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.

January 26, 2011

Picking a New Orleans Wedding Band

So, you’ve decided to have a destination wedding in New Orleans. Great choice. You have a number of important decisions in front of you, from picking a wedding venue to your wedding colors, but I’d like to focus for a second on an element that’s particularly important for a New Orleans destination wedding: the band.

New Orleans is not just the birthplace of Jazz, but also home to lively blues, funk and rap scenes. There’s a ton of great music here and picking a stellar band can be an intimidating process, but it shouldn’t be. Here are a few tips for picking the right wedding band.

Do you want a live band or DJ?

There’s no hard rule stating that you must have a wedding band, in fact many wedding parties decide to have a DJ instead. One of the benefits of having a DJ is that they have a huge variety of music, so they can better cater to specific requests. They’re also able to play a variety of genres, which can be beneficial if your wedding party has many different musical tastes

On the other hand, it’s tough to beat a hard-rocking wedding band. Live music is a dancing magnet and watching musicians jam out on stage will often ramp up the shaking and shimmying at your reception. Remember, the main goal of a wedding band or DJ is to get your wedding party out of their chairs and grooving, so whatever direction you decide to go, just make sure your music has some spunk!

Cover Bands or Original Bands

Cover bands are extremely popular at weddings for one reason: they can play almost anything. Whether you’re into Earth Wind and Fire or Al Green, most cover bands can fit the bill, especially if you give them a heads up on what you’re looking for.

The downside to cover bands is that all that variety means that the music often lacks a distinct style. In New Orleans, we have a huge pool of talented musicians qualified to play weddings and many of them bring a local flair that is a great compliment to a New Orleans wedding.

How much do you want to spend?

Before you start searching for bands, it’s important to establish a budget for what you’re willing to pay. A good wedding band usually charges at least $3,000 and can be as high as $10,000. DJs are usually much cheaper, depending on their following, but the bottom line is that good grooves often come with a big price tag. Though it’s tempting to skimp on this part of the wedding, I’d advise against it. The music at a wedding reception really sets the tone and is worth prioritizing among your wedding expenses.

December 10, 2010

Video Blog Upcoming!

The next step in WeddingsByAnthonyLala.com is right around the corner: Videos of great weddings, wedding venues and points of interest to honeymooners and wedding party-goers. Stay tuned – the best New Orleans destination wedding videos are coming soon.

November 14, 2010

New Orleans Destination Weddings: A Little Country, A Little Chic

I’ve been going on and on about destination weddings in New Orleans‘ famed French Quarter – and with good reason – but I’ve left out a very important aspect of New Orleans’ charm. Outside the furor of the other city that never sleeps, and not far outside, is true country. The kind you don’t find in too many places anymore: untamed, yet civilized.

Why bring this up? Two words: Honey moon.  Is there a more perfect honey moon than a week on a working farm? Trail riding, serenity, home cooked meals of ingredients gathered not 100 feet away?  Maybe I’m a romantic, but I find the marriage of the crop to the soil to be the perfect analogy for man and wife.  Being out of cell service range is romantic enough in and of itself.

There are plenty of bed and breakfasts to choose from within an hour drive of New Orleans proper, and any are perfect for your perfect destination honeymoon, whether you just want peace and quiet or are looking to saddle up and get out into the real middle of nowhere. After your energizing party-wedding in the French Quarter you can have a honeymoon that seems to take all the time in the world, just in one sunrise-to-sunset.  Give me a call and I can help you find whatever it is your heart desires.

November 6, 2010

New Orleans Indoor Wedding Season

New Orleans may be the nations best wedding destination, but around two months out of the year it is the nations best indoor wedding destination. Yes, even in our tropical clime, the weather may dip, and dip it has. Until February the best place to hold a wedding will probably be within the walls of a fine hotel or cathedral, and so that is what the next blog posts will be about.

When most people think New Orleans Wedding, they think, French Quarter Wedding. And with good reason. As I’ve written here before, and will tell anyone who will listen, the French Quarter really has it all: cordon bleu trained chefs and bakers, old-world french architecture, the charm of the south and Europe, the best musicians the country has to offer and the best party atmosphere for the in-laws and the out-laws. This season is an excellent time to take advantage of every facet New Orleans has to offer.

You may think that with the colder weather that tourist season is at an end. Not so. Conventions, revelers and international travelers all ensure that you will have plenty of people to watch your second line – and probably follow along. And what’s even better is that the cool weather that will keep you from sweating in your suit or gown is still warm enough to allow outdoor glamour photography. Best? The heat is banished, and with it irritation. No one has patience for impatience.

Check back next week for information on one of New Orleans’ fabulous hotels, and be sure to ask me anything you want to know about New Orleans weddings.

October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween, New Orleans

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Anthony Lala @ 10:32 pm

Today – err, tonight is Halloween, the holiday that allows adults to dress up in fancy outfits and beg for candy. Naturally, this is a huge deal in New Orleans. We already love to dress up, we’re known for our appetites (of all kinds) and will take essentially any excuse to act silly and cut loose the ties of our southern reserve.

Would you believe that Halloween is also one excuse for a New Orleans destination wedding? It’s true – this all hallow’s eve afternoon in Pirate’s Alley (the cobblestone path that leads from Royal Street to Jackson Square between St. Louis Cathedral, Faulkner House bookstore and Pirate’s Alley bar) one very macabre inspired couple spoke their nuptials. They were dressed in costume, had professional photographers and several very entertained looking passers-by as witnesses. The clergyman and wedding party were as sincere and serious as any other, seemingly oblivious to both the hustle and bustle of French Quarter Halloween mayhem and the onlookers pausing to compliment their style and daring.

Just goes to show you – any season will attract adventurous lovers to New Orleans for their wedding day. Stay tuned for pictures of the unusual, and charming, couple.

October 17, 2010

Hotel Monteleon: Wedding Venue, Destination and accommodation?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:42 pm

New Orleans is an unusually perfect city for matrimony, hospitality and honeymoon and the Hotel Monteleon on Royal Street is an unusually excellent theater for an exquisite union. The hotel whispers class where others scream gaud. Just standing before its facade harkens the tourist back to a civilized sentiment, a dream of an abundant past of understated luxury. Fodors gets it right:

The grande dame of French Quarter hotels—with its ornate baroque facade, liveried doormen, and shimmering lobby chandeliers—was built in 1886 and renovated in 2004. A stellar addition is the full-service Spa Aria. Rooms are extra large and luxurious, with rich fabrics and a mix of four-poster beds, brass beds, and beds with traditional headboards. Junior suites are spacious; sumptuous VIP suites come with extra pampering. The slowly revolving Carousel piano bar in the lobby is a local landmark, and the first-rate dinner in the hotel’s Hunt Room Grill is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. There’s live jazz every night in the lounge.

Do yourself a favor when considering New Orleans as your Wedding Destination: spend at least one night in the Hotel Monteleon and at least one drink at the carousel bar. You’ll never forgive yourself for passing it up.

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