It's All Happening At the Zoo: A Wedding Planning Guide

By: Michael Kabel

Can you really hold your wedding at a zoo? Believe it or not, more and more couples or heading to their city's zoological gardens as an off-the-beaten-path choice to hold their wedding ceremonies.

The zoos are ready for them, too. A quick search on Yahoo reveals dozens of zoos around the world are opening their grounds to special events and wedding celebrations, including internationally famous parks such as the San Diego Zoo, Singapore Zoo, and the ZSL London Zoo.

Zoos represent a different kind of choice.

Couples planning their zoo wedding say they're attracted to the exotic settings and opportunity to do something unusual for their guests. Many zoos offer their actual grounds and guest attractions as staging areas for wedding ceremonies and other special events. Others have special party staging areas erected in tandem with zoo landscaping or exhibits.

As examples, couples to the Memphis Zoo can have their reception in a "Northwest Passage" aquarium room while sea otters and polar bears swim around them. Guests to the Rainforest Room of the Melbourne, Australia Zoo can browse a large aviary or stroll along the giant lake adjacent to the room's structure and Japanese garden.

Wedding couples may also have their picture taken among zoo exhibits or beside special zoo attractions. Couples can pose within aviaries and butterfly houses, near a rainforest habitat, or in the proximity of any number of wild animals.

Some zoos also offer unique entertainments to guests, including feeding and exhibition of some animals. Depending on the zoo, these special attractions may be included as part of their packages or offered for an additional rate.

Guests are not given free reign but instead can celebrate in special areas.

Guests are required to observe zoo regulations while they're on the grounds, or course, and some areas of the zoo will not be accessible for the wedding party. Instead, guests are welcome to enjoy themselves within designated areas.

In some cases, the zoos are available only after their normal closing time, so the ceremonies might realistically be conducted in early evening or at night. Depending on the zoo, staff member guides and even shuttle service may be provided between the zoo entrance and the designated wedding area. The reception events themselves, such as the dinner, dancing and other celebrations, can be held approximate to an exhibit, placed nearby, or kept limited to an area with the most presentation potential – say, a grand entrance.

Making arrangements for a zoo wedding.

The arrangements for a zoo wedding may present the trickiest part of the entire planning process. Space and times are subject to often strict availability guidelines. A deposit is usually necessary, as well.

Couples should of course tour the zoo facilities and grounds before making any form of commitment, and should also have a clear understanding of any special policies the zoo may insist upon the event and its guests. But once those formalities are reconciled, the couple is free to create a wedding experience their guests are virtually certain to remember for years to come.