While most New Orleanians are thinking of Carnival this month, for an engaged couple it’s time to start planning for their own big day. So, since it’s time to go all out just like the city, St. Charles Avenue has chosen the festive crème de la crème for its annual “Couture Wedding Guide.”
Put a Ring on It
Choosing the perfect engagement ring is the first step toward planning that perfect wedding.
The team at Boudreaux’s Jewelers can guide even the most nervous and indecisive person into choosing an engagement ring, or even custom designing one.
Brandon Boudreaux, lead designer and fourth generation in the family business, says most custom projects take four to six weeks and are made in-house. It allows them time to design the ring, then show the client a rendering for approval, with the next step a wax model created by a 3-D printer for the final approval.
Many of the custom pieces start with a ring that has been passed down in a family but isn’t stylistically suited.
“We commonly use the stones to design a new piece,” says Boudreaux.
Original gold can sometimes also be repurposed.
“Gold from a previous ring is often used to a forge a gent’s wedding band,” says Boudreaux, who notes that if the gold doesn’t work in a ring redesign – it may have been worn down or repaired too much – they’ll credit its worth to the couple’s account.
Even though they work with cutting-edge methods, such as the 3-D printer, Boudreaux’s is still all about
“The majority of the work is still done by the hands of our jewelers,” says Boudreaux “There is no substitute for that.”
Gifts for the duo, parents or wedding party are also easy to choose at Boudreaux’s, with jewelry and watches ranging in styles and price.
Charting the Course
Many brides – and more and more often, grooms – start off wanting to plan the event from beginning to end. Inevitably, they realize they need help.
That is where an experienced event planner comes in.
“It is a tremendous value in having an expert by your side throughout the planning process,” says Sapphire Events Owner Valerie Gernhauser, who adds, “We serve our clients in planning, design, production and event management, from start to finish throughout the entire process.”
Gernhauser has seen it all, including moving an outdoor wedding a day earlier due to a hurricane and working with celebrity clients such as actress Candice Accola (“The Vampire Chronicles”) and guitarist Joe King (The Fray) for their wedding.
“We feel like every bride and groom is a celebrity on their big day,” says Gernhauser.
Z Event Company and The Event Glossary can provide a number of services that can fit the needs of a bride and groom.
Owner Susan Zackin says Z Event Company offers, “Full-service wedding planning and design. We hold their hand through the whole process and make it easy.”
One of the first things Zackin and her team like to do is start with the venue.
“It is really important to find the right space for their needs,” says Zackin.
“A lot of times they fall in love with a space based on a look, but they don’t consider all the other factors that it may or may not work for them.”
The Event Glossary is a web-based marketplace for people to plan an event of any size, “be it a wedding or social event, you can select different things that you need,” says Zackin, who started it after being asked by friends about who they should call for vendors for events.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t this be great to do online,’” she adds. “It takes forever to search for florists online, then go through a long list, then look up venues and do the same thing.
“We streamlined the process.”
With select vendors on the website, a person can look by location, size of guest list and other specific details. Once vendors are chosen and put into a “basket,” a Z Event coordinator confirms the details, with the client charged a convenience fee.
Because not all couples need an event planner, the glossary is a great way for a couple to choose what they need on one website, making it a huge time and money saver.
A Place for Everything
There are so many great locations in New Orleans, and for many having a wedding at a hotel makes sense because so much of it can take place there: rooms for out-of-town guests, getting ready for the wedding, rehearsal dinner, catering and spaces for the ceremony and reception.
With the newly opened Higgins Hotel now part of the National World War II Museum, couples now have even more options to choose from for their wedding and reception.
On the original campus, receptions can be held in the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion and the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, and there are spaces to have smaller receptions or wedding parties such as in BB’s Stage Door Canteen. Cuisine is from American Sector Catering.
The Art Deco-inspired Higgins Hotel provides a glamorous backdrop that has impressed brides with its sophisticated ambiance, says Bill Stakelum, the hotel’s Wedding Coordinator.
“It is what makes it a truly unique property in the city,” says Stakelum, who adds, “It gives an Art Deco feel with modern amenities.”
The largest space is the Arcadia Ballroom, which has an ample space outside it for pre-reception cocktails. There are other spaces throughout the museum that lend themselves to rehearsal dinners, wedding parties or the wedding after-party.
Rosie’s on the Roof, with stunning views of the city, is a fun place to have a wedding party or shower.
And, “We’re finding that a lot of out-of-town couples are adding on some sort of brunch the day after the wedding, a last chance for people to get together,” says Stakelum. “The Arcadia Terrace lends itself with beautiful floor to ceiling windows.
