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Live Oak Lodge – A Hill Country Retreat from Nest Vacation Rentals

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Situated on two gorgeous acres in the Texas Hill Country, Live Oak Lodge from Nest Vacation Rentals is the perfect place to host out-of-town wedding guests or to escape for a fun weekend in Austin. Live Oak Lodge features five bedrooms and four baths to comfortably accommodate 18 guests. The beautiful 4000 square foot home offers an array of amenities for a fun-filled weekend, whether your guests care to relax and recharge or partake in recreation. They can enjoy a covered outdoor patio with an expansive sparkling swimming pool, a hot tub and an outdoor big screen TV. Cook on the gas grill or smoker and enjoy games of Bocce ball, basketball, corn holes, billiards and more!

An open living room featuring a functional fireplace is adjacent to the gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances so your whole group can gather comfortably. While the home offers a restful retreat, its convenient location means you’re close to all that the Austin area has to offer. Just minutes from both downtown Austin and downtown Dripping Springs, your guests can stay in the gorgeous Hill Country while being central to your wedding venue and plenty of things to do. For more information about Live Oak Lodge, visit the Nest Vacation Rental website or call  512.887.8076 to book your stay. Cheers!

Photos courtesy of Nest Vacation Rentals


Tips from Nicole Mera Jewelry on Designing a Custom Engagement Ring

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We’re so thrilled to introduce you today to Nikki Swift of Nicole Mera Jewelry. Nikki is a private jeweler and graduate gemologist who meets one-on-one with clients to help them select or design a piece of custom jewelry for any occasion, and can help bring a dream engagement ring to life. Unlike traditional jewelers, Nikki is able to meet with clients in their homes or offices, allowing for a relaxed setting where she strives to teach, rather than sell. She loves to educate her clients about jewelry so they leave feeling truly excited about their purchase. She takes pride in creating wearable art and putting passion into each project she completes through Nicole Mera Jewelry. Take a look below at Nikki’s answers to a few common questions. You’ll learn something, we’re quite sure!

austin wedding jeweler nicole mera jewelry

Photo: KT Merry

What are the top 3 things to keep in mind when choosing a jeweler?

1. One of the most important factors is to always work with a reputable company or individual. Just like many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true – it really is. Jewelers who have steep discounts, who push you to buy quickly, and those who don’t have a good reputation – stay clear. There are a lot of bad people out there but on the flip side, there are so many wonderful jewelers. Each individual has their certain preference of where and how they like to buy jewelry, whether it’s a big retail store, online, or a small private jeweler. Always do your research first and read reviews!

2. Talk to your friends who are recently engaged. Most likely, they will point you in the right direction. They have been there before, they have put in the work, and they either had a good or bad experience. 

3. Look to work with a graduate gemologist. A graduate gemologist is someone who has comprehensive knowledge in diamonds and colored stones. They are the ones who have a great understanding of the industry as a whole and most importantly, will help you beyond what a standard sales person can do. I myself am a graduate gemologist and have a passion for the items I am selling.  My goal as a graduate gemologist is that my clients leave more educated than when they came, and that they leave feeling knowledgeable and confident about the piece of jewelry or loose stone they just purchased. 

What does the process of designing a Nicole Mera Jewelry custom ring entail?

The process starts with an initial one-on-one consultation where my goal is to best understand my clients and their ultimate goals for their creation.  I start by helping establish a budget, a direction for the design, and then we start with procuring a diamond or colored stone. I will then work with my diamond contacts to curate a selection of loose diamonds to present. During the process of selecting a diamond, I work with my clients to educate about the 4Cs (clarity, cut, color, carat) and explore the world beyond the 4Cs. Once a stone is selected, I let my clients be the designers. With my understanding of hand-fabrication and design, I assist to bring their vision to reality. I work with incredible artisans in Los Angeles who I can trust to then bring the piece to life. My goal in the end is to manage the process from start to finish to make for a relaxed and pressure-free experience. I want my clients to enjoy each and every step and ultimately, I want them to have fun!

