by Jessica Terson, Writer
These Houston museums and landmarks offer guests the opportunity to indulge in a wide array of historical, cultural, and scientific experiences — all while enjoying a glass of champagne in your honor. Guests can dance the night away against a backdrop of vintage aircrafts or pose with dinosaur skeletons for a photo booth that’s out of this world. Dinners and cocktail receptions are always extraordinary affairs with Impressionist masterpieces or Komodo Dragons in attendance. For a once-in-a-lifetime celebration, forgo the more traditional settings and host your next exclusive event in one of these unique wedding venues in Houston. Add your favorites from this list to your personal own “idea slate” on PartySlate like this one.
With renowned permanent galleries and world-premiere exhibitions, the Houston Museum of Natural Science opens our eyes to the wonders of the natural world. This multi-story science center is also an incomparable private event venue, with 16 spaces capable of hosting soirées for groups as intimate as 30 and as large as 400. A personalized marquee screen greets guests as they make their grand entrance into the Lillie and Roy Cullen Grand Entry Hall. A customizable lighting system turns the lofty ceiling into a canvas of textured patterns, colors, or even a logo or monogram. For dining and dancing, we suggest guests head to The Morian Hall of Paleontology. A collection of dinosaur skeletons makes for unforgettable décor. Cocktail parties are always exceptional events on the second floor mezzanine. With access to exhibits like Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife and Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, guests are guaranteed an evening to remember. For a wedding that’s truly out of this world, consider hosting your ceremony in the Burke Baker Planetarium. With the cosmos as a backdrop, who needs an arch?
Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife Capacity: 40 (seated) – 60 (standing)
Burke Baker Planetarium Capacity: 187 (theater seating)
Lillie and Roy Cullen Grand Hall Entry Capacity: 350 (seated) – 900 (standing)
As one of the most diverse cities in the United States, Houston is proud to host one of Asia Society’s leading educational centers, established in 1979 to promote partnerships between Asia and the United States. Designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, this remarkable building is “an architectural marriage of east and west” with exterior and interior walls primarily made up of Jura Limestone formed during the Jurassic geological period. As guests enter the Grand Hall, they are immediately surrounded by wood paneling constructed from a North American cherry tree aged more than 100 years. While this remarkable building boasts six exquisite event spaces, we especially love The Water Garden Terrace which overlooks the second-floor Elkins Foundation Water Garden. With impressive views of downtown Houston, the terrace also gives guests an opportunity to marvel at 12,000 gallons of circulating water and artificial fog.
The Water Garden Terrace Capacity: 90 (seated) – 110 (standing)
Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall Capacity: 100 (seated) – 300 (standing)
The Sterling-Turner Festival Lawn Capacity: 300 (seated) – 400 (standing)
What happens when you combine a 500,000-gallon aquatic paradise with a full-service restaurant? You get one of Houston’s most compelling private event venues. Located on the third floor of the Downtown Aquarium, the 6,000-square-foot Nautilus Ballroom is the perfect setting for any special event. In the foyer, guests can take unforgettable pictures next to the 50-foot, 50,000 gallon cylindrical fish tank. The ballroom is just as impressive, with a hand-painted ceiling and one-of-a-kind nautilus shell chairs. A wraparound balcony with captivating views of the downtown skyline provides additional space for an elegant cocktail reception. Downtown Aquarium also has a picnic area for more relaxed, outdoor celebrations.
Nautilus Ballroom Capacity: 450 (seated) – 600 (standing)
Surrounded by contemporary glass buildings, the historic Julia Ideson Building immediately captures the eye with its distinctive Spanish-style architecture. Spanish brick floors, high-arched windows and one-of-a-kind artwork are some of the first things that visitors notice as they enter the library. Guests can wander past the large marble pillars in the Tudor Gallery and stare in wonder at the Reading Room’s original wooden fixtures and ceiling of gold and multi-colored wooden flowers. Both rooms can be combined for large-scale celebrations — just one option in this venue which offers eight spaces for celebrating. Make sure to take a few photos on the grand staircase for a memorable keepsake before heading off to explore the various galleries filled with historical treasures.
