Wedding and reception venues abound in Houston.
By Marene Gustin
Sure, there may be some Texas politicians who aren’t happy about the Supreme Court’s historic June ruling on marriage equality, but there are plenty more wedding vendors in the state who are thrilled that same-sex weddings are now a reality in Texas.
By some estimates, the $50-billion wedding industry in America will be enjoying a huge boost in business. According to statistics compiled by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA Law, Texas could see more than $181 million in additional wedding spending over the next three years.
“I’ve seen an increase in my business,” says Dewayne Ross, creative director and owner of Wedding Bliss Events. “I just got a lesbian couple who have been together for 16 years, and I am so excited to be officiating at their wedding.”
Of course, most wedding planners admit that there’s really no difference between planning same-sex weddings and heterosexual weddings. Most loving brides and grooms want the same traditional touches: the cake, the flowers, the venue.
And when it comes to choosing a venue for the wedding or the reception, there are numerous choices in and around Houston.
So how to choose? Ross has some basic questions that he asks the newly engaged.
“First,” he says, “how many people are you inviting? That really helps to narrow down the options.”
Are you planning an intimate wedding for close family and friends, or a huge shindig for hundreds? There are venues for both, and anything in between, in the area.
The second question Ross asks is about the “feeling” they envision. “Do you want romantic, traditional, or historic? I have a gay couple planning a Halloween-night wedding at the George Ranch Historical Park.”
George Ranch is an historic ranch in Fort Bend County that offers wedding packages in romantic old-west settings. Like many venues, the staff can coordinate many of your needs, from setup and cleanup to dressing rooms and linen service—an important point if you want to consolidate vendors.
Ross says the next question he asks clients is about their budget. “What do you want to spend? You can get [downtown venues] like the Magnolia Ballroom for about $5,500, or the historic Julia Ideson Library for $10,000 to $11,000 a night.” (Ross is also the Magnolia Ballroom’s special-events manager.)
Ross likens choosing your wedding venue to buying a home, albeit for one night only. It may be one of the most important location decisions you make.
Ross’ final advice for couples is to make sure their venue and vendors support same-sex marriage.
“I wouldn’t put my money into a company that didn’t believe in marriage equality,” he says.
So far, neither Houston nor Texas has experienced anything like the Colorado court case where the Masterpiece Cakeshop bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. In fact, many wedding vendors and venues in and around Houston are courting same-sex couples.
The Chateau Polonez or the House of Dereon/Rice Mansion in Houston, the Doubletree Hotel-Galveston Beach or the Ocean Village Hotel & Resort in Galveston, Phoenix Special Events Center in Columbus, South Shore in Clear Lake, Bogart’s Casa Blanca in Navasota, Heather’s Glen in Conroe, and the La Torretta Resort in Conroe all are welcoming venues for same-sex couples looking for fabulous wedding venues. All are well-established businesses that are embracing marriage equality and opening their doors to love.
Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.