Event Guidelines

Congratulations on your special event! The following guidelines have been put in place to better serve you, the client, and for the protection of the Garden and its amenities. Please read carefully and contact the rental office if you have any questions.

Event Guidelines 2011 (PDF)


Appearance of the Garden

Norfolk Botanical Garden will provide a clean site that must be returned in the same condition in which it was found. Those using the grounds and facilities are liable for any damage to the rented site.

Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Horticulture and Grounds Department takes pride in the appearance and overall condition of the Garden. Mowing, pruning and planting schedules are constantly changing and is dependent upon many variables, including the weather. Please keep in mind that plant conditions and blooms depend largely on Mother Nature.

Public Access

Norfolk Botanical Garden facilities are open to the public daily. Our staff will do our best to deter visitor interference; however public access will be maintained during these times.

American Bald Eagles

For the protection of American Bald Eagles nesting at Norfolk Botanical Garden, there are music limitations from December 1st to July 15th. No bagpipes, steel drums or brass instruments, both live and recorded, are permitted during nesting. In addition, a white picket fence barricades the loblolly pine in which the eagles nest. This fence runs through a few themed Gardens; the law prohibits any persons to cross over the barricade.

Garden Admission

Complimentary admission and parking for your guests is included with the facility rental for Garden Café, Baker Hall, Rose Garden Hall and ceremony sites.

Pets and Animals

No pets are permitted in Norfolk Botanical Garden at any time, except for service animals. There are no exceptions or allowances to this rule.


Smoking is not permitted in any outdoor Garden site or inside of Norfolk Botanical Garden facilities. Smoking must take place in the designated areas and be properly disposed of in the receptacles provided.

Animal Releases

The release of doves, butterflies, or any animal is strictly prohibited in the Garden.


There is a paved parking lot at Norfolk Botanical Garden that provides ample parking for your guests.

Contact Information

To provide better customer service, Norfolk Botanical Garden requests all contact information, including mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address, be updated as client information changes.

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Reservation Process

A rental contract must be signed, guidelines signed and initialed, and appropriate deposits submitted to confirm facility use. A 50% deposit is due upon signing which includes the rental fee (non-refundable deposit included) and damage deposits. All remaining balances are due 90 days prior to the scheduled event date. For events booked less than 90 days in advance, all fees are due at the time of contract signing. The Damage Deposit is refundable after the event, pending no damages or time overages have been incurred to the Garden by the client or the client’s guests or vendors and all balances are paid in full. A reservation is not complete without the signed contract and guidelines and 50% deposit; the contract is void if not returned within two weeks of issuance.


If you should cancel the rental agreement at anytime from the initial date of contract to 180 days prior to the event, Norfolk Botanical Garden will retain the non refundable portion of the deposit.

  • If you should cancel the rental agreement between 180 and 90 days prior to the event date, Norfolk Botanical Garden will retain the non refundable portion of the deposit and 10% of the rental fee.
  • If you should cancel the rental agreement less than 90 days prior to the event, Norfolk Botanical Garden will retain the non-refundable portion of the deposit and 20% of the rental fee.
  • Cancellations or postponements made within 2 weeks of the event date, Norfolk Botanical Garden will retain full amount.


NBG permits you to reschedule your event once without penalty at least 180 days prior to the original event date pending availability. If you need to reschedule within the 180 day time frame, or more than once, you will need to cancel your event thus loosing your non-refundable deposit and begin the contracting process over again as a new client.

Refunds Process

Please allow on average 4-6 weeks for any refunds, including damage deposit or cancellations, to be processed. Any refund will be distributed to the same method of payment as the initial deposit was paid.

Unforeseen Events

The client cannot hold the Garden responsible for failure to provide the basic facilities and services due to emergencies, catastrophes or interruptions of public utilities. If an Act of God were to occur preventing the event from taking place as schedule, the Garden will allow for the event to be rescheduled pending availability with no penalty. It is recommended that you research and purchase event insurance coverage in case of inclement weather, illness, or cancellation to recoup any loses.

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Ceremony Sites

The rental fee for an outdoor ceremony site is for a two hour period of time, which allows for additional setup, seating of guests, ceremony, photography sessions and departure. Photography sessions are limited to the rented garden space.

For all outdoor ceremonies held at Norfolk Botanical Garden, it is required the client designates an Event Coordinator who is not involved in the wedding party for the day of the event. This coordinator must be present with the client at the final detail appointment.


The space contracted for the wedding ceremony is also available for wedding rehearsals, pending availability. Time is limited to one hour and arrangements will be made at the final 30 day detail appointment in order to avoid conflicts with other weddings and events. Please note NBG Staff will not be present for the rehearsal.

Rain Plan

All outdoor ceremonies must have a back up plan in case of inclement weather. Norfolk Botanical Garden has one rain site available for an additional non-refundable fee. Last-minute cancellations of outdoor rental sites due to inclement weather will not be considered for refunds.


Limousines are permitted in the parking lot only. They may not load or unload in front of Baker Hall Visitors Center in the tram circle.

Unescorted driving in the Garden is strictly prohibited. Garden staff must be notified of vendors needing escorts at the final 30 day detail appointment.

