Around The Bay Home & Garden Weddings

Outdoor I Do’s: The top 10 outdoor wedding venues in Tampa Bay

A happy couple at Tampa Bay Watch.
Luxury Living Tampa Bay

From serene garden spots to splashy waterfront venues, from rooftops to treetops, these Tampa Bay sites (listed in alphabetical order) are perfect for open-air nuptials.

FLORIDA BOTANICAL GARDENS

Within the walls of this well-designed wedding garden, couples enjoy privacy as they express their mutual love beneath a rotunda gazebo bordered by the apropos quote, “Love is the Flower of Life.” This stunning setting is part of a 100-acre oasis that is home to Florida native plants as well as exotics and flowers from around the world. Located in Largo, this peaceful retreat has a lot of heart: Valentine’s Day 2019 marked the 13th year that lovestruck couples gathered here to tie the knot in a mass ceremony conducted by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. 12520 Ulmerton Rd., Largo, lbg.org/private-events-weddings.htm

THE GARDEN VENUE

By day, Palm Harbor’s The Garden Venue (formerly known as Earthscapes Garden Room) showcases the latest design trends for outdoor living. After hours, the perfectly arranged plants, dramatic lighting effects and water and fire elements do more than just look attractive. They collectively create the perfect space for weddings and other private functions. Groups of up to 250 can gather within an open-air lounge to enjoy this decked-out retail space and all of its amenities. Stylish, inviting and able to accommodate live music, as well as any catering needs, discovering it is like coming across a secret garden. 816 Palm Harbor Blvd., Palm Harbor, thegardenvenue.com

HOTEL ZAMORA

For a beachfront wedding with a twist, consider elevating your special event high above land to exchange vows on the Hotel Zamora’s rooftop overlooking beautiful St. Pete Beach. The view from the 360° Rooftop Lounge provides spectacular vantage points of the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway. Sync the festivities with a brilliant sunset or opt to say “I do” under a canopy of stars. Weekend nuptials are already booking through 2021 but couples with the flexibility to marry on, say, a Thursday or Sunday may find earlier availability. 3701 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, thehotelzamora.com

MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS

Magnificent oak trees, fragrant flowers, an historic mansion and aquatic elements like lily ponds, lagoons and waterfalls are defining features that make Selby Gardens an always in-demand wedding venue. The 15-acre botanical garden features two well-separated sectors, with views of the grounds, waterfront and sunsets equally enjoyable from either side, north or south. The south accommodates exclusively open-air affairs, while the north has climate-controlled covered areas. Amy Allen, who coordinates bookings and catering by Michael’s On East on Selby Garden’s behalf, selected the venue for her own wedding and held the summer ceremony on the north lawn. 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, selby.org 

MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

Its elegant design has been described as a combination of classic art museum and Mediterranean villa. Wedding parties drawn to the stately building delight in its old-world charm as well as its contemporary two-story glass conservatory complemented by an adjoining terrace, both overlooking downtown St. Petersburg’s bayfront. The MFA’s event spaces include a Spanish-style garden that’s perennially in bloom, encircled by columns and arched loggias, and a garden space combining sculptures plus plants. Groups may also gather in neighboring North Straub Park ceremonies beneath an ancient banyan tree. 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, mfastpete.org

SAFARI WILDERNESS LAKELAND

Feeling a bit adventurous? Lakeland’s Safari Wilderness invites wedding parties to surround themselves with the sights and sounds of free-roaming zebras, warthogs, antelopes and more. Guests gather at the spacious Safari Lodge before being whisked away to the towering Treehouse located in the center of the preserve, where 360-degree views of the habitat await. Optional safari tours aboard vehicles, camels or kayaks may be booked for guests as well as encounters placing people face-to-face with select wildlife. 10850 Moore Rd., Lakeland, safariwilderness.com

SUNKEN GARDENS

Towering Royal palm trees, brilliantly colored blooms and thick, lush greenery flourish throughout a four-acre paradise that could easily be mistaken for a tropical island. The fertile grounds that once served as a lakebed have remained a popular wedding spot since this landmark attraction first opened in 1935. Where else can you enjoy waterfalls, century-old gardens and, always a favorite, pink flamingos? Leave the decorating to Mother Nature or simply arrange for a tent, lights and chairs, and the stage is perfectly set for that special day. 1825 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, sunkengardens.org

TAMPA BAY WATCH

Invite guests to share your cherished day while also helping to cherish Tampa Bay’s precious waterways. Renting the 74-foot-high lighthouse includes access to the second-floor enclosed event space surrounded by wall-to-wall windows, a wraparound deck and the versatile grounds below that can host ceremonies, create great photo ops and even accommodate games like corn hole. Plus, what better way to make an entrance than aboard a boat — or perhaps a fleet of kayaks? Located near Fort De Soto Park, Tampa Bay Watch is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring Tampa Bay’s estuary. A portion of rental fees support those educational and environmental efforts. 3000 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, tampabaywatch.org

TAMPA RIVER CENTER

Located along the banks of the Hillsborough River, directly across from downtown Tampa, this new venue makes the most of its waterfront setting thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and a covered terrace facing the city’s skyline. The flexible floor plan comfortably provides indoor seating, overflow to the balcony and even incorporates the Event Lawn and dockside space just below the elevated building. Located within the 25-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, this sleek structure features lots of glass, woodwork and high ceilings that create a spacious and gracious setting. 402 W Laurel St., Tampa, tampagov.net/parks-and-recreation/featured-parks/riverfrontpark

YBOR CITY MUSEUM GARDEN

Seeking an idyllic setting for your wedding day? Few can compare with the storybook look and courtyard-like feel of the Ybor City Museum State Park garden. Featuring a centerpiece fountain, signature streetlamp specific to Ybor, ornate wrought iron accents and brick-lined paths, the open-air venue presents a picturesque setting located within a National Historic Landmark District. Guests are conveniently close to hotels, restaurants and shops selling hand-rolled cigars, perfect for wedding favors. Don’t be surprised if Ybor’s resident chickens check out the ceremony. 2009 Angel Oliva Senior St., Tampa, ybormuseum.org/garden

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