October 23, 2016: Living in El Paso, a different city than the city that your fiancé lives in AND a different city than your wedding location; makes for a bit of difficulty when it comes to planning, but we finally set our wedding date and locked in a venue.
Three months after our engagement date, my Pinterest boards were full and The Knot app was downloaded on my phone and full of favorite potential vendors, but we hadn’t really found any time to do any real life wedding planning. Luckily, we picked a date and my mom, sister, and I traveled to San Antonio to meet my fiancé and his mom, sister, and niece, plus some of our best friends for a weekend of venue shopping. I used The Knot app to schedule three out of five venue tour appointments, and they were so helpful in doing so. The app is very easy to use and I was immediately contacted by someone who was there to answer all of my questions, which was great. The other two I scheduled directly with the venue and the site contacts were also extremely helpful.
Here are my reviews of the venues:
The Lodge at Bridal Veil Falls
The Lodge at Bridal Veil Falls wedding venue was one of my top picks, based off of some of the photos and videos I had seen online and in the San Antonio Bridal Magazine. As we approached the venue, it was absolutely gorgeous and the views did not disappoint. I was a little weary about the location, just because it was quite the drive and on some pretty windy hill country roads, but I was still in awe of the property. Amber, our tour guide, led us around and it was definitely somewhere I could see myself getting married. I loved the high beams in the large main room, the ceremony location was breathtaking with a gorgeous waterfall in the backdrop, and the surrounding areas were full of gorgeous scenery. So far, it all felt like a great fit. The Lodge also offered some great additional features including the bridal suite, the grooms “man cave”, and on-site casitas available for rent. As far as the bridal suites go, they were the best ones I’ve seen yet; they really thought of everything to help make your wedding day the best day ever. The on-site “casitas” are actually what originally attracted me to this venue and they could be rented out for wedding guests to stay in overnight. Since most of our guests will be traveling in from out of town, I somewhat got hooked on that idea. Unfortunately, this location didn’t have as many casitas as I had hoped, so it really wouldn’t have worked out for all of our guests, but it was still a great location. After discussing the pricing and detailed information with Amber, who was so much help, we also did not like that we could not bring in our own bar and had to stick to a limited menu offered by the venue. Upon leaving our tour, we were definitely considering this location, but had a lot to think about since this was just our first stop.
Venue shopping was off to a great start and we were excited to continue the day, it already felt like it was going to be really hard to decide which one to choose.
The Marquardt Ranch
I had read great recommendations online about The Marquardt Ranch and not only was it a gorgeous location to drive up to, but our tour guide was the sweetest and gave the best advice throughout the entire tour. She really took the time to get to know us and I know brides are well taken care of at this location. I think the staff can make it or break it on your wedding day, so that was a huge plus. The pictures online did no justice for the views at the ceremony location. I was awed by the gorgeous view outside the building and the inside was just as beautiful. I loved the style and look of the ranch and the details inside really made it a beautiful room. I liked that we wouldn’t have to do much decorating, because it was a gorgeous room on its own, but you could still add your personal touch. The property was absolutely beautiful, but as far as the location, I wasn’t sure if it was too far out, since I needed to consider hotel arrangements and additional transportation for our out of town guests. We also had mixed feelings about being required to use the on-site catering, even though the catering menu looked great, we wanted to be able to consider other food options. Overall, it was a great venue and the best tour experience.
Our third venue for the day was just a few miles away and we headed to our next appointment. (Note to self: when scheduling venue tours, it’s best not to schedule them so close together, leaving no time for lunch. At this point we were starving, but excited for the next stop.)
Another Texas hill country venue wowed us as soon as we arrived with it’s gorgeous views and our first impression of Paniolo Ranch was really great. The reception room had amazing balconies with incredible views of the hill country, but the room itself was a little more plain. I wasn’t opposed to having more of a blank space, to add our own personal touch, and the view was really all you needed at this location. Our tour guide, led us around the property, but seemed a little distracted so we really didn’t receive that much information at this location. The outside ceremony site was still really pretty, but the look and stone seating area really wasn’t something that I pictured for my wedding. Still beautiful, but not really my style. We received some of the details and pricing, but decided that this location didn’t really have the look we were going for after all. One thing I also noticed, since my favorite part of the venue was the view from the balconies, was that after the sunset, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view anymore during an evening wedding and I would have had to do more decorating inside to brighten up the room. I definitely would recommend seeing this venue, because they had some great features, but the overall look was not what I was envisioning for our wedding day.
A day full of looking at wedding venues, was not a bad way to spend a Saturday. Wedding talk is my favorite thing to do nowadays so after lots of venue talk we decided to sleep on it and wake up for another day of tours. Plus, there was one venue in particular that I was excited to see, but we were saving that one for last.
The Springs in New Braunfels
It seems like I stuck to a similar style for all the venues, because driving up to this location was again, a beautiful rustic hill country look. The Springs in New Braunfels had two different buildings available for weddings, each with a beautiful outside ceremony space. After touring each site, we were drawn to the first building, but both were very similar in style. The large reception rooms would hold all of our guests comfortably and I loved the wood floors and large chandelier in the center of the dance floor. I would have wanted to remove the tool accents, even though they would charge a fee to take them down. It also had a beautiful staircase that I loved for our entrance after the ceremony. The ceremony site was outside, complete with more amazing hill country views. I loved the look and it was really a perfect wedding space. One of our favorite features was that you could bring in any catering and bar services of your choice, with no extra fees. Our tour guide was really great and very informative. We definitely enjoyed this location and before leaving, we checked and took notes on available dates as we were definitely interested in following up.
Everyone was very happy that I scheduled a break for breakfast in between venue tours today and we found a cute little diner with the BEST pancakes we’ve ever had. I was secretly very anxious because our next venue location was the one I had been waiting to see.
OUR WEDDING VENUE
So, I know I mentioned earlier that I kind of had my heart set on a specific venue…well I fell in love with that venue and Norman and I can’t wait to say “I DO”, with the most amazing view. As much as I want to brag about our wedding location, (to be announced at a later date) I have to keep some of the wedding details a surprise!
Overall, Norman and I really enjoyed getting to tour so many great locations in the San Antonio Hill Country. I’m so happy that our little entourage accompanied us to the venue sites, because we really appreciated their advice and feedback. San Antonio, and the surrounding area, has some fantastic wedding venues to offer and I definitely recommend all five locations that we toured. All are unique in their own way and I think our wedding would have been so special at any of those locations. In the end, it was our last venue tour location that won us all over. I even mentioned that I felt like I was going to cry as we stood at the ceremony site, so I knew it was a sign that we had found our venue.