Wedding & Event FAQs
Whether your guest list is large or small, choose from perfectly matched indoor and outdoor locations for your Garden wedding or special event. We offer exquisite settings for daytime or sunset events for 10 to 300 people. And for small groups of fewer than 10, we offer flexible options such as trailside ceremonies and engagement photo sessions during general admission hours. We recommend planning in advance as dates fill up quickly.
For more about weddings and events in the garden, please read through our FAQ setions below:
When can I visit the Garden to view the event spaces?
- The Garden invites you for a complimentary site visit to explore our many venue options.
- Self guided visits of the venues are available Monday-Sunday between 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. during general admission periods. No appointment is needed; simply let Admissions know you are interested in holding an event here and would like to view the spaces.
- We offer private site visits to view our venues Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Please contact us to set up an appointment in advance and to check for venue availability.
P 480 481.8159 | F 480 481.8139 | firstname.lastname@example.org
P 480 481.8104 | F 480 481.8139 | email@example.com
What does the rental fee include?
- Usage of the venue for the contracted time
- Additional hours for set-up and tear-down of the event
- Admission for all guests into Garden any time the day of the event
- Dressing rooms for bridal party (if applicable)
- Wedding rehearsal the week of the wedding (if applicable)
- On site event coordination
- Complimentary parking for all guests
- Trail maps for your guests
- Complimentary signage from admissions to event venue
- Rangers/Security on ground 24 hours a day
At what times may events be held?
- Events may be held between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. The length of the event and time availability varies by venue. Pro-rated additional hours may be rented, as long as the event timing still occurs between 7a.m. and 11 p.m.
How do guests arrive?
- You do not need to provide us with a guest list nor do guests need to show an event invitation.
- Please advise all guests to check in at Admissions to receive a map to their event location. Complimentary directional signage is custom created for your event to direct your guests once they are in the Garden.
- The Garden can provide docent led tours, where the docents greet your attendees upon arrival and escort them to the event venue for an additional cost.
- The Garden has complimentary parking with over 600 individual spaces and bus parking.
Is the Garden ADA accessible?
- Yes. The Garden offers complimentary wheelchair and scooter rentals for all private event guests. All rentals are on a first come, first serve basis.
- Guests that are unable to access the venues with a wheelchair or scooter can be dropped off in the service entrance to your venue. The drop off car would then park in the general parking lot.
Are golf carts available for myself and/or my guests?
- No. Rangers operate golf carts for patrol and emergency use only. You may not bring additional golf carts into the Garden.
Is smoking allowed at the Garden?
- No, the Garden is a non-smoking facility. Your guests are allowed to smoke in the service entrance of your event venue.
May we tent? What happens if it rains?
- Rain is very infrequent, with only 7 inches received annually.
- The Garden does not allow tenting, except in the case of rain. In the case of rain, the tenting would need to be coordinated by you through Classic Party Rentals.
- Every Garden venue has a rain plan: Please contact your event coordinator for these options.
- If we have an alternate indoor space available, we can offer to re-locate your event, but this cannot be guaranteed.
- There are no refunds due to weather.
What can the Garden provide to enhance my event?
- Southwestern Luminarias placed around your event venue: $200 for 50 Luminarias
- Heaters to warm your guests on a cool evening: $80 each
- Docent-led private tour during your event: $100 per docent per hour (we recommended 20 guests per docent)
- Docent-led touch cart in your event venue: $100 per docent per hour
- Centerpieces and favors (Music in the Garden CDs, sunscreen, rain ponchos, flashlights, etc.) from the Garden Shop (check prices at 480 481.8129)
- Passes to the Butterfly Pavilion (open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. seasonally)
Does the venue fee include rentals of tables and chairs?
- The Garden does not have tables, chairs and linens available to rent. We recommend coordinating all rentals (tables, chairs and linens) through your caterer, but you can work with an outside vendor of your choice.
How much time do I have for set-up and tear down?
- The caterer and outside vendors are responsible for setting up all items 2 hours prior to the event, and removing all items directly following the event. The caterer and outside vendors are also responsible for cleaning up all items that were brought in.
