The Inside Scoop
FROM THE KNOT EDITORS
The First Look
Located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, the Sunken Gardens is a tropical oasis that makes a gorgeous setting for a wedding. The four-acre garden is over a century old and includes a mission-style main house from the 1920s. Couples can exchange vows surrounded by exotic plants and meander down the winding pathways for romantic wedding portraits. Wedding parties can take group photos by the waterfall, while the newlyweds take fun photographs with the flamingos. Couples can toss a wish for their future into the wishing well and have their loved ones take part as well. The Sunken Gardens has a number of spaces couples may wish to consider for their wedding ceremony and reception.
Oak Pavilion. This outdoor venue is a lovely place for a wedding ceremony. Couples can get married in the dappled sunlight streaming through the canopy of huge oak trees that have been standing for a quarter of a millennia. Up to 80 guests can be seated to observe the exchange of vows at this location.
North Lawn. This outdoor location is surrounded by flowers. Couples can exchange vows underneath a pergola covered in foliage. This location can seat up to 150 guests.
Wedding Lawn. This outdoor location is the largest ceremony location at the Sunken Gardens. Up to 175 guests can be seated on chairs arranged on the grass. Couples can say "I do" surrounded by palm trees. Couples can also hold a tented reception on the Wedding Lawn.
The Garden Room. This indoor space is often used for receptions. Located in the main house, the room has a honey-colored wooden dance floor and vaulted wooden ceilings. Couples can decorate the space to their liking with the approval of the Sunken Gardens. The Garden Room can seat up to 175 guests.
What You Should Know
A signed contract, half the rental fee and a damage deposit are required to hold the date. The full balance is due 30 days before the wedding. Couples may bring in a cake from the bakery of their choice. Caterers must be chosen from the Sunken Gardens' approved list. Alcohol must be purchased through the Sunken Gardens. Tents can be erected and are handled by the Sunken Gardens.
Couples have the option of having a daytime ceremony on the grounds between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or holding their event in the evening. Evening rentals start at 5 p.m. and end at midnight. Setup and breakdown must be completed during this time. Spaces can be booked a la carte or couples can rent the entire Sunken Gardens, including the main house, for exclusive use.
Ceremony rentals include chairs. Reception rentals include chairs and tables. Linens are not included. Couples need to bring in a sound system, if desired. The gardens have electricity available. Couples may wish to hire an outside wedding planner.
Rehearsals are included. One hour of time is set aside for the rehearsal. One dressing area is available.
- Fun vintage roadside attraction sign
- Garden statues
- Exotic birds
- Foot bridge
- Valet service available
- Koi pond
- Succulent garden
From the Vendor
A Memorable Wedding with Splendor and Romance
Meandering walkways invite you to surround yourself with lush tropical displays, vibrant flowering plants, and cascading waterfalls. The beauty and tranquility of this timeless sanctuary add an air of romance and magic to your day. The Garden Room, with its loft-like atmosphere and view of the exquisite gardens, plays host to perfect receptions. Its uniqueness makes it unlike any other wedding experience. Let us help you create a wedding filled with splendor and magic.
Amenities + Details
Outdoor - Covered
For more details about amenities, please message the Venue.
$$ – Affordable
Ballroom, Garden, Museum, Historic Venue, Tented
Amazing!Reviewed on 4/01/2014 Rachel P
Absolutely wonderful. :)
Perfect WeddingReviewed on 3/17/2014 Kate K
Sunken gardens was a beautiful place and truly made my wedding dreams come true!
Incredible location for a Perfect Outdoor weddingReviewed on 12/17/2013 Ingrid x
We were just married at the end of October and the weather was PERFECT! Our ceremony, cocktail reception and reception were all outdoors. What a beautiful setting.. all the flowers were in bloom! Everything looked beautiful. We also used the indoor classroom to make a kid’s party room.. We had food and games in there for them and they had a blast! It was great to have the extra space for the adults in the courtyard. The staff was wonderful in coordinating and guiding us through everything.. and I must give a very special and warm THANK YOU to Natalie as she is the one that we had our initial meeting with and was more than helpful throughout our months leading up to the wedding and answered all of my questions and was a tremendous support. It was truly a magical spot to have our wedding!
