Elaborate Draping Created Nooks for Lounges, Cake, and Champagne at This Ballroom Wedding in Texas
Nautical nods and tons of personalization set this classic reception apart.
High school sweethearts Elizabeth Smith and Christopher Newton weathered seven years and separate colleges before they got engaged, and while the pandemic added some uncertainty to how their wedding would unfold, it ultimately didn't stop the joyous event from happening. "Covid-19 was hard," says Elizabeth. "We got engaged right before the pandemic hit and basically planned the whole thing having no idea what the next month would bring as far as restrictions." The pair made the decision early that they did not want to move their original date and would just work around whatever circumstances were presented when the time came. "Luckily, vaccines became readily available right before the wedding," she explains, "though due to border closures my older brother and his family were not able to make it from Canada." A livestream from Elizabeth's church where the couple wed allowed her brother and other guests who couldn't attend in person to watch the ceremony.
The aesthetic the bride envisioned was timeless, elegant, and involved "a whole lot of flowers!" she says, noting that she was dreaming of "a floral wonderland." While the Episcopal church had some restrictions on the amount of décor that could be added to the sanctuary, the grand Hotel Zaza, where the reception took place, was the perfect backdrop for masses of blooms. "When I saw a preview of the florals that day, I actually cried tears of joy," Elizabeth admits. Some lovely nautical touches were also part of the plan as a nod to Chris' passion for the sea and occupation as a merchant mariner. Ultimately, the bride's devotion to extreme details was evident throughout the event. "Our wedding was over the top with amazing details," says Elizabeth, who commissioned hand-painted Champagne bottles, etched specialty ice, and edible cocktail toppers (among other accents!) so everything would coordinate seamlessly. "Christopher was gone a majority of the time spent planning the wedding, but he was very easy-going with what I wanted," she adds. "He went with the flow. Also, we hired an expert wedding planner, Victoria Cornelius for Belle Events, and a great team of vendors."
When asked how they would reassure other couples planning their events under uncertain circumstances, Elizabeth had an enthusiastic reply: "Remember why you're having the wedding in the first place! You are getting married to the person you love. If you keep that with you, you will find that most stressors will be a lot easier to deal with."
Exquisite details set the couple's engraved stationery apart and prepared guests for the event to come. A custom monogram by Shuler Studio was framed by a border of flowers by Mesh Alex, who also painted an anchor for the reception card as a nod to the nautical elements the celebration would reflect.
The bride's classic satin pumps by Manolo Blahnik featured sparkling embellishments that served as her something blue.
"I knew from the start I wanted a long-sleeve, high-neck wedding dress," says Elizabeth of her Monique Lhuillier gown. "Most of the women in my family wore high-neck dresses, so it was a great tradition to be a part of!" The lace ball gown featured a delicate floral pattern, and the length of the train was extended to make it 10 feet long.
Subtle drop earrings enhanced the garment's neckline.
In addition to his Texas A&M class ring, Chris accessorized with a Sinn watch, a wedding gift from Elizabeth.
His tuxedo, sourced from The Black Tux, included a white jacket paired with black pants and tie. "I wanted Chris in a white dinner jacket so he had no other choice," laughs Elizabeth. "I think it is such a classic, formal look."
Look of Love
Chris and Elizabeth met in the courtyard of the church before the ceremony for their first look. "I was nervous right before because I was just hoping he was going to like my dress!" explains the bride. "One of the few things I remember about that moment was saying, 'I told you my dress was long!'"
Bridesmaids dressed in shades of white, while groomsmen were resplendent in black tuxedos, creating a classic color palette that spoke to the formality of the event.
Here Comes the Bride
Elizabeth's father walked her into the church and down the aisle.
Sealed with a Kiss
The pair exchanged the traditional vows of the Episcopal Church at the stunning altar embellished with minimal flowers. "Ave Maria" and "The Lord's Prayer" were sung by a soloist to live music, and the ceremony ended with Handel's "Allegro Maestoso" from Water Music.
Edible toppers featuring the couple's signature anchor design and monogram added a special touch to drinks during the cocktail hour.
Attendees signed an oversized Champagne bottle with metallic pens in lieu of a guest book.
A massive mirror was etched with the seating chart and framed with fresh flowers for a striking statement piece leading into the reception.
