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Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

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Mississippi
posts: 92
reviews: 16
Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Hi, everyone!

I actually JUST got engaged Friday (Nov. 23). Of course my favorite place on this entire planet is New Orleans. My fiance actually brought up getting married there. I wasn't sure if he would be all for it, but he seems to be! We just have to figure out whether or not this is realistically "do-able" for us. Mainly we have to figure out if all of our guests would be able to make the drive down from North Mississippi where we live. It isn't necessarily that we are planning a large wedding with many guests - it's just that certain family members like grandparents, etc. might have an issue with traveling and things such as that. We will hopefully sooner than later work all those details out and have a definite plan. In the meantime, I need advice! You guys must know that I am so opposite from traditional. I do not want anything fancy, luxurious, expensive, extravagant, ordinary.... No no no. My dress might actually be black or gold or both (Who Dat!)... So I am honestly just looking for something comfortable, laid back, budget-friendly, authentic, FUN... "Celebration, not necessarily ceremony" - Am I making sense? I love Nola and everything about it. Actually, my Plan B is if I must have the wedding here at home, then I will make it as New Orleans-ish as possible (beads in the trees, brass band music, feathers, umbrellas, black/gold, you get me...) Can anyone give me advice on possible venues? Not necessarily churches. I do like the idea of a courtyard wedding. I'm actually thinking the month of October sounds nice - mid/late October (yes, I'm aware of the Halloween crowd, so also unsure of how to work around that). I am definitely leaning more towards a French Quarter wedding. That's the vibe I like best and that's the experience I want our guests to have. I like the area closer around Canal/Decatur/Jackson Square best. That part of the Quarter. Close to the action. Enough excitement for our guests to get the full feel of Nola. I'm open to any ideas or advice anyone may have. Location, prices, hotels (packages, rates), BANDS - if I have to find a brass band playing on the street and ask them to play at the wedding/reception, I will! Don't care!), food, etc. Not necessarily interested in a florist or anything like that. I'm not very big on flowers. I'd be fine decorating with beads and feathers and such. I'm not sure how to handle the food situation because I Don't know how many guests we will be expecting yet and to be brutally honest - I don't feel like dealing with that right now. I don't want this to be a stressful thing. I kinda just want it to flow and be easy and simple and fun and inexpensive and authentic. Nothing fussy! Just fun. I also don't know how to go about the marriage license process but I suppose I can figure that out closer to time. Right now I just need some sort of ideas/options so that we can get estimates to figure out if this is something we can truly do - which I really hope it is. I know that this is long and probably obnoxious and confusing but I need some advice and help and you guys have always been so helpful and nice. I want the "perfect Nola wedding" in MY eyes which is a very non-traditional, unordinary way of seeing things! Laissez les bon temps rouler! Thanks, yall!

Moncton, Canada
posts: 5,328
reviews: 44
1. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

There's been various questoins on this subject, with great advise given by people who have actually gotten married in NO. Do a search on weddings.

Destination Expert
for New Orleans
posts: 4,662
reviews: 53
2. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Congratulations on your engagement! I loved reading your posting because you can feel your excitement coming through, and your love of New Orleans!! One of our regular posters, loopwhole, got married in New Orleans a few years back, so as soon as he reads this he may be able to offer some tips. I'm not sure if weddings are allowed in Jackson Square in front of the church, but that is something you could check into. The only open area I can think of around Canal/Decatur is Spanish Square with the fountain. How about renting a streetcar for the wedding and getting married while on the streetcar? I read about that a while back and thought that was a really unique idea. As far as the reception, you might want to see about having it at Muriel's. They have rooms in the upstairs area that they rent out and I love the ambiance and history of the building (and the reasonable prices!)

I hope you do get to have your New Orleans wedding IN New Orleans. My husband and I just returned two days ago from a beach wedding in Panama City Beach. The people who really want to be there will make the trip if at all possible (we drove 1800 miles roundtrip to be at this wedding). It was a very small wedding with only about 25 guests, but it was beautiful and was everything that the bride had wanted it to be. Hope yours is the same for you!

Lewes, Delaware
posts: 925
reviews: 115
3. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Reading your post, what comes through to me is that you are not asking for the impossible. Everything you want is 100% doable. Some internet time, some phone calls, and things will fall into place.

While I have no specific recommendations at this time, I do want to congratulate you, and wish you every success and offer my encouragement.

A long time friend of mine was married in Jackson Square, next to the statue, with no problems. But that information is over 30 years old. They are still married.

Kansas City
posts: 5,413
reviews: 4
4. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

A regular posted on this forum, Loopwhole, and his lovely wife were married in New Orleans in the courtyard of the former St Louis Hotel. Sounds like it was a lovely event. I expect he will provide some good advice.

Most of the hotels in the FQ have courtyards and I am sure that many of them could accommodate a small wedding. I think everything you want is totally doable also. I frequently see weddings in or near Jackson Square.

Some good friends of mine are going to re-new their vows next May near the river, probably Wollenberg Park. Some of our other friends did the same thing in City Park last year. There are so many lovely places to choose from. I think you will have a lot of fun planning it.

dublin
posts: 129
5. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Hi ,

Congrats on your engagement ! I'm coming from Ireland to get married there next March but will be just the two of us so probably not too much advice I can give. Thinking of having the ceremony which will be very short maybe in City park and we are having dinner then in Muriels after. Going to do a photo shoot around the French Quarter and maybe in one of the cemetaries .

I'm staying in the Omni Royal which has a lovely courtyard that they often do weddings in if you want to check that out maybe.

