Texas Wedding Planning Tips

If you’re saying “I do” in the Lone Star State, here are your essential Texas wedding planning tips from Zola.

By Emily Forrest

Texas Wedding Planning Tips
Photo by Brit Nicole Photography

The First Look ✨

  • Texas is a massive, diverse state with a mix of urban oases and rural retreats, both of which include unique and lovely wedding destinations.
  • Cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston offer wedding backdrops such as historical landmarks, groundbreaking restaurants, swanky hotels, and innovative cultural scenes.
  • If you’re a nature-loving couple, Texas’s many ranches, vineyards, and beaches are exciting areas to explore as potential wedding locations.
  • To take the edge off of hot summer ceremonies, you should avoid saying “I do” during the hottest parts of the day, help your guests hydrate, and provide fans.

It’s true: everything is bigger in Texas. Between steaks the size of small sedans, hair that reaches to the high heavens, and football fandoms that pack the stands every Friday night, Texas knows that true joy comes in supersizing every kind of occasion—including wedding ceremonies.

As the largest state in the continental US, Texas has ample unforgettable options for couples, whether you’re envisioning a modern affair in one of the state’s bustling urban centers, or a rustic reception at a rural ranch. But, no matter what kind of vibe you have in mind, you’ll want to consider the state’s regulations, sweltering weather, and grand-scale style.

Ready to take the bull by the horns? To celebrate your love in true Texas fashion, take a look at the short guide below. We’ll cover key tips for planning your Texas nuptials, including:

Where to Get Married in Texas

It doesn’t matter if you’re a cowboy couple or a couple of city slickers, Texas’s massive size and diverse geography mean that the state has plenty of spaces that can fulfill your wedding fantasy.

Texas is home to mammoth metropolises and ranches that rival the size of smaller states—just look at King Ranch, in South Texas, which is larger than Rhode Island—so there are countless options for every kind of celebration.

To help you narrow down where you might want to wed in Texas, let’s take a glance at what the state’s diverse cities and geographic regions offer.

Big City Celebration

Texas has a whole lot more than tumbleweeds and ten-gallon hats. Each of Texas’s distinct, bustling urban centers is sure to infuse your celebration with energy and style in spades.

But which city best fits the needs of your celebration? Consider:

  • Austin – Dripping with history and teeming with vibrant energy, Texas’s capital city can easily count as the “something old” and the “something new” for your nuptials. Austin’s population of young professionals continues to boom, bringing breweries, innovative cuisine, and a burgeoning arts scene to the city’s charming historic districts, making the capital an exciting destination for any kind of wedding guest.

In between the rehearsal dinner and reception, your nearest and dearest can get some fresh air and enjoy the wide array of Austin’s outdoorsy offerings. Afterparty on your mind? Hit Rainey Street, a trove of bungalows-turned-bars lined with famous food trucks.

  • Houston – The fourth-largest city in the nation, Houston offers world-class accommodations, a groundbreaking culinary scene, and culture to please the most discerning bride and groom (and opinionated in-laws). Between the Space Center Houston, the Fine Arts Museum, and the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, you’ll have plenty of local attractions to highlight on your wedding website.

If you still need to make that wedding website a reality, Zola can help. Cross it off your “I do” to-do list quickly with free, easy-to-use, customizable templates, and put your extra time to use researching Houston’s hottest restaurants for your rehearsal dinner.

  • Dallas – Texas’s corporate and cultural mecca, this cosmopolitan hub is filled with innovative design, top-tier dining, and scintillating skyscrapers. It makes a picture-perfect destination for design-minded couples. From the LED-lit Reunion Tower to the Nasher Sculpture Center to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Center, there is no shortage of stunning backdrops for wedding portraits.

If you love barbecue almost enough to marry it, Dallas has been said to have the best in the country. But, if you’re all about celebrating your love of each other and the finer things, Dallas also has high-class wedding catering services and sophisticated cuisines to make it a top contender.

