A Bride's Story

May 06, 2014
What happens when a girl from Atlanta falls in love with a native New Orleanian? Nina Brantley had that distinct pleasure and it led to her fantasy wedding in a town she had never visited before dating Isaac. However, when she came to our charming city she "fell in love with the culture, food, and friendliness of everyone" and instantly knew that it was the perfect place for the wedding of her dreams, surrounded by magnificent landmarks and the rich sounds and history of one of the world's most celebrated cities. Nina had never visited a city "where the food was simply amazing and the people were surprisingly inviting. We both knew we wanted a "Once in a Lifetime" (our wedding theme) experience and we wanted to capture it in New Orleans with our family and friends." After looking at many lovely venues, the young couple fell in love with the ambience and charm of The Royal Sonesta's Fleur de Lis Suite with the lush, tropical courtyard as the perfect backdrop for their wedding and reception. The views of vibrant French Quarter life, the stunning pool and patio terrace, and the lush tropical courtyard with orange trees and a beautiful candle-lit fountain all appealed to Nina and Isaac. When Nina tasted the delicious food and wedding cake tasting, all made fresh in house, her mouth confirmed what her heart felt.

Nina wanted to have a unique and fun wedding and decided that she wanted an authentic Big Easy style wedding. "I sent out a newsletter to let guests know a little about New Orleans culture and what to expect since they had never even experienced a second line with the hankies and parasols!" She explained that a second line parade at a wedding signifies the beginning of wedded life. It originates from the African American jazz funerals and has evolved to become part of many New Orleans celebrations.

After interviewing several florists and wedding planners, the stress of preparing for the wedding of her dreams dissipated when she found Eric and Carolyn Fredericks, the owners of Bee's Wedding Event and Floral Designs. They treated Nina the way they were treated when planning their wedding thirty years ago. They were friendly and responsive to Nina's unique vision of her ceremony and reception and acutely aware that the pressures involved in a wedding can be frustrating and time-consuming. Decades of experience allowed them to focus on Nina's desires and dreams with close attention to every detail. Eric offered a wide range of floral options and Carolyn's longstanding reputation for personalized event planning made for a joyful, beautiful and stress-free wedding. Nina couldn't have been more pleased with the service she received. "I knew we wanted something different for our wedding so I decided to make an appointment with Bee's to see if our personalities would match. After meeting with Eric, I instantly knew this was something he was passionate about and that I could trust him to make our day special. After sharing my ideas with Eric, he made suggestions and everything seemed to flow. After returning to Georgia, I would email or call him and always received a quick response. He worked with me on the budget and even made some last minute changes without hesitation. He took our ideas and personalities, and turned them into floral designs that people are still talking about. I knew that the flowers and the decor were my priority and putting my trust in Eric paid off; everything turned out perfect!" (504) 830-4031.

Nina really enjoyed staying in one of the Royal Sonesta Hotel's 35 luxurious suites in The RClub, an elegant hotel within a hotel with private keyed access, personalized concierge service and an intimate lounge with complimentary cocktails and breakfast and an adjoining terrace. It was a little chilly to take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, but they enjoyed cocktails from the Oasis Pool Bar. They also visited the hottest jazz club in town, Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse, in the Royal Sonesta to imbibe in delicious cocktails and late night bites while listening to authentic New Orleans jazz. "We gathered there for drinks one night to give our guests a time and place to "meet and greet" the bride and groom. This was a lovely place to sit back and enjoy some cocktails and cool jazz with our family and friends."

Their wedding was stress-free and beautiful; the guests all seemed to have a wonderful time. Many marveled at the delicious classic yet modern, imaginative reinterpretations of Cajun and Creole cuisine from the Royal Sonesta's new Restaurant R'evolution prepared by award-winning chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto. Restaurant R'evolution is also the ultimate venue for a bridal luncheon, shower, or rehearsal dinner. The setting in each of the six unique dining rooms is spectacular with designer drapes, textured white china, original artwork, soothing colors, and light filled spaces.

"People are still raving about the wedding a month later"... the freshly prepared, delicious food, the good time they enjoyed, and the whole experience of a memorable New Orleans wedding. The Shrimp and Grits station and the crab cakes were a big hit. Even the wedding photographer called to ask who handled the floral arrangements; they were so extraordinarily beautiful. New Orleans is the embodiment of the word lagniappe, and we had an absolutely amazing time."

Nina's wedding cake came with ribbons embedded in the icing, a tradition that dates back to Victorian England. A charm was attached to each ribbon and all the bridesmaids simultaneously "pulled" to find out their "fate." Each charm has a traditional meaning. A ring means "next to marry," a heart means "true love," a thimble means "old maid," a clover means "good luck," a fleur-de-lis means "love will bloom," a chili pepper means "red hot romance," a dime means "wealth," and a penny means "poverty." In keeping with the Southern tradition, weddings in New Orleans also feature a groom's cake that reflects his hobby or personality. Nina met with the pastry chef to discuss the Groom's cake during the tasting. "I expressed to him that my husband loved the gym, his TV, and his laptop so much that it drives me insane! He immediately started brainstorming and sketching a cake that had a barbell for the gym, a remote for the TV, and a laptop. On the laptop screen it read, "I win" meaning out of all these things he loves I knew he loved me more. This experience alone made me feel as if this was not only important for us but for everyone involved as well. It was such a rewarding feeling!" Royal Sonesta, 300 Bourbon Street, (504) 586-0300.

There are so many options in wedding services to consider in New Orleans. Tessa Makeup Artistry can help you look and feel fabulous on her special day. She treats each face as a unique canvas and will ensure that you look your best by serving you before and during your wedding to ensure a flawless appearance all day long. Tessa is a licensed Esthetician as well as a media & bridal makeup artist who has trained at the renowned Award Studio in Burbank ,CA and also trained and assisted under makeup artist and developer, Ashley Sievert. Tessa's services include traditional makeup application, HD airbrush makeup, lash application, and even grooming for the Groom! (504) 676-8424.

