Ceremony Venue-Jackson Square (A)Despite the rain on our wedding day, we decided to go ahead and have our wedding in Jackson Square as planned. Luckily by the time the ceremony started it was barely sprinkling. Our guests were so supportive and not one person complained about the weather! It was such a memorable day not only for us but for everyone who attended. I am so happy we decided to have our ceremony there!Booking it is not difficult…you simply have to submit a request form to the Dept. of Parks & Parkways and Ms. Rosalind Johnson will direct you how to proceed. However, there is no rain plan or refund in the case of inclement weather, so just be aware of that if you decide to book your ceremony there. I would give this venue an A+, but we are currently still waiting to get our litter/damage deposit back, so until then I will give them an A. Ceremony Musicians- Harry Hardin/New Orleans Finest Musicians (A+)Harry was great to work with! He is very responsive to e-mails and offers suggestions as needed. In the beginning I was undecided on if we wanted a solo violinist or a quartet of sorts. I sent him a list of songs and he made suggestions as to which instruments would work best with each of the songs. Once I settled on some songs he made a recording for me, so that I could get a preview of what our songs would sound like. In the end I ended up changing my mind a few times, but Harry had no problem with making the changes. I even texted him the day of the ceremony to let him know there would be a slight change in the processional and he said it wouldn’t be a problem. He showed up to the ceremony venue about an hour before guests were to arrive, set up underneath an umbrella and began playing music. The music turned out to be beautiful…I would definitely recommend using! Ceremony Chair Rentals- Southern Hospitality Event Rentals (A)Rob Verdi was responsive to e-mails and was flexible with making changes to our contract. The delivery drivers had a blowout on one of their tires while on their way over to deliver our chairs to the ceremony venue; therefore they were a little late. Once they got there though they set things up quickly and therefore did not affect any of the ceremony at all. Once the ceremony was over they were really quick with breakdown of the chairs as well. By the time we took a few family pictures, they had already packed up and left. Photographer-Sabree Hill (A+)Sabree was so sweet and her prices are very reasonable as compared to other photographers in the area. She and I exchanged e-mails back and forth about a month prior to the wedding so that we could establish what pictures my husband and I definitely wanted etc. She met with us the day before the wedding to discuss any changes and how things would flow the following day as well as to get a look at the venue and of possible places to take pictures around the hotel and surrounding areas. It was a great opportunity for us to get to know her, so when she showed up the next day we were both completely comfortable with her, which made taking pictures so easy. Sabree mostly does photojournalistic work, but knows the importance of those posed family pictures for a wedding day, so she will capture both. We were quite pleased with our pictures from our wedding. She is willing to go the extra mile to get a great shot as long as her subjects are willing as well. Videographer-Will Addison (A)Will is a freelance videographer. We only wanted our ceremony and second line parade to be captured, so he did that for us at a very reasonable price. We did not want editing done, so he gave us all of our raw images. He does do editing work, however, for a reasonable price as well. He’s a really nice guy to work with. If you are interested I can contact him for you, so just reply to this message here on the board (I rarely check PMs and I don’t want to give my e-mail address out on here.) Reception Venue/Hotel Block-Royal Sonesta Hotel (??)I honestly am not sure what grade I will give the RS. At one point I would have flat our said “F” but I am sticking with undecided for now. We had a lot of issues with the hotel’s wedding coordinator throughout our planning process, but in the end everything came together and we had a fabulous reception.Let me give you the abridged version of what happened. So, we signed our contract with them late 2011. We went for a tasting in early May 2012. My husband and I went to our tasting and were shown the hotel, etc. We were promised a document that would further help us plan our menu and help us determine budget. A week came and passed…no document, another week…still no document. We contacted the coordinator and she apologized and said she was busy with other weddings and would get it to us. We were patient, but after getting so many excuses we got frustrated. Basically we got about two months of excuses from the coordinator and her assistants. She did have some personal issues going on and we were very understanding of that, but at the same time it was July and we were trying to plan a wedding to take place in September. It would have been nice if there were someone who could have stepped in to help us out. We needed to know things like number of tables, sizes of tables, etc. so I could place orders with other vendors and we needed to have a handle on food costs so we could budget our money to spend on other things for the wedding. Finally we got the promised document and it left much to the imagination...we could have put that together in our own time, but that’s not the issue here. So, by September we were making progress and had gotten our menu planned out and had a timeline for the reception lain out. On September 15, we were given our final banquet order which is a very important piece of paper that is supposed to direct the staff on what to do and what food to serve, etc. Pretty much everything was wrong on it….from the number of appetizers to our cake flavor to the start/end time of the reception. My husband found another issue with pricing and so in the end of it all the banquet manager had to get involved in order to take care of the errors. It was finally resolved the week before of our wedding thanks to her. She was very apologetic and took care of these issues right away.Throughout the process, the coordinator was very nice to us and would say reassuring things, but I did not have the confidence in her that I would have like to have had. I felt that our wedding was not important to her at all. I was a very laid back bride and I did not expect any special treatment from anyone whatsoever, but when a person is supposed to be coordinating our wedding, I expect them to at least know the minimum details and to at least act like they care about it, even if they don’t since that is part of the job description!When we arrived in New Orleans the coordinator met with us and seemed to have a handle on things for the most part. She did a good job for the most part however she did leave the reception at one point and did not return to line everyone up or make an announcement so that we could have our final exit with bubbles, etc. It wasn’t a huge deal but kind of disappointing since I took a lot of time tying bows and charms onto the bubbles and we missed out on a photo opportunity. As I said in the end of it all our reception was great, but I think my attention to detail and organization