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Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego Reviews

Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego

Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego

San Diego, CA
4.5 out of 5 rating, 30 Reviews
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Reviews

4.5 out of 5 rating
4.5 out of 5 rating
30 Reviews
89% recommend it
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Awards

30
Weddingwire
4.5/5 30 reviews
Google
4.6/5 8299 reviews
  • M
    Martin F. Sent on 12/01/2023
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    Wonderful experience!

    Working with Marina and Japanese Friendship Garden for the Dream of Niwa Wedding Expo was exactly what one looks for when teaming with a venue! Marina is nothing short of a joy to work with, always professional and engaging, responding promptly. The venue itself is a beauty, easily enhanced with professional lighting, or just on its own. Offering a calm, tranquil ambience, along with gorgeous views, I would not hesitate to refer Marina and Japanese Friendship Garden to any couples looking for a unique and special venue for their nuptials!
  • Angelia
    Angelia O. Sent on 10/04/2022
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    Our Dream Venue

    When my husband and I found out that the garden was available for wedding events, we knew we wanted to book our reception here. Not only is the garden incredibly beautiful, this place holds significant to the both of us. We met in high school in our Japanese culture club and had our first field trip as well as performed events here.

    Anna, the private events coordinator kept an open communication with us mostly through emails. We continued to update her on our chosen vendors and any questions we had she answered in detail. She also helped us schedule a day and time in the garden before opening hours for our engagement photo session. She truly went above and beyond to help our event run smoothly along with the rest of the JFG staff. Our vendors were able to set up earlier than we originally booked and members of our wedding party could drop off the decorations before our ceremony which took place off site.

    We had our reception at the Lower Garden in the Inamori Pavilion and added the shuttle service for our guests. They enjoyed exploring and taking photos in the garden and stated it was the perfect place for us to celebrate our marriage. Thank you for making our dream a reality!
  • Erica
    Erica B. Sent on 12/17/2022
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    Thank You, JFG!

    The Inamori Pavilion & Lower Gardens at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is an incredibly beautiful & special place to have a wedding. With guests visiting San Diego from the East Coast, we wanted our wedding to be somewhere special to San Diego. Balboa Park is undeniably a San Diego gem, and the JFG is by far our favorite offering. The Earth Bridge provides a breathtaking setting for an intimate outdoor peaceful garden ceremony, and the Inamori Pavilion provides the perfect indoor / outdoor elements for a reception with a unique & stunning esthetic along side the koi pond. The Lower Gardens were open exclusively to our wedding guests to explore and admire for the entirety of our event, which the venue allows until midnight. Christina, Anna and the private events team at the JFG were so kind, patient, professional and easy to work with hrough multiple postponements from the start of planning our wedding in early 2019 to finally celebrating July 3, 2022. Thank you for being a part of our special once in a lifetime day!
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  • A
    Ashley D. Sent on 07/12/2022
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    Such a beautiful venue!

    I'll be very honest, I booked my wedding at a very awkward time. I inquired before the pandemic with one coordinator, only to put planning on hold about a month later. But by the time they opened back up, the initial coordinator had retired and they had an intermittent coordinator who I talked with and made most of the arrangements with until they hired an official coordinator, Anna. But the whole time the transitions didn't affect my service. A beautiful venue, too.

    I will say this, when you plan your event, remember it's a museum first and a venue second, so there a lot of things they don't have that a traditional reception hall would have such as a clean up crew. They do provide brooms and such but keep in mind you should prepare a group of trusted guests or even hire a crew to clean everything up after your event. It's also imperative that you give your guests precise directions. Some of my guests did get lost, even after I gave them the address the venue suggested, because they relied on Google maps to get them there, only to end up at the very front entrance.
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    Stan S. Sent on 05/21/2021
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    Worth the Wait

    Booked and then waited a year plus due to pandemic. Everyone at the JFG was professional and helpful throughout. So beautiful a setting, and convenient to have the ceremony and reception in one location.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Hi Stan,
    We are so happy that Leah & Aaron had such a lovely time. Thank you again for all of your help as well, you were a pleasure to work with! Warmest regards -Chloe & JFG staff
  • Risa
    Risa Sent on 03/02/2021
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    Amazing venue

    Exactly one year ago, on Leap Day of 2020, my husband and I were married at the Japanese Friendship Garden. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect venue. San Diego is a wonderful location for a wedding because of the weather and easy access, but we were doubly lucky with so many of the cherry blossom trees in bloom for our ceremony. Under a clear sky at a perfect temperature, even in February, we couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

    More importantly, the staff at JFG, particularly Christina, were amazingly helpful in making sure we had everything buttoned up for our big day. Scheduling walkthroughs here was such a pleasure. Christina was a true partner to us throughout the process, giving us advice and connecting us with reliable vendors for what can so often be an overwhelming process.

