Trois Estate Wedding

Chapel Dulcinea: The Free Austin Wedding Venue (and Other Places to Have Your Wedding That Are Cheaper Than One Month of Austin’s Rent)

Forty-Five million dollars. That’s the cost of one month’s rent in Austin, TX.  Just kidding (though it feels like it more and more everyday). That’s actually the estimated cost of the most recent Royal Wedding. Can you imagine what you could do with forty-five million? Here’s a short list to get you thinking:

  1. Have P. Diddy host your company party for the next 45 years (yes, his event fee is $1 million).
  2. You can buy almost 2 super yachts that come with super cars and a parking dock for the cars (The Strand Craft Super Yacht will cost you about $25 million).
  3. Buy (40) 300-year-old Bonsai trees (The most expensive Bonsai tree in the world cost about $1.2 million).
  4. You could buy 35 bottles of the most expensive champagne in the world (Gout de Diamants Champagne, which was sold for $1.2 million).

Okay, so if you have no desire to spend that much money on your wedding or on P.Diddy’s hosting abilities, then this blog post is for you. Unless you are on your way to becoming the next Duke or Duchess in the U.K, your wedding doesn’t need to cost $45 million dollars.  In fact, one of the most expensive bills in your wedding planning, (the venue), doesn’t have to cost you anything.  Below is a list of venues in Austin that are free or at least cheaper than one months’ rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Austin.  With all that money you save, you can hire me!

Trois Estate Wedding

Chapel Dulcinea

Location: 16221 Crystal Hills Drive, Crystal Hill Dr, Austin, TX 78737

Fee: $0

None, absolutely free.  However, there is a $200 no-show deposit required for weddings Monday-Thursday and a $400 no-show free required for Friday –Saturday weddings.  The fee is refunded the day you show up for the wedding but can also be given as a donation.

About:  

In 2005, Chapel Dulcinea became the first Free Wedding Chapel in the world. When Roy and Pennie were married in 1976, they held their rehearsal dinner in an Oklahoma Pizza Hut and it took all the money they had. Their dream of a free wedding chapel is one of the ways they’ve chosen to lend a helping hand to happy couples in love who may be starting out as financially strapped as they were. The venue is located in Southwest Austin and overlooks the beautiful Hill Country.

Reasons you should use this venue:

First of all, did you hear that it was free?  Okay, but seriously the place is gorgeous, it overlooks the hill country and there is a room available to get dressed in prior to the wedding.  The only two downfalls I can see is for one, the fact that it is an outside venue and you are totally dependent on the weather, so with the unpredictable Texas climate, you have to choose your date wisely.  The second issue is that this venue is really only for you if you are planning a small intimate wedding.  There is not much seating available, so if you have more than 25 or so guests, they have to be prepared to stand.  If a quaint wedding in outdoors is in your plans with your nearest and dearest, this might be the spot for you.

Mercury Hall Wedding

Zilker Park Clubhouse

Location:  Zilker Clubhouse Rd, Austin, TX 78746

Fee:  $1350 for ceremony and reception. 

This included includes 12 hours of event time including set up and clean up time. A refundable security deposit of $300 is required. A $20 private party permit is required for amplified music.

About:

Zilker Clubhouse is a beautiful stone clubhouse with a rock patio and spacious concrete terrace. With the views of downtown Austin as your backdrop, and a rustic ranch-style lodge as your indoor space, it’s a beautiful location to host a wedding. The location is designed to host up to 150 guests and there is both indoor and outdoor space.

Reasons you should use this venue:

Reason #1, the venue fee is cheaper than the cost of one month’s rent in most of the city.  But also, if you want a venue that is set up for both indoor and outdoor events and is still in the city overlooking beautiful downtown Austin, this is your spot.  If you can afford a little more than free.99, this should definitely be in your top 3.  One downside of this location is the fact that it does not include a dressing room, but with all the money you save for the venue you could book an Airbnb nearby and that takes care of that. 

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Angel Mountain Events

Location:  178 Pine Tree Loop, Bastrop, TX. 78602

Fee: $1500-$2600

Monday-Thursday are the best days to reserve this venue (or any venue) for the best price. Weddings on those days will run you about $1500.  For weddings held on Friday the rate is $2600 and for Saturdays the event center will run you closer to the price of a really, really nice 2-bedroom apartment ($3000).

