Sweeping vistas, stunning bodies of water, and some of the planet’s most magnificent sunsets live in and around Houston, Texas. While this Southern metropolis offers plenty of true-to-Texas outdoor wedding venues, it also features al fresco locations that will have you saying I do beside a tree-lined pond, amongst a colony of sea lions, beneath a custom-made cedar arbor, or on a manicured lawn in the shadow of an exceptional piece of modern art in downtown Houston. Whether you’re a down home Texas gal, an urban-loving art aficionado, or anything in between, Houston has an outdoor wonderland that’s ideal for your special day.
The rustic sophistication of award-winning Briscoe Manor, created by its 15,000 square feet of limestone architecture and classic-country landscape, infuses nuptials at this sprawling venue with ample romantic charm. Offering numerous options for ceremony locations, the 50-acre Briscoe Manor features Blake’s Lakeside, which, as the name implies, is situated by a placid lake that exhibits views of a green pasture with grazing cattle, and the vibrant, grass-filled Amy’s Courtyard, providing easy access to the Grand Foyer and Crofton Ballroom. The ballroom, where many receptions are held, makes a dramatic impression with its limestone walls, exposed metal piping and soft, elegant lighting. This picturesque atmosphere is ideal for couples wanting the spirit of Texas to play a role in their celebration.
Typical Cost: $5,200 – $11,500
Bonus: Bridal parties are able to prep for the ceremony in total comfort, as Briscoe Manor provides a bridal suite, with marble vanities, a chandelier, and cushy seating arrangements, in addition to a groom’s lounge with flat screen televisions and a billiards table.
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Lovers of unrestrained nature will appreciate the enchanting, organic ambiance of the 155-acre Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. Outdoor venues at this sprawling wonderland include the Meadow Deck, which overlooks Meadow Pond and a lush display of rugged foliage, and the Lily Pond that allows your ceremony to line a pond that’s surrounded by towering trees. If you would like to have your reception inside, the large indoor space offers a patio, vast forest views, furniture and linens, place settings, dance floor, sound system, and a kitchen for your caterer of choice to utilize.
Typical Cost: $500 to $1,000 for 2-hour rental
Bonus: As the Arboretum is a non-profit, all wedding proceeds go towards protecting Texas’ native plants and animals.
Natural environments exude a greater sense of wonder when they’re filled with a variety of living creatures, which is why a wedding at the Houston Zoo is such a magical experience. Whether you’re a fan of gorillas, sea lions, jaguars, or other exotic animals, the zoo has you covered with venues that include the Gorilla Arrival Building, aquarium, chimpanzee habitat, Sea Lion Deck, jaguar habitat, reptile house, massive reflection pool, and more. In addition to the stunning nature-abundant settings, the zoo offers a variety of catering packages that include delicacies from numerous regions, but of course, plenty of Texas favorites, like brisket, short ribs, coleslaw and smoked cheddar grits.
Typical Cost: $75 – $95/person for food. Price available upon request for venue rental fees.
Capacity: 60-500, depending on venue
Bonus: For an additional $500, you can enjoy up-close interactions with some of the zoo inhabitants through the Animal Ambassador Program. This offering includes a zookeeper bringing small animals to your reception for guests to learn about, (in many cases) touch, and take photos with.
This family-owned, 21-acre property certainly has something special going for it, as it has been the site of dreamlike weddings for over 40 years. Bordering the serene Cypress Creek, Shirley Acres allows the regal stability of palm, pine, and oak trees to combine with the fluidity of water, creating an ambiance that is truly spectacular, especially for those that have a deep appreciation for Mother Nature. Outdoor ceremonies at this massive venue are often hosted in a grassy courtyard that’s surrounded by an awe-inspiring assortment of soaring foliage and features a custom-made cedar arbor, ideal for the exchanging of vows. If your big day is struck with inclement weather, ceremonies and receptions can be enjoyed in The Garden Room or The Pavilion. The Garden Room maintains the charm of nature with 20-foot ceilings, chandeliers, and massive picture windows that look out onto the courtyard, while The Pavilion offers an ambiance of rustic elegance with a wood beam ceiling and wrought iron chandeliers.
Typical Cost: $1,100 to $3,000 plus 18% gratuity
Bonus: For those that want to fully immerse themselves in the wonders of Shirley Acres, there is an on-site guesthouse, which offers four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
If you’d like to mix the urban vibrancy of downtown Houston with the ethereal essence of the natural world, Discovery Green is the wedding venue for you. This 12-acre park offers five exquisite outdoor wedding venues, including Lindsey Waterside Landing, Jones Lawn, Grace Event Lawn, Maconda’s Grove, and Transier Bandstand. Lindsey Waterside Landing features a massive manicured lawn and stunning modern art fixture, Jones Lawn is the largest expanse of grass in the park, Grace Event Lawn is surrounded by trees and gardens, Maconda’s Grove has a crushed granite ground and towering pine trees, and Transier Bandstand includes a small stage, ideal for live bands and DJs. If you’re looking for a wide range of outdoor options, Discovery Green is a great place to begin your venue search.
Typical Cost: A price quote is provided after an Event Application is submitted
Capacity: Up to 6,000
Bonus: Proceeds from your wedding support the maintenance of the park, and the community enhancing events and services it provides.
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Bailey Gaddis is the author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood, a childbirth preparation educator, birth doula, and hypnotherapist who works with mothers-to-be, new mothers, and their support teams. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.