When it comes to selecting the perfect site for a wedding and reception, the choices are seemingly endless. Some couples go purely for the beauty of a space and may want to exchange vows in a lush French Quarter courtyard, such as those at the Maison Dupuy or Louis XVI Restaurant Français, both of which can accommodate at least 150 people.
Those who want a taste of New Orleans flora but need larger spaces can check out the ritzy Pavilion of the Two Sisters with a backdrop of the New Orleans Botanical Gardens at City Park, the chic Audubon Tea Room at the zoo or the Aquarium of the Americas at the base of Canal Street and the Mississippi River.
Many of the city's restaurants have special rooms for wedding receptions and afford the added convenience of in-shop catering and bar services as well as supplying table settings and decor. Most of the local hotels offer their ballrooms for receptions and many also have beautiful spaces that are perfect for the marriage ceremony, plus the bridal couple and guests can stay at the hotel without having to find transportation to and from the wedding and reception. Which is the best for you depends on your tastes, whether the hotel catering and bar offerings match your expectations, and, of course, your budget.
The city also offers plenty of options for those seeking weddings that are out of the ordinary. If art makes your heart flutter, get married at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Did you fall in love on a Carnival parade route? Then consider a ceremony and reception among that holiday's vestiges at Mardi Gras World. Does the Mississippi River strike you as particularly romantic? You can take your vows with a riverboat captain and celebrate on the Steamboat Natchez or Riverboat John James Audubon.
If New Orleans history is your binding glue, stage your special event at the Musee Conti Wax Museum in a turn-of-the-century building in the French Quarter, The Herman Grima House mansion (which will coordinate catering from nearby Broussard's restaurant), the historic Degas House Bed & Breakfast, or the Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion.
If comfort, luxury and New Orleans-inspired surroundings are your desire, consider the AAA five-diamond Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, which gives bridal couples a choice of two ballrooms, a rooftop terrace or a fountain-anchored rotunda for the ceremony and party. The Hotel Monteleone has landscaped roof and pool areas that provide inspiring views of downtown as well as beautiful appointments inside the hotel. The majestic Gallier Hall on Lafayette Square in the Central Business District is a testament to New Orleans' grandeur and history -- it served as City Hall for a century and still is outfitted in antiques of the era.
If you prefer an Uptown setting, Magnolia Mansion can accommodate receptions of up to 350 guests (plus guest house rooms and suites), or there's the more offbeat Rosy's Jazz Hall on Tchoupitoulas, a late 1800s building that once was home to the legendary Rosy's nightclub. Smaller parties can choose the Columns Hotel, with rooms appointed with antiques and a porch and front lawn that open onto St. Charles Avenue's streetcar line, or the nearby Milton H. Latter Memorial Library, once the residence of silent film star Marguerite Clark and her husband, pioneer aviator Harry P. Williams.
You can even get married at the beautiful Myra Clare Rogers Memorial Chapel on the Tulane University campus, which is graced with three impressive stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the late 1800s.
There are literally scores of other choices in the area, from St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square to any of a number of plantation homes, mansions and party halls that dot the landscape from here to Baton Rouge as well as across Lake Pontchartrain. Just choose the place that means the most to you or contact a party planner who can help you seek out the best wedding and reception location for you.