Reading Room Capacity: 200 (seated) – 256 (standing)
Tudor Gallery Capacity: 100 (seated) – 200 (standing)
Reading Room & Tudor Gallery Combination Capacity: 300 (seated) – 450 (standing)
Explore Houston’s civil aviation history in the original art deco building that served as the city’s first purpose-built terminal for passenger flights. In addition to a behind-the-scenes look into Hobby Airport’s operations, visitors can enjoy a lavish celebration in this modern-day museum. Limestone panels, stucco designs, and marble floors recall the grandeur of the Art Deco era. The atrium, with its curvilinear design, is perfect for ceremonies and cocktail parties. Easy access to the museum’s various exhibit halls ensures an evening of exceptional entertainment. The Hangar provides a unique backdrop with its permanent exhibit of vintage aircrafts and automobiles. Rumor has it, this remarkable room once even played host to a roller-skating party — there’s no limit to the imaginative theming you can create here.
Atrium Capacity: 150 seating) 200+ (standing)
Starliner Theater Capacity: 50 (seated) – 50+ (standing)
Hangar Capacity: up to 500
In addition to being the first art museum built in the state of Texas, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is also the largest cultural institution in the entire southwest region. The original neoclassical façade of the first MFAH building — designed in the early 1920s — is now seamlessly incorporated into the museum’s new Caroline Wiess Building. The three-story-tall walls provide a stunning blank canvas for projected lighting and photography. For banquets and receptions, Audrey Jones Beck Building offers an eclectic mix of spaces. Guests can raise a toast and simultaneously enjoy the museum’s impressive collection of Old Masters and contemporary art. For more intimate celebrations, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens offers stunning photo ops before guests even enter the doors. Exterior lighting illuminates the sleek glass and steel structure with a jewel-like glow that guests are certain to cherish as much as the artwork.
Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens Capacity: 14 to 60 (seated) – 20 to 82 (standing)
Audrey Jones Beck Building Capacity: 150 (seated) – 1,000 (standing)
Caroline Wiess Law Building Capacity: 400 (seated) – 1,000 (standing)
This AIA award-winning venue offers a combination of stunning indoor and outdoor spaces for your next celebration. Floor-to-ceiling windows in The Courtyard room provide dramatic views of the romantic inner-courtyard garden. The two spaces can easily be combined for a spacious cocktail reception. Guests will love the rose-covered walkway and koi-stocked meditation pool. A 20-foot bamboo surround is reminiscent of a secret garden and brings an aura of intimacy to any celebration. Head indoors to the Studio for an evening of dining and dancing. With 20-foot-high ceilings, lighting configurations are always impressive. The elegantly-designed interior is just one of many reasons 5226 Elm won “Building of the Year” from the American Institute of Architects.
Courtyard Capacity: 70 (seated)
Studio Capacity: 150 (seated)
Each year, over two million guests flock to the Houston Zoo. With over 6,000 animals, a variety of unique ecosystems to explore, and a wide variety of 15 exceptional private events spaces, the Houston Zoo offers the perfect setting for a one-of-a-kind celebration. Imagine a cocktail reception at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat where guests can indulge in unobstructed views of the elephant pool. The French Colonial milieu of Twiga Cafe, with its patio overlooking the giraffe and rhino habitats, easily turns any bridal shower into a safari adventure. For a VIP dinner party unlike any other, head to the Carruth Natural Encounters Building. Guests can crawl through a see-through tunnel that peeks into a piranhas exhibit. We especially love the Reflection Pool for outdoor celebrations. The canopy of oak trees and historic koi fish pool transport guests into lush landscape straight out of a fairytale.
McNair Asian Elephant Habitat Capacity: 80 (seated) – 200 (standing)
Twiga Cafe Capacity: 90 (seated) – 180 (standing)
Carruth Natural Encounters Building Capacity: 100 (seated) – 150 (standing)
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