Weddings & Business Events

at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

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distant photo of a bride and groom standing at the edge of a field

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, chosen as the Shenandoah Valley's best garden site for marriage proposals, is also a beautiful and competitively priced setting for lush garden weddings as well as other family celebratory or memorial social events, or business social events.

Many who begin their life journey together with a proposal of marriage accepted in the arboretum, complete their saga and bring their romantic story full circle with an arboretum wedding. The arboretum offers an array of services for events of various group sizes up to two hundred fifty guests. Wedding ceremonies and other events can be in the luxurious landscaped surroundings and serene settings of various garden sites within the arboretum.

Arboretum weddings and other family social events and private or business social events have the assurance of professional and competitively priced catering and bar tending services and on campus ballroom facilities available through JMU Catering and Events. Fine catering for your event may only be provided by JMU Catering, and is just a phone call away at (540) 568-6637, weekdays during business hours.

Whether a bridal party or business event planner requires a tented ceremony, or wants blue skies, a facility for a rehearsal dinner or small indoor reception, or even a seated tented outdoor full service garden reception, arboretum staff will assist each party find the best suited arrangements for their special and unique social occasion. Click here for a printable copy of the arboretum wedding brochure.


A package price for all services shown on our itemized price list below totaling nearly $3900 in value, including everything necessary for a complete wedding event, is available by advance reservation. The wedding package price includes grounds use and site set up and tear down for up to 250 seated guests for an event ceremony and reception. The Pavilion is included for two hours on the day of the event as a staging facility for the groom and groomsmen. Ceremony site electrical connections are included. Use of a 29' x 29' tent and its side walls, and up to three 10' x 10' tents, including tent set up and tear down, are included in the package. The Frances Plecker Education Center reserved use with the Ernst Tree Terrace is included for up to two separate use time blocks of four hours each use. The building and terrace can be used the evening prior to a wedding ceremony for example, for a small catered rehearsal dinner or reception with foods and beverages ordered through JMU Catering at the reserved party's discretion. And the building can be used again, for example, on the day of the event as a dressing area for a bride and her maids, or as a facility for a small indoor post-ceremony reception, again with foods and beverages ordered through JMU Catering at the reserved party's discretion. All chairs up to 250 total, and all tables adequate for a tented reception up to 100, charges are included in the package. A white wrought iron or wood-like vinyl wedding arbor are also included in the package. There is no Photography Use Fee for wedding portrait sessions for booked arboretum weddings with a paid deposit.

At reserving wedding party's option to not order the Wedding Package, or for private or business social events, or for smaller events, event accouterments and services may be reserved and billed separately on an itemized basis:

Private and Business Site Fees
(JMU official events are exempted from site fees.)

  • Large Lawn, max party of 250
Site Fee $995
  • Frances Plecker Education Center (FPEC), with reserved Ernst Terrace,
    Or vise-versa reserved Ernst Terrace with FPEC, max standing party of 120
Site Fee $995
  • Frances Plecker Education Center without reserved Ernst Terrace
    Max party: standing 75, theater seating 50, seated dining 40
Site Fee $495
  • Ernst Terrace without Frances Plecker Ed Center, max standing party of 120, theater seated max 100, dining max 75
Site Fee $495
  • Pavilion, max party of 50
Site Fee $395
  • Jurney Stage Garden, max standing party of 30, seated max 18
Site Fee $395
  • Small Lawn, (area nearest bridge) max party of 30
Site Fee $395
  • Garden Rooms (for reserved walk–on weddings–max size 15–see reservation form)
Site Fee $395

Set-Up Services Fees

Chairs $1.50 each
Tables, 5' round (max of 6), and/or, 6' rectangular (max of 24) $7.50 each
Pavilion, this price ONLY for non-wedding, non-business socials, or as staging facility in combination with weddings, each 2 hours use $50 (no set up requested)
FPEC, this Price ONLY as a staging or dressing facility, in combination with Wedding, each 4 hours use $175 (no set up requested)
Tent, 29' x 29', includes delivery, set-up and tear down. Covers theater seating to 100, and dining seating to 60 $500
Window side walls, for 29' x 29' tent (up to four walls available), includes delivery, set-up and tear down $50 each or $175 for four walls
Tent(s), 10' x 10' (up to three tents) $125 each
Arbor, white painted iron $50
Arbor, white vinyl wood-look $100
Portrait Session, 2 hour Bridal or Engagement (Separate, not with booked event, Free with booked event) $50 each
Overtime staff charge per hour, if requested by user $25 each
Overtime facility charge per hour, if requested by user $125 each

10% discount offered to JMU alumni, faculty, and staff. Additional 10% discount offered to Friday and Sunday weddings, when schedule compatible with Saturday events. And a third 10% discount is offered for off-season events held in December, January and February.

