The Inside Scoop
FROM THE KNOT EDITORS
The First Look
Located in Apple Valley, Minnesota, the Minnesota Zoo provides a unique venue for any couple to celebrate their nuptials. There are both indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony and reception spaces. The best feature is the grounds with its immaculately groomed plants and flower gardens. Photographers love taking the wedding party to different areas within the zoo to snap first-look pictures.
Tropics. To-be-weds can visit the tropics with the soothing waterfalls and adorable animals from around the globe. There is a trail lined with luscious green plants that can be used for either a cocktail hour or a ceremony space.
Discovery Bay. Stick with the aquatic creatures as the backdrop to your ceremony when you wed in Discovery Bay. In this space you can expect to see large sharks, colorful sea dragons and even a Hawaiian monk seal.
Call of the Wild. One of the more popular reception areas is Call of the Wild. This space is commonly used as a cafeteria; however, it easily converts into a ballroom-style space. There are large windows that look out across the lake, contemporary decor throughout the space and an area for dancing.
Minnesota Lodge. Ideal for either a cocktail party or a reception, the Minnesota Lodge is warm and attractive. The fieldstone fireplace acts as the focal point of the room and split log paneling really gives the space a rustic feel.
What You Should Know
All catering for your cocktail party and reception is performed by Lancer Catering. This company focuses on meals made using locally sourced ingredients. Specialty menus are available, such as a vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options. A few hors d'oeuvres sure to please your guests include grilled shrimp crostini, fresh cilantro deviled eggs and smoked salmon canapé. The entrees are equally delicious and include beef short ribs, Maryland crab cakes and pork and polenta. Add a roast turkey breast carving station, Artisan cheese and a fresh fruit display or a cheesecake martini bar, which really impresses guests.
Once you have your menu all set, a wedding coordinator assists you with all the rest of the details of your wedding day. The setup and breakdown is handled for you and all of the tables and chairs are provided by the Minnesota Zoo. The catering team offers with its packages the linens, votive candles and China and flatware. Skirting may be added to any gift, cake or photo table. All the bride and groom need is to provide is a few centerpieces. Decorations are optional, as the spaces are already extraordinary. Should you wish to have alcohol served at your reception, you need to pay for an off-duty police officer to join your event.
As an extra perk, the Minnesota Zoo provides a security officer for your event. A few more perks to enjoy are listed below.
- Complimentary parking
- Handicap accessible
- Liability insurance
- Wireless Internet service
- Coat rack
From the Vendor
Say "I Do" at the Zoo
The Minnesota Zoo's lush grounds and serene settings form an exotic backdrop for your special day. We feature two unique locations featuring animals from the Tropics and Discovery Bay to create lasting memories. Indoor and outdoor ceremonies can also be added to simplify your day!
Amenities + Details
Outdoor - Not Covered
For more details about amenities, please message the Venue.
$$ – Affordable
Ballroom, Farm + Ranch, Barn, Garden, Park, Restaurant
Bar + Drinks, Cakes + Desserts, Food + Catering, Planning, Rentals + Equipment, Service Staff
The zoo was such an amazing place to have our wedding! We chose to have our ceremony in the Tropics Trail and the reception in Discovery Bay. Peter and Lindsay were so helpful and easy to work with. All of our guest thought it was so much fun. We had around 65 people with a wide range of ages and all of them loved it. I could not have asked for a better venue. We are so happy!
Discovery BayReviewed on 9/26/2015 Jill M
Our reception was amazing. The only thing we had to provide was centerpieces for the tables. The colors and lights from the tanks looked so beautiful. It was better than I could have dreamed. So many people came up to us and told them it as the best wedding they'd ever been to.
fun place to get marriedReviewed on 8/25/2011 Kristin M
It was a lot of fun getting married on the trail among the animals. The manager on duty did a great job keeping everything running on time. We took both our wedding pictures and our engagement pictures there and we were able to walk around the zoo taking pictures, it was really a lot of fun.
Lakeside TerraceReviewed on 9/26/2015 Jill M
We used Lakeside Terrace for our ceremony. I absolutely loved it. The natural ambiance required no extra decoration. It was so beautiful. My only downside was my cathedral veil getting caught on the sidewalk during my processional. So my advice is to go for a shorter veil if you book this spot.
