Weddings FAQ

Thank you for considering the Desert Museum for your special day! Please review the Frequently Asked Questions below, and if you don’t find an answer here feel free to contact me at apena@desertmuseum.org or (520) 883-3018.

The Basics — What, When, Where, and How Much

The standard wedding package at the Desert Museum is $4,300.00 and includes:

  • Your choice of ceremony and reception spaces (subject to availability)
  • Exclusive use of the spaces during your 5-hour event plus setup and clean-up time
  • Use of a ready room for dressing and finishing touches
  • Setup and breakdown of tables and chairs (varies according to space)
  • Dedicated parking area, special event entrance, and personalized signage to direct your guests
  • Museum event staff and security
  • 30 minute Desert Experience
  • Wedding rehearsal in your ceremony space the week of your event

Weddings are hosted October — mid-May at the Museum on both weekdays and weekends, and usually take place after public hours from 5:00 - 10:00 p.m., with the ceremony beginning at 5:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. You have the option of extending your event until 11:00 p.m. for an additional fee of $500.00. March, April, October, November & December are the most popular months, and Saturdays in those months book up 9-12 months in advance. Saturdays in the summer are not available due to conflicts with the Museum’s Cool Summer Nights activities.

Client setup begins at 3:00 p.m. for evening weddings. Please instruct your vendors to arrive at that time, as we cannot guarantee access prior to 3:00 p.m. Museum and catering staff will handle setup of all tables, chairs, equipment, and linens included in the wedding package. The setup time for day-time weddings will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and will depend upon the Museum’s public activities. Clean-up must be complete one hour after the contracted end time of the event. All decorations, rentals, and personal belongings must be removed from the Museum at the end of the event. Overnight storage is not available before or after your event. Vendors are responsible for their own setup and clean-up.

The Museum recommends that the wedding party do most of their preparations off-site as the Museum does not have a dedicated wedding suite available for full-day use. The Museum does provide a private dressing area for final dressing and “finishing touches”. This space varies based upon the Museum’s other activities and will be confirmed during your final walk through.

Details — Catering, décor, music, vendors, and more

Unfortunately banquet rounds are not allowed to be interchanged for the existing setup.

The Museum has an exclusive agreement with Craft Culinary Concepts, which provides all food and beverage for events on Museum property including alcohol and bar service. A separate contract is required. There is a $5,000.00 catering minimum for all Saturday evening events and $2,000.00 for all other evenings. Daytime catering minimums vary. Decorated wedding cakes may be provided by an external licensed bakery of your choice, and the cake-cutting fee is $75.00. Delivery of cakes must be coordinated with the catering manager at Craft Culinary Concepts. No other exceptions permitted without prior approval.

The Museum offers desert cactus centerpieces for rent. The cacti are planted in colorful pots. The cost is $15.00 each to rent, with a charge of $75.00 for any damaged or unreturned centerpieces. (Check availability)

All decorations must be approved by the Museum at least thirty (30) days prior to the event. Nothing may be affixed to the walls or ceiling of any facility, or to any trees or plants. Confetti, balloons, rice, sparklers, and/or “wish lanterns” are prohibited in order to protect the health and safety of the Desert Museum’s plants and animals (the Museum recommends bubbles for a “send-off” at the end of the night). The Desert Museum reserves the right to refuse any decoration. We ask that any dropped flower petals be untreated by pesticides or chemicals (available from most florists). For fire safety reasons, candles should be contained in votives or glass enclosures.

The Museum offers audio-visual packages starting at $250.00. Depending on your selection, packages may include use of the following: portable address system with microphone and music playback capability; projector and screen for photo slideshows; microphone, audio input. Your DJ may also be able to supply these items as part of their package.

You are welcome to use any DJ or live musician(s) you choose. Amplified music must end at agreed contract end time for the health and comfort of the Museum’s animals. DJs and musicians are required to provide, setup, and clean-up all of their own sound equipment. The Museum is not able to provide transportation for any vendors or equipment.

The Museum can provide a list of preferred/suggested vendors, including DJs/musicians, florists, photographers, etc. These vendors are familiar with the Museum and have demonstrated a high degree of quality and professionalism. However, you are under no obligation to utilize them.

A Desert Experience is an up-close encounter with some of the animals (up to 3 animals, 30 minutes) from the Museum’s educational and interpretive collection. Animal visitors may include small mammals, reptiles, arthropods and small raptors or parrots. It is a fantastic photo opportunity for you and your guests. The Museum cannot guarantee animals as there are a number of factors that determine which are available on any given day (scheduling, health, weather conditions, event location, etc).

Smoking and/or vaping is not permitted on museum grounds.

Yes. The Museum’s event venues, including the Green Room, Taylor Plaza, Desert Garden, Ocotillo Café, Ironwood Terraces, and Boojum Patio, are easily accessible from the special event entrance. The Museum also provides a limited number of wheelchairs for any guests with mobility issues.

No. The Museum’s staff utilizes golf carts as part of their daily activities, and they are not available for use by the client, guests, or vendors. Please encourage your vendors to bring carts or dollies as needed for their setup.

The Week Of — Setup, coordinators, rehearsal, and more

The Event Specialist will contact you to schedule a final walk-thru approximately four (4) weeks before your wedding. During this visit you will finalize all setup details including the placement of tables and chairs, and provide an updated guest count and vendor information. Any significant changes requested within fourteen (14) days of the event, up to and including the day of the event, are granted at the sole discretion of Desert Museum management and may be subject to an additional minimum $100.00 service fee.

