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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Weddings at The Brookwood Community

There are so many ways to “spread the love” with your wedding. Charitable contributions in lieu of guest favors. Donating your centerpieces to a local hospital or assisted-living facility. Gifting your b’maids with fair-trade goodies made by women in economically struggling countries…who just may be brides-to-be themselves.

But did you know you could actually make a whole lot of lives truly better with your wedding venue choice?

The Brookwood Community, located in pretty Brookshire (a short 40-minute drive west of Houston), is not just a picture-perfect spot for a wedding—think acres of velvety lawn, charming buildings scattered along gently winding roads, a beautiful steepled chapel—but it’s also an amazing place where adults with disabilities can live, work, learn and become more fully independent. And weddings at Brookwood help pay for these programs.

Brookwood-Community Photo: Elisabeth Carol Photography

Here’s what else:

  1. The Brookwood Community has a backstory that will melt your heart. Founder Yvonne Streit started the community to honor her own daughter, Vicky, who suffered brain damage as a young child—and built the unique (and uniquely picturesque) enclave to give disabled adults the education, support and compassion they often lose once they leave school.
  1. You can have your whole wedding—from “I do” to “Let’s dance!”—on one lovely property. Couples love saying their vows in the Brookwood Community country-church-like chapel, where sunlight pours in through the gorgeous stained-glass window behind the pulpit…after which they and ALL their nearest and dearest can celebrate in the 275-guest-capacity Garden Ballroom, where vast windows blend with sophisticated earth-tone decor, sparkling chandeliers, and superb catering service, for an elegant country-club feel.

Brookwood-Chapel Photo: Flat 18 Photography

  1. You’ll get a real farm-to-table food & drink experience. A working community, Brookwood has beautifully tended gardens, a horticultural center and 47 commercial greenhouses tended by resident citizens, growing 300,000 plants a year—some of which end up in culinary fare and fresh, artisanal wedding cocktails!

Brookwood-Community-Greenhouse Photo: Courtesy of Brookwood Community

  1. Your wedding fees will directly benefit the Brookwood Community’s more than 100 adult residents—many of whom arrive at Brookwood with very limited living skills, but learn, with guidance and compassion, to help and share with one another, maintain a schedule of daily chores, select clothes and dress themselves, plan the day’s activities, and if appropriate, manage personal finances.

Brookwood Community-Reception-Decor Photo: Courtesy of Brookwood Community

  1. Spiritual life is at Brookwood’s soul. While you don’t need to be a member of any particular denomination to have your nuptial celebration at this one-of-a-kind venue, know that the venue is maintained, by the directive of its founder and directors, “through the grace of God.” Couples who wish faith to be a focus of their special day, will find themselves, and their guests, surrounded by a real sense of spirituality in action, and, we’re quite sure, will find their wedding memories sweetened by the knowledge that they’ve made empathy, compassion and charity cornerstones of their marriage celebration.

Brookwood-Community Photo: Thomas & Penelope Photography

For more info about the Brookwood Community, contact on-site wedding pro Katie L’Ecuyer, who’d love to show you around the grounds, and let you see for yourself what your Brookwood wedding might look and feel like! And don’t forget to tell her you found out about Brookwood right here on the Houston Wedding Blog. Happy planning, loves!

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White, Gold, Champagne & Green Wedding at The Houstonian Hotel

Mona and Aamir are what we like to call a jet-setting couple. They met in New York City, he proposed in Chicago, and they got married in Houston! Their multicultural wedding weekend went a little something like this: It started with a mehndi—a South Asian ritual ceremony with henna and dancing followed by an intimate nikkah—a Muslim wedding ceremony—at home.

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The last day of their nuptial celebrations was a lavish Persian wedding ceremony at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa. “It was held in the Grande Ballroom which truly captured the essence of the sophisticated feel we were going for,” says Mona.

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Dream Bouquet decked out the reception with tall white and lush green floral centerpieces and placed green boxwood panels on the walls to add an outdoorsy touch to the decor.

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“One of our favorite moments was when our friends picked both of us up in a chair on the dance floor,” recounts Mona. And we gotta say…it’s one of ours, too. Congratulation to the newlyweds, and thank you for sharing your beautiful celebration with us, and our followers!

Bride-Dancing Photos: Steve Lee Photography | Venue: The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa | Baker: Susie’s Cakes & Confections | Reception Flowers: Dream Bouquet

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5 Fabulous Flower Designs from Haute Flowers & Events

“They are inventive, edgy…but can also bring in that elegant softness, for a princess.”

Dream Photo & Video-I Do 2017 Corinthian-Haute Flowers & Ivory Bridal Atelier Photo: Dream Photo & Video | Venue: The Corinthian | Gowns: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Floral Wreath: Haute Flowers & Events

Yeah, Janice (the recent bride who wrote these words in praise of Haute Flowers & Events)—we know exactly what you mean. We’ve been lucky enough to be partnered up with this talented League City-based event design studio for a few years now, and we can confirm that this balance of innovation and good ol’ fashioned pretty is what owner Teresa Vencil is all about.