Booking our wedding at the Sunken Gardens was a no-brainer. The gardens are absolutely gorgeous! Three months later, our guests are still talking about it. We did our ceremony on the North Lawn, cocktail reception in the Oak Pavilion, and dinner/reception in a tent on the Wedding Lawn. The entire event felt like a tropical dream! Sarah C. and Stacey F. were fantastic to work with in the months leading up to the wedding, and phenomenal the day of. They're calm, patient, and highly knowledgable. We felt the booking price was very fair for everything we received, and we saved considerably on flowers and decorations. We also had access to the Garden Room, and if it had rained, we could have moved the whole event indoors. It was a bit frustrating not being able to purchase our own wine/beer/liquor for the reception, but this is a city-owned facility, so we understood the rules. Overall, this is a wonderful venue, and I'd highly recommend checking it out!
Venue is gorgeous. If you have your heart set on this location, think very hard about exactly how you want your day to go -- photos, cocktails, "getting ready " room, etc. and then get them to agree to your conditions in writing before booking. In my opinion, the documentation between their wedding contracts vs. their brochures & what's published online is misleading. Some people here are very helpful. Some people here I hope I never deal with again. I wish I had looked into Earthscapes in Palm Harbor before we booked here.
Planning to have my wedding at Sunken Garden. Trying to make as affordable as I can. Can anyone recommend vendors? Thank you!
Beautiful VenueReviewed on 7/16/2015 Amanda N
Sunken Gardens was the perfect location for our spring wedding. We had our ceremony on the Wedding Lawn, cocktail hour in the Oak Pavilion, and the reception in the Garden House. Our wedding photos turned out so beautiful and romantic with the gardens as our backdrop. It was like a fairy tale. The staff at the Sunken Gardens was great to work with and very professional. Sarah was very quick to respond to questions I sent via email. They also made sure to have the tables set up the day before the wedding so I could decorate and not have to be stressed doing it the day of.
Beautiful VenueReviewed on 1/28/2015 Kelly S
Sunken Gardens was the absolute perfect location for my wedding. Most of my guests were coming from out of town, so we wanted to find a place close to things to do. Everyone loved the fact that they were so close to restaurants, bars, museums, etc. The garden itself was beautiful and I received many compliments for finding such a "gem" in the middle of the city. Most of my guests came early the day of just to explore the gardens. The North Lawn was the perfect size and the cocktail hour in the oak pavilion was beautiful. They also made the entire process very easy and everything ran smoothly. If you're planning on doing an ipod playlist for your wedding, however, make sure you have a back-up! Their system wouldn't recognize my ipod, but they were able to bring out some breakaway fender speakers that worked out just fine. My only real complaint- which isn't even real- is the ceiling in the Garden Room. They have this beautiful wooden paneling above the dance floor that's covered up by ducts and piping. It's just so odd and kind of an eye sore for photos. But in the grand scheme of things everything else was so great it didn't matter.
Our Dream Wedding!Reviewed on 11/14/2014 Devon M
Not only is Sunken Gardens absolutely gorgeous itself, the staff at this venue are absolutely amazing to work with. Sarah Carvalis, Natalie White, Stacey Faqua, and Barbara (so sorry, I don't know her last name) were just a few of the wonderful employees with whom we had the pleasure of sharing our wedding! We got married in the Oak Pavilion; we had a smaller wedding (~80 people) and loved the backdrop of the gardens with the brick layout extending throughout. My husband and I got engaged under an oak tree, so it was important to us to carry the symbolism of an oak with us into our ceremony. The Sunken Gardens Oak Pavilion was perfect!!! The Garden Room, where we had our reception, was perfectly sized and was VERY easy to decorate and make our own. The rest of the gardens, where we took our pictures, were absolutely stunning - greens, oranges, reds, purples, yellows.. any color of nature you can possibly imagine. Such a gorgeous venue! Sarah, Natalie, and Stacey were extremely attentive to all of my crazy questions throughout the process. They made planning this wedding (which I did on my own, I didn't have a coordinator) much easier and allowed me the freedom to do what I wanted with decorations, seating, etc. Barbara was our wedding day coordinator, who also worked with us at the rehearsal, and she was fantastic!! She was knowledgeable, professional, and knew exactly what she was doing - she made us feel super special and really adhered to our questions and needs. The rehearsal, ceremony, and reception were PERFECT, and we have the Sunken Gardens staff to thank for that!!
