The Monastery: My Inspiration

 

I would like to begin by asking you to imagine the following scene, I would ask you to close your eyes, but you also need to read! So imagine with me; a Monastery dating back to 1812 grand in nature, on the corner of the French Quarter of New Orleans, with seven private courtyards, glass lanterns, exposed brick, and original wooden beams stretching the length of a chapel rich with history. If only these walls could talk, you can feel the history as you walk through every space in The Monastery.

Let me now lead you to a room with the whitest of walls, and light filled spaces made to convey spirituality and scenreity. A space where keeping things simple, clean and elegant is a must, anything too over the top would take away from the sanctity of the space. This is a venue where you let it do most of the work for you. As a planner I am just there to fill in where needed, and at The Monastery, what is needed is very minimal. 

When entering, I could see this bride here; the guests arriving in sharp tuxedos and shimmering gowns, through an entrance lined with candles and greenery and a harp playing on the front lawn. Every guest is met with gold rimmed champagne flutes filled with a soft brute or sweet rose to set the tone for this celebration, a coveted invitation only held by a select few. 

As the bride and groom make their way to the dance floor, I can hear a jazz ensemble accompanying the likes of Robin Barns, singing “Unforgettable,” in a way that only a solo voice can make you feel in love with the moment. 

The right accents can make the biggest impact. I picked only one for this styled shoot; I wanted to keep things as simple and elegant as possible. Against the crisp white purity of the venue, I choose a metallic; gold. If you keep your elements simple it allows for a bit more flexibility in areas such as floral and other design elements. Symmetry is noticed; but not talked about. I work with my clients to discover if they want to create conversation in design elements, or allow for the conversation to flow from the experience we create through entertainment, food and celebration, this guides me in two very different directions when making choices on behalf of my client. 

Less elements means less areas to adversely impact the continuity of your event. Surprisingly enough the more detailed you get in your theme or brand, the more attention to you have to pay to those design details so the continuity is apparent and easily picked up on by your guests.  Therefore by keeping the elements at this venue classic, simple but yet impactful. 

I had to balance a tipping point; not too over done, but not disposable cutlery or over the top decor. With intentional choices such as tablescapes; which I allowed for more on the table, in turn limiting wait staff having to clear and prepare each setting for multiple courses, I could have all of it be part of the design of the room. Accented with gold and greenery I hoped that each table would provide for friends to gather and share in the experience. 

With this styled shoot I kept the experience at the forefront of all my decisions; with the inspiration coming from the abundant historic value of The Monastery as well as the beauty that the bride brought all on her own. 

I could not have picked a better dress for this bride if I had one day or one year. It is simple, clean and elegant. Only standing at 5’4” the front piping of the dress elongated her silhouette, with leading lines from top to bottom. With more of a broad shoulder, the cap sleeve and detailed floral lace, allowed to soften the shoulder and allow for just enough skin to compliment the conservative but dramatic deep vee, which could be worn with modesty. The hair, pulled up of the neck, to again compliment the back detailing of the dress also allows for the bride to stay comfortable during the heat of the day in a city such as New Orleans.

The guests end the evening with a neatly tied box of three macaroons from Sucre, delicate and light but a sweet reminder of the of the sophisticated and memorable event they just attended. 

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Photographer // Catherine Guidry  

Venue // The Monastery 

Floral // Leaf + Petal

Bridal Gown // Town & Country

Cake // Gambinos Bakery

Stationery // Exquisite Events Invites

Makeup // Faces of Virtue

Hair //  Becca Ortiz

Model // Alexandria

Rentals // Event Rental

7 Steps for a Successful Proposal

Tis the season for engagements!

More proposals take place between November and February, than any other time of year, so as we embark into the thick of it, here are a few pointers for the proposer. As I recently had a hand in the proposal planning for my very first friend (Jessica) when arriving in New Orleans many years ago, Brian reached out to me for a number of reasons; mainly due to the fact that I could put a plan in place where Jessica would have no idea what was about to happen!

I put together a list; although it doesn’t need to be followed to a T, it can allow for some guidance and help to ease the stress that may surprisingly creep up on you for this momentous occasion.

1. Making the Plan - It seems obvious; but you will need to craft a story that won't tip off the proposee. Make it believable enough, but also not something that they would cause further investigation. Enlisting the help of friends or family is not a terrible idea, as long as they can keep a secret too!

Consider crafting a scenario where the level of attire will match the type of proposal you are executing, especially if you are documenting the event with either a photographer or videographer. Diaz NOLA Photography was abe to effortless capture the moment for Brian and Jessica and the timing was fantastic as the Omni had holiday decor throughout the hotel making it even more magical.

2. Selecting the Vendors - The top three vendors that I would consider including are; a photographer / videographer, music and rentals (for props); a candle lit balcony, a flower path entrance, a cued balloon drop or even firework display to celebrate the YES!

These vendors do not need to be those that you choose for the big day; just ones that know what you are working to accomplish and can have the flexibility to keep it simple or expand to as elaborate as your imagination can go!

“Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” on the violin filled the room as Harry Hardin from New Orleans Classical and Jazz played Brian and Jessica’s song.

 

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3. Picking the Venue - Again, this does not have to be where you are going to get married or where anyone else has gotten married for that matter, and in fact does not need to be seen on the jumbotron, unless that’s your thing and you have an in at the Superdome!

