Venues We Love: The Phoenix Special Events Facility and B&B

Planning a wedding can be a stressful experience. Your wedding weekend shouldn’t be one. We love that The Phoenix Special Events Facility lets you buy out the entire site, including rustic-elegant event space, plus three charming bed-and-breakfast guest rooms, for an entire four days, at a very pretty price.

That means that you get from Thursday to Sunday to put the final touches on, fully enjoy, and even recover a little bit from your special day. And if you want to have all your wedding-weekend events in one place, you can do that, too. And what a place it is: 75 acres of picturesque countryside in Weimar, a mere 80 miles from Houston. You can enjoy a private pre-wedding celebration with your nearest and dearest, and the next day exchange your vows beneath a canopy of leafy oak boughs beside a sparkling lake, then dine and dance the night away, even treat your guests to a spectacular fireworks show, before retreating with your new hubby to the comfort of your private guest room. Without ever getting in a car.

The Phoenix is very accommodating to vendors, too—bring all your own, or use theirs. Owner and event coordinator Bruce Koehn is on hand to help you plan everything from start to finish, or simply help ensure that all runs smoothly on your big day. If you’re looking for comfort, relaxation and oodles of Southern hospitality for your Houston-area wedding, you really oughtta check out The Phoenix. Call Bruce at 979.733.0304 to schedule your visit—and tell him you found The Phoenix on the Houston Wedding Blog!

What Can Be Learned From Chelsea’s Wedding?

Now that the guests (and throngs of reporters and camera crews) have all gone home, and Chelsea Clinton and new hubby Marc Mezvinsky are settling into what will hopefully be a long and loving married life, we’ve had a chance to think about what Houston brides can learn from the presidential daughter’s wedding.

First off: Go big, if you will, but don’t go over the top. Chelsea didn’t have much choice when it came to the size of her invite list (about 400 guests reportedly attended the Rhinebeck, N.Y. nuptial celebration), but she did have many choices when it came to the scale of her wedding’s design. With help from Boston-based wedding planner Bryan Rafanelli, Chelsea kept things simple and elegant, relying heavily on the inherent beauty of the Beaux-Arts-style Astor Courts, her wedding venue.

Also: Make it about YOU. Yes, Chelsea had a LOT of folks to please, from her president dad to her secretary-of-state mom to her fiance’s family, heads of state, dignitaries and Hollywood types, not to mention her own dear friends and colleagues, and Marc’s, too. But she still managed to have her wedding align with her personality and tastes. Case in point: Chelsea, a vegan, might not have expected EVERYONE to eat an entirely animal-product-free menu (heck, the girl served shortribs!), but she did insist on a gorgeous, and, we hear, absolutely delicious, gluten-free, vegan wedding cake, from La Tulipe Desserts. After all, what good is a wedding cake if the bride herself can’t eat it?

And finally: Have fun! Even while a no-fly zone was in effect overhead and security swarmed the Astor Courts grounds, Chelsea still managed to have a great time at her wedding—AND make it fun for guests. The bride, groom and family members (yup, including President Clinton) got hoisted in chairs for a traditional hora just like at every Jewish wedding everywhere (Marc and his family are Jewish), the 18-piece big-band ensemble had folks kicking up their heels on the dance floor, and the after-party on the tennis courts, which featured ’80s classics and top-40 hits, apparently had revelers raging until after 4 a.m.!

So we say, thank you, Chelsea, for showing us how it’s done. And congratulations!

For a great rundown on why Chelsea Clinton is such an inspiring bride, and a bit on Chelsea’s wedding in the annals of presidential-children’s-weddings history, click here. Enjoy!


Runner Rules: The When, Where and Wow of Wedding Aisle Runners


No matter where you plan to say, “I do,” an aisle runner makes the ceremony site look complete. Traditionally, ceremony ushers roll out the runner (which is secured near the altar) from altar to aisle entrance to signal the start of the processional. And if you’re a traditional bride getting married in a traditional church ceremony, this may be the path you choose.

La Bella Storia - Trey W
The Original Runner Co.

But don’t think you need to stick to conventional customs when it comes to runners. With so many brides tying the knot in unconventional settings—in hotel lobbies, on lawns, in museums, on rooftops, etc.—practicality often trumps tradition in the area of runner setup.

The Original Runner Co.
The Original Runner Co.

For outdoor ceremonies, especially those on grass or sand, you might choose to create a “runner” out of rose petals, or paper or fabric confetti—any scattered material, really, that allows you to walk safely and comfortably without snagging a heel and risking a ripped runner, or worse, a stumble or fall.

If you prefer a more traditional look, you can secure your fabric runner to wood flooring, creating a kind of runner boardwalk that allows bride, groom and wedding party to proceed (and recede) without incident. You won’t be able to do the traditional pre-processional rollout, but you will get the benefits of special-occasion grandeur and everyday safety in equal measure.

The Original Runner Co.
The Original Runner Co.

