Mary Ann is the Facility Rental Manager and she was extremely helpful in helping us to organize our wedding. We had to have something flexible in case my husband's visa didn't make it in time and his travel arrangements had to be changed, and she was willing to be flexible with us when I came in and viewed the locations and decided on the Barrio Garden for our ceremony. She answered all my questions and when I arrived on the wedding day, there was even an area for me to change, which I wasn't expecting. She really went above and beyond my expectations, and my wedding day was absolutely perfect at the Gardens.
The botanical gardens were a gorgeous spot to have my dream wedding! I only emailed back and forth a few times with Mary Ann, due to the fact that my wedding planner had to handle most of it since I was out of the country. She was very understanding and willing to work with our situation. We were not able to have candles (it is in a garden after all), but we just used the LED lights instead. The lights in all of the trees were perfect and added to the effect of a beautiful night garden wedding. We rented the Porter Hall/Reception Garden area and it was definitely the right choice! The indoor section was perfect for food, and they had a little kitchen the caterers used as well. The Reception Garden has a beautiful gazebo, beautiful tress and flowers, and it smelled wonderful. It made my dream wedding a reality!
They were great. Accidentally double-booked the date we chose, and lowered their rate by over 50% because of their error. Despite staff changes and large funding cuts during the year leading up to our wedding, the people who care about the Botanical Gardens (staff and volunteers) kept the facility up to its normal glorious standards.
The Botanical Gardens were a beautiful spot for my ceremony and reception. If you do decide to get married here, I would recommend to have the officiant use a microphone, or ask the gardens to turn off the water fountain, or both. The ceremony site (if you rent Porter Hall / Reception Garden) still gets a good bit of noise from traffic. That plus the fountain made it hard for our guests to hear much of anything. Otherwise it was gorgeous, the flowers smelled beautiful and the lights at night are very festive and pretty.
Great suggestions Stacey! I will pass that along to other brides.
When we signed our contract you could choose any caterer. We chose Feast. Now they might make you use Acacia, I'm not sure. You can only have beer, wine and champagne, which actually cuts your bar bill so no worries there. You can't have a cash bar, but why would you want to do that? Anyway, I was slightly worried about the decor (or lack thereof); you can't have candles, you can't hang anything. But with my gorgeous flowers and LED candles, it looked stunning when the sun set. They were easy to work with and worked with my DOC, photog, bartender and photog well. The lights in the trees are so lovely and the space is cozy. It all turned out beautifully. This is not the space for a bride who wants it all done for her; you have to coordinate things. But if you want flexibility with music, set-up, etc. you're good.
We had our wedding on the patio and used the art gallery for our buffet and guest book tables. The venue's event coordinator, Cassandra, was great to work with. I signed a contract and put down the deposit with a previous coordinator, and Cassandra initially did not have any records of our contract, but that problem was quickly resolved (keep all communications with your vendors just in case). The venue provides all of the tables and chairs you will need. We lucked out because the prior coordinator had promised white wood wedding chairs, which I believe are now available for an extra cost.
Good Parts: It's a gorgeous venue, and the rental fee, while a bit pricey goes to a good cause. The coordinator is really nice and easy to work with, and she is a great resource for budget-friendly vendors. You can bring in your own alcohol (beer, wine and champagne only) and cakes to save money. The patio gazebo and trees are prelit with lots of twinkle lights so you won't need a lot of extra lighting except on the tables. Plentiful free parking, and Cassandra allowed us to leave cars overnight.
Slight inconveniences: They only allow beer, wine and champagne. We also made a sangria, which was allowed. You will need to have someone to set up/pack up your centerpieces and any decor items you have planned. Although you can separately rent a getting ready area, this is not included in the rental fee. You can also rent the butterfly garden for photos, but again, it's an extra cost. You can't bring your decor or other supplies to the venue ahead of time. The venue is in a residential neighborhood, so music has to stop at 10 p.m., and everyone has to leave by 10:30. We packed our minivan with our supplies (make sure you have a flatbed hand truck for loading/unloading), and left it overnight to be picked up in the morning.
The venue is beautiful. Your guests can tour the gardens as they please. They are open to pretty much whatever you need for your wedding except for a few exceptions. You cannot use table candles, you can only use candles for the ceremony. The flowers for the runway aisle cannot be silk or synthetic. The only negative for me was that Porter Hall area was a little small for the number of guests I had (approx. 100). I had to have my guests sit at their dining tables for the ceremony with some family guests sitting in rows at the front. Also, The inside space is definitely not enough room for 100 people so the wedding had to be outside while the elders sat inside for lunch.
The location is so beautiful and that helped our wedding to look like a dream. Unfortunately, the person in charge of events was a nightmare to work with. She was rude, unavailable, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy telling me no. I ended up having to pay for a wedding planner to help solve the problems created by the event planner at the gardens. If this is the type of venue that you are looking for, I would strongly recommend using something like Tohono Chul instead. They use the same caterer and you wouldnt have to deal with the staff at the Botanical Gardens.