Major issues handled gracefullyReviewed on 4/16/2013 Dawn S
Sunken gardens had always been where I wanted to get married. The gardens themselves are beautiful, and the banquet room is unique with partial hardwood ceilings and a slight industrial feel. I was devastated when I saw the gardens just a day before my ceremony- the contractor that they had hired to re-vamp the drainage system had not kept his word of having the gardens "wedding ready." Parts of the lawn were torn up with substantial mud, patchwork sod in other parts. . . generally terrible looking. We had a few options, but I had my heart set on the wedding lawn. The ladies at Sunken Gardens worked with my mom to make the lawn as beautiful as possible, and re-routed guest traffic; no one even KNEW that the lawn had issues! My guests had a wonderful time, and I received several compliments on the venue itself. When booking your venue, remember that things *do* happen, and when they do, the people at the venue are going to be the ones who either fix it or make it worse. So glad for our decision to have it at Sunken Gardens!
Perfect Day and Perfect WeddingReviewed on 3/25/2012 Heather H
We had our wedding in early March at Sunken Gardens, and were so happy we did. Everything was perfect - the venue, the staff, the weather. The staff at Sunken Gardens was wonderful - Sarah patiently answered all of my questions and offered up vendors when I needed help. Barbara was there the day of the wedding (in addition to another staff member) and was so friendly and pleasant that she put me and our families at ease. If I needed anything, she and the rest of the staff there was happy to help. The venue was so beautiful - we had rented out the entire Gardens and were happy we did. The flowers were beautiful and it was so peaceful. Our guests couldn't stop talking about how beautiful it was. We had our reception upstairs in the Garden Room and were happy we did. Our guests didn't have to go anywhere after the ceremony and could walk around and enjoy the Gardens. The view from the Garden Room was incredible - it overlooked the area where we had the ceremony. We would highly recommend Sunken Gardens to anyone. The only other thing I'd mention is that if you're a warm body, like me, you might want to consider having your wedding before April, as it does start to get warm outside....
BEAUTIFUL outdoor venue!Reviewed on 9/04/2011 Andrea Z
I LOVED using Sunken Gardens! They have three outdoor venues to choose from ranging in price and feel. They also have an indoor area to use for the entire wedding or for just the reception if you prefer. My husband and I chose the Oak Pavilion. It's a beautiful old brick area that is covered by the incredible canopy of a 200 year old oak tree. We were married in the morning and the sunlight through the canopy was beautiful and the breeze was cooling. We got married in October, so it was fairly perfect. At no additional cost, a wedding coordinator is provided for you. He or she handles your wedding from start to finish, helping you on your big day. Please don't think that this is a wedding *planner*. The coordinator is someone who will help you keep people going in the right order and make sure things go smoothly on the day of. The ONLY downside was the decorating. Because they do not supply a clean up crew, you have to figure out how you're going to clean up any decorations that you bring in. That may be difficult to do when you're the one getting married. They have a sound system in place that you can use as well. Since I got married in the morning, lighting was a non issue so I'm not very sure about how that goes. It's a DEFINITE option if you want an outdoor venue. I saw it and from the moment I laid eyes on it, I knew that it was the place I wanted to be married.
OutstandingReviewed on 6/14/2011 Jessica B
The staff that helped us for the rehearsal and the day of the wedding was absolutely amazing and so helpful, we could not have asked for better service to make our wedding day run smoother!!!
