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Bon Voyage: 4 Honeymoon Planning Tips

Honeymoon Planning Tips Italian Coast
Photo: Ama by Aisha

Before your “Bon Voyage,” follow these four essential honeymoon planning steps…then pack those bags and go!

1. MAKE YOUR HONEYMOON PLANNING A PRIORITY

During those heady, hectic months—sometimes years— of planning your wedding, honeymoon arrangements can sometimes take a back seat to big-day prep. But if you wait too long to plan your honeymoon, or you neglect budgeting for your big trip, you may find yourself having to compromise on location, dates and amenities. Click here to read the rest of this post »

10 Houston Wedding Venues for Relaxed Luxury

Lounge and live it up in luxury at these 10 Houston wedding venues, where elegance and relaxation go hand in hand!

Rustic Wedding Grand Hall at Deer Lake Lodge
Photo: Morgan Brooks Productions | Venue: The Grand Hall at Deer Lake Lodge

1. THE GRAND HALL AT DEER LAKE LODGE

New to acclaimed health resort and holistic spa Deer Lake Lodge, the Grand Hall offers indoor and outdoor space for 200 celebrants, including an utterly charming patio and vintage-chic wood ballroom, plus cleansing and detox packages, massage and Click here to read the rest of this post »

Destination Venues Less Than An Hour From Houston

Forget passports, plane fares and complicated travel logistics…these six venues offer a full destination wedding experience, just a short drive away from downtown Houston.

Briscoe Manor Front Exterior
Photo: Agape House Studio | Venue: Briscoe Manor

1. BRISCOE MANOR

SAY I DO: Nestled among pecan and oak trees on a serene 50-acre estate whose history dates back to the early 19th century, Richmond’s Briscoe Manor welcomes couples to say their vows in a stately limestone chapel (the photo ops are out of this world!), and invites celebrants to take full advantage of Click here to read the rest of this post »

Brand New For I Do: 15 Acres in Hockley, TX

Hockley Texas Wedding Venue 15 Acres  Photo: Dream Photo & Video

How’d you like to get married in a brand-spanking-new venue–one that has outdoor ceremony space overlooking a scenic pond, and indoor party space in a chic and contemporary ballroom with glittering chandeliers and massive windows, set on acres of verdant grounds? You can at 15 Acres–one of our fave new wedding venues, located a short hop northwest of Houston, in picturesque Hockley. What else we love about this versatile local-destination-wedding spot? We were just getting to that…

Rustic Elegant Houston Wedding Venue 15 Acres Photo: Courtesy of 15 Acres

1.) New space, experienced owners. Mother-and-daughter team Stephanie and Ari have a combined 25 years of event-planning experience, so while the venue may be brand new, the team running it have established vendor relationships and extensive venue management expertise.

2.) Full flexibility or full service: your choice. Another rare find is the ability to select a full-service package, including everything from flowers to food to photo booths, or total flexibility when it comes to bringing in outside vendors. 15 Acres offers both options, as well as “in-between” services, where they can take care of segments of your wedding, and let you handle the rest.

3.) Pre-wedding prep space for gals and guys alike. Since facility rental at 15 Acres includes a full 12 hours of access, it’s nice to know that both the bride and bridesmaids, and groom and groomsmen, will have use of private, well-appointed, beautifully decorated dressing rooms/lounge space for the duration of their special day, ensuring maximum relaxation…and maximum impact when they make their way down the aisle!

Grooms Room Pool Table 15 Acres Photo: Dream Photo & Video

Q&A with Celebrity Destination Wedding Planner Lisa Vorce

Writer: Natasha Garber

LisaVorce

Photo: Caroline Tran

While a good connection might open the door, you need major talent to step through and succeed…especially in Hollywood. Just ask Los Angeles-based event expert Lisa Vorce, who, in the midst of a less-than-satisfying career as an IT consultant and programmer, began throwing parties for her husband’s talent-agent uncle. “My first party was for George Clooney’s mother,” she says. Not bad, we say. Here, the planner behind such high-profile nuptials as Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s gorgeous Italian villa “I do’s,” shares her experience and advice on her favorite of all events: the ultra-relaxing, totally indulgent, celebrity-style destination wedding.

LisaVorce_Copyright John Legend 2013_Lake Como_Aaron Delesie_0146-11x17-HI-RES

Photo: Aaron Delesie | © John Legend

Weddings in Houston: You’re known for creating some of the most beautiful destination weddings on the planet. What are some of the toughest destinations you’ve had to work in, and how did you manage to pull off flawless weddings in these spots?

Lisa Vorce: Well you’re asking someone who doesn’t like to work in the same location more than once, and someone who is happiest in the most exotic of locales, so I tend to thrive on all things challenging. In fact, the more challenging, the better for me! Vietnam and Bali are two of the most difficult locales I’ve worked in, simply because they are non-Western cultures. My favorite part of working in these amazing destinations is the “reconnaissance mission” I typically do at the beginning of our process. Through lots of exploration—I get to know local artisans, experts from the area, local foliage and flowers, menu specialties etc.—I have been met with so much kindness and talent around the world, it’s amazing!

