Caffeinate with Care with a Coffee Bar

Java Pura Coffee Bar
Java Pura Coffee Bar

Your fave coffee has been the unsung hero in planning your wedding, keeping you going as you’ve stuffed envelopes, freaked out over the seating chart and flipped through bridal magazine after magazine in search of the perfect up-do. So, why not give your liquid sidekick a special part at your reception by offering a full-service coffee bar?

Our vote for the honor goes to Java Pura, a local coffee roasting and catering company that does events for heavy-hitters like Neiman Marcus, The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa and Tootsies, and is quickly becoming a must-have vendor among Houston brides.

Hire Java Pura for your big day, and they’ll send their professional barista—commercial grade espresso machine and grinder in tow—to your reception to serve up made-to-order specialty coffee drinks, like crème brulé (latté with caramel), almond joy (latté with dark chocolate and almond syrup) and espresso. Your guests can even opt for frozen cappuccinos, Italian sodas, hot chocolate and an assortment of teas.

Summer brides-to-be, worry not: Java Pura can put any drink over ice, so you can justify the coffee bar as a way to keep your guests cool and caffeinated for plenty of dancing.

And yes, we’re sure your guests will use the coffee bar, no matter the season. Even if you’ve somehow made it to your big day without several dozen carmel macchiatas, at least half of your guests like coffee, says Java Pura co-owner Richard Colt.

And they’ll like it no matter when you serve it during your big day. Java Pura’s first brides just wanted to serve coffee with the wedding cake, but now lots of Houston brides are opting to offer a coffee bar throughout the reception. (Some guests even forego cocktails for a cup—or three—of java!) Speaking of which, a coffee bar makes a fun drink alternative if you’re having an alcohol-free wedding.

If you want to really wow your guests, try this idea from an event held at River Oaks Country Club: Java Pura set up two coffee bars—one in the main area, the other near the exit, so guests could grab a to-go cup for the road. You could even sweeten the send-off gift with a personalized coffee sleeve or mug that reminds guests of how you caffeinated them with care. Your guests will thank you for it. We know we would.

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Band or DJ?

It’s a classic wedding conundrum: Create an ambience of grandeur with a fine live music ensemble…or give ’em something they can really move to?

If you find yourself trying to decide between a band and DJ, ask yourself these simple questions, and you may find the choice an easier one than you’d anticipated:

How important are our favorite songs? If you and your fiancé have a list of songs you absolutely MUST hear on your wedding day or you’ll forever feel the lingering ache of disappointment, a DJ is probably the best choice. Any DJ worth his salt will be able to source your favorite tunes, from ’70s classics to country hits to the latest hip-hop tracks, and make sure they are played (repeatedly, if need be). A band with a set repertoire, not so much.

Do we want one particular theme or type of music? There’s nothing like an experienced band, complete with the right instruments and attire, to enhance a wedding theme, evoke cultural traditions or create an air of authenticity. If you and your fiancé are mad for salsa, or you met in a swing-dance class, or you’re marrying at a ranch and you want to get the full effect with live fiddlers and such, an authentic band is the way to go.

How much room do we have? A smaller venue typically means a smaller stage area. A smaller stage area means a small band. A small band may end up sounding, well, small—not what you want guests to experience on your big day. In this case, a DJ is a better bet, and can offer a bigger sound with a minimum use of space.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event—shouldn’t it include once-in-a-lifetime entertainment? A live music performance is a totally in-the-moment, one-time deal. For sheer intensity, there is nothing like the experience of watching expert musicians do their thing, or enjoying the many thrilling, unscripted moments of a live show. If spontaneity is your thing, a band will truly make your heart sing.

What can we afford? Yes, music is vitally important to your wedding—but don’t go broke for it. In almost all cases, a live band, with multiple live performers who need to be paid for their work, not to mention fed and tipped, is a considerably more expensive option. If you want a band and can afford it, go for it—this is your wedding, after all. But don’t forgo beautiful floral or delicious hors d’oeuvre, or overextend yourself financially, just to get a tuxedo-clad, 12-piece ensemble on your wedding stage. Houston has plenty of outstanding DJs to fit every taste, budget and need, and with a little wise shopping—through referrals, in-person meetings and careful review of any prospective DJ’s work via video, etc.—you will find the one who’s right for your perfect night.

