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THE SANDLEWOOD TEAM

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Lauren & Shawn Sparks

SANDLEWOOD MANOR OWNERS

Lauren and Shawn Sparks founded Sandlewood Manor in 2016 with a shared vision for a ministry based wedding venue. Shawn and Lauren’s individual success in marketing and business management makes them a powerful team. Their hardworking personalities, strong passion for marriage, and a desire to help others have merged to create one of Houston’s premier wedding venues. 
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Tina & Darryl Kennedy

SANDLEWOOD MANOR VENUE OWNERS

Darryl and Tina Kennedy have had the opportunity to share in the vision of Sandlewood Manor, that was given to Lauren and Shawn Sparks years ago, by playing a strongly supportive role in the venue. After 35 years of marriage, Darryl and Tina have learned that sharing life together is a beautiful gift from God. “Learning to weather the difficulties of life together and having a partner to share in the joys is one of life’s greatest adventures and well worth the learning curve.” We feel blessed to have a small part in encouraging and supporting marriages in Houston through Sandlewood Manor’s Love for a Lifetime program. As co-owners and coworkers here at Sandlewood Manor, it is our desire to see excellence in every area of this business and we pray that God will use this magnificent property for his glory.”
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Ernesto Esparza

SANDLEWOOD MANOR BAR MANAGER

Ernesto considers himself a true Houstonian. Growing up in Northeast Houston from humble beginnings has taught him that you can be successful if you work hard, possess strong work ethics and stay persistent. Ernesto started off as a Busser, quickly worked his way up to a Banquet Server then Bartender. He was soon promoted to the Lead Events Coordinator for Hyatt Regency, Bellevue, Washington and Assistant Beverage Captain at the Sheraton in downtown Seattle (the two largest convention spaces in the Northeast). Ernesto started working at Sandlewood Manor as a bartender and was quickly promoted to Sandlewood Manor’s Bar Manager. He truly enjoys interacting with guests and helping make the couples day special. Ernesto’s favorite part of working for Sandlewood is getting to work with the amazing staff who he considers family!
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Ashley Jones

SANDLEWOOD MANOR VENUE DIRECTOR 

Ashley joined the Sandlewood team in 2021 and brings with her nearly 20 years of Event Planning experience; curating intimate events such as Baby Showers and Engagement Celebrations, to grand affairs such as Weddings and Corporate Events. For several years, she owned a small floral shop in Washington state and got her start in the Wedding industry by creating custom invitations. She is passionate about walking with every client from creation to execution of their event at Sandlewood Manor. In addition to her experience as an Event Planner, she believes strongly in the power and effectiveness of teams in this industry. "We are better together," is Ashley's motto. She hails from Las Vegas originally and has called Texas home for 8 years. She has been happily married for 16 years and is the mother of five beautiful children.
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Katie Thompson

SANDLEWOOD MANOR MARKETING/AD MANAGER

Katie has joined us in 2022, with five years in the industry of excelling in creative marketing and graphic designs. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Human Environment Services at the University of Alabama focusing on marketing, hospitality and special event management. She also accredits her past experience and studies as a Walt Disney World Intern as a key tool in her marketing strategies. Katie’s greatest qualities in life is her faith, positivity, passion and willingness to embrace change. She will tell you her reward is seeing a unique vision and someone’s dream come to life. In her spare time she is an avid artist and photographer at heart, and enjoys traveling with her husband, Sean.
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Lindsey Carranza

SANDLEWOOD MANOR VENUE CONCIERGE

Lindsey graduated from Texas A&M with a Bachelor's in Psychology and joined the Sandlewood Manor team in 2022. When she's not serving our couples here at Sandlewood, you can find her running and operating her mobile bartending business that she launched in 2021. As a hopeless romantic, with a passion for serving those around her she makes a great edition to our team! When she isn't working, you can find her at the dog park with her Golden Retriever, Bennett, or at home planning her own wedding with her fiance.
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Samantha Buschardt

SANDLEWOOD MANOR VENUE CONCIERGE

Samantha recently graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations. While in college, she worked with multiple nonprofits organizing special events which led to a passion for the events industry. She joined the Sandlewood team in 2022. Her favorite thing about working at Sandlewood Manor is getting to form lasting relationships with the brides and grooms who pass through our doors. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her twin nephews, reading a good book cozied up with her cat, or hiking with her Australian Shepherds!
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Jillian Shidaker

SANDLEWOOD MANOR VENUE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Jillian joined the team in 2022 as a fresh graduate from Texas State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Science with a major in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in Business Administration in the Spring of 2022. As president of her sorority, her love for people and community grew more than ever. She has always had a passion for weddings and design, which led her to Sandlewood! In her free time, you can find her shopping, watching Rom-Coms, or planning her own wedding with her fiancé.
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Leah Claxton

SANDLEWOOD MANOR BALLROOM DIRECTOR

Leah Claxton loves to dance! She began her training at Progressions School of Dance and continued her studies through the Theatre Under the Stars' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT). After being accepted into the Rocket Experience, she had the incredible opportunity to train with the Radio City Rockettes in New York City. Leah has competed as a professional ballroom dancer and has worked as a ballroom dance instructor and choreographer. She is also a certified Zumba and Piyo instructor. Currently, Leah is a member of the Magnify Dance Company and teaches ballroom, jazz and ballet classes for the Magnify School of Dance. Leah enjoys that art of choreography and is known for creating wedding dances that exemplify the personalities of the bride and groom. Leah has been noted as a "pioneer of the wedding dance trend." Check out Leah's own wedding dance (which she choreographed) that has touched nearly 4 million viewers from around the globe.