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Small-Town Austin

A world of amazing Central Texas wedding sites lies just outside the city limits.
By: 
Shelley Seale

There’s something about the simple charm and timeless elegance of a wedding in the countryside. Away from the city lights and tall buildings, the horizon rolls away to vistas that beg to be photographed, and starry skies create the nights that dreams are made of. Venture a very short drive outside of Austin, and you’ll find numerous charming towns and wide-open, romantic spaces. Yet you’re still near enough to the city so it’s easy for out-of-town guests and for you to access vendors and have everything you need at hand.

Here we showcase some of the best of the surrounding Central Texas spots, many of which offer guest lodging, options and activities to suit a wide variety of wedding plans.

Kyle/Buda
Just 20 minutes south of Austin, Kyle and Buda are two of the fastest-growing towns in Central Texas. With such easy access to the city and miles of rolling Hill Country, this area has become the natural home to numerous gorgeous wedding venues set amid generous acreages. Buda has a quaint historic downtown square and thanks to the plethora of recreational opportunities, it’s known as the Outdoor Capital of Texas.

If you’re looking for European flair in Central Texas, the San Michele estate will deliver from the moment your guests drive through the columned entry. The seasonal gardens, statues, fountains, pond and limestone terrace—all lit up at night in twinkling lights—will transport your wedding party to the Italian countryside.

The Winfield Inn’s stunning mansion, circa 1884, exudes romance, set on 27 acres of lush landscaping. The wraparound porch filled with wicker rocking chairs and classic Adirondack chairs is a great place to catch your breath amid all the festivities. Because they only host one wedding per day, you have Winfield all to yourself.

For a modern estate with French flair, look to Thistlewood Manor and Gardens, offering indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception spaces. Tricia Kurtz is both the owner and the head chef, and truly goes out of her way to make sure every couple’s day is beyond special.

Texas Old Town, the Best Hill Country Wedding and Event Venue for 2017 by Official Best Of, consists of four unique, private sites nestled on 70 acres of pristine countryside. Each site offers its own private outdoor ceremony site and spacious reception hall, and can be customized to any style, from rustic country chic to elegant traditional.

Coyote Garden Hall boasts origins as a movie studio. A large stage and dance hall gets a romantic edge with the reflective pool and gardens; a nice touch is the interfaith ceremony space. Another venue with gorgeous gardens is the aptly named Garden Grove. It goes beyond using its gorgeous flora for mere decoration, with a focus on edible and sustainable plants.

Wimberley
Located where Cypress Creek and the Blanco River meet, the stunning views around the Wimberley Valley lure many artists and nature lovers. Art galleries, quaint shops and performing arts venues showcase the local talent year-round. It’s a favorite for weekend couples’ getaways, and a natural choice for a destination wedding only a short drive from Austin.

In this serene setting, you’ll find the Waters Point, a secluded private resort. This magical setting is home to a collection of historic cabins and venues, some dating back over a century. The cabins are available as lodging rentals, and some can be used as event space for weddings.

La Estancia Bella also has the historic Texas feel—it’s a picturesque 100-acre longhorn cattle ranch, known as the “cathedral under the trees.” Besides the 6,500-square-foot grand reception hall, there is a performance stage, dance floor, catering kitchen, rustic barn, bride/groom dressing quarters, indoor and outdoor bar, lodging and a pretty gazebo with terraced seating.

If you’re an outdoors lover, check out Cypress Falls Event Center on the banks of Cypress Creek, 2 miles from downtown Wimberley. The Lodge at Cypress Falls offers accommodations with options for swimming, fishing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. There’s also the Back Porch café and the Tavern, a casual pub-style lounge.

Montesino Ranch is a 225-acre working ranch owned by Scott and Brenda Mitchell. The rustic architecture uses native and reclaimed materials that blend perfectly into the landscape. In addition to the ceremony/reception spaces, nature lovers will also enjoy Montesino’s organic farm and recreation that includes hiking, biking and swimming.

The 50 acres of Rancho Mirando offers some of the most amazing Texas Hill Country views, with wedding sites set among the lavender gardens, arbor and pool, along with a 5,000-square-foot event pavilion. The Hacienda at the ranch is a 4,000-square-foot castle-style home that sleeps 16 guests.

For those with a flair for the dramatic and artistic, the Studio at Fischer offers a unique setup. It’s a collection of artist studios with top-of-the-line technology—perfect for dream wedding photography—and the outdoor flagstone patio, nature grove and waterfall pool make a beautiful ceremony and reception setting.