And here’s the part where we put our money where our mouths are. OK, actually we’re gonna put our photos where our typing is. Or something like that. Just bear with us, darlings, it’s Friday, we’re hard at work on a brand-new magazine for y’all, and we’re a little loopy. But most of all, we’re a whole lot in love with these inventive, elegant, innovative, pretty, totally individual Haute Flowers & Events creations:

The Floral Lanterns: These great lanterns, accented with flowering branches and bright, boisterous blooms, hung over the head table at Sadie & Aneel’s wedding reception. We love the mix of the angular lanterns with delicate, spherical votive holders.

Floral-Lanterns Photo: Studio Uma | Flowers: Haute Flowers & Events

The Coordinating Flower Crown & Bouquet: You don’t need to be an ultra-boho bride to rock a flower crown—not if the Haute Flowers crew has anything to say about it. They designed this lovely set with refinement in mind, echoing the bouquet’s pale greenery and shades of coral, pink and yellow, in a sweet crown, completed with a sheer, flowing veil. Bonus points for groom’s cool boutonniere!

Haute-Flowers-Flower Crown-and-Bouquet-Binford-Creative Photo: Binford Creative | Bouquet & Flower Crown: Haute Flowers & Events

The Succulent Jewelry: Vencil and her designers created these vintage-inspired pieces exclusively for us, for this recent styled shoot, so we’re, oh, just a little bit partial to them. Plus, they’re gorge. Plus, wearing plants on your body is so freakin’ chic.

StyledShoot Photo: Lindsay Elizabeth Photography | Styling, Design & Flowers: Haute Flowers & Events

The Branch Canopy: Also created just for our shoot, this canopy is a little rustic, a little untamed, a little outside-the-box…and completely charming. It’s the perfect complement to a colorful, organic-feeling table design that looks completely at home inside the brick walls of Butler’s Courtyard, where this fantasy weddingscape was shot.

StyledShoot Photo: Lindsay Elizabeth Photography | Styling, Design & Flowers: Haute Flowers & Events | Venue: Butler’s Courtyard | Linens, Chargers & Pillows: EB. Inc Event Rentals & Design | Vases & Rentals: Darryl & Co.

The Floral Dress: It’s a dress. Made out of flowers. And it’s…uh-mazing. ‘Nuff said.

Haute-Flowers-Flower-Dress-LA-Photography Photo: LA Photography | Flowers: Haute Flowers & Events

Intrigued? Inspired? Snag yourself an appointment with Haute Flowers & Events, and turn that inspiration into real, live wedding design. And don’t forget to tell ’em “Hey girl” from their friends at Weddings in Houston!

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Making Marriage Work: Q&A with Stephanie McKenzie of The Relationship Firm

Stephanie McKenzie, founder of The Relationship Firm, has been a life coach of sorts since she was a teenager. “The first person I provided life coaching to was my godmother. She was getting divorced, and I was absolutely livid. I was 13 and I kept reminding her of the tenets of marriage,” Mckenzie says.

Stephanie-Mckenzie

Photo: Courtesy of The Relationship Firm

She won’t go as far as to say that divorce is never an option, but she will tell you, straight up, that it’s a very last option. As a certified life coach, who offers counseling for couples in any stage of the game, she believes that couples who are willing to fight for their marriage will always have a chance of making it. To her, that fight starts when a to-be-wed says, “Yes.”

We talked with Stephanie about what engaged couples can learn from marriage counseling, and the importance of talking about the things that might make you squirm, and we learned a bit about the coach herself. Take a look!

Houston Wedding Blog: How did you get into this industry?

Stephanie McKenzie: It was a really well planned accident. This was not what I was doing with my life, but I had done it my whole life unofficially. I was working in marketing and started working with a dating site. I thought it would be great to offer relationship education. So I went and got certified and started building a brand via social media.

HWB: What has shaped your opinion on marriage?

SM: My parents are divorced and have been since I was about two years old. Yet, I was never engaged in the conflict—they remained friends. As I got older and developed more of a spiritual understanding, I realized how beautiful it can be when two people come together and want to share their life. It requires an understanding of something greater than ourselves, no matter what you call it. Marriage really is a divine union and can be amazing if you do it right.

Civic-Photos-Engagement-1

Photo: Civic Photos

HWB: What are the most common problems—or potential problems—you see when you work with engaged couples?

SM: I see them being very idealistic about what marriage is, thinking that they have arrived and achieved, once they say, “I do.” The wedding is just one day. It is supposed to be a celebration, but couples shouldn’t let it get bigger than the marriage, to the point where they are spending plenty of cash, but are bankrupting their marriage with the stress and the tension. Anyone can get married, but I am talking about staying married.

A lot of the time couples just haven’t talked about anything, or they haven’t talked things through to the point of resolution. And I don’t just mean talking about having kids or where they are going to live, but also money, sex, and deal-breakers, which we call “no-no’s.”

HWB: What are your no-no’s?