To make this an extra special moment pick a location that is representation of your courtship; where was your first date, or first kiss? Is there a museum you frequent together or a shared secret that could translate into a venue.

Brian’s choice for location was the Omni Royal - New Orleans; as it overlooked the Mississippi River, where he and Jessica had their first date!

4. The Ring - You would be surprised how easily this can be overlooked! My suggestion is, keep the ring in a safe place; not in a coat pocket, as there it can easily be left in the closet when you pick another coat!

Also work with your jewelry to insure your ring is polished, cleaned and ready to role on the big day, as often I find that proposers select and purchase the ring a bit in advance of the actual proposal day. Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers will even hold your ring until you are ready to propose, then you know it’s safe!

5. Preparing your Statement - Do not hesitate to write it down! If you have something to say, and you want to be sure it is said, writing down your thoughts is exactly what you should do. I would strongly recommend practicing a time or two before the actual event, and remember to keep whatever you wrote down.

The most genuine thing you can say in these moments are exactly how you feel, and if it isn’t like you to make a speech, don’t. “I love you and I want to spend my life with you,” that’s all that needs to be said in a moment like this.

I set Brian up to already be on one knee for Jessica’s arrival; I wanted to make sure this step wasn’t missed and Brian was a bit nervous that I had my suspicions this step would be missed with all the excitement between the two of them.

Not one for sharing secret moments; however I happened to be tucked behind the corner for this proposal and the moment that melted my heart (you can see me hiding behind the violinist in the picture below), and that we pulled off the surprise, was knowing Jessica was coming off the elevator and coming into line of sight with Brian, and then hearing her exclaim; “IT’S HAPPENING!”

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6. Including VIP’s - Weather you want special people to be present at the proposal, or waiting in the wings to come out after the “YES,” this is a detail that can make a proposal more of an event for the proposee.

Here are a few tips for including those VIPs:

  • Make sure VIPs know the plan for the proposal, and provide them with a signal for their entrance so you are able to either time it perfectly for a surprise, or to allow for enough time between you and your partner to enjoy your moment together.

  • Have your VIPs dress appropriately for either pictures or the after proposal plans that are in place.

  • You know the VIPs best, and there isn’t anything saying you can’t fib about the reason you are gathering them together as well, especially if they might spill the beans to the proposee!

7. After Proposal Plan - Most of the focus usually ends up on asking the big question; however there is a lot to celebrate after the main event! With after proposal plans in place you can easily continue the celebration and include more friends and family, or lead your partner on an adventure highlighting your courtship, the possibilities are endless, and this is usually the time when you the proposer can take a breath and enjoy the moment.

Brian and Jessica are two of my closest friends and I could not be more honored to not only assist with the proposal and be witness to the event; but also I get to begin planning their big day and the ideas I have are endless for this special couple. Stay tuned; that will be one you won’t want to miss!

Again, happy engagement season to all of you, it is a very special time of year!

Credits:

Ring // Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers

Photographer // Diaz Nola Photography

Violinist // New Orleans Classical and Jazz

Venue // The Omni Royal

 

 

 All smiles not only because of the gorgeous ring from  Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers  but also because Brian knew exactly what to say to fill her heart with happiness

All smiles not only because of the gorgeous ring from Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers but also because Brian knew exactly what to say to fill her heart with happiness

Vampire Chic

There is a reason events go as well as Mark and Whitney’s wedding; it is based on the communication they had with the vendors they hired, and the relationship they built with me as the director of their day. As a planner it is critical that I can perform two different functions;

1. Executing my client’s vision they already have in their own mind

or

2. Discovering my client’s vision is and bringing it to life

Often it’s a combination of the both, one maybe more one than the other, however these principles are based trust that is developed between myself and you, the client.

With little direction from Mark or Whitney other than a few keywords; dramatic, simple, focal points, inclusive and vampire chic, I was able to connect the dots and put together a day that embodied them as a couple. This did not mean that Mark and Whitney did not have input on the day; however the trust they were able to place in my expertise allowed them to breath easy and enjoy their union.

Despite weddings following a similar cadence; there are a multitude of ways a couple is able to infuse their style in the days events. From color to themes; this day - of all days -  should be a display of personal style. That being said; it isn’t uncommon to feel as though there are things that have to be done at a wedding or a way in which the day should go, and falling into a line of thinking; “well everyone else does it that way, I guess I should too.” Not the case, I am seeing spins on traditions, different ways of doing the “typical,” and many people scraping conventional all together!

From the moment I met Mark and Whitney I knew their day was going to be anything but typical. From the food, to the music, to reception seating and venue; I saw creativity and personality in every choice these two made for their day. It began with The Civic Theater hosting the ceremony and reception, this space, although not typical for a wedding, was transformed into a dramatic, candle lit night scape.

In existence since 1906; The Civic Theater has evolved as New Orleans has grown, watching over the city, filling with memories as crowds of people have entered the doors to share in the diversity of performance offerings. From vaudeville, burlesque, musicals, and disco, The Civic Theater has entertained and hosted many. Remodeled in 2011 with extraordinary attention to historic detail and appropriate updates for hosting a multitude of events this space was a blank canvas for Mark and Whitney’s wedding.

