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Sunken Gardens

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Sunken Gardens

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A Guide to Getting Married at Sunken Gardens

Located just minutes from downtown St. Pete, Sunken Gardens offers couples a unique blend of natural beauty and historic charm, making it a popular wedding venue. This historic botanical garden provides a lush, tropical setting adorned with vibrant flowers, serene water features, and winding paths. With multiple picturesque areas such as the North Lawn, Wedding Lawn, and Oak Pavilion, Sunken Gardens offers a variety of indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony locations.

How Far Out Should I Book My Wedding?

“Sunken Gardens is extremely popular, and their Saturday dates fill up fast. You want to book this venue more than a year out and book it as soon as you know you want to move forward with it. If you are flexible with a Friday or Sunday, you will have more options, but even those dates can go quick in popular months like March and November,” Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“Sunken Gardens doesn’t book weddings all year, so you are competing for fewer dates. As with any venue here in Florida, the earlier you can book, the better. It is not uncommon to see popular venues book 18 months out,” Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“Sunken Gardens is a highly sought-after venue, meaning that peak wedding season is often booked out a year in advance, though sometimes you may be able to find an open date if you inquire. If you’re a couple seeking a particular date, though, it is best to reach out to Sunken Gardens a year or two in advance to book the date. The gardens surely are breathtaking,” Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married at Sunken Gardens?

Venue rentals range from $5,000-$7,000, while tented wedding space ranges from $15,500-$25,500

“As venue costs come in St. Pete, the Sunken Gardens is a decent price, especially for what is included in their packages. When you consider this venue, logistically, it’s worth considering a few things. Firstly, look into the typical weather during the time of year that you’ll be tying the knot. Sunken Gardens does have outdoor tent options, which may be ideal for couples if the temperatures are on the cooler side and if the chance of rain is low; outdoor tents may be undesired if tying the knot in June through September when the temperatures start warming up considerably. Consider the vendors that you’ll need outside of a Sunken Gardens wedding package to determine if the total cost is within your price range. Keep in mind that their rentals include space, chairs, tables, parking, a dressing room, rehearsal space, two days of venue coordinators, and one maintenance staff. Outside of these rentals, you will need to consider florists, caterers, and more depending on what you desire your wedding day will look like,” Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

Can I Bring In My Own Vendors?

“Sunken Gardens is operated by the City of St. Petersburg and requires you to purchase all alcohol through the venue and choose from a list of caterers. There is an additional catering fee of 15% charged to the caterer and paid by the client. Other than catering and alcohol, you can choose your own vendors as long as they are insured,” Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“Sunken Gardens has a lovely preferred vendor list, which is a huge asset to the planning process. These vendors are licensed and insured and have built a great relationship with the venue. They know how everything operates. Logistics-wise, this is a huge plus!” Kelci Zicconi, Kelci Leigh Events

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What Should Couples Know about Photography/Videography at this Venue?

“Sunken Gardens is a beautiful place, but there are a few logistical things to keep in mind. First, since it’s a garden, you lose light earlier in the day because of all the tall trees and lush vegetation. If you’re planning a sunset ceremony, make sure to start a bit earlier to catch that perfect light. The lighting can be a bit challenging, especially during midday ceremonies. The sunlight can be harsh, casting strong shadows that aren’t always the most flattering. To get the best photos, I recommend planning your ceremony for the late afternoon when the light is softer and more diffused. If that’s not possible, we can definitely work around it but just be aware that some spots in the garden might photograph better at different times of the day,” Arron McNeile, McNeile Photography

“Sunken Gardens has all different types of plants and flowers that bloom at different points in the year, so it may look different than photos you are seeing that were from another season. There are many different amazing locations for photos depending on the time of day and where the sun is, so the timing of when/where on the property your ceremony is and which way it is facing is really important,” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

“Sunken Gardens is a stunning venue for photos and video. There are endless spots and areas winding around the entire venue that make for perfect backgrounds for a wedding. Because it is so thick with greenery, it is much easier to photograph than other venues when having a wedding with earlier hours. The greenery provides shade in most parts of the park. One thing to take note about photography/videography for the venue is that the ‘bridal suite’ and the groom’s holding area are not the best for pre-wedding photos. The bridal suite is smaller, has no windows, and has a wall of full-size mirrors. The groom’s holding area is more of a conference room with a table, chairs, and no natural light. Most couples solve this by having their photos begin at a nearby hotel or Airbnb for the getting ready and detail photos, then heading over to Sunken Gardens for their pre-ceremony photos, whether it is a first look, bridal party formals, etc. This thoughtful preparation ensures that the focus remains on the beauty of the gardens and the joy of the celebration, allowing me as the photographer to capture every precious moment with ease and grace” -Amber McWhorter, Amber McWhorter Photography

“Regardless of venue, you should always ask the venue itself if they have a preferred vendors list and then go from there! It is important to inquire with the photo and video teams to ensure that they are able to work in low-light conditions at the Sunken Gardens, as the gardens can get darker, despite there being string lights and lanterns.” Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

What Logistics Do I Need to Know About this Venue?

