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Three of my Favorite New Orleans Wedding Venues

Decisions, decisions. When it comes to planning your dream wedding, choosing the perfect wedding venue is definitely at the top of the “to-do” list. Your wedding venue will be the backdrop to your vision and, let’s face it, you can’t even truly start the planning and design process without a confirmed venue + date. So, to help speedy up the process for all of my New Orleans brides {so that you can get to the fun stuff STAT! Yay!}, I’ve laid out three of my favorite wedding venues in New Orleans below. Obviously, this a {very} short list and there are a TON of amazing venues in New Orleans. Have questions about any of the venues on my shortlist? Love a venue that isn’t on this list and want to chat about it? Drop me a line! XO!

Without further ado and in no specific order {Come on, choosing three was hard enough… Don’t make me rank them!}…

Broussard’s

Not only is Broussard’s one of my favorite NOLA wedding venues, it’s also one of my favorite New Orleans restaurants. I have to admit, some may even call me a Broussard’s weekend jazz brunch regular. Delicious French and Creole inspired cuisine, exceptional customer service, old New Orleans charm… this place has it all! I have to agree with their website when they say, “when it comes to the classic, historic French Quarter wedding experience, look no further than Broussard’s. Built in 1834, this building brings a charm that cannot be recreated.”

The venue also boasts a large, gorgeous brick courtyard perfect for your band or DJ and dancing the night away under the stars. If you’re looking for more space and/or want an outdoor French Quarter ceremony before your reception, Broussard’s is conveniently connected to the gorgeous Hermann-Grima House courtyard.

Broussard’s is also an excellent option for larger rehearsal dinners and/or welcome parties.

Il Mercato

Il Mercato is a beautiful, unique Spanish colonial style building dating back to the 1930s. It is located in the Lower Garden District, slightly outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown New Orleans. The neutral color palette, amazing architecture, Italianate chandeliers and wood accents make for an incredible canvas for your wedding reception. There is something just oh-so romantic and organic about Il Mercato.

The venue also has a large, private bricked courtyard with an outdoor fireplace that is the perfect outdoor additional reception space and can even serve as your perfect outdoor New Orleans ceremony space. To top it off, Il Mercato is owned and exclusively catered by Joel Catering and Special Events. Joel’s has over 50 years in the food industry and is arguably one of the best Caterers in New Orleans. You really can have your cake and eat it, too, at Il Mercato!

The Audubon Tea Room

Who doesn’t love the zoo!? The Audubon Tea Room is part of the Audubon Zoo located in uptown New Orleans. Although the Tea Room is the most traditional ballroom type setting on this list, it is far from your standard ballroom. The 5,000 square foot circular venue has stunning 45’ ceilings, huge eye-catching silk drapes, shiny wood floors and several sets of large double doors that lead to a private garden. As a bonus, you and your bridal party can sneak away to the carousel located inside of the park for some fun photos! Of course, the food is delicious… it wouldn’t make this list otherwise! ;]

VENDOR LOVE::
Wedding Planner// Krystle Abalos of Everly Event Planning & Design
Broussard’s Photo// Tina + Jeff courtesy of Sara Rogers Photography
Il Mercato Photo// Katy + Blake courtesy of Catherine Guidry
Audubon Tea Room Photo// Ashley + Justin courtesy of Sison Photo
Bridget + Alexis: Featured on Style Me Pretty

Yesterday was a sad day in the “wedding world” as it was announced that Style Me Pretty is shutting down at the end of this month. Style Me Pretty is arguably the most well known and exclusive wedding inspiration blog for engaged couples and vendors alike. As a vendor, having one of your weddings published on SMP is definitely an accomplishment. It feels like a badge of honor to us. Dramatic? Maybe. But true. Even SMP’s website says that they boast “the prettiest real weddings and the love stories behind them.” So, how could you NOT feel a little {I mean, “A LOT”} proud when they select to feature YOUR work out of all of the gorgeous submissions they receive?! I still remember when I received the email from SMP stating that Bridget and Alexis’ big day would be featured on the site. EKK! It was absolute joy!

