OK....so after visiting 7 venues in one day (it was a long one with a 1 1/2 year old!) we made our decision, and have booked the Bourbon Orleans for our November 16th 2012 wedding. Cannot wait! So excited, love the location and the ballroom, and was very pleased at finding availability for our preferred date at 9 months out. Here is the background:
We were set on the Cathedral, my DF has wanted to get married there since he was little, and it's so beautiful I had to agree. My only demand was that it HAD to be 2012. We have a child, and he waited sooooo loooong to propose (not really, lol, but I had been antsy since Lex was born, but it was all about $$$), and I really didn't want our engagement to go all the way through 2012. So knowing we were set on the Cathedral, our first obstacle was finding available dates and communicating back and forth with them. As other Cathedral brides know, they ONLY return calls on Saturdays, and aren't the greatest about leaving messages (this is irritating, as more than once I've called with a specific question, and received a returned call that I missed, only to discover they did not leave a message answering said quesiton!). Once I knew a handful of 2012 dates that were available we started looking at venues (and believe it or not it is still quite a few....mostly all of December was available, and even a couple Saturday nights....many Fridays throughout the year available too, so if you have your heart set on the Cathedral don't give up!!).
Now I had several dates written down, but was particularly interested in Nov 16th, as it would mean we could spend the following Saturday with our OOT guests in NO, and then leave for our honeymoon Sunday, the 18th which is our anniversary, so it just seemed fitting. Below are my thoughts on each venue:Benachi House:
LOVED the house and grounds, thought it would be soooo beautiful for a wedding. I am a chicken however, and weather in November is too unpredictable. We are expecting too many guests to comfortably fit inside, and November can be hot, cold, rainy, dry, so it just seemed too risky. With a guarantee on weather, however, our choice may have been different since it is sooo affordable and allows such flexibility with how you want to plan your day. Plus you get the whole day to set up get ready, and can spend the night too. Would love to attend a wedding here.Bourbon Orleans:
I was biased going into this, considering it was my far ahead favorite after looking at pictures and realizing how ideal the location was for the Cathedral. I LOVED IT immediately. Alyssa was amazing and helpful, and I could tell there would be a lot of flexibility in the menu and the scheduling. The ballroom was also decorated with a lot of chandeliers, wall sconce candles (well, bulbs that look like candles) and gold, which really supports the sort of romantic vision I had in mind. Being older I think it really represents that old New Orleans charm as well, and I fell in love with the doors to the balcony (which can be left open in good weather). I also loved that you get a townhouse suite if you book there, and it will be perfect for us all to get ready/take pictures in. The balconies for most, I believe, have the Cathedral in the background. It was ideal in that no extra transportation would be required for guests to the reception.St. Louis Hotel:
Here we looked at the courtyard. It was beautiful, and with candles all around the fountain I think it would be spectacular. It was a little further from the Cathedral, however, and didn't have quite the open airy feel was hoping for (in the adjacent rooms that one would need with it). Also I am thinking we may go with a seated reception, and I don't think (though could be wrong) that this venue could accommodate that for many guests. I also didn't like the idea of everyone being sort of split up if we had to use more than one room.Musee Conti:
Big plus here was affordability, and a large, open space. For me though I thought it would require a lot of decorating to get the feel I was looking for, and also it was also several blocks from Cathedral. I am trying to be fairly low maintenance, so was looking for a place that wouldn't require as much out of me in terms of planning/decorating/DIY Omni Royal:
Also a top pic going into the day. LOVED the terrace, but wasn't interested in the other wedding rooms. The terrace was amazing, loved the slate floors where the food/bar would be set up, and loved that rooms open out onto terrace, so guests who booked early enough would potentially be able to go in and out of their room during reception if they wanted, which I thought was neat
unfortunately I think Celeste told us our guest list was too large for a seated reception in this area, and it also was not available on our preferred date, so that made the decision easier as well.Riverview Room:
Loved the view, the modern feel, the balconies, and that chair covers are INCLUDED!! Silly, I know, but considering that at most venues you would want them I think they should include it in the price everywhere
I also really, really loved that the price is all inclusive, so no worries about surprise fees later. It was within our budget (just over 11k for 125 people, INCLUDING tax and tip, and I was so interested in the fact that you can add extra time at the end but only have to pay for guests still there, which I thought was fantastic. Location was great and this would have been in the running too but for not being available on our date. Really though I was kind of happy about this, because we would have had a tough time choosing between the top three, all for different reasons.Race and Religious:
This place is soooooo beautiful and amazingly unique, and I cannot wait to go to a wedding here someday! Again it was very far (no walking here possible), and had the same issues with weather. Also we aren't expecting a huge amount of guests (80-100) and with the houses and different rooms I was worried people would split off and the wedding would feel empty. But really, decorated right it is just amazing. It would also be a great option for anyone that wanted to spend the weekend there, as I think it was only 1k more to have it for 48 hours as opposed to 10, which is included with the booking. In addition, not only was this venue not available on our date, but had NO remaining reservations in 2012 (At least for a Friday or Saturday), except for August, I believe.
Anyhow, that is how we came to our decision, and I am so happy about it! Hope this post may narrow it down for anyone else trying to decide amongst any of these venues :_