Book Your Wedding with Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
A GARDEN IN COLUMBIA, SC
Nature-lovers and adventure seekers dream of a zoo garden wedding, but couples in Columbia, South Carolina, can make it a reality. The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a unique location for your exotic garden ceremony and reception. Choose a safari theme for your wedding celebration and enjoy the sounds of zoo animals in the background—or go upscale with an elegant indoor reception at one of the zoo's exquisite event rooms. Whether your guest list is an intimate 50 or a lavish 500, you can plan you spectacular wedding day in the following Riverbanks Zoo and Garden venues:
The Ndoki Lodge is furnished in rustic African style with massive exposed beams and banks of oversized windows overlooking the tropical forest foliage. During the day, you may see meerkat peeking in at your celebration or catch a glimpse of an elephant lounging in its watering hole. The Ndoki Lodge is available for both day and evening events; book at night and you'll also have use of the expansive outdoor patio and fire pit for extra space and punchy safari ambience.
The Magnolia Room. Located in the midst of the spectacular botanical garden, the Magnolia Room and its romantic bricked terrace are the ultimate location for a dazzling ceremony and reception. Overflowing with cascading fountains and abundant blooms and embracing the Walled Garden, a Magnolia Room and terrace wedding has magnificent photo ops.
Tuskers. This is the zoo's flagship restaurant with unique features, such as bamboo cloud lighting, an open-air deck overlooking the zebras, a massive stone fireplace and a polished dance floor. This venue is available only after the zoo closing and makes a chic location for your safari reception for up to 250 guests.
Safari Camp. This casual outdoor open-air event space is ideal for the largest receptions. Furnished with picnic tables and strings of twinkling lights, the Safari Camp is a blank canvas for your wedding decor.
The ARC. Short for the Aquarium Reptile Complex, the ARC is an unusual indoor venue with a stunning 55,000 gallon coral reef display hosting jellyfish, crocodiles and even sharks serving as its centerpiece. The ARC has an interesting layout with several different galleries and displays, letting you showcase different aspects of your reception cuisine.
The Birdhouse. Beneath a graceful wooden pergola, guests first encounter colorful flamingos and a koi pond. Atrium skylights highlight the exotic bird exhibits and penguins frolic in the background. This evening-only space can accommodate up to 175 guests for your reception.
What You Should Know
Many venues at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden are only available after-hours, only the Ndoki Lodge is offered prior to 6 p.m. for an indoor event. If you're planning an evening wedding, you may select any of the indoor or outdoor venues that suit your needs.
The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has an exclusive catering partnership with Service Systems Associates, an innovative company focusing on sustainability and local produce. It is available to custom create a menu including anything from cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres to a lavish seated banquet featuring a three-course meal. There's even a list of preferred vendors you can use to find professional services; all are familiar with the unique needs of events at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.
Events include an on-site coordinator and audiovisual equipment, as well as set up and take down after your event. Animal enthusiasts appreciate the fact that a portion of all venue rentals and catering packages support the zoo's conservation efforts.
Book your wedding at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and make it even more special with these extra perks:
- Book your rehearsal dinner at the zoo with or without a wedding and reception package
- Use the event for one-of-a-kind bridal portraits
- Host a daytime picnic or wedding brunch the day after
Amenities + Details
Outdoor - Not Covered
For more details about amenities, please message the Venue.
$$ – Affordable
Bar + Drinks, Food + Catering, Rentals + Equipment, Service Staff, Shuttle Service
Excellent venue, Excellent value! The events staff were great to work with, very helpful with organizing our other vendors and family friends helping with setup. They even coordinated a last minute change to our ceremony set up. We were so thankful when a storm set in right before our ceremony- they assisted our guests to shelter, kindly waited for our decision to move the ceremony under cover or wait out the rain and proceed. The guests were all happily surprised to find their outdoor ceremony seats towel dried when they returned for the ceremony. We had the ceremony beside the flamingos near the entrance, the bridal party was able to use the indoor space at the seal lion exhibit while waiting for guests to arrive and during the rain. We utilized the option for giraffe feeding before the reception held in a beautiful African safari-themed lodge! Food was delicious with many options available and we actually got to eat some and had to-go boxes made for later! I cannot say enough about the great service we received and McKenzie and Olivia were excellent to work with.
