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How one couple transformed their dreamy Austin garden wedding into a Studio 54 cowboy disco… and didn’t miss a beat

June 3, 2024

When throwing an epic party is your #1 goal, you know it’s going to be good. During their 18 months of meticulous planning with Shelby of Plan On It Events & Design, Shelly and Daniel lived by the mantra, “Weddings are parties, and parties are for guests.” They wanted everyone to not only have a fabulous time at gorg Austin venue The Grand Lady, but experience everything they loved about the city there, too. With a whimsical “Alice-in-Westernland” ceremony (made even more magical by an impromptu bout of rain) and a Studio 54 cowboy disco to follow, the whole wedding was made up of one exciting surprise after another. See for yourself as you scroll through the images photographer Light As Gold captured of our stylish couple below!

bride and groom in all white for Austin wedding at The Grand Lady mansion

A Pre-Wedding Bridal Brunch

Shelly didn’t have a bridal shower because her friends and family are spread out across the world, so they took advantage of The Grand Lady’s historic dining room to create a slightly chaotic upscale tea party bridal brunch on the morning of the big day. A maximalist dining table was filled with layers of color, pattern, and texture through plates and glassware. The menu was complete with inventive foods like a smashed avocado croissant, Green Tomatillo Shakshuka, and Roasted Strawberry Burratta Toast. The ladies sipped cocktails and specialty coffee as they enjoyed a relaxed and luxurious start to the wedding day.

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Their garden bar featured a marigold margarita and lavender spritz.

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Such a fun morning for a bride and her loved ones.

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The Wedding Venue – The Grand Lady Austin

Shelly explains, “It’s funny how things come full circle. Years ago, when I had just moved to Austin and was notably single, I stumbled upon a post about The Grand Lady. The reception hall was just a set of renderings, and it seemed almost too good to be true. Fast forward to planning my wedding years later, Shelby suggested The Grand Lady as a potential venue. I had a moment of déjà vu and was thrilled to see that the venue had come to life just as beautifully as the renderings had promised.

From the moment we set foot on the property, we knew The Grand Lady was the perfect venue. The owners did an amazing job blending the historic charm of this Texas gem with the modern flair Austin has today. We felt lucky to have a day to weave our unique love story into its rich history.

What really sealed the deal for us was The Grand Lady’s flexibility. The hall’s architecture and design served as a blank canvas, allowing us to infuse our personality and vision into the space. Whether planning the ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception, the variety of indoor and outdoor spaces allowed us to get creative with the flow of the event. Plus, the team at The Grand Lady was incredibly accommodating with vendor choices and how we could shape the space. We were even their first to bring a mechanical bull onsite! Their onsite coordinator, Christy, was amazing and supported us every step of the way.

The ceremony space next to the mansion was an absolute dream, transformed into an incredible surrealist garden by the floral geniuses at Ida Mayes Florals. It felt like stepping into a Gustav Klimt painting. But in a predictably unpredictable turn of events, the chaotic Texas weather decided to make an appearance. Thankfully, The Grand Lady’s indoor reception hall was ready to save the day. When rain threatened to put a damper on our post-ceremony plans, Shelby quickly transitioned the party inside, keeping the celebration seamless and our guests blissfully unaware of the last-minute changes.

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Having everything in one place was another plus. The beautifully restored mansion was ours for the day, providing a spot for pre-ceremony brunch, cocktails, and getting-ready photos. No need to shuttle everyone between different locations – we could be worry free and enjoy the day all in one spot.

One of our favorite features of The Grand Lady was their stunning flower garden and farm. After the ceremony, we took some amazing portraits among the beautiful blooms, adding a touch of wild, natural beauty to our photos from the day.

Overall, The Grand Lady provided everything we needed to throw the epic party we envisioned. If you’re in Austin and looking for a venue that’s versatile, beautiful, and there to make your vision a reality, The Grand Lady should be at the top of your list.”

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Absolutely blown away by this enchanting ceremony design by Ida Mayes Floral Design House featuring wild, Texas flowers, made even more magical by the unexpected weather. Guests brushed past tiered floral arrangements lining the moss covered aisle to their pink chairs, each set with a guidebook for the rest of the celebration. The Jewish ceremony was set under a massive acrylic chuppah atop a white lucite stage. Just WOW!

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A Modern Jewish Ceremony

“The ceremony was, without a doubt, the highlight of our wedding day—a perfect blend of chaos and magic. With unexpected rain in the forecast, we felt like we were on the verge of starring in the most iconic wet wedding scene since The Notebook. Determined to keep our ceremony outdoors, I did what any resourceful bride would do: I ordered a hundred clear umbrellas on Amazon Prime and crossed my fingers.

The true MVPs of the morning were the Ida Mayes Florals team. From my dry vantage point in the bridal suite, I watched guiltily as Tiffney and her crew, armed with flowers and unwavering resolve, braved the downpour, absolutely soaked to the bone, to turn The Grand Lady into a strange and whimsical floral wonderland that would have Alice asking for decorating tips.

In a twist of weatherly fate, the rain took a break as our guests arrived, allowing us to hurriedly dry the chairs and set the scene. Walking down the aisle to a beautiful, live instrumental of ‘Beyond’ by Leon Bridges, played by Allison and the Wy’s Guys, was perfection.

Incorporating our Jewish traditions into the ceremony was the most deeply meaningful touch. We used the kiddish cup from Daniel’s parents’ wedding and had family join in the seven blessings. Having the rabbi who guided me through my conversion years ago officiate the ceremony added a layer of significance, seamlessly blending the old with the new. It was a perfect fusion of classic and contemporary.

