by Elizabeth Craft

For anyone planning a wedding in Houston, I’d highly suggest checking out Visit the Venues. The event, hosted by Bridal Extravaganza, is held every year and helps people in the wedding planning process. Whether far along in your planning or starting at the very beginning, Visit the Venues is a great opportunity for brides to learn their options when it comes to vendors. Everyone is welcome to attend the event, mothers, fathers, and members of the wedding party. Even a few grooms attended the event.

A range of vendors are there to help with anything and everything you need. In fact, I assure you that you will find something you want to include in your wedding you hadn’t thought of already. It is a wonderful opportunity for brides to see first-hand the many options available when it comes to different wedding styles and decor, catering and bartending options, entertainment, sweets and treats and even travel options. My fiancé and I attended Visit the Venues together. It was great because it encouraged my fiancé to get in on the wedding planning. We decided to make a date out of the day, and not only did we have loads of fun, but we booked a vendor we would have never considered if we had not attended.

My fiancé and I travel to the pick-up location where we are escorted by bus to the venues we will be seeing today. On arrival we are greeted by the Bridal Extravaganza team and given a goody bag with the latest edition of Texas Weddings magazine along with a brochure detailing the different vendors that would be present at each venue. There is also a cute travel size mirror and comb provided by Simple Beauty Artistry, a make-up and hair design company, included. How cute! I am already excited to get to the venue to sample some treats and hopefully get some free goodies.

After boarding the luxury buses, we had about a 25-minute trip to the first venue. Walking into The Grand Hall was amazing. The main building was set up as if it were someone’s actual reception dinner. The decorations, done by Rexberry Luxury Weddings & Events, are gorgeous. The vaulted ceilings are littered with brightly lit chandeliers setting the mood to compliment the romantic décor. In the center focal point of the room is a fireplace and a grand mahogany table for the wedding party to sit. The table is overflowing with beautiful flowers, large pink roses and white hydrangea among smaller pink and white rose buds. Candles in golden etched candleholders illuminate the assortment of flowers, and along the table on the floor are varying lanterns to complement the lavish, rustic feeling. There are also several round tables which are decorated similarly with textured tablecloths and exquisite centerpieces, a golden tree with sparkly candles and another with an ornate wooden rectangle candleholder, all are surrounded with the same gorgeous fresh blooms.

We drift towards a table of food but stop because we smell the most mouthwatering flavor of fried dough. We follow our noses which leads us to The Donut Fairy booth. They are frying mini donuts fresh and have a variety of toppings to decorate your little donuts. To sate my desire, I don’t even take the time to add toppings and pop an entire donut in my mouth. Delicious! I may have to save some room for another round later, but I need to try some hors d’oeuvres.

The foods provided by Phoenicia Specialty Foods are quality. There were several varieties of cheeses I tried that I had never even heard of. It was all equally fresh and delicious. We were also complimented to two delicious alcoholic drinks, one jameson and cream soda and another fresh, fruity drink by Pour Habits, a mobile bartending company. Of the other several vendors at The Grand Hall venue, mine and my fiancés favorite was Proof It Happened photo booth. We had so much fun taking photos with the different props available. It included a feature where it printed out copies of your photo directly, as well as options to text the image to your phone or send it in an email. Not to mention the premium option which allowed guests to record messages to congratulate the married couple.

The best part of attending Visit the Venues, was the first-hand experience, seeing the decorations, tasting the foods, and getting to talk directly to vendors about options. It was all really nice and convenient. This year’s struggles with corona virus left the event shorter than previous years, but all the same it was enjoyable and informative. I became aware of options I never would have previously considered, such as including a photo booth at my wedding. Also, wedding planners, Blue Poppy Events and The Best Day Ever Events, attended the event. In talking with the planners, I have learned the importance of hiring a planner. Wedding planners help you by keeping everything organized. Instead of stressing about making sure your caterer arrives on time with hot food, a planner can take that responsibility and greatly reduce your stress allowing you to focus on what is important, enjoying your wedding! I am having so much fun and we still have yet another venue to visit.

Once again, we load on the buses to head to our next venue. This trip is shorter, 15 minutes or so. We arrive at The Mirage on Lake Conroe. Walking in, we are greeted and given the opportunity to sign up for prize give-a-ways. The foyer is crowded from the people unloading from the buses, and so we make our way into the venue. We walk down a grand staircase, the banisters lined with fluffy, white balloons by Pull It Together Party Co. as if they were the clouds reflecting off the crystal, clear lake that stretches out behind the venue. The only thing breaking the view is a halo of flowers as the backdrop. More lanterns set the ambiance. I imagine standing under the halo of flowers at sunset. This venue is breath-taking and is completely in-doors, which is something I must consider regarding some of the elderly guests whom will be attending my wedding. Always something to consider. The last venue, while completely gorgeous in its own regard was a little too hot, despite the event being held in mid-September.

We meander through the side rooms with varying vendors. The reception area is decorated in a kind of four-seasons, these done by Party Time Rentals. Summer has bright yellow tablecloths and blue china setting, fall has burnt orange cloth and black dinnerware. Each centerpiece is slightly different with varying rings of fall flowers. Winter is elegant, with all white and clear placements. Its centerpiece has a tree with crystals hanging off it like icicles. Of the four-seasons my favorite is spring. The colors are pastel pinks and creams. There is a sample backdrop with decorative books, the pages folded like hearts and arranged amongst roses of every variety of pink. I also love the wedding party table. What catches my eye is the birdhouse decorations and again more beautifully folded books and flowers. Of the second venue, my favorite vendor was For Heaven’s Cake. They had the most delicious cake balls I have ever had. There was red velvet cake and lemon berry. Chocolate and white chocolate. If I had the opportunity, I would turn back time so I could get some more of their cake balls. Instead I am stuck with the better, in my opinion, alternative, and that is convincing my fiancé that we need For Heaven’s Cake’s cake balls at our wedding. My fiancé and I meander through the various booths throughout the venue. There is another photo booth in the corner and several wedding parties are having fun posing for pictures with the various props. This photo booth, by Weddings Unlimited, had the option to do video mementos.

The day is coming to an end and they call for us to load on the buses. My fiancé and I had such a great day. We learned a lot about the various options available to consider regarding vendors available for hire for our wedding. It is also worth mentioning that several of the vendors can be hired for a range of events, not only weddings. We were complimented to many tasty foods and sweets as well as varying alcoholic beverages. We even got some nice goody bags with extra treats to take home and enjoy. There are many reasons why I recommend attending Visit the Venues. Whether you attend with members of your wedding party, with your mom or dad or with your soon-to-be, Visit the Venues is fun for everyone and a great resource for anyone planning their wedding.

Purchase tickets to the next venue tour