Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Destination: New Orleans

A city with a major holiday and accompanying parade every month of the year is always ready to party, and celebrating your wedding is no exception. If you are searching for a city full of history, entertainment, a festive spirit, and delicious food to host your destination wedding, look no further than New Orleans. So, send off those Fleur-de-lis embellished invitations and get ready to “laissez les bons temps rouler pour votre mariage!”

Although New Orleans is usually first and foremost associated with Mardi Gras, in reality the city offers much more than purple, gold, and green beads and feathered party masks. One of the oldest cities in the United States, NOLA offers a unique Southern charm composed out of its Spanish, French, Irish, Canadian, and German heritages. 

For invitations and other paper needs, look no further than Papier Plume, located near the French Quarter. This stationer offers traditional fare decorated with delicate Fleur-de-lis in almost every color. With decorative and monogram wax seals also available, this store has everything that will make your invitations, programs, escort cards, and thank you notes display your style and incorporate your wedding’s NOLA setting.

Because of its location in the center of all activity, the French Quarter is the most obvious place for your big day. However, a wedding in the Quarter does not necessarily mean a hotel on Bourbon Street and a trip to Pat O’Brien’s for a hurricane (although it’s fairly certain that many of your guests will sample the famous drink at some point during the weekend). Fortunately, a short distance from the Quarter sit numerous boutique hotels that provide a taste of true Southern hospitality - NOLA style, meaning with fun crammed into every possible nook. 

The Cornstalk Fence Bed and Breakfast, directly next to the 905 Royal Bed and Breakfast, and around the corner from the Place D’Armes (known as the most haunted hotel in the city) put your guests near the hubbub of Bourbon Street, but far enough away from up the street’s noise. If you’re looking for a larger establishment, the Hotel Monteleone with its famous carousel bar (an actual carousel that rotates) and literary history (Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner wrote here) and the Omni Royal Orleans offer full service hotel accommodations. 
Start your wedding festivities by reserving a Southern mansion a little south of the Quarter, on Saint Ann, Dauphine, or Burgundy Streets, to welcome your guests with pralines and mint juleps. 

From there, a short walk to the streetcar allows your group to tour Saint Charles Street for free and view the city’s Garden District famous mansions and the two prestigious universities that sit across the street from each other, Tulane and Loyola. 

Later that day, treat your guests to a unique rehearsal dinner by taking them to the New Orleans School of Cooking. There, before tasting homemade biscuits, etouffee, jambalaya, and bread pudding, they will receive instruction on how to create some of the city's famous cuisine and a history lesson of how that cuisine was developed. Seating a group of up to 70, the School of Cooking has a dinner that is as interesting as it is tasty.

For a more traditional rehearsal dinner you need not look too far. K Paul’s, Emeril’s and Commander’s Palace all offer delicious local cuisine in a contemporary upscale setting. 

For your ceremony, the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square is perhaps the best known Catholic Church in the area. In addition to the church's beauty providing a breathtaking background for your dress and wedding party, you will likely have a gathered crowd of visitors awaiting you upon your exit. If you seek something smaller, consider Saint Mary's Church, located a few blocks south of the Square. Either way, don't forgot your parasol and parade band to accompany you on your walk to your reception site. 

If you're not interested in a church wedding, host your ceremony at the Omni, Monteleone or in a Southern mansion’s courtyard where your reception is located. This option means that you and your guests won’t have to travel far to the reception, but not that you have to forgo your parasol. 

Photo opportunities in New Orleans abound; at almost every opportunity will find a great shot, particularly in front of some of the restored homes or blooming hibiscus flowers in and around Jackson Square. 

However you plan your day, remembered to incorporate NOLA’s golden rule: let the good times roll!