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Find Your Wedding Style With Your Zodiac Sign

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many wedding dresses and wedding styles to choose from, which is why homing in on your zodiac sign can be a great place to start narrowing down options. Each Zodiac sign has its own unique profile, just like each bride, and each wedding. Scroll down here to find your sign, and shop the looks that express it!

Earth: Driven and engaging all senses, your vision for a blissful wedding is emotional and sensual. You love earthy tones mixed with hints of gold, and adore the idea of mixing classic and modern touches. Earth
1. Marchesa Embellished Cape Gown: Saks Fifth Avenue 2. Jennifer Behr Earrings: NET-A-PORTER 3. Kevyn Aucoin The Matte Lip Color in Bloodroses: NET-A-PORTER 4. Gumuchian Rose Gold Diamond Ring: Lewis Jewelers 5. Charlotte Olympia Orchid Pandora Clutch: NET-A-PORTER 6. Bouquet: Keisha’s Kreations 7. Eternal Romance Invitation: Wedding Paper Divas 8. Gianvito Rossi Satin Sandals: NET-A-PORTER 9. Four-Tier Cake: Sweet Regards by Daniela

Air: Creative, quick-thinking and full of fancy, you’re a heady romantic with a flair for fun. Light-as-air fabrics and blush tones are the wedding textures and colors you have your eyes on.

Air 1. Marchesa Pre-Fall Couture 2017: Marchesa 2. Lele Sadoughi Straw Tassel Earrings: Lele Sadoughi 3. Tom Ford Skin Illuminator: Neiman Marcus 4. Ted Baker Oriental Blossom Clutch: Bloomingdale’s 5. Gilded Shore Coral Invitation: Minted 6. Bouquet: Darryl & Co. 7. Anna Sheffield Hazeline Suite: Anna Sheffield 8. Badgley Mischka ‘Blakely’ Mesh Evening Shoe: Badgley Mischka 9. Four-Tier Cake: Bobbette & Belle

Fire: Passionate, positive and powerful, you’re the life of the party—at the party of a lifetime! You want to stay true to yourself and show off your boldness with bright colors!

Fire 1. Sabyasachi Red Floral Lehenga: Sabyasachi 2. Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Bawse: Smashbox 3. Floral Arrangement: Dream Bouquet 4. Minza Khan Yasmin Clutch: Minza Khan 5. Centifolia Rose Invitation: Minted 6. Ruby & Diamond Ring: Nazar’s Fine Jewelry 7. Sergio Rossi Tresor Swarovski Crystal & Suede Sandal: Saks Fifth Avenue 8. Two-Tier Cake: Cake Ink

Water: Sensitive, thoughtful and imaginative, your wedding-day inspiration never stops flowing! You absolutely adore the idea of watercolor invitations, floral cakes and wedding dresses that make you feel like you’re floating as you walk down the aisle.

Water 1. Lazaro Gown: Ivory Bridal Atelier, Weddings by Debbie 2. Sutra Sapphire & Diamond Tassel Earrings: Zadok Jewelers 3. Rafe Sofia Straw Minaudiere: Neiman Marcus 4. Goshwara Gossip London Blue Topaz Bracelet: Zadok Jewelers 5. Indigo Sea Invitation: Minted 6. Bouquet: TnT Events, Flowers & Decorations  7. Imagine Vince Camuto Phoebe Embellished T-Strap Sandals: Bloomingdale’s 8. Three-Tier Floral & Metallic Cake: Cake Ink

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Wedding Menu Q&A with Atlanta’s Talk Of The Town Catering

Writer: Michelle Naik

What does a hungry 11-year-old boy do when his mom is studying for nursing school exams and his dad is a traveling salesman? Well, if he’s Andrew Brackner, he tunes into PBS and starts learning his way around a kitchen, with the help of charismatic TV chefs like Julia Child and Martin Yan. From these humble beginnings, Brackner eventually worked his way up through the culinary industry, putting in time as a dishwasher and waffle-house cook, before eventually landing at the Ritz Carlton, and getting his culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu (where he graduated top of his class, natch). An executive chef position at Atlanta’s renowned Talk Of The Town Catering & Special Events—clients include Missy Elliot, Steve Harvey, Tyler Perry, Usher, Shaquille O’Neal and more than a couple of NFL teams—eventually led to Brackner’s purchase of the company in 2010. In this exclusive Weddings in Houston interview we get the scoop on Brackner’s most in-demand menus, the wedding menu trends he’s tracking for 2018 (you can chat about these and plenty more reception food ideas with Houston’s own top wedding caterers) and his passion for bringing the taste of the South to events far and wide.

