Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our visit to Southern Oaks (September 21, 2009)

What you see online is what you get with this place. No, actually it’s way better in person. We had some friends get married in Destin, Florida a week after we booked Southern Oaks, so we decided on the way home from Destin to take the 4 hour drive over to New Orleans and go ahead and knock out actually seeing the venue we put A LOT of money down for!

We had one of the wedding coordinators show us around the place and answer all of our questions. After looking at the place and seeing how much more charming and beautiful it is in person, we sat down with the coordinator and signed contracts. She gave us a “Southern Oaks” folder that included all the information we needed to know, what forms to mail in, and where to be when – it was all very organized and simple – just how we like things. Of course, Tres, being the business-minded man he is, commented on their business structure and how they presented everything very well. He said, “They know what they’re doing.” :) If Tres approves on their business, I APPROVE!
Here’s why we LOVE Southern Oaks:

1) It’s all-inclusive. The ceremony and reception are both held there with the reception including a 75-item entrĂ©e and h’ordeuvres menu as well as a full-open bar with beer, wine, champagne, liquor, daiquiris, and Specialty drinks. Not to mention, the food and drinks are served throughout the entire reception.

2) It’s so Southern! It looks like Tara straight out of Gone with the Wind. It will be the perfect backdrop for a lady and gentleman!

3) VIP treatment. Right after the ceremony, as guests head into the ballroom for food, drinks, and dancing, the wedding party heads into the “wedding party room.” This room is roped off for just the wedding party, and we have our own bar to toast, chat for a minute, etc. After a toast, the wedding party leaves the bride and groom and we have a “private dinner,” where food is brought out to us to enjoy before we head out for all the hugs and congratulations from the guests. I, personally, have heard of many brides and grooms not even getting to eat the food at their own reception, so I like that we get a little moment of our own before being introduced and having our first dance.

4) The night ceremonies are TOO DIE FOR. And, we have decided on a night ceremony. They light up the plantation home with candles and spotlights – it’s gorgeous!

5) The food. I have read several reviews on the food served here and have heard it’s some of the best anyone has ever had at a wedding. I also spoke with some local New Orleans friends we have, and they said the same thing!

6) The service – We will have a full-wait staff for our wedding. This includes food servers for each section of the ballroom, cake servers, bartenders, chefs, and a wedding coordinator. And the best part? Tres will have his own personal attendant, I will have my own attendant, and our parents will have their own, so if we need anything at all throughout the night – they will be there for us!

Why Sunday?

We initially started thinking Sunday because we were going to try to get married on 10/10/10. Unfortunately, that date was already taken, but we still thought it would be good to have a Sunday wedding. I have worried a little bit about having our wedding on Sunday, but there are GREAT reasons why we have picked this day of the week. Here is our list of explanations for having a Sunday wedding:

- #1 reason: Our wedding party will have to take a day off of work regardless. If we had a Saturday wedding, they would have to take off Friday for the wedding festivities. So we figured, they can keep their Friday at work, festivities will be held Saturday, the wedding will be Sunday, and Monday will have to be taken off to travel home. Either way, it’s just one day missed of work!

- It’s a destination wedding, so for the people planning to come, they would have to take a day off of work anyway – no matter where the wedding is held.

- It’s the fall season, which means its FOOTBALL season, Tres says he would feel better knowing that there were no college games him and the guys would miss. So, the Saturday before while my girls and I are at the Bridal Luncheon, the boys can go watch football somewhere!

- We went to a Sunday wedding once, and LOVED IT!!! (SUNDAY FUN-DAY!!!!)

We have to lock down a date!

Sure, we hadn’t even seen the place in person, but we were pretty certain Southern Oaks was it for us. I immediately contacted them, got available dates from Sept-Nov, and sat down with Tres to decide on a date. Here was the bottom line when choosing a date: 1) try to also avoid hurricane season. 2) TENNESSEE VOLS football schedule as well as other important college football games in 2010.

The first thing Tres did was take out the Vols football schedule and got to work! He marked off the weekends with the biggest games and started searching for a possible “off” weekend. He found one the weekend of Oct. 16-17 was an off weekend, so we decided then and there that was our weekend, with October 17 being the date! We also looked at the LSU schedule as well, and so far, it’s an off weekend for them too – perfect!

Even though we had plenty of time to think about it, we didn’t want to take our chances - we really wanted to get a date locked down so no one could take it from us! Without hesitation, Tres called Southern Oaks and booked our date. That week, we mailed in our deposit and just hoped we actually liked the place in person. I never in a million years thought I could be so sure of a place without seeing it in person, but there was something about this place I knew was OURS!

