A Sense of Place
10 wedding venues with beauty, style and Big Easy flair
The minute you step on site at the Bevolo Museum you are transported to a different time. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, the nearly 200-year-old building exudes antique character, with a modern warehouse chic look.
An off-shoot of the family-run, handcrafted gas and electric lighting company, the museum space opened two years ago as a wedding venue, Diana Stokes, Bevolo event coordinator says.
The space was originally intended to be a a showcase for a large collection of the company’s handcrafted copper gas lights, which adorn the entire exposed brick wall from the entrance on Royal Street to the courtyard facing Exchange Alley. A few months after the opening, however, people started asking to rent it out.
“I think they are drawn to the romantic and intimate ambiance of the space,” Stokes says.
Other than being a beautifully historic and romantic backdrop, the space also provides complete flexibility, which is attractive to many brides.
“We just provide the space and you bring in everything else, so you have the ability to do whatever you want and create your own vision,” Stokes says, “You really don’t need to do much to the space because the decor is already there.”
At 1,500 square feet, the intimate space includes the main showroom in the front and a workshop in the back, with a small courtyard between, allowing for 100 guests for a cocktail reception and 50 guests for a seated dinner.
An added bonus is the upstairs conference room, bathroom and balcony, which are available to brides and bridal parties.
“You can use the upstairs to get ready, it’s like a built-in bridal suite, and you can take pictures out on the balcony before and during,” Stokes says.
The space appeals to a particular type of bride.
“I think it attracts someone who sees the beauty of the rawness, with the beautiful old antique gas lanterns, exposed brick walls and cement floors,” Stokes says.
Southern Oaks Plantation
Located on the New Orleans lakefront on three acres, with a traditional plantation home as the centerpiece, Southern Oaks Plantation lives up to its description as a “magical” wedding reception destination.
With a sprawling, lush lawn and spectacular fountain in the center and stone path leading to the front steps of a Southern plantation, it’s the perfect backdrop for any fairytale wedding, says owner Bobby Asaro.
“What we have done is we have taken a page out of Disney,” Asaro says. “It’s just beautiful all year round because we want people to walk up and see it and say, ‘Now there is something special,’ or pull in the driveway and say, ‘Something special is going to happen at this place,’” Asaro says.
Over the last 28 years, along with his wife Sue, Asaro has groomed Southern Oaks into a breathtaking compound with a variety of options.
“It’s the complete package. We include food, drink, DJ, music system—which is built into the facility—and we specialize in these spectacular romantic outdoor events,” Asaro says. “The bride can come up in a double-team horse carriage or make her entrance in a 1956 Rolls Royce, then have her ceremony out on the lawn and end the ceremony with a beautiful fireworks display.”
Yes, that means that Southern Oaks is not only the only venue that offers a personal fireworks show, but it also has two horses on site for events, Asaro says.
They don’t just specialize in ‘spectacular outdoor events,’ because what you will find when you open the front door is even more impressive. Over the past few years, Southern Oaks has undergone an extensive remodel.
“The outside of the plantation has a traditional look, but when you go inside it catches people off guard because we have a fresh new updated look, with brand new drapery and custom lighting, which can be splashed on the walls throughout the building,” Asaro says. “We have created a more trendy look on the inside.”
Beyond the setting, Southern Oaks also provides what Asaro likes to call ‘super service’ for every client.
“One of the most unique aspects is our service because everyone, from the moment they call to the moment they step foot on the grounds, is getting treated like royalty,” Asaro says.
And every client and their guests is also getting ‘a taste of New Orleans’ with over 80 different Cajun-creole inspired menu items made on-site.
“People are coming to us from all over the United States and all over the world, and they come to us because of the look of the facility, but also because of the food prep that goes along with it here in the South,” Asaro says.
Hyatt French Quarter
Housed in a renovated circa-1800s building—originally the old DH Holmes department store—the Hyatt French Quarter is a classic New Orleans building with a modern facelift.