Andrew-Brackner Photo: Courtesy of Talk Of The Town Catering

WIH: Describe one of the most exciting wedding menus you’ve created recently—what makes it so fabulous?

AB: We have been selected to cater the wedding for the daughter of the president of the largest seafood distribution company in the Southeast. This is a unique wedding because they are providing all the proteins, including caviar (which we are serving on edible sushi-rice spoons with bluefin tuna and seaweed), diver scallops, lobster, king crab (which we are doing in Thai basil rolls), wagyu beef that’s being served as carved rib roast with maître d’ butter, and kumamoto oysters with mignonette ice, fresh chilies, chimichurri and pickled pears. The majority of the items will be produced at live action stations by our own chefs.

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Six Hearts Photography

WIH: What are some of your most in-demand menu items for wedding receptions?     

AB: I have learned that clients want their guests to be familiar with the food, but also want to include a unique twist. As an example, one of our top selling passed items is sliced quail breast with red-onion marmalade, served on a mini fried green tomato. House-made charcuterie and local cheeses are always a crowd pleaser, but we add a twist with our garnishes by including truffle honey, mango chutney, and pickled cauliflower and carrots, and we incorporate root-veggie chips alongside the traditional bread and crackers. One of our most popular stations is our carved serrano ham display, which includes crostini with a variety of spreads and toppings (goat cheese, small-batch mustard, arugula, pickled onions, shaved fennel and balsamic syrup). Our barbecue raspberry duck breast with butternut-squash polenta is also becoming a huge hit!

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Anna Shackleford

WIH: What culinary trends are you tracking for 2017-2018 weddings?

AB: The scenery! We are customizing more and more menus to reflect the location of the wedding. Whether it’s an informal crawfish boil next to the river, a small-plates tapas-style action station at a winery, or even a white-glove Russian-style service at a downtown location, our culinary services need to be reflective of the location to truly give the guests a cohesive experience.

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Farrah Brianna

WIH: What are some of your favorite display ideas for fun, unique, interactive food stations?

AB: Chafer-less food stations are a big hit. Instead of using a heat lamp for a carving station, we use a blowtorch to gently brush the roast and keep warm. We also have used marble tiles with sterno underneath to keep food hot. I am a big fan of large iron griddle plates—we use these to keep mini cast-iron skillets warm for our seafood-and-grits station, Cuban sandwich sliders, cornmeal-dusted trout, grilled asparagus and chicharones. The possibilities are endless! Another favorite is the vertical buffet station. We have used ladders with slates of wood, magnet walls with metal dishes, and stackable square blocks with glass shelves.

 Photo: Ben Vigil

WIH: Here in Texas, barbecue is BIG. How do you present barbecue in an upscale dining environment like a wedding reception?

AB: I like to give my clients approachable, familiar items with a slight twist. Some of my favorite ways to present traditional barbecue are grilled quail kabobs with peach barbecue sauce, raspberry barbecue duck with butternut-squash polenta. Or we might pass a mini barbecue-pork slider with mango jicama slaw, peppercorn-smoked shrimp, and scallops with spicy rosemary corn coulis. We even did a barbecue octopus station with smoked tomato, pickled radish, roasted garlic, bacon batons and a Worcestershire-balsamic glaze. I love thinking about ingredients and how they can be rearranged to fit the occasion.

Talk-Of-The-Town-Catering Photo: Anna Shackleford

Ready to dig in to your own menu planning adventure? Peruse our list of Houston’s hottest wedding caterers and culinary experts, and start dreaming up (and savoring samples of) a wedding menu you and your guests won’t forget!

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7 Adorable Houston Proposals That Will Give You The Feels

Grab those tissues, y’all. You’ve been warned about these real proposal stories, real engagement ring selections and the real Houston couples behind them.

