The most popular time of year for engagements is upon us. New Year's Eve, Christmas, and Valentine's Day bring out the romance in men, I guess. The next wave of engagements will be the practical, planner-types who are graduating from college and pop the question in cap and gown. No matter when the engagement happens, your next few months will be filled with questions from friends and family, bombarding you with when, where and how. To get you started, here are some helpful tips for making the process of getting married in New Orleans easier:
- If at all possible, pick your venue first, then your date. For example, if you know what season you want (the most popular dates for outdoor weddings in New Orleans are in October and November, then March, April and May for those that don't mind an indoor option), then search for venues you like and ask them what weekends they have available. Choose from those dates. Remember, most brides start planning a year or more in advance, so if you're less than a year out, your dates may be more limited.
- Keep an open mind about the day of the week if you want to save some money on venue rental fees. Many locations give discounts or lift restrictions for Friday and Sunday weddings.
- If you have guests coming in from out of town, check the convention calendar before you commit to a date. If there is a convention or event in town that is expecting more than 20,000 people in attendance, the hotel industry calls this a "city wide", in which the major hotel chains jack up their rates and start requiring 2 and 3 night minimums. The NOMCVB will check up to three dates for a bride who calls in directly. You can also call any Hilton, Marriott, or similar hotel in the downtown area and simply ask for a wedding room block quote for the weekend you're considering. If there is a city wide on those dates, the rooms will be expensive or not available at all. Many hotels rule out wedding blocks during major conventions and events.
- Create a wedding website before you send out a save the date. When you are planning a destination wedding, especially, people will rely on the website for hotel information, tips to navigating the city, and wedding agendas. When you're a local, this is the best way to share your gift registry, which can never be included in wedding invitation or save the date mailings. Free websites are easily found on most wedding sites, but I find that the simplest templates with the shortest URLs (without all the letters and numbers you see in some web addresses) are on www.weddingwire.com. Choose an address that's easy to remember, like your two first or last names, and use the wedding date or a significant word as a password. You don't have to have the whole website complete by the time the save the date goes out, but you do want to include your website address in the mailing.
- Pick your venue before your pick your dress if you want more location options. The wedding dress sets the tone for the entire event. If you choose a formal location, you'll probably want a formal dress. If you choose a more comfortable feeling space, you may want to go with a more simple style of gown. Your invitation will follow along with whatever tone you choose, giving guests the first idea of what the wedding attire will be. The more formal the invitation, the more formal the dress code.
- Send save the dates out up to one year in advance. The save the date does not have to match the wedding invitation, so this is your chance to have a little fun. Postcard save the dates are an inexpensive alternative. Create your own or use picture postcards from your wedding destination city.
- When you create your guest list, include phone numbers. Once your RSVP deadline (30 days before is my go-to RSVP date) passes, you'll want to call each of the guests that did not respond, or have a family member or friend call, so that you can get an accurate guest count for catering and venue needs. When I make these calls for my clients, I say something like "The bride and groom didn't receive your RSVP, so they're worried that you didn't receive your invitation." This gives the guest the chance to RSVP without feeling like they've been rude by not responding on time. Usually they admit that they forgot or simply answer yes or no.
Photo courtesy of www.bestofneworleans.com and Scriptura