When selecting this type of space everything, right down to the rugs are customizable and a choice you may have to make, a total allowance for free will and creativity. Overwhelming to some, but with this couple, they had a vision and followed through with ease. Taking Vampire Chic to a whole new level; with candles in every corner, uplighting that allowed to enhanced the dramatics of the tall ceilings, brick work and ornate theatrical details of this New Orleans landmark.

When an event is uneventful; meaning that everything goes as planned, set up is easy, vendors follow through and everyone has a good time; I can see the look on my clients face and it means the world to me to know they are stress free and enjoying the day with their family and loved ones. Mark and Whitney had smiles on from beginning to end and I could not have been happier to orchestrate their wedding day.

With the venue as the host, the vendors shined through at this event. No one wanted to leave the dance floor with DJ Aaron Lane Entertainment, however when they did, they were met with unique food truck / street food choices from; Two Girls One Shuck, Theo’s Pizza, Fete au Fete and Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs and the Civic slinging drinks all night.

Credits:

 

Second Line: Kin Folk Brass Band

Music: Aaron Lane Entertainment

Cake: Bittersweet Confections

Caterer: My House Social

Theo’s Pizza

Two Girls One Shuck

Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs

Fete Au Fete

Bar Service: The Civic Theater

Venue: The Civic Theater

Rentals: Party Rentals Delivered

Lighting:Firefly Ambiance

Florist: Crystal Vase Flowers

Photography: Dark Roux

ideography: Silver Loop Studios

Hair & Makeup: Flawless Bride

 

 If there is ever was a picture that could take your breath away, it has to be this one. With a team of three staff members to lower the chandelier 30+ feet to position above the wedding cake, it made for a focal point that greeted every guest and stop them in their tracks. Captured by:  Dark Roux

If there is ever was a picture that could take your breath away, it has to be this one. With a team of three staff members to lower the chandelier 30+ feet to position above the wedding cake, it made for a focal point that greeted every guest and stop them in their tracks. Captured by: Dark Roux

  Kin Folk Brass Band  always starts the party off with a bang! Despite having the ceremony and reception at the same location, I was able to coordinate a 2nd line route through the Central Business District of the city. Captured by:  Dark Roux

Kin Folk Brass Band always starts the party off with a bang! Despite having the ceremony and reception at the same location, I was able to coordinate a 2nd line route through the Central Business District of the city. Captured by: Dark Roux

 Although this space is large and seemed ominous; I played into that feature as it gave a grandiose and dramatic backdrop for the intimate gathering. The floor plan and vendor placement contained the guests so they didn’t feel lost, but also were able to take in the vastness of the space. Captured by:  Dark Roux

Although this space is large and seemed ominous; I played into that feature as it gave a grandiose and dramatic backdrop for the intimate gathering. The floor plan and vendor placement contained the guests so they didn’t feel lost, but also were able to take in the vastness of the space. Captured by: Dark Roux

 These shared moments are ones you likely won’t be able to remember in the days that follow, but thankfully a photography team like Dark Roux knows where to be at the exact moment to capture it. No matter how in the moment my clients might be, things are forgotten, and to have these photographs are priceless. Captured by:  Dark Roux

These shared moments are ones you likely won’t be able to remember in the days that follow, but thankfully a photography team like Dark Roux knows where to be at the exact moment to capture it. No matter how in the moment my clients might be, things are forgotten, and to have these photographs are priceless. Captured by: Dark Roux

 Simple, but what a statement. Planning this layout and decor and seeing Mark & Whitney exchanging vows proves to me that even minimal enhancement can make a powerful impact. Captured by:  Dark Roux

Simple, but what a statement. Planning this layout and decor and seeing Mark & Whitney exchanging vows proves to me that even minimal enhancement can make a powerful impact. Captured by: Dark Roux

 I can hear your “awe,” as you scrolled to this picture! Dark Roux knows how to capitalize on the space provided. This is the perfect nook for these two to pop-a-squat and snap a picture. It just makes my heart melt. Captured by:  Dark Roux

I can hear your “awe,” as you scrolled to this picture! Dark Roux knows how to capitalize on the space provided. This is the perfect nook for these two to pop-a-squat and snap a picture. It just makes my heart melt. Captured by: Dark Roux

 It would be strange for me to frame this and put it on my wall, right? Ok, just checking! It is such a beautiful and simple image. With Hurricane Nate predicted to make landfall the week of this wedding; the winds were a force to be reckoned with. Taking full advantage Mark and Whitney could not have asked for better image. Captured by:  Dark Roux

It would be strange for me to frame this and put it on my wall, right? Ok, just checking! It is such a beautiful and simple image. With Hurricane Nate predicted to make landfall the week of this wedding; the winds were a force to be reckoned with. Taking full advantage Mark and Whitney could not have asked for better image. Captured by: Dark Roux

 I had about 45 seconds to stand and take this in before I had to orchestrate a complete venue flip from ceremony to reception. How could I not be in awe of this; a simple cake by  Bittersweet Confections  made to look like a piece of art. I convinced Mark and Whitney to lower the chandelier and make this the focal point of the room, there were no regrets. Captured by:  Dark Roux

I had about 45 seconds to stand and take this in before I had to orchestrate a complete venue flip from ceremony to reception. How could I not be in awe of this; a simple cake by Bittersweet Confections made to look like a piece of art. I convinced Mark and Whitney to lower the chandelier and make this the focal point of the room, there were no regrets. Captured by: Dark Roux

In the eye of the storm

Couples hope when selecting that special day; one out of 365, that perfection will follow and all things will come together. As a planner I stray away from optimism, and try to think of everything. Often staying up late strategizing on plan b; negotiating with the florist, the caterers, the venue and others so that you don’t have to. Working on the fly to switch gears and execute the event with minimal disruptions. If there is one piece of advice that I can give my clients it is: panic does nothing to change the outcome of your event and this is so important to remember.

