The Inside Scoop
FROM THE KNOT EDITORS
The First Look
The Phoenix Zoo, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is a fun and unique place for a wedding ceremony or reception. The zoo is located in the heart of the city and it is home to over 1,400 animals. This zoo also has 30 species that are threatened and endangered. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces available for special events and this venue can accommodate nearly any sized wedding party.
The C.W. & Modene Neely Education and Event Center. The C.W & Modene Neely Education and Event Center is the largest indoor special event space at the Phoenix Zoo. It is a versatile, climate-controlled building, located on the top of a hill, overlooking the Tropical Trails. It features an outdoor balcony and it can accommodate up to 400 people for an indoor only event or up to 600 people for an indoor and outdoor event.
Desert Grove. Desert Grove is located in the middle of the zoo's Arizona Trail. It is surrounded by the natural vegetation of Arizona and guests can make their way around the trail to see some of Arizona's native animals, as well. This space is large enough to seat up to 100 people or accommodate 150 standing guests.
The Stone House Pavilion. The Stone House Pavilion is an upscale indoor banquet hall with a covered outdoor terrace. It can accommodate up to 550 guests if the indoor and outdoor space is used and there is also plenty of room for a dance floor.
Lakeside. Lakeside is a large covered outdoor event space located at the center of the zoo. It features a sweeping view of the main lake and it can accommodate up to 1,000 seated guests or 5,000 standing guests. However, it is also available for smaller wedding parties.
What You Should Know
The Phoenix Zoo has an on-site catering team that couples can use for their wedding. However, the venue also has a list of other approved caterers that couples are permitted to use. Those who want to use a catering company that is not on the list must have it approved by zoo management at least a month before the event.
All alcohol must be provided by the venue and no outside vendors are allowed to bring any alcoholic beverages onto the premises. The Phoenix Zoo offers a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails. Premium liquors are available upon request and must be purchased by the case.
This venue hosts daytime and evening events. The rental fee for events held after the zoo closes are more expensive than daytime events. Couples must put down a security deposit in order to secure a date, but this deposit is refundable as long as no damage is done to the facility.
The Phoenix Zoo is a beautiful and versatile location for a wedding. It offers wedding parties a variety of fun and useful extra perks including:
- Private tours available
- Animal experts
- Microphone and podium provided
- Private animal encounters
- DJ booth available to rent
- Complimentary on-site guest parking
From the Vendor
A wedding like no other.
From lush tropical settings to the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, the Phoenix Zoo offers distinct indoor and outdoor venues for large formal ceremonies and receptions to smaller, more intimate affairs and everything in between. With more than 15 onsite venues, your dream wedding will become reality.
Amenities + Details
For more details about amenities, please message the Venue.
$$ – Affordable
Having my wedding at the Phoenix Zoo was the best decision I ever made. I really wanted a low key, small, intimate wedding... nothing too crazy and over the top. I chose to do both my ceremony and reception at Ruby's House with under 50 people. I could not have been happier. The sun set right in the middle of the ceremony, and we got beautiful pictures! The reception was so much fun! We got to have a huge owl and hedgehog brought to the reception! Our guests had a blast and working with Teale was awesome. My friends and family are still talking about how fun it was! Thank you Phoenix Zoo!
Such a spectacular place to have a wedding! Beautifully done. You can tell time was taken to make sure every detail is perfectly placed and ready to go. It's a fairytale place! Not many girls dream of getting married at a zoo, but this zoo makes your dreams come true!
We used the Desert Tents location at the Phoenix Zoo, and overall were happy with our reception location. Unfortunately, the zoo seems to turnover even staff often. We had 3 different event planners and had to go over all our details each time. Be forewarned that the zoo does not allow for any wiggle room and does not try to take extra care that your needs are met, i.e. we were asked to pay for admission to visit our event space more than once, and on our wedding day, a working golf cart, which was reserved for the bride and groom, refused to take my grandmother to our event space as well. You only have two hours before your event to set-up, this includes delivery of items. We were not allowed to leave a truck of decorations in the parking lot before the two hour mark, so my father had to drive them with only minutes to spare before our ceremony, which was in a different location. Prepare for any miss-communications. One event manager sent us photos of previous parties in our event space to give us ideas for decorations. Those photos showed colorful drapes inside the tents, but when it came to our event date, they refused to let us put up the drapes we purchased (a $200 investment). Just check all your decorations with management beforehand. The location is unique, which was its greatest quality. I'm not sure I would choose to host an event here again.
