March 28, 2011

The Wedding Cake Conundrum

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Anthony Lala @ 8:34 pm

One of the most photogenic points of a wedding is that moment when the newlyweds cut the cake and playfully feed it to one another. As a New Orleans wedding planner, I understand the many considerations and debates that eventually lead the couple to that iconic moment. There are many things to think about when shopping for and deciding on a cake that you might not be aware of. Here are some of the biggest debates I’ve seen when couples are selecting a wedding cake.

Traditional Wedding Cake Vs. Wedding Cupcake Tower

There’s nothing like the traditional wedding cake with the figurines of the bride and groom resting atop. Many couples opt to go with the traditional tiered cake, because that’s what they’ve dreamed about since they were young. However, a new trend emerging recently is the wedding cupcake tower. There are a variety of stands for the cupcakes, but it typically comes in about three tiers and packed with beautifully decorated cupcakes for each guest.

This is a great alternative that some couples are now choosing, because it’s easier, quicker to serve and more unique than the traditional cake. Another added benefit of the cupcake tower is that it usually costs less than a cake, because it takes less time to make. However, if you’re someone who cannot get past the idea of having that multi-tiered traditional cake, it’s a better idea to stick with your dream.

Fondant Vs. Buttercream

For those who do select the traditional cake, an age old debate quickly emerges: fondant or buttercream. Fondant is a thin layer of icing that fits over the cake but is usually overly sweet. The great thing about fondant is that it can be easily molded to give intricate designs around the cake or smoothed out perfectly. On the other hand, buttercream tastes much better than fondant and typically costs less.

One of the things that should help you select a type is the conditions the cake will have to endure. Buttercream melts very quickly in the heat while fondant traps in the cold, so it lasts longer in warmer environments. Nevertheless, you should let the taste determine your decision, because it’s better to have a cake you want to eat than one that looks nice but tastes bad.

Grand and Ornate Vs. Simple and Elegant

While there’s definitely some middle ground to these two options, this is a fairly common debate when deciding on a wedding cake. There are budgets to take into consideration, but for the most part, this has to do with personal preferences. If you’re having an extravagant wedding, the ornate cake might suit it better. However, if the wedding is accessible and candid, a smooth cake without a lot of fluff may be more impressive.

March 18, 2011

Ideas For Wedding Guest Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Anthony Lala @ 9:47 am

There are many mementos you can take from your wedding to cherish forever, such as wedding pictures and gifts, but nothing really captures the mood of your guests like the wedding guest book. As a wedding planner in New Orleans, I’ve seen a lot of unique ideas for wedding guest books that leave memories for both guests and the happy couple. If you’re starting to think of concepts for your wedding guest book, here are some ideas to consider.

The Old-Fashioned Guest Book

If you’re planning on having a very traditional wedding, an old-fashioned wedding guest book might be a good idea. This is usually a very inexpensive approach, because all you need is a book with blank pages. The good thing about this type is that it’s open to creativity. Guests can sign their name, leave personal notes or even draw pictures. Many couples want the book to be uniformed, so they have their close relatives sign the book beforehand to set an example for incoming guests.

Picture Frame Guest Book

The picture frame approach is a fantastic way to make your guest book something that you can actually put on display at home. Buy an autograph picture frame and place an engagement or wedding picture in the middle. The picture is surrounded by blank white space, so guests can sign and make comments. Once the wedding is over, you can get the frame placed in glass and hang it. This ensures that you remember your wedding day and all your guests for years after.

The Polaroid or Photobooth Guest Book

Couples who want their guests to have fun with the book might consider either the Polaroid or photobooth guest book. For the Polaroid guest book, you have one person wait at the front and take pictures of the guests as they enter. Then their picture is placed inside a book and they write comments next to it. The other option, which is more expensive, is to rent out a photobooth like the ones at malls. This gives your guests an opportunity to be creative, and the pictures not placed in the book can also double as a party favor for them to take home.

Guest Book Tree

If you’re looking for a guest book that really decorates your wedding, the increasingly popular guest book tree is a great idea. This guest book requires a small tree, preferably a manzanita, and decorative cards. When guests come in, they sign personal notes and wishes on the cards, and then hang them on the tree so they look like leaves.

Photobook Guest Book

The photobook guest book runs along the same vein as the picture frame guest book. Create a leather-bound book featuring a range of pictures, including engagement, wedding and dating pictures. Some couples also like to add poems or stories to their book. Remember to leave space between pictures or blank pages, so guests can make comments and sign their names. You can even make the book themed on your New Orleans destination wedding.

March 14, 2011

Deciding Between A Big Wedding And A Small Wedding

When you’re first thinking about your wedding, there are about a million little things to consider. Where should your New Orleans destination wedding be held? What type of food should you serve? How much should you spend? Among these questions is the very important how big should the wedding be? There are many pros and cons of having either a big wedding or a small wedding, but most of it has to do with personal preference. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what size your wedding should be, here are some questions to consider when making your decision.

Where are you having the wedding?

If you’ve already decided where you’d like to have the wedding and reception, your decision could potentially become clearer. Let the size of the venue dictate how many people you should invite. For example, if you’re having a wedding at a small church, you simply cannot invite a lot of people. If the venue is big, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should invite more people, but having a large, somewhat empty venue should generally be avoided. If you’re basing your venue selection on the size of the wedding, move onto the next question.