Repeat this through the planning process, make this your mantra, heck, let’s monogram it on some napkins if that helps! Trust me, if clouds start looming, a vendor falls through, or God forbid, a wardrobe malfunction occurs the day of or even the week before your big day; don’t panic; go to your planner, explain your concerns and sit back while we work to ease the anxiety. It’s very likely we already have a plan for what you are thinking of!

Nearing the eve of Ashley & Brian’s big day Hurricane Harvey was predicted to make landfall on the Louisiana coast. Weather predictions aside; Ashley kept calm, her preparedness allowed her to focus on what was really important; the union between her and Brian, all the family that came together and the future that would follow with Brian by her side.

Ashley and Brian were lucky enough to be the first wedding with new owners at Masion de Macarty; a Bed & Breakfast. After receiving an extreme facelift; this staff proved to be an ease to work with. Our teams were tasked with turning the ceremony configuration into the reception space with a 20 minute time limit. It was all hands on deck in the 100+ degree heat, setting up a 100+ seated dinner arrangement all the while, changing the floor plan in response to unforeseen issues.

Despite the things that could have gone wrong and were out of this couple’s control; that wasn’t their focus. Their demeanour, trust in each other, supportive family and reliance on me as their planner, made their special day come together flawlessly. With the culmination at the end of the night the wedding party, guests and family, jumping in the pool, celebrating with style! Talk about an unplanned event, but worth a lifetime of memories.

 Having the time during your day to share a secret and a cocktail with your maid of honor is priceless. It is a balancing act to make sure you enjoy your day, interact with your guests, and take it all in. Work with me on how we can make sure you can navigate the event and feel as though you get the most out of a cocktail hour and reception. Captured By:  Becky Cooper Photography

Having the time during your day to share a secret and a cocktail with your maid of honor is priceless. It is a balancing act to make sure you enjoy your day, interact with your guests, and take it all in. Work with me on how we can make sure you can navigate the event and feel as though you get the most out of a cocktail hour and reception. Captured By: Becky Cooper Photography

 The smiles shared in this moment speak for themselves. Hand in hand down the aisle this proud father is able to escort Ashley to her groom and support her through this new chapter of her life. If you are admiring the bride’s bouquet, send compliments to  Pistil & Stamen , for the bride’s bouquet and the boutonnieres. The centerpieces on the tables were a creation of Ashle, her mother and the bridesmaids; a great bonding experience and creative way to infuse a personal touch in the days’ details. Captured By:  Becky Cooper Photography

The smiles shared in this moment speak for themselves. Hand in hand down the aisle this proud father is able to escort Ashley to her groom and support her through this new chapter of her life. If you are admiring the bride’s bouquet, send compliments to Pistil & Stamen, for the bride’s bouquet and the boutonnieres. The centerpieces on the tables were a creation of Ashle, her mother and the bridesmaids; a great bonding experience and creative way to infuse a personal touch in the days’ details. Captured By: Becky Cooper Photography

 Leading the charge the second line band;  Kinfolk Brass Band , lead Ashley and Brian through the streets of New Orleans. A tradition, I personally had at my wedding, and wouldn’t trade for the world! Ashley and Brian can feel the support of their family and friends behind them and start the celebration off with a bang! Captured By:  Becky Cooper Photography

Leading the charge the second line band; Kinfolk Brass Band, lead Ashley and Brian through the streets of New Orleans. A tradition, I personally had at my wedding, and wouldn’t trade for the world! Ashley and Brian can feel the support of their family and friends behind them and start the celebration off with a bang! Captured By: Becky Cooper Photography

 I love when these moments are captured; only Ashley and Brian know what they were thinking and talking about on this walk; and it should stay that way! If you know me; I hold those private moments in very high regard and will work extraordinarily hard for my clients to have those moments during their day. Captured By:  Becky Cooper Photography

I love when these moments are captured; only Ashley and Brian know what they were thinking and talking about on this walk; and it should stay that way! If you know me; I hold those private moments in very high regard and will work extraordinarily hard for my clients to have those moments during their day. Captured By: Becky Cooper Photography

 The  Masion de Macarty  property was perfect for this intimate gathering; a dynamic space that allowed for everyone to celebrate together, but also provided corners and curves for private conversations, shared laughs and great photo opportunities. The pool was taken advantage of by night's end. . .luckily there isn’t photographic evidence of those shenanigans! Captured By:  Becky Cooper Photography

The Masion de Macarty property was perfect for this intimate gathering; a dynamic space that allowed for everyone to celebrate together, but also provided corners and curves for private conversations, shared laughs and great photo opportunities. The pool was taken advantage of by night's end. . .luckily there isn’t photographic evidence of those shenanigans! Captured By: Becky Cooper Photography

 I use this as a barometer of the couple; do they politely use forks, delicately feed each other, select an appropriate bite size piece, or are they a mouthful, handful cake in the face, couple? It’s a mystery until this time during the day, and I look forward to it at each wedding! Captured By:  Becky Cooper Photography

I use this as a barometer of the couple; do they politely use forks, delicately feed each other, select an appropriate bite size piece, or are they a mouthful, handful cake in the face, couple? It’s a mystery until this time during the day, and I look forward to it at each wedding! Captured By: Becky Cooper Photography

A Special Thank You

The honoring of Veterans holds a very special place in my heart; as my Grandfather, Father and Husband all served in the military.  There is something about defending the freedom and rights of those you do not know and may never know that is beyond admirable.