- Additional set-up and tear-down hours can be purchased upon request.
Do you have a Garden Map of venue locations and floor-plans of the venues?
- Please contact your event coordinator for a venue floor-plan.
- Please download our Garden Trail Map.
Are any venues currently under construction?
- The Garden is rented as is. In the case of construction that directly affects your venue, the Garden will inform you of any trail or venue changes as soon as possible. The Garden reserves the right to relocate your event in the case of construction, when it is in the best interest of you and your event.
Are candles allowed?
- Candles are allowed in the Garden, as long as they are in a votive or enclosure, with the exception of Webster Auditorium where flame candles are not permitted.
Do I need to rent a dance floor?
- We do not recommend renting dance floors for the Garden because each venue already has a designated dance area. Using the natural surface makes for a more organic event feel and saves money. If you prefer, you are welcome to rent a dance floor from an outside rental company.
What décor is not allowed?
- Confetti, rice, and balloons are not allowed at the Garden. Bubbles are acceptable.
- No items can be hung from trees.
May I bring in my own catering?
- The Garden requires that you work with one of our eight approved caterers as listed in our Event Information and Pricing Packet. There are no exceptions to this rule, as these caterers can accommodate specific types of dietary requests, including cultural foods, vegetarian options and kosher cuisine. When researching the caterers on our list, we recommend contacting a few of them with a specific price point in mind and evaluate whom you prefer to work with.
May I bring in my own alcohol?
- The Garden has a liquor license. All alcohol must be coordinated through the Garden’s Beverage Manager, Marianne Donnan. Billing is based on consumption, and examples of billing design include:
- fully hosted bar
- hosted bar for only certain types of drinks such as beer, wine, and soda
- hosted bar that converts to a cash bar when a certain dollar amount has been consumed
- hosted bar that goes to a cash bar after a certain amount of time
- cash bar with champagne toast only
- we can be flexible with any of the above
- No outside liquor is allowed. However, the Garden can special order alcohol products that you would like to have behind the bar to personalize your event.
- Beverage estimation:
- $5 - $8 per person, per hour
- Bar Set-Up Fee: $150 per bar (1 bar per 75 people)
- Bartender Fee ($25 per bartender, per hour, minimum of 4 hours)
- Plasticware is included in the bar fee. Glassware is coordinated through your caterer.
Do you have any requirements for event flowers, potted plants, or centerpieces?
- Any fresh cut flowers are allowed. Flower petals are also allowed.
- We have a list of approved nurseries for potted plants (in addition to the Garden Shop), to ensure only healthy plants are brought into the Garden.
- Licensed florists are also welcome to create live centerpieces of succulents and other living plants.
Do you allow amplified music and have any music restrictions or recommendations?
- The Garden allows DJs, bands, and live musicians in all event venues, with the exception of Webster Auditorium. We provide the power for the musicians, but ask that they provide their own sound equipment. The Garden does not have a noise ordinance. The only time we ask music to be turned down is if we can hear you in another venue, which is rare.
- Please see our Event Information and Pricing Packet for recommendations.
Do you have any other vendor requirements?
- The Garden has a Preferred Vendor List with recommended vendors for all of your additional event elements. These vendors are encouraged, as they are extremely familiar with the Garden, but not required. You are welcome to use any vendor you would like for additional event elements (besides Catering and Beverage Service).
- The Knot Best of Weddings 2011 Pick
- Voted Best Outdoor Reception Site, Arizona Bride Magazine, 2010 & 2006
- Voted one of Modern Bride’s Perfect Places to Say “I Do”, 2009
How much does a wedding at the Garden cost?
- The Garden offers flexibility to all budgets as there are no surcharges on the rental fees and there are no food or beverage minimums. Additional add-on fees for décor items and extra rental time are optional.
- All other fees are coordinated separately through one of our required caterers and through the additional vendors of your choice. We cannot provide specific quotes for the caterers and vendors. Vendor flexibility provides you the opportunity to choose your price point for various wedding elements. For example, you can make your own centerpieces, play music from an ipod, or have a friend take pictures for you. Because we do not offer packages, we cannot tell you the total amount you will spend on your wedding at the Garden. However, the great news is that you decide how much you spend! The Garden, our caterers, and our preferred vendors can accommodate weddings for every budget, no matter what your vision is. We look forward to making your vision come true!
