Austin has its own unique way of doing fancy, because not every party is BBQ and beer. Three local event masters talk Austin’s elegant events and how to take your southern soiree next level. Lyndie Clement of Lyndie C Catering, Barbara Cooper of Austin Event Studio, and Concierge and Events by Vanessa Lazar help you party like a professional.
What are the best venues for a high-end affair?
Art museums, outdoor beauty, and historical settings are all available in Austin—that’s probably why so many couples choose it as a wedding destination.
Laguna Gloria is Lyndie’s favorite. It’s part of the Austin Museum of Art and boasts a historic home right on the water. Peacocks roam the spacious grounds. She’s also partial to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, a serene outdoor setting that comes alive at night when the trees are lit and the statues are glowing.
Lady Bird Wildflower Center is one of Barbara’s top choices for weddings or formal affairs. The pond and limestone slabs of the central courtyard make it the perfect spot for an elegant cocktail hour. The reception room features a glass wall facing the field and it’s just beautiful, especially when the wildflowers are blooming.
The Driscoll, a historic hotel in downtown Austin, is always wonderful, but Vanessa also encourages people to look off-the-beaten path. She recently planned an Indian wedding inside the Clay Pit, an Indian restaurant in an historic marker building that is loaded with charm and personality.
What are popular themes for elaborate events?
The modern vintage vibe is strong in Austin. The city’s motto is Keep Austin Weird, says Vanessa, and we have a great way of tying in the elegant with the rustic around here.
For wedding parties, Barbara shares that the rustic romance of burlap and baby’s breath are still as popular as ever. Styles always vary, but the Hill Country setting meshes so well with this theme, and a lot of destination brides are after that look.
What are the most common requests for food at upscale events?
Texas gourmet is the name of Lyndie’s game. For formal affairs people love full meals transformed into all night passed trays of eye-pleasing appetizers. Beautiful food that’s fun to eat is a big hit at elegant Austin parties.
Upscale Mexican is also popular, such as her avocado gazpacho in a shot glass topped with a mini chicken tostada. A Texas tradition with a twist is her smoked gouda garlic grit muffins topped with pulled pork or chili lime shrimp. For upscales affairs, it’s all about taking classic Austin favorites and adding that extra touch. The trend is so popular her catering company has had to get creative on ways to serve a full meal as passed apps. One example is a chicken fried petite lamb chop with raspberry chipotle sauce—it’s something guests can eat standing up (and sans silverware) but still be satiated.
What type of flowers and decor are requested?
A great way to have beauty without paying too many bucks is through creative use of flowers. Barbara recommends hydrangeas—they’re colorful, fill space, and are affordable. Good old fashioned roses are always a great choice as well, she says. Beyond flowers, the color palates are currently all about neutrals with a pop. An especially beautiful wedding she just planned featured neutrals with a navy, and she says the contrast was exquisite.
What’s the style for Austin events?
Diverse and fabulous, just like the city. An interactive dinner party Vanessa is coordinating will feature a local chef cooking a tasting menu with a wine pairing. There will be white linens and gorgeous spring floral arrangements to brighten the atmosphere, but despite all the elegance, the hostess requested mercury glass vases for a vintage feel. Vanessa says this is classic Austin—no matter how formal the affair that sweet, rustic touch is there.
What are the secrets for success when throwing a great party?
Be organized and focus on the details, recommends Barbara. Having a clear timeline and all the little details coordinated is what will make your event great.
Good communication and working with the budget are crucial, according to Vanessa. She’s big on realizing a client’s vision, but doing so in a budget-friendly way. The only way to achieve both, she says, is through excellent communication.
Alcohol, laughs Lyndie. Having great drinks makes a party. Her company makes all their mixers from scratch. They feature crowd-pleasers like blackberry lemonade vodka with an orchid as a garnish, or a basil mojito with a sugar cane swizzle. She strongly suggests having the prep done for fancy drinks, because no one likes waiting in line for a drink. An example would be making a mint simple syrup to skip the muddling step in mojitos. If at all possible, she loves the look of real glassware for more formal affairs.
What’s one of your favorite Austin parties?
The opening gala of the Long Center for the Performing Arts was amazing, shares Barbara. Every detail was perfect. They had a red carpet that went up the stairs, and all along the carpet were performers of every kind. Acrobats, dancers, magicians—it was all so tastefully done. There was a beautiful white tent on the lawn with a white grand piano and the view of the Austin skyline over Town Lake behind it. Just perfect.
A wedding at Mexic-Arte Museum stands out in Lyndie’s mind. The bride’s mother was a caterer on the East Coast and Lyndie was really able to connect with the family as she planned the food for their wedding reception. The museum was filled with Dia de los Muertos altars at the wedding and it was so colorful and vibrant. That, plus the fact the family was so lovely and stood back and let her do her job made for a special event.
An intimate wedding Vanessa planned in North Austin is dear to her heart. The couple had a very limited budget with a guest list of 20. They got creative with ways to incorporate the attendees into all parts of the ceremony, such as when the bride walked down the aisle, each person took a turn handing her a flower. The charm and thought that went it made it extraordinary.
Ready to plan your next affair?