May 14, 2011- Long Review
We got married on May 14th, 2011 and had a spectacular day- everything was absolutely perfect, including the weather! We currently live in New York and therefore did the majority of our planning from afar, with only two visits during the planning process. We have each spent 5 years in New Orleans so we were familiar with the city but planning from so far away was still a bit challenging. Additionally, about 90% of our guests were from out of town, many never having visited the city. Below is a long review!
Feel free to post any questions. I hope this is helpful! I also have some initial photos, if anyone is interested.
Hotel block: Sheraton
Due to two graduations, two conferences, and several other weddings it seemed like all of New Orleans hotels were booked. Sheraton was able to provide a sizeable block for our out of town guests. Overall they were great, upgrading us, and both of our parents to suits- one that had enough room for 15 ladies to get ready the day of the wedding. There were some minor setbacks however, they told me the hotel was completely booked about a month before the wedding and closed our block. However, the weekend of, guests were still able to secure rooms. Also, they are very tight with security, not necessarily a bad thing, but the day of the wedding, when I locked myself out of the room, it took about 40 minutes for them to confirm my identity and let me back in.
Family Dinner: Atchafalaya
We had a dinner with about 25 family members at Atchafalaya. We had two rooms upstairs to ourselves and it worked out really well. We chose from a set, 3-course menu and the food was delicious! Our families were very happy with this choice!
Rehearsal Dinner: Muriels
Worked with Emily leading up to and on the day of the dinner. She was great to work with and helpful with the menu planning. The food was delicious and the balcony provided our out of town guests with a great view of the city- everyone loved the location! The day of they provided less tables than they had agreed to but quickly set up extra after some nagging. They also provided equipment for our slide show and a microphone for speeches.
Ceremony: Hermann Grima courtyard
Aimee was great to work with and made sure everything was set up beautifully. I didn’t have to worry about anything ceremony-related the day of the wedding. She also provided poured drinks for guests after the ceremony to enjoy during the secondline. Many guests commented about the beautiful location.
Secondline Band: Kinfolk
My husband worked with them mostly leading up to the day but I think everything went smoothly. They arrived on time, played throughout the ceremony and secondline, and sounded great!
We provided transportation for our guests to the reception location. We used a company recommended by our planner. They were great and waiting for us after the secondline. They also brought people to the after party and back to the hotel after the wedding. I do not know the company off hand but can find out if anyone is interested. I believe we had about 5 buses for our 170 guests.
Planner: Anthony Lala
Going into this I knew Tony and I did not click, but my mother agreed to work with him throughout the process. He was efficient in securing permits for the secondline, coordinating events for the day and keeping everyone on time- which was important. Everything ran very smoothly on our wedding day and I am assuming this was due to his help. However, he was also very opinionated throughout the whole process. He tried pushing his vendors and his ideas for how a wedding should work- only backing off once tears were shed in one instance. I was very involved in the wedding planning and had specific ideas of how I wanted the day to go, look, and feel and it was often a struggle to get him to accept these ideas. He also wasn’t shy about how he felt about me- not speaking to me during the ceremony rehearsal or the day of the wedding until we were boarding buses at the end of the night. If you are looking for someone to do everything for you I may recommend him but otherwise I would suggest finding someone else who is more willing to work with you on how you want your day to go.
Reception: Women’s Opera Guild Home
We wanted to show our guests as many aspects of New Orleans as possible and therefore chose to have the wedding uptown. Everyone loved the venue! We tented the side yard for the reception and used the home for the cocktail hour. The women were great to work with leading up to the day, however it ended up costing more than we were originally quoted- which was very annoying. Also, there are only two bathrooms downstairs for all guests and one upstairs that the bridal party and families of the bride and groom can use. But overall, I loved the venue, which underwent a renovation after Katrina.
Reception Band: PhatHat
We wanted a band that could please all of our older guests as well as the younger crowd. PhatHat was great. They played some New Orleans music, oldies, and kept the guests dancing. They learned a Meters song for our first dance and allowed one of our guests to sing with them for a few songs. I would definitely recommend them; all of our guests were impressed with the band!
Food: Joel Catering
We worked with Katie from Joel Catering. She was fantastic. She readily replied to emails, was patient with all of our menu changes and helpful with the menu selection. She was also very willing to work with us on different beverage options. The guests raved about our food! One guest, an owner of a New Orleans restaurant, ran into the chef in the kitchen and came over to tell us how renowned the chef was. We had a buffet with three stations and our guests are still talking about the food!
Photographer: Jennifer Zdon, Twirl Photography
Can’t recommend Jennifer enough! She was wonderful to work with and we couldn’t be happier with the photos and short video we have received- can’t wait for the rest! She picked out excellent locations for the first look and our photo session. She also had another photographer, Brett, for the day and he was great as well! Our family and friends are also blown away by the images. Definitely one of the best decisions we made!
My mother worked closely with Ashley from NOLAflora. We were somewhat late in deciding on the flowers and Ashley was great and worked quickly on the designs. Everything turned out really well and she provided a ton of flowers for bridesmaids and groomsmen, family members, the ceremony and the reception locations. I love the way everything turned out; she really captured the look we were going for!
Cigars: Cigar Factory
I surprised my husband with cigars at the wedding. Cigar Factory provided a Master cigar roller that was available to answer any questions or explain the process to guests. Cigar Factory was very easy to work with and guests loved this surprise! We had a personalized label for the guests and they served as favors.
After Party: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
Lafitte’s has a side courtyard that we initially thought about renting out. However, since we would be arriving around midnight and it is at the quieter end of Bourbon, we spoke to the woman in charge of organizing events and told her we would be coming. We did not pay anything for the space and some people other than guests were there, but the organizer made sure there was a bartender outside and although it wasn’t completely private it worked out well.
Personalized Handkerchiefs: Etsy shop, Embroidery by Melissa
We gave embroidered handkerchiefs with personal messages to our mothers and my husband’s sisters. Melissa was great to work with, provided proofs and finished them very quickly! They turned out great.
Secondline Handkerchiefs: www.secondlinehandkerchiefs.com
Worked with Leslie and they came out great and served as favors for guests, who used them during the secondline. She sent me a proof and they were done very quickly.