The building still has some small touches of the past, such as exposed beams in the foyer, Vera Faucheux, event sales manager says.
“This past weekend there was a wedding and the bride actually brought in her own chandeliers and hung them from the beams,” Faucheux says.
Another addition to the space is its outdoor garden courtyard, which accommodates 200 people and often is used for ceremonies. It allows brides to have the best of both worlds, being in the heart of the French Quarter, but still outdoors.
One of the top benefits of the Hyatt is its central location.
“The large foyer area leads out on to Canal Street directly, so it is great for having a second line band because you can go right out on to Canal to start,” Faucheux says.
Beyond the trendy, restored, old-meets-new space, the Hyatt also provides another important factor: convenience.
“We offer an all-inclusive package which is great for some brides, especially destination weddings, because they don’t have to get anything except for the flowers,” Faucheux says.
The package includes in house catering, room or rooms of choice, tables, specialty chairs, the option of draping, specialty linens and uplighting, which allows brides to choose a color to shine up on the walls that gives it a special hue.
Take time to thank those who made your special ceremony possible: your parents, grandparents, friends and anyone who has been a source of support for you and your spouse. You can make a speech, or better, take some time with each of them at the reception.
If you’re looking for a venue that has modern decor, but a fun, laid back New Orleans atmosphere to celebrate your big day, then Fulton Alley is perfect for you. The bowling alley, restaurant and bar mixture offers a fun-filled alternative to more traditional locations.
“[Many] nontraditional brides want a fun space that has built in entertainment and we offer that, plus the aesthetics of the space are great,” says Libby Kemp, events coordinator at Fulton Alley. “There is really nice lighting and the walls are deep reds and golds. It is something that appeals to brides, because you don’t really have to do much to dress up the space, everything is already done for you.”
The venue is just under a year old and isn’t your average bowling alley.
“Obviously the bowling is what makes us unique, that built in entertainment aspect is great,” Kemp says, “Plus we can make room to accommodate a band and have a huge dance floor right in front of the lanes, where the couches normally go.”
The space also features a craft cocktail bar run by the people from Cure, as well as an upscale restaurant with a head chef formerly of Tivoli & Lee and the Delachaise.
“All of our food is made in-house and our chef does a good job of ordering from all local vendors, plus we specialize in craft cocktails,” Kemp says. “We have a craft cocktail program, and we can create a signature drink for brides that can be passed [around] as guests arrive.”
This memorable space is something your guest will talk about for years.
Choosing seasonal, local flowers will be significantly less expensive than purchasing imported flowers, so talk with your florist to see what will be available when you schedule your wedding. Also, after the reception, you can donate your flowers to a hospital or a place that needs cheer.
A newcomer to the wedding venue scene in New Orleans, Il Mercato was transformed from an 1930s open-air market.
Joel Catering and Special Events, which has catered events in New Orleans for more than 20 years, will run the space.
“Working in this field we have learned a lot of about what is important in a venue and we put a lot of thought into every decision to make the space both functional but also fun and beautiful for everyone involved, bride, groom, family, guests and caterers,” says Sarah Hall, president of Joel Catering and Special Events.
Located off Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District, Il Mercato is close to the downtown area, but in a quieter neighborhood, easily accessible by car. It can accommodate up to 450 people and offers both indoor and outdoor space.
The large courtyard features antique bricks and an outdoor fireplace. A covered archway gives way to the main hall, which is approximately 3,000 square feet, adorned with Italian chandeliers and herringbone patterns on the walls. There also are two smaller rooms off to the side for additional seating and space. The library is the larger of the two and has a built-in bar and seating. In the annex, a smaller, more narrow room perfect for a lounge area, the centerpiece is a full length, mirrored wall.
“The main room is gorgeous but neutral, so it could work with warm or cool tones and any type of floral arrangements,” Hall says. “We want our brides to be able to put their stamp on the room, to make their vision come to life.”
