When you imagine your dream wedding, what do you see? A sophisticated ballroom with luxe furnishings and crystal chandeliers? A chapel with stained glass windows? Contemporary décor juxtaposed with historic brick walls? Shabby chic elegance with flowing linens and simple flowers? Or perhaps a gazebo set amid manicured lawns and towering trees?
No matter your vision, the tried-and-true wedding and reception venues in McKinney can make any couple’s nuptial dreams come true, says Vanesa Baggett, tourism services representative for the McKinney Convention and Visitors Bureau. And she should know. Part of her job involves offering free concierge services to connect couples with McKinney wedding/ reception venues and hotels. Each month, she helps at least a half-dozen couples start the process of booking their wedding, reception and guest accommodations in McKinney.
“McKinney is a destination for weddings,” Baggett says. “I personally think it’s the quaintness of the town in general – our downtown is such a big seller. We have a lot of quality venues and hotels, and people love to bring their out-of-town guests downtown to shop and dine. Our population is about 150,000 but we don’t feel like a big town. We still have a warm, quaint hometown feel.”
When couples meet with Baggett, she first assesses their vision and guest needs before taking them on site visits to introduce them to event venues and hotel contacts.
Myers Park and Event Center: Nature's Beauty
If couples favor a natural setting and an outdoor wedding, they’ll want to visit Myers Park and Event Center, a public facility in north McKinney operated by Collin County that features 158 rolling acres and multiple venues.
Couples love getting married in the beautiful gazebo at Myers Park and then having their reception in the Landing, a large hall. Other popular wedding sites at Myers Park include the perennial garden, on a small bridge surrounded by woods and in the big pole barn. A new venue, called the Amphitheatre, will be available soon, likely in May. It features Austin stone columns with a small roof and an open backdrop that looks out into a stunning wooded area.
Florence says couples love Myers Park’s natural beauty and the fact that they can choose their own caterers and vendors. With certain packages couples can get married indoors should inclement weather prevent an outdoor ceremony.
“We get a lot of rustic and natural weddings,” she says. “We have a beautiful grassy area with trees as the background, and the brides show a lot of creativity. Some of the brides have come in by horse and carriage, in a Rolls Royce, or drive in on a four-wheeler.”
Grand Hotel: Refined Elegance
The Grand Hotel on the square in Historic Downtown McKinney is synonymous with world-class luxury and sophistication. The beautifully restored building formerly served as McKinney’s opera house, and it’s now the definitive locale for couples dreaming of an elegant wedding and reception.
Sales Manager Melanie Kosarek says while the Grand Hotel is known for its refined splendor, couples don’t realize how reasonable its prices are. “I consider us, for the quality, service and amount of space, to be very affordable,” she says. “Everybody has a budget – we’re very conscious of that.”
The most popular wedding and reception venue at the Grand Hotel is the 2,500-square-foot Grand Ballroom. “The décor is elegant and timeless, so it goes with every bride’s style and is fully adjustable. It’s a very flexible space,” Kosarek says.
One of the fun trends that the Grand Hotel has enjoyed assisting couples with is creating a signature wedding cocktail. Kosarek is also seeing trends with desserts in which couples choose cupcakes, pies or other non-traditional wedding cakes.
Smaller wedding parties are easily accommodated at the Grand Hotel as well. Rick’s 110 is a private dining room with its own street entrance. The inviting Wine Room features floor-to-ceiling oak wine racks, and the intimate library seats 28 guests who dine amid recipe books from around the world.
The Pantry: Historic Charm
Built in 1898 and originally a hardware store, The Pantry in downtown McKinney features historic charm, original wood floors (complete with inset numbers for measuring various goods), brick walls and exceptional pies. The Pantry is home to numerous wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners and special events each year.
Among its selling points for couples: wedding parties get the entire building when they rent the venue; the space is fully customizable and can be transformed to feature any look; and The Pantry’s events coordinator provides wedding planning services.
“We do everything; we take care of our guests from beginning to end,” says Kim Shumway, events coordinator at The Pantry. “We want the bride and groom to have a fun, stress-free experience planning their wedding. From the moment we greet them and their guests as they arrive, we want them to enjoy the party while we take care of all the details.”
Shumway says The Pantry attracts many brides who favor weddings with rustic elegance. “However, it’s incredible how the vintage building can be tailored to meet any bride’s vision,” she says. One bride tented the first floor by draping fabric from the second floor.
A highly popular offering at The Pantry are the homemade pies, which couples often serve in lieu of a groom’s cake.
Gather: Industrial Contemporary Luxury
This beautiful restaurant and events venue celebrated its two-year anniversary in November 2013. Gather, located in Downtown McKinney, also recently earned accolades from McKinney Magazine readers as the best wedding venue in 2013.
Owner Crystal Bryant says Gather is perfect for smaller weddings, since it holds as many as 100 people. Couples who book their wedding and reception at Gather tend to favor simple, natural elegance, she says.
Gather features exposed historic brick walls, hardwood floors and luxe, contemporary furnishings with crystal chandeliers, beautiful place settings and elegant linens.
“Because of everything we offer, people like that they have to do minimal decorating,” Bryant says. “It’s not an empty ballroom – we have created a beautiful space. We saw a lot of people using succulents, a lot of moss and a lot of greenery last fall. Very elegant, simple and classic. We get a lot of candles in our venue. Some venues don’t allow real flames, but we do.”
The wedding parties at Gather feature sit-down dinners, and the on-site chef offers a delectable 11-page menu. Bryant says she’s honored that couples have been raving about how easy it is to have their event at Gather, the excellent food and the efficient, customer-oriented staff.
“If your wedding is stressing you out, you’re doing too much,” she says. “Let me take that on for you.”
Heard-Craig Center: History and Hospitality
The Heard-Craig House is a museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. While it’s not available to lease, couples can rent the elegant Heard-Craig Hall, get married outdoors in picturesque Katie’s Garden, or enjoy a celebration with a small group of family and friends in the Carriage House.
Executive Director Barbara Johnson and her staff love being part of a couple’s historic day. They take joy in discussing brides’ ideas – often assembled from Pinterest.com – and then showing them a photo album illustrating the ways the Heard-Craig venues can be transformed to fit a bride’s theme.
“We take a lot of photos so that other brides can get ideas for their wedding,” Johnson says. “When you walk into a room and it’s not decorated for a wedding, sometimes it’s hard to imagine what it would look like. If you look at photos of ideas, it helps a lot.
Entire wedding parties and the bride and groom’s relatives often tour the Heard-Craig House museum before the wedding so that they learn about the venue’s rich past.
“They have a real sense of our history and McKinney’s history,” Johnson says. “People love getting married in the historic district because there’s so much to do on the square. When they have people visiting from out of town, they can show friends and family something that’s really exceptional when they go to Downtown McKinney.”
Additional McKinney Venues:
AVALON LEGACY RANCH
BELLA DONNA CHAPEL
CELEBRATIONS IN THE COUNTRY
THE COTTON MILL
GATHER IN DOWNTOWN McKINNEY
HEARD-CRAIG CENTER FOR THE ARTS
HERITAGE RANCH GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
HOLIDAY INN & SUITES McKINNEY-FAIRVIEW
McKINNEY FLOUR MILL
MITAS HILL VINEYARD
MYERS PARK AND EVENT CENTER
THE CHAPEL AT CHESTNUT SQUARE
About the author: Holly Becka is the owner of HorsePower Communications. She cries at weddings and loves creative desserts and wedding cakes. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.