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It was such a joy photographing this pink-haired bride. Halyn and Ian met at an improv festival in Austin, TX, where Ian was visiting and performing. He lives in Paris and not long after, Halyn followed him to Paris where they currently live. Their wedding was a whimsical mix of France and Texas and there were a lot of improvisors in the guest list which made for hilarious readings and toasts. Texas showed off a beautiful spring day and sunset to the French guests, and much fun was had by all.

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Trying to strike the perfect balance between ambience, local flavor, culinary delight, and price for your Bridal Shower, Wedding Rehearsal, or even Bachelor(ette) party? Austin has an overwhelming variety of options to choose from, but these 5 restaurants top the list for large group dining and private rooms, without sacrificing any of the quality or service.

 

Uchiko – The ultimate choice for the foodie couple willing to splurge on one of the best and most consistently praised culinary Meccas of Austin. This “baby of” its predecessor, Uchi, serves inventive and modern takes on traditional sushi, sashimi, and more in a warm and modern Japanese farmhouse setting. Be prepared for a $75-$150 per head dinner that is legitimately worth the price. Their expert wait staff are equipped to describe each shareable plate and its origins in detail as well as recommend wine and sake pairings. The private room, with an option to view the kitchen at work through sliding doors, and a TV for a wedding slideshow, seats 34, or can be divided to seat just 14.

 

Estancia Churrascaria – The perfect setting for a big Texas family, show them there’s more to eating steak than defaulting to Outback Steakhouse and for basically the same price of $30-$50 a head! This Brazilian Steakhouse is a meat lover’s paradise, perfect for a big rowdy group, while keeping it super classy. And it ain’t bad for vegetarians either, with a surprisingly exciting and fresh salad bar. But with 15 different cuts and a large variety of meats to choose from, sliced from the skewer directly onto your plate, this experience is all about gorging yourself on delicious juicy meats and needing to be rolled back to your car. Their private room can accommodate an enormous party of 200, but can be divided into smaller rooms, with huge discounts and gift cards for 15 or more people. Tucked away in the Arboretum area, your party may appreciate being away from the congestion of downtown.

 

Fonda San Miguel – Spice up your party and let everyone know it’s a true celebration at this colorful, lively hacienda-style Mexican destination. Refreshingly not Tex-Mex, this authentic menu is the real deal, with mouth-watering classics like ceviche, rellenos, and enchiladas, and of course, pitchers of Margarita to be passed around the table. Multiple seating areas and private dining rooms accommodate most party sizes, with a private back room for 30. Expect roughly $40 a head at this North Loop hotspot, with a small parking lot and plenty of street parking in a charming little Austin neighborhood.

 

Fixe – A perfect option for a more refined and moody atmosphere, this Southern and Cajun inspired fine dining experience is great if you have Northern guests wanting to see what Southern hospitality is all about. Rich, flavorful, decadent tapas-style plates, and impressive low-lit decor combine country roots and sophisticated style. The downtown location is most ideal for guests staying at nearby downtown hotels, but valet parking is also available for $6. Multiple private dining rooms with various capacities can be viewed via virtual tour on their website. With pre-set menus and whole restaurant buyouts also available, dinners run about $80 a head.

 

Olive and June – Rated best local rehearsal dinner venue by Borrowed & Blue this is the pinnacle of pinteresty (and I mean that in the best way possible). Cute, charming, with a touch of class, the food here is good, but what people rave about is the aesthetic. That said, the simple tasty Italian fare is a safe crowd pleaser. At $40 – $80 a head, this is a great way to treat your guests to something nice without breaking the bank or feeling pressured to act too refined. Tucked right next to Hyde Park, with free valet parking, this restaurant not only has multiple private rooms, seating between 8 and 18 guests, but also boasts its own event space that is often used, itself, as a wedding venue. A great option if you really want to simplify things.

 

Neysa and Christopher had a lovely wedding ceremony at the St Louis King of France church in north central Austin. We did their bride/groom portraits there and then moved on to a Brazilian steakhouse for one of the most delicious reception meals at Estancia Churrascaria. I definitely recommend that venue for small parties, it was delicious, easy and a good time. We did a few portraits there including a sparkler exit, and then moved on their home where the rest of the wedding like the first dances and the cake cutting happened.

