When it comes to wedding venues, we all know about the classic spots to tie the knot. But what if you are looking for something a bit more unique? If you want a wedding that feels one-of-a-kind, a great place to start is by looking at non-traditional wedding venues. 

As a wedding photographer, I have been to so many different venues, but one of the most unique wedding venues I’ve been to lately is the zoo!  

If something this unique sounds like it is right up your alley, let’s talk about what a zoo wedding can look like and some tips for your own zoo wedding! 

Why Get Married at the Zoo 

First of all, let’s talk about why you should get married at the zoo in the first place. While it may seem like an unexpected place to tie the knot, it honestly creates such a unique experience for you and all of your guests. 

I mean, imagine your own reaction if you got a wedding invitation and you saw it was at the zoo. You’d be pretty excited about it, wouldn’t you? 

Now, I’m not saying that the zoo is the perfect wedding venue for all couples. Just like every other venue, you want to make sure that it fits the vibe of your wedding and you and your partner’s personality. 

However, the zoo may be the perfect wedding venue for a couple of different reasons. If you and your partner are animal-obsessed, what could be better than tying the knot surrounded by hundreds of animals? 

Or maybe the zoo has some sort of special meaning to you and your partner. Maybe it was the first place you met or even where you went on your first date. Whatever the reason, it is somewhere that is really unique and creates a wedding that is not only beautiful but also that feels like an experience. 

The zoo also offers you unique portrait options for you and your partner. Most of the time, zoos will allow you access to certain parts of the grounds for your wedding, meaning that you can actually take some of your wedding portraits with the animals as your backdrop. 

Now, this can obviously vary depending on the zoo so be sure to check with your specific location before making any plans! 

How to Plan a Zoo Wedding 

When it comes to actually planning your wedding at the zoo, there are a few things that you want to keep in mind. First, just like any other venue, you want to check their capacity before you start sending out any invitations. 

Depending on the zoo you are going to, they may have a smaller or larger capacity for your wedding. Keep in mind that while the zoo itself may be big, they also need space to set up your ceremony site and reception so the actual capacity may vary. 

For example, Sara and Collin tied the knot at the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in South Carolina. For this zoo, they have the flexibility to host weddings as small as 15 people and as large as 500. 

Obviously, all zoos are not going to be the same, so be sure to do your research and talk to their planning team before making any decisions. You also want to think about the zoo’s opening hours. After all, you don’t want a bunch of random zoo guests walking through your ceremony and they may not close off big areas to the public! 

You’ll also want to make sure you make any plans for getting ready. Since this is not a traditional wedding venue, they may not have an area set aside where you can get ready on the day of your wedding. 

This may mean renting hotel rooms or Airbnb’s around the zoo for the day of your wedding so that you and your wedding parties have somewhere to spend the morning before you head over for the ceremony. 

You want to also chat with the zoo about any restrictions that they have for your wedding. For example, they may not allow you to throw any rice during an exit as it can be harmful to the animals, but they may allow things like seeds or even sparklers. 

While these things may seem small, you want to make sure that there are no surprises on the day of your wedding and that you are totally prepared so that your wedding day can be as relaxed as possible! 

Tips for a Zoo Wedding 

So, are you sold on a zoo wedding as your wedding venue? Awesome! Here are a few tips to help make your wedding day as special as possible. 

Wear Comfortable Shoes 

First and foremost, make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. If you think about visiting the zoo on any normal day, you’ll probably realize that the ground is not always going to be totally flat. 

So, this means you want to make sure you are wearing shoes that you can walk around in no matter what the ground looks like. You may also be walking a bit in between locations so you want to make sure you can comfortably walk around without issues. 

You could even opt for a shoe change partially through your wedding. For example, you can opt for some nicer dress shoes for your ceremony and portraits but change into more comfortable and casual shoes for your reception. I mean who wants to be sidelined on the dance floor with sore feet? 

Lean into the Nature Vibe 

You are going to be surrounded by nature so lean into it. If you are looking for a wedding that is really chic or that feels super modern, this may not be the venue for you. But, if you want something that feels really grounded and highlights the natural beauty of the area, this is the perfect spot. 

Instead of trying to plan for all these elaborate decorations or setups, you can maybe keep things a bit more simple and  lean into the natural beauty surrounding you. 

It’s also a good idea to make sure you tour the zoo and the areas that you are going to be in for your ceremony and reception so you know exactly what is going to be around you. 

This can help you as you start to match different flower colors, and decorations, or even just picking your wedding color palette.  While you tour, think about some places you would like to use for portraits.  Working out a plan with your photographer before the wedding will save everyone a lot of walking.

Consider the Time of Year 

Finally, make sure you consider the time of the year. This is important for two reasons. 

First, your wedding is most likely going to be outside for a big portion of the day andyou want to make sure that you and your guests are totally comfortable throughout. 

If you are planning a wedding towards the middle of the year, think about the temperature that you would normally see during that time of year. Also, remember that the sun is going to set later in the summer months so you may not be able to plan on it being dark or shaded during your reception. 

If you are planning a wedding in the cooler months, think about how people are going to stay warm. The zoo may be able to provide heaters if the entire wedding will take place outdoors or they may have indoor/heated options for you! 

Second, you want to think about when most people are going to visit the zoo. For more popular zoos, they may have restrictions on when events can take place depending on the season. 

So, you want to make sure you reach out to them early and check on when you are able to actually book your wedding! 

Final Thoughts on Non-Traditional Wedding Venues

If you are looking to step out of the norm and want more non-traditional wedding venues, the zoo may be the perfect place for you. Filled with nature and wonder, it will definitely be a wedding you and your guests will never forget. 

And, if you are still looking for the perfect photographer to capture your dream wedding, I’d love to chat. You can click here to learn more about my wedding photography services, or head over here to get in touch and start planning your own wedding! 

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