In honor of that feeling and as a farewell to SMP, I’m sharing the blurb and a few of my favorite photos from Bridget & Alexis’ feature here before it disappears with their blog forever. Thank you, Style Me Pretty, for all you have done for the wedding industry. You will be missed.

Cue the happy {Bridget + Alexis’ wedding was to die for} AND sad tears {Say it ain’t so, SMP} while I reminisce…

Historic New Orleans Fete Complete with a Second Line Brass Band

{Filed Under: Classic Estate Weddings and Fall Weddings}

If you are going to have a traditional New Orleans wedding, you better believe a second line parade for the new Mr. and Mrs. is in order. And that is only the beginning of this classic meets modern celebration held at the family’s estate and crafted by Everly Event Planning & Design. Also on the docket, not one but 3 insanely gorgeous dresses dawned by the fashion blogger Bride. Take a peek at the full celebration captured by Elisa Bricker here. No, really, go look! <3

From the Photographer… Fashion blogger and bride, Bridget Ryan, chose to get married in her historic home town and celebrated her wedding at the family home. Their wedding was steeped in tradition, but her personal style is modern and fresh, so blending tradition and bringing in modern touches was important. Her husband and his family are French, so their wedding was also a blend of cultural tradition, and friends from around the world. They married these styles and traditions in a graceful ceremony at the church where she grew up and celebrated their wedding in the back hard of her family’s private estate. Of course, since it was a New Orleans wedding there were local traditions such as a king cake for guests in their welcome bags, beads galore, and a second line to celebrate the new couple! 

You can also find this wedding, along with additional details and photos, featured on The Knot here and on Carats & Cake here!

VENDOR CREDITS::
Wedding Planner// Krystle Abalos of Everly Event Planning & Design
Photography// Elisa Bricker
Invitations// Scriptura
Shoes// Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids’ Dresses// Bella Bridesmaid
Makeup// Belladona
Calligraphy// Sterling Calligraphy
Flower Girl Dresses// Banbury Cross
Dress Design// Nardos Design
Sunflowers & Sunshine: Meet The Mertzluffts

It could not have been a more picture perfect Louisiana spring day for this AH-mazing Alabama couple’s March wedding. Seriously… 70s, breezy and not a cloud in the sky. If you’re from Louisiana, you know just how rare a humidity-less 70 degree day is! There wasn’t a single person on the guest list from Louisiana; so, naturally, the bride and groom insisted on creating an authentic good ol’ southern Louisiana experience for their guests with the likes of muffalettas, a second line and rows of grand oaks at a 250-year old plantation just twenty-five miles south of New Orleans.

Louisiana Plantation Spring Wedding 1

Sarah and Paul, who first described themselves to me as a “jeans and t-shirt couple” that only gets “dressed up for dinner when we’re feeling fancy”, wanted their intimate 75-guest wedding day to be a true reflection of who they are as a couple: laid-back, cheerful and joyous.  Above all, they wanted their guests to feel comfortable and have a genuinely good time… skip all the typical wedding day traditions and formalities, this was going to be a pure celebration!  Their vision was shabby chic with a color scheme of sunflower yellow, blues and steel.  The bride wore converses with her wedding gown, the bridesmaids wore mismatched blue dresses and the groom and groomsmen completed their outfits with superhero socks.

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Are you getting the playful + celebratory vibe, yet?!

We created a fun and unique first look by having Paul wait for Sarah behind a handful of balloons in front of the plantation home.  When it was time for the grand reveal, Paul released the balloons and swooned over his unveiled gorgeous bride. After the jovial outdoor ceremony, everybody made their way to the beautiful bricked pool area for a cocktail hour with passed traditional southern fare and libations.  Instead of relying on a videographer, guests were encouraged to capture all of the day’s festivities and candid moments with provided go-pros.