    One particular point worth noting if you are on the fence: we wondered if the flight path coming in would be a problem for an outdoor ceremony. From the parking lot above, the sound from the planes is noticeable, but once you’re in the garden the valley acts as a shield from the sound. With all the other positives in play, this ended up not being a problem even in the least.

    Most of our vendors have told us that we were among the last weddings they worked for 2020. Looking to the future, we’re hopeful that a location as wonderful as this can once again see its share of happy couples tying the knot. We feel truly blessed with our memories of our big day here and want to thank the JFG and all of its staff for helping us realize an evening we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.
  • Jeanvally
    Jeanvally Sent on 09/26/2019
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    Our absolute dream venue!

    Our first time actually visiting the lower garden was when we scheduled an appointment with Christina. Christina was so friendly, accommodating with our schedule & was very patient while my husband and I explored every part of the venue. She answered all of our questions and helped us envision the kind of ceremony/reception we wanted to have. Our venue search was finally over.

    THE LOWER GARDEN IS AN ABSOLUTE DREAM -- it is the most beautiful venue I've ever seen and I couldn't be happier booking them. We had our ceremony at the earth bridge & our reception at the Inamori Pavillion. It was so great to have our ceremony right next to the reception. Also that our guests were able to enjoy a stroll around the garden during cocktail hour while we took our bridal party photos. Will absolutely try to find another occasion to book them again in the future :)

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Hi Jean,
    Thank you so much for the lovely review! It was so fun helping you plan things and I'm glad our other staff were able to help too! You both looked amazing and the video you filmed that day and played at the reception was so sweet and stunning! You two looked so happy and I'm glad if I was able to help even a little! Thank you for being amazing to work with and I'm so happy for you two! Best wishes!!! And let me know about that vow renewal ;) Definitely don't be shy and do come and visit!
  • Colette
    Colette S. Sent on 04/23/2019
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    Dream come true!

    Stunning venue with an amazing staff! We had our ceremony in the Lower garden and our reception in the Inamori Pavilion The event coordinator Christina was so helpful and had suggestions for all my questions! My day went smoothly because of her help! I couldn't ask for more.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Hi Colette! I'm so happy you loved the venue and that the garden was looking amazing! We even had a bit of the cherry blossoms still Ieft and the rest was filling in great too perfect for photos! I can't wait to see them! You and Alex looked amazing and I loved the colors you went with! And thank you for being wonderful to work with! I truly enjoyed being part of your special day!
  • Kristi
    Kristi B. Sent on 01/29/2020
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    Beautiful venue with great staff

    The Japanese Friendship Garden is a stunning venue. They have gorgeous flowers and trees, coy ponds, waterfalls, and bridges. There is an incredible amount of natural beauty. The on-site event coordinator, Christina, was professional and helpful throughout the entire process. She also had lots of great suggestions for the wedding. The rest of the team was professional and easy to work with as well. Everything went really smoothly before, during, and after the weddin. I highly recommend JFG!
  • User2665926 Sent on 06/28/2016
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    Book it! This is an unbelievable place to get married, filled with natural beauty and serenity. Perfect for outdoor events! We just had our 5 year anniversary dinner there, and working with Christine reminded me how easy they are and helpful. I highly recommend it for any outdoor event you are planning, it is a beautiful place.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Seeing that you and your wife are so happy just made my day! I'm really glad we were able to pull this all together in time and surprise her! We wish you many more years of happy marriage!
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    Sacha Sent on 11/02/2015
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    Darryll & Sacha – September 2015
    We celebrated our wedding at the Japanese Friendship Garden in sunny San Diego, September of this year. We were lucky enough to have our ceremony and reception at the beautiful lower garden. The idyllic setting of the meticulously landscaped grounds, and centuries-old Japanese garden design was the perfect location for our special day. We couldn’t have picked a better venue. Our guests were able to enjoy the celebration, as well as walk the scenic landscape of the garden. Everyone in attendance took a little bit of the serene garden tranquility with them at the end of the night.
    We had the best day of our lives, and for that we thank all the management and staff of JFG for extending such a warm welcome, and making us feel so relaxed in the knowledge that nothing would be less than perfect on their watch. My husband and I are very thankful for the amazing experience!