What are some things to think about when choosing a diamond shape?

1. Trust your gut! It’s really important to find the shape you love and have always loved. If you try to stick to trends or get something your friends have, you won’t be happy. Just remember, this is going to be a piece of jewelry that YOU need to love because you are supposed to be wearing this for years to come! 

2. Try on and explore various shapes. I think this is crucial when choosing a ring because you will be surprised at what shapes look beautiful on your hand and which ones don’t. For me personally, I have shorter, stubby hands, so I tend to love elongated stones on my hands (i.e. ovals, elongated radiants and pear shapes). Elongated stones tend to trick the eye and not only appear larger, but can also elongate the finger as well. 

3. If you are open to various shapes, talk to a gemologist about choosing a shape. There are diamond shapes that are more popular than others (like rounds and ovals) so of course, they are more in demand so the prices are a little bit competitive. If you or your fiancé are open to various shapes, especially ones that aren’t seen as often in engagement rings today (like pear or marquise), there is a lot of opportunity to find a stone at a great value. The wonderful thing is there are a lot beautiful options for everyone, it’s just about working with someone who is willing to take the time to educate and share their knowledge of diamonds and their value. 

To get in touch with Nikki or to learn more about the services Nicole Mera Jewelry offers, visit her vendor profile on Brides of Austin!

UMLAUF Sculpture Garden Open House Styled by Pearl Events Austin

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Earlier this year, UMLAUF Sculpture Garden hosted an open house, planned by the fab team at Pearl Events Austin and featuring a host of talented Austin vendors who came together not only to show off the venue, but to simulate a real wedding! Whim Hospitality and Birch & Brass provided furnishings for the tablescape and lounge area, going for a French country-meets-modern-glam look to highlight the green, open spaces of the garden. Crave Catering, The Cupcake Bar and Sweet Treets Bakery worked together to bring a dinner and dessert experience to the open house guests reminiscent of what they’d find at a beautiful wedding. Pink Champagne Paper took care of the stationery, while Bouquets of Austin brought florals to accentuate the garden’s natural beauty – we can’t get enough of that boxwood greenery arch adorned with pink flowers! Guests witnessed several entertainment options, including outdoor games everyone could enjoy from Altared Weddings & Events. We’re so impressed with how this event came together, representing some of Austin’s finest wedding vendors and showing off a unique venue we just love! Brides, be sure to get in touch with these wedding pros on our Local Vendors page!

Photos // Michelle Boyd Photography

10 Venues with a View West of Austin

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Where the city meets the Hill Country, these venues with a view west of Austin have everything a bride could want: beautiful buildings, incredible natural scenery and breathtaking views! We’ve rounded up a collection of venues just west of the city with pretty views of hillsides, water or open fields. These places will amaze your guests and can be the perfect place to host your big day while embracing the natural beauty the Austin area has to offer. Don’t miss even more gorgeous venues in and around Austin on our venues page!

venues with a view deep eddy

Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room – Just 20 minutes west of Austin, the Deep Eddy Vodka Tasting Room offers a fun, modern place to host your wedding with expansive views of the Texas Hill Country and an unforgettable atmosphere. With limestone walls, large industrial chic windows to let in light and a covered patio where your guests can soak in the view, this venue won’t disappoint!

austin venues with a view ma maison

Ma Maison – With 10,000 square feet of event space on 23 oak tree-covered acres, Ma Maison in Dripping Springs is the perfect venue for couples looking for southern hospitality, French-inspired elegance and natural beauty. Ma Maison offers five breathtaking ceremony locations and a team of friendly staff devoted to making your wedding day the best day ever.