The city boasts six hotels that made Conde Nast’s featured list in 2019. This means that your guests will have no shortage of wonderful places to stay, and between Art Deco halls, contemporary rooftops, and old-school mansion lawns, you’ll have your pick of lux reception spaces.

Rural Reception

Maybe you’re less banquet hall, more barbecue. Perhaps you dream of your first dance under a blanket of stars, beside the crackle of a roaring fire, with a horse or two bearing witness as you say “I do.” Or, you dream of sunset vows on a stretch of silver beach, the warm waters of the Gulf Coast lapping your feet and a lighthouse peering in the distance.

Texas, as we’ve noted, is big. Really big. The state’s 268,596 square miles cover deserts and rivers, sandy shores and vast plains, lush hills and limestone ridges. If you’re longing to take the next step in the splendor of the great outdoors, the state offers expansive, contemplative vistas and diverse, striking landscapes that will shine on forever in your hearts—and photo album.

So, if you’re ready to (literally) ride off into the sunset together, consider these types of uniquely Texan rural venues:

  • The rustic ranch – If your idea of romance involves a campfire and a cozy cabin, consider holding your wedding at one of the nearly 250,000 ranches that cover 127 million acres of Texan hills and plains. Encompassing bluebonnet fields, cool rivers, and rolling hills, many of these farms and ranches double as resorts or bed and breakfasts. As wedding venues, they offer romance inflected with rugged looks and Southern charm.

During the day, your loved ones can enjoy guided horseback tours, hayrides, and archery lessons while you and yours take in the wide-open spaces from your cowboy hot tub. When it’s time to celebrate, you can say “I do” at dusk, dance under the stars, and feast on s’mores until the cows come home.

  • The barrier islands – For a beach wedding, look no further than the beautiful barrier islands that line Texas’s Gulf Coast. There’s an island destination for every kind of celebration:

    • South Padre Island features family-friendly resorts, beautiful beaches, and calm, clear waters.

    • Pelican Island showcases pristine shores and natural wildlife.

    • Mustang Island has remote beaches perfect for celebrating under the stars.

    • Galveston Island boasts charming trolleys, 30 miles of coastal beaches, and picturesque 19th-century homes.

No matter your choice, your special day will be suffused with sun, sea, and serenity. To capitalize on everything the barrier islands have to offer, plan to say your vows at sunset and treat your friends and family to a meal that showcases the bounty of the gulf.

  • The wine trail – If you’ve always imagined a vineyard wedding, but don’t want to spring for the airfare to Tuscany, you might be in luck. More than 100 vineyards comprise Hill Country, Texas’s south-central region known for lush, rolling hills and striking escarpments made from granite and limestone. And as the region grows in popularity, you’ll find more and more gorgeous accommodations, restaurants, and rental spaces.

What’s in store for your Texas wine wedding? Unique vino and unique views. With so many tasting rooms and wineries that punctuate the stunning landscape and take advantage of the area’s singular terroir, you and your spouse-to-be are destined to find a stunning setting that speaks to your spirit.

Whether you’re drawn to the dazzle of Dallas or the cozy comfort of a cattle ranch, it can be daunting to begin your search for the perfect wedding venue. Thanks to Zola’s pre-screened wedding venue and vendor finder, you can save time and peace of mind. We’ve cut out the clutter and fast-tracked every step to bring you vetted Texas wedding venues that meet your budget, location, and style.

Suited, Booted, and Sauced: Texas Style Tips

Beyond the melt-in-your-mouth barbecue, bold fashion, and big hair, Texas is fun, friendly, and festive. It’s no wonder that many couples who get married in Texas tip their hats to the state itself, showcasing its local flavors and fashions in their ceremonies and receptions.

If you and your partner would like to incorporate some state pride in your nuptials, look no further. We’ll explore the best ways to celebrate, Texas-style.

Unique Texas Wedding Fashion

Want to honor your ranching roots? Sprinkle in a touch of cowboy couture to your wedding fashion:

  • Cowboy boots – While a pair of Western-styled boots may not be in your formal-wear arsenal yet, “booting up” is common at Texas weddings for grooms, wedding parties, and even brides. Beyond their eye-catching and distinctly Lone-Star looks, cowboy boots provide practical support and protection from the elements, which might come in handy if you’re saying “I do” at a dude ranch.