New Orleans...
Destination Expert
for New Orleans
posts: 450
reviews: 3
6. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

One thing to keep in mind...October in NOLA is an extremely high-demand season. You will be competing for space with various pro and college football games, very large conventions, VOODOO fest, Halloween, and a generally larger-than-normal amount of other tourism. It's also a favorite time for weddings -- both locals and tourists. Not to be a downer, but that high demand comes hand-in-hand with premium prices, too. Best get your plans locked in ASAP if you are dead set on October.

New York City
posts: 47
reviews: 32
7. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

My girl and I are getting married in October 2013 at the Omni Royal. We have "Unique Weddings in New Orleans" as our planner. I have already locked up hotel rates. Ashtons is right...premium pricing.

Mississippi, (sorry,don't want to rain on your parade)you may want to check with the people that you invite that they really, really will travel and pony up for the hotel and or flight.

College Station...
Destination Expert
for New Orleans
posts: 6,240
reviews: 3
8. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Yes, my lovely wife and I, then both fifty-something, were married in the courtyard of the St. Louis Hotel (now Hotel Mazarin) in October 2006. We had about sixty guests, mostly from the Bryan/College Station, Texas area, about 400 Miles from New Orleans.

Our wedding was just a little more than a year after Katrina. While the French Quarter was pretty much back to normal, streetcar service had not been restored and, although the Superdome had just reopened, convention/conference/tourist activity had not fully resumed. Accordingly, although in October, hotel rates, and prices in general, were comparitively low and affordable. But local wedding activities were in full swing because of an almost one year post Katrina wedding backlog.

To research and evaluate ceremony/reception venues you will need to have some idea regarding number of guests. As Ashtons pointed out, attendance may be affected by lodging affordability in October. The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) offers different types of wedding assistance, see:

neworleanscvb.com/travel-professionals/…

CVB assistance includes help with setting the precise date; CVB will advise you regarding then scheduled conferences, conventions, festivals, etc., which significantly affect lodging cost and availability. Enclosed ceremony/reception venues tend to be sized for under 20 guests, 20-50 guests, 50-100 guests, and over 100 guests.

We were completely satisfied, actually thrilled, with the package provided by the Hotel, including courtyard (with available cover depending on chance of rain) and furnishings suitable for both the ceremony and reception, wonderful luncheon buffet, open bar (no skimping or line waiting), two bakery quality cakes, and bridal attendant. The cost for the package was about $45 a head (fifty guest minimum) plus tax and gratuity; I would suppose the cost has significantly increased based both on inflation and the general increase in costs since the tourist industry's recovery from Katrina. With the help of the hotel we arranged for a DJ, celibrant, and some chair coverings We obtained the relatively few flowers from Sam's; a pretty courtyard decreases need for decoration. We also provided mongrammed beads and disposible cameras.

As relates to an officiant, if you do not have someone in mind I would highly recommend Rev. John W. Zimmer. Rev. Zimmer can assist you with licensing, and offer suggestions related to venue selection. He is a very special person.

Many of our guests told us, I believe very sincerely, that it was the best wedding, both ceremony and reception, they had ever attended, some, but not all, excepting their own wedding. Lovely wife and I very much treasure the memory.

We researched many possible venues, including reataurants, other hotels and inns, even the Pharmacy Muyseum, but then knew to expect 45-70 guests. Congratulations! Please feel free to contact me, either by post or PM, if you think I can provide further information. I might be able to offer some direction related to retaining a brass band (not cheap).

Edited: 3:24 pm, November 27, 2012
Mississippi
posts: 92
reviews: 16
9. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Thanks for the tips & ideas, guys! We won't be bringing a very large group, I don't think. My personal preference is small, anyway. And October is not set in stone, it's just what would be my first choice. Everything is somewhat flexible, if necessary. I suppose everyone wouldn't neccesarily have to stay in the same hotel - maybe just in same area? And it doesn't necessarily HAVE to be in a hotel courtyard - I just kinda like that idea and I think it would be simple, easy, and nice. Does anyone know of any venues that are free? I know a few park locations are, but I'd kinda rather keep it in the Quarter just in case everyone can't possibly stay in the same hotel and to save some confusion about how to get here, how to get there. I'm a French Quarter kind of girl! :) I'm thinking that if a hotel/courtyard/package provided type thing doesn't work out, then we could always pick another location (free/cheaper the better)... for the ceremony. Pick somewhere to eat and maybe have a few drinks before/after the ceremony. I feel like the elders of our party will likely go back to their rooms while the younger/middle age adults might like to go to Bourbon and do that whole scene. Just judging by the personality types of our families, that is. I'm not really picky. I just want an overall fun, enjoyable, authentic experience. Music is pretty important to me. I just love it and I feel that you don't get the full experience without the music. Smaller details can eventually be worked out. I suppose right now my main decisions needing to be made are: date, venue, officiant, and where to stay. BUT if the ceremony is somewhere other than a hotel, then booking the rooms won't be quite as complicated because it isn't mandatory that everyone stays in the same exact place. This is so confusing and overwhelming to me. I just want to keep it simple and fun and as LEAST EXPENSIVE as possible! I'm currently a nursing student and I will be graduating in May. I think will take Christmas break to really research the internet and make some decisions - hopefully! I am totally lost right now, though.

And Loopwhole - thanks so much for your input. I may take you up on your offer for help!

Mississippi
posts: 92
reviews: 16
10. Re: Trying to plan a wedding - HELP! Someone! Anyone!

Also - how might I contact Rev. Zimmer? Does he have an email address by chance? That's my best method of contact right now since nothing is for sure yet. I'd just like to know his availability/rates/payment policies, etc. Or any other kind of info I might need.