By Cassandra Key
Whether it’s a charming chapel with a light cream interior or an outdoor garden space with lush flowers, plants, and waterfalls, The Arbor in south Tyler has everything a future wedded couple wants and needs.
In 2010 Allison Gray and her family had the opportunity to renovate and reopen The Arbor as what it is today. “We had no background in the wedding industry, but took a chance because at the time there were not very many venue options available, especially in Tyler,” Allison says.
The Arbor offers an ideal setting for weddings and other events. The venue was designed with weddings in mind and features an elegant reception hall, as well as indoor and outdoor ceremony options. The venue grounds feature wooded areas and natural East Texas beauty.
The reception hall can seat up to 220 people and overlooks a garden waterfall and patio area. The patio is connected to the reception hall by several sets of doors so people can easily use both areas throughout the entire event. The patio is a great extension of the reception hall and is perfect for games, an outdoor bar area, or even overflow seating.
The waterfall is also a unique background for an outdoor ceremony. For these ceremonies the bridal party stands directly in front of the waterfall and the guest seating is placed on the patio. After the ceremony, the patio is cleared off and set up for the reception.
For brides who prefer an indoor ceremony, The Arbor offers a chapel that accommodates up to 220 people. The chapel is located in a separate building so there is no transitioning required between the ceremony and reception. It is always available as a bad weather back up for those planning an outdoor ceremony.
There is also a kitchen available for catering and dressing rooms for the bride and groom.
The Arbor provides and sets up all of the venue basics, such as tables, chairs and white tablecloths, but clients must hire their own caterer and other vendors. Venue staff are happy to talk to couples about what they would like to have at their wedding and give them vendor recommendations.
“I personally love the overall feel and look of the venue,” Allison says. “Our indoor and outdoor areas mix together well and I love that the layout of the venue allows you to really utilize and enjoy both. My favorite area of the venue is the waterfall/ patio area. It is truly a beautiful and tranquil area that works well for many things.”
The flexibility The Arbor offers is what really stands out about this event venue. The design and how the spaces come together gives couples a lot of freedom without added stress. The full-size indoor ceremony option eliminates temperature and weather concerns and is a great option for ceremonies during the winter, as well as the hottest part of the summer. For those planning an outdoor ceremony, the chapel is always available as a back up plan at no extra charge. “As we all know, it can rain anytime in East Texas and it is so important to have a good back up plan for outdoor ceremonies,” Allison says.
It’s also important to note that The Arbor is a private venue that only books one event per day, so couples have the venue to themselves the entire time. This allows for free reign to decorate, get dressed, and take photos at one’s leisure.
“We are a very flexible venue so every event can be personalized and tailored to your needs,” Allison notes. “We want our clients to be able to bring in what they want to so we have a totally open vendor policy with no extra vendor fees. We are happy to work closely with any vendor or with the DIY bride. The venue is also very flexible from a visual standpoint. It was designed to be elegant, but neutral, so many different styles, themes, and color schemes work well here.”
Clients can book weddings and other events anywhere from eight to 15 months ahead of time. Saturdays in April, May, June, and October are peak times at The Arbor and dates fill up fast. In general, Fridays and Sundays are available longer than Saturdays are, but it never hurts to check a last-minute date. If the date is available, The Arbor is happy to work with shorter time frames.
Allison says they work closely with all of their clients to help pull their wedding together. “As a venue we begin by meeting the couples and giving them a tour. At that point we find out what they are looking for and talk about how each area of the venue could play a part in their day. We are happy to talk about ways they can decorate/set up the venue and give them suggestions for anything from décor to food and vendor recommendations. We can also show them photos of past weddings so they can see different ways that the venue has been set up and decorated.”
Once a couple decides to book a day, a deposit to hold their date is required. At any point between booking and the wedding, The Arbor team is happy to answer any questions or set up additional viewings of the venue. As the wedding gets closer, another meeting will be set up to go over what the couple needs and how they want the venue to be set up for the wedding.
When asked what tips Allison has for future brides and grooms, she said, “1) Make decisions and stick to them. Once you do make decisions, like booking a vendor or picking your décor, stop researching or looking at alternatives. You will only confuse yourself and waste time and energy. 2) Make your wedding the way you and your fiancé want it to be and do not include/do things just because you think you are ‘supposed to.’ 3) Hire professional vendors and then trust them! Definitely communicate with them about what you want, but also take advantage of their experience and expertise.”
And her last bit of advice might be the most important of all: “Do not drive yourself crazy worrying about small details. It is much more important that you spend your wedding day celebrating with your new spouse and family.” Luckily, The Arbor can help you do just that.