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It wasn’t long before the bridal party threw on some colored sunglasses, the bride and groom grabbed their “Mr. and Mrs.” paper umbrellas and they all got the party started by leading a traditional New Orleans second line down the row of grand oaks and into the tented reception.  Of course, this wasn’t before I had to explain to quite a few guests how to properly shake the personalized handkerchiefs in the air as they marched away from the pool area!

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To make the reception extra personal and inviting, framed engagement portraits accompanied the bright wildflower centerpieces on all of the guest tables.  Sarah and Paul also had a wooden cake topper custom-made to look identical to them in their wedding day attire.  Don’t worry- Sarah didn’t let Paul see the topper before the big day! Of course, the couple didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, though.  Instead, they opted for a small serving cake accompanied by an array of uniquely designed and filled self-serve petifores.  Guests danced the night away under large bistro string lights and took the occasional break to snap some pictures in the photo booth.  For the grand exit, guests were given glow sticks  to light the bride and groom’s way to the buses, which then took the whole party into the French Quarter to continue the celebration.

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I am so thankful that Sarah and Paul chose to have me by their side throughout their engagement and on their jubilant big day!

Pictures:: Kristen Soileau Portraits + Venue:: Stella Plantation

Kati + Ben: A Post-Wedding Styled Shoot

When I was asked to design Kati and Ben’s styled post-wedding photo shoot at Nottoway Plantation, I couldn’t get the “ABSOLUTELY!” out of my mouth fast enough. Kati and Ben are every event designer’s dream: beautiful inside and out, very obviously in love and they have some serious style.

Post Wedding Styled Holiday Shoot 2

A little background on Kati, Ben and their big day:

Kati and Ben met briefly on a high school senior year spring break trip in Florida and then quickly became an item when they reconnected during their freshman year at Louisiana State University a few months later. Ben proposed almost exactly seven years later in December of 2014 at the Botanical Gardens in New Orleans under the twinkle of Christmas lights. Although Kati and Ben had been together for some time, Kati literally couldn’t believe the proposal was happening. She threw herself on the ground and asked, “IS THIS REAL LIFE?” According to Kati, it was the perfect moment.

Post Wedding Styled Holiday Shoot 3

The Pavilion of Two Sisters in New Orleans’ City Park opens to the same Botanical Gardens where Kati and Ben were engaged one year prior to their desired December 2015 wedding date. So, clearly, the wedding venue selection was a piece of cake! Being that December was such a sentimental month for the couple, they played up on the holiday wedding theme. They kept the festive color palette chic and classic: lush greens, holiday reds and sweet reds with white accents. Kati wore a custom Pnina Tornai wedding dress that she purchased from the designer herself at Kleinfeld’s in New York; and Ben donned a traditional tuxedo. The couple displayed their love for the south by having guests find their way to their reception seats via oyster shell seating cards. What a fun detail! The wedding cake was also perfectly styled for their day- a large naked cake with green and red accents.

You hear it after every wedding from every bride and groom: the wedding day goes by in the blink of an eye. So, Kati and Ben wanted to play dress up again, take un-rushed styled formal photos and enjoy some tasty wedding cake in a more intimate setting as husband and wife!

I wanted the shoot to be an extension of their wedding day and a true portrayal of their collective style as a couple. Shot just a few days before Christmas while the venue was heavily decorated, I elaborated on the classic holiday theme from their big day: clean whites, lush greens and deep reds with a few softer shades of blush, a touch of dark purple florals, tasteful pinecone, garland, ribbon and berry accents with splashes of gold. The bouquet was bigger than the bride and the groom’s boutonniere was simple and understated- it’s all about balance, y’all! One of my favorite decor details from the day was the beautiful garland table runner on top of the distressed farm table that was situated in a private area in the Plantation’s yard! Swoon. Gold rimmed china, gold utensils, tarnished gold candle sticks and wine goblets, and overflowing florals in a vintage water pitcher also created the perfectly shabby-chic table scape. The rain stayed away just long enough for the photographer to get some amazing pictures of the eerie yet romantic ambiance created by the mist rolling in! Kati and Ben’s very traditional wedding stationary suite, menu and place cards were redesigned to reflect the holiday color scheme and a stylish calligraphy type. Instead of the typical white or dark chocolate naked cake, I opted for a more merry red velvet naked cake placed on a gold bar cart in the Plantation’s stunning “White Room”.