Sunken Gardens St PetersburgReviewed on 5/29/2011 Carrie O
Sunken Gardens was an absolutely beautiful venue to get married at. If you want something that is “Florida” but isn’t the beach, than this is the place for you. That and you won’t have the random dude in the Speedo watching your ceremony! The staff at Sunken Gardens was extremely easy to work with. We initially worked with Sarah C. to get our date and contract in order. She was very helpful and always quick to respond. The day of our wedding, Barbara and Stephanie were on site. They worked seamlessly with my day-of coordinator, and everything went off without a hitch! Well, there was one hitch, but I’ll get to that. Sunken Gardens did all of the set up and tear down for the chairs at the ceremony, the tables at the cocktail hour (Oak Pavilion), and the tables and chairs at the reception (Garden Room). They also provided a sound system for the ceremony and offered us speakers to use during the cocktail hour. The one drawback was that we had to go through the City for our alcohol (which is why I gave slightly lower marks in Service). We paid the gratuity up front and requested no tip jars on the bar. There was also an option to pay for the alcohol without gratuity and allow the bartenders to have a tip jar, but we didn’t want our guests to feel obligated to pay for anything. It turns out that while everyone was getting their pictures taken, the bartenders put out a big ole fishbowl for tips. When my day-of coordinator asked them to take it down, the bartenders gave her pushback. It would be one thing if only the bartenders were there, but the person we signed the alcohol contract with was present as well. Just keep an eye out if you decide to pay the gratuity in advance! But overall, our experience at Sunken Gardens was very positive. The gardens are such a unique place to get married. In addition, the Garden Room was a beautiful place for the reception. The windows are a real plus, particularly if you set up the wedding party table right in from of them; then all of your guests are looking at you and the garden outside. When we initially looked at the Garden Room, I thought the dance floor was in an odd place, but once you see the room set up, it will make perfect sense.
Tropical WeddingReviewed on 5/28/2011 Jackie R
Married: Sun April 10, 2011. http://stephanieasmithblog.com/?p=2553 I went with my fiance in DEC2009 on a "Garden road trip" around Florida-about 8 gardens from Tampa to Miami. Although there were lots of beautiful gardens, this felt the most "tropical" to us-and it had everything we wanted. I had the ceremony in North Pavilion, Cocktail hour on the wedding lawn, and reception on the Oak Pavilion. Everything was outside and our backup in case of rain was an inside location they had with a dance floor (which wasn't needed, yay!). It was pricey but to me it was worth it and I saved money on flowers (b/c the garden came with it!) and the chairs and tables didn't need that much decorations (again, the flowers were pretty enough and were covered with the venue). Sarah C. was great from beginning to end. I havent been to that many weddings (umm...2 my whole life) and didn't really know anything about weddings before I got engaged, but Sarah answered a TON of questions (even really minute) with a very quick response time. She doesn't answer her phone that much because she is a busy person, but it's better to email when asking questions when planning a wedding (then on the wedding day you can print all the Q's & A's just in case-you can't make assumptions on what is authorized and what isn't). On the wedding day the Vendor staff (Barbara and ?) were great. I barely noticed they were there but everything ran smoothly. I DID notice Barbara there during the ceremony because she did a great job at cue'ing everyone properly with the music (when we are all the most nervous). The only thing I would've changed was to have a day of wedding planner/family member not in party come early to double check that chairs/tables/ect were put out properly for peace of mind(my bridesmaids had to run around for tiny last minute stuff). But the venue puts out any chairs, tables, microphone & Speaker set-up, spray bug spray (there ARE mosquitoes when you're in a garden-even in April) that you request. Another thing, I was allowed in the Garden for free whenever I wanted. I came with the photographer one day and visited with my fiance a couple times. To me this was really cool, because the venue so peaceful-it was always a nice experience. The only other thing I didn't care for was I didn't get to chose my own bar service-I HAD to go with the city of St pete's bartender. I would prefer more options because it was sort of difficult talking to Richard when writing the contract up. But in the end on the wedding night the bar staff was professional and did a great job. This Venue was wonderful, I give it 5 stars because 1) I was extremely comfortable with them BEFORE the wedding while planning because they responded to emails and were professional and worked with me, and most importantly 2)they did a great job on the WEDDING DAY and did everything they said they would.
Venue and StaffReviewed on 5/05/2011 jen m
We had our wedding in April of 2011 at Sunken Gardens. We had our ceremony on the wedding lawn and had our cocktail hour in the Oak Pavilion. Our reception was upstairs overlooking the gardens. The staff was excellent and we also had a open bar for 5 hours that was fantastic. Sarah made sure that everything was just the way we wanted. Thank you to all of the staff that made our wedding event a 10!