The optimum for the hotel is 500 for a standing reception, sit-down dinner is 350. Catering is done by an in-house staff, including a person who’s assigned to the couple to help navigate them through the process.
Since 1984, the InterContinental Hotel has been a choice location for weddings.
“The memorable experience we provide makes your wedding the finest it can be,” says Gina Chimeno, Director of Sales and Marketing. “We want the special couple and their loved ones to leave the hotel with wonderful memories that will resonate for years and years.”
The hotel’s largest space, LaSalle Ballroom, overlooks historic St. Charles Avenue and can accommodate up to 400 people. The hotel also has spaces that offer more intimate settings, just the right size for the hotel’s “Elopement” packages, when weddings can be for 25 people or less.
As for cuisine, “We offer a variety of menus and culinary delights that can will tempt any palate,” says Chimeno. “We offer sample menus to use as a starting point for what they have in mind and to fit their budget.”
The hotel also has a list of preferred vendors, whether it be for cakes, florals, decor or a second-line.
With wedding specialist Lindsey Rinaudo on staff, your special day will flow even smoother. She is the person the couple will meet with initially about the menus, then act as a liaison through the process at the hotel.
Putting It Down on Paper
Once the date and location are set, it’s time to pick out the invitation!
“Brides are very into creating bespoke wedding stationery suites,” says Melissa Cousans Mortillaro, Owner and fourth-generation of Gem Printing.
“We have printed more invitations than we can count,” says Mortillaro.
“Custom envelope liners, monograms and cyphers or hand drawings of the church or venue are very popular elements brides are using to enhance their invitations,” says Mortillaro, adding that many of these elements often are carried over into customized items Gem can produce, such as the program, napkins, koozies, cups and even second-line handkerchiefs.
What Mortillaro sees more lately are couples adding bellybands to their wedding invitation suites, with many customizing it with a monogram.
Food, Glorious Food
After 36 years in business, John Rowland’s Southern Hospitality Catering knows how to keep a party well fed.
The company has catered bachelors and bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinners, wedding parties and receptions for numerous local and out-of-town clients.
Rowland and his team can customize a menu by cuisine or how formal the event is – for example if the reception is a sit-down dinner or buffet – and will accommodate food allergies and dietary needs.
“There are a lot of different options to present and serve the food,” says Rowland.
“A wedding reception can start with passed hors d’oeuvres with a custom cocktail or champagne – we have seen a lot of prosecco-based drinks,” he says, “then open the buffet or start the sit-down dinner.”
Rowland has found that out-of-town clients like to kick off festivities with a crawfish boil, with the rehearsal dinner the next night, followed by the wedding and reception.
Southern Hospitality Catering will also accent food stations and displays with floral arrangements, tablecloths, props and other elements.
Icing on the Top
When Bittersweet Confections’ Cheryl Scripter got married 31 years ago, her three-tier wedding cake had a Swiss dot design and some flowers on top, “Very simple and clean,” she says.
For the cake, she really wanted the inside to be chocolate, but was told that it was customary for the groom’s cake to be that. Instead, her husband got the chocolate cake, rugby themed.
For today’s brides and grooms, Bittersweet Confections offers a variety of flavors and designs for the bride and groom.
And it all starts with a phone call or at a scheduled tasting.
“It’s always helpful for the client to come into the tasting with some ideas of what they like,” says Scripter. “It’s fun to listen to their ideas, whether it’s colors, overall theme.”
Scripter also likes to know where the venue is, as that can also set a tone, noting that they handle all the details, from design to delivery to set up.
Popular wedding cake flavors are almond, vanilla, red velvet and chocolate, with more than 14 buttercream frostings from which to choose.
“Where do I start!” says Scripter, about groom’s cakes in the shapes of dogs, cats, raccoons, crawfish pots, all types of fish, guitars and Star Wars-themed, to name a few.
Some couples either opt out of cake or want even more sweets at the reception, and Bittersweet Confections can set up a dessert bar of mini-cupcakes, handmade chocolate truffles, chocolate pecan tarts and cookies.
Bittersweet Confections can also deliver breakfast, coffee, lunch and savory snacks to the hotel or wherever people are staying, as well as create “Welcome Bags” filled with pralines, chocolate fleur-de-lis, sugar cookies and other New Orleans-centric gifts.
Blooms of Love
Lush, lavish and gorgeous is a good way to describe the floral extravaganzas designed by Kim Starr Wise Floral Events.
It is in Wise’s blood: her mother and great aunts were floral designers; her father a landscape designer.