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We also had fun with their cocktail selection- a warm Christmas sangria topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sticks. YUM! After all, what would a romantic winter shoot be without a cozy cocktail? Last, I loved that Kati was able to take some pictures in the fur that the uncharacteristically warm weather prohibited her from wearing on her actual wedding day! Kati and Ben smiled, loved and laughed the entire time. The shoot was truly such a beautiful, intimate memory to be a part of.

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I highly recommend a post-wedding shoot to all newlyweds! It is such a sweet way to keep the momentum going after the honeymoon and to re-celebrate the start of this new chapter in your lives!

All pictures are from the shoot and are courtesy of Nicoll’s Wedding Photography + Florals from Antigua Floral.

Southern Wedding Traditions

The south, especially New Orleans, is big on tradition and passionate about celebrating them. We’ll find any reason to throw a party {Oh, there’s a hurricane coming? That can clearly only mean one thing: It’s hurricane party time!} and a wedding is the grandest of them all! So often I get a destination bride who wants to give her guests the experience of a good ole’ New Orleans wedding but doesn’t know where to start when it comes to our little crazy {eh, “unique”} customs.

So, today I’m breaking down my favorite {and, in my opinion, the “must have”} southern wedding traditions:

  1. The Second Line: It’s really just not a true New Orleans wedding without a second line parade. On any given day in New Orleans, while walking down the street in the French Quarter, you can find yourself spontaneously caught up in the music and dance of a second line parade. The term “second line” comes from the idea that the brass band members leading the parade are the “main line” or “first line” and those following/dancing behind the musicians are the “second line”. In a wedding, this parade is typically the celebration from the ceremony to the reception OR the last dance at the reception. The bride customarily carries a festive white umbrella and the groom a black umbrella, bopping them up and down in the air continuously, while guests dance and wave hankies {i.e. handkerchiefs} behind them. The hankies are often personalized and double as wedding favors.  It’s also not uncommon for the bridal parties to don Mardi Gras masks and throw Mardi Gras beads. The second line is such an amazing way to get the party started or to end the party with a BANG!
  2. Wedding Cake Pulls: This tradition gets it’s roots from an old Victorian ritual, “ribbon pulling”, which entailed bride’s placing charms of luck and good fortune into the wedding cake for her single friends. Today, bakers place charms with specific meanings on bracelets or key-chains inside the bottom layer of the wedding cake and the bride’s closest single girlfriends are given the opportunity to pull a random charm from the cake just before the bride and groom cut the cake. It’s silly, fun and makes for a few wonderful candid photos! Charms may include: Ring {Next to marry}, Fleur De Lis {New beginning or rebirth}, Chili Pepper {Red-hot romance} and Button {Old maid/bachelorette}.
  3. Groom’s Cake: This tradition also originated in Victorian England… but let’s be honest, does anything matter other than the fact that you get to have MORE CAKE at your wedding?! Customarily the groom’s cake was a surprise gift from the bride to the groom that reflected his personality/interests and was his favorite cake flavor. However, I’m seeing more grooms design their own cake nowadays. Whereas the wedding cake is typically almond cake with white icing, the groom’s cake can be any design/color/flavor; although, more often than not, it is a chocolate cake in order to offer guests more dessert variety. Some of the most popular southern groom’s cake designs revolve around hunting, fishing and football. What else is there, right?! If your wedding falls within carnival season and your groom doesn’t have a specific desired design, this is a great way to incorporate a king cake!
  4. New Orleans Specialty Cocktails: The Sazerac, the Vieux Carre, the French 75, the Hurricane… instead of the standard “Blushing Bride” cosmo, why not treat your guests to a specialty cocktail that was invented in New Orleans? We promise that nobody else does them better!

Now that we’ve covered our bases, who’s craving some cake and a cocktail? We can work it off in the second line parade that’s happening in 3… 2… 1!