The Ultimate Guide to Getting Married in New Orleans
With the French Quarter, second-line parades, and vibrant nightlife, New Orleans has a style all its own when it comes to hosting the ultimate wedding.
New Orleans is one of those Southern cities that brings distinct images to mind. Whether you think of the architecture of the French Quarter, envision yourself indulging in beignets, or desire to collect beads at Mardi Gras, it's no secret that this city knows how to celebrate in style. When you're throwing the ultimate party, New Orleans is the perfect place.
Beyond what comes to mind when people envision New Orleans, the city has so many other features. "New Orleans is so much more than Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras," reminds wedding officiant Vera Lester. "With 300 years of history, we have so much to offer for folks of all ages and interests." So get ready to open your mind and discover famous places and little-known areas in the ultimate guide to getting married in New Orleans.
Best Times to Get Married in New Orleans
Being on the southern Coast of the United States means that the city is hot. Although the winter months are perfect, other times of the year are sweltering, taking their toll on couples and their guests. "Remember that New Orleans is fabulous but hot," advises Michelle Zeller, owner of Decor on a Dime and NOLA Wedding Ceremonies. "If you're planning a wedding during the hotter months, choose an early or late start time to avoid the hottest part of the day." She also warns against the humidity, which catches many guests off guard on the wedding day.
The shoulder months surrounding summer tend to be ideal for planning a New Orleans weddings. "October and April are the most popular months for getting married, mostly because of weather," advises Lester. "Consider any time from October to May because we don't really have a winter." As a result, waterside views are stunning, and the landscape stays lush all year long.
If having photographs in the French Quarter is essential, head there around sunrise or right before sunset to avoid harsh shadows created by the surroundings. "The sun tends to duck behind buildings, but if you walk a block over, you can almost always find golden light," offers Theresa Matherne, owner of Theresa Elizabeth Photography. The city is on Central Daylight Time, so check for sunrise and sunset times as they vary significantly throughout the year.
Types of Wedding Venues in New Orleans
One well-known fact is that New Orleans lends itself to celebrations in various ways. "There's a reason New Orleans is so popular for destination weddings: everyone wants to come here," states Lester. "Whether you want to party in the French Quarter, enjoy the history, get out into nature in the swamp, or eat the best food of your life—there's something for everyone." The same goes for venues. The city has something perfect for everyone, with stunning gardens, fabulous architecture, and waterways at your fingertips.
Those who want to wed in the French Quarter have the option of getting married in intricately designed venues with riverside views. The Riverview Room has a gorgeous indoor space while boasting a rooftop with panoramas of downtown and the river. The Jaxon offers indoor and outdoor spaces with on-site gourmet catering. The French Quarter Wedding Chapel provides elopements and micro weddings in all-inclusive ceremony packages.
Downtown New Orleans also has a vast selection of venues beyond the French Quarter. Hotel Fontenot has an elegant ballroom for up to 400 guests and encompasses spaces ranging from an outdoor terrace to their decadent Peacock Room. Although centrally located, the Elms Mansion and Gardens is a private oasis complete with a gazebo and grand indoor staircase. To pay homage to New Orleans' musical roots, marry at Rosy's Jazz Hall.
For a gorgeous, natural backdrop, get married at the New Orleans Botanical Garden, which has indoor and outdoor spaces to accommodate various numbers of guests.
For a truly unique wedding venue, get married at the Audobon Nature Institute, a zoo and aquarium with several location options throughout the property. Another option is to wed on board a boat on the Mississippi River, like the Creole Queen. Cedar Grove Tchoupitoulas Plantation is a gorgeous property that can accommodate larger guest counts.
Choosing Local Vendors
One of the most important first steps for a New Orleans wedding is to consult with an event planner, such as Blue Skies Events or Ashley Rutherford Planning. Either one can help you get started and coordinate with other wedding professionals.
Leave the ceremony officiating up to Vera Lester or NOLA Wedding Ceremonies. To look and feel your best on your wedding day, head to Bliss Bridal for your gown, and let Biba Isla do your hair and makeup.
Commission Leaf Petal or Thibodeaux's Floral Studio to construct your wedding bouquets, centerpieces, and other floral needs. Distressed Rentals & Revival curates gorgeous seating and lounge areas with unique furniture rentals. Foxtrot Film Co. documents events via video, and Theresa Elizabeth Photography will capture stunning images of your festivities.
Elevate the food for your reception with Pigeon Caterers, and let Bittersweet Confections create a gorgeous cake designed with impeccable detailing. Keep your guests entertained with live music from Kinfolk Brass Band, or hire DJ Chris Stylez to keep the dance floor hopping.
Legal Considerations to Consider
As with any state, Louisiana requires a marriage license, which you can obtain in New Orleans. However, there is a 24-hour waiting period between getting your certificate and having your wedding ceremony. After that, the license is valid for 30 days.
There are also a few times where you will need a permit. One instance is a second-line, a traditional celebratory parade down the streets of New Orleans. Second-lines often involve bands and large groups of people, so don't skip the permit. "There are quite a few second-line bands here that include your permitting and police escort in their price, so it is one less thing you have to worry about," says Matherne.
She also advises that some areas need permits, even if it's just for photography. "New Orleans City Park and the interior of Jackson Square (inside the gates) are two big photography spots that require permits, and you can easily obtain one by visiting the park and city's website." Check with your planner, photographer, or the city to see which areas public areas require permits.
Incorporating Touches of New Orleans
Old Town Praline is the place to go for authentic pralines, which make lovely wedding favors. It also has parasols, handkerchiefs, and everything else you need to make your second-line a success. Megan Olsen Art handcrafts paper artwork, framed in beautiful French Quarter style. Her pieces make lovely gifts for your wedding attendants.
Wear studs or dangle earrings by Virginia Wynne Designs to complement your wedding gown. Commission an artist from Byrdie's Pottery to design keepsake cups for your toasting glasses or as wedding favors. Tuck locally roasted coffee from Mojo Coffee Roasters into welcome baskets for your guests, and incorporate spirits from Seven Three Distilling into your signature drinks.
Activities for Wedding Guests
"New Orleans is a beautiful city for a wedding," states Ashley Tuohy, owner of Ashley Rutherford Planning in New Orleans. She's confident that your guests will have a great time while immersing themselves in all the area offers. "The amazing architecture, delicious food, music heritage, and Southern hospitality are sure to steal your heart."
"New Orleans really is The Big Easy," says Zeller. "Our beautiful oak trees with hanging Spanish moss are so dreamy. Everyone loves our Southern accents." However, beyond the atmosphere, there are several specific places for guests to see. Bourbon Street houses restaurants and a vivid nightlife for those who want after-hours entertainment and eatery options. Canal Street has shops and the occasional parade, which means you never know what to expect.
The city also houses unique museums, such as the New Orleans Jazz Museum and the Lousiana Children's Museum. Those with a penchant for oddities will enjoy the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum or the Museum of Death. Finally, visitors who like to spend time outdoors can take a boat tour at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve or Longue Vue House and Gardens.
No matter which New Orleans wedding venue you choose, you and your guests will enjoy the flavors, music, and architecture for which the city is known. "We're all so laid-back, welcoming, and inviting," advises Zellar. "You'll often see a pop-up elopement in the French Quarter, where strangers watch quietly from afar and clap and cheer when the couple kisses." So whether you want to plan an intimate elopement or a large wedding, New Orleans is the perfect place to do so.