For added convenience, there is a lounge and closet outside the women’s bathroom.
“It was designed so that if brides want to change shoes or dresses or take off their veil they have easy access to it all night,” Hall says.
An enclosed courtyard is the perfect setting for outdoor ceremonies or for a cocktail hour, rain or shine.
“The outdoor fireplace is right in the middle of the courtyard and will be a gorgeous backdrop for ceremonies with planters and lounge furniture,” Hall says.
Couples can enjoy the convenience of catering, bar service, plus tables, chairs and linens. Most of all Hall is excited to be working in the new space because of the design.
Hall says, “We designed everything to make it the best of all the spaces we have worked in, in the past, plus making it personal, as well.”
Messina’s at the Terminal
With Art Deco detailing throughout, Messina’s at the Terminal—housed in the newly-restored Lakefront Airport Terminal—exudes 30’s charm.
The Lakefront Airport once called “The Air Hub of the Americas” was a functioning building up until Hurricane Katrina. It was restored back to its original style and reopened in 2013, when Messina’s at the Terminal signed a lease to rent it as an event space.
“Everything was restored, the stone floors and all the Art Deco details,” says Kristin Casey, director of sales for Messina’s at the Terminal. “The architect even matched the sconces in the walnut room and the metal work in the atrium to the original.”
Messina’s at the Terminal also has a special outdoor observation viewing deck above the Walnut Room.
“There’s a huge bar and all-glass windows ,and it overlooks the runway, so you can see the flights coming in at night,” Casey says, “Sunset is the most popular time, but it is a really magnificent view to the see the planes coming in from up there.”
A building steeped in history, the Maison Lafitte is a 120-year-old historic, restored plantation home that provides an elegant and intimate event space.
Tucked away on the Northshore only a few blocks off of the lakefront, Maison Lafitte is the sister venue to The Lake House restaurant. It opened in 2013.
“At Maison Lafitte, we are here to create an experience for you from the beginning of your engagement to all the way to when you have a baby, we offer services that are all encompassing and can accommodate everything you would want,” says Sara Adams, events coordinator.
One of the features of the home is the outdoor space, which includes the grounds, a front lawn, gazebo, grand front porch, enlarged back patio space and a rooftop garden.
Additional conveniences are on-site catering and bar services in the newly renovated kitchens, the easily accessible and free parking, as well as the church, Our Lady of the Lake, which is across the street.
“As part of the services we do all the details, we meet with you several times, create a floor plan, and then we really work with you all the way up until the day of the event,” Adams says, “We are the go-to from when you book the party all the way until the actual event.”
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Broussard’s has been a New Orleans staple since the 1920s, but recently the elegant Paris-inspired imperial decor was updated to create a beautifully restored space, without sacrificing its historic flare.
The renovations served to marry European and Creole styles, while also bringing the building into the 21st century.
“Last year we underwent a million dollar renovation,” says Trent Verges, director of marketing for Creole Cuisine Restaurant Group, which oversees Broussard’s.
The building, originally a family mansion, was converted into a fine dining restaurant by Joseph Broussard in the 1920s and was created to emulate the elegance of Paris, while melding local creole cuisine and classic French dishes to bring a New Orleans experience to every guest.
For weddings, you have the option of renting out the entire restaurant. The dining rooms feature exquisite crystal chandeliers, and the courtyard, with its rustic paving stones and lush landscaping, gives guests a warm, intimate outdoor space to enjoy.
“What makes Broussard’s special is our beautiful French Quarter Courtyard in the middle of our beautiful interior dining rooms and bar,” Verges says.
The restaurant offers in-house catering and the option to create a memorable menu.
“Something that is unique to Broussard’s is that we offer complimentary tastings for each couple, so that we can customize to his and her preferences,” Verges says. “We have complimentary candle décor and an on-site bridal attendant coordinator.”
