The Creole and Cajun cuisines rooted in New Orleans’ cultural history resemble the city itself: bold, vibrant, and undeniably one of a kind. From po-boys to jambalaya to powdered sugar-topped beignets, this city knows how to serve up fantastic food. Your wedding guests will go home blissfully stuffed.
NOLA and music are like a chicken and an egg: you can’t have one without the other. As the only place where slaves were allowed to own drums, the city’s Voodoo rhythms birthed the improvisational art form we know as jazz. From all-night jam sessions in tiny clubs on Frenchman Street to the loud and proud drums and horns of a Second Line parade, the City of Jazz is a music lover’s ultimate playground.
Between the parades of Mardi Gras, concerts of Jazz Fest, and the dozens of other music, art, and cultural festivals that New Orleans hosts during the year, there is no question this city loves to party. It’s a perfect destination for couples looking for an upbeat atmosphere and no-holds-barred celebration on their big day.
A gateway for African, Native American, and European cultures, the coexistence of these distinct influences over history has made New Orleans a world of its own. From the stunning mansions in the Garden District to the fantastical costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians to the historic streets and all-night buzz of the French Quarter, the sights, sounds, and flavors of the Big Easy will leave your guests wide-eyed and completely charmed.
It’s a decision that some young women dream about for years, wondering just what fate has in store for her. Looks, personality, degrees of compatibility...all these elements cycle through her imagination. Will she have to compromise? Is the right fit out there somewhere? Oh, the search for The One. Wait—did you think we were talking about soul mates? Sorry, friend. No. We’re talking about The Dress. Find your sartorial match made in heaven at one of New Orleans’s fabulous bridal shops, where your fairy godmothers of fashion are waiting to outfit you in the gown you were born to wear. (While you’re there, dress up your whole wedding party to match; you’ll see your entire wedding vision really come to life.) Then gild the whole ensemble with help from your local ring and jewelry specialists, where those eye-catching details, from wedding bands to a “something new” necklace, will secure the look you’ve been searching for. Then sit back and breathe a sigh of relief...whew. The hunt is over.
Unless you are a model or a celebrity (and if so, well then congrats to you), the twenty-four hours surrounding your walk down the aisle might be the most photographed day of your life. With all those cameras flashing, you’ll want to be sure you’re looking mighty fine, so book an appointment or two with local hair and makeup professionals well in advance to work through the finer details of your wedding appearance. They’ll help you achieve that polished, but not too “done” affect so that you look like you...just a really, really stunning version of you. What could be better? Reward yourself for all that hard work of being gorgeous with a trip to one of New Orleans’s pampering salons, preferably with your best buds in tow, to get that relaxed, glowy vibe that comes from a killer facial and massage. Oh, and remember when we said this was the most photographed you’ll ever be? Same message applies for your hands, so get those digits in front of a nail technician while you’re there. (Trust us, “ragged cuticles” is not a hot look.)
There’s no place quite like New Orleans to pledge your forever love. This is the kind of city where any wedding you might imagine is attainable, whether it’s a big city soirée, a Lowcountry shindig, or a shotgun wedding in one of the French Quarter’s 24-hour chapels. Thankfully, there are local wedding officiants to guide you through the process and help ensure that your ceremony and vows are unequivocally you. These experts, denominational or non-, are your ticket to making a meaningful commitment to your love. Bring on one of the local New Orleans wedding photographers to get this day on the books, visually speaking. Tie this thing up with a bow by hiring some talented NOLA musicians to set the mood as you make your way down the aisle; from zydeco to saxophone quartets and everything in between, this city’s musical talent is seriously impossible to beat. Ta-da! You’ve just given yourself the gift of your dream wedding ceremony.
Putting together a New Orleans wedding involves so many different details, and integrating dozens of important national, cultural, and family traditions can become more stressful than exciting. It’s no fun to feel like reception coordination is your second job, so we suggest hiring someone for whom your party is their first priority: one of our on-point New Orleans wedding planners. A wedding specialist is just the person to help you figure out the minutiae, like whether to hire a bus to get guests from your wedding to your reception or if you want to go full Second Line Parade on them. Next, get yourself set up with one of the talented New Orleans wedding photographers knocking around the city. It’s worth holding out for sparks with this connection, friends: your photographer is going to be by your side during your engagement photos and your whole wedding day, after all, so finding your photographic soul mate is crucial for maintaining that happy, comfortable vibe in front of the camera. Once you’ve got your photos on lock, turn your attention to the treats. Your guests might object if they came all the way to New Orleans without some A+ New Orleans wedding catering, Creole- and Cajun-style. Next, let’s attend to the ambiance. You’ll need some tunes to truly slay it on the dance floor, so pick a wedding band or DJ that will thrown down appropriately. Finally, at the end of the night, you'll need some top-notch New Orleans wedding transportation to bring your guests home. That’s it, friends: you’re reception ready!
