The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a picturesque setting for an idyllic, romantic wedding. Duke University maintains this award-winning botanical facility. The acclaimed area blends natural greenery with modern design elements. This North Carolina wedding venue is perfect for small to medium-sized outdoor weddings and indoor ceremonies. The historic gardens have won several awards including Trip Advisor’s Top Attraction in Durham, N.C. This facility also won Durham Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Event Space. Learn why the Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a great place to host your upcoming nuptials.
About The Sarah P. Dukes Garden
Duke University originally planned to construct a lake in the area. The school couldn’t raise enough money for the project, so it abandoned their plans. In 1934, a Duke Medical School professor suggested the school turn the property into a flower garden. Dr. Frederick M. Hanes asked Sarah P. Duke to donate $20,000 to launch the project. Landscapers finished the gardens in 1935. Unfortunately, heavy summer thunderstorms destroyed it. After Sarah P. Duke passed away in 1936, Dr. Hanes persuaded her daughter, Mary Duke Biddle, to finance a new memorial garden. Planners separated the gardens into four horticultural areas. The Doris Duke Center has a water lily pond, a white garden, wooded areas, and with an organic food garden. The Culberson Asiatic Arboretum has a pond with waterfowl and a gorgeous garden. You can also enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony here. The Bloomquist Native Plant Garden features North Carolina’s native wildlife and flora species. Finally, the Historic Gardens has classic Italianate terraces adjacent to a 100-year-old Roney Fountain.
Click to see a recent engagement session photographed at Duke Gardens …
Doris Duke Center
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens has several sophisticated spaces where couples can host their weddings. The Doris Duke Center is an elegant facility where many couples exchange their vows. Couples can also host their wedding ceremonies inside the Angle Amphitheater. The area can comfortably seat up to 140 guests. The Angle Amphitheater is only available for wedding ceremonies inside the Doris Duke Center.
Angel Amphitheater & Virtue Peace Pond
Kirby Horton Hall
Following the ceremony, you can host a seated dinner following your nuptials inside Kirby Horton Hall. Your family and friends can enjoy your special day in bliss, here. The room has neutral decor and vaulted ceilings. Beautiful exposed wooden beams accentuate the room. Polished Brazilian wood flooring and organic lighting makes the spacious room feel airy and inviting. The hall can accommodate up to 80 – 100 people for a sit-down dinner. The room also has a dance floor where you can share your first slow waltz as a wedding couple.
John J. Piva Terrace
Your party can step out onto the adjoining John J. Piva Terrace, which is a private space for receptions following the wedding. You can also host outdoor ceremonies here. The area overlooks the Virtue Peace Pond. This venue can seat up to 150 people here.
Couples who want to host a wedding ceremony without the reception should rent the Terrace Gardens. The area has a gorgeous Pergola which serves as the focal point of the gardens. These terraces have layers of lavender, interlaced tulips, irises, foxgloves, and other vegetation. The Pergola area can host up to 100 people.
This engagement slideshow below shows images captured on the Terrace Gardens and the Arched Bridge.
Click on the image to view the show!
The Fish Pool is a ceremonial space inside the Terrace Garden. The tranquil area has a gorgeous garden with a rippling stream and a stone waterfall. It is a stunning backdrop for bridal pictures. The setting can safely host 100 people.
Frances P. Rollins Overlook
The Frances P. Rollins overlook is the most intimate area at the Duke Gardens. Your guests can tour the Terrace Gardens before reaching a hilltop location framed by mature shade trees. You’ll see a variety of plants and floral blooms from this area. It’s a lovely scene for a wedding ceremony. The place can host up to 50 people.
Other Information and Amenities
The Doris Duke Center has a four-hour rental time allotment. The wedding packages come with 150 chairs for indoor weddings. You’ll also receive 60-inch round tables, eight 8-foot tables. Wedding parties receive a two-hour setup time a one-hour breakdown time. You can rent the facility for additional hours. They cannot extend past midnight. Couples must sign a contract, provide half the rental fee, and a security deposit to secure the location. Angle Amphitheater ceremonies include 150 white folding chairs, one-hour rehearsal time (on a first-come, first-served basis), and a two-hour photo shoot for bridal portraits and engagement pictures (which doesn’t include a photographer). You can hire In His Image Photography to handle your bridal portrait and engagement shoot. Wedding parties must hire caterers and vendors from an approved list. For details, visit this page. Out-of-town guests can stay at two local establishments. The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club is a luxurious hotel that offers complimentary valet service and prearranged airport shuttle service. The facility also offers complimentary guest transportation to all Duke University campuses, the University Medical Center, and the Ninth Street entertainment district. The Hilton Garden Inn Durham/ University Medical Center offers complimentary shuttle service and other amenities. Visit the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club or the Hilton Garden Inn Durham/UMC for a full listing of services they offer.
The Sarah P. Duke Gardens provides exceptional opportunities for romantic wedding day photographs. Tourists travel from around the world to visit this splendid natural setting. The area’s natural beauty is unparalleled in North Carolina. The Italian terraces and exquisite architecture have an old-world elegance. The Sarah P. Dukes is an unforgettable wedding venue, and In His Image Photography will be there.
In His Image Photography is a preferred photographer for the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and have photographed many weddings at Duke Gardens as well as the Duke University Chapel. Our professionals have photographed many engagement and bridal sessions. We know the best settings to capture stunning pictures that you’ll cherish forever. Our studio has more than 20 years of experience shooting standout wedding images. Are you a couple planning an upcoming wedding? Hire In His Image Photography. We’re passionate about filming your unique love story. Couples should contact our studio directly for wedding, bridal, and engagement session bookings and inquiries.