For more information on what we love about these artists, tune into our podcast.
Band vs. DJ
This is totally a preference. Bands will be more expensive but can create a much livelier dance floor. They also typically have DJ capabilities and can still play specific songs you request if it doesn’t fall into their book of songs they know, otherwise there can be a fee for a new song to be learned. DJs are typically cheaper (unless you go with a big name), and you will have more control as to what they play.
Another nice touch during the ceremony is a string quartet, violinist and/or soloist! There are a ton of great bands and DJs in the Austin area. Most you can see live around town to really make sure it’s the perfect fit for the big night.
The Nightowls! Born and bred right here in ATX, The Nightowls have long been a staple of the local music scene. In fact, you’ve probably seen them before either at their famous annual NYE Bash or their legendary (over six years running!) Sunday Funday show at Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street. From soul to funk, pop to rock, disco to ’80s, they play just about everything and seamlessly weave everyone’s favorite songs into a non-stop, all-out, dance-packed party!
With more than eight years industry expertise and plenty of custom band options to offer (dynamic light show, continuous play, specialty bands), you’re able to handcraft the band’s performance to fit your unique event. The Nightowls are our obvious choice for any wedding or event and are simply your one-stop-shop for the greatest party ever. And don’t worry, if you’re planning a destination event, The Nightowls travel regularly all over the U.S.
Terra Vista Strings – Depending how on how big you want to go, this can range from a solo violinist at $230/60 minutes, all the way to a duo, trio, or quartet with the highest being $675/60 minutes.
Grace Plays Violin – Solo violinist, she knows a lot of modern songs and is also adorable! $250/60 minutes.
Pro Tip: Check out the band’s song list before booking. If you’re specific about the types of songs you want this is a good idea. You don’t want to book them and realize later they don’t know any songs you prefer. It also costs a lot of money to add on songs they don’t know ($250+ per song).
Coated (S Lamar) – This family run business is in the middle of trendy Lamar Union amidst new bars, restaurants, and the famous Alamo Drafthouse. The owner, Rebecca Risha, identified issues within the nail salon industry such as lost reservations, longer than normal wait times with no communication from staff, customers moving around from chair to chair following the tech, dirty tools and pedicure bowls, etc. and decided to fix it.
Coated, which has clean air, in-salon and online reservations, two-way-text capabilities to add-on or change services, no wait time when you show up for your reservation, certified staff, no drills, and a one-chair mindset is where all services focus around the guest. This upscale nail salon is also still incredibly affordable and sells passes to save on the manicures and pedicures you love. It also has a space large enough for big parties! Plus, every guest is offered complimentary beer, wine, or mimosas.
Check out our full featured article on Coated, here.
Perspire Sauna Studio – Sweat it out! This place has multiple infrared sauna rooms with TVs and you can go with friends, $40/session.
Pro Tip: Sign up for Class Pass. you can do $50 or $100/month membership packages that allow you to go to a ton of different studios in the Austin area (and other large metropolitan cities), so you can keep switching up your workouts to achieve the best results. They also recently added wellness activities to their package as well allowing you to get massages, facials, and others within your monthly membership!
Your dentist can do this for you, a lot of them actually run specials when you get engaged and will do it for a discount. Also, this is a good time to think about Invisalign if needed, and then get whitened after.
Pro Tip: Try using a Beauty Checklist at least six months before the wedding. It will really tell you when to try out your spray tan, whiten your teeth, get massages, facials, etc. That way when the month of the wedding comes, you know exactly what you need!
For more ideas on local gifts, tune into our Podcast.
Local Austin Gifts for Wedding Party
Sorry to break it to you ladies, but no one wants another champagne flute that says “bridesmaid” on it. Get creative here, and utilize all the unique gifts and vendors Austin has to offer!
These are also just great gift ideas in general from local Austin brands.
Antonelli’s Cheese Class or Gift – If you haven’t been to one of these before, it is SO cool. The classes take place in the Cheese House where they have different class themes whether it is a general Cheese 101 of 7 cheeses, Cheese & Chocolate pairings, Cheese of France – the options are really endless! About 2 hours long, this event is BYOB and you can grab the wine or beer they would suggest pairing with the menu from the Cheese Shop across the street. This is great for a date night, girls night, team building events, really anything. A bit more about their Cheese Classes here. This makes for the perfect local Austin gift that will surely be an unforgettable experience. Antonelli’s is perfect for picking up the most beautiful cheese (and/or charcuterie) boards for any of your wedding events as well.