Jessica & Grant

Jeweler: Zadok Jewelers

Proposal Photo: Meghan Rolfe Photography

Jessica’s Story: In November of 2016, Grant and I planned a trip to visit some of my best friends at their home in beautiful Winston-Salem, N.C., to see the fall foliage. The last day of our trip, we made the drive up to The Biltmore in Asheville. It was breathtaking, and looked like a picture-perfect painting of fall, which happens to be my favorite season. When we arrived, Grant took me to a spot that has the best view of the estate. Soon, he was down on one knee. He popped the question, and I said, “Yes!” We spent the rest of our stay exploring The Biltmore, tasting wine and horseback riding through the beautiful property. It was perfect! We will be married at Saint Anne Catholic Church on Sept. 23, 2017, with a reception to follow at Hotel ZaZa.

Allison & Henry

Jeweler: Eklektic Jewelry Studio

Allison-and-Henry-Proposal Photo: Courtesy of Eklektic Jewelry Studio

Henry’s Story: I proposed on our one-year anniversary at Eklektic Jewelry Studio, where the founders Marco Sr. and Marco Jr. had helped me design and create an amazing engagement ring from a sketch on a piece of paper. I spent about 30 hours working on the ring with them and they called me the minute the ring was ready. I then called my soon-to-be fiancée, Allison, and asked her to meet me at Eklektic ASAP!  She drove in the pouring rain and arrived at Eklektic about an hour later. Marco Sr. and Marco Jr. had set the most amazing stage for my proposal with flowers and bubbly. The ring, which has a cushion-cut center diamond with an alternating variation of diamonds in the halo, was gift-wrapped in a beautiful box. As Allison started to open the box, I got down on one knee and asked her (the most amazing person I have ever met) to spend the rest of her life with me. And she said, “Yes!”

Maggie & John

Jeweler: Lewis Jewelers

Maggie-and-John-Proposal Photo: Kasey Lynn Photography

Maggie’s Story: We both love going to the beach. For my birthday, John rented a beach house in Bolivar, where his family used to own a house that was destroyed by Hurricane Ike. On Saturday morning, we woke up, had some Champagne and went down to the beach to look for shells. He drove us to the beachfront where his family’s house once stood. The shells on the beach were all brown and broken, but then I saw one that was bright yellow, huge and perfectly intact. I exclaimed for John to come look, and when I picked it up, I noticed there was a little jewelry bag inside. I opened it, and John got down on one knee and proposed. It is a moment that still gives me such joy.

We’re thrilled to share engagement stories from not one, but two, of the family jewelers from Nazar’s Fine Jewelry. Brothers Nareg and Alec Kalajian both proposed to their fiancées with rings they made themselves, and both brothers are having 2017 weddings at Hotel ZaZa.

Alec & Seelva (no pic yet for these two cuties…but we’ll be sure to share images from their wedding later this year!)

Alec’s Story: Seelva and I met at a Halloween karaoke night at our church, but we didn’t date until April of the next year. We weren’t dating for very long before I decided to propose to her that August. I asked her to come to the store for a little bit, and I left to go get some flowers. But getting the flowers ended up taking forever! I rushed home and I put a bunch of flowers in the apartment and put vases with one rose in each to make a path to a table in our apartment. After I had made her wait at the store for probably too long, I told her to meet me at the apartment, where she found me on one knee with a three-stone-cushion-cut-diamond-and-twisted-yellow-gold engagement ring. Afterwards, we went back to the store to celebrate with everyone, and then went to dinner with my parents and brother Nareg. Nareg’s proposal story is probably a little better than mine…

Nareg & Darlene

Nareg-and-Darlene-Proposal Photo: Courtesy of Nazar’s Fine Jewelry

Nareg’s Story: Darlene and I had plans to take a trip to Seattle. I just finished making her ring at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and we had a flight at 6:30 p.m. that day. We were the last ones on the plane and the airline was going to make me check my bag, but that was where I had kept the ring!  So, I sneakily put the ring in my jacket pocket, but the box was kind of thick and I was worried that Darlene could see it. We ended up sitting across from each other on opposite sides of the aisle. At one point, she asked me if she could borrow my jacket because she was cold, but I had to say…“No!”

We originally met at a Starbucks in Houston, so when we got to Seattle, I wanted to propose at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market. When we got there, the place was really crowded. I thought, “I can’t do it here,” so we went to a giant Ferris wheel nearby. The Ferris wheel started moving and when we were up in the air, I proposed. I was still able to get down on one knee!

