Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens
The staff for both the zoo and centerplate were very friendly, organized and accommodating. They made the whole process smooth with little worries. I would highly recommend this venue!
The Indianapolis Zoo was our ideal setting for an outdoor wedding. The Zoo staff was very professional and helpful in the planning stages of our big day, and were very helpful on the day of the wedding helping to keep things in the timeframe we had wished. The only negative is that there is only one exclusive caterer that is offered through the Indianapolis Zoo, and this caterer was not as flexible as we would have wished. But all in all we would recommend the Zoo to anyone wanting an outdoor wedding!
Jackie and Beth were AWESOME! Anytime I had any questions, they were always there to answer them quickly and even make sure that I had everything I needed on the biggest day of my life! Even with calling them and emailing them once a week, they were always so caring, helpful and understanding. The Indianapolis Zoo is a beautiful place and was where I had always wanted to get married. Everything was perfect on my big day! The only things that I would say were of a concern was the price of the facility and the paint in the Dolphin Gallery. Other than that, everything and everyone was wonderful all the way to the end of our reception.
What can I say. .... All my guest were impressed with the venue. My inlaws were worried about the heat but that night was perfect. a wonderful breeze that kept thenight right for dancing :-) Jackie is wonderful. We were able to get in to do some pre decorating with ease. She was extremely helpful in ensuring that our event went off with a hitch. Thank you so much for everything
From the first moment I saw the Gardens, I knew there was no other place I ever wanted to get married. Jackie was great! She did a great job in accomedating things that we wanted to do.
The venue was beautiful. Planning....some bumps in the road; but, all would have been water under the bridge if execution would have been on par. Members of the waitstaff were not dressed appropriately (washed out, too small leggings in place of black trousers). Guests waited extended periods of time to be served dinner (over 45 minutes in some cases); including a table identified as VIP, where two guests had come directly to the wedding off a flight from Europe. We were told by several guests that the kitchen had run out of their selected entrees. No extra chair covers were ordered - so, two last minute additions translated into leaving the chairs in the Grand Hall uncovered (i.e. ugly). The memorial table (included in the floor plan since day one - as a petite, sidetable sized item)was initially overlooked. When this was pointed out, they added in a large square table, which pushed the bride's family's table another ten feet away from the bridal party's table.
We, too, were locked out as we were clearing all of our effects out of the facility. One item of sentiment was not recovered.
We had both our ceremony and reception in the wedding gardens and Hulman Riverhouse. Jackie is amazing to work with though the whole planning process. We did a lot of things the zoo had never done before and they were able to accommodate. Highly recommended!
I had my event in the Dolphin Gallery and it was very nice all set up. The wedding that was supposed to be in the Efroymson Garden was canceled so they allowed me to take pictures there which were beautiful! All of my guests LOVED the live dolphins swimming around, especially the kids. I would definitely recommend this venue to brides who are looking for something a bit different than the norm.
The team at the zoo was wonderful. Everything on our wedding day flowed smoothly. We did a small animal and elephant greet, which all of our guests loved. Sandy and Beth were great throughout the night, and the service staff took excellent care of us and our guests. Additionally, our reception was in the dolphin pavilion, and our guests all loved watching the dolphins (until about 9 pm, when the lights in the dome were turned off). This experience definately cost us, and with a group of 75 we barely met the catering minimum. We had to add a lot of food and services that were barely touched by our guests. With that said, the minimums at the zoo were lower than some other places we looked. My only other complaint, which is minor, is that we rarely talked to the same person twice. With Centerplate Catering, we dealt with 3 different people in the year we spent planning. While the transitions were relatively smooth, it was stressful to transition to a new catering manager just 3 days before the wedding!
Overall, our experience at the zoo was amazing and very unique! I know it was a wedding our guests will never forget (for good reasons)!
I would not recommend getting married at the Indianapolis Zoo. First, the wedding planner did not know what she was doing - even though we paid about $20K to be there, we were apparently considered a security threat, as each door we exited from the ceremony to the reception locked behind us - there were some doors to which even the wedding planner did not have a key, so we got to stand in the heat in our heels and bridesmaid dresses as she had to call someone from within; as the sister of the bride, I was yelled at by the minister because he couldn't find the unity candles, which had been given to the wedding planner earlier. As a finale, we were locked in at the end of the night and had to leave via the children's turnstile at the zoo exit, passing each present individually through the turnstile [the wedding planner had left long ago]. I wonder how the DJ got his equipment out of the zoo that night. Altogether, NOT a fun experience! Oh, and please note that the Zoo will not allow any bridesmaids to leave anything in the changing room - everything has to be removed by the wedding party BEFORE the ceremony starts and either put in the car or under the head table at the reception hall, which is approximately a half mile walk from the changing room that they assign to you.
This is in response to the first review on this page. I was the bride in that wedding, and my day was everything I ever had hoped for and more. I would highly recommend the Zoo to anyone that is getting married. For a full year before my wedding, I was receiving daily help from all the wedding staff at the Zoo. If I had a question, my email or phone call was answered almost immediately. I felt like I was the only person that was going to be married at the Zoo. On a final note, the officiant we hired was completely separate from the Zoo's staff, so the incident with him was in no way the Zoo's fault. Please disregard all of the negative comments that were shared about my wedding. Good luck to all the brides out there!
