A Room with a View
Photo: Mustard Seed Photography
Venue: Ashton Gardens North
Sprawling, spacious, and, after a few seasons of abundant rain, very green, the Houston area has much to offer the wedding couple seeking a special venue, where indoor elegance and outdoor beauty go hand in hand. Whether nature’s bounty is glimpsed through stately windows, from the climate-controlled comfort of a regal ballroom, or enjoyed in its pure al fresco form, the region’s country clubs, estates, mansions and gardens offer many pastoral delights. In this feature, we present some of our favorite spaces for unique, and uniquely private, wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Pine Forest Country Club
Set on 220 landscaped acres in easy-to-reach West Houston, Pine Forest Country Club offers convenience, superb service and delightful views, in equal measure.
Start your special day with a ceremony on the club’s balcony, overlooking the Jay Riviere-designed golf course, where the addition of just a few well-placed floral arrangements will enhance the prime outdoor setting. Then, make your dramatic staircase entrance into the venue’s private ballroom, where “two very large, rustic chandeliers” provide a sense of grandeur, while “windows and adjoined terraces offer a grand, panoramic view,” notes director of catering Stella Haral.
Her favorite options for treating your guests with unmatched hospitality? “Include a lot of specialty drinks on the menu, and traditional food, with late-night snacks, and a dessert station to enhance the wedding cake.”
Sweetwater Country Club
“As you drive past multi-million-dollar homes, through oak-lined boulevards, you know you have arrived at excellence,” notes Jennifer Keefe, director of catering for Sweetwater Country Club, located just 25 minutes from downtown Houston.
For a comfortable indoor setting with all the splendor of the outdoors, “Our floor-to-ceiling windows, which overlook our spectacular golf course, give the feeling of being in a garden setting,” she says. Post-ceremony festivities take place in the club’s sophisticated ballroom, where guests can enjoy fusion menus, luxurious lounge furnishings, and a chef-attended ceviche bar, followed by late-night revelry at a 25-foot-long bar with patio access—“the perfect place to party into the wee hours of the morning!”
The Springs Events
With multiple locations throughout the Houston area, The Springs Events has plentiful options for couples seeking rustic elegance with unparalleled privacy. One of The Springs most popular venues, The Springs at Angleton, boasts a “colonial, plantation-style wedding venue set among some of the most beautiful, towering oak trees you’ve ever seen,” says president of operations Danny German. “Our two-story reception hall, with its grand, handcrafted wood staircase and gorgeous chandelier, along with a one-of-a-kind, Charleston, S.C.-inspired outdoor ceremony gazebo, beneath the sprawling, towering oak trees,” provide the ideal setting for a wedding with easygoing Southern charm. Enhance your Springs wedding with “gobos, lighting, personal photos of the bride and groom in your table centerpieces…and selfie stations” for hands-on fun, and great photo opps!
The Briar Club
At The Briar Club, located adjacent to Houston’s tony River Oaks and West University neighborhoods, rich tradition blends with modern amenities, for an unforgettable wedding experience.
Primarily a reception site, The Briar Club’s recently renovated 6,000-square-foot ballroom features vast windows that “bring in natural light, while giving your guests the opportunity to view the Houston skyline,” says director of catering Amanda Hough. “We can accommodate up to 400 guests in our ballroom, with a pre-function area and terrace perfectly suited for cocktail hour,” and can incorporate “garlands, dripping floral and greenery,” along with “family-style meals”—a favorite of Hough’s, who says “they are a great way to include your family members on this very special day.”
The Gardens At Madeley Manor
Lush grounds and majestic, century-old oak trees make The Gardens at Madeley Manor in Conroe a “perfect location for celebrating under a starry sky,” says events manager Marjorie Thai.
Couples can opt to say their vows in either the charming garden gazebo or indoor chapel, then party the night away with up to 200 of their closest friends and family members in a fairytale tent decked out with string lighting, for a true garden-party feel. And coming soon: “We are very excited about the addition of The Conservatory to our venue this year,” Thai notes. “This special location will be another breathtaking option for all kinds of occasions, but especially for wedding ceremonies and receptions of up to 100 people.”
