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Wedding and Celebration Venue: Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE

January cover of Weddings in Houston magazine
January cover of Weddings in Houston magazine

If you’ve seen Weddings in Houston’s March issue (and if you haven’t—what are you waiting for??), you’ve no doubt been seduced by the swank, sophisticated Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE, featured on our cover (as backdrop to a beautiful bride holding a custom floral handbag by Darryl & Co.) and in our knockout “Urban Elegance” fashion spread. Recounts Weddings in Houston publisher Radhika Day, “The hip and chic hotel was the perfect setting for our fashion shoot, especially when the city was being pounded with rain.” And the “sexy bar and the cabanas by the pool actually inspired us to add to the story—it was a lot of fun!”

So here’s the scoop: Before you get too excited about having your wedding at the spectacular Sorella, we want to let you know: The property’s on-site meeting and event space will open in fall, 2010, and be able to accommodate wedding receptions for up to 300 guests. So all you super-stylish city brides who plan to wed in 2011 and beyond, make sure you check it out when it does. Word is, it’s going to be gorgeous. The rest of you glamour gals, take note:

Even if you can’t have your whole shebang at CITYCENTRE’s crown jewel (for now Hotel Sorella can accommodate very small ceremonies in its lobby lounge followed by festivities in its open-to-the-public bar and restaurant), you sure can take advantage of its European-influenced opulence in other ways.

For instance, how about getting your bridesmaids or BFFs together for a pre-wedding overnight escape? Sorella director of sales Jodi Doughty says that with its sleek “Italian designed-furnishings, hardwoods that transition to carpet in all right places [and] two- or three-seater sectional sofas,” the hotel is the perfect place to gather “a few girlfriends in your room for a great glass of wine,” followed by a divine dinner at culinary hotspot Bistro Alex, and perhaps a chick flick, with cocktails, natch, at CITYCENTRE’s Studio Movie Grill.

Speaking of escapes…there’s nothing like a little pre-wedding getaway with your future hubby to reconnect you two, and relieve the stress of constant planning. Hotel Sorella’s 520-square-foot are just the ticket, with their insanely luxurious beds, decadent walk-in showers and awesome views.

Of course, with its CITYCENTRE location, stylish design and gracious service, Hotel Sorella is also a great place for visiting guests to stay. Doughty says visitors love being able to “look down at the CITYCENTRE development from their windows, people-watch and get in on the action.” And CITYCENTRE offers much-needed “balance for the groom’s side,” she adds, in the form of dude-friendly gathering spots like the Yard House, with its burgers, big screens and 80-plus beers.

If you haven’t yet seen Hotel Sorella, we highly recommend a visit. You’ll be able to get a great sense of the space by checking out (or checking into) a room, sipping a cocktail beside the sleek fireplace at the seductive Monnalisa bar and gazing at stars, and into your fiance’s eyes, in the open-air courtyard. And if you want to star in your own on-property bridal fashion shoot? Hey, for a fee, and with a fabulous photographer on your side, you can do that, too.

Reception Decor Inspiration: Taylor Creative Weddings

TaylorDinner
Their client list—Colin Cowie Lifestyle, Versace, Bergdorf Goodman, Serena Bass, etc.—reads like a who’s who of arbiters of style and sophistication. They’ve provided spectacular props and furniture for everything from Hollywood film shoots to high-end social affairs. And now New York’s famed Taylor Creative Props has launched Taylor Creative Weddings—a special collection of furnishings, accessories and décor, along with design consultation services, tailored (if you’ll pardon the pun) just for weddings. Perhaps even YOUR wedding, Houston bride.

TaylorSuite

Taylor Creative has a distinctly modern aesthetic, marked by architectural edge, mid-century modularity, plenty of glass and chrome, and lots of sleek, bright white. But when paired with beautiful lighting and floral, these edgy pieces soften gorgeously, and evoke an atmosphere of sophisticated femininity and romance that makes us swoon.

TaylorBar

Our favorite pieces include the Victoria Pattern Ghost Chair (especially when paired with the patterned Cube Table ), the tufted white Windsor Collection and the illuminated Plexi Bar. And how about those fabulous Glo Balls for an evening al fresco reception?

TaylorCocktails

Unfortunately, Taylor Creative does not warehouse items in Houston—BUT, they will send whatever you want via truck from New York (for the right price, of course). For the rest of us, the Taylor Creative Weddings’ site is a source of inspiration and ideas, and a GREAT resource to share with our phenomenally talented Houston wedding consultants, rental companies, florists or décor providers.

Make the Most of Your Wedding Budget

We had so much great advice we just couldn’t squeeze into our upcoming Weddings in Houston magazine story on maximizing the impact of your wedding budget, we decided a blog post was in order. Let’s face it: These are tough times. Now more than ever, Houston’s style-savvy brides are searching for ways to get the most bang—whether in decor, fashion, food, etc.—for their wedding budget buck.

Lucky for us, hometown wedding coordinator extraordinaire Karen Brown of Karen For Your Memories has these 7 essential tips for getting the most for your wedding money, however much you plan to spend. Don’t event THINK about planning your big day without reading this first!