About:

From the website: Angel Mountain Event Center has approximately 5500 sq. ft of indoor space, to include a Candlelit Chapel, a separate Reception area for dinner & dancing, dressing areas for your wedding party, a caterer’s kitchen, & a scenic 1500 sq. ft. patio, perfect for your outdoor ceremony.

Reasons you should use this venue:

You get a lot of bang for your buck.  This location has both indoor and outdoor space and is slightly outside of Austin so it gives you a more relaxed and quiet location.  The indoor space offers plenty of room and you have a space for dressing. There is a $250 cleaning fee required and a $250 refundable damage fee that will be collected, but even with those prices, the venue still gives you all that you could ask for at a reasonable price.

Choosing one of these venues is sure to keep you away from totally blowing your wedding budget and hey with all that money saved, maybe you could hire P.Diddy for entertainment after all.  But no, really, just hire me.  Or get some goats.  Or both.

Outdoor Austin Wedding Venues

Lauren Lindley is a destination wedding, event and portrait photographer.  She splits her time between Reno-Tahoe in the summer and Austin, TX and New Orleans, LA in the winter.

Tahoe backyard wedding

Tahoe Backyard Wedding | Incline Village, NV | Dost + Nick

These two. 

I adore them. 

I’m so thankful to call them friends now.  They love music, and dancing, and laughter, and good food.  They are adventurous, curious and sardonic.  They say yes when I invite them to concerts by bands they’ve never heard of and they invite me to concerts by bands that I’ve never heard of.  They are willing to go to burlesque shows starring my former clients.  They like brunch (but, I mean, never trust a person that doesn’t).  They have some incredible moves on the dancefloor.

Dost and Nick wanted an intimate backyard gathering with their motley crew of far flung friends and family.  Their guest list was as diverse as they are, with folks coming from as far away as Turkey.  They rented a beautiful house directly on the water through VRBO for their Tahoe backyard wedding and as an added surprise, it decided to snow that week.  Bonus: Dost made good use of a thrift store fur coat that was perfect for the occasion, which is to say, it was fucking freezing that day and she had no choice but looked amazing in it.

We were all thankful for the tent and for the best DJ around Dave Berkman, who was willing to completely break down and move mid-day his entire setup inside so everyone could cut a rug the grass in relative comfort while it was 40 degrees out in Tahoe in September.

Dost and Nick have since told me that they were drawn to my work because they loved the way I capture movement and motion, which is something their dancefloor had plenty of!  I’m so incredibly honored to not only have been part of their day, but have new friends also.

Venue: VRBO | Caterers: Carson City BBQ | Rentals: Celebrations Rentals | DJ: Ascent DJ | Bride’s Attire: Maggie Sottero | Groom’s Attire: Paul Smith

Tahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard wedding

North Tahoe Lodge Wedding

North Tahoe Lodge Wedding | Truckee, CA | Agnes + Laurence

It’s freezing today in Tahoe.  Actually, it’s been freezing all week.  As I was trying to decide what amazing wedding to share from this past wedding season on the blog, the cold temps, banana bread in the oven, and the promise of fall from the chill in the air reminded me of Agnes and Laurence’s private estate North Tahoe Lodge wedding in Truckee from this past spring.  There was still piles of snow.  So much snow, in fact, that their guests spent an entire afternoon clearing the deck of snow for their ceremony.  

Agnes and Laurence wanted to have a small, intimate celebration surrounded by friends and family.  They wanted amazing food, lots of laughter, and great photos.  I have to say, that when you are one of two vendors, it makes you feel incredibly unbelievably special.  (I’ll try not to let it go to my head, Agnes).  

Agnes is Polish and customarily, at a Polish wedding, the father presents the couple with two glasses – one of vodka, one of water. They are offered first to the bride, who must make her selection without knowing which is which. Tradition says that whoever ends up with the glass of vodka will be the dominant partner in the relationship.  I think you can tell by the photos which way this ended!

Agnes and Laurence, it was an honor to be part of your day and even bigger honor to be so valued.  I firmly believe that your wedding day should be a day where you celebrate with the friends and family closest to you and that the pomp, circumstance, and traditions aren’t that necessary so when clients find me that not only believe, but exemplify the same values, it makes my heart sing to be part of the day.

