Waterfront Botanical Gardens

Looking for a beautiful and unique Louisville wedding venue? You have to check out the Waterfront Botanical Gardens!

Waterfront Botanical Gardens, Louisville Kentucky 

If you’re a newly engaged couple looking for a dream-worthy wedding venue in the Louisville area, we think you might really love the Waterfront Botanical Gardens!

This sweet spot is fantastic for anyone looking for the versatility of an indoor and outdoor wedding that you can have all in one place and the earthy, whimsical vibes are just a cherry on top.

What makes a place extra special is always knowing the history of a place and this one dates back all the way into the 1800s!

As you may know, the Waterfront Botanical Gardens resides in The Point, one of Louisville’s oldest city areas.

This spot was once a popular bustling summer retreat for prosperous French families in Louisiana. You may have heard how Fulton Street was lined with summer homes all along the Ohio River and this is the spot.

Unfortunately flooding in 1832 and 1845 caused serious damage to nearby homes destroying them.

As time evolved The Point transformed into a working class neighborhood. With a mix of small factories, mills, cottages, and small brick homes, the neighborhood was home to anyone who worked in the area. Butchers, mill laborers, weavers and the like.

Sadly, the river flooded again and in 1883 it crested at an alarming 66 feet, breaching the levee that protected the city. This put The Point under 30 feet of water and it wouldn’t be the last time. A few more times this area suffered from the rising water of the Ohio River.

But what you’ll never believe is what happened to the area next! The area became the Ohio Street Dump and colonies of wild pigs were known to roam to the area to scavenge for food. Yes, you read that right.

During WWII, many residents used the dump as a source of income, scavenging for paper, cloth, and metal, much of which came from the city’s flood-damaged homes, these items were then sold to recyclers as part of the war effort.

Eventually things began to change again, dirt and rock fill were added to seal the surface of this previous landfill. The dirt was filled to approximately 25 feet deep, which was then covered in grass.

An important sidenote to this history, in 1999 a $1.5 million trust was left behind from Helen Harrington, a prior member of Botanica. Her desire for the money was to have the organization build a botanical garden and conservatory in Louisville.

Fast forward to 2009 and the location of the previous city dump and landfill was deemed no longer an area of environmental concern. It was at this time that the Botanica organization selected this site for the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. An extensive title search and master plans delayed completion until 2013.

Another significant help in the development of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens are Emil and Nancy Graeser. Emil, Nancy and their family are huge supporters of the Waterfront Botanical Gardens. Fun fact, Emil has been passionate about Bonsai trees since his youth when he sent away for a Bonsai tree he saw in an advertisement. His dream of a Bonsai garden would become a reality.

Emil and Nancy introduced a family friend to the project when he was looking for a grand way to honor his wife, and thanks to George Duthie, the Mary Lee Duthie gardens will surround of the Graeser Family Education Center.

In all, it is incredibly beautiful to know that the Waterfront Botanical Gardens has had such a wild trajectory. A symbolism of our own life’s journey, as it rollercoasters through the ups and downs.

For a place that once housed the finest luxury homes, then became a wasteland, a literal dump, and now sits as a beautiful waterfront garden, it’s a remarkable and breathtaking transformation when you think about it.

Today this 23-acre site has developed 4 acres, with another 2 underway for a Japenese Garden.

Guests can come for the day and walk through, admiring the constantly blooming and transforming gardens, or come for a workshop or two. There are family programs and even a camp for kids.

Three main events hosted each year at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens are Derby Events, Spring Bonsai Weekend, and of course the winter holiday Gardens Aglimmer light show.

With so much beauty around and a site that’s as vast as it is, this spot is a seriously swoon worthy location to have your wedding! Plus think of all the money you can save on decor with natural beauty all around.

The Waterfront Botanical Gardens can host your engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony and reception. The event spaces are unique and blur the lines between indoor and outdoor, a year round dream!

The Graeser Family Education Center is surrounded by a 360 glass exterior with views of the gardens and a patio that overlooks Beargrass Creek. You might think you are limited to small intimate weddings in a garden type venue, but this space can host up to 250 people!

There are two outdoor spaces, West Plaza and South Plaza which can both accommodate large tents. These outdoor spaces are perfect for a cocktail hour under the warm glow of the afternoon setting sun or for dancing the night away under the expanse of a starry sky.

What’s more is both of these spaces have access to Beargrass Creek Parkway, a path that leads to a waterfall and wooded garden. Can you imagine your wedding photos in a dream-like setting such as this?

West Plaza at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens has a stunning water wall, a picture perfect frame for your wedding photos, and a bonus of the Louisville skyline in the distance. South Plaza is also gorgeous with views of the Louisville skyline, so either way you can’t lose.

Really you need to see these spaces to truly take in their glory and imagine yourself having your wedding day here. One thing is for certain, you will not be disappointed.

Noteworthy Features

An approved vendor list helps you narrow down your search.

Pricing & Collections

– Rental during peak season (April-End of October): $6,000
– Rental during off-season: $4,500
– The Graeser Family Education Center includes a variety of tables and chairs in the rental
– Outdoor furniture is required to rent for both of the plazas

You can click here to reach the Waterfront Botanical Gardens rentals page.

Explore all the details of the gardens on their website here.

Want to see what your wedding could look like at the Waterfront Botanical Gardens? Check out this wedding and this engagement photo shoot that Green Apple Photography was honored to capture.

Want to keep exploring? Click here to go back to the Louisville Wedding Venues main page.