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Planning Your Wedding: From Elaborate to Elope!
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New Orleans: Current Cultural Trends
New Orleans Events:
Festival season is year-round! Check out the links below for upcoming New Orleans events that might correspond with your wedding plans.
Allstate Sugar Bowl in January
Carnival Season begins January 6 and continues until Mardi Gras
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in March
French Quarter Music Festival in April
Zurich Classic Golf Tournament in April
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April and May
New Orleans Food and Wine Experience in May
Essence Music Festival in July
Satchmo Summerfest in August
VooDoo Music Festival in October
Holiday Season's Annual Celebration in the Oaks Beginning the day after Thanksgiving throughout holiday season.
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New Orleans, Louisiana, 72184
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Weddings come in all shapes, sizes and faiths. They are events, which, like the brides, grooms and friends and family involved (if any), are unique unto themselves. As a minister who has performed hundreds of weddings, I have had an intimate view into many couples' ceremonies, and all they involve, and would like to share my experience with you.
Let's start with formal ceremonies.
The groom proposed, the bride accepted, and the families of each are thrilled. (I'm going to deal with best case scenarios, OK?) It's time to set a date. It's best to plan at least a year in advance, eight months or less is stretching it. You need to be considerate of your friends and family that you will be inviting, and give them plenty of time to make arrangements to attend your wedding. If you are having your wedding in your local church, it's time to talk to the clergy involved to discuss your options. If you are planning on booking a special venue, do so now. The popular dates (April, May, June, October and November) fill up fast, especially on weekends.
Now that you've set your date and have your site arranged, it's time to deal with the details. If your budget allows, I highly recommend hiring a wedding planner. An experienced wedding planner will take care of all minutia involved in your wedding, allowing you to be as relaxed as possible, and prevent you from turning into a "Bridezilla". Take my advice; I've seen brides completely ruin their own weddings. It's not fun for anyone involved, and is not the way to start out your lives together. If a wedding planner is not an option, resourceful friends and family can be valuable assets, and they know your tastes and preferences. Both families should be involved in making the arrangements for your wedding. Equitable sharing of costs lessens the chance of discord. Unless one of the families insists, and is able to handle the entire budget, be flexible, and each offer what they can reasonably afford. Remember, you're all family now and you're going to have to live with each other.
It's time to shop for wedding rings! The rings are one of the first and last things involved in your ceremony. If you want customized or special ordered rings, it's going to take time to make them, so start now. There are also many options available online today, but you must make sure that if you are going to go this route, that you have accurate sizes, and allow enough time so that should something go wrong, you have adequate time to address it.
What size and style of ceremony do you want? Formal church weddings are usually dictated by the faith involved, and are subject to their traditions. The options for a non-traditional wedding are endless. One popular option is a destination wedding, where everyone travels to a chosen location for the ceremony. Such weddings can be planned around special events, such as Jazz Fest in New Orleans, or a location that is significant to all involved. Cruise ship weddings are an emerging trend. They offer an affordable, all-in-one setting for the ceremony / reception, and are an adventurous way to start a life together. As to the actual ceremonies, your choices run the gamut from traditional religious, to write your own vows. The internet is a rich resource to find the perfect one for you, and should reflect your unique personalities. It's your wedding. It should be what you want it to be. If you are having a non-traditional wedding, now is the time to book your officiate. Choose one that you feel comfortable with.
It's time to make a guest list. This can be a tricky! First, set a number and stick to it. This is going to be the main determining factor in your budget. Second, remember, it's YOUR wedding, so invite the people that mean the most to you, and consider excluding the ones that you know will cause trouble.
Every family has the "odd relative" that can be disruptive, and ruin your special day. What's more important, their ego, or your wedding? Business can also be a factor. Do you really want your boss at your wedding? As long as your occasion is a celebration of joy, include everyone you feel will add to that emotion.
Are you going to have a rehearsal and dinner? If so, now is the time to make arrangements. Be sure to include your clergy / officiate.
Time to shop! The wedding gown will be the centerpiece of your ceremony. I've seen prom dresses that were as grand as some wedding gowns, so shop accordingly. You may want to consider a rental service, but if your's is a one-of-a-kind dress, you should have it properly cleaned and preserved. If you are having your bridesmaids gowns custom made, now is the time to take care of that.
Invitations are next. Once you have decided on your final guest list, it's time to order your invitations. If you want extravagant, you can get calligraphers. If you want engraved, there are many specialty sites, or you may just contact your local print shop to see what they offer.
The next step is to book your photographer. There are many options available when it comes to wedding photography today. Prices can vary widely, depending on the photographer's experience, and what they offer. Most photographers have made the switch to digital, but there are still a few that insist on using film. Many film photographers also do their own processing, and tend to be on the upper side of the cost scale. Digital photographers have more flexibility in what they can offer. Some will charge a flat fee for their time, and upload the pictures to a website where friends and family can go to order everything from large, canvas style portraits, to coffee mugs and t-shirts. Shop around for what suits you best, and be sure to look at portfolios to find the one that you believe will capture the sense of style of your wedding.