Great amount of options for pictures. Beautiful ceremony at Lakeside Terrace! They are professional and responsive and come off very flexible. Be careful though I was super easy going and welcome to suggestion. Each time small changes were made but by the end they made so many changes and while I was running around taking pictures on the day they were making more small changes. The reception was beautiful too as well as the staff but the room is pretty warm. They say its controlled air but by the end it was quite warm. We had about 125 and any more would have made that room hot. GREAT location for a wedding just stand firm on what you want and hold them accountable. Combine the Lakeside Terrace with the Call of the Wild to cut down on cost. AMAZING Cupcakes! OKAY food, we had wraps and pretzels. We tried the snack attack it looks cheap They offer golf carts for elderly and then say they don't have anyone to drive them but they have a back entrance to bring the elderly but you have to pass the golf carts.
Good place for a reception!Reviewed on 8/06/2013 Daria S
Overall our experience was good with the MN Zoo! Jessica was the representative we worked with at the zoo and she was wonderful. The zoo itself is very willing to help with decorations and setting up your room so you can enjoy yourselves (since there is a time crunch between the zoo closing and the start of the reception). We had our wedding planner set the decorations and Jessica had staff there to help out. They really want to make your day special. We had our wedding in June, The zoo closed at 6 and our guests could start coming in at 6:30. We began with a cocktail hour in the Tropics Trail (while they were prepping the dining room) The cocktail hour was 6:30 to around 7:45. We had our receiving line right in front of the reef which provided a great backdrop for pictures! Dinner began at 8:00, it was in "Call of the Wild" which is their cafeteria. They close off the café fronts and it looks just like a ballroom, especially with the head table in front of the giant picture windows. We had around 250 guests, we were originally told we could have up to 280. I would NOT recommend over 250, as the space was quite crowded and our guests were kind of packed in. Our main frustration with the Zoo was that the AC didn't work. We came in earlier the week and my husband mentioned that it felt warm in the zoo, we were told it was because so many patrons were coming in and out but for our wedding it would be fine, it was not fine. The room was incredibly warm. My mother in law asked the facility manager if there was anything he could do and we remarked that he didn't bring any tools to fix it. They finally opened the doors and it cooled down. The dance floor is tucked around the corner, not in front of or any where near the head table, that was frustrating as our DJ was unaware and wasn't able to set up his microphone receiver for us to easily make speeches from the head table. Since dinner starts so late we didn't get to actually dance until 10pm, if you skipped the cocktail hour you would definitely have more time, but the guests loved the cocktail hour! We did have a few issues with the caterer. The Lancer representative we were working with changed 3 times in the year we were planning which was frustrating. Lancer also did not follow the communication we gave them with the beverage options we wanted served and when they were served, but I will write another review about that. All in all our guests couldn't stop talking about how great the venue was and how much fun they had! The venue and food combination was costly, but for any animal lovers or anyone looking to do something out of the ordinary, you will love it!
Great Experience Overall!Reviewed on 11/27/2011 Sam S
From the first meeting to the end of the wedding day, the staff of the Minnesota Zoo were absolutely professional, fun, and very accommodating. We and our guests had a wonderful time!
Beautiful location, somewhat lacking staffReviewed on 11/02/2011 Adora R
The contact at the zoo was wonderful, the location perfect, the food servers amazing, that being said here comes the negative. The catering representative failed to mention that my guest would have no way of knowing beverages were provided, my DJ should have been told to make an announcement but I had no warning, my alter and other decorations were not set up correctly and they discourage you from having someone you trust set it up, and they take detailed notes (so they say), and finally the staff broke a family heirloom and didn't even find the heart to say sorry. Overall I think my guest had a good time but I was overall pretty disappointed with the service at the zoo.
Great Place!!Reviewed on 9/06/2011 Alana K
This place was very unique and consistent w/my husbands and I's expectations!
MN Zoo is the bestReviewed on 10/27/2010 Chauntae N
My husband and I got married on the terrace at the MN Zoo and had our reception in the dolphin Lagoon. The staff at the zoo were easy to work with and very professional. Everything was top notch and well rehearsed. I strongly recommend the MN Zoo
Meet The Coordinator
With over 20 years industry experience and commitment to the highest quality experience I look forward to making your big day stress free and truly amazing! I love working with couples who appreciate the ability to enjoy exotic animals and environments within there wedding day and support the Zoo's efforts to save wildlife. At the Zoo we celebrate couples who are looking for something unique. Hosting your event at the Minnesota Zoo helps connect people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife. Say "I do at the Zoo" and party with a purpose at the Minnesota Zoo!