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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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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Green, Purple, Teal & Gold Wedding at The Bell Tower on 34th

We’ve heard the most interesting, and adorable ways Houston couples meet the love of their life—but Tamantha and Cory’s love story is definitely one of the cutest.  “We met during residency orientation at UTMB in Galveston. Cory was sitting in the very last row of the auditorium, and I was in front of him. He watched me play Sonic on my iPhone over my shoulder and decided to spark up a conversation. That was the beginning of what I’ll always consider a special friendship,” recounts Tamantha.

Tamantha remembers the proposal like it was just yesterday, “I came home from working a long shift to Cory preparing chicken parmesan for me—which was the first dish he cooked for me when we started dating. Before we could even start thinking of food Cory disappeared from the living room, and our dog ran towards me. He had a little brown jewelry bag on his leash, and next to him was Cory kneeling on one knee!”

Wedding-Program

A year later the pair tied the knot at The Bell Tower on 34th. “Our aim was for a fresh look with a mix of bright colors. Everything was planned to be color coordinated—from the invitations, to bridesmaid dresses, and even the cake and flowers,” says Tamantha.

Bridal-Portrait Groomsmen

Cory wanted to add something unique for the groomsmen, so naturally, each one of them wore Marvel hero cuff links and socks.

Superhero-Cufflinks Superhero-Socks Purple-White-and-Green-Floral-Arrangement Outdoor-Wedding-Ceremony Teal-Bridesmaid-Dresses Bride-and-Groom Bride-and-Groom Bride-and-Groom Welcome-Table Green-and-Purple-Centerpieces Green-and-Purple-Centerpieces Rustic-Centerpieces Teal-and-White-Wedding-Cake

“Our wedding day marks our third year anniversary of being together, and will always be a special day for us,” she adds. Congrats and best wishes to the newlyweds!

Tamantha & Cory-Steve Lee-Bell Tower on 34th-HI-RES-029

Photos: Steve Lee Photography | Venue: The Bell Tower on 34th

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Plan Your Napa Valley Wedding with Cole Drake Events: Q&A

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

Northern California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys both top the destination wish lists of countless to-be-wed couples in Houston, and, indeed, all over the world. One of the region’s premier event planning firms, Cole Drake Events has a deep knowledge of the area and its wedding choices, and with her genetically determined passion for parties—her mother is an event-industry icon who plans major bashes for nonprofits and California cities—co-founder Stephanie Cole spends each working day guiding wedding couples through the hills and valleys of wine-country wedding planning. Here, she offers a bit of that renowned Cole Drake know-how to Houston to-be-weds—one of her most beloved destination demographics: “They’re always so much fun to work with!”

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Photo: Briana Marie Photography

Weddings in Houston: How important are Texas-based couples to the region’s wedding scene—and why do you think Napa-Sonoma is such a strong draw for Texas to-be-weds?

Stephanie Cole: Every year it seems to be that about half our wedding business comes from Texas. Napa-Sonoma has it all in my opinion: picturesque scenery, world-renowned cuisine, marvelous mixology programs, amazing wines and perfect weather (meaning no humidity, y’all). It’s easy to see why it’s such a strong draw as a destination wedding location!

WIH: What’s the best way for a Houston couple to get a feel for the region before planning their wine-country destination wedding?

SC: The best way to get a feel for the region is to come out here…come on, I’ll twist your arm to come taste wine, eat amazing food and enjoy the beautiful weather! Once a couple has made the decision to get married in wine country, the most important thing to do is find and book a local wedding planner. They can listen to what you want in the area and offer suggestions for wedding venues. They can eliminate a lot of research for you, and, if they’re good, they’ll know all of the right people to contact to check availability.

Some couples only want Napa County—I mean, I am a Napa local, so I get it. But Sonoma County has a ton of hidden gems too. Healdsburg and Sonoma are postcard-worthy towns that are underrated due to Napa’s huge name recognition.

In Napa County, Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga are my favorite towns, and can all be considered wine country chic.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Aaron Delesie

WIH: What local activities or attractions should be part of a fabulous wine-country destination-wedding weekend?

