Hi ladies - I cross-posted this in the N.O. and BR boards since we had kind of a mix of vendors from both cities. Our wedding was Sunday, May 27th at Houmas House. Overall, everything was great - with the exception of our transportation issue. Invitations: Scriptura B+Our invitations were beautiful and we got a lot of compliments – though Scriptura is not for the budget bride J
The only (minor) complaint I have is the fact that the inner envelopes were too small to fit anything other than the invitation itself, so the other inserts we had (including the reply card and the brunch insert etc) had to be placed in the outer envelope and not the inner one. I know it’s a small thing, but it was strange.
Dress: Vera Wang for David’s Bridal: A+I LOVED my dress. I actually never thought I would buy a dress from DB, but had seen some of the VW designs and had to try them. I also went to some fancier bridal shops, but in the end went back to DB for the VW dress. It was a very classic and elegant style – I didn’t want a strapless dress and this one was perfect for me. The alterations ladies at the DB on Vets are AMAZING. I needed a few changes and they did them perfectly and the bustle was so gorgeous!
Bridesmaids dresses: Ann Taylor: A+The BMs wore short navy blue dresses from AT and looked great! They all loved them and since they were from AT and the girls could order their “regular” sizes, only one needed alterations (she is extremely petite and they didn’t offer a petite). Also, it was great to be able to order online since all the BMs live in different cities.
Hotel blocks: We had 3 since we had so many OOT guests (about 45 hotel rooms in total!) and wanted to offer several price points. No major issues or problems at any of the hotels.
Bourbon Orleans: A. Guests raved about the rooms and the service. The reason I didn’t give a + is that they charged $2.50 per bag when I dropped off the hotel gift bags for the guests.
Holiday Inn French Quarter: B+ Hotel was fine – no complaints, but not as nice as the BO, but great location and no charge for gift bags.
Doubletree: B+ Hotel was also fine but had to pay $3 for each gift bag.
Welcome Party: Margaritaville: A+ Since we had so many out of town guests, we hosted drinks and appetizers on the Friday before our Sunday wedding. I checked out a lot of different places, but ended up at Margaritaville and so glad we did. The minimum spend for their private rooms was super reasonable and the rooms aren’t really “private” in that they are separate from the main dining areas, but still open to the rest of the restaurant (we were in the Parrots’ Nest) so we didn’t feel isolated. The food selections were great – everything was served hot and fresh and the drinks were great. It was a perfect place to kick off the weekend.
Rehearsal Dinner: Palace Café: A++ Amazing. From the beginning of the planning process until we left the restaurant, everything was perfect. Lisa Henriquez (in the sales office) was so helpful and I basically planned the whole thing via email. The food was wonderful and the service was excellent. Our guests were raving about everything and didn’t want to leave! We were upstairs in the Fleur des Lis room and they actually have a separate kitchen upstairs just for the private parties, so no matter how busy the restaurant is, the party will be perfect. Also the prices and minimum spends on the rooms are super reasonable.
Wedding and Reception Venue: Houmas House: A++Wonderful. Everything was so beautiful – our guests loved it and it was a unique experience for everyone – especially our out of towners and international guests. We did have a problem with our transportation (see below) and had to delay our ceremony and reception by an hour. Cecily and Caity didn’t miss a beat and arranged everything seamlessly around the delay. (Thankfully, ours was the only wedding that day!) At the end of the evening, nobody even cared about the delay. The food and service were excellent and the venue itself and the gardens are so gorgeous. Everyone loved it there.