Finding a way to give back is extremely important to me. As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, it doesn’t always feel like enough.  My time can fill up quickly with consultations, site tours, events and so much more.  I am sure we can all identify with our lives filling up quickly and passing by in a blink. I like to remind myself that “having” the time versus “making” the time is a critical difference, and the very least I can do when it comes to serving those who have served for me.

With Spanish Oak Events, I offer a military discount as a gesture, that while it does not compare to the risk and sacrifice made on a service members behalf, I hope that it signifies my gratitude. Please mention your service when contacting me in regards to your event.

Looking to give back to Veterans today or in the future? The National Veterans Foundation has important information to consider so your efforts are well spent and directed appropriately.

In regards to your wedding, there are a few ways you can directly or subtitling showcase you or your partner's service.Inside Weddings has a fantastic information regarding military accents and traditions; LINKED HERE is the full article, it’s worth the read!

A few of my favorites that I have executed at prior weddings are shown in the pictures below, along with my favorite Veterans.

 The smallest of details can make the biggest of impacts; these Navy cufflinks were worn by the groom; a veteran wanting to subtly pay tribute to his time of service. Not every detail has to be loud or noticeable by everyone; small choices such as these add to the continuity of the theme and can have special meaning to only those that are aware.   

The smallest of details can make the biggest of impacts; these Navy cufflinks were worn by the groom; a veteran wanting to subtly pay tribute to his time of service. Not every detail has to be loud or noticeable by everyone; small choices such as these add to the continuity of the theme and can have special meaning to only those that are aware.

 

 In a recent wedding, The Bluejacket’s Manual was used for a groom whom had served in the Navy. The tradition shared at this event was the passing of The Bluejacket Manual from a current Navy wife, to an incoming Navy wife; a special token that can be on display for years to come with multiple meanings to both spouses.   

In a recent wedding, The Bluejacket’s Manual was used for a groom whom had served in the Navy. The tradition shared at this event was the passing of The Bluejacket Manual from a current Navy wife, to an incoming Navy wife; a special token that can be on display for years to come with multiple meanings to both spouses.

 

 My brave Father, right before heading to Vietnam.

My brave Father, right before heading to Vietnam.

 My brave Husband and his Father.  As this picture was damaged from Hurricane Katrina, this photo captured him right before heading to Desert Storm.  My Father In Law also in the photo, always encouraged his son to join the military as he is a Vietnam Veteran as well.  

My brave Husband and his Father.  As this picture was damaged from Hurricane Katrina, this photo captured him right before heading to Desert Storm.  My Father In Law also in the photo, always encouraged his son to join the military as he is a Vietnam Veteran as well.  

 My life long friend Chris (far right) whom I've always called brother.  I proudly share he has done 5 tours of duty for his country.  

My life long friend Chris (far right) whom I've always called brother.  I proudly share he has done 5 tours of duty for his country.  

Branding Your Event

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending a luncheon; LGBT Weddings: Insight and Opportunities with Bernadette M. Baillie of TheKnot.com and co-hosted with the New Orleans chapter of NACE; National Association of Catering and Events.

Let me begin by saying how lucky I was to sneak in on this event and sit with some of the best of the best in New Orleans events. It becomes more clear the longer I am a “member” of this community that working in the world of events is the best job I could have ever asked for!

The focus of the day’s events was the support of the LGBT community when planning a wedding. I walked away with a notebook full of ideas and a spring in my step as I have a few weddings coming up that really are going to benefit from what was presented.  

Already thinking about themes and how important it is for my clients to infuse their personal style in this special day; I have been collecting my thoughts on what it means for a couple to “brand” their event. Social media provides a great deal of inspiration for ideas; Carey Lowe @TheIdeaEmporium specializes in branding weddings and has truly been an inspiration for me; follow her immediately!

Branding an event is more than just color palettes or personalize name tags. A brand can represent something special between you as a couple; obvious or subtle, but ultimately showing up in a variety of ways that contributes to the continuity throughout the entirety of the experience.

I admire The Knot for its depth of information on planning your special day and I often look to the website for cutting edge inspiration. Most recently, I came across a two areas that I have to share with you and give a few thoughts of my own;

Wedding Themes; https://www.theknot.com/wedding-themes

Gay + Lesbian Weddings; https://www.theknot.com/gay-lesbian-weddings

I like to ask more questions that help me understand why you love what you love and want it represented on this special day. From baseball to nintendo; it is possible to tastefully infuse themes into an event and create an overarching experience. Taking an example from Carey Lowe check out this Instagram post about her custom cocktail that was tasteful in multiple ways.

Here is what I suggest you begin to think about to make your theme transform into a brand that will then ultimately allow us to create that unique experience shine through for you and your guests.

Ask yourself;

  • “Why do I love this?”

  • “What about this do I want represented to make an impact for my guests?”

  • “What elements of the guest experience can be intentionally impacted?”

