I love Louisiana, New Orleans, and Mardi Gras and I wanted to share all of those things with my favorite people. For overall cost purposes, access to tourist spots, and availability, we decided to not host the party during the actual Mardi Gras weekend. The first weekend of February worked perfectly: close enough to the actual holiday that we got to see some parades but far enough out that we had minimal, to no, lines at all the must-see places, like Café Du Monde.
My friends are from all over the country, and most had never been to Mardi Gras, so when I was working with Ashton at Blush and Bashful Bachelorette Party Planning (now called Jetset Bachelorette), we looked for the highlights of a New Orleans trip. She planned a wig party, a second line, and a balcony on the famous Bourbon Street! We had a home base at the Le Pavillon Hotel on Poydras Street, and the Royal St. suite was the perfect spot to host hangouts and the lingerie shower!
QUICK N’ DIRTYWhere: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: 4 days at the beginning of February
Theme: Mardi Gras
Who: A big group of 15 girls (including me) for the festivities!
THE DESTINATION: New Orleans, Louisiana
★★★★★ (100% perfect!)
I have been lucky enough to be Miss Louisiana twice, and during that time, I fell in love with all things Louisiana. New Orleans was originally a trading camp along the Mississippi River. The first organized community that developed from that camp still exists today as the famous French Quarter, with its streets named after French royalty. New Orleans has continued to grow along the curve of the Mississippi, eventually garnering the moniker “Crescent City”, for the distinguishing shape of the city. The myriad offerings and experiences the city has can present a challenge to new visitors, from music and art, to history, site-seeing and people-watching, and, importantly so, indulging in the local food and drink. I didn’t even have to think about it when planning my bachelorette—I wanted to spend the weekend in New Orleans as close to Mardi Gras as possible. I wanted it to be a nice balance between big, planned-out activities, but also include some free time and rest periods. We kept everything classy, nothing too raunchy, and this ended up the perfect time of year to be there! Just enough crowds so that we didn’t feel alone but not so crowded that we couldn’t get into anything.
Photo credits: Unsplash
★★★★★ (100% perfect!)
We stayed at Le Pavillon New Orleans!
Room details: The Royal St. suite has all the room necessary for a party of this size, with a living room, dining room with seating for 10, and two separate bedrooms each with full bathrooms with showers.
Cost per night: Avg. $125 for standard rooms but prices do spike around important holiday and event weekends, with accommodations ranging from rooms to expansive suites.
Perks/bonuses: A quick walk to the French Quarter!
Photo credits: Le Pavillon Hotel
We took a total of 4 days, with Thursday and Sunday being travel days.
DAY 1: FRIDAY ► The BIG day!
Outfits: Daytime: This Bride Cray tank top from Bachette.com, with a red furry jacket, black leggings, and over-the-knee boots. The girls wore the black Let’s Get Cray tank tops with fun accessories.
Evening: I wore a silver Lavish Alice dress and my girls all wore cocktail outfits in Mardi Gras colors: gold, green or purple.
▸ Morning: I surprised the girls with an appointment at Town and Country Bridal to pick up my wedding dress. Since my wedding is an intimate ceremony in England, with just family in attendance, this is the perfect opportunity to have a special moment with my girls. There were 11 of us (myself and 10 girls!) and we made an appointment at 11:30am so there would be plenty of time to try on the dress and then go get some food. It was PERFECT. The staff brought us all champagne, and while most of us were emotional as I tried it on, my girl Shannon had an eagle eye for the dress to make sure it was perfect. I am so glad I could share such a special moment with them.
▸ Afternoon: The afternoon was free time for everyone, and I have been dying to try this really fun place called The Vintage—they have amazing beignets and mimosas, and the perfect piano bench for Instagram photos. After, my sister and I left the group to get our makeup done for the night by an absolute superstar, Meggan Ory. She gave me the dream Mardi Gras look, with silver sparkles, purple shadow and full lashes. The other girls had a great time wandering around New Orleans, popping into various shops, and picking up faux fur jackets, earrings, and even full outfits to wear that night!
▸ Evening: We all reconvened at Le Pavillon that evening to make sure everyone had their second line handkerchiefs (a quick aside and explanation of the New Orleans second line tradition), Mardi Gras beads, and champagne. (FYI: in the French Quarter you can carry an open container of alcohol on the sidewalks and streets, but it better not be in a glass container! Keep it in a plastic to-go cup or bottle please.) Our first stop of the night was Fifi Mahoney’s Wig Shop on Royal Street. We paid ahead of time so it was easy for the crew to stay in budget but we could always get a fancier wig and accessories if we wanted. I chose a long curly white wig with headband and veil (thanks Tori!). The combination perfectly coordinated with my custom sash and veil from Sassy Sash. After we all drank champagne, and the amazing staff fit us with our dream wigs, Vanessa with Miss Meow Studios met us to get a few action shots before we headed out to the Second Line. We had two motorcycle cops in front, two patrol cars behind, and as the brass band started playing the Grand Marshall gave us all the cool moves we needed. Down Frenchman Street we went, and 45 minutes later, in front of Pat O’Briens, I just kept yelling “I am so happy!” It was the coolest thing. People poured out of restaurants for a view, jumped in front of the group to snag photos, and I’m sure we were trending on social media that night.
After a quick drink at Pat O’s, we had a short walk over to our balcony on Bourbon Street. Our balcony had a full bar, a massive box of Mardi Gras beads, and delicious food from Mr. Ed’s restaurant provided by my amazing friend Shannon. We alternated between dancing and throwing beads off the balcony to the crowds passing by! One of the really fun things: a parade happened right in front of us and they threw stuff back up at us!! The night finally wrapped up for us there at midnight, and after all that excitement we were ready to head back home for bed.
