Louisiana-New Orleans

Vendor and venue reviews for my November NOLA wedding

Hi everyone! I got married on November 7th 2015 and it was SUCH a great time! I want to share my experiences so I can shine a light on the vendors who made my day wonderful and help other brides steer clear of the ones who did not :(.

First of all, I just want to dispell the myth that anytime in October or November will have beautiful weather. Sooo many people told me this and it POURED rain on the day of our wedding and both the Friday and Sunday surrounding it. It also poured the entire weekend before. It actually make it kind of romantic and certainly didn't ruin anything, but definitely make sure you have a backup plan in New Orleans no matter what. 

Venue: Elms Mansion - A -. We only looked at one venue and knew it was the Elms from the first moment! It is so beautiful, very spacious, and unique. The food was amazing and I've gotten a million compliments on how cool the space was and how yummy the food was. That being said, you definitely have to do things their way or the highway. That was great for me because I am not someone who had every detail of my wedding planned in my head and I loved having a coordinator (Judy) doing the legwork for me. BUT they are difficult about changing anything, so if you have a particular vision in mind, you might not want to go with them. They also have weddings back to back all weekend so you can't even get in until an hour or so before, so you can't get ready there, etc. The back to back weddings also causes a headache regarding anything that needs to be put up in advance (tent, lights, etc.) and they will try to manipulate you into paying for things. Like one of the brides insisted on a test (which was $4000) and they tried to tell us we had to split the price with them even though we didn't want the tent, because it couldn't be brought down in time for our wedding. But we were very firm with them and we didn't end up having to pay for it. So the moral of the story is - if you are more go with the flow about the precise food, etc. of the wedding day, it is a beautiful and so fun option with lots of indoor space if it rains. You just have to deal with wrangling Judy, who as other reviews point out can be difficult... but I will said she did get stuff DONE on the wedding day like a boss. In terms of pricing, it was a minumum of 150 guests on a Saturday night and the minimum package you could get was $57.50 per person. We ended up spending about $75 a guest to upgrade the bar and food options, though. Something they (and all other wedding places) often don't tell you until later though is that EVERYTHING (including the tent, lights, food, etc), is additionally assessed 10% tax and 20% gratuity. So 57.50 per guest actually means you'll be paying $74.75 per guest.

Dress: Bridal Boutique by MaeMe - A+: They did an awesome job. Loved my dress. It was fairly reasonably priced. Never felt pressured to buy. 

Flowers: A+ 
A friend who works for Bella Blooms did the flowers for me at a reduced rate and they were incredibly beautiful. I know Bella Blooms does just as good a job! 

Makeup: Ashley Sievert Beauty - A+ We didn't actually get Ashley herself, but one of her artists Melissa Vaccaro was so incredibly, sweet, funny and did an awesome job. Everyone raved about how much they loved their makeup, and I did too. It was natural looking but stayed on ALL night despite tears, kisses, rain, and everything. It was also one of the most reasonable makeup quotes we got at $60 a person. 

Hair: Embodyment Salon - A I used my regular hairstylist, Amy LeBlanc at Embodyment. She did an amazing job as she always does. All my bridesmaids got their hair done by other stylists at Embodyment as well and they did a great job, but it was a bit pricey - $85 a person. 

Photographer: 1216 Studio A++++++ I honestly can't even put into words how great our experience was with 1216 Studio. First of all they are an adorable married couple named Elizabeth and Daryl who are both photographers, and they are super friendly and accommodating. They were with us all day at several locations; there were no limits on hours or number of locations or anything. They even came to our rehearsal dinner and took some pics! Every email was always responded to promptly and they were never late or disorganized. They were absolute pros about the crappy weather and didn't blink an eye even though they were totally drenched in order to get good shots. They also were so kind and helpful when the fact that it was pouring rain began to stress us out and other vendors were really rude about it. When our musician quit 10 minutes before the ceremony and I started crying, Elizabeth literally pulled out a fan and tissues and comforted me. They went WAY above and beyond, and when we got the photographs back (only 6 weeks later) they were so beautiful that some of my family members felt the need to write them personal emails about how much they appreciated them. On top of all of that, their rates were by far the most reasonable out of any of the photographers we talked to. Book them!!!!!!!!

Cake: Shake Sugary - C The cake was okay, but I thought it was dry when we tried it on the wedding day. It was much better at the tasting we did. The owner of the bakery was also incredibly disorganized and sometimes took up to a month to respond to our e-mails. I wouldn't use them if I could do it again, despite their delicious flavor options. It was about $600 for a 4 tier cake that served 150. 

Harpist: F. I decided I had my heart set on a harpist for the ceremony, so we booked Stephanie Nash ("A Heavenly Harp") a year in advance of the wedding. IN August, Stephanie emailed us to cancel because she was moving to another state, but she had found a replacement who emailed us and confirmed everything right away, so no big deal. However, the replacement, Rebecca Todaro canceled on LITERALLY Thursday night before the wedding. She didn't even email us with an explanation, and left that to her replacement, Cathy Anderson. That was super stressful but Cathy sent us a nice email and we trusted her. But then, as I walked into the Elms out of the pouring rain at 5:45 before our 6:30 wedding, I was greeted by Cathy Anderson telling me that she couldn't play because of the rain, because it would damage her instrument. I totally get her reasoning, but was that seriously the best time to tell the BRIDE that? I obviously started crying and my groom had to fire Cathy Anderson on the spot. It was incredibly stressful and so unnecessary. Nowhere in any of the contracts we had signed for the three different harpists did it say they couldn't play if there was rain, and the weather report had called for 90% chance of rain sicne a week before. It was completely unacceptable for this to not have been addressed until 45 minutes before the wedding; even a phone call the day of would have been preferable. The worst part is, Cathy offered to refund us on the spot but my groom told her we'd take care of it later (since he had to go get married and all), but she had not responded to our e-mails since then requesting our refund. TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!! NEVER BOOK ANY OF THEM!!!!!!!!

DJ: A DJ 4 U - A:
He was a little miffed that we had prepared a list of some songs to play, but besides dealing with that he was great at the wedding. Played good music and not overbearing on the microphone. He also came to rescue for ceremony music when our harpist quit so we really appreciated that. He can be booked through White Oak entertainment and was I think about $700 for the night. 

Hotels: Hampton Inn Garden District & Hotel Monteleone - A- I didn't actually hear much about the hotels but to me that means they did the job and did it well! My advice is you have a popular month for travel is to book hotel blocks as soon as you book your venue. 

Transportation: Streetcar Rental - B+ - Did you know you can charter a St Charles Ave streetcar for you and your guests?? I didn't either until my wedding! It cost about $750 and picks you up anywhere along the route. They were super late (like 30 minutes) but I guess that's New Orleans for you. The charm of it was wonderful and the pictures are super cute.

Rehearsal Dinner- Calcasieu - A: If you love food as much as we do, then this is an incredible option. It is the private dining space for Chef Donald Link (Peche, Cochon, Herbsaint, etc). The food was all so delicious and the wine was too. It is also less expensive than a lot of those fussy French Quarter places with worse food (Muriel's, etc.). It was $50/person for a 3 course dinner, excluding alcohol. There were tons of different package and options to choose. 

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