SC: Wine tasting (duh) cannot be missed. One of my favorite activities for a wedding group is to have them blend their own wine! There are several wineries that offer this unique option, where guests are teamed up—we randomly pick teams by numbering off—and given specific assignments. The team creates their own wine blend together (imagine beaker, goggles and lab coat), while individually each member is responsible for other tasks (label creation, marketing strategy, financials, etc.).

After corking the wine and presenting to the judges, an overall winner is decided. It’s a great way to break the ice with people that may not have a chance to meet and mingle otherwise.

Croquet brunch at Meadowood Resort is another fantastic option. Guests dressed in all white—with fabulous sunglasses to hide the effects of the killer wedding the night before—can learn from Meadowood’s resident croquet master the skills and rules of the game before letting loose! Coupled with a brunch buffet, including a Bloody Mary bar and/or a mimosa bar, it’s one of the best ways to end your weekend celebration.

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Photo: Sylvie Gil

WIH: On the culinary side, what can couples expect from local dining options?

SC: Napa County certainly boasts world-renowned cuisine. We have the Restaurant at Meadowood (with three Michelin stars), the French Laundry in Yountville (with three Michelin stars), and countless one-Michelin-star-rated restaurants. Fun fact: Yountville itself claims the most Michelin stars per capita of anywhere in North America.

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Photo: Jose Villa

WIH: How can a Houston couple bring wine, and wine culture, into their Napa-Sonoma destination wedding?

SC: If a couple is in love with wine, food and wine pairings or tasting menus are the best ways to showcase it. We work with some of the best sommeliers and chefs in the area and can have them pair wines with cuisine for wedding couples and their guests.

For the wedding, small touches of wine country are definitely noticed. Utilization of barrels (don’t worry, we have a lot of them), personalized signs printed on cork, and finished wood farm tables with fashionable wine country chairs scream wine country chic.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

WIH: What advice do you have for couples who are considering a Northern California wine-country destination wedding…but may be hesitant about bucking the tradition of a big Texas nuptial bash?

SC: For my Texas clients, it generally takes them one trip to wine country as a couple (often during their courtship, or as the site of the proposal) to fall in love with the place. After they get engaged and think about their future wedding, they immediately think again of this beautiful place.

The most common concern is distance—but that’s where a planner makes it so easy. A wedding planner who is based in Napa or Sonoma knows the area, knows the key partners and knows what to expect. Your planner can offer suggestions to you (think about her as your matchmaker for your wedding dreams) and can even help you save money (and avert disasters). Simply put, planners are trained to eliminate the stress and to make your wedding vision come to fruition.

Finally, more often than not, we hear our clients lamenting that if they were to have a wedding in Texas, it would be a 300-to-400-person affair, which can be overwhelming. Here in wine country, our Texas-based wedding groups usually range in the 120-to-150-guest mark.

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

WIH: We know that Texas couples are awesome…so tell us, why do you love Lone-Star-state lovebirds so much?

Year after year, Texas couples are seriously some of my favorite couples, and often become personal friends after the wedding. They always have a vision of what they want for their destination wedding, but they also have an open mind for new ideas and cost-saving suggestions. Plus, they are the sweetest and most thoughtful couples I have ever met!

Cole-Drake-Events

Photo: Sylvie Gil

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8 Destination Wedding Spots Tailor-Made for Houston Couples

The escape from city crowds, the beautiful natural settings, the promise of abundant R&R with beloved family and friends—what’s not to love about a destination wedding? While the experience of a destination celebration is all about leisure, narrowing down the choices for your destination-wedding location can be, well…a lot of work. So allow us to assist you, with a peek into some of our favorite settings for the nuptial celebration of a lifetime—one that will let you and your guests enjoy life to the fullest!

NAPA VALLEY VISTAS

St. Helena

Special events at The Culinary Institute of America Greystone.

Photo: Courtesy of Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

In the center of Northern California’s world-renowned Napa Valley sits charming St. Helena—home of legendary hot-air-ballooning, diverse art galleries and vibrant family wineries. Known as “Napa Valley’s main street,” St. Helena also is home to the Culinary Institute of America’s magnificent Greystone campus, where regal 19th-century architecture meets spectacular vineyard views…and where every wedding is an unforgettable celebration of food, wine, family and friends.