  • “What about this theme represents us as a couple?”

  • “Why is this theme important to me?”

While there is a difference between a literal vurses an abstract interpretation of your desired theme; I edge more towards interpreting your theme and infusing it a variety of unique and subtle ways.

Ways I like to infuse your theme and transform it into an event brand:

  • Selecting a venue that nods to your brand or holds a special significance to you as a couple.
  • Mixing a signature cocktail to be served to your guests.

  • Vendors that can interpret your brand through a dish or the entirety of the meal.

  • Create a new tradition or a tradition with a twist.
  • Favors!  

Making your day special can take many forms; buck tradition, interpret elements in different ways, focus on the entire experience from beginning to end; let’s try something that hasn’t been done before! Trust me, I’ve got a few secrets up my sleeve that I will only share with you!


Credits to:

NACE; Website: https://www.neworleansnace.com/ & Instagram: @naceneworleans

The Knot; Website: https://www.theknot.com/ & Instagram: @theknot

Bernadette Baillie; Instagram: @bernadettebaillie

Carey Lowe; Instagram:@theideaemporum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paige & Parker: A Beautiful Celebration

Paige and Parker met in high school; their relationship developed into nothing short of a classic love story that we all look in on and fondly admire. Their wedding was the magnificent culmination of their love and the grand entrance into their life together. Simply stated this couple and their day, captured timeless elegance, which I was honored to be a part of in the smallest of ways.

When I was brought in to assist with the nuptials of Paige & Parker it was only 4 short months before the big day. This isn’t uncommon, and what I enjoy about offering this a la carte service to clients is that they might be the most prepared in every way, however, knowing that when it comes to last minute items leading up to the day-of celebration someone on-site will alleviate stress and really help everyone enjoy what is meant to be enjoyed.

The magic of Paige and Parker’s day was enhanced by the fact that they had the honor of being the first wedding and event at New Orlean’s newest luxury hotel; The NOPSI - New Orleans Public Service Inc. Built in 1927 and formally the power and transportation headquarters of the city, this historic landmark has been completely remodeled to a charming, elegant and classic venue, just blocks from the French Quarter with amenities to enhance the smallest of events.


Being the first to “test” the venue, Paige and Parker are event featured on the website; http://www.nopsihotel.com/celebrate/overview. This couple had enough trust in this venue and a vision of of their day, with me by their side, we worked through the logistics and helped to set procedures and practices that will be used for many events to come on-site. The Spanish Oak Events team cannot say enough about the NOPSI Team, polished and patient and completely accommodating.

 

 

 

What additionally stood out with Paige and Parker was their vision of their day. Intentional planning and selection of vendors is what set this couple apart from just anyone planning a special event. The couple outlined and identified their expectations, and when they communicated that to the vendors they had interest in, it was clear right away if those expectations could be met.

 

As I have mentioned before, I don’t like sharing too many moments from these special events. I do my very best to honor the sanctity of the day shared between family and friends. That being said let me tell you about Andrew No-Pants! With 8 bridesmaids & groomsmen, as well as 8 users, this wedding party was the size of small town, at least where I come from. The bridal party’s efforts in celebration was nothing short of a celebration we all want to be invited to and a group we wished we were all apart of. It became the effort of all the groomsmen and ushers to hoist Parker, the groom, in the air and throw him above their heads, with such gusto; Andrew, a groomsman, split his pants, from tail to toe, not once, but twice. Needless to say Andrew No-Pants earned his name and required my team to track down a pair of tuxedo pants 34 x 32 at 6:45pm on a Saturday.

Often when working within a budget, or timeframe or any other limiting confine; selecting the appropriate vendors can be overlooked as we just need to check a box or make a fast decision. However, knowing that your expectations can be met by the particular vendor is critical. If you ask a fish to climb a tree they will fail every time; Albert Einstein said some version of this and the way I look at it is that you can’t ask vendors to do something they aren’t able to complete in the first place, they will fail and you will get frustrated. The intentional selection of vendors to meet your expectations is extraordinarily critical to the success of an event.


There is a very common saying; “you get what you pay for,” and at times that absolutely applies to the world of events. However more importantly, and often overlooked; is my mantra; “you get what you communicate you want.” This not only applies to vendors, but it also applies to the relationship between myself as a planner and the clients that I work with.

While not everything can be predicted or prepared for in the world of events; the Andrew No-Pants of these celebrations make my time worth it. I enjoy working behind the scenes so brides can stay on the dance floor all night and not worry about if the band can play an extra hour. I work diligently with vendors in advance so the venue knows when the bride and groom are having a first look, no one else should sneak a peek. I ask the questions that allow me to discern who can fulfill the expectations set by not only the bride and groom, but also the parents and guests.

It was truly a celebration I will always hold close to my heart.  Cheers to the new Mr. & Mrs. Galloway!

 

Giving credit where credit is due, below is the team that helped make this magical day come together.

 

Photographer: Caitlyn B Photography

Videographer: Harmonic Films

Music: The Wise Guys

Floral: Meade Wenzel; New Orleans, LA (504) 289-9883

Ceremony: Immaculate Conception - Jesus Christ

Celebration Venue & Catering: NOPSI

Cake: Maple Street Bakery

Photo Booth: HD Photobooth

 

 I can’t use the word class enough with this couple. From the moment of our first interaction both families were gracious, helpful and full of class that extended beyond the event but also in the personalize thank yous sent. Paige looks elegant in her dress picked at  Town and Country Bridal.