Transportation for guests via tram may be made available upon request for an additional rental fee. This request must be made no later than 45 days prior to the event and is dependent upon availability.

Horse and Carriage

With approval from Norfolk Botanical Garden management, horse and carriages are permitted inside the Garden. Once approval is gained, the horse and carriage company must have at least one logistical meeting with Garden event staff at least 45 days prior to your event date in which the route of wedding traffic and trams (both private and public) will be discussed. The Garden public trams will take precedence and cannot be obstructed.


Due to the close proximity of Rose Garden Hall, Baker Hall, and the Garden Café to other outdoor areas, you must receive prior permission to play any music outside any of these facilities. Garden staff will monitor and decide upon the appropriate volume for any event both inside and outside.

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Food and Beverage

The preferred caterer at Norfolk Botanical Garden is the exclusive service provider at the Garden Café.

Clients may select any caterer from the Exclusive Catering List when renting other Garden Facilities. Under no circumstances may a caterer not on the Exclusive Catering List be used.

Alcoholic beverages may be served with the proper ABC Permit. NBG requires a copy of this permit 30 days prior to the event.

Caterer Responsibilities

If your event is catered, your catering company is responsible for the set up, break down, and clean up of the catered site. While a NBG staff member will be present for the duration of the event, the caterer must provide staff from the beginning to the end of your event. Additionally, the caterer must be contracted to staff the bar throughout the event. The event itself should end at the appropriate time to allow for break down and clean up.

All catering supplies and trash must be disposed of in the designated areas at the conclusion of the event. Caterers are responsible for sweeping and mopping kitchen and dining areas and leaving equipment properly stored. Norfolk Botanical Garden does not provide cleaning supplies; caterers must provide their own.

Baker Hall

The rental of Baker Hall includes 15 sixty inch round tables, 15 six foot tables, and 150 indoor white padded chairs. Any additional equipment must be rented by the client through their caterer or approved rental company.

Rose Garden Hall

The rental of Rose Garden Hall includes 25 sixty inch round tables, 15 six foot tables, and 240 indoor banquet style chairs. Any additional equipment must be rented by the client through their caterer or approved rental company.

Tented Events

An all day rental contract from 8am-8pm is required for any tented event. Tents and/or any other equipment may only be used with prior approval from Norfolk Botanical Garden management. Sufficient setup time must be contracted. Many areas do not accommodate staked tents; therefore water barrels must be used.


A Security Guard and NBG Event Assistant will be present for all after hours events. Both must be on the premises until breakdown of the event is complete. If additional staff is requested, the expense is $25 per hour, per person with a two hour minimum.

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Event Setup

Vendors (florists, bakers, musicians, rental company, etc) must adhere to the terms of our guidelines and it is the client’s responsibility to share these guidelines with them. Set up for your event may not begin before the contracted rental time on the day of your event. Any vendor, coordinator, or other guests that arrive early to begin setup before the designated setup time will be asked to return at the appropriate setup time. Decorations, supplies, rentals, musical instruments, and/or other items are not permitted on site prior to the contracted rental time. Clients must notify Norfolk Botanical Garden of any vendors needing access to electricity or needing a vehicle escort through the Garden at the final detail appointment.


Signs, banners, or additional decorations may not be taped, nailed, stapled, or otherwise fastened to Norfolk Botanical Garden property unless approved by Norfolk Botanical Garden management. All decorations must be removed from the rented site at the conclusion of the event.

Artificial petals/leaves, glitter, confetti, rice, balloons, fireworks (including sparklers), tiki-torches, and birdseed are not permitted for use in the Garden at any time. Hanging signs on the outside of buildings or on plants and trees is not permitted.

The pavement may not be chalked or otherwise marked to direct guests to your rented location.


Once your event is contracted, use of Norfolk Botanical Garden’s name is permitted only to announce the location of the event. The invitation can in no way imply that Norfolk Botanical Garden is sponsoring the event.


Norfolk Botanical Garden reserves the right to request any person or group of people acting contrary to rental regulations or noise policy to leave the premises. Assistance from law enforcement agencies may be acquired if this request is not immediately met.

Final Detail Appointment

The final detail appointment is required 30 days prior to the event. Please contact the wedding/rental office 45 days prior to the event to schedule this appointment. We request you bring all pertinent information per the checklist provided to the appointment, as it will be the final scheduled appointment with Norfolk Botanical Garden Staff prior to the event. At this appointment we will review and approve all logistical plans including the choice of caterer, rental company, decorations, entertainment and all set up and delivery/pick up schedules. The Norfolk Botanical Garden reserves the right to disapprove of any logistical plans and/or vendors.

Photography and Portraits

Photographs may only be taken within the area contracted for the wedding ceremony and/or reception during the clients designated rental time. A portrait session for engagement or bridal portraits is included with the rental fee for events and must be scheduled through the wedding office in advance. Portrait sessions must be scheduled Monday-Friday during normal business hours.


The client cannot hold the Norfolk Botanical Garden, its directors and staff, liable from suit, actions, damages, and expenses in connection with personal injury, illness, or property damage or theft resulting from the use of any facility at the Garden. Facilities are not locked during times of rental and Norfolk Botanical Garden is not responsible for articles left unattended or left after the conclusion of the event.

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