For the most part, booking our vendors was a relatively easy selection process for us. Of course, being in the industry, we were already familiar with the work of those that we wanted to work with which helped immensely. We do recommend meeting with 2-3 vendors in the bigger categories of importance to you. You’ll want to make sure you like their work, but also their work ethic. Most of the time you can get a good feel for a person by spending a little bit of time with them. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it may not be a good match, and there’s probably someone else suited to your tastes just a phone call away.
I had actually known for a long time that I wanted us to get married in Jackson Square. Several years ago I was helping Doug photograph a wedding in Jackson Square, and as we headed over to the reception I looked at him with puppy dog eyes, and said, “Can we please get married here?” That day stuck, and ultimately that’s where we knew we would end up doing it once the time was right for us. We love this city with everything in us, and Jackson Square is the center of it all. To us it represents all things New Orleans — the people, the history, the music, and even the aromas of the food are all just steps away. During our ceremony we could actually hear a brass band playing in the background. To some, this may have been an inconvenience, but to us, it just added to the authenticity of our Nola wedding. Another reason for wanting to wed outdoors is that we’re crazy photographers — we wanted the beautiful daylight for our photos. All of this considered, and after only four hours of sleep on the night we got engaged — I was up at the crack of dawn calling the Parks and Recreation Department to find out how to book our date.
Which I suppose I should take a step back for a moment and talk about selecting a date. It’s a good idea when you start calling your major vendors to have one or two dates so that you can see if everyone you want aligns on a particular date. Doug and I had actually even discussed dates before he proposed because as wedding photographers our lives are planned out pretty far in advance. Like most Nola natives that have outdoor weddings especially — our first option probably would have been sometime in October. However, that is always our busiest month of the year. The next nicest weather month we decided was April. I’ve always thought of the number 7 as being lucky, so April 7th it was!
The night Doug proposed he informed me that he had already booked Groovy 7 for our band, months before asking me to marry him!! We both LOVE Groovy 7, and hands down knew that we had to have them at our wedding. They put so much work and dedication into their music. We have seen them rehearse before — they take it very seriously. I have tons of respect for them as individuals and as a band. Each member is so sincere and kind — they are all just honest to goodness amazing people. And on your wedding day, you want as many people you can find like that surrounding you.
Doug had also already arranged a meeting for the next day with the reception venue that was on the top of our list — Bourbon Orleans. With having Jackson Square as our first choice for the ceremony we knew that Bourbon Orleans would be a convenient destination for the reception. We liked the ambiance of their ballroom, and knew it would be about the perfect size for our 150 or so guests. Everything went great with the meeting, so we signed on the dotted line.
So within 24 hours we had a location for the ceremony and reception, and a band on the books! What a crazy start!
Over the next couple of weeks we worked on securing the rest of our vendors. We didn’t know much about flowers, but being the pragmatic people we are, we knew we didn’t want to spend a whole lot of our budget there because we knew it was something that we wouldn’t have afterwards. But we also realized that the color and such can really add to the style and ambiance in the photos. We were initially going to meet with two or three local florists that we knew. Then we realized that we’d have to turn two down if we did this, and we didn’t want to have to do that. We had recently done several weddings with Ashley of Nola Flora, so we decided to meet with her. The meeting went great, and we booked her! Her work is incredible. I don’t know the names to many flowers –so I showed her photos of some of the things I loved. The day of the wedding it could’t have been more perfect! She did a fabulous job!!
Hair and Makeup isn’t necessarily something a bride thinks to book right away, but if you have someone you love, there’s no sense waiting and risking them not being available once you’re ready to book. Again, I knew that I really wanted Heather with Flawless Bride. We had worked numerous weddings with her and her team, and the brides and bridesmaids were always happy. I also knew that from working with Heather that she takes a lot of pride in her work. She’s very devoted to her clients, and wouldn’t dream of leaving a bride on the wedding day until she’s happy with everything. I’ve been with her when a bride was having a hard time explaining what she wasn’t sure about , and Heather has so much patience because she wants the bride to be happy. I think that says a lot about her. I was completely wowed with each experience I personally had with her. (She did my hair for engagements, bridals, boudoir, and the wedding day!) For the most part I’d give her a few thoughts as to what I wanted to look like, and then I’d let her run with it from there — each time I was blown away and felt incredibly beautiful. Heather also has the sweetest personality — and calming presence. I knew that I wanted her in my room on the wedding day in case I was stressing over anything.