While wedding rehearsals may be a great way to nail down last-minute ceremony details and get the wedding party up to speed, at the end of the day it’s an excuse to go out to dinner with your favorite people. Having your rehearsal dinner in New Orleans is a perfect way to show off what you love about local cuisine. Whether you’re feeling a farm-to-table meal at Ye Olde College Inn or a fine dining experience at Galatoire’s Restaurant, the Big Easy is rife with options for a fabulous meal. If you want to go full NOLA on your guests, show off the best of Creole cuisine at Muriel’s Jackson Square or some down-home New Orleans specialities at Oceana Grill. You’ll appreciate the opportunity to raise a glass to your imminent nuptials with your nearest and dearest, and they will love a taste of the Big Easy restaurant scene.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that after a night of celebrating your marriage with your friends and family, you will be sorely in need of a brunch the following day. New Orleans is no stranger to the finer points of the brunch food experience, so finding a place where your group can chow down on incredible local fare—and we’re not just talking beignets, people—will be a breeze. Le Pavillon Hotel allows you to customize your brunch menu and choose between several elegant surroundings for your meal, including the Crystal Ballroom and their rooftop terrace. Look no further than the Commander’s Palace for a highly acclaimed dining experience featuring modern takes on local food favorites, like the Louisiana Blue Crab fritatta. Or make your farewell brunch a blowout, jazz-laced affair at Court of Two Sisters, whose buffet will make group dining a breeze. Check out our recommendations below for local spots with scrumptious spreads that can help you plan brunch for a crowd.
That envelope, standing out like a diamond amidst the bills and junk mail, is the first piece of information your guests will receive regarding your wedding. The invitation is an insight into your affair’s personality, offering clues about such fundamentals as formality, mood, size, and setting. It’s a gift, really, and can be as pretty as any present—if done well. Don’t waste the opportunity to make a first impression with your invites; enlist the design expertise of a local invitation and paper goods boutique to help craft an original, considered, and cohesive paper suite that truly plants the style seeds for your complete wedding vision. Of course, if your budget allows, going the extra mile to have your stationery hand-calligraphed will pack a majorly sophisticated, not to mention personalized, punch. New Orleans’s talented calligraphers can do just about anything with a pen and ink, so whether your vibe is clean and modern or elegantly casual, consider adding an extra touch of artistry to your wedding stationery. That envelope will shine all the brighter for it.
Roll out the red carpet for your out-of-town guests with a quintessentially NOLA wedding welcome bag. This is your chance to hand off helpful information—like a wedding itinerary, a local magazine, and a map of the area—as well as an opportunity to share some local treats. It’s easy enough to pick up some of those perfect take-home souvenirs like chicory coffee or beignet mix from Café Du Monde, or a fun snack like Zapp’s Potato Chips or Aunt Sally’s praline cookies. Decorate the bags with some Mardi Gras beads or a cute fleur-de-lis magnet for a bit of local color. Lastly, make sure to include a thoughtful thank you card to letyour guests know you appreciate them going the extra mile to attend your wedding. Check out our all-you-need-to-know article with more helpful suggestions for your wedding welcome bags.
In a dynamic city like New Orleans, wedding favors should go above and beyond simple set dressing. We love a present that enhances the party atmosphere, like masquerade masks to both wear during the epic dance party and take home afterward. If you’re having a Second Line parade (and you totally should!), hand out personalized handkerchiefs for guests to wave as you dance your way through the streets. If you’d rather send guests off with a little something spicy, you can’t go wrong with a personalized bottle of hot sauce. Pro tip: no one in their right mind says no to a fresh, hot beignet at the end of the night, either. Check out our expert thoughts on New Orleans wedding favors for further inspiration.
As we’re sure you know already, New Orleans is not short on awesome activities for your guests to get into in their downtime. Make sure your loved ones don’t stay cooped up in their hotel by giving them plenty of suggestions for where to play while they’re in the area. Exploring the French Quarter seems like an obvious choice, and it’s worthy of a spot near the top of your list, but don’t be afraid to think more broadly. Send your guests to the New Orleans Museum of Art for a bit of cultural appreciation and to Audubon Park overlooking the river for fun in the sun. As you tally up your favorite spots around the city, organize them into a comprehensive list to share with your visitors. They’ll love exploring this dazzling city through your eyes.
Make sure your out-of-town guests step out for some fabulous local food while they’re in the Big Easy by providing them with a list of your favorite places to eat around town. It would be a shame for them to come all the way to NOLA without starting the day at Coquette or the ever-popular Café Du Monde. Send them to Boucherie for mouth-watering Southern Louisiana fare from a Chopped champion, or direct them towards somewhere like Angeline for fresh, modern, and delicious takes on classic area cuisine. If you’re looking for more suggestions, check out our favorites below and consult Epicurious’s guide to eating in New Orleans.
