Just as in real estate, location plays a big role in wedding plans, and especially in a Phoenix wedding. You need somewhere that fits your style and looks good in your wedding photos. It also needs to comfortably accommodate all your guests and, hopefully, not ruin your burgeoning marital bliss with bankruptcy.
The Valley offers a ton of locations to match any couple’s needs. Almost too many. If you want some places to start looking, though, here are seven of our favorites.
Fun Arizona wedding fact: In the mid-1930s, Sky Harbor airport housed a chapel for people who wanted to fly in expressly to get married. Arizona had no blood test requirement for a marriage license. In other places meant a three-day wait.
Desert Botanical Garden
For a true Phoenix wedding, you can’t beat the gorgeous desert landscape at the Desert Botanical Garden. The Garden offers multiple indoor and scenic outdoor locations to match any guest list from 30 to 300. Stage a simple ceremony at the intimate Pratt Ramada, go all out at the indoor/outdoor Dorrance Center, or choose something in between.
Prices range from $800 to $4,000 and extras like luminarias, tour guides and catering options are available. As a fun perk, guests get free access to the Garden on the day of the event. In addition, parking is plentiful and the venue takes just minutes to reach from Sky Harbor airport.
More info: www.dbg.org
Japanese Friendship Garden
For an entirely un-Arizona outdoor wedding venue, look at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Built and maintained in traditional Japanese style, it offers cherry trees, green ground cover, koi ponds, a waterfall and other authentic Japanese touches. You can pick your favorite area to stage the ceremony.
Private wedding ceremonies start at $1,100. However, faster “Elopements” — limited to 45 minutes and 20 guests during normal operating hours — only cost $250. Unfortunately, the Garden doesn’t offer any reception options. On the other hand, the central Phoenix location puts plenty of excellent reception venues within easy reach.
More info: www.japanesefriendshipgarden.org
Royal Palms Resort & Spa
Constructed in 1929, the Royal Palms provides a gorgeous example of Spanish Revival architecture. Even better, the intimate landscaping exudes romance. In fact, the resort often takes top spot as one of the best spots for honeymooners.
The 9-acre facility offers multiple ceremony spots, both indoors and outdoors, that can accommodate from 40 to 180 guests. Try the intimate Jardin D’Amore that offers a great view of Camelback Mountain. Spring for the spacious Estrella Salon that features wrought-iron chandeliers, Mediterranean colors, and a private garden. You’re sure to find the right one for you.
The resort features a dedicated wedding coordination staff to smooth the bumps. You can also opt for the on-site catering, which features the culinary team of Royal Palm’s up-scale T. Cook’s restaurant.
More info: www.royalpalmshotel.com
Whether you want a huge party, an intimate ceremony, something elegant or a natural rustic feel, the 300-acre Schnepf Farms can accommodate you. Situated on the outskirts of the Valley metro area, it offers fields and orchards to serve as a backdrop to your big day. Depending on the season you can incorporate wildflowers, peach blossoms or harvest-style elements.
Couples get a choice of three on-site options. The elegant 250-guest Farmhouse offers an outdoor gazebo and air-conditioned ballroom. For a large shindig, the Big Red Barn holds up to 1,000 people. Finally, choose the The Meadow for a picturesque and rustic outdoor area hidden away in the pine trees.
All catering is done in-house by arrangement with the on-site Chef, Carl Rossini, formerly of Lons Hermosa Inn & The Royal Palms. Costs vary based on a wide range of factors.
More info: www.schnepffarms.com
Opened in 1998, and specifically geared toward weddings, Stonebridge Manor offers two elegant venues. The 6,000 square-foot, tented Garden Pavilion holds up to 350 guests, and offers access to a terraced courtyard. The Manor Courtyard holds 150 guests in either the banquet hall or the garden. Ceremonies can take place in the stone manor, or on the nicely landscaped lawn area.
Stonebridge Manor offers a range of wedding packages. These cover everything from the pre-wedding preparation and the ceremony to the wedding coordinator, cake, flowers, banquet, DJ, decorations, photography and more. In addition to the evening ceremonies, you can opt for a less formal morning wedding.
An open house takes place every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. so you can drop by and see the venue for yourself.
More info: www.stonebridgemanor.com
The Croft Downtown
A newer Phoenix wedding venue, The Croft Downtown will appeal to couples that want something urban, customizable, and a bit quirky. A converted warehouse, this venue offers a mix of urban and classic touches. You’ll see exposed brick and metal next to elegant wood beams and cathedral-style wood pews in the ceremony room.
A range of options are available including valet parking, custom floral designs, an Arbor/Chuppah, candles and other lighting, DJs, personalized decorations, full reception options, and — interestingly — City of Phoenix police officers for security.
Of course, being in downtown Phoenix, it offers guests a range of hotels, restaurants, bars and other diversions before and after the wedding. Also, it sits only two miles from Sky Harbor airport.
More info: www.thecroftdowntown.com
Wrigley Mansion might be something of a Phoenix wedding venue cliche, but for good reason. The elegant 1932 building incorporates elements of Spanish, California Monterey and Mediterranean styles. It sits on immaculate grounds and features stunning panoramic views of the Valley.
Its 10 rooms and multiple outdoor areas can accommodate groups from 20 to 1,500. The on-site coordinators, florists and caterers know just how to make your big day special. In fact, the wedding site “The Knot” consistently votes Wrigley Mansion as a top wedding venue.
More info: www.wrigleymansion.com
Bonus: Wild weddings
If you want to walk on the wild side and add a dash of wildlife to your wedding, you are in luck. The Phoenix Zoo, Butterfly Wonderland and Odysea Aquarium all offer wedding rental options. Whether your perfect day involves zebras, butterflies, otters or other furry favorites, you can probably make it happen.
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org