We chose to have both our ceremony and reception at Riverbanks Ndoki Lodge, and we loved every minute of it! Our coordinator, McKenzie was absolutely amazing. Because we were planning our wedding from overseas, it was so important to have everything taken care of at one place- and we got exactly that. I would highly recommend having your wedding at Riverbanks Zoo!
After looking at many beautiful venues we stumbled upon the Ndoki Lodge at Riverbanks Zoo and fell in love. At first, it might look a little rustic but I believe this venue is a hidden gem. The lodge looked absolutely stunning on the night of our wedding reception. The wrap around windows gave us an outdoor feel but with air conditioning! Our guests enjoyed exploring the zoo on their way in to the lodge. You can also use the outdoor area near the lodge to have an outdoor/indoor feel. The lighting is beautiful with tiki torches, lanterns in the trees, and cafe lights throughout the lodge, which are all included in the rental. They have a built in sound system that we used during our cocktail hour before our band started playing. Tables, chairs, and table linen were included also. This saved so much money not having to rent lighting, table linen, and decor for catering tables. The zoo does their own catering and it is SO YUMMY with lots of options. The planning process was smooth and easy with McKenzie Roland. The only issue we had was not knowing where the event coordinator was on the night of the reception but luckily the other staff stepped in and helped us out. I have been to many weddings in Columbia, and I may be partial but the Ndoki Lodge is by far my favorite :-)
I cannot praise Riverbanks or my planner, Olivia Cotton, for all their work in making our wedding day perfect and beautiful! Olivia laid out all our options and answered all of our questions. Simply the best staff and venue ever!
Beautiful garden, wonderful staffReviewed on 5/27/2014 Liddy C
The Riverbanks Botanical Garden was a wonderful venue for a wedding. You can have your ceremony and reception there. I had my ceremony outside in the garden with the reception indoor/outdoor. I had about 165 guests (including bridal party) and we were very comfortable in the space. You and your guests have access to the entire garden for the night. There is an attendant at the front to help direct people to the ceremony, and a tram available for a very low fee to run back and forth from the parking lot to the ceremony/reception site for the duration of your event. The board room (with lots of mirrors) and a bathroom are available for the bride and bridesmaids to get dressed. The staff is wonderful and extremely helpful throughout the planning process. Catering is on site - you are not allowed to use any other catering service. You have many bar options from a corkage fee to them providing the full bar. We chose to bring our own alcohol and pay the corkage fee and it worked out really well! They have a preferred vendor list, but are very open to you bringing other vendors in. I did have a little bit of an issue with a photo booth company that was not on their list, and the event staff at Riverbanks helped me out tremendously by dealing with and solving the issue for me! Compared to other venues, I felt that the fees were reasonable and had lots of inclusions (tables, chairs, basic table linens, etc.). The only drawback is that your wedding ceremony cannot start until about 7:30 in the evening because the garden has to be closed and then there has to be a little time for setup, but this was not an issue for us! One thing to know - they do have a minimum amount for you to spend on catering, so it may not work for you if you're planning to have a very small wedding.
Meet The Coordinator
Hey there! I am McKenzie, an Events Manager here at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, overseeing all wedding sales and coordination. Originally I am from Leesville, SC and moved to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina. In May 2015 I graduated with my B.S. in Hospitality Management. Prior to Riverbanks, I worked in food & beverage operations, hotels, country clubs, and large scale events such as The Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Here at Riverbanks I would be your point of contact for your facility, catering, bar, and rental needs. I hope to hear from you very soon!