Transportation: Rent the Party Bus.com: D They say that there is always something that doesn’t go according to plan on your wedding day. For us, it was the bus transportation. Since we had so many out of town guests and the wedding was at Houmas House (an hour outside N.O.), we hired buses to pick up our guests and transport them to the venue. For the return journey, we also wanted to have party buses to keep everyone dancing and partying until we got back to the French Quarter. In total, we hired 3 buses for pick up, 2 of which would stay at the venue until the reception was over and then 2 party buses would come at the end of the night for those who wanted to keep it going. Since we had so many needs, we went with rentthepartybus.com since they could contract out all of the different buses we needed. The 3 guest buses for pick up were contracted to Atlas Transportation. Instead of going to the hotel to pick up the guests at 4:15pm, the buses first went to Houmas House. Seriously? Oh yes. We only realized it when the buses did not show up at the Doubletree to meet the guests and a friend who was helping to coordinate called the company. Since it was a Sunday, there weren’t enough drivers for the bus company to send new buses, so we had to wait for the buses to drive back downtown from Houmas House to pick up the guests and then bring them back. We ended up having to delay the ceremony by an hour and those local guests who had come in their own cars had to wait – though lucky for us the grounds were so gorgeous and there is a bar on site, so they were certainly not bored at all. Another thing was that DH and I had made a DVD of our favorite movie clips to play in the buses for the hour long journey up there but only 1 of 3 buses had a DVD player (even though we specifically requested it). Houmas House offers a 4 hour contract, so we were originally scheduled from 6-10 and then we had opted to add an extra hour – which was definitely not cheap – so that we wouldn’t feel rushed and would have plenty of time for dancing. Thankfully we had done that since the extra hour was basically lost due to the hour bus delay. We are going to try to get our money back from the bus company. I tried my hardest not to let this ruin my wedding day and everyone still had a great time. The only reason for not giving an F on this one was because the pick-up worked fine and the party buses were there and on time – although the iPod docks were broken on both party buses!
String quartet: Pan String A+I didn’t notice them so much since they played during the ceremony and I was focusing on trying not to trip down the aisle but they sounded great, were on time and Amy was always responsive to my questions. It definitely added to the elegance of the ceremony. I know they also offer different combinations – either a duo or trio which can help for budget considerations if the full string quartet is too expensive.
Florist: Thibodeaux’s: A+Paul Norman is fantastic. The original shipment of hydrangeas he got was less than perfect so he had the farm express over replacements. My bouquet was gorgeous and smelled amazing – peonies and freesia! Also the table décor and flowers on top of the cake were beautiful. Absolutely perfect.
Cakes: Ambrosia Bakery: A+Delicious. We had a traditional 3-tiered bride’s cake and also a groom’s cake. The groom’s cake was a surprise for DH – I requested a replica of the Matterhorn (DH is from Switzerland) and it turned out so cute! Everyone loved it and he was definitely surprised.
Photobooth: Rex Photobooth: A+ Great. A lot of photobooth companies aren’t really a photobooth – they have a curtain surrounding a digital camera instead – but Rex is the real deal. The guests had a great time and the pictures are so cute! Even my 90-year-old grandparents loved it! We opted to include double prints and also the photo album guest book and we love it! They even fired up the booth again at the end of the night for my mom since she had been so busy she didn't get a chance to pop in.
DJ: Complete Music: BThe DJ was fine – no real complaints except that during dinner the music was pretty loud (we had a seated dinner) and I asked my MOH to ask him to turn it down but he wasn’t there (he very well could have been outside eating or just stepped away for a second) – not a huge deal. Also, for our combined father-daughter/mother-son dance, the song was pretty long and he let it drag on for a while which got kind of old. Again, not a big deal, but not perfect. Otherwise, it was fun – the music was good and kept everyone on the dance floor all night J
Photographer: Thompson Photography: A++ Wow. Brody and his wife Katie are amazing. They are so professional and so nice and easy-going. I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I am sure they will look great. If you are getting married at Houmas House, book them! They know the venue and all of the people there and they were so helpful in keeping things going during our reception – even with the delay we had. I highly recommend Thompson Photography and will post a pic as soon as I get one. They are based in Baton Rouge, but will travel all over LA.
Videographer: Montoto Productions: A+ We weren’t originally going to have a videographer, but decided last minute to try to get one (with only 3 weeks to go!). Thankfully, Stephen at Montoto was available on our wedding day. He was super friendly and professional and even sent us a little preview clip (although our package didn’t include it!). It looks amazing so far and I am so glad we opted for it in the end. I’m sure there are so many details I missed and I am looking forward to seeing the final product.
Second Line Band: Algiers Brass Band (White Oak Productions): A+
Excellent. We booked a brass band to surprise our guests with a second line. Since we had so many out of towners, it was definitely a unique experience for everyone. Because we were up at Houmas House, it was kind of expensive to get them up there, but worth every cent and I guess if you have a second line in the street in town, you need police escorts and parade permits, so it’s probably the same cost in the end. They were on time and definitely showed our guests something special.
Day after Brunch: Oceana Grill: A
Excellent. Great food, reasonable prices and friendly attentive staff. The only reason for no A+ is that the building is very old and there is no elevator, but our older and frail guests managed fine in the end with help from the staff.
Overall, except for the bus experience, everything was wonderful and worth every cent. Please PM me if you have any specific questions about anything. Pics to come. Good luck to all the rest of you!!