National WWII Museum
ARTE DE VIE photo
New Orleans has a wide variety of well-preserved historic buildings, but the National World War II museum is a unique combination of both old and new. It is a spectacular modern facility with rich historic significance behind it and a lot of options for couples to customize their day to focus on what they are most interested in.
The museum has three main buildings that can be used for weddings and each has a different character, which makes the space great for any couple, from someone looking for a retro feel, to a history buff, to someone looking for a grand modern space.
The original building, the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, houses the museum’s main exhibits, the Solomon Victory Theatre Pavilion houses the ‘40s inspired theatre, the Stage Door Canteen and the on-site restaurant, The American Sector, and the newest and largest building is the U.S. Freedom Pavilion.
The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion offers not only a huge space that can be designed to your exact wishes, but also gives you full access to the entire building and all of the exhibits, which provides guests with an added entertainment factor.
“It is totally customizable and we are extremely accommodating,” says Tamrah Swartzfager, event sales manager. “If they have a dream in mind we will do our best to help.”
The most intimate space of all three, the Solomon Victory Theatre Pavilion, gives a vintage retro feeling and also provides a different type of in-house entertainment, two ‘40s style bands, the Victory Belles and The Victory Big Band, which can be used in all three buildings, but are housed in the Solomon Victory Theatre.
“This is very popular with the brides who aren’t as interested in the history, but are very excited about the retro ‘40s feel and the intimate setting,” Swartzfager says.
Just under two years old, The U.S. Freedom Pavilion is the largest and grandest of all three spaces. The three-story open air building is tremendous when you first walk in and when you look up you are greeted with intricate metal cat walks crossing over your head and antique airplanes hanging from the ceiling.
The space was designed especially with large events in mind and has two built-in bars, a separate kitchen, a hydraulic stage that ascends from the floor and three enormous screens that can be programmed to anything.
“It can fit up to 800 people reception style and what’s nice is it is one big open space, so you don’t have people in all different rooms,” Swartzfager says, “And the airplanes are actually beautiful at night, a real wow factor.”
Along with the variety of spaces available, the museum offers in-house catering from The American Sector, which will customize the menu.
Looking towards the future, they are planning on building a chapel into the newest building they are working on so the museum can truly be a one stop shop for couples.
Nominate a trusted bridesmaid to pull you out of conversations with overly talkative guests, and another to make sure you eat enough throughout the day. You’ll be grateful for them.
For couples who love the industrial chic charm of New Orleans’ old warehouse buildings, the Chicory, a building which was once a coffee warehouse built in the mid-1800s, is an ideal location.
Since 1852, the space has been transformed into a refined event space with an elegant, rustic Crescent City look.
“We have updated and modernized the building without losing any of its original charm and uniqueness,” says Brent Bogan, wedding sales manager.
Centrally located in the historic warehouse district, the Chicory’s newest addition is a building located next door called the Gallery.
“The Gallery is an entirely new space with three floors—the first floor is a reception space, second floor is a ceremony space and the rooftop space overlooks the Warehouse District,” Bogen says.
Additional details include an onsite bridal suite, a personal bridal attendant, a private space for couples to eat their first meal as newlyweds, an all inclusive package deal and a convenient central location within walking distance from many major hotels, as well as an onsite ceremony space (both indoor and rooftop).
“It is a completely unique space with stained concrete floors, exposed brick and beamed ceilings,” Bogen says.
The new space has the industrial warehouse chic feeling that the original building has, but it is an open room with 10 wooden pillars running down the middle of the space, as well as being able to open up to Fulton Street to create a courtyard type area, which sets it apart from the old building.
“We create an outdoor courtyard outside of the main entrance doors on Fulton Street with planters, seating tables and highboys,” Bogen says. “It is nice having a space that can contain everything from a dance floor, seating tables, food stations, all in one big open space. I love that the Gallery is situated right in the thick of things on the bustling Fulton Street. You really feel the energy of a reception located in the heart of a city like New Orleans.”