Woodlands Wedding – Smouse & Martin

Taylor grew up in The Woodlands after moving to the area in the third grade, and remained in the area until going off to College Station to pursue her degree from Texas A&M University. Cullen first became familiar with The Woodlands during college when he traveled to the area to meet Taylor’s family. Together, they spent many weekends in The Woodlands during their courtship.

How did you meet?

Cullen and Taylor met through mutual friends near the end of their senior year at Texas A&M University. Their first date was an interesting one. It was Chilifest weekend and Taylor decided to come home early. She then proceeded to ask if Cullen would cut his workout short, leave the gym, and take her to get Chick-fil-A. He said yes. It was on that night that they knew there was potential. The rest of the night they spent watching Taylor’s favorite movie and talking about their future together. As a very tall girl, it’s not often you meet such a tall man!

From then on, Cullen and Taylor made it a point to see each other as often as possible and attend the remainder of their date parties together. Upon graduation from A&M they had some decisions to make because they knew the rest of their relationship would be long distance. Initially they decided to end things and focus on their careers, but it didn’t take long to rekindle their love and see how the long-distance relationship would work. It worked out!

 

Courtship/ Adventures:

After graduation Taylor moved to San Antonio, TX to work for H-E-B as a recruiter, and Cullen moved to Quantico, VA for Marine training. In the 7 months Cullen was in Quantico, they were only able to see each other twice! Taylor visited for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, and they were able to explore Quantico, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. It was during those tough months that they grew closer and began to realize this was leading to marriage. After Cullen completed training in Quantico, Taylor hopped in the car, and together they drove to his next duty station in Pensacola, FL. While Cullen was in Pensacola, they were able to see each other more often. They took trips to Destin with Taylor’s family, spent time on the beach in Pensacola, and were even able to go to the Austin City Limits Music Festival back in Texas. After Cullen’s nine months in Florida, he was stationed in Corpus Christi, TX. Finally, their cross-country relationship became just a 2-hour drive. While Cullen was in Corpus, they were able to see each other almost every single weekend, often taking trips to Austin, San Antonio, The Woodlands, and Dallas. After a year of bliss, Cullen moved again and was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, in North Carolina. Cullen and Taylor bought a house together in the small town of Sneads Ferry, NC (population 9,000), which is just a stone’s throw from the beach (her choice) and even closer to the golf course (his choice).

Proposal:

Cullen and Taylor planned to spend a weekend in Austin, TX to attend Austin City Limits (ACL) for Cullen’s 24th birthday with Taylor’s brother, Tucker, and his girlfriend, Abby. After staying out late Friday night at the festival, Cullen woke everyone up early on Saturday to go meet his family at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Following a battle with rain, Cullen was finally able to show Taylor around to a beautiful (yet muddy) archway under the trees overlooking the gardens. Both Taylor and Cullen’s families came out of hiding and watched as Cullen got on one knee. With tears in her eyes Taylor said yes!

Engagement:

After getting engaged, Taylor was excited to start planning the wedding of her dreams. She only visited two wedding venues. The first venue was beautiful, but was not part of her vision. Then she drove on-site at Balmorhea with her parents, she knew this was the perfect venue almost immediately. At the time, Cullen was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, so Taylor was able to give Cullen a virtual tour of the property to get the thumbs up, and we booked right on the spot. After this, it was time to start planning the details. There were three big things that Cullen and Taylor really wanted for their big day: a live band, great food and a great videographer to capture the big day. COVID caused their engagement to last longer than planned, but in the end, it was all worth it.

Wedding:

Cullen and Taylor planned their wedding for May 23, 2020 (the weekend of Memorial Day). A few months before the wedding, COVID-19 rocked their world, as they had to navigate through re-planning the wedding for a new date. Cullen and Taylor were able to manage getting all of their vendors (except one) on their second wedding date, August 29, 2020. Taylor and her bridesmaids got pampered by the hair and make-up team and drank champagne while getting ready. Cullen and his groomsmen were able to grab brunch at the Toasted Yolk, before getting ready at the venue. One hundred and sixty-seven of their closest family and friends joined them to celebrate their unity. This was by far the most magical day that they still cherish to this day. It truly was the best day of their lives.

