If you're looking for a low-key, lush oasis in central Phoenix, look no further. The Japanese Friendship Garden is located just off the I-10, making it super convenient to find. It has a large, free parking lot for guests up to 150. They close early (3pm during the week), which means you can rent the gardens and have the place to yourself!
The garden features a large pond in the center. It has huge coi fish and ducks. There's a wide, paved walking path that circles the pond. There's easy wheelchair access for those who need it (but it's a long walk to the ceremony site for anyone in a walker).
One of the things we loved was the roaring waterfall, which drowned out the noise of the city and made you feel worlds away from Phoenix. Note, however, that you'll probably need a sound system for your vows to be heard over the waterfall and running creeks.
The ceremony site is set up with simple white chairs using the pond as the backdrop.
While we love the garden for the setting (beautiful!) and the price (surprisingly low!), we did have a few things you might want to consider:
- There were two hosts/greeters. They were dressed in jeans. You might be able to request dressier attire.
- They didn't turn off their irrigation, which went on a couple of times, covering the sidewalks. Thank goodness for knee-high boots!
- The staff forgot to set up the tables that the bride and groom requested.
- There appared to be no on-site coordinator. So if you're a DIY kind of girl, we highly recommend getting help. A day-of coordinator should be able to help avoid some of the issues we saw at a recent event.
Overall, we thought the garden provided a beautiful setting for an outdoor event and hope to attend more weddings there in the future!