Announcing your wedding is taking place in New Orleans is like throwing down a gauntlet. Guests’ expectations will soar as their heads fill with images of second lines, historic venues and amazing culinary treats. But don’t fear, the city is filled with incredible resources to customize any wedding, regardless of style or budget.
In this annual guide to couture weddings, we’ll highlight some of these most tried and tested experts, as well as some of the newest options available.
Personalize Your Decor
Kevin Lee, the Los Angeles-based events planner who put together Jennifer Aniston’s wedding to Brad Pitt and who now appears on “Housewives of Beverley Hills,” says there are a million details to take care of when planning a wedding.
A million decisions might be an exaggeration, but working with an expert on your décor will certainly leave you more time to relax.
Stephen Sonnier, with Dunn & Sonnier Antiques • Florals • Gifts (DunnAndSonnier-Flowers.com), is the man behind stunning floral décor at some of the city’s finest weddings. He gave us this advice, “Centerpieces, flower arrangements, place settings and other décor can transform any venue and create any mood. Our expertise is to guide the couple through the detail and bring to life the overall effect they’re seeking.”
Set The Tone with Stationery
Margaret Jones of Scriptura (Scriptura.com), the stationery boutique that offers completely customized couture wedding stationery says, “The invitation is the opening gambit of all the proceedings to come. Far more than communicating just the event details, it will set the tone, tell you who’s hosting and convey the style of the wedding.
“Some couples like to design a monogram which they can use throughout their wedding events as a consistent design element. Others prefer to announce a theme or introduce a motif. The stationery not only communicates this but starts to generate excitement around the couple.”
An.gle Events Wedding Planner
Choose Your Wedding Planner Wisely
The best place to start is with a wedding planner, and the best of them agree budget isn’t the be all and end all of a great wedding. Mindy Weiss, who was voted one of the Top Five Party Planners in the United States by The New York Times, and who organized the recent nuptials for Sofia Vergara and Joe Mangianello, said, “I think my events have a lot of heart. You can’t buy a room filled with emotion but you can fill a room that exudes love.”
So make sure you have a real connection with whomever you work. Make sure they understand what your vision is and are flexible enough to bring it into reality.
Anna Schaefer, who recently set up An.gle Events (on Facebook at ANGLE-Events), with her cousin Glenny Beahm says, “Wedding trends evolve, and every season there are many new choices for couples to consider. Our job is to stay on top of what’s new and present the best options.”
As well as taking away the worry of a thousand details at your wedding, a planner can also save you money by negotiating pricing and prioritizing expenditure.
Don’t Stress Over The Dress
Saying yes to your dress doesn’t need to be as stressful as some of the shows on TV. Once again New Orleans is blessed with talent, expertise and salons where staff will encourage you to take as much time and try on as many dresses as it takes to find the right one.
Suzanne Perron (SuzannePerron.com), who opened her own eponymous atelier just off Magazine Street in 2006 after working with the likes of Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui and Vera Wang, creates custom wedding dresses. Perron says, “The wedding dress is often the anchor for the wedding. It can be the creative center of the day that everything can revolve around.”
For brides looking for a designer dress, Blanc Bridal (BlancBridalNewOrleans.com) is a new bridal studio carrying some of the leading names in bridal couture, including Badgley Mischka. Brides are assigned a personal stylist to help them choose from classic, Bohemian chic, vintage-inspired and beach-ready wedding dresses.
Yvonne LaFleur (YvonneLaFleur.com) in the Riverbend has one dressing room with seating for the bride’s family and friends to create a personal and exclusive experience.
“Each bride has her own wedding season,” LaFleur says, “she needs outfits for numerous events, plus accessories for her gown, such as headpieces and jewelry, and a trousseau of lingerie and nightwear. We specialize in helping a bride create her perfect wedding wardrobe.”
At Town & Country (TownAndCountryBridal.com) in the Garden District, brides can peruse one of the largest collections of gowns and footwear. “We have been helping brides since the 1930s and have a wealth of expertise in dressing entire bridal parties,” says owner Lisa Swords. “We start with the bride and then work with the mothers, bridesmaids and flower girls to find the most flattering and complementary ensembles.”
Land Your Location
For a city with a population of just around 370,000, we have a wealth of romantic wedding locations from which to choose. That is probably why Solange Knowles chose the city to create one of the most unique, personalized weddings of 2015.