Pros: Exceptional service Cons: To date there is no downsides I can think of The ceremony and reception were held at Ruby’s House on an evening weekday. The photographer session was around the zoo and the pictures turned out fantastic. Prior to sunset, it was quite warm, but the most perfect breeze began right after the ceremony. We reserved the date about a year in advance and the zoo event coordinator was phenomenal every step of the way. I had zero stress and worries dealing with my vendors and the Phoenix Zoo was no exception. I lived a good distance from the zoo and communication by phone and email sufficed quite well. My husband and I did not always know what to choose, but the coordinator would always provide excellent suggestions. My husband has a favorite beer that is brewed in Sedona and the zoo ordered a few cases for us with ease. The zoo provided a rehearsal time the evening prior to the wedding and both the zoo coordinator and my officiant worked efficiently together to execute a great rehearsal. The zoo cleaned the patio stones from debris and setup all of the included tables and chairs the day of. The zoo coordinated flawlessly with all of the other vendors for directions, setup, and breakdown. The zoo coordinator took the photographer, my husband, and I all around the zoo for breathtaking photographs. The ceremony and reception went absolutely impeccably with zero complaints or hitches. Our package included the animal discovery, which I highly recommend. The guests were thoroughly surprised at the animals brought out by the zoo staff. We chose two animals ahead of time (tentatively based on animal health and availability) and they brought out additional animals not included. A zoo coordinator stayed through the entire event. Since the zoo is non-profit, the charges were extremely affordable considering the amount of service and rentals included. I would recommend this beautiful location to any couple looking for something different than a hotel venue.
I can't sing enough praises about the Phoenix Zoo being an amazing find among the vast venue offerings of Phoenix. My groom and I searched high and low for the perfect venue and then we found it at the Phoenix Zoo. They have so many options for locations within the zoo to meet everyone's different tastes and are beyond helpful (Teale is top notch) in insuring that you get your perfect day at cost that isn't going to make you rethink getting married all together ;) The surrounding animals and there many animal calls are an added bonus to the beauty of this location. How can beat a roaring Lion moments after you’ve tied the knot as if he is announcing your new nuptials formally to the world. We had such a memorable day/ evening at the Zoo that even as we were leaving the night of we were ready to do it all over again. Thank you Phoenix Zoo 3>- Etana & Sam
We had our wedding in October at the Phoenix zoo. The rain was an issue that day, but we were able to move our ceremony and reception inside at the last minute. Although it wasn't what i originally wanted for my wedding, the zoo staff did a great job of changing everything at the last minute. Teale made us feel so much better and we had a great wedding.
The Phoenix Zoo was the start of our happily ever after and we couldn't have been more pleased with the sites (Ruby's House & Stone House), the preferred vendors (we used Creations in Cuisine and Ray the DJ). the patience and dedication the staff (in particular Teale) provided to us, our wedding party and guests and everything that went with it from day one of touring the venues up to the actual wedding. Our guests loved the unique location, animal encounter, atmosphere, food and fun. We truly thank Teale and her staff at the zoo who made it lifelong memory.
We had our wedding at the zoo on September 6, 2015. Our ceremony was located at Lakeside and the chairs, arc and view was amazing. The reception was held at the Neely Center and wow....I can't even explain how wonderful it was. The animal discovery during the cocktail was a huge hit with the guests! The zoo staff was top notch from carting my groom and I around to take some gorgeous pictures to coordinating all of the vendors. Teale was amazing to work with and extremely helpful. She had some awesome suggestions for photo locations and the results were amazing! I highly recommend having your wedding at the Phoenix Zoo.
Teale made my day so specialReviewed on 9/10/2015 molly j
my wedding was on 07.27.2012 and i will never forget that day ever. Teale Cresswell was amazing and made it so easy for me to enjoy to day. The venue was beautiful and the staff was wonderful. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone wanting a unique wedding.
Awesome wedding. Thanks Phoenix Zoo!
Would reccommend the zoo for anyone looking for a "non-traditional" wedding. We had a daytime wedding in the morning then we were able to go see the animals right after our ceremony. Teale, our coordinator, was very efficient and pleasant to work with. She helped us through every step of the way (we are not wedding planners AT ALL) and would sometimes stay late in the day in order for us to show our family the venue. We had a blast planning and hosting our wedding there!
When my daughter told me she wanted to look at the zoo, that she was thinking it might be a great place to have the wedding, I was a little concerned! But 30 minutes into the tour of the different venues within the zoo, I was convinced there wasn't a better place to have my daughter's wedding. Teale Cresswell, was the event coordinator who took us on the tour and as she showed us the different spots for the wedding and the reception, she shared tips and ideas that helped us visualize the entire event. The ceremony took place in the Orangutan Hut. It was amazing. The white chairs on either side of the white carpet that took my daughter down the aisle and up to the white arch (where our florist had strategically placed the flowers) to meet her groom was so romantic; they stood in front of the window that looked out into the Organgutan habitat, it was magical! The wedding reception was held in the Stonehouse Pavillion. Not only was it a great building to have the reception in, it was also a stones throw from Ruby's House where the bridal party spent most of the day getting ready for the wedding. We started the reception with a cocktail hour on the terrace of Stonehouse. As luck would have it, Phoenix was having abnormally high temps the week of the wedding so we had to move the cocktail reception inside. Teale and her team took care of everything. No one even knew it was supposed to have been outside and it fit into the schematic of the room beautifully. We had a dance floor in the middle of the room with the guest tables on either side. The zoo provided the DJ table, the cake table, the gift table, the guest book table and we used the zoo's bartending services as well. The room was beautiful, when the sun set, the shades were drawn and we had a beautiful view of the city lights. I cannot begin to express my graditude for the wonderful job the entire zoo staff did. They were attentive and responsive to our needs and they made what can be a very stressful time, very enjoyable to us all. If you want a magical, elegant and romantic setting for your wedding then you need to look at the Phoenix Zoo. Thank you Teale, you made the wedding a success!!