 

What were the most special highlights for you of your wedding?

The most special highlights of their wedding day were the simple moments that they will cherish the most. They did a first touch where they shared personal letters to one another. The few moments that they spent together right after the ceremony when it really set in that they were married! Plus, the ride to the hotel in a getaway car where they reminisced on the magical night. Getting to see all of their closest friends and family come together under one roof to celebrate our marriage was truly the best experience ever. The live band and beer burros were a hit also.

What memories/highlights include a connection to The Woodlands?

Cullen and Taylor have many memories in The Woodlands. From many golf outings at The Woodlands Country Club to exploring many of the restaurants in the area or the car shows. One of their favorite memories was the first Christmas they spent together with Taylor’s family. They traveled through The Woodlands looking at Christmas lights sipping on some hot chocolate and traveled to the Houston Zoo lights. The Woodlands is where Cullen really got to know Taylor’s parents and brother. The Woodlands is at the top of their list of locations to settle down and start a family.

 

Where will you go on your honeymoon?

Due to COVID-19, Taylor and Cullen were unable to honeymoon following their wedding. They are currently planning a tropical honeymoon in the summer of 2021 to celebrate one year of marriage.

Where will you reside?

Taylor & Cullen currently live in a small beach town in North Carolina called Sneads Ferry. Cullen is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, so this is where they will reside for the next few years, until they move onto a new duty station. Eventually, after the military, they do have plans to settle down in The Woodlands to start a family.

 

Local Vendors:

J Low Events

Donut Junkie

C&S Transportation

Striking Stems – Tomball

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Griffiths Photography

 

Countdown to Giving: Day 6

Safe Air Travel for the Holidays (and beyond!)

Commercial air travel has become more cumbersome and challenging in recent years due to additional safety measures, space constraints and shrinking amenities. The added complexities caused by the novel COVID-19 Pandemic have made private air travel all the more appealing this holiday season and beyond.

Wing Aviation mid-size cabin Citation Latitude taking off from the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport, with the Galaxy FBO facilities in the background.

A few of the notable advantages of flying Private vs Commercial are (and will always be):

  • Ability to fly directly to over five thousand public-use and private airports in United States, which may be closer to your departure point. There are over ten times more airport options to choose from compared to commercial airports. In addition, all airlines have modified their schedules, offering less direct flights out of Houston.
  • Fly on your own schedule; depart whenever you want and manage any delays or itinerary changes more efficiently.
  • You can select the right aircraft for the right mission; Wing Aviation features the largest Texas based Jet Charter Fleet; offering light-jet, mid-size cabin to large cabin options. Depending on your passenger size and destination, we can find the aircraft for your travel needs.
  • Spend less time at the airport – no check-ins, no baggage claims, no TSA security checkpoints – be in the air in minutes! Wing Aviation utilizes fixed base operations, such as the Galaxy FBO at the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport (CXO). As a result, you can be up in air, from your home in The Woodlands to the clear skies within 30 minutes. U.S. Customs at the CXO Airport make international arrivals seamless.

    Wing Aviation’s Embraer Legacy 600 Large Cabin Private jet offers ample seating for 13 passengers, with a transcontinental range.

    Perhaps most enticingly, flying private allows you to have the entire aircraft to yourself! A Washington Post article outlined how the airlines lack space, comparing a Boeing 737 fuselage to a typical New York apartment. While the Boeing 737 has been around since the 1960s, and has now adapted many next generation technical capabilities, this popular single aisle domestic airliner confines passengers to less than seven square feet of space.

    Wing Aviation offers the largest Gulfstream Jet Fleet for charter in Texas. These ultra-long range private jets are capable of going anywhere in North America or Europe non-stop.

Overall, chartering a private jet (or owning one), provides the optimal peace of mind and flexibility for your travel needs; for the holidays, 2021 and beyond!

Visit wingaviation.com/charter to learn more about our Houston area private jet charter offerings.

