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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.

Walk—Or Dance—On Water

Liquid Fusion
Liquid Fusion

If you’re planning the kind of reception where let-your-hair-down, kick-your-heels-up dancing is certain to take center stage, you must check out this unique and incredibly cool dance floor from Holo-Walls.

Liquid Fusion Floor Tile
Liquid Fusion Floor Tile

Liquid Fusion flooring tiles—a favorite of celebrity wedding planners like L.A.’s Mindy Weiss, who recently used them for a stunning all-blue reception—are each filled with two opposing bichromatic liquids. When dancers step on the tiles, the pressure causes the liquids to swirl into each other, creating a thrilling visual effect. Liquid Fusion tiles, which are available in Red/Orange, Blue/Sky Blue, Orange/Purple and other vibrant color combos, can be snapped together to form dance floors of varying sizes. They’re also great for creating impressive entry walkways and stage surfaces.

We think a Liquid Fusion floor would be perfect framed by modular banquettes and low cocktail tables at a reception with a sophisticated lounge feel, or surrounded on three sides by long, rectangular dining tables done up with chic, sleek linens. And how about a luminous liquid dance floor in the middle of a white-on-white reception room? Fabulous!

Liquid Fusion Tabletops
Liquid Fusion Tabletops

Like the idea of liquid, but not sure if you want a whole floor full of it? Holo-Walls also has Liquid Fusion tabletops, which look amazing on cocktail tables. Picture your guests sipping drinks and nibbling hors d’oeuvre at tables topped with liquid color that undulates at the touch of martini glasses. They’ll be talking about it for months to come, Houston bride.

Hotel ZaZa Hosts an Indian Engagement Party with Panache

Likhari Engagement
Likhari Engagement

Known for its edgy, elegant decor and chic, cosmopolitan vibe, Houston’s Hotel ZaZa seems like the perfect place for a party. And on Sept. 6 it hosted one heck of a great party, indeed.

Likhari Engagement
Likhari Engagement

The 300-guest engagement celebration for a lovestruck Indian couple took full advantage of ZaZa’s incredibly cool semicircular ballroom—not to mention sleek, sophisticated black chiavari chairs (the hotel has them in house…no need to go outside for rentals).

Ballroom at Hotel ZaZa
Ballroom at Hotel ZaZa

Sure there were gorgeous flowers from John Freidman and amazing linens from Touch of Elegance. Yes there was that sensational candy bar created by Darryl & Co.   Houston Photographer, Steve Lee, was on hand to capture the festivities.

Candy Buffet
Candy Buffet

But ZaZa senior catering manager Lisa Hudson says the luncheon event’s food might have been the most enticing element of all. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that the ever-accommodating ZaZa, unlike some properties, allows clients to bring in culturally specific or traditional hors d’oeuvre and desserts, which it serves alongside its own divine contemporary American offerings (exactly what the couple did).

To bring even more zing, ZaZa created a “spice table”—a delicious nod to the couple’s South Asian heritage, which featured tantalizing spices and sauces, and added color and excitement to the festivities.

Hudson says the hotel is working on a whole new catering package that will include plenty of South Asian specialties and vegetarian options for clients who want to add a taste of tradition to their weddings, engagement fetes and other events.

Looking to add a little spice to your own event? Give Lisa a call at 713.639.4505—she’d love to help you out!

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.

Dig In: Delicious, Guest-Friendly Cocktail Reception Hors D’oeuvre

Photo: DW Photography
Photo: DW Photography

Nothing stokes the appetite like a wedding ceremony. All that pre-wedding preparation and gussying-up, all that pomp and circumstance, all that love being pledged and promised and celebrated. After sighing and smiling their way through your ceremony, you can bet your guests will be hungry. So give them what they need, Houston bride: sustenance, served up with special-occasion flair.

Remember, your cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre will be the first taste guests get of your wedding, and they need to set the right impression. Where presentation is concerned, elegance and artistry are de rigueur, but don’t overdo it—nobody wants to confront food they can’t identify or figure out how to insert into their mouths.

We suggest keeping things simple and delicious, with a focus on quality and handle-ability. As for cocktail reception hors d’oeuvre no-nos? They include messy items (save the Buffalo wings for a post-wedding poker night), bad-breath and heartburn inducers (raw onions do NOT make for pleasant close-quarters mingling), and a lack of choices for vegetarians or guests who observe religious food restrictions (maybe rethink that all-pork smorgasbord your fiancé fancies, Houston bride).

Here are some of our all-time favorite hors d’oeuvre items, any one of which your caterer is likely to be able to provide, along with unique signature specialties of their very own. Can’t decide just by browsing? That’s what tastings are for, Houston bride! Isn’t wedding-planning yummy?

•    Goat cheese tart with fig jam
•    Smoked salmon tartare on potato slices
•    Tuna tartare on crispy wontons
•    Tandoori or satay chicken skewers
•    Scallops wrapped in smoked bacon
•    Coconut shrimp
•    Stuffed mushroom caps
•    Crispy spring rolls
•    Baby lamb chops
•    Mini Beef Wellington
•    Mini crab cakes
•    Mini gourmet pizzas
•    Gourmet sliders
•    Assorted crostini (savory toasted crackers topped with cheese, vegetables or meat—make sure they’re not too crunchy or they’ll shatter when guests try to bite them!)