Christy Whitehead Photography » North Florida photographer and graphic designer

Event Venue Spotlight on the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

This week’s venue spotlight is on The Jacksonville Zoo.  I’ve shot several events at the Zoo and it is one of my go-to spots for engagement photos. Personally, I have a black thumb, but the zoo is always a bloom with a nice landscape and great architecture. I never get tired of all of the unique seasonal additions.  It is a dynamic venue that offers personality. It is definitely fit for a unique couple.   The Jacksonville Zoo is located on the North end of Jacksonville, between downtown and the airport. It is easily accessible from I-95 and SR17.

I asked Christine, their event’s manager, to fill us in on their wedding business. Here are her answers.

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The Land of the Jaguar, during a reception.

What is something unique about your venue (other than being a Zoo, of course)? The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has several different venues to choose from and each venue has a different feel and atmosphere about it, I think this makes it one of the most versatile venues in Jacksonville. We also have a wonderful chef who is willing to accommodate special menu requests. He serves some of the tastiest dishes in town.

On a personal note, the locations that Christine mentioned include The Range of the Jaguar, The Gardens at Trout River Plaza, The Asian Bamboo Garden, Land of the Tiger. I think they are all great, but I especially like The Range of the Jaguar because of the wide-open expanse of outdoor space with plenty of white sparkly lights. When weather permits, I think outdoor weddings can be the most beautiful!

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What is your capacity? 40-500

Do you provide catering on-site? Yes!

How many private events does the zoo host per year? We host between 20 and 30 weddings per year and in addition to that we host corporate events, picnics, proms, formals and holiday events.

What is your favorite thing about hosting weddings? I love the celebratory spirit involved! I love that I am always working with people who are celebrating and I’m doing it in one of the most beautiful venues around.

What should a couple’s budget look like in order to book your venue?  Anywhere from $70.00 to $120.00 per person.

When is the ideal time to host a wedding at the Zoo? We host weddings in the evening from 6:30 to 11:00 in the Fall and Winter and 7:30 to 12:00 in the Spring and Summer.  Spring and Fall are of course the most popular times of the year.

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The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens provide the following with rental:

  • All chairs & tables needed for both ceremony & reception
  • Cake table, guest book table, gift table and table for entertainment
  • Linens for guest book or gift tables
  • Set-up of ceremony and reception tables, chairs and rental Linens
  • White linens & black skirting for all food service tables
  • Clear glass dishes, glasses and silverware
  • Servers & banquet captain for duration of event
  • Security guard on duty
  • Clean-up of venues following your event

Want to give your guests a really unique experience? Book the Savanna Blooms Garden with a private giraffe feeding for your guests! I’m also a fan of booking the Wildlife Carousel for portraits before or after the ceremony. It also works great for first looks!

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While the weddings can’t technically take place until after the Zoo closes, that have been cool with us getting their during zoo hours and starting formals!

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The Jacksonville Zoo is located on the North end of Jacksonville, between downtown and the airport. It is easily accessible from I-95 and SR17.

If you want to get in touch with Christine LoRusso, the Zoo’s Catering and Corporate Events Manager, you can reach her via phone at 904-757-4463 x103 or e-mail at  lorussoc@jacksonvillezoo.org.

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