In the East Coast, wedding receptions tend to be 6 hour-affairs, with a formal sit down dinner and dancing. When my mom and I headed to New Orleans in search of a wedding venue, it quickly became apparent that people do things differently down there. New Orleans-style receptions are 3 hours long, buffet style and have a cocktail party feel. There's no assigned seating (in fact, there usually aren't enough chairs for every guest!) Since we were doing our wedding in New Orleans, we figured, let's do it how the locals do (although we insisted on proper assigned seating).
We had our reception at the Board of Trade, which back in the day used to be a place in New Orleans where stocks were traded, but it is now converted into an event space. It's an old historic building with a lot of character and fitted the look of our wedding perfectly.
Dan and I decided we would not partake in any of the standard wedding activities (cut the cake, toss the bouquet, etc.) Given that we only had a 3-hour party, I am so glad we made that decision. Otherwise it would have felt like we were rushing around trying to cross off a to-do list rather than enjoy our party. After we started taking swing dance lessons, we made one exception: we'd have a first dance.
Here's the secret: We had no idea what our song would be. Our band played dixie jazz music (not really our forte) so we contacted them a few times prior to the wedding asking them to suggest an appropriate song for us. They never got back to us. Our dance instructor choreographed a little number for us but we never knew if the moves would actually work with the music. So when we stepped out on the dance floor, we had no idea what we were in for. The song ended up being "It Had to Be You" which was a nice choice, and we just made up the moves as we went along. This is basically how our conversation went while we danced:
"You have the weirdest look on your face," Dan said.
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"I have never seen this look on your face before. You're smiling but you look terrified."
"I feel like my boobs are going to pop out of my dress."
"But I feel like they are."
"Stop making that face."
I looked over to the 62 smiling faces staring at us.
We looked a little stiff out there but I am pleased that there was no Janet Jackson-style boob crisis and every time I think of the moment, it makes me laugh. I am happy that some of our guests really got down on the dance floor.
Our first dance.
The band chose a nice song...
...and boobs stayed securely in place.
All the food served at the wedding was New Orleans cuisine. We had cocktail hour in the courtyard where guests enjoyed coconut shrimp, mini muffaletta sandwiches, praline brie bites and crawfish cakes. Our buffet had Cajun turkey, pork loin with mango sauce, jambalaya, salad, fruits, veg, twice baked potatoes, and shrimp and grits.
Everyone was expecting us to have a cupcake tower in lieu of a wedding cake (I am a bit of a cupcake lover, if you haven't heard), but I couldn't resist the idea of a cake buffet with five different cakes. It's all my cake dreams come true: beautiful cakes to admire and the idea you could try all different flavors. Not to mention the cakes were amazingly moist and tasty! I surprised Dan with the cake topper that was made to look like us, which he loved.
The Giannandreas get a bite out of the muffalettas.
Katie, Matt, Josie and Scott enjoy Abitas at cocktail hour.
Eating and drinking at Table #1.
David delivered a killer best man speech.
Little Katrine from Belgium gave us the cutest wedding gift (just from her): bride and groom Smurf figurines!
Pete and Brett share a romantic moment.
The cake buffet. The cake flavors were chocolate peanut butter, strawberry shortcake, wedding almond, lemon and red velvet.
The mini-Squeen cake topper.
We were super excited to surprise our guests with one of the great New Orleans traditions of all time: A second line band. The tradition is that there is a parade of brass instruments and the procession includes the band, the bride and groom who carry parasols, and the "second line" which is basically everyone who follows, waving handkerchiefs. For me, it was probably one of the most exciting moments of the day (although the whole day was pretty fun for me) and it really ended the reception in one great big bang!
Dancing to the band!
Everyone circles us!
I'm loving every minute!
The band escorted everyone out of the building.
Kayleen and Julien danced on the fountain.
Hip! Hip! Hooray!
Pictures by Susan, Apice, Nell, Gerda and Morten, Pete, Annie, Ara, Meagan (i think ;)