The Inside Scoop
FROM THE KNOT EDITORS
The First Look
Located in Tacoma, Washington, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is the only zoo and aquarium facility in the Pacific Northwest. Spanning over 29 acres, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium provides a large range of exhibits from sharks to polar bears. The space is a unique backdrop to wedding ceremonies and receptions. If couples want to get married with tigers, sharks, manatees and other wildlife, the venue provides an unforgettable wedding experience.
is 3,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 175 guests. It may be divided into three rooms. The rental lasts for three hours. This space is a traditional reception space with large windows and muted walls. Couples can bring in some decor to bring the space to life with their vision.
is a unique venue that includes the Paul Titus Antique Carousel and a private banquet room. The Pavilion accommodates up to 30 seated guests.
is a five-acre outdoor exhibit. There are waterfalls, exotic flora and fauna and a bamboo forest. The Sanctuary includes two covered viewing pavilions. This is available to be rented after regular zoo hours.
is an outdoor venue with views of the gorgeous Mount Rainier and the Puget Sound. Add a wedding arbor for a truly stunning way to frame the couple for an unforgettable ceremony right next to nature.
, situated next to the Red Wolf Woods exhibit, provides a beautiful outdoors ceremony or reception option.
features floor-to-ceiling exhibits of the Outer Reef and sharks. The shark tank is a popular backdrop for ceremonies for couples.
offers a large underwater exhibit with an additional banquet space that accommodates 150 to 200 guests.
What You Should Know
The North and South Aquariums can be rented together, which accommodates up to 300 guests. Some of the exhibits can be opened to guests upon request, including the stingray touch tank. The electric blue glow from the aquariums provide an eccentric and beautiful atmosphere. The stairs into the aquariums provide a dramatic entrance for the wedding party.
Catering is provided by Lancer Catering. This company accommodate dietary restrictions and uses sustainably sourced seafood and locally sourced ingredients. All of its meats, poultry and dairy products are natural without added hormones or antibiotics. The menu offers a variety of appetizers, buffet stations and desserts. Lancer Catering also provides rental decor and setup, including:
- Rice paper lanterns
- Pipe and drape
- Specialty linen
- Chair covers
- Extra candles
- Table stanchions and numbers
- Dance floor
Decor that attaches to the wall is not allowed, and additional fees are added for:
- Setup and cleanup
- Cake cutting
- Administrative fees
- 20 percent surcharge on catering
- Event coordinator
- Staff support
- Access to zoo and aquarium exhibits after hours
From the Vendor
With sweeping views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium offers a romantic, picturesque setting for your wedding day. Our distinctive venues set the scene for memorable events from intimate ceremonies to large receptions.
Book by June 30th,2013 to Receive a 10% Discount.
Amenities + Details
For more details about amenities, please message the Venue.
$$ – Affordable
Ballroom, Park, Tented
Food + Catering, Planning
My husband and I had our wedding ceremony and reception in the aquarium on April 1, 2017. It was absolutely perfect. The venue was beautiful and Lancer Catering did an amazing job. Chip and Michael were fantastic in the planning process. We were able to tour the facility more than once to bring in outside vendors to see the site, questions were answered almost immediately throughout the entire planning stages and they were so flexible with our requests. The day of the event was absolutely perfect. The staff was amazing, the food phenomenal and overall, it could not have gone better. Our friends and family have raved about everything and I owe a lot of how well it all went to Chip, Michael and their staff at Lancer Catering.
The Point Defiance Zoo is awesome but the caterer they use, Lancer Catering, is the worst! Even if its your dream wedding location, RUN from Lancer Catering. Our event went horribly and it was 100% Lancer Catering's fault. Our main contact whom we'd been planning with for months left our wedding without telling us and after he left our event fell apart. Food was taken before people were done eating. the catering staff was extremely rude to our guests, the catering staff was overheard saying inappropriate things about shutting the event down, the catering staff was seen drinking wine we provided in their back room while the event was still going on, the power to the DJ got shut off at 10pm and we paid for the space until midnight, the catering staff did nothing to help get the power back on until one of our guests offered them money, the catering staff cussed at and called security on our DJ while he was trying to get the power back on, security came storming in with a DOG, the catering staff closed the bar at 10pm and blamed it on everyone being "wasted" when it was only a handful of people that they could have cut off if they were truly behaving so badly. Since our contact who should have been handling these issues left the event, the groom spent his evening trying to handle all of these situations instead of being with me, his bride and all of his guests. Basically it seems like once you give Lancer Catering your money they stop caring. My husband and I have been trying for 3 months to rectify our issues and they are non responsive and unprofessional. We will go up to a month at a time (or more) with no response to multiple emails. We will have planned phone calls and they will not call. Their mission claims they "conduct their business with the highest level of integrity" and "strive for excellence in every area of our business" but I have yet to experience any of that from the staff on the day of the event to the management we have been dealing with since. I will definitely never use Lancer Catering or any facilities they cater again and recommend anyone reading this save themselves the disappointment and find a location that does not use Lancer Catering.
AmazingReviewed on 7/27/2013 Courtney R
We had our wedding in the pagoda room. It was marvelous, the staff was amazing and helped set up and take down. We dealt with the same 2 ladies the whole time, so it was nice because they knew what was going on.
BeautifulReviewed on 9/05/2012 Cheryl F
We loved having our wedding in the plaza at the zoo. We both worked there years ago so it meant something to us. Heidi was helpful and so was Kelsey. I did not like that we were forced to go with their choice of caterer though.
Reception venueReviewed on 8/17/2011 Leah C
Beautiful location for a reception. We had the plaza and the South Aquarium with the small shark tank, which provided a lot of entertainment later on in the night when it got chilly outside. The peacocks also made an appearance during dinner. Biggest negative is having to wait until the zoo is closed, as we had a lot of down time between ceremony up in Seattle and the reception.
Great Reception SpaceReviewed on 8/02/2011 Ruth M
We used the education center located inside the zoo. The room was simple, and easily decorated. Our guests loved being able to walk out into the zoo. The staff were very attentive to our needs while we were planning.
Review for Point Defiance Zoo and AquariumReviewed on 8/29/2007 Alyssa H
The reception in the aquarium was different and fun for our guests. They said they really enjoyed looking at the sharks and different fish and enjoyed being in a public zoo after hours.;You have to use an onsite caterer. The catering manager changed 3 times after we booked and we were always the last to know. Everyone was slow to return calls. At the reception we received some food that we didn't order and didn't receive food we had requested (and pre-paid for). Guests complained that the staff was rude. The bar opened late and ran out of drinks. They also served boxed wine (Franzia) after we had been promised good, local wine.