• Elizabeth Nelson

Wedding Planning 101: Let's Talk Venues

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

Having the dream venue is one of those wedding day aspects that are heavily considered moments, ok maybe not moments, but shortly after getting engaged.

When it comes to picking out your venue, there are a couple of things to consider right away. Such as, what kind of style are you going for? Are you wanting to get married outside or inside? Do you want a green and naturey vibe or more modern and city feel? Also, your guest count can play into what kind of venue you search for. If you are like me, continually perplexed by all things wedding planning, hopefully I can help with a couple of my favorite venues here in Arizona. I'll start with my favorite, hands down most beautiful venue to date.



Boyce Thompson Arboretum


One of the best parts of this venue is that it is the largest and oldest botanical gardens in the state of Arizona, according to their site, and I would have to agree with them. When I went to visit and walk the park, I was constantly surprised with all of the photographic elements literally around every corner. And the best part is that they are pretty flexible with where you can have your ceremony. We were shown different types of areas, one being a small courtyard covered with trees and a view of the larger mountains behind a small rock wall. There were small patches of wild flowers tenderly cared for where two small benches sat, perfect for a small wedding.


After being pretty settled on that particular space for their ceremony to be held, we walked the park to get a sense of where they wanted to have their wedding photos taken. As we walked around we actually came across a small opening that was more rocky and desert like, that really caught their eye. It was a little ways off the path which would help keep their ceremony more private since the Arboretum is still a public state park. We even came across a hybrid of the two spaces, one being more covered with eucalyptus trees but still desert like. That is seriously the beauty of Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the options seem limitless. Oh and you can't forget that way in the back, there is a small lake where you could easily host a ceremony next too.


This park is very much intended for those smaller, more intimate weddings and if that is its only downfall, I find it very minimal. The amazing eucalyptus trees, cactus gardens, a romantic green house, a beautiful suspension bridge and the large Arizona mountains that surround the park, are all worth it.



Gather Estate


The beauty of this venue is that there is a lot of creative freedom with your rentals because the property is ripe with fun opportunities. Set up like a ranch style homestead, there is a wonderfully lush backyard where your ceremony can take place. They have a small concrete stage with large green hedges flanking it's sides and a large wooden ceremony arch in the middle. The venue has bistro lights stretching across the entire lawn which easily converts from ceremony, to reception space.


Indoors, they have a large bridal suite for you and your lovely ladies to get ready. And photographers listen up, they have the best sliding glass door with delicate white curtains. Talk about the perfect natural light for when the bride is slipping into her wedding dress, or taking a peek outside as guests arrive. Down the hall they have a room where the groom and his men are able to get ready, equipped with a large flat screen and a leather couch! Talk about a dudes room.


Two of my favorite parts about this venue, besides the backyard, are the front door and a white bricked hallway covered in bistro lights. The entire building is a delicate white which lights up in all the perfect ways during the day.



The Japanese Friendship Garden


If you are looking for a lush, green venue full of nature, the Japanese Friendship Garden is the perfect place. Located in downtown Phoenix, it is a hidden gem amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.


This garden is the perfect place to hold a small, intimate ceremony and once the garden closes to the public, the entire area is yours for your special day. If you need a place to get ready, their Tea House is a culturally beautiful place to step into and prepare for your wedding. The delicate wood structure hosts a warm and inviting feel to calm pre-wedding jitters. The Tea House is also a wonderful place to have a first look should you be wanting on. The small property is tucked away and out of site from the main area of the garden, perfect for spending a few moments with you and your soon to be spouse.


For post ceremony photos, the garden is surrounded by enormous trees and in the center of it all sits a pond with a waterfall, a bridge and vibrantly colored koi fish.



The Backyard


Never heard of it?! I know, it's because it's not actually a venue. It is this wonderful concept of tying the knot, not (see what I did there? 😂) at a venue, but in a backyard. Whether that be a family home, a friends ranch house or a place found on airbnb, the options are endless. I mean, except through airbnb, that is a whole other ball of wax.


The beauty of a backyard wedding is it can be extremely memorable because you are able to go back to that place without having to attend a wedding in order to do so. It can also be a little cheaper because you aren't dealing with those large venue prices. However, a DIY wedding can add up to just as much as I am learning, so take that with a grain of salt.


If you are seeking out a more casual route for your wedding, I would say that a lot of the backyard weddings I have been a part of, have been a bit more relaxed. Things don't seem to be as hectic because the vibe is a lot more chill and enjoyable. Not to say you can't get that with a venue as well. I feel that with a backyard wedding, you have a little more room to play around with how you want your wedding day to be. You have a lot of control and if you are a naturally planning person, this is a go to!



So that is my two cents regarding wedding venues! Now I am off to continue my own venue search for my wedding. If I'm not back in a days time, it's because I am buried beneath a mountain of options, none of which I know what to do with! 🤪

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Phoenix, Arizona  elizabeth@nelsoncinematic.com  480-268-5795

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