Tree, you can put up tents, lay down a custom dance floor, and even zip around on golf carts. Their goal is to create a one-of-a-kind day or night for their clients, to make things as easy and seamless as possible—they are always ready with advice, guidance, and helpful suggestions.
H.L. Silets, Wandering Tree’s vice president and general manager (mom Elaine is president), explains some of the current trends in weddings: “Boho-chic and rustic-elegance are really popular wedding styles right now. People really want to be outside; they don’t want to be indoors, in a box.”
A couple from Scottsdale, Arizona, held an extravagant wedding last year that perfectly captures this sense of bohemian style. This bride and groom staged their ceremony by the lake next to an old oak tree, festooned with flowering vines and five crystal chandeliers. They took photos in the Japanese Garden, with its seven waterfalls as the backdrop, while guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Model Train Gardens and museum. Pitching a dining tent on the front lawn in the Herbaceous Garden, thousands of flowers covered the entire space. They continued bringing the outside in by hanging flowers from the ceiling of a separate tent set up for dancing by the lakeside gazebo.
Whether you choose to dance the night away by the lake or choose the Swimming Pool Garden instead, this picturesque destination wedding venue—they’ve hosted couples from as far afield as Beijing and Paris—promises the outdoor wedding you thought only possible in your dreams (or on Pinterest).
While the summer months remain popular for weddings—and are prime months for the gardens—dates are still available for 2018 to hold whatever special event you have in mind, be it the day you say “I do,” a charitable event, or anything in between.
For more information, visit wanderingtree.com.