Despite the weather’s attempt at stealing the show, everything came together beautifully. Our planner, florist, vendors, and friends were the unsung heroes working behind the scenes all morning. We had the ceremony we had always envisioned, surrounded by the people we love most. It was a moment of surprise, connection, and a bit of “can you believe we pulled this off?”—a memory we’ll cherish forever, with a smile and a laugh.”

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Another fun, whimsical design moment: giant faux flowers and selfie stations with modern mirrors!

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Cocktail hour featured experiences like a mechanical bull, live guest sketches, interactive photo booth, and more set to the sounds of a Texas soul and jazz band. Guests enjoyed  customizable signature cocktails while munching on appetizers like a Texas Wagyu Brisket Bite and Oaxacan Mac & Cheese Boats. Offering up a killer culinary experience was key, so they went all out with food, including late night snacks and sweets, burger and ice cream food trucks. Opting for Texas-based spirits rather than the popular brand names helped them save some cash on the drinks.

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Shelly + Daniel wanted to get straight to the party, so as soon as cocktail hour ended everyone flowed into the reception hall for the hora. Afterward, stations opened up to the guests for dinner and the Dart Collective DJ + live musicians geared up for dancing! Guests were invited to take a break from the dance floor to go grab a bite, refresh their cocktail, ride the bull, then get back out on the floor.

One of many personal touches the couple included was a custom cat-themed coffee bar, ensuring everyone got their caffeine fix to keep the party going. And the mechanical bull added that quintessential Texas flair, not to mention lots of laughs and photo opps…

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Love ourselves a fringe party dress! Shop more of our favorites here.

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Saves vs Splurges

The couple kept it thrifty with details such as the fashion—Shelly snagged her dream designer dress and shoes secondhand—and digital invites. Using local vendors also saved them money and allowed for a more authentic Texas feel. She says, “We’re not dropping exact figures, but let’s just say our budget doubled what we originally expected. And from talking to friends, that’s not terribly unusual for large scale weddings. I’m extremely grateful that we had the means and the help from family to being the day together. The most unexpected splurge? Furniture. Renting chairs, sofas, and bars for a single day ended up costing more than I’d like to admit here. But hey, those touches made our wedding unique and infused our style and personality into the space. As someone who loves design, it felt only right to put our spin on it.

We went way over budget, no doubt about it. It’s a common tale—you’ve never planned a massive party before, you get caught up in the moment, and you make those extra splurges to ensure every detail is perfect. While I have no regrets, I definitely splurged more than I intended, and it wasn’t completely aligned with our long-term financial goals. My advice? Allow a lot of room for flexibility, try to stay grounded financially, but also know that it’s okay to splurge a little for the memories.”

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Time for those Studio 54 disco cowboy vibes: The team transformed The Grand Lady’s classic white reception hall into a metallic nightclub overflowing with fringe and disco balls. The night ended with a surprise balloon drop set to “Night Fever”, with silver and black balloons falling from the ceiling as everyone hit the dance floor one last time.

light up hats at Austin wedding couple dancing with sequin hat at Austin wedding

Wedding Tips & Advice, from the Bride

Get a Planner Early. I’ll admit it, like many naive brides, I flirted with the idea of planning it all myself. In hindsight, that would have been a catastrophically bad decision. Shelby, the owner of Plan On It Events, was my savior leading up to the wedding. My husband even joked that I loved her more than him during the planning process, and he was probably right. She was our guiding star through the chaos, and when the rain happened, oh boy, having her steer the ship saved our wedding from becoming a soggy disaster. If you and your partner both have full-time jobs and are trying to plan a 100+ person wedding, a planner is am absolute must.

Clear Communication & Shared Vision is Key. Sit down with your partner and anyone else involved financially or emotionally and hash out your shared vision. We skipped this step initially and paid for it with misunderstandings and stress later on. Having everyone on the same page from the get-go will save you from a bumpy road of hurt feelings in the months leading up to your wedding.

Prioritize Your Must-Haves. Have everyone involved list their top three priorities for the big day. For me, it was all about creating a fun atmosphere, having great food, and nailing the ceremony vibe. My husband was laser-focused on the music. Our realization that we didn’t really care about invites and the decision to go digital saved us thousands, and delegating tasks based on what mattered most to each family member helped keep everyone happy and involved. This helped us allocate our budget wisely and focus everyone’s efforts where it mattered most.

Remember, your wedding day is about celebrating your love story with all your favorite people, who probably won’t all be in the same place again. Embrace the chaos—those little imperfections will become the stories you tell when you and your partner are happily elderly and still in love. It’s the universe adding some extra flair to your day.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about having a perfect wedding. It’s about the love and laughter you share with your partner and your loved ones. So, dance in the rain, laugh at the mishaps, and ride the mechanical bull. Your wedding day is a celebration your unique love story, and that’s what makes it perfect.

Planning & Design: Plan On It Events & Design | Venue: The Grand Lady in Austin, TX | Photography: Light As Gold | Videography: Rebecca Lynn Films | Florals: Ida Mayes Floral Design House | Catering: La Pera Catering & Events | Rentals: BBJ La TavolaLoot RentalsPremiere EventsBee Lavish Event RentalsParty at the Moontower Event RentalsWhim Hospitality | Ceremony Band: Allisen and the Wy’s Guys | Coffee Cart: Creature Coffee Co | DJ + Reception Live Musicians: DART Collective | Bartending: Peak Beverage | Stationer: 26 Pressed | Decor: Pop and Drop TXThe Balloon Collective | Food Trucks: Amy’s Ice Creams and Cowbells 512 | Staffing: Austin’s Elite | Mechanical Bull: Amanzi Party Rentals | Live Artists: Vogue Vignette | HMUA: Think Brink Beauty | Lighting: Altared Weddings & Events | Transportation: Lux Limo | Second Shooters: Lauren Nicole PhotoJulia Bonugli Photo, Fyrelite Photography