Venue:  The North Tahoe Lodge | Caterer: Blend | Bride’s Attire: Glamour Closet | Second shooting service of the sassy shutterbug Shaunte Dittmar

North Tahoe Lodge WeddingNorth Tahoe Lodge WeddingNorth Tahoe Lodge WeddingNorth Tahoe Lodge WeddingNorth Tahoe Lodge WeddingNorth Tahoe Lodge WeddingNorth Tahoe Lodge Wedding

Gar Woods Wedding

Intimate Gar Woods Wedding | Kings Beach, CA | Meagan + Andrew

I’m not sure why they don’t go around just telling everyone this, and then subsequently just dancing on the street for no reason, because I think that they absolutely should, but Meagan and Andrew met at a country western dance hall.  Andrew convinced her to stay and dance, and do a shot of fireball, and it was clearly fate.  They are INCREDIBLE dancers.  During their small intimate Gar Woods wedding this winter, the two spent most of the time wowing their friends and family with their slick dance moves.  Meagan could hardly sit down to eat dinner because every time the next song came on, Andrew wooed her back out on the floor for some twirling.  Her dress was the perfect accompaniment to their dance moves.  “I feel like a snow monster met a ballerina and they had a baby,” she said to me.

Small intimate weddings are some of my favorite: when you lose the pomp and circumstance, it becomes a wonderfully intimate and relaxed evening with your nearest and dearest close at hand and Meagan and Andrew’s beach side wedding and dinner at Gar Woods was no exception.

Venue: Gar Woods Grill and Pier | Musician: Piper Sean | Bakery: Tahoe Cakes by Grace

Gar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods WeddingGar Woods Wedding

Tahoe Private Estate Wedding

Tahoe Backyard Wedding | Meyers, CA | Clint + Sierra

Backyards.  Tacos.  Mismatched cups.  Koozies.  Kegs and coolers.  Golden late summer sunshine.

These are the things my wedding job dreams are made of.

Clint and Sierra delivered all this and more, despite some venue hiccups.  When their private estate rental cancelled on them for their wedding service, they did what any woodworking self-reliant couple planning a DIY wedding would do: scramble to turn their own backyard into a wedding oasis fit for the party of the century.

They filled their yard with lanterns and candles, wildflowers and string lights.  The dogs ran underfoot, the children serenaded us, the laughter spilled over the fenceline into the dark of night and the photographer had to make a late night beer run for the partiers (yes, this is a service I provide).

I loved every bit of this Tahoe backyard wedding from start to finish and I am so thrilled to have these two as friends now!

Venue: Private Estate, Lake Tahoe, CA | Bakery: Witt’s Cakes | Catering: La Promesa | DJ: Ascent DJ | Bride’s Attire: Janene’s Bridal Boutique and Forever 21 | Hair: Britney Mitchell | Make-Up: Maxine Reyna | Rentals: Tahoe Entertainer

Tahoe Backyard WeddingTahoe Backyard WeddingTahoe Backyard WeddingTahoe Backyard WeddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard weddingTahoe backyard wedding

Yosemite Park Wedding

Tenaya Lake Wedding | Yosemite, CA | Catherine + Josh

One would think that I would have photographed a ton of weddings in Yosemite National Park already thanks to it’s proximity to Tahoe and my adventurous outdoor spirit.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t yet had the opportunity, which is why I was especially excited to be connected to Catherine and Josh via Thumbtack.  They were planning on holding a Tenaya Lake Wedding in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park.  Since they were both traveling from afar for their elopement, it was important to Catherine to have someone who not only knew how to photograph outdoors, in harsh sunlight, but also would make the entire day easy and uncomplicated.

I was especially excited about the day because they wanted to have me photograph their small intimate ceremony on the edge of the lake, and then go romp around various places in Tuolumne for portraits.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  I even convinced them to wade through the lake for an epic lake portrait!  Thanks Catherine and Josh for being adventurous!  I think our work paid off!

Venue: Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park | Officiant: Rev. John Paris | Florist: Yosemite Weddings | Bakery: Mimi’s Cookie Bar | Reception and Catering: The Westin Monache Resort | Bride’s Attire: Watters | Bridesmaid Attire: Francesca’s | Groom and Groomsmen Attire: J Crew | Make-up: Jenny Sickler

Tenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake WeddingTenaya Lake Wedding

“Lauren was such a pleasure to work with for our wedding. Our wedding was in Yosemite National Park and because of Lauren’s creativity we have wedding photos that are absolutely incredible. Lauren has ideas for photos that I don’t think many photographers would come up with which produces some unique and beautiful photos – especially if your wedding is in a destination location.”  

-Catherine and Josh