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Thank you Sacha and Darryll! It was so great to see your wedding progress, and how everything came out at the end. We are so happy that you were happy with your experience!
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    Laura Sent on 11/03/2015
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    The ceremony and reception were at the koi pond in Balboa park and it was beautiful. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Thank you Laura! The Koi Pond is deffinetly a beautiful spot!
  • JPG
    Jenna Sent on 07/21/2008
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    My husband and I were set on having our wedding reception at the Japanese Friendship Garden and we are so happy we did! I can't think of anyone sweeter to work with than Lovelynn and the gardens were beautiful! This place is pretty private and no one can come in during a private event. There is almost no way for onlookers to peer into the gardens since a fence surrounds the entire property.

    The plants and trees are so gorgeous and the buildings and small Japanese details are a beautiful backdrop for photos! The ceremony gate was the perfect spot to have our cake table and the koi pond was such an inviting place for our guests to enjoy appetizers and drinks before we arrived. We set the Dj up in front of the office building and the dance floor right in front of the walkway. Our favor table and gift table fit perfectly in front of the office building on the other side across from the Dj. We also rented the exhibit house for a slideshow, candles, music and a photo album for our guests to enjoy. The benches they have on the property were perfect with the white pillows we purchased to dress them up. We used them for the koi pond area during the cocktail area and for the bridal tables and the bride/groom table. The pergola was the best space for our head table and we hung white sheer curtains from it to create more culture and romance. I couldn't have thought of a more perfect spot to celebrate our marriage!!
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    Sandra Sent on 04/24/2016
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    This was the only venue that my husband and I wanted for our wedding. They have two areas, the Upper and Lower Garden. We just got married on the Lower Garden. The place was so beautiful even that it wasn't cherry blossom season anymore. They have bridges, waterfalls, trees, flowers... You have to go and check them out!
    Some friends told us about other venues for a cheaper price but honestly, we were not interested in another place. Trust me, this place worth the money you invest. You are not going to find the same view and landscaping in a different place. We not even needed to go to a different location for our photo session.
    We really enjoyed our day and I am satisfied with the service that JFG provided. They have some restrictions but we understood. They want to preserve the garden and the pavilion.
    Just two inconveniences: Since the Lower Garden is a new area, the address is not included on google maps yet, so the guests could have a hard time finding the entrance. So be sure you give them a map with the location. The other thing is that at 4 pm there were still visitors and it was a little bit uncomfortable for us during the photo session. We had sometimes to wait for them to move and also to get some privacy for certain pictures.
    But still, I think these two details are not very important comparing with the wonderful evening we had. I highly recommend this place.
    Thank you Christine, Jennifer and the rest of the staff :)

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Thank you Sandra for the kind review! We appreciate your willingness to work around our regular visitors during that time, and being respectful of our plants! Hands down, you two had great music and a fun party that we will always remember! Congrats, and enjoy married life!
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    Jean Sent on 09/11/2011
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    This was the only venue that my husband and I looked at for our wedding! I lived in San Diego for almost 25 years and have never came by this hidden gem until it was time to look for the perfect location. We definitely wanted something outdoors since San Diego is a gorgeous city. I love that the venue is in the heart of Balboa Park so our guests were able to enjoy a beautiful backdrop as well. Lovelynn worked with us in the beginning as the Special Event Coordinator and she was amazing with us! Our guests repeatedly complimented how perfect this venue was for our special day!
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    Inna Sent on 08/28/2008
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    My venue was beautiful.
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    Jasmine Sent on 07/08/2020
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    Perfect Spring Wedding

    First off, our wedding was March 15 and probably one of the last events in San Diego before the shelter in place. I thought things were wild the week before due to us planning around rainy weather. Little did I know things would get crazier with COVID-19. With that being said, all of our vendors handled our event with so much grace and professionalism. We could not have done this without them!!

    The JFG is magical! I’m surprised more events aren’t held here. Our wedding date luckily aligned with the cherry blossoms and as I walked down the aisle it truly felt perfect.

    We worked with Christina for almost a year. She is incredibly kind, helpful, patient, knowledgeable, experienced, accommodating, professional, and friendly. She always took the time to answer our emails with detailed responses.

    From our first venue tour to rainy day backup plans to various floor plans, Christina shared some great insight. We felt she really went the extra mile to assist with our reception floor plan. And we were so happy with the set up of everything.