Videographers should offer samples of their work for you to view, and will also vary in price based on experience, equipment used, and number of staff and time needed for your event.
This is also the time to book all your other wedding vendors, including musicians, DJ's, caterers, florists, limousines, and decorators. Finalize the wedding dress, and attire for attendants. Start planning and budget your honeymoon. If you will be leaving the country on your honeymoon, apply for your passport, if you don't have one.
You're now six to eight months away from the Big Day. It's time for more finalizing. If you have out-of-town guests; you should make arrangements for them. The guest list, remaining vendors, gift registry, bridal party, and honeymoon plans should be in place. Make arrangements for time off from work for your wedding and honeymoon. Mail your invitations.
Thirty to ninety days and counting, start visiting bakeries for your wedding cake. Don't forget the groom's cake, make your order and arrange for delivery. Now is also the time to arrange for your wedding portraits, which includes your stylist and makeup artist. Wedding favors, cake knives, cake topper, gifts, toasting flutes and guest book should be ordered now. For custom items, add thirty days.
Your ceremony, including any readings and/or special music should be arranged now. Be sure to consult with your clergyman regarding any special requirements, if needed. Arrange for rental of any equipment such as chairs, covers, tablecloths, etc. Go over final arrangements with your wedding planner, or friends and family who will be handling the details.
One month away, and it's time to make your announcement in your local paper. Final fittings for the bridal party need to be taken care of. Make arrangements with your financial institutions regarding your name change. This includes credit cards, insurance companies, and telephone number and voter registration. Buy your wedding rings, and make sure that they fit. Confirm arrangements for out-of-town guests, and finalize your floral order. Get your marriage license within thirty days, and at least three days prior to your ceremony. Make sure that you have everything needed for your honeymoon, including passports, tickets, baggage, etc.
Within the last few weeks before your wedding you will need to be sure all your wedding vendors have been paid, and confirm your date and time with them. If you are using a wedding planner, confirm that they have made the final arrangements. This includes photographer/ Videographers, musicians, music selections, baker, caterer and reception site. Confirm pickup date and time for dresses and tuxedos. Plan the bachelor and bachelorette parties, and DON'T have them the night before your wedding. I've had frantic wedding parties scouring the French Quarter in search of a wayward groom before, and that's not a good thing!
Now we're in the home stretch. In the last week you should have your rehearsal and dinner. Have your gifts ready for your attendants, and make arrangements for your announcements to be sent out. Be sure you are packed, and ready to go for your honeymoon, and all your paperwork is in order. If you have rentals, arrange for their return. Get a good night's rest before your wedding day.
The Big Day is finally here. Be sure to have your marriage license and rings with you for your ceremony. RELAX!!! Everything's going to be OK! Every wedding has some little things that don't go quite as planned, but don't let it ruin what's supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. Kids always steal the show, but you're still the star. Get ready for the fastest day of your life!
The stress is too much! I can't handle it anymore, let's elope!
'The secret to a successful elopement is..DON'T TELL ANYBODY!!! Sure, you're so giddy you're busting at the seams, but once word gets out, it's over. Elopements are somewhat of a specialty of mine, (My wife and I eloped to St. John!) and I've seen what happens when somebody spills the beans. It can lead to an awkward ceremony, as opposed to the romantic, private one you had in mind.
It's been my experience that most elopers are what we call "encore couples". They've already had their "Big Wedding" in the past, (or two or three) and want to spend their money on their honeymoon. My wife, Samantha, and I have come to specialize in small, romantic ceremonies that focus on the bride and groom, and what they want on their wedding day. We offer many packages that cater to their individual tastes, from simple ceremonies in one our city parks, to furnishing special touches, such as photography, flowers, cake, music, etc.
New Orleans makes the perfect place for a destination wedding/elopement, because you can come to town, get your license, and get married the same day! As long as you are from out-of-state, and the marriage takes place in Orleans Parish, I, as your officiant can waive the 72 hour waiting period. You can get your license anywhere in the state, and they're good for 30 days. Check into one of our grand hotels, or charming B&B's, dine in our world class restaurants, and catch a fabulous music show. Take it easy, and soak up the history in one of the world's most romantic cities.
It's YOUR wedding; it should be what YOU want.
01. Wedding Location (free or fee)
02. Carriage Ride to and from Ceremony
03. Bridal Bouquet and Groom's Boutonniere
05. Champagne or Sparkling Cider and Souvenir Glasses
06. Wedding Cake w/Plates, Napkins & Utensils
07. Professional or Snapshot Photographer
08. Restaurant Reservations
09. Hotel Reservations
10. Marriage License