Hey y’all! Welcome back to another Vendor Spotlight! Today’s vendor is none other than Astin Mansion in historic downtown Bryan, Texas. It is the epitome of the grand 1920’s style with its many windows and intricate and swanky decor. You will truly feel like you are Gatsby overlooking his party at the top of the stairs in the Astin on your wedding day! We were so excited to get to know how they got started out as a wedding venue, as well as some things they wish their clients would ask about. The Astin Mansion has incredible interior and exterior spaces for you to use on your wedding day. With each interior room having its own style, and the beautiful architecture of the outside of the Mansion, you can make your wedding day uniquely your own.
What made you decide to get into the wedding venue business?
While studying professional event management at Texas A&M, I started working an internship at the Astin Mansion Event Center. I easily fell in love with the historic elegance of the mansion as well as the high level of service they offered and quickly knew I wanted to work there for as long as I could!
What is your favorite wedding to date at your venue? Why?
My favorite wedding I coordinated at the Astin Mansion was for Rusty and Ashley Rodriguez. Ashley is of Irish heritage and there was a lot of culture incorporated into the wedding. Ashley and Rusty had a sword salute entering their ceremony which was amazing to watch. Their family and friends were dressed in traditional clothing wearing plaid kilts and all the accessories, everyone was drinking mead, and the moves on the dancefloor were epic. I had never coordinated a wedding with swords and kilts so that one will always be a memorable one for me.
What is your favorite current wedding trend?
My favorite trend that almost all of our couples are opting for is the use of real china for everything including hors d’oeuvres, dinner, and cake plates. While this isn’t a new trend, I have seen more and more couples choosing this route instead of mock china which is also a popular choice. Whatever their reason, I do enjoy the increase in interest for real china. It photographs beautifully and helps reduce the trash waste produced. (Alternative trend…..) A new trend I have noticed with our wedding is that couples are wanting to exit the reception earlier than ever. I would say the most popular exit time for weddings is midnight however, we have heard from more couples who want to exit at 10pm. A lot of factors could contribute to the decision to end earlier but my couples have said that it is nice to end early because they still want to have an after party and not stay out too incredibly late so they can head off to their honeymoon the next day.
What sets your venue apart from other venues?
The Astin estate is classified as an Antebellum-Georgian Revival style home nearing 100 years old which makes it very unique for an event venue. The mansion is adorned with amazing pieces of original architecture and details that differs from room to room. Since we were a private residence for so many years and now operate as a venue, our layout is different than most. We are considered an indoor/outdoor venue with activities happening in all different areas of the estate.
What are 3 tips you would recommend to couples who just got engaged and starting to plan their wedding day?
Getting engaged is a whirlwind of emotions, happiness, excitement, overflowing love and joy! Now that you’re officially engaged, it’s time to start wedding planning! The biggest piece of advice is simple: stay organized. Staying organized is the best way to combat stress. Keep a binder or one place for all your wedding information as well as a to do list and game plan. If your budget allows, consider hiring a wedding coordinator or planner. Your wedding coordinator is a professional and they are there to keep everything as stress free as possible so you can enjoy your special day. Determining your guest list early is also something we recommend. Knowing how many guests you are planning for better helps you set a budget per person what you want to spend.
If you had to describe your venue's vibe in 3 words, what would they be?
Whenever we talk about the Astin Mansion, 3 words come to mind: historic, timeless, downtown. The mansion itself is almost entirely original and nearing 100 years in age yet it is still astoundingly beautiful. From hosting parties in the 1920s to hosting parties in 2019, the mansion is timeless and has never lost its charm. Our venue is located in downtown Bryan so that is something that always sticks out to me. The convenience of having the downtown restaurants, bars, shopping, and hotels just blocks away is a huge plus not only for our couples but also their families staying in town for the weekend.
Are there any ways you would like to see your event venue used/set-up that has not been done in the past or has not been done enough?
A lot of people see the Astin Mansion as just a wedding venue but we are so much more! We host every type of event but my favorite event is anniversary parties. They are a bit more casual than a traditional wedding and it is fun to see the legacy they have created in their married years. There is always many stories being told from over the years that fills the mansion with so much love and laughter. Long lasting marriages is something I think we all aspire to so getting to celebrate those milestones with them is always an honor and privilege.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned since opening a wedding venue?
A little bit of planning goes a long way. Most events have a specific timeframe and activities you want to accomplish, to ensure your event has all the elements you envisioned, you have to plan for it. The earlier you start planning, the more things you’ll be able to do. Additionally, early planning allows you to have time to shop around and purchase items without stretching your budget. Not to mention less stress trying to get your to-do list done.
What makes your wedding venue a good value for couples?
Our venue offers a great value for all events. When shopping around for a venue, couples are constantly comparing not only the aesthetics but also the perks that come along with the venue. It’s a no brainer that our couples instantly fall in love with the beauty of the mansion but we also offer a lot of in-house services that makes planning even more convenient. We have an onsite event staff that will do the floorplan setup, cleaning and trash removal during the event and breakdown afterwards. We also have many other perks but in my opinion, having event staff to work your event is a huge asset.