Thuy and Paul had a beautiful wedding filled with so many traditions from both New Orleans and their own families. It was a stunning celebration in one of our favorite venues. We had such a great time collaborating with Thuy and her rockstar vendors.
What was the most memorable part of the wedding planning process?
We were truly grateful for the chance to bring our loved ones together and celebrate a relationship that we patiently waited to materialize, and worked hard to foster. Both of us were raised by extraordinary parents who exemplified core values of love and sacrifice. We were also greatly appreciative to friends and colleagues who provided support. Having the opportunity to plan a grand event and bringing together people from all aspects of our lives into one warm, loving, and lively setting was the most memorable part of the wedding process.
Why did you choose New Orleans and specifically Latrobe’s on Royal for your big day?
I grew up in Baton Rouge so I have roots in Louisiana (husband is from Arizona). We live in Dallas now and while it is a great city, Dallas isn’t “home.” We had a LOT of family and friends flying to the wedding so we wanted to make the destination a place everyone wanted to go and make a vacation out of it for their own personal enjoyment. New Orleans was such an easy choice. The city offers so much in terms of history, culture, music, and food. It is also very walkable, friendly, full of positive energy, and reasonably priced. It is a perfect place for a long weekend, and there is no other place like this in the world. We were excited to introduce our out of town guests to the wonders of the city. While many of them have visited the city before, no one had ever attended a Nola wedding and that is an experience in itself!
We chose Latrobe’s on Royal just based on gut instinct and immediate connection to the venue. We knew we wanted a historical place that was IN the French Quarter. There are many great venues in Nola but our priority was location in the heart of the quarter. We also loved the rustic beautiful elegance of Latrobe’s, we appreciated the historical significance of the building, and we liked the layout and how the rooms are set up to flow. Based on research and reviews, and conversations with those in the industry, we were confident in their level of service and what they provided in terms of assistance.
Which New Orleans traditions did you add to your big day and why?
It was very important to us to get married in the French Quarter, and the venue had to be a historical building with significance to New Orleans. Latrobe’s easily met this criteria, and we found the space truly reflected the French Quarter style.
We hired Kinfolk and the planning team at Frenchmen Street Productions to organize the Second Line parade, music, route, etc. We also ordered customized hankies from Backyard Printing, and we brought in hundreds of Mardi Gras beads to be passed out. On some level, I think we only had a wedding just so we could have the parade! This was such a highlight for us and our guests.
Our wedding menu was all New Orleans favorites. We opted for the cocktail setup rather than sit-down dinner because you can have more choices. Our menu included gumbo and etouffee, and lots of other great foods.
Wedding desserts were passed hot beignets and Bananas Foster station. Both were a delight but the Bananas Foster station really made an impression on our guests! The nice staff manning the station told one guest she had never seen anyone eat as many Bananas Fosters as our wedding!
My husband and I, as well as our bridal party, all stayed at the Monteleone Hotel. We enjoyed many drinks together at the Carousel Bar!
I had a bridal tea at the Ritz Carlton on Canal Street. We all dressed up and wore hats / fascinators. It was so much fun.
We had a Friday night crawfish boil for the rehearsal dinner. Clesi’s handled the catering and I cannot say enough good things about this team. My husband’s family is from California and Arizona so the boil was really special for them, and Clesi’s did an amazing job with the food. Besides the crawfish, we also had fried catfish and bread pudding. We held the boil on a private patio at the Rusty Nail, another New Orleans staple.
Tell us about your dress changes!!
I had 3 dress changes - ceremony dress, reception dress, and áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress - pronounced “ow yie”). That is actually the standard number for Vietnamese weddings :). It is customary for Vietnamese brides to have at least 3 dresses.
Generally, brides wear the áo dài for the ceremony. We had a Buddhist ceremony with monks from my temple in Baton Rouge so it was quite enchanting to see these saffron-robed monks against the New Orleans backdrop. I don’t know why I chose to wear my ceremony dress for the Buddhist ceremony (and saved the áo dài for the Second Line) but I went with instinct. In selecting the ceremony dress, I wanted simple, lace, fitted (no poofy ballgown, no cream puff look), and a sexy but classy back to the dress. I bought my dress at BHLDN, an offshoot of the Anthropologie stores. The dress was called Suri and the designer is Catherine Deane. It fit me well, reflected my style, and it went well with the setting at Latrobe’s.
My reception dress was also from BHLDN - the Montreal dress. I actually bought this dress just because I liked it. I had not planned to wear it at the wedding and after conversing with a colleague about my recent purchase thought, “well why not?” I loved the high collared neck in the front and the sexy strappy back that served as contrast. I purchased a beaded and sequined satin ribbon, and my bridesmaid used her Chanel pin to fashion a belt for me to give the dress some flair. I wore the ceremony dress for the bridal portraits, ceremony, toast, and the cocktail hour of the reception, and then changed into the reception dress for most of the dancing and dinner portion.
