Mr. Wallaby and I knew that we would like to invite about 150 guests to our wedding, so our venue search was based on that estimate. We are both big kids at heart, and we jumped at the idea of getting married at the Houston Zoo or the Houston Museum of Natural Science (Whaaa? You can get married in the Hall of Paleontology?!), but we soon had to rule out those options due to cost. We also played with the idea of getting married at Hermann Park, where we’ve been on countless picnic dates, where we’ve had intense boot camp workout sessions, and which features a rose garden, a small lake, a reflection pool, a Japanese garden, an outdoor amphitheater, and plenty of pretty areas for a wedding ceremony or reception.
The Japanese garden at Hermann Park / Photo by Cynthia McGraw via Fine Art America
Ultimately, though, planning a wedding at Hermann Park would be very stressful, since it would be 100% DIY, down to renting chairs, tables, a tent (Houston weather is notoriously unpredictable!), etc.
As I started researching venues, I was attracted to many different historic houses and properties—these venues have a lot of the charm and uniqueness that Mr. W and I were looking for, as well as the vintage factor. The first venue that we visited was Great Oaks Plantation Manor in Richmond, Texas.
Photo via Great Oaks Plantation Manor
Great Oaks Plantation has beautiful landscaping and a gazebo constructed for outdoor ceremonies:
Photo via Great Oaks Plantation Manor
The historic mansion has period decor, which provides a great backdrop for a vintage-inspired wedding. The events coordinator showed us several rooms inside the mansion that could be used for a cocktail hour, although there is not enough space for a seated dinner for 150 guests. There are also vintage-chic bedrooms for getting ready, Scarlett O’Hara style:
The parlor: I l-o-v-e-d that plush pink sofa—it would be the perfect prop for bridal portraits. / Photo via Great Oaks Plantation Manor
One of the bedrooms for getting ready / Photo via Great Oaks Plantation Manor
However, there were a number of disadvantages to hosting our wedding at Great Oaks Plantation. First, there isn’t a large enough indoor space for a seated dinner—so we would need to rent a tent. I checked out tent-rental prices in the Houston metropolitan area, and they are astronomical. The catering bill we were quoted, plus the cost of renting a tent, did not fit in our budget. Also, the grounds of Great Oaks Plantation were fairly small—Mr. W and I had envisioned playing croquet and lawn games during the cocktail hour, and there just wasn’t enough space at this venue.
The next venue Mr. W and I visited was The Richmond House, also in Richmond, Texas.
Photo by Carlea J Photography
Our appointment was around sunset, and this historic mansion looked b-e-a-utiful as the sun was going down. The floor-to-ceiling windows create a romantic glow from the inside. The Richmond House also offered an outdoor space for a ceremony en plein air:
Garden wedding setup at The Richmond House / Photo by Carlea J Photography
An elegant table setup on the porch of The Richmond House / Photos by Theo Graphics
A beautiful cake table setup for an indoor reception at The Richmond House
After the outdoor ceremony, the guests are ushered inside for a cocktail hour and reception. The Richmond House provides tables and beautiful Chiavari chairs, in-house catering, a cake, and florals. However, there is not enough space for all 150 guests to be seated on one floor, so they would have to split the guests up and seat 75 downstairs and 75 upstairs. There isn’t an elevator, either, so my handicapped relatives wouldn’t be able to go upstairs to mingle with our other relatives and guests. This was a big deal-breaker for Mr. W and me. Also, the outdoor ceremony area didn’t have a “wow” factor—Mr. W and I want to get married outdoors because we are huge nature-lovers, and there weren’t any show-stopping trees or other foliage in the garden area. Instead of grass, the ground is covered in AstroTurf.
The Richmond House was near the upper limit of our budget, and these various factors, among others, discouraged us from booking the venue for our wedding. Mr. W and I visited one final venue, and that one topped the others. We happily booked that venue, and I will blog about it in another post! Stay tuned.
How did you narrow the list of options for your wedding venue? Did you have a list of “must-haves” and “deal-breakers”?