Southern Oaks Plantation = the perfect venue for us!

After only a week of being engaged, I had already put a tremendous amount of thought into our wedding. To explain, I am pretty much obsessed with party and event planning and love to do it in my spare time – it’s really one of the only hobbies I have, so for a girl like me to get to plan an event as big as a wedding, this is like a dream come true. I promised Tres I wouldn’t drive him crazy, and he said he wants to be involved in the planning as much as possible, so I am grateful for that!

The idea/theme I have in mind is something like Southern-Vintage with a modern splash. Since Tres and I are both from the South, and we are having a New Orleans wedding, I thought a “southern” focus would be a great one, so when I ran across Southern Oaks Plantation online, I knew that was where we had to get married. It is the epitome of Southern – a huge Antebellum home with green grass and flowers surrounding it, a fountain it front of it, and a horse and carriage!
I tried my hardest after seeing this place to look at ALL of our New Orleans venue options, and while I picked out a few “maybes,” I knew if Tres liked Southern Oaks, that would be where we had to get married. Sure enough, I sent him a list of options, and Southern Oaks was IT for him. He loved how the ceremony and reception are all in one place, as well as the all-inclusive catering and full open bar Southern Oaks has to offer! After we fell in love with the place, we got to planning!

Friday, September 25, 2009

We are getting married in New Orleans!!!

On our last night in San Francisco we went to a spectacular sushi dinner and then discovered a cool hotel bar, The Starlight Room. While there, we started discussing where we should have our wedding. Tres had heard me say before that I did not want to have a Memphis wedding and he didn’t care to have a Knoxville wedding either. So, we started thinking of destination wedding ideas! We knew we wanted it close enough for all the friends and family to come who wanted to, but far enough and in an interesting and fun enough place for people to have a good time.

New Orleans had crossed my mind before for a number of reasons: His family is from there, a lot of his family is still in or around that area, it’s not too far from Memphis, and most importantly, his 89 year old grandmother who I just LOVE lives there, and this way, she would be able to come for sure if we had it there. So, when we started discussing it, I threw New Orleans out there not knowing what Tres response would be. To my surprise, he told me he had actually thought of the same place, and he would love to have our wedding there! (I’m telling you – we read each other’s minds… I am not even kidding!) We thought about how far it was from all our family and friends… those in Memphis, Knoxville, Austin, Jacksonville, Atlanta, etc. etc. After thinking about it, we realized this was the PERFECT place… all feasible driving distance from everyone! So it was set: NEW ORLEANS!!!!

Engagement (September 4, 2009)

Our special spot

Our engagement was fantastic, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more! On my list of “Top 5 Places to Visit in the U.S.,” San Francisco had been #1 since I could remember. Little did I know I would have my best friend ask me to be his bride there – right in front of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Me and both rings... haha! I thought this was so funny!

We had been in Napa Valley wine tasting and having a blast for two days straight, but during that time, I had no idea Tres was sweating. Not because he was going to propose to me once we got to San Francisco but because the ring he was supposed to propose with was not ready when we left for the trip – he was waiting on it to be delivered to our Bed and Breakfast in Napa. Tres, always prepared for anything, had went ahead and gotten another ring made just in case. This one came in on time, but it was not the right diamond. All Tres ever heard me say was how I wanted an Emerald shaped diamond, and when he got this one, it was a Radiant shaped diamond. All he could do was hope this other ring would be delivered to Napa and it would look exactly how he hoped it would.

On Friday, September 4, after a few more wine tastings in Napa, we headed to San Fran. He had been there many times before, so today was the day he was supposed to show me around the city. He showed me around Sausalito’s, drove through a park area and up a huge winding mountain, and then we headed to the Golden Gate Bridge. He was really stalling because he was trying to wait until sunset to propose, but we were being speedy tourists this day.

Once we got to the Golden Gate, I noticed a roped off area right in front of the bridge, so I had this big idea to put the video camera on one of the posts from the roped off area and film ourselves in front of the bridge. When we got in front of the camera, he took this as his chance, so he forgot the sunset idea and went for it. Most people say they never remember what was said during a proposal, but when he started talking, I made sure I stopped and listened. What he said was short, sweet, and perfect: “I love you so much, these past two years have been the best two years of my life, and I want that forever. Will you marry me?” After several OMG, Tres, OMG Tres, OMGs, I said yes. After a minute or two, I looked at the ring and almost fell to the ground. This man is oh so good to me, and I know he will be for a lifetime.