At the end of the night, when the Second Line started, I changed into the áo dài. Vietnamese wedding colors are red and gold but I originally wanted a white version to match my parasol :). My aunt and uncle in Vietnam were tasked with finding a custom tailor to sew the dress but when the final product arrived to the U.S., it really wasn’t the right style. These dresses take a long time to make and I scrambled for backup plans. Through a good friend, I finally found the áo dài I wore to the wedding - it was a stunning red and gold design, when what I had been looking for initially is a white gown, which goes to show that life is all about Plan B :). The dress had been custom made, it featured an intricate gold floral embroidery over red lace overlay, and the matching red tunic and pants were made of a heavy silk. I also wore a matching khăn đóng (formal headdress). It was a beautiful dress and I was fortunate to wear it. It was more important for me to wear the áo dài to showcase my culture rather than showcase myself. For that reason, I had my mom, sisters, and nieces also wear áo dài and we made a grand entrance together. I asked them to all choose difference colors and designs so everyone could see the vivid and varied representation of the Vietnamese heritage. The red and gold áo dài made for a great contrast to the black and white Second Line parade and parasols, and the mix of east and west cultures blended so well together.
I want to give special thanks to the Girls in Black (GIB) for making the dress changes happen so flawlessly. I could sense some hesitation from others when I brought up the dress changes but GIB assured me they would find a way to make it work - and they did. They carved out moments in the schedule for the dress changes, and gave me a lot of instruction on how to pack, what to bring, etc. to help with a seamless transition and to avoid me spending too much time getting dressed and missing out on my own wedding. I am truly appreciate for all they did to make the wedding a happy success.
Why was decor & lighting important for your wedding aesthetic?
Ambience is key in any setting. We wanted our guests to walk into the space and have an immediate reaction, be instantly impressed. We wanted our wedding decor to radiate New Orleans elegance, classic charm, and romance. Latrobe’s provides a great layout for this design but we really needed Luminous to highlight the features of the venue to create an overall beautiful setting. If the lighting is too bright, the venue looks harsh. If the lighting is too dark, the venue looks dated. Luminous knew how to showcase certain areas of the venue, where to place the tea candles, where to place the heftier candles, how to intermix the bulbs, etc. We have attended weddings where the bride and groom did not focus on the decor and it’s an obvious blight on the background setting, and doesn’t elevate the mood of the wedding. I truly believe providing a beautiful space for our guests enhanced everyone’s experience, and therefore culminated in a memorable wedding for us.
Did you enjoy the design process with the Luminous team?
YES. I loved every part of the planning with Luminous. I appreciated that we did one of our meetings at Latrobe’s itself to envision the layout, and another meeting in their warehouse so I could see all of their beautiful pieces. Everyone was kind, supportive, and truly invested in our wedding. I am one of a thousand brides but they always made me feel like this was their wedding too. Wedding planning is stressful and there are so many decisions to make. From our first call, I told Luminous I needed a vendor that was decisive and informative and could provide clear guidance. All this “it’s whatever the bride wants” was not for me. Luminous was able to deliver in their execution without ever overstepping boundaries. I was truly able to let this one go and have trust and comfort knowing it was in good hands and would turn out beautifully.
What is your favorite memory from wedding day?
My husband and I come from VERY different backgrounds / interests, and that is reflective in our friends and family. Even within our own circles, we have a lot of variety in the people of our lives. I envisioned that our friends and family would stick to their own circles but that did not happen at all. My favorite memory is looking out on the reception and seeing ALL of our circles intermingling. Cousins from both sides are dancing with friends from both sides, my college-age nephew is dancing with my husband’s aunt, my uncle who flew in from France is conversing with a colleague, etc. I saw so many examples of old and new friends and family engaging, and it was heartwarming to provide a space where people can truly come together.
Do you remember what you were thinking when you saw the completed ceremony & reception space for the first time?
Pre-ceremony was a blur…:p. Once I got a chance to breathe and relax, I was finally able to enjoy the elegant beauty of the space provided by Luminous, and in conjunction with our florist Herbivore. I loved the romantic lighting and the abundance of candles, how the florals and lights intertwined, the variations of lights in different sizes / textures / styles / colors, and…the LOVE sign provided a great photo op!
What advice would you give to other couples trying to plan their big day?
Random bits of advice:
Go into the wedding planning with the expectation that this is an iceberg, and all you need to do is chip away one piece at a time. I tried not to think of the wedding as one big event because that is too overwhelming. I set a weekly goal for each task, ie one week is florals, one week is invitations, one week is music, etc. By dividing the tasks into pieces, I was able to focus and have good judgment on one portion of a very big pie.
Let people help. Yes, it is hard to let go. But you can do it. You NEED to do it. Provide them with detailed specific instruction to help delegate the tasks and ensure thorough response.