in the planning and our other vendors is why things came together. Lu and our florist take the credit for the way the venue turned out looking and the dj had the timing of special dances and events down in order to make the announcements just fine without the help of a coordinator. I would, however, like to commend the banquet staff and bartender. They were super attentive throughout the reception and very polite to our guests. As far our hotel blocks are concerned….we had a suite which was very nice and sizeable. Most of our guests were from out of town and the majority of them all stayed at the RS. They all seemed to really enjoy the hotel and had no complaints. There was one issue with booking though. We had designated certain people to be in terrace rooms that were near our suite so that we could all have access to the terrace to hang out together. Nevertheless we checked in to find a complete stranger in one of the rooms. We were upset because our friend was placed on a completely different floor when he was supposed to be in that room. The hotel said they would rectify the situation, but my husband happened to run into the guy as he was smoking on the terrace. He explained the situation and the guy was so nice about it and said he wanted to move to help us out and so he packed his things and was ready to move at any moment. When my husband went to the front desk to discuss it with themanager on duty she ended up having a big attitude about it and was almost unwilling to move the guest even after he insisted that he wanted to move. Some of the other front desk people at the hotel were not very knowledgeable or friendly if you asked them a question either. We were supposed to have 4 free parking vouchers for specific guests….we had to settle the situation each time, because they were charged for parking anyway. One young lady got a bit of an attitude with me when I spoke to her about it. At that point I had about enough attitude from these people and really had to hold my tongue!For all of these reasons it’s hard for me to decide on a grade for the hotel. It is a beautiful hotel and is in a good central location. There are a couple of bars (Le Booze and Curtis Mayfield’s Jazz Club), restaurants (Revolution and Desire Oyster House) and a coffee shop (PJs) connected to the hotel that made it really convenient for us and our guests. All in all, the bell staff and the banquet staff were awesome. The coordinator was not so coordinated and the front desk people needed to brush up on their people skills a bit. After a lot of worry and stress, things turned out to be good. I don’t want to discourage anyone from not have their wedding here, but just know that if you do, be aware that you will have to be on top of things if you want things to get done correctly and in a timely manner…or you should hire a wedding planner to manage things for you. Florist-Fabulous Flowers (Ken Marino) A+Ken was so great to work with. He worked with me early in the planning process to help me determine the kind of flowers that would help me accomplish the look that I was going for while staying in my budget. My bouquet turned out to be gorgeous and looked great with my dress. My mother and mother in law loved their arm bouquets and the flowers for the reception room were exactly what I wanted! Ken was very easy to get in touch with by e-mail/phone. He brought my flowers up to my room where I was getting dressed and even cut the stems once he saw how tall I was so that they would look more proportionate with my height. After the wedding I inquired about bouquet preservation and he even gave me some advice on that. I would definitely recommend Ken…he is much more reasonably priced than some of the florists I contacted and he did a fantastic job! Transportation-Royal Carriages CI booked two 4-person carriages to transport my mom and husband’s parents in one and myself, MOH, and dads (dad/stepdad) in the other. I received e-mails back from them pretty quickly if I inquired about anything. I even got a phone call on the day of our wedding since it was raining to see if we still needed a pickup. I confirmed that we were still on and made plans for him to be in place between 4:30 and 4:45 to transport us to our 5pm ceremony. All of us began looking for them around 4:30 in front of the RS as well as on the side streets, but they weren’t there. It got to be about 20 minutes til and my dad started to get a little worried so he asked the hotel staff to help us be on the lookout for them. Another 10 minutes or so passed and so the concierge called the company’s office…but got no answer. My maid of honor ran back up to our room to get the cell phone number of the guy who had called me earlier in the day. The hotel staff tried calling it, but got no answer. It was about 5 o’clock (and our ceremony was supposed to start at 5pm in Jackson Square) so the hotel staff apologized for not being able to get in touch with them and suggested that I take a cab. I got a little upset at this point and said “No, I paid for 2 carriages and so two carriages better show up here. I refuse to show up to my wedding in a cab!!” About 5 minutes after 5, my stepdad said that my brother called him after speaking to my groom and said the carriages were on their way. Turns out they were calling my cell phone (which was in a handbag that my sister-in-law who was already at the ceremony had)…my groom kept hearing the phone and decided to answer it as he is standing around wondering why his bride was not there! It was the carriage people calling to make sure we still needed a pickup, so thankfully the situation got resolved.The carriages showed up promptly after that. The driver was really nice and the ride itself was a fun experience. There aren’t many times in your life that you get to ride in a horse drawn carriage, wearing a wedding dress down Bourbon St. and have people cheering for you and waving at you. So, just because of these two things, they made up for their tardiness. Reception Décor-Simply Luxe Décor/Weddings by LuLu A+I can’t say enough good things about Lu Alexander! She responds to e-mails and texts quickly and is such a nice person to work with. She sent me pictures of décor and made suggestions to help me figure out how I wanted our reception venue to look during planning. The linens and décor she had were beautiful and really brought my vision together. She even texted me as she was setting things up to let me know how things were going and to ask questions about how I wanted some things set up. I would definitely recommend her décor rental company. She also does wedding planning. I did not get a chance to work with her in that respect, but I have no doubt that she would do a wonderful job at planning. She has a Facebook and pinterest page that you can check out to get an idea of the décor she has and the other kinds/styles of weddings she is in the process of planning. Welcome Bag Goodie-River Bend Bakery A+We made welcome bags that included welcome letters, maps, etc. for each of our guests. We ordered personalized mini pralines from Christine Cruz at RBB to include in them as well. The bakery delivered the pralines to our hotel on the day of our arrival and even included some little extra goodies for me. The pralines were so yummy…everyone loved them! The price was great as compared to Aunt Sally’s and other praline shops.