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Celebrate: The Power of Place

Where you choose to hold your wedding, reception and rehearsal dinner makes a statement about who you are as a bride and who you have become as a couple. From the grand elegance of a splendid ballroom to the old-world charm of a tucked-away historic landmark, the place where you gather friends and family should exude your unique personality and style. With its rich history and natural beauty, South Louisiana and the New Orleans region present numerous options for powerful places.

Magnificent Homes & Gardens
Located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Nottoway Plantation (31025 Louisiana 1, White Castle, (225) 545-2730, nottoway.com) has beckoned visitors for over 150 years with its regal splendor, detailed design and historical significance. Nottoway Plantation accommodates nearly every wedding need, from large and small ceremonies, receptions and rehearsals to bridal portraits and elopement packages for the couple looking to get away from it all. Ceremonies take place on five separate sites: on the majestic Front Lawn, under the towering Live Oaks, in the romantic Fountain Garden Courtyard, in the grandeur of the White Ballroom and in the open-air Grande Pavilion.

Receptions at Nottoway Plantation take place in one of two ballrooms or in the Grande Pavilion. They have numerous reception packages so you can choose the space, menu and level of decor. Want to add a bridal honeymoon suite with a private pool or a full day of on-site salon pampering before the big event? Nottoway eliminates the need to travel back and forth from the city with convenient optional add-ons.

James Derbes, proprietor of the Benachi House and Gardens (2257 Bayou Road, 525-7040, BenachiHouse.com), describes his wedding site as a restored majestic landmark with extensive lush gardens located in the Esplanade Ridge Historic District. Conveniently situated just outside of the French Quarter, the Benachi House provides New Orleans atmosphere and charm while allowing couples the freedom to do things their way.

According to Derbes, “We provide the house and grounds, tables and chairs, security and a bridal suite. Everything else is the couple’s responsibility.” That means the couple chooses their own professional caterer, music and decorations – with approval. Good news for those who want the night to last forever – while the events must come to a close by 10 p.m. and music must stay within the limits imposed by the New Orleans Noise Ordinance for a residential neighborhood, Benachi house allows for five-hour events, an hour or two longer than many local venues.

The Benachi House accommodates up to 150 guests with plenty of dance and band space outside.

A few blocks away, on Canal Street, the 14,000-square-foot Mystére Mansion (4800 Canal St., 483-2350, MansionNewOrleans.com) can accommodate up to 500 guests, though various floors can be reserved depending on need. Built in 1872 and completely restored, the Mystére Mansion is an architecturally stunning manor famously located near some of the city’s oldest cemeteries and less than three miles from the French Quarter.

“Creating a lasting memory is our specialty. We pride ourselves in being one of the most unique and beautiful event venues in New Orleans. The history, the architectural elegance and the spirit and warmth all provide the ingredients for a fabulous celebration,” says owner Jeff Borne. Couples can rely on Mystére to take care of the event details, or they can customize everything themselves with pre-approved outside caterers and professionals.

When people think of magnificent homes as sites for weddings, they often picture plantation homes and castle-like mansions. Tucked away in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, just off of Magazine Street, is a property unlike its contemporaries. The grounds of Race & Religious include a two-story 1830s Creole cottage, a three-story 1830s Greek Revival rowhouse, the two-story slave quarters, large brick courtyards and a pool surrounded by fountains. While the property can fit up to 300 people for events, the intimacy of the space also works well for small weddings, too. They offer a variety of event packages and menu options.

“The property is typically rented either for a 10-hour, day-long event or for a 48-hour stay and event,” says Vesta Burk. “However, we do tailor the packages some if the event is especially small and short or if the couple would like to rent for a longer span.” With decorative charm that includes exposed brick, unvarnished staircases and Italian and antique country French furniture, the property presents a colorful, historical wonderland.

Magical Transformations
Formerly the site of an impressive Catholic church, Vintage Court (75082 Highway 25, Covington, (985) 871-0495, VintageCourtWedding.com), located on the Northshore in Covington, has been converted into a versatile wedding and reception facility with two ballrooms, two outdoor spaces for ceremonies and a space inside the former church. Nestled among 10 acres of live oaks and New Orleans-style gardens, Vintage Court provides a serene, verdant atmosphere for ceremonies held beside the 100-year-old stone grotto, which sits among the gardens and oaks, or underneath the 300-year-old oak within an intimate courtyard setting.

“We offer fantastic service and assistance from the moment the bride sets up a tour until the moment she leaves for her honeymoon,” remarks CEO Julie Steinhauer. Vintage Court can accommodate 50 to 500 guests, and has a large dance floor and band space. Their on-site gourmet chef provides catering, and they offer optional customized menus, in-house DJ entertainment and décor.

