Harmony Wedding Chapel, Photo by Chris Adams (Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches)
Getting married in Houston can be an exercise in stress and overspending. Here are a few venues we suggest for upcoming wedding ceremonies and, more importantly, receptions.
10. Harmony Wedding Chapel 8120 Gulf Freeway, 713-643-7777
First on our list is Harmony Wedding Chapel, the little chapel that could. This is about as close to Las Vegas as you can get in Houston. True, there are no Elvis impersonators, but we're guessing the folks at Harmony might be talked into letting you bring your own for a sizable tip. As you might expect, this is the least expensive venue on our list. It's also the venue that's closest to a freeway (it's on a Gulf Freeway access road). Be sure and give your guests (all 100 of them) good directions, or they'll spend a half hour taking the next exit and circling back. Cheesy? Yes, but also kinda quaint and seriously kitschy, which is just right for some weddings.
9. Bridge Water Events 2651 S. Highway 146, Baytown, 281-837-6700
You have your choice of an outdoor wedding ceremony in a lovely gazebo or inside the banquet facility. Both have the Fred Hartman Bridge as a backdrop. Bridge Water is easy on the wallet. The website lists prices as $250 for the ceremony, another $2,000 for a Saturday night, $350 for a bartender and security guard and $350 for a DJ. There's also a 8.25 percent tax and 18 percent gratuity added to the total.
8. Rosemary's Garden 14639 Bellaire, 281-568-9151
Yes, the chapel is simple and cozy at Rosemary's Garden. But you don't go here for the chapel; you go here for the great ballrooms that are available for your reception. Prices are extremely reasonable and the garden setting is lovely.
Is this the swankiest site on our list? Ah, not quite. But it's also not the most expensive on our list either. For a charming chapel and reception halls marked by low-key luxury, we suggest Rosemary's Garden.
7. The Bell Tower on W. 34th 901 W. 34th St., 713-868-2355
As you might guess, prices are a little higher for the Bell Tower on W. 34th. It's a great setting and offers full service options. The setting is grand, but not extravagantly expensive. Yes, it's slightly pricier than some other sites on our list, but what can we say? When it comes to weddings, you pay for architecture as well as service. Besides, those wedding photos are going to last a lifetime, spurge a little and get something classy -- and reasonable.
6. The Corinthian 202 Fannin, 713-222-2002
The Corinthian is exquisite - and sadly, expensive. Prices start at $6,000 and run up to as much as $15,000 for a basic wedding and reception. And no, those are not all inclusive prices. (Ouch!) But the setting, service and ease of arrangements make the Corinthian a go-to site if you have the money.
This is one of the more solemn sites on our list, which makes for a nice alternative to a church ceremony while keeping the formal, dignified atmosphere. The same area some use for a ceremony, other couples use for the reception so the Corinthian's layout gives you lots of options. At a price.
5. The Parador 2021 Binz, 713-529-3050
The historic Parado is a landmark building that was once a church (notice the high dome of the central ballroom). It's perfect for a ceremony or reception. Prices start at $1,500 and run to $7,500 for a basic package. Besides the indoor ballrooom, you can have your choice of a courtyard or garden wedding.
4. FantaSea Yacht Charters Kemah Boardwalk, 281-969-4774
Here's a different sort of wedding, perfect for a Gulf Coast couple - the FantaSea Yacht. For a mere $120 or so per person (100 people minimum), you get a four hour cruise, a uniformed captain to perform your ceremony while at sea, hors d'oeuvres, a dinner buffet, wedding cake, open bar and a DJ. The 117 foot long yacht holds 149 people comfortably. And, did we mention OPEN BAR? This is one of the few reasonably priced open bar options that we've run across.
3. Chateau Cocomar 14525 Champions, 713-538-9400
Even the most unreasonable Bridzilla will be happy at Chateau Cocomar. Grand grounds, historic architecture and luxurious reception rooms. Yes, you'll pay for the privilege, but think of the memories.
2. The Hotel Galvez & Spa 2024 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, 409-765-7721
If you're going for an outdoor wedding, we suggest The Hotel Galvez. The hotel has great, grand reception rooms, wonderful guest rooms and best of all, a view of the ocean. The gardens are the perfect spot for an outdoor "I do."
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1. The Crystal Ballroom 909 Texas Avenue, 713-227-7423
The Crystal Ballroom tops our list. For sheer class and a historic setting, you can't get much grander than the old Rice Hotel's luxurious ballroom (the site of many an important Houston celebration). If there's any way you can swing it, choose the Crystal Ballroom. It's absolutely number one with us - and generations of Houstonians.