Weddings are great — if you don't mind dealing with vendors, wrangling invite lists, reserving blocks of hotel rooms, picking out bridesmaid gifts, etc. But if you want a ceremony that's as easy as showing up to a Las Vegas chapel but a touch more personalized, consider eloping.
Elopement packages are designed to provide the essentials — ceremony setup, officiant, cake, Champagne, bouquet and sometimes photography — for one flat fee. "A lot of guests just want the services of a small, quick wedding, and they find the [elopement] packages a good fit," says Marc Becker, director of marketing for the New Orleans Hotel Collection. If you'd like to say "I do" in a weathered French Quarter courtyard, a historic home, a St. Charles Avenue Victorian mansion or a Mississippi River steamboat, there's an elopement package that's right for you.
Grand Victorian (www.gvbb.com)
The Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast offers ceremony-only elopements for five people or fewer. The cost includes a two-night stay in the honeymoon suite.
"Most couples choose to get married in my Victorian-furnished front parlor in the bay windows that overlook St. Charles Avenue," says innkeeper Bonnie Rabe. "The red furniture in there is often the perfect accent to their photography." For groups of up to 35 people, Rabe asks couples to rent the whole house.
This steam-powered sternwheeler hosts weddings and elopements on the Mississippi River. An evening ceremony includes an officiant, wedding coordinator and witnesses, dinner, Champagne, toasting flutes and a photo for $575, and a day ceremony includes all these and costs $500. Cake and flowers can be added.
Degas House (www.degashouse.com)
The historic Esplanade Avenue mansion where Impressionist Edgar Degas lived and painted has been honored by The Knot, WeddingWire and Frommer's. "We've received several big awards and recognitions in the last couple of months via our weddings and events," says June Fallow, director of sales and marketing. "Degas House is a blank canvas, and you create your masterpiece."
The Estelle elopement package starts at $1,600 and includes an hour use of the parlor or courtyard for up to 10 guests, a bottle of Champagne, candles, photo opportunities and event coordination by Degas House staff.
The Bourbon Orleans is part of the New Orleans Hotel Collection, which offers a range of elopement options. Photo courtesy New Orleans Hotel Collection
New Orleans Hotel Collection
The New Orleans Hotel Collection comprises six hotels: Bourbon Orleans, Hotel Mazarin, Dauphine Orleans, Crowne Plaza New Orleans Airport, Hotel Le Marais and The Whitney Hotel. Elopement packages cost $1,600 for up to 12 guests and include three-hour access to spaces ranging from the courtyard at Dauphine Orleans to balconies at the Bourbon Orleans, as well as ceremony setup, an officiant, bridal bouquet and boutonniere, a small wedding cake and Champagne.
"[Couples] don't want to be in just another hotel ballroom," Becker says. "They want the authenticity and Old World feel, and that's what our balconies and brick courtyards provide."