Unfortunately, there is no storage space available for décor or other personal items prior to the start of your setup time on the day of your event (see “Basics” above for more information about setup time). If you are renting a dance floor, additional tables and chairs, specialty linens, or other items, delivery and setup should be scheduled for the day of the wedding, and must be coordinated with the Event Specialist.

The Museum recommends that all couples hire a professional planner or day-of coordinator to assist with event execution. While the Museum’s Event Specialist will be on-site throughout your event, their primary responsibility will be overseeing the facility itself. There are many small details that are often overlooked that the Event Specialist is not available to coordinate such as setting up and cleaning up décor, coordinating and paying your vendors, packing up gifts at the end of the night, collecting unclaimed favors, etc. Without a professional coordinator, these tasks will fall to your family and wedding party to manage. In the absence of a professional coordinator, please designate a trusted friend or family member to oversee setup and make last minute decisions on your behalf.

Your wedding rehearsal will take place the week of your event, usually the day before. If the Museum is hosting another wedding or event that conflicts with this time, you may be required to host your rehearsal earlier in the day or another afternoon. The date and time of the rehearsal will be confirmed during your final site visit, approximately four (4) weeks prior to your event, and must be scheduled during normal hours of operation. We recommend that your officiant and/or wedding coordinator be present to assist with your rehearsal. The Event Specialist will also be present to answer any questions that arise.

A standard set of personalized parking and directional signs is included with your facility fee to guide your guests from the Museum’s entrance on Kinney Road to the designated event parking area and special event entrance. The Event Specialist will also provide you with a PDF parking map that can be distributed to your guests and vendors.

The Museum grounds are closed at 5:00 p.m., and wedding guests are limited to the contract event space. If guests would like to visit our exhibits and gardens, we are happy to offer admission at our discounted group on the rehearsal day. Prior arrangement is required.

Photos can be taken both before and after the ceremony. Prior to 5:00 p.m., photos may be taken anywhere on the Museum grounds as long as you and your photographer remain on marked paths and public access to exhibit areas is not inhibited. After 5:00 p.m., any photos taken outside the immediate vicinity of the event spaces will require a staff escort for safety reasons. If your photographer is not familiar with the Desert Museum, please contact the Event Specialist to arrange a complimentary site visit to scout possible locations.

If rain or other inclement weather is in the forecast for your wedding day, the Event Specialist will discuss a contingency plan with you the week of your event. On the morning of your event, a final decision will be made by 10am. Ceremonies will be moved into the Warden Oasis Theater (maximum capacity is 265 people), and reception details will be modified based upon the spaces you have contracted in order to move all activities indoors. In case of cold weather, patio heaters are available to rent for $50.00 each (includes setup and fuel).

I’m Ready To Book! What Now? — Reserving a space, contracts, and payments

A signed contract and minimum $750.00 deposit are required to reserve a date and space. The deposit is non-refundable and is applied to your total facility fee. When your contract is issued, a temporary hold is placed upon the date and spaces you have requested, and you have three (3) days to return the signed contract and deposit. If the signed contract is not received within that time, your date and space(s) may be released for other bookings.

Facility fees must be paid in full thirty (30) days prior to the event. This includes any additional fees for Desert Experience, extra event time, additional labor, audio-visual setup, etc. The final payment date will be indicated on your contract. Payments may be made in installments leading up to this due date if you choose. Catering deposits and payments will be arranged with Craft Culinary Concepts directly as part of your catering contract, and includes final payment prior to the event day and a credit card on file for incidentals.

The Desert Museum accepts payment by check and all major credit cards. Checks should be made payable to “Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum” and include your name and event date. Checks can be mailed to the attention of the Event Specialist to the Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743. For credit card payments, please call the Event Specialist at (520) 883-3018 with card details or email to apena@desertmuseum.org.

The Museum does not require you to have event insurance, but you may find the minimal investment worthwhile.

Stand-alone ceremonies (no reception) may be scheduled at the discretion of Desert Museum management for a reduced fee of $2,200.00. No discounts are offered for Museum members or military.

Your deposit is non-refundable and will forfeit should you cancel the event at any time. If you cancel at least one (1) year prior to the event, the Museum will refund any additional monies paid by the Client, less a $750.00 cancellation fee. If you cancel the event less than one (1) year but more than three (3) months prior to the event, all monies paid are forfeited. If you cancel less than three (3) months prior to the event, all monies paid are forfeited and you will be charged an additional $250.00 cancellation fee. The Museum may make exceptions to this cancellation and date change policy in the event of military deployment, death in the family, or serious illness of a celebrant. Should the Museum be forced to cancel your event in the case of extraordinary, unforeseen circumstances, you will be entitled to a full refund.

The rental fees are in return for services provided and are not considered, by law, a donation. However, these fees do help sustain the Museum’s exhibits, educational programs, and conservation efforts as it pursues its mission of fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.

Summary of Fees

Wedding package base price $4,300.00
Additional event hour (to 11:00 p.m., approval required) $500.00
Audio-visual package starts at $250.00
Patio heaters $50.00 each, to rent
Retrieved from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum web site on 07-24-2024
https://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/rental_wedding_faq.php