Texas-based couples love hosting guests at this iconic venue—and with good reason. Where else but at CIA-Greystone, former site of the historic Christian Brothers winery, can you find a 90-foot-tall atrium, a stunning barrel room, and some of the world’s most exciting cuisine and wines, all in one place?

Napa

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Venue: CIA-Copia | Photo: Victor M. Samuel

For a Napa Valley food-focused wedding in a more contemporary setting, set your sights on the Culinary Institute of America’s newest facility: Copia. Located in the city of Napa itself, CIA-Copia is a food-lover’s playground, and a perfect place for lovers to celebrate the bond of marriage with those they love most.

Copia’s sophisticated mezzanine deck, overlooking the glass-walled atrium, modern amphitheater and the Napa River in the background, is among the venue’s most coveted spaces for sipping fine wine and craft cocktails, and feasting on custom menu items created in collaboration with CIA chefs.

You and your wedding guests also will get to take advantage of Copia’s many options for foodie fun. Located adjacent to the lively Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, Copia offers culinary classes and demonstrations, tastings, and a fabulous on-site store where you’ll find everything from local wild mushrooms to luxurious French cookware.

HEAD FOR THE HILL COUNTRY

Wimberley

Old Glory Ranch

Venue: Old Glory Ranch | Photo: Anthology Photography

Historic Texas mill town Wimberley, located 45 miles southwest of Austin, is a haven for weekend antiquers, art-lovers and outdoors-enthusiasts. It’s also a picture-perfect location for your riverfront destination celebration.

For a wedding that takes full advantage of the natural beauty of this beloved Hill Country locale—but also allows for an on-site chapel ceremony and elegant ballroom-style reception—be sure to check out Old Glory Ranch, situated on 2,200 acres of Hill Country range along 1.5 miles of dazzling Blanco River frontage.

Whether you choose to say your vows in Old Glory’s enchanting Oak Grove, on a patio overlooking the emerald-green Blanco, or inside the venue’s climate-controlled Chapel Hall (built from repurposed homes and churches from the turn of the 20th century), you’ll know that your event will be given the full attention of Old Glory’s experienced staff—some of whom have been with the venue for more than a decade.

And make sure to inquire about the venue’s beloved miniature donkeys—which, when saddled with vibrant flower baskets, elicit “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” from guests young and old, and are a favorite for newlywed photo ops.

Dripping Springs

Terrace Club

Venue: The Terrace Club | Photo: George Street Photography

Known as the “Gateway to the Hill Country,” picturesque Dripping Springs is located just 25 miles west of downtown Austin, but feels like a million miles away from the big city. A visit to Dripping Springs might find you gobbling down Texas barbecue, plunging into the jade-green waters of famed Hamilton Pool, or two-stepping at a historic Texas dancehall.

A destination-venue-hunting trip to Dripping Springs must take you to The Terrace Club, where you’ll find yourself on top of the highest ridge in the region, overlooking acre upon acre of spectacular Hill Country scenery.

Terrace Club couples love to descend the stone walkway, and say their vows in the venue’s garden space, beneath a flower-bedecked arbor (and, more often than not, in front of a majestic Hill Country sunset), before making their way with their guests to the 7,000-square-foot ballroom, for dining and dancing. Since everything, from catering to rentals to centerpieces, is included in their wedding package, couples need focus only on the festivities, which means they have way more energy to enjoy a Dripping Springs wedding weekend of lawn games, local lake adventures, and celebratory hijinks at the acclaimed Deep Eddy Vodka distillery, located adjacent to the venue.

Johnson City

King-River-Ranch

Venue: King River Ranch | Photo:Bonnie & Lauren Weddings

In picturesque Blanco County, along the Pedernales River, lies the “Crossroads of the Hill Country”: Johnson City. Home to the “Texas White House”—aka the childhood home of President Lyndon Johnson—this charming Hill Country enclave, located just under 50 miles west of Austin, boasts countless nearby wineries, plus local hiking, fishing, horseback riding and hot-air-ballooning.

It also boasts beautiful King River Ranch, a stunning wedding spot set on a private ¼-mile stretch of the Pedernales, where horses, miniature donkeys and St. Croix sheep graze in expansive pastures…and where in-house wedding design services are provided by Willem-Aiden, a former fixture on Hollywood’s lavish event-design scene.