 

From The Woodlands to Broadway

Straight from suburban Houston to New York City, Mallory Bechtel began living her dream on the Broadway stage at the youthful age of 18. And she always believed she would be there, because she simply loved the art of musical theater. “For me, because I started out so young – I don’t remember not considering Broadway as an option,” Bechtel shares.

Raised in The Woodlands, Bechtel experienced a traditional childhood and education, but at a young age she began taking classes at a local theater company, Class Act Productions. She performed in shows in the heart of Houston at Theater Under the Stars in elementary school through their youth program, Humphrey’s School of Musical Theater. “I have always loved singing. All of my idols were on Broadway – that’s what we listened to in the car,” she recalls. As a professional actress and student, young Bechtel spent countless hours training with instructors, attending rehearsals and auditioning while still attending The John Cooper School, and would participate in her school productions when she was able. “They were always willing to work with me, to help me pursue my dreams,” she says.

Chairman of Performing Arts at The John Cooper School and Bechtel’s high school theater teacher, Mary Rotella, believes that Bechtel’s professionalism and humility made a huge impact on her success. Watching her grow as an actress, Rotella says, “Mallory is interesting in that she is pretty low-key and takes things in stride, but she is intense in her approach. She’s a smart actress that pays attention to detail and understands the importance of authenticity when acting.” Continuing to be involved as both a student and performer at school, Rotella recalls it was important for Bechtel’s overall well-being. “With her talent and credits, Mallory could easily have been intimidating to her peers, but she was always supportive and encouraging. She truly lifted her fellow actors up and helped them to reach their fullest potential on stage,” remarked Rotella.

Her first love was singing, and she always seemed to connect to singing as a character in musical theater productions. She recalls that acting and nailing auditions didn’t always come easy to her, however, Bechtel was willing to work hard to improve in those areas. As she continued fine-tuning her skills with the help of Houston area instructors and theater venues, her status as a triple threat with unique talents in singing, dancing and acting sent Bechtel on her way to making her dream a reality. “Houston has such a great theater scene. I feel lucky to have grown up so near it,” Bechtel says.

Bechtel had the vision of making this her career, but she never dreamed she would be quite so young when she entered the Broadway scene via Tony award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen. At 17, she auditioned to be a vacation understudy for the lead role of Zoe and was offered the job. However, the opportunity never arose to perform on stage as the understudy. But in 2018, just after high school graduation, Bechtel was thrilled to accept the full-time role of Zoe at New York City’s Music Box Theater.

The two-show days can be tiring, but she is kept energized by her fellow actors who have so much passion for what they do. She claims it has been exciting working alongside such amazing talent. “It’s always fresh, always new. People are always changing it up. It’s just what I love to do so the best part of it is getting to do it every night,” states Mallory.

Dear Evan Hansen began with quite the buzz when it debuted in 2016 and was a Tony Award winner for Best New Musical in 2017. It has continued with a strong fan base and began conversations of meaningful themes presenting both an entertaining and emotionally complex musical. “It’s about a teenager dealing with anxiety and depression which is very relevant right now. I feel very lucky to be a part of a show that has helped a lot of people,” she says. Following much hype and success, the show began touring in the fall of last year, making the award-winning musical available to far greater audiences. After completing her performance in Dear Evan Hansen ending her contract this summer, Bechtel has chosen to pursue other outstanding opportunities after her success with the musical and her debut on Broadway.

Raw talent alone didn’t get her to where she is. She only realized her dream of making it to Broadway by devoting countless hours and effort, not to mention the support from her family including her parents and three siblings. “They never doubted me. And they did force me to do things that maybe I didn’t want to. They are very supportive. I’m grateful for that,” Bechtel says.

Her plans for the future? “For actors, it’s hard to say. I would love to stay in New York, but it depends on what comes along.” No matter what lies ahead, Bechtel has paved her way with plenty of hard work and grit, and it seems she’ll continue in that direction. There is no easy route, she claims, but her passion for music and theater made the ride more enjoyable. Bechtel’s motto for pursuing any dream is revealed in her own path, “Put the time in. Take advantage of every opportunity. Keep putting yourself out there.”

Article by: Mindy Jones