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Houston Real Wedding: Sheila & Bilal

Well, it’s finally happened. The highly anticipated Westin Houston Memorial City has opened for business…and welcomed its first wedding. OK, so remember when we told you about Deborah and Joe, the adorable Houston couple who was slated to be the first couple to hold their wedding celebration at the new Westin, and, as such, got the chance to sign the walls and floor of the hotel? Well, it looks like another couple actually ended up being the FIRST first Westin Memorial wedding couple. Deborah and Joe will still wed at the Westin. But first-wedding honors go to lovely bride Sheila and her handsome groom Bilal, who signed on after Deborah and Joe but tied the knot before them. Got it?

The important thing is that Sheila and Bilal celebrated their wedding, rich with Pakistani tradition, and a whole lot of Houston pizzazz, along with nearly 500 of their friends and family. The bride wore five different outfits during the course of the ceremony and reception—a lavish event that closed a weekend-long wedding which began in Dallas and worked its way south. Check out the photos from NICO Photographers—gorgeous, no? Congratulations, Sheila and Bilal. And welcome, Westin Houston Memorial City!

NICO Photographers

NICO Photographers Wedding

Moving Pictures: Video Memory Album

MyVideoMyVoice Video Memory Album
MyVideoMyVoice Video Memory Album

We’re always looking for cool new wedding photo/video ideas, right? Well, lucky us—wedding-planner and Style Network star Mary Dann recently clued us in to one of the coolest!

Dann has teamed up with MyVideoMyVoice to introduce brides to the Video Memory Album—a full-size (8.5-by-10.5-inch), hardcover wedding album embedded with a 2.4-inch high-resolution audio/video player for viewing your cherished wedding videos in the palm of your hand.

The Video Memory Album can be uploaded with 45 minutes of wedding footage divided into five chapters. A built-in mini USB jack allows the album’s batteries to be recharged up to 500 times.

As for the albums themselves, they are beautifully constructed, sturdily bound books, with covers that can be personalized with your monogram or other text. Designs include the Modern Vibe (black with a pink, turquoise or lime-green ribbon accent) and Formal Elegance, with gorgeous Swarovski crystal detailing, along with several others.

Dann made sure we knew that MyVideoMyVoice knows its stuff: The company produces video inserts for Fortune 500 companies and recently did a video insert for CBS that was featured in Entertainment Weekly. Impressive!

If you like the idea of a Video Memory Album (and if you do, you might want to go ahead and put it on your wedding-gift wish list, Houston bride), then check out MyVideoMyVoice’s Video Memory Books (smaller versions of the albums) and fabulous Video Invites/Save-the-Date cards (Dann’s brides LOVE these).

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.

How to Look Gorgeous in Your Wedding Photos

Your wedding photos, like your wedding vows themselves, are meant to last forever. You can make sure those photos capture you in all your bridal glory by following these foolproof steps to picture perfection.

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Step 1: Hire a good photographer. The best wedding photographer is the one who makes you feel comfortable at your very first pre-wedding meeting, and who understands exactly how you want your wedding photos to look and feel. Make sure the photographer shows you actual wedding photos he or she has shot, and talk to the photographer’s former clients for feedback and referrals. Don’t rely on eager but inexperienced family members or friends who offer to save you money by snapping pix on your big day, but do let them take photos of their own and send you the best shots as keepsakes.

Step 2: Have your makeup done by a professional. A pro makeup artist knows how to utilize cosmetics to make your face look its best under specific photo conditions (harsh lights, flash, sunlight, etc.). Do a run-through with your makeup artist prior to your wedding, and make sure you feel comfortable with how you look. On your wedding day, have touch-up supplies at arm’s reach (oil blotting sheets, pressed powder, lipstick and lip liner, mirror, etc.). Last but not least, two words: waterproof mascara!

Step 3: Practice in front of a mirror. Take a tip from Tyra and spend a few moments rehearsing your smiling and posing. Closed- or open-mouth smile? Right side of your face or left? You’ll get a sense of your preferences and be ready for your close-up when the photographer points and shoots.

Step 4: Work your angles. Don’t face the camera head-on, but rather tilt your body 45 degrees, even in portrait shots. Also, follow the lead of your favorite celebrities, and slightly cross your legs when standing, placing the heel of your forward foot near the toe of your rear foot. This position will help to narrow your silhouette and avoid the dreaded “deer in the headlights” look.

Step 5: Check before the click. Prior to any posed photo shoot on your wedding day (directly after your ceremony, cake-cutting, etc.), check your hair and makeup, and make any necessary adjustments. Smooth down flyaway hairs, and blot or powder the shine off your nose and forehead. Our favorite pretty-picture trick? After touching up your makeup, press your palms to your cheeks, hold for a moment, then release. This will give your face a natural, rosy glow and minimize the overdone look that sometimes mars wedding photos.

Step 6: Relax. Before your photographer shoots, take a couple of deep breaths and lower your shoulders (but keep your neck long and chin slightly down—again, what would we do without Tyra??). Feel the love surrounding you, savor the joy of the moment and smile.