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Event Vision: New Orleans Cocktail Hour Part II

 

New Orleans inspiration board for weddings and events

 

 

We talked about food and drinks in Part I of our Event Vision: New Orleans Inspiration Series.  Today, we’ll focus on décor.  Since your cocktail hour will be a less structured and traditional part of your wedding reception, you can really embellish with details and color.  Unfortunately many people believe that the only thing available for New Orleans inspiration is Mardi Gras—which can quickly turn your event from a stylish fete into an instant cheesefest.  There is so much more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras and food—however, the same principals can apply to your décor:  go big and bold…with no apologies. 

 

 

Hanging Parasols for decor unusual unique wedding inspiration ideas Hanging parasols for wedding decor ideas lighting

 

One thing New Orleans is known for is parasols.  You can opt to use them as props for your pictures or photo booth, but definitely consider having them become an integral part of your décor.  Don’t confuse them with the oriental parasols, but seek out colorful and ornate Victorian parasols and hang them from the ceiling of your tent or reception venue.  They make a great entrance or lighting fixtures!

 

 

 

French Quarter in New Orleans

 

If your wedding is outside, you can still have your bit of New Orleans. One of my favorite things is the French Quarter’s wrought iron balconies.  You can have your own variation by bringing in your own iron elements such as arches, gates and fences and hanging lush ferns from them. 

 

 

 

 

Tufted bench for weddings lounge furniture 
Purple Baroque mirror frame for weddiing decor Tufted bench sofa seating Lounge furniture for weddings parties and events

 

 

 

New Orleans is an old city—full of rich history and culture.  Many of its architecture and design influences come from baroque periods and designers.  You can bring the old world into the new world by  incorporating modern pieces like these tufted benches for seating and baroque mirrors and frames.

 

Roses, ranunculus, peonies stock centerpiece bouquet arrangement elizabeth anne designs melissa schollaert

Photo:  Melissa Schollaert via featured wedding on Elizabeth Anne Designs

 

 

I really do love this arrangement of lush flowers on this antique gold stand.  Its fullness makes up for its size but provides soft colors (but feel free to go bolder!) which will look great on cocktail tables and bistro sets. 

 

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Speaking of bistro sets, toss a few around in your cocktail hour if it is outside, along with some vintage street lamps.  Both are a part of the New Orleans experience and can easily transport your guests. 

 

 

Don’t forget your décor for your reception either—small touches like naming your tables after New Orleans’ famous streets, making your food buffet look like it’s part of a Mardi Gras float can bring so much authenticity to your event.  Don’t forget about the music, either (you’d better not!):  Play songs from natives like Louis Armstrong, the Marsalis brothers, etc. to get people in the spirit.  If you really  want to get people moving—when it is time to get your guests to move on to the reception, do it Mardi Gras style with a trumpet player playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” taking them into the reception pied piper style.  If this doesn’t work for your event, you could always do it for your wedding reception entrance or send off, where guests can toss feathers and beads.

 

I hope this inspires you for your New Orleans’ themed wedding! 

 

*Garnish*: for more inspiration, check out these links:

http://www.mailelaniphotography.com/blog/martini-and-adam-•-married/

http://eventjubilee.com/blog/on-royal-street-french-inspired-photoshoot-in-new-orleans-part-ii/

http://www.projectwedding.com/wedding-ideas/new-orleans-wedding-dress

Event Vision: New Orleans Cocktail Hour

New Orleans wedding ideas food drink sezerac, st charles, gumbo, crawfish po boy inspiration ideas

New Orleans is world-famous for its food. The indigenous cuisine is distinctive and influential. From centuries of amalgamation of local Creole, haute Creole, and New Orleans French cuisines, New Orleans food has developed. Local ingredients, French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, Cajun, and a hint of Cuban traditions combine to produce a truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor1.   But it is not just the flavors of Louisiana that makes it special, it is the soul and spirit behind it. I come from a family that has roots in Louisiana and this passed down from generation to generation. You show your love by feeding people good, hearty meals.  I laugh as I write this now, because it doesn’t matter when you walk into my parents’ house, my dad will say “You want something to eat?” (he makes a mean gumbo, by the way).

dgw-beignets-project foodie  oyster-poboys-sl-258232-l--myrecipes

So when you ask your guests if they want something to eat, offer them unique specialties like  beignets (French doughnuts served with coffee and chicory, known as café au lait).  Oysters are an area favorite, and one way to get them with another favorite the Po’boy, above.   There is also absolutely no way anyone will let you leave New Orleans without trying a crawfish.  You can incorporate them into your cocktail hors d’oeuvres by offering  New Orleans French Bread Pizza – with Andouille Sausage, Crawfish and Provolone.

 

 

gumbo healthy-delicious

You can also serve “mini” version of New Orleans staples like étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Creole dishes.  The Monday favorite of red beans and rice (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, “Red beans and ricely yours”).

 

But what about your drinks?

 

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Well– everyone gets a Hurricane when they are in New Orleans.It’s an extremely sweet alcoholic drink made from lime juice, passion fruit syrup and rum.  Wikipedia says: “The creation of this passion fruit-colored relative of a Daiquiri drink is credited to New Orleans tavern owner Pat O’Brien. In the 1940s, he needed to create a new drink to help him get rid of all of the less popular rum that local distributors forced him to buy before he could get a few cases of more popular liquors such as scotch and whiskey.  He poured the concoction into hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses and gave it away to sailors. The drink caught on, and it has been a mainstay in the French Quarter ever since.”

 

First: awesome story.  Second:  I want one now.

 

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The official drink of New Orleans is the Sazerac.  It is said that “Hurricanes are for tourists, Sazeracs are for natives!”

 

Sazerac
2  1/2 oz Rye whiskey
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (remember him?)
1 small dash Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube
absinthe
lemon twist
couple of drops of water

Tools: spoon to stir and muddle with
Glass: two Old Fashioned or Sazerac glasses

 

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Of course, there is also the beautiful St. Charles Punch.  It’s just as rich as it is beautiful, so be prepared for robust flavor!

St. Charles Punch

Adapted from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em:

1 teaspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)
1 teaspoon orange curaçao
1-1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 ounces ruby port
1 ounce Cognac

Arthur’s original instructions: “Dissolve the sugar with a little water in a mixing glass. Add the lemon juice, the port wine, the Cognac, and last the curaçao. Fill the glass with fine ice and jiggle with the bar spoon. Pour into a long thing glass, garnish with fruit, and serve with a straw. […] Don’t omit the straw; this drink demands long and deliberate sipping for consummate enjoyment.”

 

Gorgeous picture and recipe from Chuck T’s Flickr Stream.

 

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If you really want to go authentic, create a mock Bourbon Street—with stations featuring cocktails some of the best establishments on the avenue.   Each station can be an ode to the local bars, such as Pat O’Brien’s, Bourbon Pub, Napoleon House and other bars and restaurants.

 

With New Orleans being full of such color and flavor, there will be no drought on inspiration for you to draw upon for your cocktail hour for your wedding reception.  Stay tuned for Part  Deux for inspiration for décor and other elements

 

 

 

 

 

1. Food in New Orleans, Wikipedia