For more tips and tricks on picking save the dates & invites, tune into our Podcast.
Save the Dates & Invitations
Do not feel like you have to go overboard here. As much as you want to believe that people are going to hold on to your invitation or save the date if it is super cute, the truth is they probably won’t. Don’t blow your budget on something that is going in the trash.
Minted – They have some really cool designs and great prices.
Zola – Zola is a one-stop shop for everything wedding website, and can do online RSVP by uploading your guest list in their spreadsheet format. From there, when you order save the dates and invitations, they automatically address the envelopes for free!
($50 Zola Credit toward Registry, Invites, or Save the Dates here for 365 readers!)
Zazzle – This is a super cheap option that can be used for showers and engagement parties also.
These are great affordable options ranging from $1-3 on average per invitation with super high end being closer to $5/invite. Also look into doing an online RSVP to save money on additional paper, stamps, envelopes etc. for people to return.
This is also a good time to think about who you would like to use for signage on the wedding day —table assignments signs, any welcome signage, menu’s, programs (program fans if outdoor wedding) etc. Zola, Minted, and Zazzle are good for those, as well as some fun stuff on Etsy. With Etsy, you can also find some independent calligraphers who do amazing work.
For more information on these hotels, tune into our podcast.
This is a totally personal preference, but our favorites are below. In general, rates are between $200-350/night depending on the hotel (including the room block discount). This is also a great time to think about small gifts to put in your guests hotel rooms—think something local, like Yellowbird Hot Sauce, a small Tito’s vodka from Twin Liquors, or things that are useful like Lyft gift cards or discount codes (Get $5 off your first ride).
The Line Hotel – The newly renovated Line hotel has a sleek lobby and cute pool, with Arlo Grey being the vibey restaurant on the bottom floor. Rooms are very hip and they have the P6 rooftop (sodreamy) which would make for an excellent welcome party or rehearsal dinner space. This hotel truly is a one-stop shop between their room block discounts, pool, event spaces for rehearsal dinner, welcome party, bridal shower, or even the wedding. It’s all topped off with multiple restaurants, including the new Dean’s One Trick Pony and Alfred Coffee (get the Matcha Latte).
Fairmont Downtown Austin – This Luxury hotel is perfectly located in all of the action, walking distance to Rainey Street, the East Side, 6th Street and more. The Fairmont is still fairly new, and has everything you need for a one-stop-shop during your Wedding Weekend. Between luxury sleeping accommodations of over 1,000 guestrooms, 5 restaurants and bars, a seasonally heated swimming pool, and enough event space to utilize this hotel as a wedding venue – it makes it the perfect location.
Hotel Van Zandt – The Loretta Suite is amazing for brides getting married, and Shannon is the best to work with! They also have free HH for guests, and can do a pool cabana the Sunday after. Geraldine’s is a great spot for a welcome party or rehearsal dinner. This is a huge hotel that can accommodate large parties. It’s named after Ronnie Van Zandt (lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd) so it also has a ton of musical elements that make it feel very Austin. It is also pet friendly!
Hotel ZaZa – For the boujeeiest of the bouje, very Dallas/Houston vibes, each suite has a different theme (Palm Springs Bungalow suggested for Brides). There’s a great pool, two restaurants including Perfect Strangers when you walk in, and Group Therapy on the 7th floor overlooking the city. Jessica, their sales rep, is adorable and brings you champagne and T-Shirts when you do a walk through!
South Congress Hotel– This is a smaller hotel which tends to book up fast, so be sure to reach out ASAP if you are interested. It’s the perfect spot in the middle of the action on Congress! It also has several restaurants, including Café No Sé, Central Standard, Mañana coffee/bakeshop, and Otoko,the 12 seat Japanese Omakase restaurant.