Georgetown/Florence
Georgetown, with “the most beautiful town square in Texas,” and nearby Florence offer a number of gorgeous wedding venues just north of Austin. Downtown Georgetown boasts historic buildings, boutiques, trendy restaurants and wine bars, art galleries and museums. A thriving cultural scene, plenty of park and trail spaces, and city energy almost completely supplied by green power add to the appeal.

The Sheraton Austin Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center made a splash when it opened in 2016. It anchors the 32-acre Summit at Rivery Park, an upscale entertainment district with retail and dining, and is accessible to hiking and biking trails. The full-service attention is what you’d expect from a large hotel, and the on-site wedding specialist will make sure every aspect of your day is perfect. With 30,000 square feet of function space, including the San Gabriel Ballroom that can accommodate up to 800 guests, and an outdoor reception area, this is a good option for large weddings.

For smaller, old-fashioned charm, check out the Page House, a Queen Anne Victorian built in 1903. Indoor and outdoor space can host up to 150 guests, and only one wedding per day offers complete use of the home and grounds. Pearl Snap Hall also offers vintage appeal—built in 1910, the building was originally a church hall, featuring long-leaf pine floors, classic windows that stream in sunlight and floor-to-ceiling whitewashed beadboard walls.

If you want to be close to the water, Hill Country views and true Austin character, head to Kindred Oaks. Its setting on a bluff overlooking a reservoir affords views of the Austin city lights in the distance, and a bed-and-breakfast suite makes a perfect wedding-night stay. They even offer pre-marriage classes.

Angel Springs Event Center is another classically Texas venue, with its limestone building on a hilltop setting among towering oaks. A bed-and-breakfast plus rental cabins are available for wedding party and guests.

Reunion Ranch, with more than 100 acres, lets guests take advantage of both indoor and outdoor venues—along with 40-plus activities for a weekend of fun, including disc golf, volleyball, pedal boats, zip line, obstacle course and a miniature golf course. There are also amenities for the kids, making it a good choice for child-friendly weddings.

If you’re a fan of the industrial aesthetic, the Union on Eighth might be right up your alley. The 85-year-old building has been a blacksmith shop, an Oldsmobile dealership and a transmission shop; now it’s a unique event space featuring wood, metal and concrete.

If a country club setting is more your style, Cimarron Hills offers resort-style amenities and an award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, hidden away from the frenzy of the city. And wine fans can’t go wrong at The Vineyard at Florence, an incredible winery inspired by Old World Italy. Guests can host their special day at spaces such as Villa Ella Amore or Villa Firenze, and the property also boasts an exquisite day spa.

Bastrop/Smithville/Manor
To the east of Austin lie the historic towns of Bastrop, Smithville and Manor, surrounded by pine forests and small-town charm. The Mansion at ColoVista is a large, fully renovated colonial-style mansion, replete with stately columns and a winding, tree-lined drive perfectly suited for that frame-worthy wedding shot. Inside, the soaring ceilings, curved staircases, marble floors, crystal chandeliers and six fireplaces offer all the romantic ambience you could want.

The Angel Mountain Events facility was tragically lost to the 2011 Bastrop fires, but the venue has rebuilt with facilities that include a candlelit chapel, reception area for dinner and dancing, bride and groom suites, and a 1,500-square-foot patio. Red Ridge Receptions offers similar facilities, with indoor and outdoor spaces along with a charming iron pergola and cedar decks.

In nearby Manor, TerrAdorna bills itself as a gathering place where earth meets sky, on an airy ridge that is the highest point east of Austin. Take advantage of this unique location with the all-glass overhead doors, which open completely to the wraparound deck so you can bring the outdoors in.

The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is a larger resort that’s the gem of the area. Nestled on the banks of the lower Colorado River, this luxury resort feels more like a wilderness retreat, with a huge selection of activities, multiple restaurants, an award-winning spa and comfortable guestrooms. From horseback riding to the lazy river and evening campfires, this is the perfect setting when you want a seamless event or destination stay that will make everyone happy.

Marble Falls
Billed as in the “middle of everywhere,” Marble Falls is known for its scenic beauty and lake recreation. Spring wildflowers along the rolling hills pave the way for summertime fishing, camping, water sports, golfing and cave exploring. The town, a vibrant creative community, is lined with art galleries, and museums, theater, great dining options and local wineries provide plenty of entertainment choices.

After a festive evening, you can relax in accommodations ranging from cabins and bed-and-breakfast inns to full-service resorts like the popular Horseshoe Bay. With a classic club lifestyle and 250 guest rooms combined with a happening scene with many live music events and festivals, the resort also offers dedicated wedding planners to assist you every step of the way. The Retreat at Balcones Springs offers a smaller option, with an on-site wedding coordinator for the 250-acre property with 42 rustic cabins.