Ample space makes The Villagio an ideal location for couples who desire the intimacy of a private venue, with room to accommodate all of their friends and family. The venue’s lovely outdoor rose garden is a favorite for seasonal ceremonies, while the indoor chapel can fit 300 guests, if weather is a concern. For large receptions, The Villagio’s two ballrooms can be combined to accommodate up to 700 seated guests—while, for the wedding couple, a grand, winding staircase makes for an impressive newlywed entrance. Villagio event planner Trish Nguyen notes that the venue’s all-inclusive packages make it an excellent choice for busy couples: “The couple just shows up—we will take care of the rest!”
The Woodlands Country Club
For lush forest vistas, you can’t match The Woodlands. And no private venue takes better advantage of the area’s greenery than The Woodlands Country Club. Notes private events director Annemarie Apligian, “Our freestanding Legacy Ballroom, which can seat up to 300 people, features a wraparound patio and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning panoramic views of the club’s Palmer Golf Course, while indoor and outdoor fireplaces, modern light fixtures and custom woodwork complete the exquisite setting for any type of event.” Enhance the club’s “beautiful lakefront views and large trees” with “floral arches, wine barrels and lanterns,” for a “lavish, elegant wedding…or a simple and stunning reception,” she adds.
Whether you choose to say your “I do’s” outdoors, beneath the flower-bedecked gazebo, or indoors, inside “a chapel that seats up to 200, and is incredibly unique in that it offers a gorgeous garden view,” our Heather’s Glen wedding will be one guests won’t forget, notes venue owner Heather George. Indoor receptions take place in the Garden Room, while the venue’s chandelier-accented “outdoor lounge area is a huge hit for cocktail hour, with its climbing ivy and covered outdoor space,” George notes, adding that lawn games are a popular addition to take full advantage of the outdoor fun. Plus, she says, “Couples love to take romantic photos on the mansion’s wraparound porch, and in the surrounding gardens,” where waterfalls, flowerbeds and fountains abound.
With locations in North Houston and West Houston, Ashton Gardens offers accessibility and consistency: Both locations feature all the exceptional ballroom elegance, views and ceremony space a couple could wish for.
Ceremonies are a special focus at Ashton Gardens, where the beautiful chapel features “floor-to-ceiling windows and soaring wood beams”—the ideal space for an “outdoor wedding feel without the stress of the unpredictable Houston weather,” notes vice president of sales and marketing Stephanie Selaiden.
After the ceremony, guests need only shift to the adjacent ballroom, where they can enjoy more stunning outdoor views while celebrating. “Wedding couples are busy people,” Selaiden observes. “They juggle careers and kids, and are often working while trying to earn a degree, and they have less and less time to plan their weddings. We have been hosting wedding couples for over 11 years, and we provide everything, allowing the wedding couple, family and friends to relax on the wedding day.”
Located just 30 minutes from both Houston and Galveston, and set on a private lake, Kemah Gardens features “a fountain, four acres of gardens, and a 150-capacity climate-controlled event facility, plus a luxurious bridal suite and a spacious groom’s room,” notes lead event coordinator Ciria Rybicki. The 5,000-square-foot Kemah Gardens estate also has three bedrooms with private baths, meaning that the wedding couple, and their special guests, can experience the relaxation of a destination wedding, at a destination within a short drive of home. Take advantage of Kemah Gardens’ relaxed ambiance with decor touches including mason jars, lace, burlap and lots of candles, along with a DIY photo booth, and a barbecue-type eception featuring family-style service, sangria and fun signature cocktails.
With its picturesque barn, originally built by the Moffitt family as a horse barn, and converted into “a gorgeous venue that includes chiffon draping and chandeliers, while still keeping the integrity of a barn,” notes event coordination manager Christine Krauss, Moffitt Oaks provides a distinctive setting for rustic-elegant wedding celebrations. For a touch more glamour, “We also have our ballroom, which appeals to everyone, with its Swarovski-crystal chandeliers, brick fireplace and beautiful bar.”
For upcoming weddings—including, perhaps, your own—couples are bringing in hanging decor, paper lanterns, glitter-topped doughnuts, and floral cake tables—“gorgeous!” notes Krauss.