1.    Cut back on the number of people invited. This gives you a chance to spend more on food, décor, entertainment, or whatever will make you happy.
2.    Order invitations from a reputable dealer…but create your own save-the-dates and programs.
3.    If you are searching for a location that is different, but generally less expensive, check out small art galleries. Just be sure that the art on display during your wedding/reception is something you want to be included in your décor. Another lower cost venue is a garden club where you have beautiful grounds to work with. Just make sure there is an indoor area for backup, in case of bad weather.
4.    Find magazine photos of things that you love and work with your consultant to try and adapt them to your wedding and budget. I had one bride who fell in love with a hand-painted aisle runner of black-and-white paisley. We started searching wallpaper stores and found a similar pattern that could be used, but for less cost. One double roll provided the runner all the way down the aisle. We taped it directly to the wooden floor with tape the color of her green accents.
5.    Add dummy layers to the bottom of your cake. We try to arrange to have the cake moved into the back before being cut and served to the guests, so sometimes all but one layer of the cake is a dummy, and sheet cakes are already cut and plated in the back and ready to be served. You still have a beautiful display cake that is a great focal point, but you spend less money. The guests won’t know unless you tell them!
6.    Never sacrifice memories for other areas that seem to be important to you at the moment.  Photography and videography are probably the most valuable things you will take with you from your wedding—besides your new mate, that is.
7.    Always go for quality, not quantity.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thanks, Karen!

Make it Personal: Marry Monograms

Marry Monograms Rose
Marry Monograms Rose

We go to a LOT of weddings. And the ones that we love most, the ones that linger longest in our memories, are those weddings where the wedding couple’s personal touch is on everything from flowers to food to favors.

One of the most elegant ways to personalize your wedding, Houston bride, is with a sophisticated monogram logo bearing the initials or names of you and your new spouse. Monogram logos can be used to put your imprint on wedding items including:

–save-the-date cards and invitations
–aisles
–dance floors
–cakes
–wine bottles
–water bottles
–favors

Marry Monograms Wine
Marry Monograms Wine

For versatile, memorable monogram logos, we adore Marry Monograms. For a very reasonable price, MM will create a downloadable JPEG-format logo that you can provide to your invitation designer, cake baker, favor-maker, dance-floor provider—pretty much any vendor whose product can be imprinted. Monogram style categories—MM has more than 200 standard designs available, and can do custom work as well—include Classic, Contemporary, Simple and Romantic, and many logo styles can include your wedding date or wedding locale.

Marry Monograms Dance
Marry Monograms Dance

HWB tip: In the market for fun bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts or bachelor/bachelorette party favors? Use your MM monogram to customize clutches for the ladies and caps or T’s for the gents!

How to Pick Your Wedding Date

He’s popped the question, you’ve said, “Yes,” the ring sparkles oh-so-fetchingly on your finger, all is well in the land of true love. Now all you need to do is pick a wedding date, Houston bride-to-be. And with 365 days to choose from in any given year, that should be easy, right? Not exactly.

Even if you’re not one of those sentimental or superstitious sorts who has to have all the stars precisely aligned on her wedding date, many days are simply not feasible for reasons of his or your work or school schedule. Factor in other potential schedule conflicts, plus factors like weather and venue availability, and that yearlong calendar looks a whole lot shorter.

Here are some common-sense guidelines to follow in picking the best date for your big day.

Season

This is Houston, which means seasons can play a big part in the type of wedding you have, and also in its cost. Because of extreme temperatures and humidity, and a general desire among Houstonians to NOT subject out-of-towners to our fair city’s summer swelter, July and August typically are not top choices for Houston weddings. On the other hand, you just may be able to negotiate a great deal on your event venue if you choose an off-season date.

Fall, on the other hand, tends to be a lovely season for weddings in Houston, with its milder temps and plethora of great activities for visiting guests to enjoy. But fall also overlaps with storm season. We’re all well aware of September, 2008’s, Hurricane Ike, which blasted across Houston leaving destruction—and devastated brides-to-be—in its wake. Sure, Ike is an extreme example, but even milder storms can affect wedding plans, including guest travel, tenting and, of course, anything scheduled to take place outdoors. If you do opt for an autumn wedding, make sure you have contingency plans in place, especially for events with outdoor elements.

Spring is an ideal season for a Houston wedding when it comes to weather, floral choices, etc.—but the popularity of the season comes with the challenge of venue and vendor availability, so start planning early. And avoid the week before April 15! As for winter, it’s a favorite for nuptials here in Houston and offers a great opportunity to plan a “winter wonderland” wedding. But if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to choose your florals wisely—many blooms are not in season in winter months, and imported exotic flowers can be exorbitant.

Holidays/Special Events

Sure, it might seem like a totally neat-o idea to get married on Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve. But think about it—if your anniversary were NOT on Valentine’s Day, you’d get TWO romance-fests a year rather than a mere one. And do you really want to run the risk of having your wedding guests treat your celebration like an all-you-can drink blowout? Probably not. Guests also may have their own family commitments during major holidays, while flights often are hard to come by and airfares are at a premium, making it difficult for some to attend. When it comes to picking your wedding date it’s best to avoid major holidays, and the weeks immediately before or after. (Though a holiday theme wedding can be fun any weekend of the year!)

Also important to avoid are special events or annual events. Planning a June wedding? Better find out if anyone on your guest list is planning to graduate that month. A winter wedding? Not on Super Bowl weekend, especially if you, your fiancé or anyone whose attendance you can’t live without is a major football fan (and imagine the Super Bowl/anniversary conflicts for years to come!). Got a pregnant bridesmaid or other important guest? Make sure your wedding doesn’t fall on her due date or in the three months (at least) after she delivers.

Day of the Week

Saturday is the most popular day for weddings—except for Jewish weddings, which are often scheduled for Sundays to avoid taking place on the Jewish Sabbath, and some Indian weddings as well. If you, like the majority of brides, are planning to have a Saturday wedding, make sure you start your planning early, especially if you are determined to have your reception at one of Houston’s most popular wedding sites. These venues often book up a year or two in advance, especially for prime-season Saturdays. Allowing yourself ample flexibility in selecting a venue will go far toward helping you find the right site on the right date for your marriage to Mr. Right.