If you’ve ever dreamed of a fairy-tale castle wedding, look no further than Smythwick Castle and Lodge. This country castle is perched on 10 acres dotted with waterfalls, ponds and gorgeous shade trees.

The Ranch at Cow Creek enjoys a stunning location right in the middle of the Balcones Canyonlands Wildlife Nature Preserve, a Texas natural treasure. In addition to picturesque wedding venues, the ranch also offers a host of guest activities from fishing and horseback riding to spa services and an on-site chef available for booking.

Dripping Springs
Called the Wedding Capital of Texas, this town just to the west of Austin, with its quaint charm and some of the most amazing sunsets in the state, deserves a serious look. While Dripping Springs has seen a lot of new development in the past decade, it’s still far enough away from the capital city for the perfect blend of in-town and out-of-town appeal.

The Terrace Club takes full advantage of the natural resources available in Texas Hill Country. With breathtaking views and attentive service, owner/operator Hunter Connor and her husband, Pat, bring 17 years of experience and a genuine love for creating memorable weddings to each of their events.

Memory Lane Event Center offers the choice of two venues—Memory Lane, and their newest offering, La Hacienda—with a business that has evolved from a family home. Operating one of the first wedding venues in Dripping Springs, Janet and Mike Morgan, with daughter Thalia Friedeck, a certified event planner, definitely have the experience to back up their offerings.

For a taste of France in Texas, look to Ma Maison. With 23 acres of wildflowers and wine country, Ma Maison has a choice of sites, from the Green Cathedral and the Great Hall to lakeside gazebos and a garden grove. Canyonwood Ridge offers another quaint chapel, with a simple yet elegant rustic design and intimate feel.

Camp Lucy, just a short drive from Austin, has garnered national acclaim for both its facilities and top-notch service. The restored 19th-century French colonial Ian’s Chapel has an old-fashioned feel combined with modern luxury, and the on-site accommodations along with guest experiences (like hiking, biking and fishing) cater to destination weddings. Animal lovers will adore the cute alpacas that roam the property.

The “Hill Country chic” of Vista West Ranch was featured on an episode of The Wedding Capital of Texas web series. With its weathered wood, concrete floors and aged tin, the ranch is custom-made for inspired photography. The Creek Haus is their special four-day wedding package that includes an unforgettable stay for up to 70 guests.

Prospect House is a bit of a surprise: a dramatic modernist structure in the middle of the countryside west of Austin. Designed specifically for wedding events by award-winning Texas architect Max Levy, the clean-lined architecture blends perfectly with the native prairie grasses, trees and natural surroundings into its environment.

Fredericksburg
A little farther out of town lies the charming town of Fredericksburg. Rich with the culture of German immigrants who settled here over 160 years ago, Fredericksburg has also become a major wine destination. You can follow Wine Road 290 by car or bicycle to visit a dozen local wineries, while a stay at the new Wine Country Cottages on Main Street offers a luxury escape amid arbors and grapevines. The history buffs in your wedding party will appreciate the National Museum of the Pacific War, with a recent multimillion-dollar expansion, and the revitalized Fort Martin Scott, a historical gem with living-history reenactments.

Contigo Ranch exemplifies the beauty and hospitality of this area, with over 3,400 square feet of event space and a 2,600-square-foot patio covered in twinkle lights. A 300-year-old oak tree on the rolling lawn is a very popular ceremony site, and overnight guests can take advantage of the newly renovated guest houses—combining classic architecture with contemporary design—or historic log cabins that date from the 1890s.

Obviously, the Central Texas Hill Country area offers a wealth of natural beauty and charming small towns to choose from, and these destinations and venues are sure to make your wedding day unique. *

Quick List
A guide to Greater Austin venues

If you’re looking for . . .
A large hotel/resort with a spa and all the amenities that come with size: Sheraton Austin Georgetown Hotel & Conference Center; Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa near Bastrop; Horseshoe Bay Resort in Marble Falls.

A European chateau in Central Texas: Le San Michele Estate in Buda; the Vineyard at Florence near Georgetown; Ma Maison in Dripping Springs.

A historic mansion: the Winfield Inn in Kyle; the Page House in Georgetown; the Mansion at ColoVista in Bastrop.

A true Texas ranch experience: La Estancia Bella and Montesino Ranch in Wimberley; Reunion Ranch in Georgetown; the Ranch at Cow Creek in Marble Falls.

Industrial chic or modern gallery-like spaces: The Union on Eighth in Georgetown; Prospect House in Dripping Springs.