Romance at Riverbanks — Stylish • Sophisticated • Simple

Engagement & Bridal Portraits

You’ve already shared a thousand moments.

Now to take that one photograph that summarizes your relationship better than a thousand words ever could. Wait until the Botanical Garden’s gates have closed to the public and capture your romance through a lens that lets in the Garden’s late afternoon light. A sitting fee of $150 gives you, your photographer and an attendant two hours to explore the Garden, creating the perfect photograph to begin a lifetime. Private portraits are only available after regular visitor hours.

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Photos courtesy of ©Judy Kay Bryan

Rehearsal Dinners

Celebrate your bridal party and out-of-town guests.

Riverbanks weddings have become a Columbia tradition since 1995, when our Botanical Garden opened to the public. Rehearsal dinners at Riverbanks, however, have quickly become a non-traditional favorite for brides, no matter what the time of year. Celebrate your bridal party and out-of-town guests, not to mention the next day’s vows, with an elegant dinner catered by Riverbanks’ executive chef. A variety of settings throughout Riverbanks Zoo and Garden let you decide the size and scope of your rehearsal party.

Call 803.978.1123 for rehearsal dinner location pricing. Discounts are offered to brides who have both their rehearsal parties and wedding parties at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

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Wedding Ceremonies

The picture perfect place to say “I do.”

Just as surely as some brides envision getting married in the church they grew up attending, others picture saying their vows under a beautiful blue sky. Sometimes the most sacred wedding spots can be the ones you find in nature. Riverbanks Botanical Garden offers the picture perfect place to say “I do,” overlooking elegant fountains and lush greenery and creating an unforgettable memory of your special day. Ceremonies are included in the cost of a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening wedding reception; however, a Friday night ceremony rehearsal must be scheduled separately.

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Photos courtesy of ©Judy Kay Bryan

Wedding Receptions

Your wedding reception really is the ultimate party.

Never before and never again will you have so many friends and family together to celebrate something so extraordinary. As you prepare for your big day, deciding on a reception at Riverbanks is one of the simplest choices you’ll make. The beauty of Riverbanks Botanical Garden speaks for itself, and the cuisine of Riverbanks’ executive chef makes the decision even easier. Our staff works closely with you from the moment you say “yes” to long after you’ve said “I do.”

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Photos courtesy of ©Judy Kay Bryan

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View our Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

May I use my own caterer?

No. Riverbanks has an exclusive on-site event specialist caterer who is contracted for all Food & Beverage in the Zoo and Garden. This ensures maximum efficiencies, as the layout and logistics of our venue is quite unique. Popular options include our set menus, but we can be flexible in customizing a menu to your taste, budget and vision.

Is there a Food & Beverage minimum spend?

On Saturdays during wedding season (April, May, Sept, Oct), we ask for a minimum on food & beverage. An example could be a minimum of 100 guests @ $45 per person (excl. service charge and tax) or simply achieving a spend of $4,500. On other days of the week in wedding season or in ‘off peak’ months of the year on any day, we can certainly be more flexible!

Do you host menu tastings?

Our executive chef hosts group tastings twice a year, which are free to attend. Alternatively we can set up a private tasting for a small fee to cover our catering costs.

When can my wedding begin?

We recommend that guests arrive at least one hour after the Zoo closes to the public. In fall and winter months guests should arrive from 6:00pm (with a 6:30pm ceremony). In the spring and summer this will change to 7:00pm (with a 7:30pm ceremony).

When must my wedding end?

At Magnolia Room the standard is a 4-hour rental as music must be turned off by 11pm at the latest, out of respect for the local residents. We recommend the bar close by 10:30pm. The two suites of Ndoki Lodge and Tuskers, however, may be open a little further into the night.

Can I have a ceremony without booking a reception?

No. All events at Riverbanks require a minimum Food & Beverage spend. A solution would be to have a cocktail hour or cocktail party immediately after such a ceremony.

How many chairs does the ceremony area hold and where can I rent them?

The Botanical Garden’s ceremony area will hold a maximum of 150 chairs. Chairs can be rented through your event sales representative and styles start from $2.00 per chair.

Can I bring in my own decorations?

Yes; however, decorations other than centerpieces must be pre-approved by your event sales representative in writing (email is fine) prior to your wedding day. Decorating (indoors or outdoors) cannot begin before 5:00pm , unless pre-approved in writing.

What is included in my Facility Rental?

You have exclusive use of the event space for an agreed timeframe. In addition, furniture of indoor chairs, banquet tables and cocktail tables are included. Black or white linens and napkins are also included. Any quantities other than what are owned by the venue must be rented at your own cost.

What will be blooming in the Botanical Garden?

Our dedicated horticulture department works year-round to provide an exquisite exhibit of flowers and greenery throughout the Botanical Garden. Feel free to ask your event sales representative to check what will be blooming on your wedding date.

May I bring in my own vendor(s)?

Yes, although if you do not choose a vendor from Riverbanks’ list of ‘Preferred Vendors’, then you must seek written approval from your event sales representative. Your new vendor must agree to Riverbanks’ ‘Vendor Procedures’ in order to receive such approval or they will not be allowed to enter the premises.

Is there a changing facility for the bride?

Depending on your chosen wedding space, we will be able to recommend the best place to change, at no extra cost. For example, at Magnolia Room a small, private boardroom is nearby.

Can you recommend a wedding planner and do you recommend having one?

It’s of course up to you. We can recommend a couple of great planners that we enjoy working with and who know our premises and policies well. We do provide an event manager on your wedding day; however, this person’s key duties are to a.) oversee the set up and clean up any rentals or catering that we have provided/booked, b.) expedite kitchen production and oversee staff for bar and meal service, c.) serve as the primary contact for you and any booked vendors, and d.) be responsible for the safety of guests, staff and Zoo property. The event manager is not responsible for setting up personal decorations, helping the set-up of other vendors, helping the bride get ready, and so on. These are more event planner responsibilities.

Can I tentatively hold a date?

Yes, we will be happy to place a temporary 14-day hold on your date and space(s) and during this time no other parties can hold it. After 14 days, and possibly without notification, we must be fair and accept other offers.

How can I confirm my event?

To confirm your event we require 1.) a signed contract, and 2.) a deposit which is the value of your Facility Rental. If booking less than 3 months out from your event, then your deposit will include some of your catering value too. When we receive both items, your event is firmly secured in our event calendar, and until then we reserve the right to accept other offers for the date and space(s) that you are interested in.

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