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Textured Wedding Invitations

If you’re a fan of the 3-D effect, these are happy days for you, Houston bride. Seems like we can’t turn around in our local multiplex without bumping into an usher handing out those magic goggles for yet another in-your-face blockbuster.

Wedding invitations, too, are gaining dimension. Creative designers are turning out all kinds of textured and embellished invitations that raise excitement and intrigue upon arrival. Here are some of our favorites (magic goggles not included—or needed!).

Momental Sculpted Invitation
Momental Sculpted Invitation

Momental Designs owner and stationery artist Kristy Rice’s love of nature shows in her sweetly stylized representation of flowers, trees, plants and seascapes. We adore the Sculpted Bloom collection, which features magnificent hand-formed flowers, each one a unique work of art. Each custom Sculpted Bloom invitation set comes in a lidded invitation box and can be embellished with extras like rhinestones, wraps and tags.

Hanson Ellis Message Bottle Invitation
Hanson Ellis Message Bottle Invitation

Planning a beach wedding? Check out this cute and clever message-in-a-bottle invite from Hanson Ellis. Corked, raffia-tied invitation bottles are filled with sand and real mini-seashells, and can hold a natural-oil-paper and cedar-leaf invitation message scroll, response card and envelope, and map. White corrugated mailing boxes are available, too. Fun stuff!

You're Invited Alchemy Invitation
You're Invited Alchemy Invitation

The Alchemy Union Silk invitation from You’re Invited has layers of subtle texture throughout. Inside a folder of handmade woven-grass paper bound with a nice, thick raw-silk ribbon are nestled corresponding pieces made from textured cardstock, all enclosed in a heavyweight handmade envelope.

Kenzie Kate Vienna Invitation
Kenzie Kate Vienna Invitation

Not a mere flat envelope, but a 3-D sealed box bears the stately Vienna invitation by Kenzie Kate. The Vienna is a three-panel-folder of luscious linen cardstock, folded and bound with a hand-tied satin ribbon. Available colors include Deep Coral and Ivory, Violet and Sand, and, our fave, Scarlet, Silver and Aqua, among many others.

Paper Olive Peacock Invitation
Paper Olive Peacock Invitation

Paper Olive’s opulent Peacock invitation has a couture look and multi-texture feel. A layer of hand-torn vellum overlays a pattern of plum, lime and teal, atop a plum shimmer backing, and the whole gorgeous ensemble is accented with an exotic peacock feather trimmed with a glass bead. Guests receive this remarkable invitation in a deep-blue silk box (accompanied by a heart-flutter of anticipation, we’re sure).

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Bridesmaid Gift Idea: Mar Y Sol Clutch

Mar Y Sol Heart Clutch
Mar Y Sol Heart Clutch

We love our bridesmaids. We love doing good for the world. We LOVE Mar Y Sol’s simply, sustainably gorgeous little clutches (and so do the likes of Daily Candy, Glamour and Lucky, by the by).

We came across Mar Y Sol while dropping in on brides’ chats about which bridesmaids’ gifts were the biggest hits with their girls. Sure, we heard about all the usual stuff—pashminas, spa mani-pedis, earrings, etc. But these raved-about clutches really stood out, and here’s why: Not only are they beautifully designed and incredibly chic, but they are fair-trade bought and handmade in Kenya and Madagascar by local women artists using a combination of traditional weaving and contemporary techniques. Whenever a bride-to-be (or anyone for that matter) buys a Mar Y Sol bag, that purchase contributes to the artist’s economic independence and generates funding for community projects—what a beautiful way to celebrate the spirit of sisterhood with your ’maids, Houston bride.

We’re especially fond of the fresh, elegant Gigi collection, which includes one design with a butterfly closure, another with a contemporary take on the sunflower and still another accented with a carved wood heart to show your bridesmaids how much you love ’em.

Mar Y Sol Garden Clutch
Mar Y Sol Garden Clutch

If you’re still a stickler for the traditional mani/pedi gift, go ahead and pop a gift certificate for a local spa inside one of these beautiful, eco-friendly bags. We guarantee your ’maid will instantly be among the most fashionable girls in town!

Mar Y Sol Sunflower Clutch
Mar Y Sol Sunflower Clutch
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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.

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