    Things to note about JFG as a venue:
    -It’s completely DIY (this can be great for couples looking to customize!)
    -Like many venues they do have a preferred catering list ( I was a little disappointed at first because our guests included many older asian relatives who are accustomed to asian cuisine. We ended up choosing Ranch Events as our caterer and they were amazing!!)
    -Pets can be in the ceremony! (We couldn't imagine having our wedding without our fur baby so this played a huge factor in us choosing JFG)

    Some suggestions I’d like to add for JFG:
    Consider expanding catering list (Christina did note our catering recommendations and we greatly appreciate that)
    Consider bringing on a dedicated event coordinator to assist with the day of things. I think this would ease couple’s anxieties over the DIY factor 😊

    Overall our wedding day was absolutely wonderful. Every guest was in awe of the scenery and they could not stop taking selfies! We are so happy we got to share such a wonderful place with our closest family and friends. Thank you so much JFG!

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Hi Jasmine,
    Thank you so much for your kind words and honest opinion. I am so happy you had a great experience and you got to enjoy your big day. I remember the rain planing! haha, but we pulled it off! Thank you for your review as well. It was wonderful and refreshing to read during these turbulent times. I wish you all the best and I'm sure all our other brides planning things will get to have their special day too, just a little late, but it'll be a blast! Do come and visit again sometime! Congratulations!!!
  • Dalila
    Dalila Sent on 11/14/2018
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    An amazing day

    We were recently married on October 31st 2018, in the lower garden. Even though we had a small party of just 30 people they were still just as accommodating to us as any large group or event. The garden itself was still as aesthetically pleasing in the fall as it is in the spring. The grounds, water features, plant life and pavilion were all immaculately kept. The lower garden itself maintains a pleasing level of light just before daylight savings kicks in to make for wonderful photo opportunities. Our guests, who ranged in a variety of ages, were all very pleased with the garden. When dealing with the venue staff there was very little, if any difficulty in communication at all. We felt just as welcome on the first day we arrived to plan our wedding as we did on the very day itself.

    Cristina was great at follow ups and answering our questions, even to the day of the wedding.

    The one thing that may be a problem for some may be the parking. Since we used the lower garden, guests can park in a private parking area, close to the lower gate. We loved having safe and easy access, but you do have to walk a very small distance on an unpaved road. If you have disabled guests like we did, who rely on a mobility scooter, they will require someone to drive them up to the gate, and then drive back to the parking space because cars cannot be parked on the side road.

    The bridal room easily accommodates 7 adults, more than that, it will be a tight fit.

    The Garden also requires that you use one of their approved food vendors. We used culinary concepts and they were great! For decoration and set ups, you use San Diego linens which were great to work with also. All in all, we are very happy, we went with the garden.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Hi Dalila! Congratulations again on your wedding! It was wonderful working with you all and I'm so happy to hear you and your guests had a great time! We'll definitely keep working hard to improve our new venue more and more and appreciate the feedback. It get's better every year so be sure to visit us and come stop in and say hello! Best wishes to you both!
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    Rey Sent on 07/29/2018
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    We wanted our wedding ceremony to be held at the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park. We sent them an email through their website and were eventually contacted by Christina. Christina was enthusiastic in showing us the Upper Garden and the rooms we were permitted to use. She also made us aware that other events were scheduled at the Organ Pavilion next door on the day of our wedding. In the next few months, Christina was able to meet all of our requests: wooden chairs instead of plastic, allowing vendors early access and allowing us to leave items the night before our ceremony. On the day of our ceremony it felt like we were cutting our set up time pretty close to our start time, but everything worked out fine. Our ceremony was underway and everything was going swimmingly until we heard a loud drumming in the background. We managed to ignore the sound and it eventually ended. We later learned that Victor, who was part of the JFG staff, asked the source of the drumming to stop. The rest of the ceremony commenced without issue. At its conclusion, we were happy that Victor helped us clean up. Furthermore, Christina allowed us to leave items in the room to pick up the next day. Overall, we were extremely pleased with our decision to hold our wedding ceremony at the JFG and we especially appreciated the assistance of Christina and Victor. All of our guests, and ourselves, thought the venue was perfect.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Hi Rey! I'm so glad to hear you had a great wedding day! Super cute pictures too! It was a pleasure working with you both and I'm happy Victor was able to save the day! The JFG wishes you both all the happiness! Congratulations!
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    Newlywed Sent on 04/14/2019
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    Gorgeous venue!