✔︎ Worth it: I would pay for it all over again! Ashton made sure we had an amazing time!
✘ Not worth it: Not a darn thing.
DAY 2: SATURDAY ► Sleep-Brunch-Explore-Lingerie!
Outfits: Brunch: I wore a black and gold dress from Maiya Boutique and my girls wore white.
Exploring: I wore the adorable NOLA Bride tee from Bachette.com, veil from Mod Party, and Mrs. Rich leggings from Get Swank.
Evening: We had a local company print custom shirts with our party logo. I wore a white version and they wore black!
▸ Morning: I didn’t want to start the day too early, so we slept in a bit before heading out to a private Brunch at Brennan’s. Everyone just had to be ready by 10:30 to make our 11am brunch time. I worked with Ashton to create a three-course meal that would cater to a variety of palates and dietary needs. We had our meal in the stunning Queen Room. It’s blue and gold, and even had a Mardi Gras gown on display right in the room! The staff was so kind and attentive, and made sure we had everything we needed during the meal. After we finished, we stepped out to get a photo on the balcony, and our waiter actually went down into the middle of the street to make sure we had the best shots!
▸ Afternoon: Let’s explore New Orleans! I had seen the Ashley Longshore Gallery on Instagram and I just HAD TO GO! The gallery is full of really cool art with a strong positive and modern female message. She also has a sparkle couch in there that I am going to figure out how to have in my house…
It was 25 minutes from the hotel, but my girls are amazing, and indulged me, and we got in our “Uber Groups” and went to the gallery. After taking some really fun photos and learning new phrases we spent a few minutes walking along Magazine Street. We decide to head back over to Jackson Square where we would be closer to restaurants, bars and shops. My sister had put together a scavenger hunt for the girls to work on by room (in the hotel) over the weekend, so they spent some of this time trying to trick the other rooms, and outdo everyone to complete the challenge. It made for some really fun memories!
▸ Evening: It's shower time! We all came back to the hotel to change in the custom shirts with our official party logo. My sister and a few close friends spent time decorating our suite at Le Pavillon into the ultimate Mardi Gras party spot! We had balloons galore, and themed plates, custom cups, and, of course, pizza and king cake! The menu was a variety of gourmet pizzas from Pizza Domenica (thanks Karen!) and delicious king cakes (thanks Shannon!) to keep us all full and happy. (Learn a bit about king cakes) My sister got to plan and run this night, so we played games like “Guess My Age” with photos of me and Matt at various ages, and people had to guess how old we were. Each girl put on colorful lipstick and “Kissed the Miss Goodbye” by leaving a kiss mark on a white frame for me. I am going to take a group photo and frame it in that! We also had a blast opening lingerie and I had to guess who bought me each item. We created a prize bucket with items like Starbucks gift cards, Ulta products, and coffee holders. Then the night ended how each person felt like: they could go out and get crazy or stay in and relax!
✔︎ Worth it: (Locals advice) If you find yourself in New Orleans, allow yourself plenty of free time to wander in and out of restaurants with various drinks or snacks. You don’t want to rush.
✘ Not worth it: Nothin’!
Did we follow it? Ish? It really helped to cut down extra costs by working with Ashton ahead of time to prepay for most of our activities. If something was supplemental, like the drinks at brunch, we asked everyone to bring cash or find a buddy that was going to provide their cash, and then Venmo them directly. My friend Karen worked with the hotel to handle all payment and booking so that no one had extra charges except for parking, which they could handle individually. Also, I have amazing friends that stepped up and wanted to provide things for the girls. Karen bought the pizza and salad for the lingerie shower. Shannon provided the food for the Friday night balcony and the king cakes for Saturday night.
Total estimate per person: Approximately $800 (not including travel)
Bachette set us up with some balloons and extra fun! I also found some really great gold balloons at Target.
I really like to be organized, especially when it comes to something like a party. I made several lists, Excel spreadsheets…and it helped to keep everything together! It was very important to me that everyone felt special during the weekend. I used Google Drive for organization, and we used Venmo to transfer funds. Hiring Ashton with Blush and Bashful (Jetset Bachelorette) to plan out some of the main activities helped free up my time to focus on the other activities. I had a master Excel spreadsheet to keep track of people attending, booking hotel, payments, and scheduling. The Google Drive was the place for all lists, schedules, and additional ideas. We kept our communications simple via text and email.
TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Highly recommend: Don’t try and do everything in one trip! Pick the things that you think are going to appeal to the group, and figure out how the balance really intense and exciting stuff with some relaxation so that people don’t get burnt out. Also, bring cute and comfy flats or sneakers. You definitely should walk around the French Quarter and Jackson Square. Visit the Ashley Longshore Gallery. And go down Frenchman Street or Bourbon Street.
Wouldn't recommend: Don’t wear your favorite designer heels down Bourbon Street…they will get ruined!!
All-Inclusive Bachelorette Party Planning | http://jetsetbach.com/ | Contact for Details
Spray Tans | Louisiana Glow | $40+ each
Let’s Get Cray Tank Tops | Bachette.com | $20.79 each (after bulk discount!)
Second Line Cocktail Dress | Lavish Alice | $75+ each
In Studio Makeup Application | Makeup by Meggan | $85 each
Custom Bride Sash | Sassy Sash | $19 each
Custom Wigs | Fifi Mahony’s | Contact for Details
Brunch Dress | Maiya Boutique | $39+ each
BRIDE and NOLA Tees | Bachette.com | $9.99 each (on sale!)
Bride Veil | Mod Party | $9.50 each
7-piece Balloon Set | Bachette.com | $44.95 each
Photographer | Miss Meow Studios | Contact for Details
Hotel | Le Pavillon Hotel | Average $125/night