Amanda & Matthew

Jeweler: Loggins Jewelers

Amanda-Matthew-Engagement_Photographer_Maria_Cordoba_v1-17x11-HI-RES Photo: Maria Cordoba

Matthew’s Story: I’ve wanted to marry Amanda since our first date. After being at her place of employment for 10 years, Amanda was rewarded with a vacation. I was blessed to be invited to accompany Amanda to Thailand! I thought this would be a great place to purchase a unique engagement ring, a ring as unique as our love. While on our vacation, I stumbled upon a gem shop that was going out of business, and I jumped on the chance at buying an engagement ring. I found a blue sapphire that I thought perfectly reflected our relationship.

When I got back to America I went to Loggins Jewelers to ask if they could help me upgrade the engagement ring I bought in Phuket. Jennifer Pappas at Loggins Jewelers was heartbroken when she had to break the news to me my sapphire was in fact blue glass. To say that I was devastated was an understatement, but Jennifer was a godsend. Not only did she make sure I didn’t feel like the worst boyfriend in the history of the world, she gave me hope. Jennifer let me know she was going to handpick some options for me to come take a look at. Feeling lost and overwhelmed at the idea of a new search, this was exactly what I needed to hear. When I met up with Jennifer again, I was taken aback by the difficult selection before me. Jennifer and her sister had picked out four amazingly beautiful rings. After some consideration, I settled on a smoky topaz set in a halo of diamonds.

With the ring in hand, I was ready to propose. I decided I’d propose the same way we met: walking our dogs. I asked if I could spend the rest of my life with Amanda, and she blessed me with her, “Yes!”

Kaylin & Michael

Jeweler: Diamond Cellar – Donoho’s Jewellers

Kalyin-and-Michael-Engagement Photo: Dave DiLauro Photography

Kaylin’s Story: We began dating on Dec. 20, 2006, when Michael took me to an ice rink in The Woodlands and asked me to be his girlfriend. Almost seven years later, on Nov. 23, 2013, he took me to dinner at Brio on The Woodlands Waterway for The Lighting of The Doves [the area’s annual Christmas-display lighting ceremony]. We walked the waterway and when we were under the doves, Michael got down on one knee and ask me to marry him.

We are super grateful to our wonderful couples for sharing their deeply personal proposal stories with us…and with you! And we wish them all a lifetime of love and happiness. Congratulations!!

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10 Historic Houston Venues for Weddings with Timeless Style

Writer: Laura Mericas

With their modern tech, high-end amenities and lavish interiors, Houston’s historic venues might look vintage, but they definitely feel brand new. Scroll with us, as we uncover their storied pasts, and show you how you can make your own history with a wedding at one of the city’s landmark wedding venues.

The Crystal Ballroom at The Rice

Crystal-Ballroom-at-The-Rice

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema

History buffs will love that their first dance, first kiss and first forays into married life take place in a century-old venue that was home to so many firsts for their city and state.

“Our history is one of the big draws of our venue,” says Paula Foreman, director of sales for the Crystal Ballroom at The Rice. “It was the first public room in Houston with air conditioning, it had the first escalator, it was the original site of the Texas capitol…anything and everything that has happened in Houston has happened at The Rice!”

The repeating arched windows, 35-foot-high ceilings, and beautifully restored murals from 1913 truly take guests back to the turn of the 20th century. One can immediately imagine an opulent Art Deco-themed celebration or a classically elegant ceremony at this one-of-a-kind venue.

The Corinthian

The-Corinthian

Photo: J. Cogliandro Photography

A few blocks away, on the corner of Main and Franklin streets in downtown Houston, sits yet another historic gem: The Corinthian. The venue has taken on quite a different role from when it was originally built more than 100 years ago, then serving as the home of First National Bank, and standing as one of the tallest buildings in the state—a skyscraper of its day!

Today the neoclassical venue is known for its original colonnade of 24 Corinthian columns, which have framed some of the most elaborate events the city has ever hosted. “The stunning and timeless architecture allows florists and decorators to suspend exquisite chandeliers, floral accents and draping to highlight the original plaster ceiling in the Grand Hall,” says general manager Boyd Bryan. “Set in the rear wall, a towering Palladian window, often-times flanked with oversized floral creations, makes for a breathtaking and dramatic backdrop to the wedding ceremony.” You can see The Corinthian’s glory on display in countless weddings we’ve featured over the years, including Allie and Kyle’s ultra-decadent bash, Asmita and Rishab’s vibrant Indian celebration, and Kailey and Michael’s classic affair.