Do you need to see our invitation prior to its being mailed?
- The Garden must approve all printed material that includes the Garden name and your event date. This is not for aesthetics, but to act as a second set of eyes to ensure all names, dates and addresses are spelled correctly. Please email or fax a copy of your invitation prior to printing, and we will approve it at our earliest convenience.
When will the final walk-through occur?
- The Garden requests that a final walk-through take place with you, your Garden event coordinator, and your caterer no less than 10 days before your event date. We collect all vendor and set-up information at this time, to ensure efficiency the day of the event. These meetings are typically held the Wednesday the week prior to the Monday-Sunday date of your event. Please contact your caterer and event coordinator to schedule the specific time of this appointment. If you prefer, these meetings can also take place over the phone.
- Remaining payment for the rental fee and add-ons are due at this time, as is the liability insurance and security deposit.
Will the Garden lead the rehearsal? When will it be held?
- Rehearsals are provided complimentary and run by your Garden event coordinator.
- Rehearsals are scheduled on a first come, first serve basis, based on availability. Rehearsals are allowed up to 1 hour in the designated event venue. Typical rehearsal time-slots are Thursdays and Fridays at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m., but this can vary based on availability. Alternative days and morning rehearsals available upon request
Do you offer dressing rooms for the wedding couple?
- Dressing rooms are provided complimentary for you and your fiancé, based on availability. The specific rooms are designated 2 weeks before your event and can be accessed 2 hours prior to the event start time and are available until the end of the event. Earlier access to the dressing rooms can be purchased upon request.
Am I required to have both a ceremony and reception?
- The Garden is not affiliated with any religion.
- We welcome wedding ceremonies, commitment ceremonies, same-sex ceremonies, and receptions for any couples.
- You may have a ceremony only, reception only, or both.
- Venues that can accommodate ceremonies and/or receptions:
- Dorrance Center: ceremony and/or reception
- Webster Center: ceremony and/or reception
- Herb Garden: ceremony and/or reception
- Wildflower Pavilion: ceremony or reception only
- Amphitheater: ceremony only
- Pratt Ramada: ceremony only
What will the Garden do to help plan our wedding?
- The Garden facilitates the site visits, contracts and payment for your event. We are available for any questions relating to caterers and vendors throughout the entire planning process.
- Attend the final walk through to ensure we are aware of all event elements.
- Coordinate and run the wedding rehearsal.
- Oversee all vendor set up the day of the event.
- Run the ceremony the day of the event.
- Oversee the transition between ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. Once all guests are into the reception and everything is running smoothly, we step out.
Am I required to have a wedding planner? What will the wedding planner coordinate?
- We encourage you to have a wedding planner and/or day-of coordinator for your event. While wedding planners are not required, a day-of contact is required, in case the Garden needs to contact someone regarding your event.
- The wedding planner or day-of contact will be responsible for all of the small details on your special day, from organizing the place cards, setting out the favors, paying your vendors, and loading gifts into your car, to making sure your dress is bustled, your grand entrance goes off without a hitch, and your guest book is signed by everyone.
- A wedding planner is highly recommended to alleviate stress by helping to plan all the details, saving you money through vendor connections, setting your mind at ease on the wedding day knowing that you are in good hands, and coordinating every aspect of your event from your rehearsal dinner to the last dance.
Do you have any requirements for the cake?
- You can use any licensed bakery for the cake.
- You are welcome to take pictures anywhere in the Garden the day of your event. We do request that you stay on the trails at all times and respect other Garden guests.
- We love photos! Please feel free to share your photos with us after your event.
May I take engagement or wedding photos here even if I am not getting married at the Garden?
- If you are holding an event at the Garden, you are welcome to take complimentary engagement photographs at the Garden prior to your event during general admission hours.
- If you are not holding an event at the Garden but would like to take engagement photographs here, you can visit the Garden during general admission hours and pay the Admission fee for everyone in your party. No advanced reservation is necessary. We do request that you stay on the trails at all times and respect other Garden guests.