Her nuptials highlighted the Marigny Opera House (MarignyOperaHouse.org) as one of the most beautiful and oldest venues in the city; it was built in 1853. Luckily, uniqueness isn’t something about which the city is short.
Joel Catering and Special Events (Joels.com) recently renovated Il Mercato (Joels.com/Il-Mercato) in the Lower Garden District, from a being a 1930s open air market into a beautiful indoor/outdoor space that can accommodate up to 450 people.
For smaller events, try Shaya (ShayaRestaurant.com), chef Alon Shaya’s restaurant, which was recently named Best Restaurant in America by Esquire magazine. The light filled venue on Magazine Street offers two dining rooms for 20 or 60 people respectively.
Brennan’s (BrennansNewOrleans.com) in the heart of the French Quarter was recently claimed to be “reborn” by Elle Décor after it underwent an extensive renovation. There are eight glamorous dining rooms, replete with New Orleans architecture, ambiance and opulence.
The Civic Theatre (CivicNola.com), New Orleans’ oldest historic theater – originally opened in 1906 – and the soon-to-open Basin St. Station (BasinStStation.com), with its Neo Classic architecture, are just two more of many historical venues now available.
In terms of catering, Dinner Lab (DinnerLab.com) is an original addition to the scene. Starting as a supper club that pops up in venues for 24 hours, it offers members access to rotating chefs and menus. Dinner Lab catered the Knowles wedding and now offers event catering. Full seated dinners or heavy hors d’oeuvres are on the menu paired with the cocktails, beers or wines of your choice. Live prepping and chef interaction are available options to satisfy the foodies in your party.
TOP: Shaya; BOTTOM LEFT: Marigny Opera House; BOTTOM RIGHT: Brennan's
Place Pampering at the Top
While all this planning is going on, you mustn’t forget that getting ready for a wedding is like preparing for a marathon: It will take time, training and a great team to get you where you want to be.
Uptown Dermatologist Dr. Deirdre Hooper from Audubon Dermatology (AudubonDermatology.com) advises, “The more time we have, the more options we have in preparing brides for their big day.
“There are many different procedures that brides like to build into their preparation, from fat reducing Liposonix and Cool Sculpting to hair removal and laser treatments.”
Audubon Dermatology now has skincare specialist Nicki Miler on hand to help patients choose the most effective products, “Women spend on average $3,000 a year on skincare products,” she says. “Unfortunately a good deal of that investment goes to waste because the products are either ineffective or not right for the patient. My job is to use the knowledge I have gained from years of experience working with Drs. Hooper and Jackson to help patients choose a skincare regime that will deliver the best results in the most efficient way. Getting brides on a skincare program makes a dramatic difference.”
For most brides, it isn’t just your skin you want to get in shape. On average, brides want to lose 10 pounds before the big day. The myriad of fitness options already available have been joined by a notable newcomers including: Tour (on Facebook at TourCycleNola), Orangetheory (OrangetheoryFitness.com) and Cycle Bar (CycleBar.com). Tour and Cycle Bar are both spinning studios offering Soul Cycle ride experiences to torch calories. Orangetheory is a circuit-training based workout aimed at getting you in the “orange” fat burning zone.
After all that hard work, take the time to enjoy your beauty sessions. Lindsey Benoit of About Face New Orleans (AboutFaceNola.com) stresses: “Deciding on your hair and make up should be a fun and relaxing experience. Plan sessions with your stylists in advance so you have time to play around with different looks and for the various wedding events in your honor. Learn how to touch up and transition from the wedding to the honeymoon, so you feel fabulous each and every moment.”
If it all seems overwhelming, do three things: Set your budget, recruit your experts and schedule a massage while they do all the hard work!
One to Remember
Desiree Hartsock Siegfried, former “Bachelorette:”
There are many ways to create a fabulous wedding with the décor, flowers and incredible food, but the one thing that makes a wedding unique is the personal details that showcase the couple’s love story or personalities. This can be done in the vows, guest book, table décor, imagery, significant meaning behind items chosen or combining interests, such as football and ballet, to create something completely special and unique to the couple. When a guest can say, “I’ve never seen that before”, then you know your wedding will be one to remember.