Point Defiance Pagoda
Because there are two identical vendor addresses for this venue, and my experience was so awful, I need to post to both:
I truly wish I could give Metro Parks Tacoma's Point Defiance Park Pagoda a good review. It's a beautiful venue, if a little bit pricey, and the woman running the open houses for the year plus prior to our wedding was immensely helpful each time we visited. We felt lucky when we reserved it exactly a year prior, the first opportunity that you may reserve a venue (and, you must do it in person... the first indication that the arrangement would not be ideal).
However, the staff at the office of Metro Parks Tacoma (who shall remain nameless, but was the same person all year) was not as helpful. Many, many calls (and messages) went unanswered:
First, we wanted to add an hour to the beginning of our reservation a few months after the initial contract signing. We left many messages, then finally on the fourth or fifth call, I simply stated my credit card number, expiration date, and security code into their voicemail – something I did not feel comfortable with, but it did finally get the request acknowledged and completed. We received no phone call back, but did get a mailed confirmation of payment and adjustment to the reservation start time.
Then, MPT requires a liquor permit to serve BYOB at their venues. But when I called to ask Washington State Liquor Control for more information on the permit itself, the representative said such a private event does not require vetting by the state - that they would prefer such permits not be purchased to cut down on wasteful and unnecessary paperwork. When I called to ask the staff at MPT to confirm we really have to go to the trouble, she never got back to me and I ended up just buying one to move on with plans.
This unresponsiveness was particularly jolting the week before the wedding, when I tried to call to ensure they received deposit information so we wouldn't lose our reservation. On the contract, they stated they would contact us about 3 weeks before to confirm any last minute changes and to arrange the deposit - this did not happen. During the week before your wedding, the last thing you need is a vendor to fall through on their responsibilities and to have a sinking feeling that your reservation was canceled without notice. When I finally got her on the line rather than her voicemail (this was the 4th try in 3 days), she expressed very little shock and barely any remorse that I was unable to contact her - it was the attitude of someone who doesn't care and never checked her voicemail, having no idea I was so urgently trying to connect. This conversation took place only 4 days before the event!
The worst thing that occurred: we hired a shuttle to get our imbibing guests safely from downtown Tacoma and back after the reception. Metro Parks Tacoma CORDONED OFF THE ENTRANCE OF THE PARK at about 10pm (or perhaps at dark, 9:30pm?), so the shuttle driver could not get in for a 10:30pm pickup. It took an hour and a half to figure out what was going on (the shuttle company wasn't too bright, either) and resolution finally occurred when another staff member from MPT came to lock up the building at our end time of midnight. A guest of ours had to ride out to the entrance with her, reassure the shuttle driver to follow them against traffic, and get into the park to get our guests, seniors and passed-out children at midnight (!!!), to their lodging. It was an utter nightmare and so embarrassing.
It seems to me if someone pays $250 an hour for access to a building, that that access should be FULL AND OPEN throughout the ENTIRE time stated on the contract. In no place in our paperwork about the venue or contract did it state that access to the venue would be restricted after a certain time. Had we known this, we would have taken steps to ensure the gates were left unlocked for our guests to get home - even though with the "service" we had endured in the last year, we would not have trusted their reassurances of honest conduct.
The problems did not end the day of the wedding. A full 13 days after, the deposit was still on my credit card statement. This was the most unprofessional move of MPT's during the entire year they caused us insecurity and frustration. Three business days should have been sufficient to refund us our money - that we had to ASK for our $500 back after a safe and careful use of their venue? Utterly shameful.
I urge everyone seriously considering this or other venues in Point Defiance Park to find an alternative that is not administered by Metro Parks Tacoma. It's just not worth the frustration and embarrassment, let alone the price for what little to no service you get. A wedding is already fraught with stress and emotions - don't make it worse for yourself by renting from Metro Parks Tacoma!
We chose this location because it is one of the most beautiful city parks in Washington. They setup and take down 100 chairs. You can check availablility online. The only draw back is trying to schedule a rehearsal; If you are doing it on from Friday through Sunday you might run into a problem since you have to do it when no other wedding is going on which means you have to wait to schedule your rehearsal till about a month or less before the wedding. They also only rent it out at certain time blocks so check with the website before you schedule.
All of the staff at Metro Parks were wonderful to work with. The location was opened earlier than we expected, and things went so very smooth with our wedding ceremony outside at the flagpole area, and the reception inside the Pagoda. If you have the ability to wait for the right day for you and have the funds, we highly recommend this venue!
I had no problem reserving my date because it was a November wedding. They were very friendly and helpful! A little pricey, but worth the cost. There was lots of kitchen space and fridge space.
While the venue is beautiful it was expensive. In addition, it is difficult to get information and to meet with people. We didn't really have a contact person assigned to us and no one met with us. As long as you are ok with kind of figuring things out through various people and emails and not actually meeting any one contact person in person then it is good. We had the reception and the ceremony here. It was extremely beautiful and our guests were happy. There is no outside cover if it rains. The inside of the Pagoda is suitable for small to medium sized weddings. With 125 people it was pretty crowded.
We looked at this venue when there was an open house so we got to meet with someone and check out the venue. I feel like it was reasonably priced (in March/low season) compared to some other venues. It was amazingly beautiful and worked with my cherry blossom and lantern theme. I would agree that it was a bit small with 125 people, but cozy. The caterers worked fine with the kitchen. Had 2 nice little rooms for the men and women to get ready in before hand.
Also, the surounding gardens are amazing to take photos in!