By Henry V. Thiel
Are you overwhelmed by the minutiae involved in planning your wedding? Are you stressed out? Tired? Ready to call the whole thing off? How did love turn into something so many couples come to loathe? Well, relax, eloping isn’t your only option.
“Our ceremony-planning services are unique and different from others in the industry, because we take care of the whole package,” says Yvette Valdenegro, owner and senior consultant at Pop Up Wedding Houston. “We take care of all the to-do’s, the officiant, photographer, music, cake, bouquet and flowers, as well as the theme, style, and overall design, so all you have to say is the ‘I do’s.’ We have done all the overwhelming searches and the start-to-finish planning that will allow our couples to rejoice over the insane savings.
“So many couples come to us with a luxurious vision for their special day, but when we add up the numbers, they realize they can’t afford it,” says Valdenegro. “My goal and desire is to give couples their dream-come-true wedding at a fraction of the price, all without lifting a finger.
“Our vendors and venues are among the most desirable in the city, like Sugary & Chic Cake Boutique, Station 3, and The Houstonian, to name just a few,” Valdenegro adds. “We have a really fun and diverse list of venues to choose from, which makes the selection process for our couples simple and straightforward. It’s a special time in their lives and their focus should be on each other. A Pop Up Wedding Houston couple can have their 90-minute ceremony and celebration, with 10 guests, starting at $2,800. The guest list can grow, plus we offer several optional add-on services like transportation and hair and makeup. We recently did a ceremony with 35 guests for less than $5,000. A traditional wedding costs an average of $32,000. Imagine what you can do with the savings!
“I would like all our couples to know that we genuinely seek to create an experience they’ll never forget,” she says. “By our lifting the worry from their brow, by taking care of the essentials, we will alleviate stress so that they’re able to truly focus on each other.
“While we are all about planning, we have pulled together a wedding with just a week’s notice,” says Valdenegro. “We are all about soon-to-be-wed couples. A Pop Up ceremony is often booked anywhere from two months to two weeks out from the ceremony date. We’ll plan even further out, but the short-term notice is our specialty. We’ve done the research already and narrowed down options with many of the city’s top vendors. Every Pop Up couple’s ceremony is exquisite in its own way.”
Like most people who identify as lesbian or gay, Shaun Gray, owner of Gray & Associates Events, didn’t spend a lot of time dreaming about his wedding when he was little, because before 2015, it wasn’t even a possibility. Instead, he dreamed of other people’s weddings.
“Everyone, gay or straight, wants to host a celebration that their friends will enjoy and their family will cherish,” says Gray, “but ➝ they can’t do that if they’re worried about when the flowers are going to be delivered, or if the caterer has arrived. We take care of all of those details for our couples, so they get to enjoy their wedding. We, and the vendors we use, are honored to be able to help navigate those waters for our clients every day.
“Marriage equality not only introduced a new segment into the wedding market, it blew up the standard wedding traditions that straight couples were bound to,” adds Gray, “to the point that same-sex couples are actually influencing wedding trends across the board. They want an expertly-styled event curated for their tastes that actually reflects the journey that they have traveled together as a couple, in order to celebrate the union they are entering into, and have fun in the process.
“One trend we are seeing now is that both individuals in the couple are entering the ceremony together and walking to the altar hand-in-hand,” shares Gray, “and there are more personalized ceremonies, and other meaningful touches throughout the wedding celebration, regardless of the couple’s sexual identity.
“All our wedding packages include just the amount of services our couples need from us,” says Gray. “We can take care of as little, or as much, of the wedding planning process as our couples want us involved in. We get it. You’re busy. But, you also want the wedding to feel like yours, so, after a consultation with Gray & Associates Events, we’ll tailor a package to fit their needs.
“One of the first weddings we did right after marriage equality was passed,” says Gray, “was a couple that signed up for our ‘day-of’ coordination services. They had an idea that marriage equality would be passed, but didn’t know it was going to happen so fast. However, they wanted to do a lot of the planning themselves, but wanted us to handle the last six weeks of confirming with their vendors, and mapping out the wedding-day flow. Their faces would light up when we would explain to them how their wedding day would unfold, because they weren’t ever really confident that they’d get to experience this as a committed couple. That’s when we knew that same-sex couples were going to be able to really benefit from our services. A few times in the process, someone could have referred to them as a pair of ‘groomzillas,’ but what made it okay was that they were coming from a place of unfamiliarity, instead of entitlement. They really embodied the magic of a couple who was genuinely excited to share their new union in front of their friends and family.”
For David Rexroat, owner and creative director of the gay-owned-and -operated Rexberry Luxury Weddings and Events, it’s all about creating the dream wedding for each of their customers. “We are truly a custom wedding design firm,” Rexroat says. “We have an amazing selection of accessories, from linens to flowers, that can fit any budget. We do not work with packages, as we feel it is important to create a one-of-a-kind experience for each client. We have done weddings on a private yacht in Galveston Bay, at Hotel ZaZa, and an intimate reception dinner at Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse.”
But before you can plan the wedding, there’s planning the perfect proposal. “We don’t actually plan the wedding,” says Bryan Cotton, owner and operator of Before You Ask. “We plan the big moment leading to the wedding—the proposal.
“Before You Ask is a unique planning business in Houston because we are the only company offering a GIA-accredited jewelry professional to help people shop for their engagement ring, as well as help plan their proposal,” says Cotton.
“When marriage equality became a reality in June 2015, it was monumental for all of us,” he adds. “Gay people had been getting married long before then, but since the ruling was announced, there has been a cosmic shift in attitude toward marriage. People are more relieved and joyous that their marriage is now recognized across the nation, rather than just in a few states. And their celebrations show it.”
Before You Ask
1414 S. Friendswood Dr., Suite 412
Gray & Associates Events
720 Rusk St.
Pop Up Wedding Houston
Rexberry Luxury Weddings and Events
9317B Katy Freeway
Henry Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist. He always leaves the planning to the professionals.