Saturday, April 16, 2011

1 week a-versary!

I can't believe it's been a week since I got married! Since we're leaving for our honeymoon in Spain on Monday I thought I should blog while I had a chance!
The short story is that despite having a somewhat non-traditional wedding with different events ALL throughout the day- everything was absolutely perfect and beautiful. The day exceeded my expectations in every way and I hope that everyone there had at least as good of a time as I did.
I want to blog about all the little details in part so I'll remember it and in part so that anyone looking for New Orleans wedding ideas can hopefully find this and get some inspiration. I think that many of my vendors aren't your standard wedding vendors- but they really should be because so many of them were so wonderful! (I seriously hugged all of my vendors.)
Events started on Saturday night with our rehearsal dinner at Calcasieu. I joke that my bridezilla moment was when I decided a week prior to the wedding that needed flowers for the rehearsal dinner because I was worried that it would be too "plain". I ended up adding flowers to my order with the florist at the last minute (more on that later) but I shouldn't have worried because the quality of the food overshadowed everything else about that evening.
I sat at the table with all of my very picky relatives from Mississippi and really enjoyed watching them be blown away by the food. We started with Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, then had Smothered Greens, Shrimp and Eggplant Dressing with Roast Pork with Onion Jus, and Andouille Sausage with Green Chiles and Creole Cream Cheese Grits as entrees, then finished with Brown Sugar Lemon Meringue Pie and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie for dessert. My relatives all said that it was the best gumbo they'd ever had and the best meal they'd had in New Orleans- and I caught most of them going back for seconds. I think that most of them planned to go eat at Cochon again before leaving town. My biggest worry at that point was that the food at Calcasieu would outshine the rest of the weekend- it was unbelievably good!
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early since the wedding itself was at 10:30. My photographer (and dear friend), the ridiculously talented Meghan Campbell, did double duty as my makeup artist. She arrived bright and early, along with Diem Lu from the Keith Noonan Salon- to help me get gorgeous! Again, I can only say wonderful things about both my makeup and hair- they lasted from 7:45 am to 12 am- amazing! If you live in New Orleans and need an updo- go see Diem! She's a miracle worker!

My flowers were also delivered Saturday morning. I used Harkins the Florist for the flowers for my rehearsal and wedding and my MIL used them for a family brunch she hosted the next day and we were both extremely pleased with how easy Harkins was to work with and how well our flowers turned out. I honestly couldn't stop looking at my bouquets because I was obsessed with how beautiful they were. I also have to point out that they were incredibly accommodating when I decided to expand my order a week prior to the wedding.

So pretty!

The wedding itself was just for immediate family (I wanted a small wedding, so we had a tiny ceremony followed by a big picnic and reception) and was in the Peristyle at City Park at 10:30 am. The Peristyle was gorgeous and my only complaint was that they decided to power wash the peristyle that morning so the bottom of my dress got a little wet during the ceremony. All things considered, it wasn't a big deal and if I'd had an evening wedding, it wouldn't have been an issue at all.
I really loved my wedding ceremony. We hired a violinist- Stephanie Screen, and I'm really glad that we did. Beautiful music added so much nuance to our ceremony.
Our ceremony was performed by Benjy's good friend who is a Methodist Preacher. I loved his sermon because he told a really funny story that involved him and Benjy trying to cook a live lobster and being terrified of it until his vegetarian girlfriend (now wife) showed them how ridiculous they were being by picking up the lobster! I loved that he had a personal story to tell!
I didn't anticipate being very emotional, but I found myself with tears streaming down my face during our wedding vows. This is just further proof that I'm a total sap. :) (And I have to say that despite my tears, my makeup didn't budge!)

This is me, makeup miraculously intact!

After the wedding, we all walked from City Park to Ralph's on the Park for brunch. We started with turtle soup, then had a choice of shrimp and grits or cochon du lait over poached eggs and biscuits. Dessert was chocolate and Kahlua mousse in pecan crisp cups. Everything was to die for, and Ralph's is just a beautiful restaurant.
After brunch, Benjy and I went with Meg and her husband Eric to take pictures in City Park. I really enjoyed having Meg take my pictures. It's always interesting to see how you are seen by your friends, and of course it helps to have friends who are *really* talented photographers. I really enjoyed watching Meg and Eric play with light and just enjoy the amazing backdrop that City Park provides- but I also really enjoyed watching them work as a team. Seeing another couple work so well together is a great way to start off one's marriage!