I can’t use the word class enough with this couple. From the moment of our first interaction both families were gracious, helpful and full of class that extended beyond the event but also in the personalize thank yous sent. Paige looks elegant in her dress picked at Town and Country Bridal.

 What I love about weddings in New Orleans is the traditions.  The second line experience  is so magical and fun and a photographer's gold mind! Paige and Parker were lead by  The Wise Guys  from ceremony to celebration and this image was captured by  Caitlyn B Photography .   

What I love about weddings in New Orleans is the traditions. The second line experience is so magical and fun and a photographer's gold mind! Paige and Parker were lead by The Wise Guys from ceremony to celebration and this image was captured by Caitlyn B Photography.

 

 Just because you’re a classy bunch, doesn’t mean you don’t know how to have fun, and this group mastered the art of fun. Here is Parker in one of the MANY moments his feet were off the ground and I was cringing in the background waiting for the worst! Thankfully Andrew No-Pants was as bad as it got!

Just because you’re a classy bunch, doesn’t mean you don’t know how to have fun, and this group mastered the art of fun. Here is Parker in one of the MANY moments his feet were off the ground and I was cringing in the background waiting for the worst! Thankfully Andrew No-Pants was as bad as it got!

 You know a florist is special when they don’t have a website or social media links and it takes a few calls to get a call back or someone on the line. Advertising is not needed for this seasoned professional. Meade Wenzel, is well known within the New Orleans event circle, and the results speak for themselves. Simple, classic, fresh and exactly what you never knew you always wanted. Keep calling; it’s worth getting ahold of this vendor.

You know a florist is special when they don’t have a website or social media links and it takes a few calls to get a call back or someone on the line. Advertising is not needed for this seasoned professional. Meade Wenzel, is well known within the New Orleans event circle, and the results speak for themselves. Simple, classic, fresh and exactly what you never knew you always wanted. Keep calling; it’s worth getting ahold of this vendor.

 It’s difficult to capture the grandness of the church where Paige and Parker exchanged their vows. The  Immaculate Conception Parish  is a beautiful location, making the day extraordinarily special by beginning in such a sacred space

It’s difficult to capture the grandness of the church where Paige and Parker exchanged their vows. The Immaculate Conception Parish is a beautiful location, making the day extraordinarily special by beginning in such a sacred space

 It was a goal of Paige and Parker’s that they didn’t want to leave the dance floor the entire night; mission accomplished. Although the evening had to come to a close; Paige and Parker have the rest of their lives together to make memories as special as this. Captured by  Caitlyn B Photography ; the newlyweds exiting through an avenue of their loved ones, waving ribbons and sending them on their way to begin their honeymoon.

It was a goal of Paige and Parker’s that they didn’t want to leave the dance floor the entire night; mission accomplished. Although the evening had to come to a close; Paige and Parker have the rest of their lives together to make memories as special as this. Captured by Caitlyn B Photography; the newlyweds exiting through an avenue of their loved ones, waving ribbons and sending them on their way to begin their honeymoon.

New Yorkers take on NOLA: An Adventure in Planning a Destination Wedding

To call our time together a marathon, would be putting it lightly; it was an IronMan of an adventure at the very least! Six people; two grooms, a sister, a mother, a step-father and myself, in ONE vehicle, took on 17 venues, multiple tastings, 2 band performances, a walking tour of the city, ONE PROPOSAL, 300 macaroons and 560 cups of coffee - at minimum per day - from Sucre, a family dinner at The Pelican Club, countless happy tears, endless laughs, ZERO car accidents, and final decisions made for the future grooms Joe and Tim, pretty much summarizes the 96 hours we had together. I can’t fit all the details about our time together in this post, but please see the photos & captions for continued stories of the fun we had!

What I enjoy doing for all my clients, and especially wedding planning couples, is to showcase why I love this city; more importantly why I love my job and what I can do to help make this process as easy as possible. It begins with a full itinerary of a planned day or days in Joe and Tim’s case, transportation and navigation provided, if desired, and most all moments with me intentionally scheduled in hopes that we are able to see the sights, taste the foods, and listen to the tunes to end our time together with you making the decisions that results in a spectacular wedding day.

Joe & Tim flew in from Brooklyn, NY with their family, and we had to make the most of their time here; experiencing as much as possible without creating information overload and decision fatigue. It was so fantastic to have Joe & Tim’s support network accompany them on their visit to the Big Easy. Having the honor of meeting immediate and extended families of my clients paints a full and vibrant picture of what I get to look forward to on the big day. It also allows for additional perspective and feedback, something I always welcome.

I see clients spend countless hours scouring the internet, virtually visiting venues, reaching out to vendors, gathering ideas and attempting to put together ways to make their special day stand out. At times it has to feel like an endless battle of reaching out, not hearing back, waiting, calling, emailing, filling out forms, and not making any progress. That’s where I step in; I have made the connections with sites and vendors so you don’t have to. I know the number to call to get answers, set tours and check on pricing and availability, details aren’t left out and you get exactly what you are dreaming of. It isn’t anything other than having an insider connection; and I am happy to put that to work for you.