In a city where some stay up all night, a place to sleep is sometimes an afterthought—but not for you, savvy wedding mavens! We’ve got some top-notch tip-offs for where your guests should rest their heads while they’re in NOLA. Have a look through our recommendations below to see our favorite spots in the area. We also recommend that you give friends and family some accommodation options at different price points and consult a map to figure out lodging close to your wedding venue or reception. Your thoughtful recommendations will go a long way towards helping your guests get settled in a new city; they’ll be rested and ready to go when it comes time for your big moment. Have a look through our suggestions for a sweet spot to stay in New Orleans below.
You and your partner are basking in the glow of newly-engaged bliss, so what better time to get your engagement photo shoot on the books? Choose a New Orleans wedding photographer who will put your through your posing paces in some of the city’s most beautiful spots. Many couples have the perfect place for an engagement shoot in mind already—usually somewhere with lots of personal significance, like where they met, a favorite restaurant, or where the proposal went down—but you can also let your photographer be your guide to some of the greatest backdrops with the loveliest light in NOLA. If you’re looking for a bit of encouragement while picking out locations, we’ve created a comprehensive list of our local photog friends’s favorites for Big Easy engagement shoots.
Whether you’re from the area or an out-of-towner looking to fall in love with the region, New Orleans is just the place to stage a knockout bachelorette party. However you choose to spend your day, expect to be bowled over by NOLA’s jubilant, bombastic charm. Take a picnic out to New Orleans City Park, then spend your afternoon playing cultured ladies at the NOMA. In the evening, reclaim a formerly “Males Only” space at Arnaud’s French 75, where the cocktails are strong and plentiful. Head to Sylvain for elegant Southern fare, then take a taxi to The Metropolitan Night Club to shake your tail feathers. Rest your head somewhere chic, like the Hotel Modern. We have heaps of suggestions for where to stay and play while you’re in town; read on!
Bachelors, start your engines: New Orleans is the new Vegas. Even though it tends to be a tourist trap, you could spend hours walking around the French Quarter, enjoying the music, food, and drinks in the area. Pick out a sweet hotel to be your base camp. We think you’d like the French Quarter Guest Houses, which have different room and suite configurations to suit the size of your group. Once you’re ready to hit the town, channel your inner swamp thing with an Airboat Adventures tour on the swamp. If you’re more into a self-guided experience, get out on the water with Kayakitiyat and explore the Bayou by boat. In the evening, what could be more NOLA than heading to Saints and Sinners (a restaurant and bar partly owned by Channing Tatum) for some ‘tails, both the bourbon and the alligator variety (no, seriously: fried alligator tail). If you’ve got gentlemen on your hands who love spirits and cigars, Cigar Bar New Orleans is your spot. End your night at Blue Nile, one of the finest jazz clubs in New Orleans. Simply put, you’re going to have a blast. If you’re looking for more ideas for how to amp up a Big Easy bachelor party, head over to our guide for more ways to while away the weekend.
Where would we be without the immensely talented pool of New Orleans wedding vendors? Their passion for planning, commitment to their couples, and incredible ingenuity is what makes the local wedding scene as remarkable as it is, and it's the unique team behind every wedding working together that makes each event an affair to remember. Their combined experience and expertise is second to none, and we want you to benefit from it while assembling your dream team of vendors. Check out our Spotlight Series for in-depth Q&As with the best of the best in the industry, and make sure to read the articles they've contributed to Borrowed & Blue for the most reliable wedding tips and tricks, straight from the source.
I doubt you could dream up a more vibrant, charming place to get married than New Orleans even if you tried. NOLA is a destination for tourists, musicians, football fans, and festival-goers alike, even outside of Mardi Gras and football season. This means that the city has a fun, bustling energy year-round that contributes to the overall ambiance; it also means that large, local events could get in the way of your guests fully enjoying their time here. When choosing a time of year to tie the knot, keep events with a big footprint on your radar. This will help you both in the short term—sometimes off-season dates make for less expensive venues!—and in the long term, when your guests motor from your ceremony venue to your reception with no extra traffic. For best results, consult our list below of major annual events to avoid.
When planning something as complex and significant as your wedding day, sometimes you just want friendly experts to step in and share some pearls of wisdom. Lucky for you, we know people (we’re sitting right here—wink wink). And we’ve got your back: insider tips, exhaustive research, and inspiring takes on all aspects of the planning process, compiled here specifically with your wedding location in mind. You’re just a few clicks away from wedding planning peace of mind…You’re welcome! (No thank-you note required.)
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all-things New Orleans, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry:
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