In Jefferson Parish, Champagne Palace (701 Elmwood Park Blvd., 734-2244, ChampagnePalace.com) offers an acre of Romanesque, utopian paradise with lush botanical gardens, flowing fountains, Corinthian columns and imported life-sized statues. “I built it from the ground up,” says owner Jay Polit. “We opened in 1994 and have done hundreds of ceremonies and receptions. We have 10-foot chandeliers, granite flooring and 20-foot-tall columns in the gardens. Inside, we have two spiral stairways that are spectacular for pictures.”

A one-stop destination, Champagne Palace’s packages are all-inclusive. They handle everything from decorations, food and open bar, to DJ, tablecloths, centerpieces and guest books. They have a 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot dance floor and offer a cappuccino and dessert station as well as a martini bar. New to Champagne Palace is a $16,000 marble cake table, designed in Italy, as well as projectors and TV monitors for displaying couples’ montages and other videos.

With dedication to their clients and a family-owned-and-operated venue, Jay Polit, Kris Polit or Kristy Bergeron will be on-site for functions. Ask about their seasonal discounted rates.

Places to Make Your Own
Bring your theme to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and enjoy a reception befitting you at La Maison Du Lac (7412 Lakeshore Drive, 309-0700, LaMaisonDuLacEvents.com). An indoor and outdoor location, the outdoor deck overlooks the lake, while the inside offers a chic atmosphere for guests to wander and dance. Refreshing and vibrant, the venue comfortably accommodates about 300 to 350 guests with a band, DJ and dance floor located either indoors or out.

They offer several different packages for you to customize your experience, and one unique facet of La Maison Du Lac is the ability to charter a 73-foot yacht.

Climb aboard the Confidential Lady, say your vows during a sunset on the water, and return to La Maison Du Lac, where your guests await for the grand reception.

With the hotel just opening in October of last year, The Empire Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans (601 Loyola Ave., 561-1234, NewOrleans.Hyatt.com) is one of the newest venues in town. The flexible-yet-elaborate space can accommodate ceremonies and receptions for up to 3,000 guests. The setup can be tailored to the bride’s and groom’s desires, with varying sizes of dance floor and band. They don’t provide specific packages, but they have several community partners to recommend and their team will assist in coordinating the details.

Imagine the looks on guests’ faces as the bride enters the room from a dramatic floating staircase underneath the shimmering light of six chandeliers of Italian hand-blown glass teardrops. Striking floor-to-ceiling windows line the room, and a private, outdoor terrace add to the distinguished atmosphere and flexibility of the ballroom.

Rehearshal Dinners and Receptions Uniquely New Orleans
New Orleans’ cuisine is part of the reason many out-of-town guests love a New Orleans wedding. Combine that food with a “laissez les bon temps rouler” attitude, and you’ve got the recipe for an unforgettable celebration.

Ronnie Demilio, head of sales for Mother’s Next Door at Mother’s Restaurant (401 Poydras St., 523-2317, MothersRestaurant.com), describes their rehearsal and reception space as having a “thoroughly New Orleans atmosphere and authentic, definitive New Orleans home cooking.” While they’ve hosted wedding ceremonies at Mother’s before, Ronnie stresses that rehearsal dinners are their forte, as they can host up to 150 people for a seated dinner buffet. Available spaces include the Dining Room and the Banquet Room. While they don’t have packages for décor or music, they offer experienced guidance for those who procure their own decorations and audio or visual needs.

Centrally located in the CBD at 409 Tchoupitoulas St., Mother’s Next Door is only a few steps away from the French Quarter and located in the midst of numerous New Orleans hotels. They require a minimum of 50 guests and can host up to 250 people for stand-up cocktail receptions.

Located in the French Quarter, at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis streets, is a 200-year-old Historical National Landmark that has become one of the most famous bars in America. Napoleon House (500 Chartres St., 524-9752, NapoleonHouse.com) acquired its name by being offered to Napoleon in 1821 by former New Orleans mayor, Nicholas Girod. Imagine having your rehearsal or reception among the walls that would have housed Napoleon had he made it to Louisiana.

These second-floor rooms are now known as L’Appartement de l’Empereur.

The indoor space of the apartment, complete with French Quarter balconies, can accommodate 40 to 60 people for seated dinners and up to 135 for cocktail receptions. Napoleon House provides the on-site catering, and there are six party packages from which to choose. They also offer a small band space and dance floor for those looking to add music to the historic atmosphere. Though typically used for receptions and rehearsal dinners, Napoleon House may also host a wedding ceremony for up to 60 guests.

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