As for videography, we used to think that we wouldn’t need a videographer if our photographer was doing their job — but then we started to see the really awesome videos that are created these days, and we began to reconsider. Since we were paying for the wedding on our own, it wasn’t going to be something we had a large budget for — so we thought we’d ask what we could get for our money. However, before we could even approach Studio Vieux Carre, Terry messaged me. She told me that they wanted to cover our wedding. They believed in a pay it forward approach being that we are in the industry, and they would love to document our wedding! I was floored! I literally had tears in my eyes! I could not believe their generosity. Wow!!! Again — exactly the kind of people I wanted to share my wedding day with. We have always thought the world of Terry and Joe (her son), they are both so kind and passionate about their professions. And in one word, amazing!! The two things after the wedding that we were soooooo glad we decided to have was videography and a planner — and those were initially the vendors we considered opting out of. I’m so glad we didn’t!!
I briefly touched on the idea of a planner above. Doug was for hiring someone from the beginning — but I was the one that had to be convinced. I felt like because we do this every weekend that we wouldn’t need someone because we know what to do. However, we both agreed to have a meeting with Valerie of Sapphire Events. After our first meeting with Valerie, I never once looked back. I was super thrilled to have her included in our list of vendors. I knew with her running the show that everything would go off seamlessly. Again — we’ve had the opportunity to work with Valerie numerous times — her work is her passion. When you hire Valerie, you have someone that will do whatever it takes to get the job done. When we first hired Valerie she hadn’t quite launched Sapphire Events, but was just doing a few things on the side. Now, her business is thriving!! We are so excited to watch her success and growth. She’s incredible! Don’t think you can do it all — while maybe it’s possible, it will be stressful. Let someone else take over all the details leading up to the wedding. You’ll enjoy it all so much more!!
Finally — of the main vendors, a photographer was obviously the one of utmost importance on our list. We realized that after all of the food had been eaten, the last song danced, the flowers cleared, the dress cleaned — the only thing remaining would be our photos (and our video). And as photographers we have such an appreciation for the saying, “a photo is worth a thousand words.” In our opinion, they are also worth several thousand dollars, which is why we invested heavily in our photography budget. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it was important for us to talk/meet with several photographers first to ensure that we not only liked their work, but that we liked their personalities as well. We knew in advance, that of all of our vendors, the photographer would spend the most time with us leading up to the wedding and on the day of the wedding. We were looking at photographers that were not local, two being out of state. So we ended up only being able to do phone meetings. But after we chatted with everyone Stacy Reeves was definitely the perfect match for us. She got her start in photography in a near identical fashion to Doug — so they hit it off right away. And Stacy and I just love everything girly and pretty — and her work is so romantic. I had been a fan of her work for several years — never even considering that someday she might photograph my wedding! It was so wonderful to to finally meet her. We’ve become friends throughout the journey — such a wonderful bonus!
Our other vendors also fell into place as we finished up our final details. We had Abstract Productions for lighting in the reception. (Lighting is so key to creating ambiance and depth in your photos.) We hired Southern Hospitality for chairs and some ceremony details. And we had Wardell Lewis as our Grand Marshall for our second line leading Young Pinstripe. Everyone went above and beyond — we were so thrilled and so thankful for all of the hard work that went into making our day perfect! We couldn’t have asked for anything more. I hope I haven’t left anyone out — I’ll have to pull out my wedding binder to make sure.
Pinterest was just making itself known to social media near the beginning of our wedding planning, but I still looked at a lot of photos without the world of Pinterest. I simply took screenshots of ideas that I liked. I’m kind of glad Pinterest wasn’t popular yet, I may have gone crazy with too many ideas! Below are a few images that I used for inspiration for our flowers, cake, and colors.
Next up…….a ritual if you will, that was passed on to us by a good friend that we put to use for each of our wedding related events. Stay tuned!