Try to have FUN with the wedding planning. In moments of severe angst and worry, I always tried to take a step back, breathe deep, and remind myself “have FUN with this planning, it is a GOOD thing, weddings are a time for celebrations and love.” Do NOT let your happiness be marred by stress.
Prepare yourself for some disappointments - weather, booked vendors, guests who don’t show up, etc. There will simply be moments of disappointment in the wedding process. Brace yourself for those moments and know that in the end, the good moments outweigh the bad moments.
Have a small bridal party. Sometimes more is not merrier. Sometimes less is more :). I had only 2 bridesmaids. I found other ways to incorporate good friends, ie House Party.
Get a GOOD night sleep before the wedding - my bridesmaids put me on a 10 pm curfew!
Choose a great venue with high reviews and pay attention to those where brides refer to the venue having great vendors. Knowing Latrobe’s worked only with high quality vendors, I happily stuck to their list and it saved a lot of hassle trying to research other vendors.
Listen to your vendors, at least if you trust them. I trusted mine. They have done this a million times. There are quite a few things I hadn’t planned to do that I ended up doing based on their recommendation and it worked out for the best.
Figure out what areas are most important to you and book those FIRST. We cared most about officiant, photographer, and Second Line parade - so we secured those contracts first. It eased the stress of finding the other vendors knowing we had those in place.
Don’t be afraid to stray from tradition. Embrace it. I received a lot of comments before the wedding about how I wasn’t having a cake (we opted for passed beignets and Bananas Foster station). I doubted myself a dozen times but stuck with it and I am glad I did. Those desserts were much more memorable, especially for our out of town guests. We also didn’t do a fancy rehearsal dinner the night before. We opted for a good ole crawfish boil and it was the most fun. I chose not to wear my traditional Vietnamese wedding dress during the Buddhist ceremony and instead, I wore it for the Second Line parade because, well why not? :)
Anything that can wait after wedding planning - let it wait. Don’t take up space in your head and on your calendar with tasks that don’t have to be done now.
Don’t honeymoon right after the wedding - take the time to unwind and decompress. If you’re planning the wedding long distance, it makes a difference to meet with vendors in person. While it is an expense and hassle, we felt like the personal interaction was invaluable, and being onsite helped us envision the wedding and prepare plans.
Every decision I made about the wedding was from the lens not of what I, as the bride, wanted but what did my guests want? My husband and I cared a lot about our guests, and we felt so thankful they traveled to be there on our wedding day so we put a lot of thought and effort into what would make a good wedding for them, and by doing so it made for a good wedding for us.
Day-of planner is a MUST. We hired Girls in Black and they were great.
Get married in a place that is significant to you. New Orleans was a special place for us and it was so meaningful to get married here.
Trust your gut instincts.
What's next for the new Mr. and Mrs?!
My husband and I met later in life (we met on a blind date, on March 9th, the day we ended up getting married) than most people so we had already established full, happy independent lives before ever merging ours together. Married life hasn’t varied much from non-married life, which we view in a positive manner. We learned to be happy with our own selves before meeting and marrying.
We enjoyed decompression time after the wedding, and falling into normal daily living. We are still traveling and embarking on lots of new adventures, and actively planning our honeymoon. In August, we will travel for 3 weeks - 2 of which are in Vietnam to introduce him to my homeland and relatives, and 1 week in Borneo (Malaysia) and Singapore. We are bringing my elderly parents with us on the journey. I love traveling through Vietnam, and I look forward to sharing this experience with my new husband.
Thuy's 5-star review on The Knot: "Weddings are always a stress but without a doubt, Luminous Events alleviated a lot of my work and fears. It is hard for brides to let go (and I am worse than most) but I truly was able to do that with this vendor because I had such a high level of trust in their work. From the onset and initial inquiries, there was always a great balance of professionalism and friendliness, which is what you want in a vendor. I loved meeting Lisa and Caroline and the rest of the team, and had such a relief to be able to turn the design over into their very capable hands. They are also very reasonable in their pricing - what you get in concept and beauty is far more valuable in the costs. Our guests were blown away with the lighting and décor, and it was definitely an area of the wedding planning / budget well spent. They were receptive to feedback while at the same time able to execute direction and give me specific recommendations. I would 100% book with Luminous Events."
Day Of Coordination: Girls in Black Events @girlsinblack_events
Venue: Latrobe's On Royal @latrobesonroyal
Photo: Eau Claire Photographics @eauphoto
Florist: Herbivore Floral Designs @herbivorefloraldesigns
Lighting & Decor: Luminous Events @luminousevents
DJ: DJ Bryce A @djbrycea
2nd Line Band: Kinfolk Brass Band @kinfolkbrassband2019
Custom Hankies: Backyard Printing @backyardprintingusa
The rental items from Luminous Events included:
LOVE Marquee Sign
Window Sill Candles
Festoon String Lights over Ceremony