Photo: Sarah Goss Photography

austin venues with a view mustang waters ranch

Mustang Waters Ranch – Take the 35-minute drive west of Austin to Johnson City and experience Mustang Waters, a true ranch experience with 900 acres of livestock-dotted pastures and views as far as the eye can see. Mustang Waters also offers accommodations for up to 30 guests, so you can relax and enjoy an entire wedding weekend in the beautiful Hill Country.

austin wedding venues with a view pecan grove

Pecan Grove – Under sprawling oak trees on the banks of Onion Creek in Driftwood lies Pecan Grove, a Texas wine country wedding venue incorporated into the famous Salt Lick family of event specialists. Pecan Grove offers incredible scenery, mouthwatering on-site barbeque catering and true southern charm, with views to boot!

Photo: Jen Dillender Photography

austin venues with a view pecan springs ranch

Pecan Springs Ranch– Just a short drive west of downtown Austin, Pecan Springs Ranch offers a beautifully landscaped Hill Country venue with natural springs, infinite pecan trees and lovely shaded areas to have your wedding ceremony and reception. With unique buildings around the property and the famous miniature donkey residents, this stylish venue offers a memorable place to host your big day!

texas wedding venues with a view milestone boerne

The Milestone | Boerne – Nestled in a beautiful valley near Upper Cibolo Creek, northwest of San Antonio, the grounds of The Milestone  are inhabited by deer and other wildlife for a true Hill Country experience! The venue features pristine landscaping, a picturesque outdoor ceremony location and the ability to accommodate 320 guests. You’ll love the refined rustic feel of The Milestone in Boerne!

The Retreat at Balcones Springs – A lakeside destination venue in Marble Falls, Texas, The Retreat at Balcones Springs boasts 250 beautiful acres in the heart of Texas Hill Country. With on-site lodging, recreational activities and catering available, the Retreat is an all-inclusive venue with multiple ceremony location options and endless entertainment for your guests.

Photo: Feather & Twine 

the terrace club

The Terrace Club – As the first-ever venue in the now Wedding Capital of Texas, Dripping Springs, The Terrace Club has set high standards on wedding day hospitality. This venue is set apart by all-inclusive packages, multiple ceremony sites with stunning Hill Country views and a coordinator included with every wedding to ensure your special day runs smoothly!

austin wedding venues with a view lakeway resort and spa

Lakeway Resort and Spa – Situated cliffside above Lake Travis, this expansive resort venue includes elegant ballrooms, wraparound terraces and intimate event rooms to host your special day, all with incredible views of the lake! Guests can of course stay at the resort and receive the ultimate in accommodations and hospitality. Lakeway Resort and Spa’s experienced wedding staff can help with all aspects of planning and strives for every couple’s complete satisfaction!

austin wedding venues with a view camp lucy

Camp Lucy – This breathtaking venue in Dripping Springs is home to buildings with old-world charm, a staff providing world-class service and Hill Country ranch views you’ll never forget! Camp Lucy is well worth the 30-minute drive from Austin, as you and your guests will be treated to a one-of-a-kind wedding experience, with catering, florals, event and tent rentals available as inclusive options and something to fit every bride’s style, from luxe-rustic to French Colonial flair.

Photo: Mint Photography

Boho Bachelorette Party at Cypress Falls Event Center

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Grab your besties, your pool floaties and your adventurous spirit and be inspired by this boho bachelorette party styled shoot from Cypress Falls Event Center! The Lodge at Cypress Falls offers the perfect place to host a bachelorette party, with a pool, on-site catering and bakery, a tavern where you and your girls can sing and dance the night away and of course, the falls! Adventure and explore with canoeing, swimming and hiking along the falls before you return to relaxation at The Lodge. A bright, bold and eclectic color scheme came to life in this styled shoot, with a cheerful bachelorette cake set against a boho backdrop, a scrumptious dessert bar featuring crepes, a crowd favorite, and a watercolor invitation suite along with an inviting tablescape ready to welcome your closest friends to a fun-filled weekend. Bachelorette parties can be laid-back while still showing off your personal style and pampering your girls. Cheers to the celebration!

Photos // Misty McLendon Photography

Video // Levi Hanusch