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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.

Around Town: Uptown Water Wall Park Has New Permit Reqs & Fees, Same Romantic Vibe

Uptown Water Wall
Uptown Water Wall

Not so long ago, a happy Houston couple and their photographer had only to find a relatively quiet hour of the day to get great engagement or wedding photos at the Water Wall. Not so any more.

Sure, you can still pose for fabulous wedding pix and even get married or renew your vows in front of the famed Philip-Johnson-designed sculptural fountain, between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week. But you’ll have to email Uptown Water Wall Park or call 713.552.2800 to reserve the space (you can do so up to 10 months in advance) AND get a mandatory permit. You’ll also have to pay a fairly hefty fee (how hefty depends on the number of people in your group and how much you plan to impact the park).

Here’s the 411 on fees:

For Engagement/Wedding Photos: $250, whether your photos are being shot by a professional, or by an amateur photographer with a “professional-looking camera,” says park administrator Jane Serbin.

For Weddings/Vow Renewals/Events: $300 for a standing-only, two-hour-max ceremony or event with fewer than 20 people. To have chairs, tables or “anything that touches the grass,” Serbin says, it’s a $1,000 fee + $3,000 deposit—but you do get four hours instead of two. Bonus. For larger groups or more complex weddings (yes, you can have food, alcohol, music, etc., but you’ll need permits for those, too), fees can range as high as $10,000 + $30,000 deposit. Contact the park for details.

If it makes you feel better, fees go toward maintenance of the popular public park.
And if storm clouds should threaten to put a damper on your party, Serbin says you can get your fee back as long as you contact the park office up to one minute before the start time indicated on your permit. Whew.

So does the romance and mystique of the Water Wall merit the price? That’s for you and your beloved to decide, dear Houston bride.

South Asian Weddings: Baraat at the Omni Houston Hotel Galleria, Aug. 2

Photo: J. Cogliandro
Photo: J. Cogliandro

Much more than your run-of-the-mill bridal fashion show, the Aug. 2 “Baraat at the Omni Houston Hotel Galleria” was a spectacular showcase of the best in South Asian wedding style, décor and food trends, set in the hotel’s gorgeous new Regency Ballroom.

The show’s 300 attendees enjoyed champagne, South Asian and American menu specialties and sweets (all gratis—the whole bash was free to the public), while they perused offerings from 19 expert vendors, including decorators, floral designers, jewelers and photographers.

As if that wasn’t enough to entice South Asian brides and their families, guests got to indulge in treatments courtesy of the Omni’s own Mokara Spa. Hourly door prizes and special offers from featured vendors sweetened the deal that much more.

For Omni director of food and beverage Zee Qureshi, the event was an opportunity to demonstrate his, and his staff’s, inimitable expertise in South Asian cuisine and customs. He points out that the property offers both halal meat and divine vegetarian entrees—all part of “an extensive South Asian menu that caters to every region of South Asia.”

Omni director of catering Georgia Graugnard adds that the hotel specializes in South Asian wedding rituals including the traditional mehndi, sangeet, baraat and pheras ceremonies. Plus, with an outstanding array of reception space, including the opulent Regency Ballroom (product of the hotel’s recent $35 million renovation), which can accommodate 750 guests, the Omni has room to accommodate the large guest groups typical of South Asian weddings. On top of that, “We offer special rates for out-of-town guests and a lovely suite for the bride and groom,” she says. “Our goal for every wedding is to create a lifetime of memories.”

Getting an early start on wedding planning, or know a South Asian bride who might be? Good news: The Omni’s inaugural South Asian wedding show was such a smash success, the hotel plans to make it an annual event. Call 713.871.8181 or click here for more information.

Photo: J. Cogliandro
Photo: J. Cogliandro

A Peek Inside: Upcoming Open Houses

Like a neighborhood open house, a venue open house is a great way to get inside an unfamiliar place, have a look around, meet and greet nice people and enjoy a bite or two. Unlike most neighborhood open houses, however, a venue open house is meant to attract you to the potential site of what just might be the most important occasion of your life.

