Few marriages are without thorns, but Saturday's planned nuptials for Aaron Young and Danielle Badeaux came with a prickly dilemma a rose garden full of weeds.
As proof of their love, they weeded for their wedding. Along with dozens of friends and co-workers, they helped clean up McKinley Park for their private ceremony.
"This park means a lot to us," Badeaux said during a break from raking rose beds Thursday morning. "This is where we want to make our memory."
For a full year, the couple had reserved the historic rose garden in the east Sacramento park near their home.
But the city's planned $240,000 garden renovation to replace the long-broken irrigation system and make paths accessible to disabled visitors starts in two weeks. In anticipation, the short-staffed parks department stopped weeding the rose garden in early summer.
"Six years ago, we had six people for one park," said parks supervisor Tiger Badhan. "Now, we have two people for six parks. We used to deadhead (remove spent flowers) three times a week, but no more."
When Young and Badeaux checked the garden three weeks ago, waist-high weeds surrounded the untrimmed roses. More than 1,500 bushes pack the 1.2-acre landmark.
"I waited a long time to get married," said Young, 37. "That's why I want everything to be perfect."
Young, a senior business analyst for Western Health Advantage, started making calls. City officials offered a refund of the $160 fee for reserving the garden and nearby Clunie Hall for the reception.
But with 180 guests expected, it was too late to move the festivities, Young said.
"So, I got to work," he said. "For the past two weeks, I've been out here every day."
His co-workers at Western Health Advantage got permission to help with pay.
"The idea of working on something to make it beautiful not only for their wedding but the community was really awesome," said David Faulk, a friend and co-worker.
Members of the Friends of McKinley Park Rose Garden and the Sacramento Rose Society pitched in, too. The two groups pushed for the garden's renovation, including planting 600 new bushes.
Coordinated by Ellie Longanecker, more than 30 more blooming rose bushes were donated and planted this week in bare beds to line the path where the bride will enter. Longanecker also taught the volunteers how to deadhead bushes to prompt flowers.
"We couldn't have done it without Ellie, the Friends and the Rose Society," Young said.
Other park visitors helped, too. When they heard the effort was for a wedding, they had to stop and stoop.
Badeaux's 8-year-old son, Justice, snapped photos and pulled weeds. The family yanked out handfuls of Bermuda grass, nutsedge and milkweed, trying not to get caught on thorns.
"Aaron shows me his arms (covered with scratches)," said Badeaux. "He says, 'This is love.' "
Said Young, "I've never tried anything like this. We've only got a small patio garden. My back sure hurts now, but not my spirit."
City crews also worked Wednesday and Thursday.
"We weren't supposed to have any weddings scheduled this summer," Badhan said. "But we came together to help them out."
While the friends weeded, representatives of contractor Green Valley Landscape toured the garden in anticipation of the makeover. Fences will go up in two weeks and the garden will remain closed until January or February.
"This will be the nicest smelling job we've ever had," said Green Valley's Frank Smith, surrounded by roses.
With all this work, the garden will look good Saturday.
"Compared to where we started, it looks amazing," Young said.
Once the renovation is complete, the couple plan to return to volunteer again.
Said Young: "We'll be back to help out. Once we've made this commitment, we want to stay involved."