One-of-a-Kind Columbus Wedding Venue
With three event spaces, cocktail hour animal encounters included in every wedding package (at no extra cost!), and the opportunity to take wedding photos near and with animals through the zoo (even ride a camel in a wedding dress!), The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium ranks high on our favorites list as one of the most unique and captivating hometown wedding venues in Columbus, Ohio.
Located slightly northwest of Columbus in Powell, Ohio, outside the I-270 loop, the Zoo’s three reception/ceremony options cater to events of all sizes and budgets.
Reception and Ceremony Options at the Zoo
1. The Water’s Edge Boardwalk, for up to 160 guests, provides a serene setting for an outdoor wedding ceremony near the Scioto River and an indoor reception area with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that roll up and down (like a garage door) to provide outdoor access.
Rental fee: $1500
Catering food & beverage minimum: $7,000
2. The Africa Event Center, for wedding ceremonies and receptions of up to 300 guests, is the Zoo’s most intimate option, removed from the public with private event center parking and privacy gates. Enjoy the vistas of the Heart of Africa savannah, grazing giraffes and romping zebras, from the expansive outdoor balcony. Couples can add-on a giraffe encounter, where they and guests can feed the giraffes at the balcony railing.
Rental fee: $4,000
Catering food & beverage minimum: $12,000
3. The Lakeside Pavilion, newly renovated with beautiful wood flooring and stone wall accents, is the perfect site for smaller receptions (up to 250 guests), and offers a quaint off-season outdoor wedding ceremony area.
Rental fee: $2500
Catering food & beverage: $10,000
Note: For all spaces, on-site ceremony cost is $500. Wedding ceremonies typically begin at 5:30pm, followed by cocktail hour at 6:00pm.
An Interview With the Event Coordinator
To learn more about the planning and execution of fun, creative, and unforgettable Columbus Zoo weddings, we interviewed Amanda Januzzi, the Zoo’s Wedding and Event Coordinator. Originally from the Cleveland area, Amanda earned her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Ashland University and fell in love with event planning during her senior year internship.
Detail-oriented, exceptionally personable, and utterly organized, she strives to build trust with clients and closely collaborates with them to customize and create memorable weddings that reflect each couple’s style and character. Her favorite part is seeing the clients’ excited reactions upon entering the fully decorated venue and seeing their planning come to fruition. Amanda loves the opportunity to give couples the ability to forget the “hustle and bustle of ordinary life,” to relax and enjoy themselves in the moment, surrounded by family and friends.
Don’t only take our word. Check out her gushing Wedding Wire reviews, like this one:
“First… we need to make a BIG shout out to the Columbus Zoo Wedding Coordinator- Amanda Januzzi. We are BEYOND grateful to have had Amanda as our wedding coordinator. Amanda is probably one of the kindest, most personable and professional people we have had the privilege to work with. She makes your special day her number one priority. Your wedding is in GREAT hands with her!”
Event Coordination Q&As
Read Amanda’s answers to our questions on her favorite things about the zoo and all things wedding. Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What are the most unique things about having a wedding at the Zoo?
“The most unique [aspect] is the atmosphere/location itself. It’s an “at-home destination” wedding for Columbus and central Ohio residents. Animals visit your cocktail hour. At the Africa Event Center you can have the savanna with giraffes, zebras, and other animals in the background of your ceremony. With the Water’s Edge Boardwalks and Lakeside Pavilion, your guests experience seeing animals as they make their way to the venue. It truly is connecting people to wildlife.”
How can couples personalize their Columbus Zoo wedding?
“Couples have chosen to display photos of their favorite experiences they’ve had while visiting the zoo as part of reception décor centerpieces. Many couples had first dates at the zoo, got engaged at the zoo, have fond memories of their childhood visits, etc. I’ve also seen some couples’ show their favorite animals in their centerpieces and décor. Other clients show their love for the zoo by donating to conservation efforts as their guest “favor.”
What’s the wildest thing a couple has ever requested? Or the wildest thing you’ve ever seen someone do at a wedding?
“I love this question! I’ve had many people ask over the years to ride on elephants/giraffes into their reception or arrive at their ceremony, request a penguin to be the ring-bearer, and I have also had many people inquire if Jack Hanna could officiate their ceremony. We weren’t able to accommodate these requests, but I do appreciate their bold and creative ideas!”
What’s your best wedding day advice for the couple?
“Take a moment at your reception (once dinner and speeches are done), step away just the two of you and simply look around. Take in all the people around you, all the love, the atmosphere, but mostly, take a minute to reflect on your favorite moments of the day and just be together. Wedding days have so many moving parts and at times feels as though it passes too fast. It’s important to take time to just be still and see how it all came together and just be with one another.”
What’s your favorite wedding movie and why?
“Father of the Bride. First, it’s a phenomenal movie, and second, during the basketball scene “My Girl” plays and the father finds himself reflecting on his daughter’s life. My dad is a basketball coach, so [this scene is] nostalgic and reminds me of him and all of the memories we share. I also love this movie because it shows the bond between parents and their children, how weddings involve all sorts of emotions, but always, result in a lot of love and laughter.”
If you’re getting married or having an event at the Columbus Zoo and have a question we missed, ask us below! We always love talking about our favorite Columbus wedding venues.