Downtown has a lot of great venues for a wedding, plus lots of support-type businesses. We have a lot of weddings downtown and you can generally do it without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that most of these venues are within walking distance of each other (as in right across the street) so mixing and matching is a definite possibility.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve included links I’ve found on the Internet to sites that show pictures of weddings and receptions at some of the venues. Not all venues are represented simply because I haven’t found posts on all of them.
Historic Courthouse on the Square (MPAC) – The courthouse has a variety of spaces that it rents. The basement gallery is rented out frequently for receptions. It is a beautiful space with heavy rock walls. The first and second floors have big open rooms with hardwood floors and lots of windows for natural light. The third floor has the courtroom theatre which has a raised stage with lighting, a fair bit of seating and a balcony. Oh, and a bona fide Wurlitzer pipe organ. How’s that for a special touch you can’t get just anywhere?
The Grand Ballroom – The Grand Ballroom is connected to The Grand Hotel and Rick’s Chophouse, an upscale steak restaurant. This is a nice venue that can wrap a lot of your needs up in one package. The hotel is great for housing guests and/or the wedding couple themselves. You can have the rehearsal dinner in the restaurant and the reception, or even the service itself, in the Grand Ballroom.
The Historic Flour Mill – Directly across McDonald Street from the square, the Flour Mill will be available as a wedding venue starting in March of 2011. This building has been a favorite for downtown filming and has appeared in Texas Walker Ranger and Boys Don’t Cry. I’m guessing that this will turn out to be a very popular venue and I’ll keep a watch out for photo blogs that show weddings there. I understand it already has several reservations booked. One of the perks to the Flour Mill is having a couple of “wedding support” businesses on-site. David Quisenberry Contemporary Portraiture and Sweet Art Bakery both office in the Flour Mill.
The Heard-Craig House & Meeting Hall – A lot of people love the Heard-Craig house for garden weddings. This is an 1800’s Victorian that was left to a private foundation by the late Bessie Heard, a benefactress from one of the city’s founding families. This is an absolutely drop-dead beautiful house with ornate woodwork throughout. The garden weddings are held on the lawn outside. I don’t know if they rent the house itself or not, but it would most definitely be worth asking. Across the street from the house is the Heard-Craig Hall/Auditorium which was specifically built for events. I’ve talked to several people who feel that this is the best venue in McKinney so it is definitely worth a look-see if you are shopping.
First United Methodist Church – This is one of the prettiest churches I’ve seen and it has a lot of old-world charm both outside and in. On the outside, it is red brick faux Gothic with a beautiful stained glass window and a bell tower. During the Christmas season, the bells in the tower peal out Christmas songs that can be heard throughout the downtown shopping area about three blocks away. Inside, the sanctuary has lots of wood and historic craftmanship. The sanctuary isn’t all that big by modern standards but it is absolutely lovely. It is easily one of the most impressive churches in the downtown area.
Chestnut Square Historic Village and Chapel – On the other side of downtown, Chestnut Square has several restored turn of the century homes that are frequently used for weddings and receptions as well as a historic chapel with the old-style steeple. The chapel is elegantly simple compared to the Methodist Church. It is the classic long and narrow wooden structure that reminds me of the church in the movie The Patriot. Chestnut Square also has more elaborate grounds than other venues with lots of places for taking pictures amongst profuse antique roses.
The Surrey House & Gardens – Across the street from Chestnut Square, heading back to the square, is The Surrey House & Gardens. This is large restored home with the classic wrap-around porch. This is a popular destination for receptions although I can imagine you could easily have the ceremony there too. This is a beautiful house and it looks great in photos. The grounds surrounding the house are manicured but not as elaborately landscaped as Chestnut Square or the Heard Craig House.