The exquisite head table was topped with a lush floral runner while a matching canopy stretched overhead. The dance floor was situated beneath the ballroom's stunning crystal chandelier. "We decided to go with a black-and-white checkered dance floor for its sophisticated and classic look," says the bride. "It was the perfect fit!"
Floral garlands spilled over the tables, mimicking a bridal train.
Place settings were composed of heirloom china, classic flatware, crystal stemware, vintage glassware, and elegant menu cards.
At Each Spot
Hand-painted macarons added a touch of color to the tables, coordinating perfectly with the green glassware.
A focal point was the ice bar engraved with the couple's monogram; wedding flowers were frozen into the sculpture. "I believe it weighed around one ton after it was all said and done," says Elizabeth. For the cocktails that were served, "we used specialty ice cubes etched with anchors," she adds. "One of the coolest small details of the night—pun intended."
Across from the head table and overflowing with blooms was a beautiful backdrop set up for the live entertainment, Drywater Band.
Pretty lounge areas on the edges of the space were framed with drapes and accented with pillows that featured the couple's monogram.
The newlyweds had to climb a set of stairs to reach the top of their Champagne tower arranged on a custom acrylic stand.
Elizabeth and Chris' almond-flavored confection by Susie's Cakes was completely covered in detailed white sugar flowers.
For the Groom
The groom's cake was an exact replica of the ship Chris works on, and, for a touch of humor, the bride changed its name to "The Elizabeth."
They chose the 1950s song "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin as another nod to Chris' passion and occupation.
The same type of custom candles that created a signature scent during the reception were gifted to guests as favors. "They were a huge hit!" enthuses the bride.
Light on Her Feet
Elizabeth ended the evening in a form-fitting, one-shouldered Romona Keveza gown. "It was the complete opposite of my first dress, and I loved it!" she says. Dancing ended with the final song "This Kiss" by Faith Hill—the bride's favorite song since she was a toddler. "When the song started, confetti cannons shot off, and everyone's mouths dropped in shock. Then we continued dancing!" she recalls. "It was such a fun moment that I honestly will never forget."
Photography, Kelly Hornberger
Ceremony Venue, St. Martin's Episcopal
Reception Venue, Hotel Zaza
Event Planning, Victoria Cornelius for Belle Events
Event Design and Flowers, Blooming Gallery
Videography, Bear Hands Media
Invitations, Mesh by Alex
Stationer, Claudia Engle
Two-Letter Monogram, Shuler Studio
Seating Chart, Laced Vinyl Shoppe
Officiant, The Rev. Alex D. Graham III
Ceremony Gown, Monique Lhuillier
Reception Gown, Romona Keveza
Bridal salons, Casa De Novia Bridal (ceremony); Warren Barron Bridal (reception)
Headpiece, Maria Elena Bridal
Veil, Monique Lhuillier
Jewelry, Nazar's & Co. Jewelers
Shoes, Manolo Blahnik
Hair and Makeup, Hey Lovely
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Bella Bridesmaids
Menswear, The Black Tux
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Nazar's & Co. Jewelers
Guest Book, Charming Scribe
Music, Drywater Band
Catering, Hotel Zaza
Cake, Susie's Cakes
Rentals, Aztec Events and Tents; Your Butler's Pantry
Favors, Callidora Candles
Transportation, Sam's Limousine
Lighting, 360 AV Design
Confetti Cannon, Phoenix Design Group
Getaway Car, Monarch British Limousines
Save-the-Dates, Katie and Co.
Ice Bar, Ice Designs Houston
Macarons, Wink by Erica (cookies); Nib and Pixel (edible painting)
Custom Cookies, Dough by Mo
Hand Painting, Half Moon Lettering
Specialty Ice Cubes, Fat Ice Co.
Napkins and Stickers, The Essential Market
Acrylic Drink Stirs, AcrylicSticks.com
Photo Booth, Smilebooth
Dance Floor, Mike's Dance Floors
Pillow and Napkin Monogram, Out of the Box
Stamps, Little Postage House
Floral Donation, Floranthropy
Neon Sign, Neon Gallery
Dance Floor Props, Foam Party Hats
Koozies, Carolina Can Coolers
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