“One thing couples should know about Sunken Gardens before booking is that it is open to the public until 4:30 p.m. Most couples get access to the venue at 3 p.m., but they do need to keep in mind that if they choose to arrive then and do any first looks or prior photos, there may be people (not interrupting) but possibly walking by or watching. In my experience, it hasn’t been too much of a problem, but I feel it is important to know,” Amber McWhorter, Amber McWhorter Photography

“An important thing to note about Sunken Gardens is the vendor set-up time and wedding party arrival time. Since it is a functioning garden that is open to the public, the couple can not arrive until after 3 p.m. for photos. This is important when you are coming up with your day of timeline since you are restricted to the timeframes of the garden. The vendors also have limited access unless you add on set up time on the front end, which is an added cost to the couples. The bridal suite is very small, so we do not suggest anyone getting dressed there outside of the bride. This keeps things from getting too hectic or crowded in that space and will flow a lot better. Weather and rain backup plans are also very important to consider when getting married here. It can get extremely hot, and since it is literally sunken, there can be a lack of airflow. Avoid hotter months here or provide adequate shade, water, and fans for your guests. If it is raining or storming, there is an upstairs ballroom that you would use for a backup plan, a worst-case scenario. The upstairs needs a lot more love if you are trying to create the garden look that is naturally provided outside. Having extra wiggle room in the budget to adjust to a rain plan could really help you be more at peace with this plan if it came down to it,” Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“One thing to consider is the weather, especially if you’re planning an outdoor wedding. Florida can be unpredictable, so having a solid backup plan in case of rain is essential. Also, because it’s a public garden, there might be some restrictions on things like open flames, loud music, or certain types of decorations, so be sure to check with the venue beforehand. Think about your attire; light, breathable fabrics are your friends here, especially during the warmer months (you’ll thank me later)! Also, the garden layout can be a bit maze-like, so it’s a good idea to plan how your guests will move from the ceremony to the reception areas. And don’t forget to think about accessibility for any guests who might have mobility issues; there are some paths and areas that might be tricky to navigate,” Arron McNeile, McNeile Photography

“Sunken Gardens is open to the public during the day, so vendor teams and wedding parties are more restricted in access time for setup and photos. Make sure you understand the limitations and that your design can be accomplished during that time. It could be possible to gain additional access time, but there will be additional costs associated with that,” Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“This venue is already romantic, with many variations of flowers, trees, and greenery, so having large floral arrangements isn’t necessary because of the natural beauty within the venue itself. It should be noted that while this venue is primarily outdoors, it is in the midst of the city. Being in the inner part of the city, there isn’t as much of a breeze unless you’re near the beaches, so if it is a particularly warm day and you’re hosting wedding festivities outdoors, there won’t be as much of a breeze to cool the day off,” Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

“The venue handles the rentals of the tables and chairs, which is included in the clients’ package. Linens are separate from this rental; I would order them through the caterer or through a linen company. Bartending /alcohol package is through the venue,” Cayla Collins, Coastal Coordinating

What Do Vendors Like Most About This Venue?

“My favorite thing about hosting a wedding at Sunken Gardens is the natural beauty and built-in guest experience. You could really get away with minimal florals for your ceremony because the gardens are so pretty. Many people have never visited the gardens, so it’s an opportunity to introduce your guests to something new,” Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“I love that there are so many different options on the property that are not far away. The walkways lined with flowers are so pretty even when the sun is high, and there are some really awesome tree canopies over brick, so plenty of options for when it’s bright sun and, of course, during golden hour,” Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography

“My absolute favorite part about this venue is that it feels like you are transported into a whole new world. It is a tropical oasis and has so much natural beauty. It is also a great guest experience add-on because they can also enjoy the gardens during cocktail hour,” Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“I absolutely love Sunken Gardens for its incredible variety of florals and those towering palm trees that are just everywhere. It makes for such a dreamy backdrop for wedding photos. Plus, the history of the park adds a special touch; there’s something really magical about saying your vows in a place that’s been cherished by so many for so long. It’s like you’re adding your own chapter to its story.” Arron McNeile, McNeile Photography

“The natural beauty of this venue space is everything. Being located in downtown St Pete is also a fave thing! Sarah and Stacey, who are your main contacts, are amazing and so wonderful to work with. Communication and day of execution is top notch!” Kelci Zicconi, Kelci Leigh Events

“I absolutely love all of the lush greenery. Depending on the time of year, the gardens are blooming with bougainvillea, adding beautiful pops of color with natural settings. There are so many different areas to photograph, which is another reason it is a favorite. There is greenery of various palms, but there is also a cactus garden, a little bridge with koi fish in a pond, and all sorts of flowers and trees. It really does provide a nice variety of garden vibes,” Amber McWhorter, Amber McWhorter Photography

“We absolutely love the lush greenery and breathtaking garden spaces. Not only are these spaces ideal for portraits, but the ceremony and reception spaces are stunning, even with minimal added decor. Also, you can’t forget about the flamingos! They are such a unique photo op. The flamingos are such an elegant touch to see on your wedding day, especially as they enjoy playing in the water and standing beside the natural scenery,” Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

“The ceremony area has a beautiful backdrop! The ceremony space is where you can save money on flowers as well. It’s already so beautiful that you don’t need much,” Cayla Collins, Coastal Coordinating

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