Do you require reservations for trailside weddings smaller than 10 people?
- For small groups of less than 10, we offer flexible options such as trailside ceremonies during general admission hours. No advance reservations are required; we simply request that you stay on the trails at all times and respect other guests and events.
May I hold a venue while I make a decision?
- Once you have viewed the Desert Botanical Garden in person, you may place a seven day hold on any available date and venue without a deposit.
- Please let us know if you wish to reserve the date or release the hold within the allotted time period.
- If there is already a hold on the date you are interested in, you may place a second hold. In the case that the first hold is released, you will be contacted and have 48 hours to move forward with a reservation or to release the hold.
Are there any additional taxes or fees in addition to the rental costs?
- The Garden is a non-profit organization and does not tax or add service charges to rental costs. A 20% service charge is added to the billing of hosted beverage service.
- We do not require any food or beverage minimums, which helps keep per person costs down.
Do you offer any discounts?
- Our prices are non-negotiable and do not change based on the day of the week or time of the day.
- The rental fee is not tax-deductible.
- We do not offer member discounts.
- We offer summer discounts for venues that rent for more than $1,000. Discounts offered are $500 off June rentals and 50% off July and August rentals.
- We offer discounts to other non-profit organizations. Please inquire.
When are the Contract, Deposit and Final Payment due?
- When you are ready to reserve a date and venue, we will send your contract via email. We require the signed contract and 50% of the rental fee within 7 days. The contract and payment can returned via email, fax, mail or in person.
- We accept payment by check or credit card. We will include a credit card authorization form you can fill out when we send you your contract. Checks should be made payable to “Desert Botanical Garden”.
- We collect the remaining 50% of the rental fee 2 weeks before the event. We also collect payment for event add-ons at that time (i.e. luminarias, heaters and docents).
Do you require a security deposit?
- A $500 security deposit is required for events with a bar. This deposit is due 2 weeks before the event and is refundable after the event, assuming nothing is broken, stolen or damaged.
Do you require insurance?
- A certificate of insurance from the User’s insurance company naming Desert Botanical Garden as an additional insured party must be provided to the Garden at least 2 weeks prior to the event. The User must demonstrate public liability coverage of at least $1,000,000 for the day of the event. Such a certificate must be issued at no additional cost to the Garden.
- The letter agreement executed by the User must contain a provision to indemnify the Garden. The User’s insurance company shall state the Garden will be held harmless with respect to any liability arising out of or relating from use of the Garden facilities.
- The insurance listed above is required for events with a bar.
- To obtain the insurance listed above, we recommend contacting your homeowner’s insurance, as they typically do not charge additional. If you do not have homeowner’s insurance, we recommend obtaining the insurance through a company called WedSafe at www.wedsafe.com for approx. $175.
What are your policies for cancellation or changing a date?
- If a reservation is cancelled prior to 6 months of the event, the Garden withholds 50% of the deposit.
- If a reservation is cancelled within 6 months of the event, the Garden withholds the entire deposit.
- A date transfer (from one date to another) is considered a cancellation and all policies listed above apply. The new date selected would be considered a new contract and full rental fees would apply.
How do I check availability and contract my event?
- Please contact your event coordinator via email, phone or the availability request form to see if your preferred date/venue is available.
- The following information is required to issue your contract.
- First and last name:
- Your fiance’s first and last name (if applicable):
- Date of event:
- Start and end time of event:
- Type of event:
- Venue of event:
- Approximate number of guests:
- Best phone contact:
- Best email contact:
- Mailing address:
Is there a different cost for ceremonies or receptions?
- Rental fees remain the same whether you hold a ceremony only, reception only, or ceremony and reception in your venue.
Can I have a fundraiser, prom, religious, or political event at the Garden?
- Since the Garden is a non-profit organization, we do not allow fundraisers, silent auctions, raffles, or events with exchange of money that support other causes.
- The Garden does not allow proms.
- The Garden does not allow religious functions (excluding wedding ceremonies).
- The Garden does not allow political events.