Be amazed as artist Alex Harvie captures breathtaking moments from your wedding in one memorable masterpiece! Dressed in a tuxedo decorated with years of stray paint, Harvie is as much an entertainer as an artist. Guests will be amazed as a completely blank canvas is transformed into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece using oil paint with thick texture as he paints your wedding scene live as it unfolds. "I've always loved partying and working," Harvie says. "The energy infused in the painting from the live environment is unrepeatable in the studio. I really enjoy connecting with the wedding party and their guests through my work. I especially enjoy working in the French Quarter every weekend." The bride and groom are the focal point, but Harvie also takes the time to meet and include important family members. His friendly personality allows others to approach him with questions and also request a spot in the painting! You will marvel to see so many of the people you love immortalized in a work of art. Transform your wedding from ordinary to extraordinary with a timeless masterpiece! www.harvieoilpaintings.com

The French Market Corporation offers six blocks of wedding and reception possibilities, from the well-known iconic areas to more private, intimate settings for ten or 300 guests. These include Washington Artillery Park, offering a panoramic view of St. Louis Cathedral on one side and the Mississippi River on the other side, and Jackson Square Amphitheatre located directly across from Jackson Square. Latrobe Park and Dutch Alley are perfect for smaller events, while the Farmer's Market Pavilion is suitable for large scale events. Jeremy Smith, (504) 522-2621, Ext. 210.

The Bourbon Orleans Hotel is located steps away from St. Louis Cathedral. Regardless of your wedding size, the experienced and dedicated wedding professionals at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel will work with you to provide creative options and professional recommendations that will turn your wedding day into an elegant and unforgettable occasion. Boasting New Orleans' oldest and grandest ballroom dating back to 1817, it evokes the grandeur of early New Orleans. The Orleans Ballroom balcony offers a sweeping view of the back façade of the Cathedral and its gardens and can accommodate up to 350 guests. For a more intimate wedding for up to 90 guests, the charming and private St. Ann Cottage offers two rooms with 12 ft. ceilings and antique chandeliers that open to a private French Quarter courtyard featuring a quaint fountain. The Bourbon Orleans restaurant, Roux on Orleans, prepares Louisiana fare and can host your bridal luncheons and rehearsal dinners for up to 60 guests. The Bourbon Orleans offers many complimentary services including a newly renovated bridal suite with a queen bed in the loft and spacious living area downstairs, a wet bar, two televisions, and a balcony with a view. Other complimentary services include a private attendant during the reception, a professional Wedding Coordinator, a bottle of champagne and cake-cutting service, and a stay on your 1st year anniversary. 717 Orleans Street, (504) 523-2222.

What could be more romantic than expressing your love aboard the Steamboat Natchez as the sun sets on the Mighty Mississippi? From single couples to hundreds of guests, this last authentic paddle-wheeler is an icon of New Orleans and offers catering and entertainment options for your bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, wedding, or reception. Captains can perform the ceremony or you may invite your own. Food is created fresh on board, and full packages include cakes, flowers and more. Breathtaking views of the beautiful city skyline while floating down the Mississippi River make for a memorable event. (504) 569-1431.

Every wedding tells a story; Maison Royale can punctuate yours with exquisite jewelry featuring sparkling hand selected diamond wedding rings, rare gems and fanciful gemstones. The tremendous display is hand selected by both Jack Adams, third generation jeweler from a renowned family of jewelers in New York and Rick Sutton, third generation merchant of fine art in New Orleans. Their elegant selection includes vintage, contemporary, and custom designs to best express your personal taste. They have jewelry to complete your bridal ensemble when all eyes are on you, as well as gifts and favors for your wedding party. Maison Royale, a New Orleans tradition, has been located at 501 Royal Street since the early 1960s. (504) 524-5045.

Experience a magical fairy-tale entrance for that special day as you arrive in an elegant mule-drawn four passenger wedding carriage while your guests await you. Your carriage driver, dressed in a suit or tuxedo, will pick you up from your hotel, church, or restaurant and deliver you wherever your heart desires. Royal Carriages provides services for your wedding, and other special events. One way or round trip packages are available. Royal Carriages (504) 943-8820.

Forever New Orleans offers an eclectic mix of gifts with a uniquely New Orleans flavor. It's all about the Crescent City in this shop filled with New Orleans" themed items including glassware adorned with pewter fleur-de-lis, affordable jewelry that boasts local icons, stationery, tiles, clocks, ceramics, framed crosses, charms, bottle stoppers, frames, candles, cookbooks, apparel, and more. This is a unique place to find upscale bridesmaid, shower, and wedding gifts and favors. 700 Royal Street, (504) 586-3536.

Maximo's Grill is an oasis of Italian sophistication and the perfect place for rehearsal dinners and wedding receptions. Their upstairs is dedicated for private parties and events with a beautiful balcony overlooking the French Quarter. Maximo's features Italian cuisine with a New Orleans twist serving Tuscan style fire roasted entrees along with an exceptionally diverse wine list, craft cocktails and gastronomic delights to warm the soul. With a following of locals, it has been a French Quarter hot spot for over 25 years. The energy of an open kitchen and grill, New Orleans music and culture blends with exquisite Italian food to create a dining experience you won't soon forget. 1117 Decatur St., (504) 586-8883.

Consider these lovely options and more to make your special day as unique as the love it celebrates with a French Quarter wedding rich in history, tradition, charm, and elegance. Romance, after all, has always found its home in the French Quarter and is one of the many reasons that New Orleans is a top wedding destination.