    We had our wedding at the Japanese Friendship Garden in March 2019 and it was incredible. With the help of Christina the venue coordinator we luckily timed the wedding just when the cherry blossoms were blooming and with perfect weather you really can’t beat the beauty of the gardens. We got married in the lower garden with the ceremony on the earth bridge and it easily hosted ~80 people including wedding party and could probably host closer to 100 if needed. The value is exceptional given it includes chairs, tables, a gorgeous ceremony location and a very convenient and beautiful reception area in the pavilion with adjacent koi pond and waterfall. You get your own private parking lot for up to 30 cars so you and your guests don’t have to fight for parking in the typically crowded upper lots of Balboa Park. Would highly recommend to anyone.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Thank you so much for your feedback! I'm so happy to hear you loved the garden and that we could help you have an amazing wedding day! Please don't forget to visit us in the future and stop in to say hi!

    Happy one month anniversary!!!

    Sincerely,
    Christina
  • User1448622 Sent on 11/21/2013
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    This is a lovely venue for a small, simple ceremony. They were flexible with their policies to allow us more time in the venue for setup and cleanup. We didn't need much and they don't offer alot of frills. They offer chairs and serving tables only. We provided our own linens, etc. For the arrangement we made we had to do all of the cleanup and haul away all of our own trash etc. I imagine that if you got a different contract, you could get more service, but we got the "budget" contract. Given that, they were great at brainstorming a last minute indoor option when the weather threatened rain, and they moved the chairs back outside when the skies cleared. They offered us a space for dressing and getting ready, and the area was freshly swept and trimmed just prior to our ceremony. It was a stunning location for a very small wedding and I'm glad ours was there.

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Thank you for your compliments! We are happy that you enjoyed your wedding with us. Since your wedding, we have expanded quite a bit and have alternated our contracts to be a little more flexible to our guests. I hope you can come back and see all of our hard work at the garden!
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    Lauren Sent on 09/24/2014
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    Absolutely stunning place to get married! We had 130 with seated dinner and a dancing area, and it was perfect. The ceremony space, while beautiful, might have been a little tight for the ceremony in retrospect, but it was a 20 minute ceremony and I don't think anyone minded!

    Pros - outdoors! You can do every aspect of the wedding outside if you'd like (ceremony, reception and cocktail hour). Public space (a little more budget friendly), naturally beautiful, can have loud music till late! Great space to hold supplies from the night before, as well as a "green-room" type set up for the bridal party to hang out before the ceremony/the band to take their break.

    Cons - the JFG does have certain restrictions on candle use, putting things on the grass, hanging things, etc but nothing that was off-putting at all!

    Overall, if you want a beautiful outdoor venue in San Diego, that you can customize and party till late...look no further than the JFG! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
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    J.b. Sent on 08/25/2010
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    The most beautiful venue in San Diego. They have a few rules & restrictions, but they are easy to live by.
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    Christine Sent on 11/07/2015
    4 out of 5 rating
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    Beautiful location - we are so happy we chose the JFG for our ceremony and reception! The process was not complicated at all, and the on-site coordinators (we had two during their transfer/transition period to the new person) were super helpful and responsive.

    There are some things that we wish we had thought of beforehand, but none of them would have been deal-breakers for us: the San Diego Airport landing path is nearby, so there is a possibility that you will hear planes during your ceremony (not super loud, but in the background); open flames are not allowed (e.g. sparklers for grand exit, ceremony unity candle, or reception candles without at least a side covering of a couple of inches above the flame are not permitted); choosing a venue like the JDG that does not offer all rentals, catering, lighting, etc. as a package, can be a bit stressful and less cost-effective than say, a hotel venue that offers it all. Despite these "drawbacks", we got so many compliments on how beautiful the wedding was, and we didn't really devote much of our budget to the decor - the garden really speaks for itself and is a beautiful, natural gem that kids to grandparents can enjoy and appreciate...that's not to say that you can't dress is up to match your own taste and style - it's perfect if you're looking for something carte-blanche!

    Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego's reply:

    Thank you for that kind review Christine! We are all thrilled that you enjoyed your wedding! We hope you're loving married life!
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    Winnie Sent on 12/11/2012
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    The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park was such a beautiful place for our wedding! The staff was going through a change so I got passed around a bit near my wedding date (which was nerve wracking!) but everything turned out fine and the interim coordinator did her best. The venue itself is an amazing garden and a great value too!
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