Janet Jemiolo stopped her husband on the way out of Marine A, one of the old grain elevators at Silo City, so she could marvel at the dark interiors of the tall, cylindrical structures.
“Never in my 54 years have I been down here,” she said.
Needless to say, she also had never been there for a wedding. But that is a statement fewer people can make these days.
As nontraditional weddings rise in popularity and couples become more creative with their venue choices, some couples who are passionate about the city and looking for an unusual wedding experience have selected Silo City – yes, the grain elevators – as the place where they start their lives together.
Summer and fall of 2014 will see a total of five wddings at Silo City. The first was the marriage of Bernice Radle and Jason Wilson, who are known as the “Buffalove” couple. They have used the term in their company’s name, and it was the official theme of their wedding.
Radle said she had wanted to get married in one of the grain elevators for years, but she never thought she would actually get married. When she met someone who shared her adoration for Buffalo, they decided to follow through on the dream.
“The repurposing of these industrial spaces is important,” Radle said.
Jemiolo was one of the guests who attended the wedding of Jillian Schultz and Jim Ando. Schultz was delighted that those who attended the ceremony had the reaction she hoped for.
“I had always been familiar with Silo City from driving on the Thruway. I would always see these cool buildings, especially growing up in South Buffalo,” she said of her choice.
Schultz had been volunteering with Explore Buffalo, which offers specialized city tours that include the grain elevators, when the idea to have a wedding at the site hit her. As someone who wanted a nontraditional wedding and who is enthusiastic about the positive changes she sees around town, Silo City was the perfect option.
“Buffalo is going through a renaissance right now. Part of that is focusing on the history,” she said.
Megan Gurney, a friend of Schultz’s and a wedding guest, said she was not surprised that her friend held her wedding and reception in the industrial space.
“Jill is always talking about how great Buffalo is,” Gurney said.
Madelyn Feldman and Steven Edwards are the fourth couple to say their vows and have their first dance as a married couple at Silo City. Like Radle and Wilson, they decided they wanted to book the location after attending the Boom Day celebrations at the site in 2012.
“It’s really because they’ve started to do events down there, and people are realizing it’s a great space,” Edwards said.
The man behind these special events is Jim Watkins, who manages the Silo City property for owner Rick Smith. He said all of the couples getting married at the site this year asked to book their weddings within six weeks of each other.
“I said ‘Well it sounds fine. You probably can have a good party with it. What can we do to help?’ ” he said.
The couples have been pioneers in their own ways, as the site has posed both expected and unexpected challenges. For food, for example, Radle and Wilson and Feldman and Edwards opted for their favorite local food trucks. The first wedding featured Lloyd Taco Truck and Betty Crockski, and the second had the Black Market Food Truck and the Knight Slider.
All three couples said they heard some skeptical comments when they shared their wedding location, but the weddings that have occurred so far have been a resounding success.
“We were very surprised. It’s very different,” Sherry Strong said while seated next to her husband, Bill, at Schultz and Ando’s reception.
Bill Strong, Schultz’s boss, interjected. “I told her she was crazy. A warehouse?” he said in good humor.
Watkins said he understands why people want to have their weddings at Silo City.
“The site does have a certain magic to it,” he said. “As I like to say, the people who come to experience Silo City, they leave a little of themselves here and take a little of Silo City with them.”