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Photo: Jose Villa

WIH: How should a couple go about choosing their wedding locale?

LV: It’s a bit of a puzzle, and the stars need to align properly. There is a giant matrix that we use when vetting venues for my clients: distance, ease of travel, curfew, weather backups, venue capacities, accommodation capacities, food and beverage costs, etc. Some additional things couples should consider: How close is the wedding location to the airport? Do guests have to hop on a boat or rent a car? Do guests need visas or a Hep-C shot? Is there political unrest or another potentially tricky situation (e.g. Zika virus) that needs to be navigated?

Sourcing the perfect venue is a little bit like purchasing a home. It takes a lot of effort and time. Couples need to make sure they are taking into account all of the above and not just the aesthetics. Aesthetics are incredibly important, but everything else needs to be in the right place, too. And like buying a new home, couples need to prioritize their “must-haves” over their “nice-to-haves.”

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Photo: Elizabeth Messina

WIH: What’s the most important factor a couple needs to consider when planning a destination wedding?

LV: Budget and personality are really important and non-negotiable. But guest experience is really my thing. This is so important to me for my clients. Ultimately, the best weddings are those where the guests can’t stop talking about how much fun they had. Guest experience has a great deal to do with hospitality—and Texan hospitality is legendary, so I am going to assume you are experts in this matter! Just as you would welcome a guest to your home with a beautiful meal, fresh linens and engaging activities, when guests travel to your wedding, you want to provide them with hospitality all along the way.

Once your guests arrive at the location, have someone available from the wedding party or planning team who can answer their questions, greet them and hold their hand along the way. Adding helpful info to your wedding website (if you opt to do one) is incredibly handy for guests as well. For me, some of the most amazing destinations are the hardest to get to, but it’s important to balance that with the guest experience. If they are going to travel a long way, what’s the “wow” factor when they get there? Provide them with some amazing activities and adventures: Think Mayan ruins in Tulum, or maybe a cooking class in Italy. It is important that you make your guests feel safe, happy and entertained, but also give them enough down time for relaxation and exploration.

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Photo: Aaron Delesie

WIH: We like the sound of that! So tell us: What are some of the coolest local activities you’ve helped plan for destination wedding groups.

LV: Planning guest activities really depends on the location as well as the inclination of the couple. As soon as the couple determines their destination, my team goes to work to find out what’s special and fun to do at that destination. Golf and spa treatments are usually must-haves. One of my couples recently treated guests to a mobile cryogenic spa. It was very popular! Some of my favorite activities, however, have had to do with what the specific destination has to offer, from yacht parties in St. Barts, to cheese-making in Tuscany, to lace-making in Puglia…. I’ve also created activities based on couples’ family traditions. For example, we had a baseball field and custom scoreboard created for one couple. Each team had their signature baseball jerseys. It was amazing. We’ve done custom backyard and board games for other couples. It is very joyful to see the wedding couple and their guests take part in these activities!

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Photo: Jose Villa

WIH: What are your favorite ways to incorporate a couple’s tastes and background, along with local customs and flavors, into the wedding menu—whether at a destination site, or at a wedding closer to home?

LV: I start by listening to and observing the couple. Sometimes it’s fun to imbue couples’ personalities into the tiniest unexpected details. For example, in one wedding, we incorporated tumbleweed. Now, that may not sound pretty, but tumbleweed actually makes incredible natural, multi-dimensional sculptures.

A Texas bride of mine had a connection to gemology, so we incorporated a malachite pattern into the invites, menus and tabletop. Oh—and one of my favorite things to do, if I’m doing a wedding indoors, is to replace the artwork of the venue with artwork that represents the clients’ aesthetic. So in the case of the malachite wedding, huge malachite prints were delicately overlayed onto venue artwork. It’s so much fun when guests notice those extra touches.

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Photo: Elizabeth Messina

WIH: We love destination weddings, but we know that planning a wedding outside of one’s comfort zone is not without potential conflicts. How do you help your clients navigate these?

LV: For destination weddings especially, guest invites can be a big challenge. Each “constituent”—MOB, MOG, bride and groom—usually has a valid reason for adding a guest…or 10. But these numbers quickly add up. Sometimes it creates a cost issue, but it can also create a space issue, for example, if the venue holds 120 persons maximum. I usually play “wedding diplomat” in these situations, and remind everyone that at the end of the day, they all want the same thing: a beautiful wedding and an unforgettable celebration with their nearest and dearest.

As for keeping a limited guest count for your intimate, remote-location wedding…remember, Texas is a great place to do a big barbecue and party with ALL your favorite people once you return from your destination!

LisaVorce_Copyright John Legend 2013_Lake Como_Aaron Delesie_0045-11x17-HI-RES Photo: Aaron Delesie |© John Legend