It gives Wise a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t for a wedding. This ultimately led to Wise into growing the company into a production house, where she and her team can design a custom look using china, linens, candles and furniture, among other items, and of course florals.
“We are a top-to-bottom, one-stop shop,” says Wise, about designing an ambiance for a wedding, or any special occasion, including dinner parties.
It is a service that has attracted actress Lake Bell (“No Strings Attached”), who got married at Marigny Opera House with Cameron Diaz as a bridesmaid; Julie Lake (“Orange is the New Black”); and Candice Accola (“The Vampire Chronicles”) and guitarist Joe King (The Fray).
Dressed to the Nines
What the bride, groom, wedding party and parents wear often sets the tone of the wedding.
Perlis is renowned for its experience fitting grooms and groomsmen with tuxedos, white tie and tails and suits.
Men can either rent or purchase, says Bebe Rafferty, Perlis Marketing Coordinator, recommending that they rent or buy three months in advance, with measurements into the store no later than one month before. Alterations are free and done on the premises.
The smallest tuxedo size is 4 (for a 3- or 4-year-old) and largest is 60, extra long.
If men want to personalize their look, the store has themed cummerbunds and ties, such as Mardi Gras, available for purchase. Women can find a cocktail dress or gown for the wedding, and alterations are also free.
Suzanne Perron St. Paul is well-versed in white gowns – she’s the go-to local designer for wedding, debutante and Carnival queen dresses.
After years working for Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera in New York City, she brought back to New Orleans a keen design sense and a vast knowledge of fabrics and how they work.
For a custom wedding dress, St. Paul says she needs six to nine months, depending on what time of year, to make the dress. (The time leading up to Carnival is particularly busy for her.)
She views her dresses “as a collaboration with the client.”
St. Paul recommends brides bring in photos, a Pinterest board and other visuals to give her direction and inspiration.
“What distinguishes my dresses are the fit,” she says, noting her couture training.
Autumn Adamme founded Dark Garden in 1989, after studying couture techniques, fashion design and fashion history.
“My original focus was on historical costume, but I quickly discovered how much I enjoyed the relative freedom of creating wedding ensembles,” says Adamme.
Dark Garden is also known for its corset designs. “The most frequent reasons brides get them are for the beautiful and comfortable support they provide, whether it’s hidden beneath a gown or acts as the bodice in their look.”
There are three levels for corsets for purchase: ready-to-wear, made-to-order and full bespoke – some of which are available at the store on Magazine Street.
“We work closely with our clients to ensure their complete happiness, not only with the finished garment, but with the garment itself,” says Adamme. “The most important thing is that the bride looks and feels beautiful!”
“Today’s mother-of-the-bride doesn’t want to look like the ‘mother-of-the-bride,’” says Sal Trentacoste, Owner of Elizabeth’s. “She wants to look modern.”
Elizabeth’s carries a number of unique designers and brands not found at department stores – so there’s less of the dreaded dress duplication at the wedding or other events surrounding it.
The store’s personalized service is a bonus, with their experienced eyes for fashion – Elizabeth’s has been in business for 36 years – guiding the choice.
“We can help a client choose an outfit that’s flattering,” says Trentacoste.
Gifts with Louisiana Flair
The Historic New Orleans Collection’s gift shop is a celebration of New Orleans and Louisiana.
“The majority of the items have some relation to the museum’s mission,” says Teresa Devlin, THNOC Marketing Manager.
“A lot of the items are made using art from our holdings,” continues Devlin. “We have put images on pint glasses, serving trays and engraved cups.
Reprints of maps and artwork from the collection, framed or unframed, are available.
The shop also sells crafts by Louisiana artists: ceramics by Rachael DePauw; woodworking from Greg Arceneaux and Nick Conner; large-scale ceramics, such as garden planters, by Peggy Bishop; jewelry by Brandi Couvillion and Alison Ford Metals; textiles by Kathy Schorr, Jill Shampine and Passion Lilie by Katie Schmidt.
725 Magazine St., 523-2626
639 N. Hennessey St., 407-3332
701 Metairie Road
3528 Magazine St.
204 Metairie Road
1904 Veterans Memorial Blvd.
Higgins Hotel at National World War II Museum
1000 Magazine St., 528-1941
945 Andrew Higgins Drive
The Shop at The Historic New Orleans Collection
533 Royal St.
444 St. Charles Ave.
6070 Magazine St.
900 Camp St.
Southern Hospitality Catering
Suzanne Perron St. Paul
Kim Starr Wise Floral Events
437 Philip St.
Z Event Company & The Event Glossary
508 Metairie Road