A great action shot of Meg and Eric

I've seen a few of the pictures they took so far and I am incredibly impressed- I'm so happy that they were there to capture my wedding day! If you live in Chattanooga you should really check out Soliphoto- they are outstanding!
After we took our wedding photos, we went back to the Peristyle to have a picnic with all of our guests. (I told you we held events ALL DAY!)
We had the Peristyle all day, and so we decided to have a picnic there between the wedding and the reception and invite everyone who would also be going to the reception. This was the biggest logistical difficulty but I was fairly shielded from that because Benjy did all the work for the picnic.
We chose to self-cater it because City Park charges you $3 per person if you bring in a non-city park caterer (for that and power washing related reasons, I'd give the Peristyle an A- overall), but cooking food yourself is free. We grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and turkey burgers; and had baked beans and Zapp's chips as sides. I also made sure that the picnic fit into the theme of the rest of the day by making sure that there were pretty beverage dispensers with lemonade and tea; flowers (hydrangeas in mason jars) and white table clothes on the tables.

Self catering was difficult because we had to figure out who would bring the food and beverages and cook the burgers. It worked out perfectly, but only because some good friend stepped in to start grilling when all of our groomsmen got stuck in traffic. I'm glad we had the picnic though because we've gotten some feedback from people saying that they were glad to have something to do during the day and prior to the reception so they didn't feel bored or lonely.
The final event of the night was our wedding reception. We held our reception at the Lemieux Art Gallery on Julia Street. Lemieux was such a cool place for our reception! We didn't have to do much in the way of decorating because there was lots of beautiful art- and the space itself is just really beautiful and unique. They were also really easy to work with.

Food at the reception was provided by Michael's catering, which is the catering branch of Matt and Naddie's. It was outstanding. Our good friend Jon chose to have his last meal in New Orleans before he moved to DC for his residency at Matt and Naddie's because the food at our reception was so wonderful. We also chose to have Haydels king cakes instead of a wedding cake, and I think that the king cakes were a big hit! I don't like "regular" cake, so this was an easy decision for me. :)

The cake topper was on my maternal grandparent's and my parent's wedding cakes too!

The other highlight of our reception was the music. Debauche: The Russian Mafia Band played and absolutely brought down the house. Benjy and I were both in favor of getting a band we love rather than a "wedding band" and it really ended up making the reception. They were so much fun! Our reception was pretty non-traditional- we didn't cut the cake or throw bouquets or garters but I think that the great music more than made up for that!

Other outstanding vendors- I used Pearl's Place for my wedding dress (which was actually a pretty inexpensive Bridesmaid's dress ordered in white), wedding bands were from Symmetry, and had my nails done at Rose's Nails on Carrollton and Oak (and I have to say that manicure lasted a full week without chipping- amazing!). I booked a block of rooms at the Embassy Suites on Julia. While the location was perfect, I have to say that I was a little disappointed with my dealings with them. They were supposed to expand the block after our initial 20 spots (10 on Friday and 10 on Sat.) filled up, but they were unable to because they were booked. I understand that, but I wish they had let us know. Finding that out when my mother in law was suddenly unable to get a room on our block was fairly unpleasant. Overall I'd give them a B compared to the giant A++ I'm giving almost everyone else.
I know this post is dragging on forever, but here is my little bit of wedding planning advice. First, choose a photographer whose work you love because your wedding memories are precious things that you want to preserve. After that, spend the majority of your money on food/beverages and music; and choose beautiful settings that don't need very much in the way of decoration so you can save money that way. Overall, try to focus on what makes you feel joyful about your wedding day. Even if things don't go exactly as planned- only you know that plan! So if you don't sweat the small stuff, your guests will never know there was anything to sweat about at all! That being said, the more you can do in advance, the better! Like I said, the only challenging part of the day was dealing with the picnic logistics because everything else had already been taken care of.

This gorgeous shot and the one at the top of the page are courtesy of my sneak peek from Soli Photo.

I'm currently wound up in packing for my honeymoon, but hopefully once I get back I'll remember to write a post all about what I packed and how well it did or didn't work out. (Hint: 18 days, 9 shirts- will I make it?)

My last bit of news is that it's time to retire Benjy's last nickname (my darling fiance). I'm thinking that since he's graduating from Med School the week after we get return from Spain, I'll go ahead and promote him to Dr. Hubby. :)

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