Hotel San Jose (40 rooms = 80 guests total) or Hotel Saint Cecilia (20 rooms = 40 guests total) – Both are boutique hotels so they are full hotel buyouts and you’re on the hook for all rooms to be rented. Owned by Bunkhouse Group (the group that owns El Cosmico in Marfa, Austin Motel, new Hotel Magdalena, and even Jo’s Coffee), so you can already imagine how pretty these spots are. If you have a larger party, this might make sense and you can have the rehearsal dinner there as well. Saint Cecilia is the one that has the notorious “SOUL” neon sign above the pool. Both are absolutely beautiful and in the heart of SoCo!
Austin Proper (January 2020) – New McGuire Moorman collaboration spot near Seaholm!
Hotel Magdalena (Spring 2020) – On SoCo near Equinox and the new SoHo house! This is another Bunkhouse project (Hotel Saint Cecilia, Hotel San Jose, Austin Motel, etc.)
Pro Tip: Start small when you’re committing to rooms. A good rule of thumb is to start with 10 and scale up later if more guests book. Most hotels have a 90% attrition rate, meaning you have to pay for the remaining rooms you held in the block if the guests don’t fill it up. Better be safe than sorry!
For more tips on booking hair & makeup, tune into our Podcast.
Wedding Hair & Makeup
Get hair and makeup trials! Creep their Instagrams! Do you research! No one wants a hair or makeup fiasco on the big day. Make sure that the photos they are showing you are true to the style you’re looking to achieve. A lot of these stylists can do both hair and makeup so can be an easy one stop shop for all of your bridal needs!
A Few Favorites:
LoLa Beauty – This is a full team of artists that can all do both hair and makeup making it a speedy and seamless process with a spectacular end result. Lauren is an absolute angel, Diana is a goddess when it comes to makeup and Ashley did my hair for a wedding recently that was the best I have ever had. They use airbrushing and all of the best products so you look flawless!
$275 Bridal Hair, $90 for Bridesmaids/Family; Makeup – $300 Bride – includes trial, $100 Bridesmaids/Family
Kiss By Katie – Katie is in Houston but travels to Austin frequently for Wedding and Event makeup. She does both hair and makeup – creep her instagram, her work is phenomenal. She also does airbrushing!
$200 Bride Hair/Makeup (or $300 for both), $150 Trial ($225 Trial for Both), $125 Bridesmaids/Family (or $200 for Both services)
Mint Salon – Mint is on North Guadalupe and focuses on hair, not makeup. Ask for either Danny, they are both amazing!
Erica Gray Beauty – Does both makeup and hair. Has a lot of experience in high fashion makeup and styling as well.
Makeup $150 Bride, $80 Bridesmaids/Family (Hair – same pricing)
Hannah Kirkland MUA – Hannah has an eye for how to enhance your natural features while also making sure you are defined enough for tastful photos. Her and her sister, Jessica, are a dream team and do wedding services in the Austin and Houston area frequently.
For more information on our favorites, tips for picking photographers, and stories about photobooths, tune into our podcast.
Figure out what style of photo you are looking for – Light/Bright & Airy, Darker & Moody, more classic and posed, etc. Look at several photographers Instagrams and see which one aligns with your look the most. Most of them have engagement photos included in the pricing as well!
Also, this is a great time to think about a Videographer. You can typically add that service into your photographers fee, or can shop around and find some independent Videographers (Check out Parisa & Joshua, the Bird and the Bear, or ILC Films) – there are some great ones in Austin!
Nikk Nguyen Photo
Nikk Nguyen Photo – Nikk loves capturing love stories; he says that his job is not a documentor, but a keeper of time. He is an Austin based photographer, but can travel if needed, and has been shooting these dreamy wedding photos for over 5 years. We love the candid shots he gets with moody lighting – it makes for the perfect photos that will last a lifetime. Check out more of his work here. Nikk’s photos are the dreamiest.
Pro Tip: Look into Photobooths! A great interactive way for some fun memories, they even have 360 degree photobooths now for some really cool shots. Check out Vannagram – an old Volkswagen photo booth bus; and Amurica – they hang outside of Cheer Up Charlies and Violet Crown Social Club.
You don’t have to use your larger photographer for things like rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, engagement party, etc. Shop around and see if you can find someone less expensive for the side events – check out Rick Kadets or Kathryn O’Brien. They both have gotten some amazing shots for friends recently and would be an easy pick!