“Love is a great thing, yea, a great and thorough good. By itself it makes that is heavy light; and it bears evenly all that is uneven.” Thomas a Kempis

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Lindsey and Lance’s day started at the UT campus, with portraits there. Their ceremony was at the University Christian Church and then we moved on to the Waller Creek ballroom for their reception. The reception was a Mardi Gras themed party, with a brass band that showed up midway through and then everyone did a second line around downtown Austin. It was amazing.

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Ceremony: University Christian Church
Reception: Waller Ballroom
Catering: Baton Creole
Coordinator: Sarah Neve
Florist: Bouquet of Austin and HEB
Cake: Haley Cakes and Cookies
DJ: Greenbelt DJ
Brass Band: Ubran Achievers

west world costumesthe westworld sdcc

While waiting in line at Hall H of Comic-con, I heard buzz about the West World Experience. It’s supposedly one of the best off-sites at Comic-con. Someone showed up with a white cowboy hat, which was the swag for the off-site. It was very high quality and looked amazing. Seeing that hat made me want to go in line for it.

I didn’t have a fancy press badge, so that meant I had to stand in an overnight line. There weren’t that many people willing to stand in an overnight line for something that wasn’t Hall H, or Exclusive merchandise, but I eventually found some. We made a line group, and the first of our member started standing in line at 3 pm.

I had checked in around 8 pm to see how the line was doing, it was at that point pretty much already full. And since the day before the wristbands were handed out at 5 am, I figure to be safe I should be back in line at 3 am. So I went back to my hotel to grab a nap and had told my line friends that I would be back at 1 am.

Going to sleep early was hard and I kept tossing and turning. For some reason, I checked my phone at 11:30 pm and thought about heading back early. Then I saw a text message from the person standing in line for me, and she said, “The HBO people are here early! They are about to give out wristbands!”

Still in bed, at a hotel a mile away, I immediately sprung into action. My roommate told me to give up, but I wanted to give it a shot. So put on clothes, ran outside, and thankfully there was a cab. The driver carefully, but quickly drove me past way too many red lights, and I flung a twenty dollar bill at him, at a ten dollar fare because I couldn’t wait for change.

I arrived at the line five minutes before they gave out wristbands.

So that was my adrenaline filled story of how I got a wristband to see Westworld.

The experience started with booking the appointment with a host. There was an automated piano playing songs familiar from the series, and everything was immaculate. The host gave me a time and direction to the offsite.

Once I arrived at the offsite, our group of six was winnowed to a group of three. We explored the costumes and weapons that were used in West World. While we were waiting, we asked a bunch of questions with the hosts. I asked him if was happy, and he answered, “I’m am always happy working with Delos Corporation.” Earlier I had asked, “Are you a robot” and he answered with the iconic line from the TV show, “If you can’t tell, does it really matter?” One of the main fun was watching the hosts as they answer your questions. Some of the actors were really superb and quick with the answers.

Our group of three was then given a tour, and split into one on ones with personality consultants. The amount of personal care was amazing for the crazy jungle that is Comic-con. I was asked a bunch of morality questions like, “If you had a button that could save all of the world’s problems, but would kill half of humanity, would you: 1) press the button 2) Hand the button to someone else to decide or 3) destroy the button and the person who made the button.”

After the personality evaluation, I was given a black hat!

We were also shown a video, where the other clients watched the video, but I watched the Host, and she was really creepy. Her eyes rolled up and she stood completely still. There were a bunch of glitches with the video too.

Then we were led to a saloon where we were given three different artisanal drinks. One of which was lit on fire and danced from one cup to another. Another was a milk punch.

I told a host that there was blood on the piano, she leaned in and looked at it and said, “I don’t see anything wrong.”

When I was leaving the saloon, she said, “This is just the beginning” in a threatening away.

The whole experience was quite amazing, and I am really happy with my cowboy hat. I had to wear it on my flight back to Texas and I felt like I was a different person.

Thank you, Westworld!

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