The Astorian

The-Astorian

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema

One of Houston’s newest takes on historic ambiance aims to take brides and grooms not only to another era, but to a different place entirely. The Astorian, inspired by New York City’s Grand Central Station, with domed ceilings, handcrafted black-and-gold mosaics, soaring arched windows and a massive gilded clock, transports wedding couples and guests to the artistic edginess of Manhattan in the roaring 20’s.

Art is part of the venue’s origins, as it first served as an enormous paint factory when built in the late 40’s and then was home to famous Texas artist David Adickes’ sculptures of The Beatles and the U.S. presidents. It was named a city landmark in 2012 and three years later was transformed into one of the most distinctive venues in Houston by partners Romain Kapadia, Joe Pachioli and Juan Chao.

In the two years since the space’s restoration, the team at The Astorian has hosted off-the-charts celebrations for the likes of the Houston Texans’ football team and to-be-weds who relish high-glam revelry, along with gorgeous photo shoots, like this fabulous Weddings in Houston exclusive. “Couples love how the place has a festive feel to it,” Pachioli says. “It’s not a blank space. It has a vibe to celebrate.”

Historic Magnolia Ballroom

Historic-Magnolia-Ballroom

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema

Wedding couples who prefer color “pops” and the taste of hops, will appreciate all that is and was at the Historic Magnolia Ballroom. Built in the late 1800’s, and the site of elaborate weddings, rehearsal dinners, bridal luncheons and more for the past 30 years, the Historic Magnolia Ballroom once served as the executive suites for Houston’s Magnolia Brewery, where Downtown workers would gather for five-cent beers and sandwiches, and where the elite would enjoy exclusive beer tastings.

“There are so many wonderful venues opening up everywhere all the time, but you can’t give a place history,” venue manager Renee Pool says of the venue, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The venue’s colorful cypress-and-leaded-glass windows, paired with its on-trend bright wallpaper, and vaulted mural ceilings, create a joyous yet elegant setting for the most timeless of nuptials.

The Lyceum of Galveston Island

The-Lyceum

Photo: Rising Tide New Media

Standing originally as one of Texas’ oldest Lutheran churches, The Lyceum of Galveston Island today captures the Old World charm and culture of its coastal surroundings.

The venue’s square tower with its steeple, hipped roof, arched openings and beautifully restored double doors, sets the stage for an intimate spiritual ceremony and/or a lively reception.

The original floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows, which date back to the1850’s, leave guests and couples in awe, and create a colorful display of natural light throughout the space, which executive director Cynthia McEldowney says is a favorite element among wedding couples. “The Lyceum is adjacent to a present-day sanctuary, separated only by a beautifully landscaped courtyard featuring wrought-iron gates,” she adds.

Heather’s Glen

Heather's-Glen

Photo: Jessica Pledger Photography

Victorian elegance and Southern hospitality blend together beautifully at Heather’s Glen in Conroe. The venue, originally built in 1900, was formerly known as the Wahrenberger mansion, and was the center of Conroe’s social scene at the time.

That influence hasn’t changed much in the last century. Since the venue’s complete restoration in the early 90’s, wedding couples like Kaylin and Michael have sought out Heather’s Glen for their storybook nuptials.

The Antebellum-style-home-turned-wedding-venue now includes a cathedral-ceiling chapel complete with giant windows overlooking manicured gardens featuring two picturesque waterfalls, as well as hundreds of magenta and blush azalea bushes sprinkled across the venue’s grounds, notes owner Heather George.

Plantation-style columns and wraparound porches, and the option to wed under a moonlit gazebo, lend perfectly to weddings with a Southern-fairytale feel. “Some of the most memorable weddings at Heather’s Glen have focused on historical themes,” says George. “A New Orleans-style wedding complete with a second-line dance comes to mind.”

The Parador

The-Parador

Photo: Ama Photography & Cinema

The Parador, located in Houston’s posh Museum District, is a Texas Historical Landmark inspired by a bygone empire.