We had our wedding in the Conservatory with the butterflies and reception in the Riverhouse. Everything was amazing! We had a different reception set-up than they had ever done and they were so amazing in making sure that everything was perfect. We had absolutely no problems with doors locking or being trapped. We even requested that people enter from a different door than normal so that people were not walking through the reception area to get to the ceremony location and they were okay with that. People still talk about how amazing our wedding was and that every wedding afterwards has had a tough time competing.
We did have a couple food issues with Centerplate:
1. Our vendors -DJ, photographers, videographers, etc- were seated at a temporary table out in the grand hall for dinner. Our photographer had to go ask them for food twice before they finally got it. After they set up their table, the servers just never came back. However, no guests had to wait extended times for their food or drink.
2. We had three different flavors of cake and asked the servers to give each table a variety so that the guests could then trade among themselves if they wanted something different. The servers gave every table the same flavor, so most people didn't know that there were multiple flavors to choose from. My husband's grandmother is allergic to chocolate and was only able to eat one of our flavors. When she asked for it they told her they were out, so she didn't get any cake (because everyone else around her had chocolate so she couldn't trade).
3. We purposely had about an extra 40 or so slices of cake more than we had guests because we knew some of our college friends would want seconds and we told them that. When one guest asked for another piece after he knew that everyone had been served, they told him that there were no extra. He didn't want to bother us, so we didn't find this out until a few days later. My mother also asked for the left over cake at the end of the night and was also told that there wasn't any. We can only assume that once everyone was served that the wait staff thought they could help themselves.
4. We told them we wanted our top tier of cake cut and served, we did not want it saved for our first anniversary. We unpack the gifts out of the car the next night to have a gift opening party with family and find our top tier in a plain white box that they had apparently placed on the gift table. It was carrot cake with cream cheese filling and seeing that it was July and in a hot car for 24 hours, we were unable to eat it. That is also where about 10 slices of cake went and also why there wasn't enough carrot cake to give to my husband's grandmother. Talk about wasted money.
Overall, I would have our wedding there again and I suggest it to every bride I meet. I love looking at our photos and watching our video and seeing that we did something so different than what you normally see. In fact, our photographers and videographers had never done anything like it and use our wedding in their promotions of their businesses still to this day. It definitely is not your average wedding space and it was perfect!
The White River Gardens was the ideal place for our ceremony & reception. We got married in the Butterfly Attrium & had the reception in the Hulman Riverhouse. It was gorgeous!! The food was excellent & everyone had a blast at our wedding. Stephanie was awesome to work with & was very paitent with us with all our questions & constant emails. If you are looking for a unique, gorgeous venue, I would highly recommend the zoo.
The gardens were such a gorgeous place to be married. The staff at the zoo was incredibly helpful. I'm not sure how I would have handled everything without them. THey had someone at the rehearsal to help organize as well as someone there the day of.
I appreciate the different options for the reception. We had ours at the Dolphin Gallery and it was a blast. However, the Riverhouse would have been gorgeous as well looking over the city skyline.
The venue was spectacular but very pricey. They require you to use their caterer, but the food was delicious.
Our wedding was beautiful in the Gardens. We booked them with extreme ease. The day of everything was fine, and went smoothly.
The extremely difficult part for us was the rehearsal. We were not told until 10 days before the wedding when we were able to have the rehearsal, and it ended up having to be at 2:00 in the afternoon! It was extremely frustrating.
The outdoor wedding garden is so beautiful. We had our ceremony in the formal garden, cocktail hour out in the knot gardens and our reception overlooking the downtown skyline. The staff was professional, flexible, and attentive to all of my pre-wedding concerns. I would highly recommend this venue - your pictures will be amazing!
Great ceremony and reception location within the White River State Park family. Sales team is prompt and professional. I feel confident that clients are in great hands when I send referrals their way.
The Indianpolis Zoo is a great venue to hold both your wedding as well as reception. With multiple options and scenic views of animals and the downtown Indianapolis skyline it is a one of kind place. Also, the coordinators are fantastic and great to work with.
It is always a fantastic experience working with Jackie, Beth, Lori, and everyone else at the Indianapolis Zoo! From the elegant Rose Garden for your ceremony to the unique experience of the Dolphin Gallery for the reception, The Indianapolis Zoo is unforgettable.
Jackie at the Zoo is awesome! I'm an officiant she was so easy to get along with and to work with. She even called me at home after the rehearsal to touch base for the next day with changes that had just been decided. She had a great rapport working with the bridal party even though they were a very busy couple (doctor and fashion designer - working out of town) and she hadn't physically met with them in months. The whole staff at the zoo was great. What is cooler then dolphins at your reception? The bride and groom at a picture of all the little kids running around the gardens during their wedding ceremony. It was 100 degrees that day and the ceremony was held inside instead. The kids had a great time with the dolphins instead. It was EVERYTHING it sounds like in the the total kewlness realm and more!!!