In love with the Hill Country, but got your sights set on a big, beautiful wedding, with all the whistles and bells of an in-town bash? King River Ranch’s King Barn can accommodate 250 for a seated dinner and dancing, while the venue’s spectacular River Terrace, built directly into dramatic rocky riverbank, provides an unparalleled backdrop for relaxed (but ultra-elegant) revelry.

GO WEST, YOUNG TO-BE-WEDS

New Ulm

The Vine

Venue: The Vine | Photo: Smith House Photography

Just west of Houston, set on 23 rolling acres filled with gently swaying trees and sunset views for miles, The Vine started as a rough sketch and a dream…and is now a regal private event venue that makes wedding-couples’ dreams come true.

The Vine’s capacious Barrel Barn may have “barn” in its name and customized sliding reclaimed barn doors at its entrance—but the nod to a rustic farm structure stops there. This remarkable 500-guest-capacity reception space features floor-to-ceiling flagstone fireplaces, gleaming wood surfaces and state-of-the-art lighting and sound capabilities, plus the ability to slide back those big ol’ barn doors and let nature in when the weather allows.

For a destination wedding ceremony with a contemporary chapel feel, The Vine’s on-site Union Bell Chapel is true to its name, with a working bell that newlywed couples can ring as they exit the chapel and make their way to the party of a lifetime.

Future weddings at The Vine will get to enjoy the fruits of this venue’s labors—literally—as the property’s young grapevines will be ready for harvest in the next couple of years, and eventually will be featured at the venue’s planned tasting room.

Columbus

Big Easy Ranch

Venue: Big Easy Ranch | Photo: Joey T. Photography

Situated 70 miles west of Houston and 80 miles southwest of Austin, Big Easy Ranch has everything a weekend wedding group could want, all on one magnificent 1,300-acre property.

Tour the grounds of this true-Texas-style destination resort, and you’re likely to stumble on sparkling lakes, picture-perfect ponds, cascading waterfalls and stands of centuries-old oak—any of which might strike you as a perfect spot for your al-fresco “I do’s.”

Dining, dancing and revelry typically take place in the 10,000-square-foot Lodge, where celebrants can feast on farm-to-table cuisine prepared by the ranch’s award-winning chef (gourmet game, and seafood with a Southern twist, are just a couple of his specialties).

During their leisure hours—one of the greatest appeals of a weekend destination wedding, after all—attendees may want to avail themselves of Big Easy Ranch’s Chet William-designed championship golf course, cast a line in one of the property’s well-stocked streams or lakes, or take a chance on trophy hunting with one of the ranch’s expert guides (Big Easy Ranch happens to be one of the top-producing whitetail ranches in Texas).

However you choose to round out your Big Easy Ranch wedding weekend, you’ll enjoy a destination wedding experience, at a destination so close to home, you’ll be snuggled down in your newlywed nest almost before you know it.

MEXICO IS FOR LOVERS

Cancun & Tulum

Oasis Hotels & Resorts

Photo: Courtesy of Oasis Hotels & Resorts

For busy couples who crave an oceanfront destination wedding without the logistical and design responsibilities a destination wedding can entail, Oasis Hotels & Resorts has the ideal wedding package solution, in one of two Yucatan Peninsula destinations: Cancun, offering dazzling beaches, endless shopping and high-energy nightlife; or Tulum, where soaring cliffs and Mayan ruins meet soft sands and cavernous cenotes.

Whichever site you select, Oasis will take care of every detail, from ceremony to reception to accommodations and more, when you choose the “O Weddings” package that fits your destination-wedding dream.

Options include the O Mayan Package, which incorporates local history and culture into your nuptials, with a traditional Mayan altar setup at your beachfront location, and a ceremony performed in the Mayan language (with English or Spanish translation, of course!).

For larger, more lavish celebrations, the O Eternity Package includes exclusive ceremony and reception decor; a private poolside or beachfront dinner with open bar, DJ and custom lighting; and a rehearsal dinner in one of the resort’s acclaimed specialty restaurants.

And while your O Weddings package features may be pre-set, the service you’ll receive is completely personalized. Oasis Resorts’ U.S.-based staff will serve as your concierge throughout the planning process, and put you in touch with your own personal bilingual wedding expert, on site, to make everything simple…and superb.

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