How big is your family?

This question is a good indicator for how big your wedding should be. A small wedding will cap your guest list at a pretty small number, so if you plan on only inviting immediate family members, this might be ideal. However, if you have a big family, a small wedding might force you to pick and choose between family and friends. Failing to invite someone could lead to a lifetime of resentment and harsh feelings, so you want to be very cautious with your decision.

What type of feel do you want your wedding to have?

The size of your wedding guides the ambiance of the event. Small weddings tend to be quieter, intimate and more personal. Big weddings, on the other hand, are more festive, sociable and grand. If you’d like a wedding where you can take time to talk to each friend and family member personally, a small wedding makes this easier. A large wedding is perfect for anybody interested in having a large party-like atmosphere where your family and friends socialize mainly with one another.

How much money are you willing to spend?

How much you want to spend significantly influences the size of a wedding. The monetary difference between a big wedding and a small one can be huge, so if your budget is small, a large wedding may simply be out of the question. Nevertheless, it is possible to have a large wedding with a tight budget as long as it’s done correctly.

March 10, 2011

Picking a New Orleans Wedding Caterer

Famous author Mark Twain once mused that “New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” Since you’ve decided to have a destination wedding in New Orleans, picking the right caterer is an essential but sometimes difficult choice to make.

New Orleans food is unique for its tasteful combination of Creole, Cajun and French cuisines and could make for some delectable wedding dishes. Here are some ideas for picking the right caterer in New Orleans.

Set a budget

As with selecting a New Orleans wedding band, setting a budget helps start you off by narrowing your search. The price of caterers can range widely depending on the number of guests, type of food and meal packages, so it’s a good idea to set a general range and then refocus it once you get into more serious conversations with the caterer.

There are many things in a wedding you can save money on by going cheap, but food should not be one of them. Like the music, the quality and type of food really sets the stage for the evening. If your guests are left hungry, it can put a damper on the rest of the evening. However, if they’re full and energized, it will be a night they remember forever.

Decide what type of food you want

Before looking for a caterer, you should first decide on what type of food you want to serve. This will help direct you to certain caterers for your wedding meal. The decision should coincide with your theme and personal preferences. There are plenty of options for a traditional New Orleans wedding, including delicious seafood and other Louisiana specialties.

If you’re not interested in diving into the culture of your New Orleans destination wedding, many caterers have traditional wedding packages that come with meat, sides and vegetarian options.

Buffet vs. sit down meals

The choice between a buffet and a sit down meal is a big one for most couples. This choice will define the dinner experience for their guests. Both methods have pros and cons. A buffet allows each guest to have a wider selection tailored to their preference but may also mean they have to wait in line. A sit down meal allows for a more relaxed dining experience but doesn’t offer the same level of choice. For those couples who have already set smaller budgets, a buffet is usually the cheaper option because it requires less preparation and fewer servers.

Set up consultations

Once you’ve finally decided your price range, type of food and setup, the next step is to arrange meetings with a few different caterers. If you’re planning on going with the food from the reception hall, then it’s simply a matter of tasting the different options you’re considering. For other caterers, it’s also important to ask them how long they’ve been in business, what their cancellation policy is and if they have references.

February 13, 2011

Picking a wedding date in New Orleans

When my clients come to me to discuss their plans for a New Orleans destination wedding, they’re at a variety of stages of preparation. Some have already made significant plans toward their wedding; others are starting from scratch.

For those at the beginning of the wedding planning process, there’s one decision that trumps all others: setting the wedding date.  Here are a few tips to choose the best wedding date for your marriage.

Weather

It’s the first thing in many couple’s minds and tends to be one of the most crucial variables when choosing a wedding date. Of course, if you’re having an indoor wedding, then weather is a non-factor.  However, if you’ve scheduled the ceremony outdoors, then weather conditions can make or break your big day.

In New Orleans, we’re blessed with a generally mild climate, so the wedding season usually lasts from mid-march to early-November. However, the summer months bring intense heat. Nobody wants to be sweating through their gown or tuxedo, so I usually advise my clients to avoid the hottest temperatures, which occur between mid-June and early September.

Flora and Fauna

Unfortunately, this is something that’s often overlooked by New Orleans wedding planners, but is a crucial component in selecting a wedding date. If you’re planning on getting married in a natural setting, the surrounding trees and bushes will affect the ambiance. Make sure to research the blooming season of the plants around you, so you can try to schedule your wedding when the flora and fauna is at its peak.

Schedule Conflicts

If you’re scheduling a New Orleans destination wedding, you’re likely bringing in hundreds of out-of-town guests. If so, it’s important to make sure their schedules don’t conflict–especially if they’re in the wedding party. Inquire about your relatives schedules and make sure to steer clear of dates where conflicts, like college graduations or family reunions, could pop up.

Holidays

In general, I advise my clients not to schedule their weddings during or around holidays. Many families reserve this time for their own private celebrations and scheduling your wedding during Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas is usually a bad idea. However, utilizing other, smaller holidays, like Labor Day or Veterans Day, can often be judicious. These three-day weekends often mean that out of town guests have a little more breathing room for taking off work.