If you’re worried that a rugged boot will clash with your dress or dapper suit, don’t be. Texans have been rocking the special-occasion cowboy boot since time immemorial, and iconic boot manufacturers like Cavender’s even sell specialty bridal boots embellished with rhinestones and embroidered with lace.

  • Cowboy hats – A cowboy hat makes a striking accessory for brides and grooms, and it can look stunning on entire wedding parties. Cowboy hats will imbue your portraits with a vivid sense of place and also provide sun protection during sweltering outdoor ceremonies. Just remember that some folks consider it impolite to wear hats indoors.

Unique Texas Wedding Welcome Gifts

You can bring some Texas into your wedding before it even begins with Texas-themed welcome gifts. Delight out-of-towners and diehard Texans alike with goodie bags filled with locally sourced items that celebrate the state’s culture and customs, such as:

  • Barbecue sauce – Give your friends and family a taste of what’s in store for your wedding weekend with a bottle of barbecue sauce from Texas manufacturers such as Stubb’s or Franklin BBQ. Just like your love, these iconic sauces balance heat with sweetness.

  • Topo Chico – Like many beloved Texan beverages, Topo Chico has roots in Mexico. This mineral water may not be manufactured in the Lone Star State, but it’s supremely popular and extremely refreshing.

  • Texas treats – What’s a welcome gift bag without some junk food to carry your loved ones from rehearsal to reception? Treat your guests to a Snickers bar and a bag of Fritos, both of which trace their origins to Texas.

Unique Texas Wedding Food

The most delicious way to honor Texan heritage at your wedding is on your menu. Research the cuisine that’s celebrated in the region where you’re holding your reception and use Zola’s pre-screened vendor search to find knowledgeable caterers that have experience with local flavors and ingredients.

Depending on where your Texas wedding takes place, you might be able to take advantage of fresh local seafood, Viet-Cajun flavors, or indulgent Tex-Mex favorites.

Here are some other ways to bring a taste of Texas to the table:

  • BBQ – What could feel more festive, or more Texas, than a barbecue feast? Bring on the brisket, ribs, sausages, and sides. Just be sure to leave some Wet Wipes on the table.

  • A taste of tex mex – Even if you’re leaning toward a formal seated dinner, you can still incorporate a taste of tex-mex into your celebration. Chips and queso, a favorite snack in Austin, Texas, makes satisfying late-night fare. And, nothing stops a hangover in its tracks quite like a midnight breakfast taco bar.

  • Pecan pie – One of the top pecan producers in the country, Texas is famous for its pecans and mouth-watering pecan pie. If you’re looking for a Texas delight at your nuptials, why not serve a slice of this local favorite alongside, or perhaps in lieu of, a traditional wedding cake.

Unique Texas Wedding Drinks

Here’s another fun way to raise the bar on your celebration, honor the Lone Star State with specialty cocktails. State-wide favorites include:

  • Frozen margaritas – Giving Texans brain freezes and buzzes since 1971, this Dallas-born concoction tempers the sweltering Southern heat and takes the edge off in one fell swoop. Plus, your wedding guests will love the novelty and nostalgia that a frozen margarita machine will bring to cocktail hour.

  • Ranch water – If frozen margs veer too far into dessert territory, ranch water is a refreshing alternative. This simple, crowd-pleasing highball is a Texas standby that’s easy for your bartenders to make en masse. Just mix tequila, Topo Chico, and lime juice.

  • Local beers – Whether you spent the day roping steers or managing wedding jitters, you could use a cold one. Stock your bar with local Texas favorites such as Shiner Bock and Lone Star, but make sure that they’re served ice cold.