Fortunately for Houston brides, the city is simply swimming in spectacular wedding venues. The toughest thing for most to-be-weds is deciding which of Houston’s lovely locales to book for their big day.

Many Houston venues routinely throw open their doors and invite brides in for an exclusive look. Here are three open houses to whet your wedding-venue appetite. These all fall on the same day, same time—Aug. 9, 1-3 p.m.—so either pick the one that sounds most enticing to you, or hopscotch to all three if you dare!

Either way, we suggest you make sure to ask plenty of questions (“What table options do you offer?” “How many people can this room accommodate for cocktails?” “Can I bring in my own décor vendor?”) and bring a digital camera to snap pix. Attend with your fiancé, if at all possible, or at the very least, make sure to bring your maid of honor, mother or a close friend—a second opinion is always a good idea when choosing your wedding location.

Photo Courtesy of Sweetwater Country Club

Sweetwater Country Club
4400 Palm Royale Blvd.
Sugar Land, TX 77479
Feast your eyes on crystal chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking lush lawns and sparkling lakes at this Fort Bend County gem.

Photo Courtesy of Fontenot Grand Mansion

Fontenot Grand Mansion
5807 Spring Stuebner Road
Spring, TX 77389
Stately columns, bubbling fountains, sparkling chandeliers—all this and expert on-site wedding-planning assistance await you at the Fontenot.

Photo Courtesy of Downtown Aquarium

Downtown Aquarium
410 Bagby St
Houston, TX 77002
Imagine the thrill of a 50,000-foot cylindrical sea-life tank as the centerpiece of your reception. It’s at the Downtown Aquarium, which also features hand-painted ceilings and sumptuous surroundings.

Style Alert: Birdcage Veils

Photo: Larry Fagala
Photo: Larry Fagala

Soft, sensual, romantic. Today’s most coveted bridal hairstyles are leaning toward a more natural look, with accents of pearl, crystal, flowers or feathers for added elegance. Some of the most flattering styles include half-up-half-down, the loose French braid, the over-the-shoulder side ponytail and flowing waves lifted gently from the face with jeweled barrettes. Of course natural doesn’t mean unkempt. You’ll want your bridal hairstylist to assure your soft ‘do stays done through the day and night by applying the right flexible-hold product and securing hair accessories well.

For those of you with shorter locks, or a passion for vintage glamour, you’ll be pleased to know that ANOTHER hot trend taking hold of brides’ heads across the country is the retro-chic birdcage veil.

The birdcage veil is a short, circular veil that is typically attached to the hair with a comb or with pins. Most commonly, a birdcage veil is worn with a blusher—a section of veil that usually covers the bride’s face almost to her chin during the processional, and is pulled back to reveal the bride’s face for the ceremony.

Birdcage veils are typically made from Russian or French netting, which has an open pattern that covers but does not really conceal the bride’s face. Often adorned with feathers or silk flowers, birdcage veils also can be accented with vintage brooches or other heirloom jewelry (something old, something borrowed, etc.).

These sweet, subtle veils evoke Old Hollywood glamour, but are perfectly suited to modern hairstyles from textured bobs to gamine cuts to low, blunt ponytails. They look lovely over nape-bound updos, too.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl wore one over beautifully back-swept bangs for her wedding to musician Josh Kelley. Drew Barrymore sported a snazzy one over darling finger-waves at the “Grey Gardens” premiere (O.K., technically not an actual wedding, but brides aplenty took notice!). Reese Witherspoon’s character beamed from behind one during the wedding scene in “Sweet Home Alabama.” And you can get ’caged, too, Houston bride. For ideas, check out birdcage veil specialist  Emma’s Bridal Boutique or click on our bridal gown & accessory vendor listings and start the search for your perfect veil.

Photo courtesy Emma’s Bridal Boutique
Photo courtesy Emma’s Bridal Boutique