I got married at the Phoenix Zoo this last March. We chose to do it at the zoo because we wanted something unique and fun, that most people wouldn't think to do. So we chose the zoo! and could not be happier with that decision. First of all, we booked Ruby' House, the cutest little stone house on the top of a hill that overlooks the elephant exhibit. We had our ceremony on the side of the house, and timed it perfectly so the sun was setting right in the middle of the ceremony! My husband and I then were able to take photos around the zoo! We got to see the zebras, and the flamingoes, and even the elephant was right up close to us! We worked with teale, who helped us through every detail of the wedding, and she even was our cart driver for the pictures! It let like a private tour just for us. I feel so lucky to have been married at the zoo, and we could not be more thankful for all the help and assistance. Thank you Phoenix zoo for a wedding day we will never forget!
A great alternative Wedding VenueReviewed on 7/24/2014
We had our wedding at the Phoenix Zoo in June and the entire staff was awesome! The site options are truly amazing and our wedding was the absolute most special day I could have ever imagined. We held our ceremony at Ruby's House and the atmosphere, setting and weather were awesome. Katie and her team are top-notch and this is the perfect setting for a romantic wedding. The PHOENIX ZOO rocks and I will always have fond and wonderful memories of my "Perfect" wedding day at the Zoo. Not to mention that the pictures taken there are incredible and there are so many wonderful setting for pictures. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the ZOO. I feel like I donated to the Zoo and they threw me the most perfect wedding ever!!!!
Wedding at the ZooReviewed on 11/08/2013 Nicole W
My husband and I could not have picked a better venue. The Phoenix Zoo was perfect for us. It fit our personalities and provided the beautiful background I always dreamed of. They have many different locations to hold your ceremony and/or reception, with areas to accommodate large or small gatherings. They provide much of the hardware needed for weddings such as chairs and tables. The real cherry on top, so to say, for us was that if you booked both your ceremony and reception at the Zoo you received a complimentary, one-hour "animal encounter" during your reception. It was incredible and fit us to a tee. Initially we were working with Kelly but she was promoted to another position about 2 months before our wedding and the reigns were passed to Katie. At first this made us a little nervous but Katie quickly dispelled that fear. She jumped right in with coordinating and on the day of the wedding she was exceptional. I know its her job but I really feel she went above and beyond to make things happen, all with a smile and cheerful attitude. I feel like I can not thank Katie or Kelly enough for the beautiful wedding they helped us pull off! I highly recommend the Phoenix Zoo as a wedding venue to future brides and grooms who want a truly unique and beautiful wedding.
Nerd Dream WeddingReviewed on 7/08/2013 Pixi F
Our wedding at the Phoenix Zoo was all my nerd dreams come true. Michael, the orangutan even stayed up late and entertained my guests! The event coordinator was helpful, quick and easy. I would recommend this fun venue, the Orangutan Hut, over and over again.
Great place for a wedding!Reviewed on 12/17/2012 Rae G
Got married at Ruby's House at the Phoenix Zoo & it was absolutely perfect! Everyone was so helpful & all the little details came together great - I didn't have to worry about a thing.
Went perfectlyReviewed on 9/20/2012 Jessica V
My husband and I wanted something different, I wanted trees and greenery something that didn't look like a desert since we are in AZ that can be hard to find. The zoo was the perfect place! We had a gorgeous outdoor ceremony where I got the trees and all the greenery and natural beauty and our reception was inside their beautiful pavilion! It was exactly what I imagined!
Unique and BeautifulReviewed on 8/09/2010 Jenny C
I got married at The Phoeniz Zoo on May 8, 2010 and can not say enough how perfect it all was!! We had the main lake with monkey island as our backdrop for the ceremony at sunset. We had all of our guests in a theatre style seating down the grassy hill. We had our cocktail hour in a separate location in a desert tree covered outcove, the reception took place by the Arizona trail and stingray bay. A plus if the weather is cool enough and the stingrays are there your guests can pet them all night long. The staff lighted the carousel for my wedding party to take pictures on which was soo much fun! The setting is unique and beautiful. We got so many compliments on how different the location was and how beautiful it was. Everyone was so excited to see how a wedding at the zoo would be and it was Amazing! Since the zoo does Zoolights we were able to spend a little extra to have some trees and paths lighted as well and it was gorgeous! We danced the night away under the stars!
Review for The Phoenix ZooReviewed on 5/16/2009 justine h
I loved how green and beautiful it was. It was also quiet as the reception started after the zoo closed. it was intimate and beautiful.;It was small and difficult for my guest in wheelchair to manuaver becasue it was on a slant.