Wedding and private or business social events for up to 250 people can rent the large lawn for a use fee of $995. Weddings or private or business social events with smaller guest group sizes can rent various location sites and buildings within the arboretum's 125 acres, at prices posted on this website page. The site fee reserves a designated area, space or building only, not the entire 125 acres of the arboretum. Wedding and private or business social events reservations are for a four hour time block. Additional time may be arranged by special request at additional hourly cost ranging from $25 to $125 per hour depending on the site or building use being extended. Walk-on, small group unpaid, unreserved weddings are not permitted. The arboretum reserves the right to interrupt and reschedule walk-on small group unreserved weddings where the arboretum was not given advance notice and reservations were not made or when the walk-on group activity negatively impacts a reserved arboretum event.

photo from the Jurney Stage Garden overlooking the lawn.

The Jurney Stage Garden Weddings for seated groups of up to 18.

photo from the Ernst Tree Terrace.

The Ernst Terrace is for standing groups of up to 120.

It is recommended that securing a facility be a top priority when planning for an arboretum wedding or private or business social event. To learn of date availability, visit this calendar, found on this site's navigation menu. To tentatively hold an available date, download the Reservation Form using the link below, complete, sign, and return by hand delivery or email attachment. Once a completed and signed copy is received in the arboretum office, the requested date is tentatively held for 10 calendar days pending receipt of deposit. A completed and signed Liability Release form is due with deposit before the expiration of the ten day hold for business reservations to guarantee the date reservation. Wedding Reservation Form and Liability Release

Parking is available on a first-come, first-serve basis for both day visitors and event visitors. Parking lots available are at the two gated entries to the arboretum including in the north lot, 18 spaces with 2 handicapped-designated spaces, and in the lot nearest to the education center, seven spaces, with 2 handicapped-designated spaces. When JMU classes are not in session, 40 spaces are available at the EJC North Lot R-5 without a permit, at the top of the arboretum on University Boulevard. Also available are Convocation Center lots F and G without a permit when JMU classes are not in session. Parking availability is shown on the 'Directions' link in satellite or map view on the bottom of this web page. For a printable digital copy of a driving map that can be sent with event invitations, open this link: Driving Directions, and Parking Map. The arboretum recommends event planners check with JMU Event Management and JMU Athletics regarding major JMU events including football games' dates which create peak visitor parking demand on campus, minimizing space availability for first come-first served parking for arboretum private social events.

The 29' x 29' tent can be erected over a straight-row, approximate center aisle theater seating area for up to 100 guests. Or, set up for standing receptions of 120 maximum guests. Last, seated dining set up for up to 48 at round tables and 80 at rectangular tables are under canopy maximums.

Wedding tents setup on the lawns of the Arboretum.

Receptions at the Frances Plecker Education Center (FPEC) can accommodate up to 40 for seated dining at round tables, 50 in theater seating with a center aisle, 75 indoors standing only receptions, and 120 in fair weather indoor/outdoor receptions when reserved with the Ernst Terrace. We recommend that for after-ceremony receptions, wedding or event planners for over 100 guests plan off-site facilities such as the JMU Festival Conference Center ballroom(s) phoning (540) 568-6637, or nearby country clubs, or hotels with ballrooms, or large restaurants, for off-site wedding receptions that can also serve as a severe-weather "Plan B" backup facility.

A back up inclement weather plan is recommended to be in place for the date of the event, for all arboretum events, and must be planned and implemented by the reserved user. Back up facilities may be churches, restaurants, or country club facilities, or facilities scheduled to be used as a reception site, determined at reserved user's sole discretion.

Wedding tables set in the Frances Plecker Building.

A fee of 20% is withheld in the event of cancellation. Cancellation is permitted for severe weather related cause like heavy rains forecast, high probability predicted rain, or high likelihood thunderstorms, until 48 hours from your reserved date and time. (A low-probability, light-sprinkle weather forecast is not considered a severe weather forecast for the purpose of 48 hour cancellation refund.) The arboretum recommends watching the NOAA seven-day forecasts, which can be accessed from the link at the bottom of this website page. Arboretum staff will work with reserved event planners who wish our staff advice for weather cancellations. For non-weather related cancellations, a written notice to cancel in person in the arboretum offices, or by US Mail that is received and date stamped by the EJC Arboretum, 780 University Blvd., Harrisonburg, VA 22807, or cancelled by email to: Morgan Paix√£o,, received in the arboretum office at least 90 days in advance of a reserved date allowing the arboretum opportunity to rebook the cancelled date. Without 90 days written notice for non-weather related cause, there is no refund.

Brides needing to plan accommodations, musicians, florists, photographers, conveyance services and more can visit: logo logo logo logo logo

Grounds open free to the public, dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.
The Arboretum offices in the Frances Plecker Ed Center are open weekdays. Calls and emails are answered from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, except holidays. Check the website calendar for holiday closings.

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Directions to the EJC Arboretum
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison University
(540) 568-3194
780 University Blvd, MSC 3705
Harrisonburg, VA 22807