This is totally up to time of year and venue. Obviously if the venue is 100% outdoors you always need to have a tent plan in place. Some places have a tent in house, and some you can rent elsewhere. Be aware, tents are PRICEY but at times are a necessity if you don’t want your party freezing or drenched in rain. There are two main styles – a clear top (cheaper) or a sperry top (white top sometimes canvas like, more expensive) so definitely decide your design and budget and go from there.
Florals for spring? Groundbreaking. No but really, florists hear “Wedding” and immediately jack up the price so just prepare yourself. Florals can really range anywhere from $5k bare minimum for a small wedding, with $10-15k being average, all the way up to $30-50k for large events.
Pro Tip: Don’t do bouquets for bridesmaids, it sounds weird but looks totally fine for the bride to be the only one with a bouquet and can save hundreds, and even thousands of dollars.
Another money saving tip is to DIY your flowers. This is definitely a time consuming task only meant for brides with a lot of time and patience, so move forward at your own risk. If you do decide to embark on this adventure, there are a ton of DIY hacks on Pinterest including throwing out long sprigs of babys breath and eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s, simple hydrangeas in amber mason jars from Amazon, etc.
Last tip – try using feathers instead of rose petals for the flower girls to throw, and you can save hundreds of dollars.
For more tips on booking large party transportation, tune into our Podcast.
If your venue is far from your hotel room block we highly suggest getting transportation. This is also a time to think about your getaway car. If getting married in downtown, a Pedicab is always a fun option too!
4 Leaf Limo – 24 Passenger High Roller Party Bus, 4 hour minimum
MS Luxury – 29 Passenger Mini Bus, $521 for 4 hour minimum
4 Leaf Limo offers 4 vintage vehicles for wedding send off’s, one for every style! A 1957 Rolls Royce (Royal/Sky Blue), a 1963 Bentley (White), a 1937 Cadillac V-8 Stretch Limousine (Black) and a 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible (Black w/ white top- top can either be down or up).
4 Leaf Limo – 1963 Bentley
4 Leaf Limo – 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible (Driskill Hotel)
Pro Tip: If you’re getting married 40+ minutes away from Austin, please provide transportation for your guests. There are horror stories of guests not being able to get an uber from the venue if it is too far out there and you don’t want your night remembered in a negative light. Take this into account when selecting your venue and planning your budget.
For more tips on planning a Honeymoon, tune into our Podcast.
Honeymoon Planning Guide for Austinite’s
You can really go as big or small as you want depending on your budget, and schedule with time off of work. Some couples like the idea of something close to town, or something that could be considered a “mini moon” if you’re having a larger honeymoon a ways out. A lot of couples I know recently have done smaller mini moons right after the big day, and then plan a longer, larger honeymoon trip spanning over a 2-3 week time period in late December. That’s a great idea for someone who wants to utilize their vacation time at work over the course of December and January (if your job aligns with that PTO schedule).
Pro Tip: Get a credit card that you can put all of the wedding costs on (and pay off of course), so that you can get points to use toward a honeymoon. We love the Southwest Credit Card since that airline tends to have more nonstop flights out of the Austin Airport. Use this link to get an extra 40,000 points when you sign up!
The Inn at Dos Brisas – This place is so cool. They have wine tastings, cooking classes, horseback riding, all the athletic activities you could ask for, and a full spa. This is the ultimate couples weekend getaway.
*Two Weeks is a good starting point for a European trip. Try to spend a minimum of 3-4 days in each city to minimize the amount of travel time between locations, and to ensure you have enough time to truly experience everything the destination has to offer.
Locations: Thailand, Bali, The Maldives, Vietnam, Singapore
Pro Tip: Use a travel agent. A lot of times can get you discounts on certain rooms and they really make the whole vacation special. Try Chelsea Martin with Passport to Friday—we have heard great things. She also has a lot of guides on her blog, as well as tons of inspo on her Instagram. Planning fees start at $250 for 10 days, with full hotel bookings and full itinerary. Noken, a new travel planning app charges $5/day per traveler and has a full itinerary ready for you all in one place. Also there is a free service we have heard great things about – Vaquera Travel.