The Bingham House Bed & Breakfast – The Bingham House is currently very popular for both wedding services and receptions. Bingham was a newspaper man here in McKinney and served in the Civil War. My understanding is that he was so impressed with the southern plantations he saw in Georgia that he drew one on a piece of paper, brought it back, and had it commissioned to be built from his drawing. The Bingham House is close to downtown, on Chestnut Street, but slightly off the beaten path. Reviews for the Bingham House have been pretty consistently great. They’ve also won several awards for their wedding services in 2008 and 2009.
McKinney Bed & Breakfast is a bed & breakfast on Parker Street, a short walk from the Square. This is a great find for a bride that wants to do a girls-get-together or is looking for a great room for the pre-wedding dressing. In addition to traditional rooms, they have one room absolutely dressed out “to-the-nines” that sleeps 6 to 8 people. It just screams “slumber party” or “over-night bridal party”. They also have a separate room (absolutely gorgeous) that they rent exclusively for donning the gown on the happy day. It is a second-floor bedroom with delicate blue accents, high ceilings. lots of natural light, a huge bathroom, and a metal spiral staircase leading down into the back yard – a real photographer’s dream site.
The Historic Cotton Mill – The Cotton Mill is just outside of walking distance from the square. It is east of McDonald Street as you are coming into town from the south. Photographers absolutely love this place. I don’t know much about the Cotton Mill but I’ll look for more photo links. I know that there are tons.
The First Baptist Church – As you are coming into downtown from the Interstate, just before you enter the Historic District, you’ll pass by the First Baptist Church on the south side of Louisiana Street. This is a very popular church and has one of those distinctive tall white steeples that is visible for a long way away. I love seeing this steeple rising up above the trees as I am coming into McKinney on the Interstate. This is a very large church but I have never been inside. I’m including it here because of it’s size, it’s steeple and it’s proximity to downtown.
Mitchell Park – I can’t find any photos for Mitchell Park but I have seen tent weddings there. The park is one city block with a beautiful water fountain in the middle. It is right off the square to the west.
Rick’s Chophouse – I mentioned this before in conjunction with The Grand Hotel and The Grand Ballroom but it is also an excellent choice for a rehearsal dinner if you are looking for something with atmosphere and have a healthy budget. There is also a beautiful bar in the back with a baby grand and lots of dark wood. Lots of ambience.
Landon’s Winery – This winery on the square faces the courthouse and has indoor and outdoor seating in addition to a good selection of wines. It’s a popular spot but on occasion will rent out the entire facility for private events.
Gather – Nestled between the Antique Company Mall and Chase Hall, the Gather is a new venue to downtown McKinney, having opened in the summer of 2010. As of July 2012, it is under new ownership by a mother/daughter duo and has recently become Wedding Wire rated. The place is beautiful and impeccably decorated. They are available for showers, receptions, and rehearsal dinners. Their normal hours of operation are currently Thursday through Saturday from 11 to 3 with a Sunday brunch from 10 to 2. This venue is BYOB.
Cafe Malaga – Cafe Malaga is a tapas restaurant located on Church Street (behind the parking lot next to Cadillac Pizza Pub). It is housed in a restored historic home but what is really spectacular about this spot is the garden. They have a large outdoor seating area under a lot of mature trees and a stage area for a band making it ideal for a reception-type event. Cafe Malaga won First Place in the 2010 Taste of Collin County.
Louisiana Street Grill – Right across the street from The Historic Flour Mill, the Louisiana Street Grill is a beautiful restaurant in a historic building, with wide open spaces inside, a beautiful cedar bar, and ample parking in both a private lot next door and a city lot across the street. The restaurant itself makes everything from burgers to steaks and they have a real flair for cocktails.
The Pantry Restaurant – If what you are going for is historic charm, you might want to consider The Pantry, housed in the historic Hope Hardware building. The building is over one hundred years old and it truly is like stepping back in time. The Pantry is renowned in the area for their pies and holiday menus but they are not novices to the demands of a large event (like a reception) and are capable of seating up to 200.