SM: No-no’s are always determined by the couple, but if someone asked me for my deal-breakers, they would be physical and emotional abuse. I hate divorce, but sometimes when you can’t get what you need from a partner, and are being degraded and berated, something has to change. I would also add consistent disrespect by thought, word or deed. At some point everyone does something that is disrespectful, but maybe they didn’t think it through. After you tell someone what you expect and come to a resolution, and they continue to show these behaviors, then that’s a huge problem.

HWB: What advice do you have for couples for not letting the wedding get bigger than the marriage?

SM: Elope… I’m kidding. I recommend that they craft a ritual to stay grounded. Make every Thursday night massage night, or every Saturday morning go on a walk or a run, and don’t talk about the wedding.

Also, take away the expectation of perfection. It should be a beautiful day, and not a stressful day where mistakes are not welcome. You are both fallible, and if you are going to have a life together, mistakes are going to happen.

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Photo: Serendipty Photography

HWB: What are some of the biggest points of contention you recommend couples talk through before their wedding?

SM: Learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way is huge. People often have the mistaken notion that when there’s conflict, it is terminal. We can grow to love and have a greater understanding for our spouse if we handle conflict correctly. Not dealing with conflict can be like dripping water on a rock. It just keeps dripping until it erodes the rock. You might call it the Grand Canyon.

Also, for many couples, sex comes as an assumption, but it is something you should discuss. It is very easy once you’re married for life to take over. Your friendship and your physical intimacy with your spouse are so important. Your union with your spouse should be your priority; don’t let your marriage be a casualty of your life.

HWB: OK, so we’ve talked about sex and conflict? What about the other taboo: money?

SM: Regarding finances, my cardinal rule to couples is to figure out what works, and don’t tell anybody outside of your relationship. People have visceral reactions to how other people handle their money. At the end of the day if you want to have a joint account, great. If you want separate accounts, that’s great too. Just don’t tell anybody. Everyone is going to have an opinion and it will make you doubt the decision you made with your spouse—the only other person who has skin in the game.

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Photo: Adam Nyholt

HWB: What is the benefit about discussing all of this before the wedding?

SM: I always liken it to weight loss. You can lose 10 pounds or you can lose 100 pounds. What’s easier? If we are coming in and taking the bull by the horns from the beginning, it’s easier to be beholden to the values that brought the couple together, not the values that are breaking them.

I am working with a couple that I also worked with during their premarital coaching session, and the same issues are cropping up. I do feel that they will be more successful because at a certain point they knew that they had to call me, or another unbiased party who could help. It takes a humble person to say that. I feel like those couples who say, “We need help with this and want to be our best selves and our best love,”—those are the couples that last.

Visit The Relationship Firm here, and contact Stephanie McKenzie to schedule your pre-marriage coaching session. You’ll be glad you did!

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Venues We Love: The Lyceum of Galveston Island

The other day, we were sitting around the ol’ HWB editorial table, pretending our Diet Cokes were Prosecco (again) and shooing Bella Boo away from our snacks, when our talk turned to historical wedding venues. We get so many inquiries from Houston wedding couples who want to do their “I do’s” in a bona-fide landmark, so over the years, we’ve done tons of research, scoured the region, and turned up restored movie houses, repurposed bank buildings and former famed breweries—all now being used to house some of the region’s most gorgeous weddings.

And that’s how we lit upon the Lyceum. While this amazing venue’s full name—the Lyceum of Galveston Island—lets you know where it’s located, what it doesn’t let you know is how it came to be…or what a wedding there might be like. Which is where we come in. Check it out:

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Photo: Courtesy of The Lyceum of Galveston Island

The Lyceum has major historic cred. An official Galveston historic landmark, the original Lyceum was built in the 1840’s and served as a philosophical meeting center and entertainment venue for the Galveston Island community. In 1854, the First Lutheran Church of Galveston bought the building, and turned it into their worship center and the first public school in Galveston (students paid $1 per year for tuition).

As building design goes, it’s pretty much a knockout. A soaring square tower and steeple, a grand double-door entrance, floor-to-ceiling stained-glass windows—this seriously wow-inducing historic Galveston wedding venue ain’t messing around. And the choir loft, and fully equipped stage? Yeah, they pretty much make the Lyceum a slam-dunk for wedding setups.

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Photos: Courtesy of The Lyceum of Galveston Island

You can take advantage of the great outdoors. While the Lyceum’s interior is a major space, let’s not forget that this historic wedding venue also has a beautiful courtyard area, lush lawn and lovely gazebo—perf for catching a Gulf Coast breeze, and treating guests to a taste of island sunshine…or starshine.

Lyceum-Wedding-1

Photo: Courtesy of The Lyceum of Galveston Island

Now is a great time to visit the Lyceum and chat with venue manager Cynthia McEldowney about making your Galveston dream wedding a reality—and make sure to tell her “Hi!” from the Weddings in Houston crew!

Lyceum-Wedding-Civic-Photos

Photo: Civic Photos

And now…back to bubbles, Bella Boo…and working on our awesome brand-new Summer/Fall issue, on newsstands July 1!!

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