The following are my favorite gardens for wedding ceremonies in Minnesota. These public gardens are all available to rent for wedding ceremonies; however, receptions must be held elsewhere.
Gardens reviewed for use as outdoor wedding ceremony sites:
The Lake Harriet Rose Garden can accommodate between 2 and 150 guests. Couples are granted a permit to have a wedding in the park; each permit is for a 3-hour time block. The price for a wedding permit is $500. To obtain a wedding permit for the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, contact the Minneapolis Park Board at 612-230-6400.
This is the view of the Lyndale Peace Garden from the road. Even when it's not used for wedding ceremonies, couples often come here for pictures because it's such a beautiful site. New: Chairs are now allowed on this lawn.
Couples often choose this secluded area of the Lyndale Peace Garden in Minneapolis because of the bench, which can be reserved for grandparents. The rest of the wedding guests then stand during the ceremony.
For small weddings (2 to 50 guests), I highly recommend the small but beautiful Lyndale Peace Garden in Minneapolis. (It is also known as the Lyndale Rock Garden or the Lake Harriet Peace Garden.) The Lyndale Peace Garden is to the west of the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, on the north side of Lake Harriet. The Parks Department sculpts the grounds with carefully placed rocks and flowering shrubs, and the Peace Garden melds into the adjacent Perennial Trial Garden, which contains mostly flowers (a great place for wedding pictures). The flowers here start blooming very early, in mid-April. I have performed wedding ceremonies at three different spots in the Lyndale Peace Garden and each worked very well - your choice depends on the size of your wedding and which site you find most appealing. You can see more pictures of the Lyndale Peace Garden here and here.
The Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary is next door (pictured above left). The sanctuary is not large, but it has a beautiful path, is very peaceful, and feels very secluded - I've even seen a great horned owl there. The sanctuary cannot be used for weddings, but it's great for taking pictures of the bride and groom walking down the path.
Weddings at the Lyndale Peace Garden are set up in 3-hour time blocks, and couples are granted a permit to have a wedding in the park. The price for a wedding permit is $500. To obtain a wedding permit for the Lyndale Peace Garden, contact the Minneapolis Park Board at 612-230-6400.
Some adventurous couples choose the Walker Sculpture Garden, perhaps the most recognizable landmark in the Twin Cities, for their wedding ceremony.
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (also known as the Walker Sculpture Garden) is right outside the Walker Art Museum and provides a wonderfully unusual wedding site in Minneapolis. You can get married by the pond next to the famous Spoonbridge & Cherry sculpture or in one of the small private gardens. Here is a 360-degree view to give you an idea of what the park looks like.
Some couples choose the one of the semi-private gardens, which are walled in by high hedges. My favorite features the gorgeous bronze Double Curve (shown above in the center left). For an audio tour about the sculpture from ArtsConnected, click here.
You can also reserve the Cowles Conservatory for your wedding ceremony - it is also known as the atrium or just "the greenhouse with the big glass fish." It makes a great backup rain location. The rental fee for a wedding ceremony in the atrium is $500, but if you want to use the atrium for a reception (and not just the ceremony), they charge about twice as much. Here is a 360-degree view of the inside of the atrium.
Another outside wedding option is to rent the Walker Art Center rooftop (for a fee of $2,200 plus a food and beverage minimum - read my review here), which would be catered by Wolfgang Puck's amazing 20.21 restaurant. (Note that renting a space in the actual museum would be done by contacting the Walker Art Center at 612-375-7553.)
The Walker Sculpture Garden can accommodate between 2 and 150 guests. It is located at 1750 Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. Weddings are scheduled in 3-hour time blocks, and couples are granted a permit to have a wedding in the park. The price for a wedding permit is $500. To obtain a wedding permit, contact the Minneapolis Park Board at 612-230-6400.
The Japanese Garden at the Como Conservatory is perfect for small weddings because it's quiet, intimate, and hidden from view. Since the garden is not very big, it might not be immediately obvious just how special it is, but it's incredibly detailed, and it took more time to build than other gardens many times its size. The Como Japanese Garden was designed and landscaped in the "Sansui mountain-and-water style" by the famous Japanese designer Masami Matsuda. A person has to spend some quiet, contemplative time in the garden before realizing just how marvelous it is, but the fact that more than 200 volunteers care for the garden is an indication of its special nature. Most visitors to the Como Zoo or even the Conservatory don't realize the Japanese Garden is there - it's a hidden gem! You actually have to go through the Conservatory, go outside the back door of the North Garden section, and then walk down a hill to get there. (A direct gate is opened up for weddings, though.) Here is a 360-degree panorama view of the garden.The Japanese Garden is available to rent for wedding ceremonies between May 1st and September 30th either before or after public hours. You may rent the garden in one-hour increments. You can fit up to 40 standing guests at a ceremony here. (No chairs are allowed.)
The Japanese Garden is located at 1250 Kaufman Drive North in St Paul. Here's a map showing the location of the garden at the Como Zoo and another map of the garden itself. Other spots are available at the Como Conservatory, both indoor (Sunken Garden & North Garden) and outdoor (Exedra). The rental fee for the Japanese Garden is $500 to $600, and the phone number to reserve the site is 651-487-8250.
Designed by Tokyo's Watanabe Takao, the Japanese Garden at Normandale Community College is located in the southwestern suburb of Bloomington, close to I-494 and about 7 miles (13 minutes) from the Mall of America. The actual address is 9700 France Avenue South. Normandale's Japanese Garden is not as technically intricate as the one at the Como Conservatory, but it is larger and has a more relaxed, almost playful feel. The plants are mostly natives of Minnesota, designed in the traditional Japanese way. The rental fee is $200, with a capacity of 2 to 20 guests. Call the college at 952-487-8145 for booking.