Sunken Gardens of St. PetersburgReviewed on 3/21/2011 Leah U
The Sunken Gardens was absolutely phenomenal for our wedding. Not only did our ceremony look absolutely breathtaking on the North Lawn, but the staff went above and beyond in giving us what we needed. Sarah allowed us to work in the Garden House setting up for hours the day before the wedding. Also, the coordinators on site were kind and helpful. They sprayed for gnats and mosquitoes 30 minutes before our ceremony to ensure our guests would be comfortable. They were kind, professional and very helpful.
Great ExperienceReviewed on 11/26/2010 jessica c
Can not say enough great things about Sunken Gardens. Everyone who helped us with our wedding was very nice. Sarah C. originally showed us Sunken Gardens was very helpful, she was always quick to answer back emails and friendly too. Barbara and Stephanie (coordinators Sunken Gardens provides) were wonderful, friendly, and most helpful. I can't imagine our wedding going any smoother and a lot has to do with having the help of Barbara and Stephanie. Highly recommend.
Oct. 15 2010Reviewed on 11/10/2010 Heather A
Everything was perfect for our ceremony. It was perfect. The pictures turned out great. We just used them for our cememony.
Beautiful VenueReviewed on 11/07/2010 Lisa E
My small wedding at Sunken Gardens was nothing short of beautiful. Such a pretty venue at an affordable price! Barbara, the coordinator, was wonderful to work with. Everything was set up as it was supposed to be on the big day. I would recommend this to any bride that wanted an outdoor wedding at someplace other than the beach.
Sunken GardensReviewed on 10/10/2010 Kersten s
The scenery here is just made for weddings and photo opportunities! The wedding coordinators are just amazing! They supply all tables and chairs (no added expense!) for both the ceremony in the park and the reception in the Garden Room. They are extremely helpful and accomodating. The Bar Manager, Dick, is just great! They also give you a day of wedding coordinator (Sweet!). They wil get all of your other vendor info and call them if their late so that the bride & groom don't have to worry about it (Woo-Hoo!). We rented the whole Gardens from 5PM-midnight for our wedding & reception and couldn't be happier with the whol experience. Awesome venue for a surprisingly reasonable price. This will pull on every romantic hearstring you have without completely killing your budget. $3250 for the whole gardens and garden room, 5PM-midnight. WOW!
Beautiful Sunken GardensReviewed on 8/29/2010 Vanesa T
This venue was everything I was looking for. It is an excellent place to take garden pictures. My photos were taken in the Japanese Garden portion and they turned out beautiful. The staff is very helpful and accomodating. They do require approvals for caterers that are not already approved on their list. Their list, however, included a good variety of caterers in every price range. They also have some decorating safety rules. My overall experience was great. I lived out of state and they were very easy to work with and well prepared.
Review for Sunken GardensReviewed on 5/10/2010 Ashley N
We held our reception at Sunken Gardens. When guests arrived, they were able to walk all throughout the gardens. The bridal party and family were able to take pictures with a gorgeous back drop right at the front of the park. We were able to see and talk to our guests as they came in. The actual dinner and dancing was held upstairs in a loft-like room with a great view of the garden. It was a really beautiful place to have a reception. And the price was extremely reasonable. I would highly recommend.
Review for Sunken GardensReviewed on 5/10/2010 Amanda P
I loved the wall that faced the gardens - It was the length of the entire room and featured huge windows that overlooked the greenery and tropical foliage outside. Since our wedding took place in the morning it was breathtaking and made for such a picturesque reception with the sun shining in! I also loved the lofty wooden ceilings - it gave the room a great presence.;As with many venues be aware that some of your back tables may seem like they're placed into a corner. Also the first entrance to the venue isn't visible by all of the tables so when doing your 'Grand Entrance' remember not to dance or do anything too memorable until you round the corner :)
Review for Sunken GardensReviewed on 5/10/2010 Marian R
The gardens and surroundings;If it thunders or rains heavliy the cermony would have to be done inside in reception area.