Always professional, always ready, and kind to we vendors who come into their space!
Great to work with! I've DJ'd there many times, and everything is always professionally handled. A joy to work with. Highly recommended!!!
One of the most beautiful venues in Indianapolis. Always a pleasure to work with the staff at the Zoo & White River Gardens. Jerry (Owner) Sound Spectrum Entertainment.
Create a spectacular and fun wedding in the heart of downtown at the Indianapolis Zoo! Extraordinary amenities include the 3.3 acres of gorgeous gardens, 5,000 square foot Hilbert Conservatory with changing shows, breathtaking view of the city, and choice of memorable reception venues.
Available wedding events include: evening wedding/reception packages, evening receptions, day weddings, and rehearsal dinners.
The Indianapolis Zoo proudly uses 100% Green Power and is a member of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce's Green Business.
1. Are we allowed to bring in our own caterer?
The Indianapolis Zoo works exclusively with Centerplate for all its catering services (food, beverage and room setup). Cakes, however, are allowed from the bakery of your choice.
2. Are we allowed to have alcohol at our event?
Alcohol is permitted but managed entirely through Centerplate.
3. What time can our event begin?
Daytime rentals are available from 10am to 2pm. Evening rentals begin after operating hours, which vary depending on the facility you choose and the time of year, and are available until midnight.
4. Do you require a minimum amount of guests?
The only requirements are the facility rental plus tax and the catering minimum plus basic fees (9% sales tax, 20% service fee & $150 setup fee).
5. What all does the $150 setup fee include?
The $150 set up fee payable to Centerplate includes all tables and chairs (tables and chairs for dinner, ceremony chairs, guest book table, gift table, a/v table, unity table, cake table, DJ table, escort card table, buffet tables), the setup and tear down of all tables and chairs, all standard linens and napkins (black, white or ivory), all silverware and plateware for your dinner tables (china and glass) and a round glass mirror and three votive candles per table.
6. Do we and/or our guests have to pay to park?
Parking is free for all wedding-related events.
7. Can we reserve/block off parking?
Guests are welcome to park anywhere in the Zoo parking lot. However parking is only offered on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be blocked off or reserved.
8. Do we and/or our guests have to pay admission?
Admission is only required for daytime events (10am to 2pm) in the Party Pavilion and Dolphin Gallery. For all other wedding-related events, admission is not required.
9. Why is admission required for daytime events in the Dolphin Gallery and Party Pavilion?
The Dolphin Gallery and Party Pavilion are located on Zoo grounds, so guests must pay admission to get to those locations. However, guests are then free to enjoy the Zoo grounds during regular hours.
10. Are discounted admission tickets available?
Discounted admission tickets are available for groups of 25 or more.
11. How early can we arrive to begin pictures, access the dressing rooms and/or set up?
You may arrive as early as two hours prior to begin setup, access the dressing rooms and/or begin pictures.
12. What time will Centerplate staff arrive to begin setup?
Centerplate staff will begin setup two hours prior to your event.
13. Are we allowed to take pictures on Zoo grounds?
The bride, groom and bridal party are welcome to use the Zoo grounds during operating hours on the day of the event to take pictures. Please make your sales manager aware as he/she will provide your photographer with admission tickets to cover the bride, groom and bridal party. We simply ask that you do not block pathways or exhibits and that you are considerate of other Zoo guests.
14. Who gets to access the dressing rooms and how long are we able to access them?
Dressing rooms are guaranteed for an evening wedding and reception package at no extra cost. We offer two classroom-style rooms with tables, chairs, tall standing mirrors and coat racks. You may access the rooms beginning two hours prior to your event. Your personal items need to be removed prior to the ceremony as the dressing rooms are not accessible after the ceremony. However, as those rooms are often in use during regular hours for Zoo-related events, dressing rooms are not guaranteed for daytime weddings. If they are not in use by the Zoo, rooms will be made available at no extra cost and notification of room availability will be provided 30 days to two weeks prior. Dressing rooms are not offered for evening-only receptions. If you would like to access the dressing rooms earlier than two hours prior, please ask your sales manager 30 days to two weeks prior to your event.
15. Are we able to do our rehearsal at your location?
A rehearsal will be held the day prior for an hour during operating hours. It will be scheduled 30 days prior to your event.
16. Do you charge for the rehearsal?
The rehearsal is included in your wedding package and there is no additional fee for a facility rental, admission, parking or a catering minimum.
17. Are there sound restrictions?
Most facilities do not have sound restrictions. However, the Oceans Building and the Dolphin Gallery do have some limitations. Amplified sound is not permitted in the Oceans Building. In the Dolphin Gallery, there is a sound limit of 90 decibels (very loud!) and amplified sound is not permitted in the underwater viewing dome.
18. Are there décor restrictions?
The Zoo allows types of décor to celebrate your special day. We do ask that you not use birdseed, rice, glitter, confetti, balloons or sparklers, as these items can be harmful to our animals. Specifically for the Efroymson Wedding Garden, we do allow temporary decorations but we ask that items not be staked into the ground.