The Grotto – The Grotto is available for rental on Sundays through Wednesdays for private parties (like receptions). Thursday through Saturday, they serve dinner, drinks and live rock ‘n roll. Sharing common management with Rick’s Chop House and Sauce on the Square, the concept of The Grotto is to have a hip, less formal vibe while still maintaining the superior quality that we expect from anything associated with owner Rick Wells.
The Support Team
This may not be a complete list because we have so much right in downtown McKinney that can be considered “wedding support”.
Each & Every Detail – A Momentville.com top rated McKinney wedding planner, Each & Every Detail has won Wedding Wire’s Brides, Choice award for 2009, 2010 and 2011. It is located just off the square, across the street from Cafe Malaga and Spa Esoteric.
One Event Design – billed on their web site as a Dallas event planner, the owner of One Event Design, Stephanie Kuykendall, lives right off of the McKinney Downtown Square so she is also “in the know” for McKinney weddings too. They have been featured on Good Morning Texas three times as of this writing. See their YouTube channel for videos of the features.
The Cake Stand – Voted best bakery in McKinney by the Star Community Newspaper in 2008 and 2009, they received the The Best of the Metroplex Family Choice award in 2009 and are the 2010 Best of Wedding pick by The Knot.
Layered Bake Shop – A new bakery on the east side of McDonald, these are some talented bakers and it is really worth checking out their Facebook page to see what they can do.
McKinney Catering Company – A catering company on Chestnut Square, McKinney Catering Company is chef-owned and operated, offering everything from hors d’oeurves to full menus.
A Twist of Lime – A small shop on the square that might look at first blush to be just a cash-and-carry florist slash gift shop, my understanding is that this store is connected to a much larger floral interest and is capable of doing large events like weddings.
Bridal Blooms & Creations is based in a historic home just west of Mitchell Park facing Virginia Street and have handled several events in the First United Methodist Church and Rick’s Chophouse.
Cynthia Elliott Designer Apparel & Boutique – Cynthia Elliott always maintains a small selection of formals that would do great service for bridesmaids or mothers of the couple but they also can order for you at reasonable prices. This came up recently when a friend went to NorthPark and complained that there was a dress there for $9,000. I mentioned it to them and they said that they can go direct to the designers and order just what you want with prices ranging from $300 to $600.
Pearl necklaces, particularly seed pearls, are a recurring theme in weddings and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Facets has strings of seed pearls, plus tons of other precious stones, at great prices. Wonderful places to get custom accessories for the bridal party. They do no advertising that I know of, including Facebook, but they are expanding from their current location next to Palace Barbershop to include the space next to Lulu’s.
David Quisenberry Photography, uniquely located in the Historic Flour Mill, brings a contemporary approach to capturing the signature events and images from your wedding day.
Hair Salons are beginning to outnumber restaurants on the square so hair and food are easily covered right on the square.
Trailer Gal is an idea as unique as our neighborhood. Trailer Gal offers a retro Silver Streak trailer as a backdrop for photos. I’m pretty sure that this is located at one of the houses here in the Historic District, so you’ll have to be careful not to fall in love with the neighborhood. The Trailer Gal is also a local real estate agent specializing in the Historic District and you might just leave with more than memories. You might become a neighbor.
I’ve mentioned Happy Trails Carriage Rides but I wanted to include this video advertisement from them on YouTube. This video is a bit old and it is neat to see them drive by Landon’s Winery before the sidewalk redo. There are also shots of the buggy driving by the Heard Craig Arts Center (the yellow house), the Bingham House Bed & Breakfast (the white house) and the First United Methodist Church.
While you can’t take off in a hot air balloon from downtown, their launch point is not far from here because I see them cross over the historic district every so often. There are actually two hot air balloon companies in McKinney. Rohr Balloons, however, has a wedding promo video on YouTube. If you are looking for unique, this is a great idea … after the reception, you float away into the sunset?
There may be more ideas, but I’m tapped at the moment. If I’ve missed something that needs to be added, shoot me a comment or an e-mail.