I pride myself on getting to know my clients; asking the right questions and hearing the vision through your interests and expressions. I select locations, caterers, florists and other supporting vendors through my knowledge of the city of New Orleans, and surrounding area, in hopes that you will fall in love with the treasures we uncover through a perspective that only a connected planner can provide.

It isn’t easy to plan a wedding, especially a destination wedding. Joe and Tim vacationed to New Orleans on their first trip together as a couple, and when the time came to plan their nuptials it was an easy choice to return to this special city where they fell in love. The abundance of diverse choices and quality options for everything regarding their special day is only part of the reason New Orleans is a great city for Joe and Tim.

I don’t want to share all the moments I had with this group; firstly there are simply too many to write about, but also, my time with them was so special that some of those experiences you just have to hold close to your heart so they don’t escape. However the story of Tim proposing to Joe is a sweet story. Orchestrated among Joe’s family members with a ring snuck into luggage, the proposal was captured on video and spontaneous enough that Joe had no idea and his reaction was beyond words. As Joe proposed to Tim earlier this summer in a grandiose gesture, Tim didn’t want Joe to miss out on the feeling of being asked for his hand in marriage. 

We visited multiple venues, ate with a variety of caterers, had a multitude of experiences, that in the end lead to making some very difficult decisions. There are a multitude of factors that go into final choices and ultimately the vision for the day shines through when connections are made.  Joe and Tim finalized the location for the ceremony and reception as well as a band. There are a remainder of vendors to still be selected, and will be showcased when I blog about their big day in June of 2018.

Ceremony: The Tree of Life - Named after the first Mayor of New Orleans and officially called the Étienne de Boray Oak, and affectionately called the Tree of Life locally. This spot provides a magnificent backdrop to the ceremony. And if luck should have it on the big day the giraffes from the Audubon Zoo will peak in!

Reception: New Orleans Board of Trade - Founded in 1880 and working until the 1960’s this was a location for the Green Coffee Trade, that once filled the port of New Orleans. With historic details from the three clocks indicating the times of New Orleans, New York and Rio de Janeiro, all major players in the coffee trade, to the original 8 sectioned mural dome hand painted by a local artist; Alvin Sharpe in 1932.

Band: The Phunky Monkeys - This group will bring everyone out of their seats and onto the floor, it is a guarantee. Numerous awards and extensive history in New Orleans, this group has a variety of genres that it has perfected and will serenade all your guests.

 Joe and Tim at Tree of Life - Can you see what I see? When visiting sites like this is easy to see the special day come together; the best part is watching the groom’s faces light up when they see it too.

Joe and Tim at Tree of Life - Can you see what I see? When visiting sites like this is easy to see the special day come together; the best part is watching the groom’s faces light up when they see it too.

 Cake tasting at  Bittersweet Confections  - A local shop with a story of perseverance through rebuilding after Katrina this chocolatier and her creations make it impossible to leave without a sugar high and big smiles. Thank you for hosting us putting together the sweetest of tastings.

Cake tasting at Bittersweet Confections - A local shop with a story of perseverance through rebuilding after Katrina this chocolatier and her creations make it impossible to leave without a sugar high and big smiles. Thank you for hosting us putting together the sweetest of tastings.

 Tasting at Pigeon Catering - luckily enough with the reception venue selected,  Pigeon Catering  is on site and is delectable! Working with this staff is seamless and the food selection provides ample opportunity for personalization and individual tastes.   

Tasting at Pigeon Catering - luckily enough with the reception venue selected, Pigeon Catering is on site and is delectable! Working with this staff is seamless and the food selection provides ample opportunity for personalization and individual tastes.

 

 Family picture at  The Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion  - Each time I visit this site it becomes more magical. The only historic home on St. Charles Avenue that offers a space for events; with a magnificent 48 foot grand ballroom and infinite amounts of details around every turn.

Family picture at The Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion - Each time I visit this site it becomes more magical. The only historic home on St. Charles Avenue that offers a space for events; with a magnificent 48 foot grand ballroom and infinite amounts of details around every turn.

 The proposal - This couple showered each other with affection the entire weekend, and this proposal was just one of many lasting memories that was the start of Joe and Tim’s life together! It is evident that this process is going to be a fun journey and having the honor of witnessing special moments like these is truly the best part of my job.   

The proposal - This couple showered each other with affection the entire weekend, and this proposal was just one of many lasting memories that was the start of Joe and Tim’s life together! It is evident that this process is going to be a fun journey and having the honor of witnessing special moments like these is truly the best part of my job.

 

How do you pick a wedding date??

 

Congratulations on your engagement!  It's such an exciting time as you've found that partner in life, and you get to celebrate that with everyone you care about.  Here are a few tips to consider when picking that very important date:

 

1. Season: weather plays an important part on the day of the 'I Dos'.  From venue choice, to color choice, to floral availability, these are some of the things that can dictate when is best.  So think about as a couple what you care about most, be it outdoor ceremony, or a winter wonderland.

2. Budget:  Your reception venue usually takes up the majority of your budget.  Keeping on budget can be difficult, but there are things that assist in that.  Friday and Sundays can be less expensive days, and during the week even more so.  Also take the time to research the upcoming events happening in the area (if the NFL team consumes the city the weekend you are hoping for, it may drive up your venue costs, and limit your options.)

3. Sentimental: Do you want to be married on the day of your first date, or possibly your Grandparents anniversary?  These special elements can be  wonderful tidbits to share with your guests and make that day even more special.