If you are investing in a custom runner—we especially love ones by The Original Runner Co., which makes non-slip fabric runners in a variety of extraordinary designs from romantic and classic to ultra-hip—you probably want to get the most for your money. It’s perfectly acceptable to have the runner fully rolled out prior to guest arrival, so that guests may enjoy its elegance from the moment they arrive. Just make sure the center aisle is roped off or otherwise blocked (with a floral arrangement or other removable pretty thing) so that arriving guests don’t use the aisle for locating their seats, and risk marring its pristine loveliness with footprints before the processional.

And remember, your aisle runner need not follow the straight and narrow—plenty of local florists and decorators can create winding, zig-zagging, swirling or otherwise non-linear aisle adornment. As for color, you’re not bound to tradition there, either. Yes, once upon a time, when evil spirits were thought to lurk beneath the earth’s surface, a white aisle was laid out to keep these baddies at bay and protect the bride’s purity. But this is 2010, and these days any color goes: tangerine, tourmaline, evergreen…pick your palette, and off you go, on your way to happily ever after.

High Fashion Fabrics Takes Wedding Style to New High

Photos: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography

There’s a new name in Houston wedding rentals…that just happens to be a very familiar name in fabrics. You may know High Fashion Fabrics as Houston’s largest fabric store—the place to go if you’re in the market for a few yards of cool Calaveras skull-patterned cotton or a handful of sparkling crystal buttons.

Photo: Serendipity Photography

Well, now High Fashion is also the place to go if you’re looking for a totally unique table linen or, say, a few hundred sleek acrylic dining chairs. You see, about a year ago, a friend of High Fashion manager Dolley Levan’s was getting married and couldn’t seem to find the perfect cloths for her wedding tables. Levan and team came to her rescue, and shortly thereafter decided to start offering linen rental to customers. The service has been “very well received,” Levan tells the Houston Wedding Blog—so much so that High Fashion is now offering chic lounge furniture and unique table seating, along with the kind of fashion-forward table linen you just won’t find anywhere else in town.

Photo: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography

Like Confetti a textured taffeta style that looks like it might have just walked off a Paris runway, and gives the impression of shimmering coins or rippled water. So chic! Or how about Eden Floral—a fabulous sheer overlay with appliquéd flowers and leaves, which “acts as floral itself,” Levan says. She recommends pairing it with contemporary centerpieces featuring branches and crystals, rather than an abundance of cut blooms. Then there’s the super-hip Ivory & Black Paris Flocked Damask Shantung. As linen names go, it’s a bit of a mouthful. As linen styles go, it’s utterly gorgeous.

Photo: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography

Of course, this being Houston and all, High Fashion feeds the needs of traditional Southern brides, too. They’ve got regal ivory damask, luxurious bisque peau-de-soie satin and solid taffetas in a rainbow of shades, plus many other elegant styles.

Photo: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography

It’s official: Whether you’re looking for aluminum chairs and LED-lit coffee tables, or custom-made table linen, High Fashion’s got you, and your tables, covered.

Photo: Serendipity Photography
Photo: Serendipity Photography

Write Your Own Wedding Vows (It’s Not as Terrifying as You Think!)

This season’s weddings are all about the personal touch. And nothing is more personal than original vows, written by you, and recited to your beloved in the presence of everyone who matters most to you. (A caveat: If you’re thinking you might like to write your own vows, make sure your ceremony venue and officiant allow personal vows—some houses of worship and clergy DON’T.)

OK, so you want to write your own vows, but somehow the thought of putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to compose those once-in-a-lifetime marriage vows strikes fear in your heart. Well, take comfort, we are here to help. First off, we want to remind you that while your wedding vows are important, they do NOT need to encompass every feeling you’ve ever had for your fiancé or serve as an airtight contract. Your vows don’t have to be poetic, they don’t have to be hilarious, they don’t have to be Serious with a capital “S”—they don’t have to be perfect.

What your vows should be are heartfelt and meaningful—especially to you and to the person you are marrying. To help get you to the essence of what you want to say, consider these questions (and jot down your answers). Same thing goes for your fiancé. In fact, it might make things easier and take a little of the pressure off to do this part side by side, if you’d like:

•    When and how did you know you were in love with your fiancé and wanted to marry him?
•    What do you love most about your fiancé?
•    What do you miss about your fiancé when you’re away from him?
•    Why do you want to marry your fiancé?
•    How do you think your life will be different after marrying?
•    What is your fantasy of how you will celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary?

You can also look at photos and video clips from your shared life—vacations, family events, happy occasions, good times with friends, etc.—for more inspiration.

Once you have the essentials in rough written form, you can think about putting together a paragraph or so that says what you want to say.

To give your vows shape and conviction, include a statement of promise:

“Now and forever, I…”
“From this day forward, I…”
“In the presence of God, our families and our friends, I promise to…”

The web is full of additional resources that offer vow samples. Some of our favorites are My Wedding Vows, Love to Know Weddings Funny Wedding Vows. You can also search You Tube for wedding vows by category (funny, laughing, song, celebrities, etc.), for live examples (including some entertaining “wedding vows gone wrong”).

Your vows are your vows, so say what’s in your heart. Nothing—no gown, no flower, no diamond, no cake—is more beautiful than the truth.