What to Keep in Mind When Marrying in Texas

While you’re sipping on that ranch water—for research, of course—let’s attend to the other considerations that come with a Texas wedding, including:

  • When you should get married in Texas
  • Ways to keep cool (or stay warm) during an outdoor wedding
  • How to apply for your wedding license

Outdoor Weddings: Weather and Climate

The sheer immensity of Texas’s size makes it an exciting place to marry outdoors. Just imagine sweeping, sunny vistas and endless, starry skies, as well as sandy coastlines and stark, contemplative plains.

The state’s geographical diversity makes Texas an appealing destination for couples of all styles, but it also means that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when’s the best time to have your celebration.

To best prepare, be sure to:

  • Check local conditions – Weather patterns will vary by region. While the Gulf Coast stays mild in cooler months, the Texas panhandle can experience upwards of 18 inches of snow during the winter.

  • Plan for a hot summer – Texas summers are among the hottest in the nation. And if the heat isn’t enough, the humidity that hits East Texas in the summer can make the most stoic cowboy shake in his boots. West Texas days can be a doozy, too, although the dry desert heat tends to taper off at night.

  • Consider shoulder seasons – Think about setting a date for autumn or spring, after the peak summer heat passes and before any winter storms hit the panhandle. March, April, September, and October will be warm enough for outdoor weddings (and you won’t have to worry about sweating through your tux).

Tips for Staying Cool and Keeping Warm

If you do choose to get married outside in Texas during the summer or winter months, there are some steps you can take to keep your guests comfortable:

  • Provide fans and shawls – Depending on the season or region, place a decorative paper fan or shawl on each seat. With these thoughtful accessories, your loved ones can attend to their needs without sacrificing their looks.

  • Plan for the evening cool – Let the hottest part of the day pass before you hold your summer ceremony. If you’re saying your “I do”s in the desert and you’re worried about too much of a breeze, see if your venue has heating lamps.

  • Hydrate – Your spouse-to-be shouldn’t be the only tall glass of water at your wedding. Alongside a chilled glass of champagne or a bottle of Shiner, offer your friends and family members some water as they enter the ceremony.

  • Dress smart – Avoid heavy fabrics in the humid heat, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. At Zola, you can customize your wedding invitations to communicate anything you need to your guests, including a special note on climate and attire.

  • Choose resilient flowers – Avoid droopy decor by selecting in-season flowers and plants that thrive in the climate where you’re getting married. Better yet, enlist the help of a professional florist with the know-how to outfit any ceremony.

How to Get Your Marriage License

Save the Dates? Sent. Venue? Selected. First dance? Working on it. Now it’s time to tackle how you’re getting married—legally speaking. Keep in mind:

  • There’s a waiting period – In Texas, there’s a 72-hour waiting period between the time you receive your license and when you can get married. However, this waiting period can be waived if you or your nearly betrothed are in the military.

After you receive your license and wait the requisite three days, you have 90 days to marry. After 90 days, your license will expire and you’ll have to re-file. If you’ve been married before, keep in mind that you must wait thirty days after your divorce is finalized to file for a new marriage license.

  • You’ll need to file in person – File for your marriage license at any County Clerk’s office in Texas. In some counties, you can fill out your application online beforehand, but both you and your significant other will need to come in for an in-person appointment. At the appointment, you’ll both need to show proof of age (to affirm you’re at least eighteen years old) and identity in one of the following forms:

  • Birth certificate

  • Driver’s license

  • Passport

  • Visa

  • Military ID

  • It costs money – Fees for marriage licenses in Texas run between $60 and $85 by county. Out of state applicants are required to tack on an additional $100.

Planning a Texas Wedding? Say Howdy to Zola

Wedding planning is a big job, especially if you’re planning your wedding in the state that’s made big its business. At Zola, it’s not our first rodeo, and we’re here to steer you in the right direction, so you can have the Texas wedding of your dreams—whether it’s a little bit more country or a whole lot of rock ‘n’ roll.

With time-saving tools that help you find vetted vendors and venues, manage your guest list, and build your registry, you can spend less time fretting over your big day and more time mastering your Texas Two-Step.

Fixin’ to embrace stress-free wedding planning? Meet Zola.

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