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Going to the chapel and they're gonna get married: The Colony to see first all-inclusive wedding chapel in the city
By Marthe Stinton, firstname.lastname@example.org
It's not every day that a bride gets to break ground at her wedding venue, but thanks to Walters Wedding Estates, Britni Baker and her soon-to-be husband, Bo Hawkins, got to do just that.
The Chapel at Ana Villa, which will be located off Sam Rayburn Tollway in The Colony, will hold more than 300 people with two reception halls accommodating more than 200 people in each hall. It is scheduled to open June 1, 2013.
Keith Walters, owner Walters Wedding Estates, said he felt The Colony is a great fit for the chapel.
The modern Spanish décor adds a charming touch to the technologically savvy location that offers in-house catering where food is prepared on-site. Walters said it's not just about bringing business to the chapel, but to the city as well.
"We feel we can offer a great venue at a decent price for people to hold all sorts of events," Walters said. "Our main business is weddings, and we feel brides will come from all over the Metroplex if they fall in love with our venue. As with all weddings, we feel these events will help fill The Colony hotels on the weekend and bring customers to other businesses in the area since most guests stay a couple days for a wedding. I am sure they will shop in local stores and eat at local restaurants. We have the capacity to host four weddings per day, so we are certain that local businesses will benefit."
The groundbreaking took place last month with the help of the first couple scheduled to be married at the new venue. Construction is scheduled to be complete in May 2013 and the chapel is already booking events for June 1, 2013.
For Baker and Hawkins that date can't come soon enough. The couple met in July 2008 after Baker applied at Hawkins's place of work. She spoke with him several times through the application process and when she was hired, the pair worked on the same team. It took only 24 days before the pair decided to go on an actual date and were inseparable from then.
"We worked for the same company for about a year and a half and then our career paths took us different directions," Baker said. "We both knew we were meant for each other and wanted to get married after a year and a half, I would say, but knew it was going to be a while before we could due to different circumstances."
Those circumstances included a tornado and the loss of their rental home in Arlington.
"Unfortunately on April 2, 2012 when the tornados ripped through the DFW metroplex, our rental home, located in Arlington, was destroyed," Baker said. "I will never forget the phone call from him stating everything in our house was destroyed and ruined. It's a feeling that's overwhelming and indescribable. By the Grace of God, Bo and our two dogs were okay - who were there through the entire thing. This was all that mattered to me because everything else could be replaced."
The couple was left to pick up the pieces - literally - after their insurance company told them their structure would have to be torn down. They were left digging through the aftermath of the storm and were forced to put their wedding plans on hold.
"We were left to pick up the remains, pack the little we had left, which thankfully included photographs and sentimental items, find somewhere to move, and start replacing every item we used to own," she said. "There we stood as a newly engaged couple hoping to start our lives together soon, but going through an experience most couples don't go through in a lifetime. We feel blessed to have such amazing family and friends that were there to help us. It was a traumatic experience but one that brought us that much closer together."
When daily life got back to normal, Baker began searching for the perfect wedding location. She looked at more than 40 venues before she followed the breadcrumbs to Walters Wedding Estates. Then, she met Rachel Johnson, event manager at Northeast Wedding Chapel, who told her about the Chapel at Ana Villa.
"She showed us all the pictures, which are absolutely beautiful, went over all the little details and I was completely sold," Baker said. "They were not booking at that time and said they would keep me informed. It had all the above things I was looking for in a venue and was most importantly was still in my budget. The staff was wonderful in keeping me updated on the progress and how close they were to being able to start booking."
Baker said she was in constant contact until Jamie Torres, event manager for Chapel at Ana Villa, told her they were starting to book.
"I was there the very next day ready to book and booked the very first wedding [on] June 1," Baker said. "Jaime was so helpful and just made me feel really special. It's a big day for all brides, and when a staff member can act like it's their big day too, it's a great feeling."
The couple was invited to be a part of the groundbreaking and were able to turn some dirt for their future wedding location.
"This was very special to us because we were not expecting that at all, and they certainly did not have to include us in such a big event for them," Baker said. "My fiancé and I were stunned at how much the owners, Keith and Sarah Walters, included us in the groundbreaking and made us feel very special. That says a lot about their company and what they stand for. They genuinely care about their customers or brides and are excited as you are about your wedding."
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