TIME TO CELEBRATE
Venue Rentals in Houston and Surrounding Areas
By Susie Tommaney
Life’s important moments are best shared with family and friends, but as the invitation list grows it often becomes apparent that your home just won’t be large enough.
From weddings, engagements and anniversary parties to sweet sixteens, bar/bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras and even holiday celebrations, choosing the right venue can make all the difference in creating a memory that will last a lifetime.
The size of the space, the style of its décor and its proximity to the majority of your guests should all be considered before booking a venue. But perhaps the most important element is timing; the further out you plan, the more options become available.
START PLANNING NOW
While many brides begin planning their weddings two years out, that’s not a timeline that works for everybody. Couples seem more comfortable with a year-long engagement, which still gives plenty of time to try for their first, second and third choice venues. Teens dreaming of their sweet sixteen and quinceañera events also are making decisions six months or a year in advance.
If you just can’t get in and you’re really and truly in love with a particular venue, there are a few options. If you’re flexible about the date, let the venue know so they’ll put you on standby if any cancellations arise.
Our region has so many wonderful event spaces that you could easily fall in love with a completely different venue. Think about what was so appealing about your first choice: its geography, the magnificent ballroom, the manicured gardens or its versatility as both a ceremony and reception site. Then start your hunt for another space that has similar characteristics. You’ll be surprised at what you can find.
KNOW YOUR GUEST LIST
Once you know how many family members, friends and co-workers you’re going to invite, it becomes easier to choose the right venue size. After all you wouldn’t put a small family gathering in a cavernous ballroom; nor would it be appropriate to fit a seventh-generation Texan with extended family into a small dining hall.
For crowds around 2,000 you can’t go wrong with Bayou City Event Center — large enough for helicopter landings, fireworks shows and water slides — or Corinthian Houston inside the historic First National Bank building with its neoclassical columns, white marble floors and soaring ceilings.
Immerse yourself in old world atmosphere with Venetian-inspired murals and French elegance at Chateau Cocomar, or with Italian marble and charm at The Astorian. Other large capacity venues include the Omni Houston Hotel, Southern Lace Estates, The Revaire and The Woodlands Resort.
Bigger isn’t always better and a moderately sized event alleviates some of the stress in planning and is certainly easier on the pocketbook. “Event planning should always be a fun, easy and an enjoyable experience, and it is at The Bell Tower on 34th,” says Roger Igo, president of the dramatically stunning venue, where every photograph is a keeper.
The mature trees and stunning grounds of The Houstonian offer a great escape near The Galleria with plenty of choices for planning a party. They have six indoor spaces for any size event but there’s something magical about attending a wedding in the meadow or hosting an intimate dinner for 24 guests under the twinkling lights of the live oak tree.
“A key part of life’s biggest celebrations involves the selection of a memorable menu. Ask potential venues what food they are known to do at a very high level — that is, what their customers rave about and come back to enjoy over and over again,” says Lisa Hopkins Barry, Director of Catering and Conference Services at The Houstonian. “Make sure it’s something that’s approachable for your guests and relevant to today’s trends. That, in my opinion, is the perfect menu.” (Insider tip: Be sure to ask them about their decadent Dulcey Brownie Bite.
CEREMONY TO CELEBRATION
Multipurpose spaces can offer a solution not found with other venues. The Cleveland Civic Center does just that with its 8,625-square foot ballroom, conference center and covered pavilion. The ballroom can be opened up or converted into two or four smaller spaces. “We can have four events going on at once; it’s soundproof,” says Frieda Joyce, the tourism and marketing director for the center. “We have a pavilion on the side of our facility where people will get married and then have a reception indoors. We’re about 35 miles north of Houston, so we get a lot of renters from Pearland, Pasadena and Kingwood.”
OUT OF TOWN
Whether it’s a destination wedding you’re after, you’ve always dreamed of a sunset ceremony on the beach, or your kids all attended the University of Texas or Texas A&M and that’s where all their friends live, there are plenty of reasons to book your event outside the city limits.
Halfway between Houston and Austin along the 290 corridor is the Burton Roadhouse. The history is evident in this charming pub known for its killer pizzas, regionally known live music and small town charm.
Speaking of history, Galveston has some of the most stunning venues imaginable. While the 1859 Ashton Villa is not available for public tours, the island’s first mansion can be rented and holds 200 seated or 250 standing guests. St. Joseph’s Church, built by German immigrants in 1859, also is available for private functions. The 1880 Garten Verein pavilion has been lovingly restored and offers spectacular views from every angle, while The Lasker Inn has come a long way since its start as a refuge for homeless children; its rooftop observation deck offers breathtaking views of the constellations.
Galveston’s hotels solve the problem of where to stay and provide stunning rental spaces along with catering capabilities, guest rooms and so much more. From The San Luis to the historic Hotel Galvez and The Tremont House, you don’t have to be born on the island to understand the appeal.
The equestrian set won’t want to miss Haras Hacienda, known for its fabled Lusitano horses. Imagine having your guests arrive by carriage or horseback at this stunning estate that includes a lake, small island, chapel, plazas and even a boutique hotel.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Carrie Bradshaw chose the New York Public Library for her wedding in Sex and the City: The Movie, and it’s just that kind of “outside the box” thinking that guarantees an event to remember. Here in Houston the historic Julia Ideson Building, with its arched windows and distinctive Spanish architecture, has eight different rooms that can be rented to the public.
Also off the beaten path is 14 Pews, the former church that now hosts visual arts, film and theater events. Those original pews are still there, making this the perfect setting for almost 100 guests.
Museums are a great way to break the cookie cutter mold and experiment with your entertaining style. Introduce the romance of the west at The Bryan Museum with its exquisite Renaissance Revival-style building surrounded by landscaping in the heart of Galveston.
Another museum that’s available, though not for the faint of heart, is the National Museum of Funeral History. It has hosted birthday parties, Halloween parties and non-traditional weddings in and around its extensive collection of historic hearses and caskets. Not all celebrations are joyous, however. In the event of a funeral, the NMFH can host your memorial service while also assisting with the writing of an obituary or eulogy.
The Bell Tower on 34th
901 West 34th
518 North Railroad,
Bryan Museum Conservatory
1315 21st, Galveston
Cleveland Civic Center
200 Peach, Cleveland
Kempner Park, 2704 Avenue O, Galveston
26427 Peden, Magnolia
Hotel Galvez and Spa
2024 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston
The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
111 North Post Oak Lane
Houston Public Library
Julia Ideson Building,
Omni Houston Hotel
Pearland Convention & Visitors Bureau
11200 Broadway, Pearland
7122 Old Katy Road
Round Top Festival Institute
248 Jaster, Round Top
The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center
5222 Seawall, Galveston
Southern Lace Estates
1110 Indian Shores, Crosby
St. Joseph’s Church
2202 Avenue K, Galveston
Texas Maritime Museum
1202 Navigation Circle, Rockport
The Tremont House
2300 Ship’s Mechanic Row, Galveston
The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center
2301 North Millbend Drive, The Woodlands