The immense estate, complete with dark wood beams, rustic three-tiered doors and winding gardens, “stands as a testament to the architectural artistry of a distant era, marrying Mediterranean style with Byzantine details,” says director Sheila Wells.

Originally built as a house of worship in 1928, the venue’s soaring 35-foot domed ceiling and stunning arched windows bathe wedding guests in a warm golden glow in the multi-leveled Duomo. Couples can wed within the glorious cathedral or outdoors among the tranquil gardens and sculpted fountains. Wells notes, “All of our events are lovely. However, when couples provide different settings with loveseats and couches, it adds a special warm touch.”

Majestic Metro

Majestic-Metro

Photo: Tara Star Photography

Want to see your name in lights on your wedding day, like Houston lovebirds Jennifer and Mitchell? Couples who book downtown’s Houston’s Majestic Metro will experience that special thrill during their night of glamour and grandeur at this restored movie palace.

“There’s eye candy everywhere in the building,” says managing partner Linda Warwick. “What you see is what you get here, and that’s huge for a lot of our couples.”

First constructed by legendary Houston architect William Ward Watkin in 1926, the stunning space was set to be torn down, but was saved and returned to its original glory in the 1990’s. Today, this remarkable site boasts one of the most advanced audiovisual systems in Houston, perfect for its all-inclusive, music-filled celebrations, all set within a vintage Art Nouveau interior. “Other venues stage spaces to look like this,” Warwick says. “Ours is the real deal.”

The Bryan Museum

Bryan Museum

Photo: Courtesy of The Bryan Museum

From its beginnings as an orphanage—one whose solid cypress beams protected its wards from the great storm of 1900 — to its brief stint as a private residence, to its status, today, as one of Galveston’s most beloved archives, The Bryan Museum stands out as a superb historic venue for a truly Texan wedding.

Depending on the season and weather, couples may opt to have their ceremony in the jasmine-covered gazebo on the museum’s grounds. Bryan Museum director of events Ann Urban notes that, due to Galveston’s fickle climate, most couples opt for an off-site ceremony, bringing their guests to The Bryan Museum afterwards, for a one-of-a-kind reception in the museum’s recently completed, and completely climate-controlled, conservatory. At just under 2,000 square feet, the Belgian-inspired structure features intricate ironwork and evocative emerald-color glass, along with a built-in green onyx bar. These features, combined with a dazzling floor that “really is like a mirror,” Urban says, make The Bryan Museum’s conservatory, itself, “a work of art.”

Butler’s Courtyard

Butlers Courtyard

Photo: Lindsay Elizabeth Photography

Commissioned by one of the first and most successful ranchers in the region and designed by a cowboy-turned-architect, Butler’s Courtyard allows guests to travel back to the times of dirt roads and horse-drawn carriages—but with modern conveniences aplenty.

The red-brick building in the heart of historic League City, now almost 110 years old, served as a center of commerce and trade along George Washington Butler’s sprawling property at the turn of the 20th century, and was home to a bank, grocery store, café and a spot for patrons to tie up their horses. Today, co-owners and best friends, Nancy Richards and Janice Gunnin-Wilson, have transformed the space into a vintage-inspired setting for rustic-elegant nuptials that blend historic surroundings with impeccable service: “The bride will have a team behind her at every point in the wedding,” says Gunnin-Wilson. “We treat each bride with white gloves and take care of her every need.”

The venue’s exposed-brick walls, weathered-wood beams, antique floor-to-ceiling mirrors and rows upon rows of sparkling chandeliers create what the owners describe as a feeling of “historic elegance,” ideal for intimate occasions, like the one imagined in this breathtaking shoot from florist Haute Flowers & Events, shot by Lindsay Elizabeth Photography. Those with a love for the outdoors can wed beneath the romantic archway in the courtyard, where hanging stained-glass artwork and a nearby barn-like structure make ideal backdrops for Texas-themed photo ops.

For at-a-glance details on size, capacity, disabled accessibility and much more, for any of the above venues, click here…and happy venue hunting, loves!

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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!

Lisa-Vorce-Mexico-Hacienda 2_Jose Villa-9x7-HI-RES

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.”

LisaVorce_Rhode Island_Elizabeth Messina-16x11-HI-RES

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.

LisaVorce_Vietnam_Aaron Delesie-3x5-HI-RES

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

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