The one thing you really need at your wedding reception.

The one thing you really need at your wedding reception.

I’ve painted at more weddings than I can count, but I tried, and it is over 300. I have seen fine china; I’ve seen paper plates. I’ve seen cowboy boots, four inch heels, sneakers, and no shoes at all. I’ve seen super slow and maybe a little awkward first dances, and full-out choreographic masterpieces. I’ve heard twenty-piece bands, amateur DJs, and even dueling pianos. I’ve seen oyster shucking stations, lucky dog carts, portable snowball stands, and donut sculptures. Firework displays, wardrobe changes, photo booths and props of every kind, color, and shape. Favors you can eat, plant, wear, or stick on your fridge. I’m not saying that I have seen it all, but I might be pretty close.

Based on Vast Experience….

I think I can confidently say that most of it is lagniappe. Delightful, fun, great for pictures, but still lagniappe. 

But there is one thing that really gets me every single time, and you don’t even have to factor it into your budget at all. It is free. 

The One Thing

I’ll stand by it. Every wedding needs at least one good, genuine toast. At the reception itself. In New Orleans, the tradition is often that the toasts are given at the rehearsal dinner. I don’t go to many of those, but I’m sure they are lovely, intimate experiences, and I’m all for them. But toasts to the couple that happen during the heart of celebration and not just the anticipation– those are really beautiful and worth doing too even if it’s just a repeat from the night before. 

I’ve given five wedding toasts. I’ve heard about a hundred or so. What I like so much about them is the beautiful pause it provides. We stop, for a moment, not to think about the current fashion, lines at the bar or buffet, or where the after party is. We stop and give all our attention to two unique human beings and listen to what those who most love them have to say. We join in wishing them well on what is not an easy and effortless path. We say, “we are cheering you on from the very start of your lives together. You are worth cherishing. We celebrate you, here, on the starting line.”

Does it get much better than that? 

Let me suggest this: I doubt you will remember exactly what your flowers looked like or how the attendants did their hair, even what all you ate, or who you were able to grab a hug from. But I’m pretty certain you will remember something someone you love said to you in a place full of people that love you on the day you did a very life-changing thing. 

I remember what my sister said to me in her toast on that day. And I remember quite well what I said to her a few years before. 

Need something to make your wedding special? A painting is really nice.  A toast from someone who loves you? Even better.

What was the most memorable part of your wedding or one you attended? Have you ever given or received a particularly memorable toast? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Day 21. Live Wedding Painting– You get to do this!

This is my live wedding painting from last night at The New Orleans Board of Trade– a venue in the CBD I’d not heard of before but would LOVE to visit again. The night before, I did a live wedding painting (okay, SEO, am I saying live wedding painting enough?) at Magnolia Plantation in Elmwood. 

Weekends like this one can feel a bit strained. I’ve got to get a sitter or rely on family. I’ve got to make sure my “moving studio” has everything it needs. I have to make sure I’m not out of white paint (always!). 

It’s easy for me to fall into the “I don’t want to do this” trap, but I’ve learned to acknowledge the strain and the same time add this very gentle reminder– “I get to do this.”. I actually get to do this. 

Here’s a few pictures that might help illustrate what I mean. See ya’ll Monday! 

 

Day 15. Celebrate Success

After feeling elated after the half marathon yesterday, I woke up this morning feeling like I’d aged thirty years. My joints ached. My back was sore. It took me two minutes to bend down to pick up a lego off the floor. It didn’t help that the Saints gave me more cardio work than the run in their devastating defeat to the Vikings later that day. January 14th was an emotional roller coaster. 

The night before the marathon, I painted at a wedding. I was anxious about all the logistics of the weekend working out– babysitting, traveling, packing the right gear, etc. I was anxious about being too tired to run, about not getting to the starting line on time.

As much as I wished I didn’t have to paint at a wedding the night before the race, once I got there, I knew it was where I was supposed to be. Beautiful, touching, joyful– it was all the things a wedding is supposed to be and the mother of the bride, the one who had hired me, gave me the warmest welcome. It’s easy to forget that what I’m doing is part of something momentous for someone else. 

Running yesterday reminded me to celebrate every mile– every piece of the whole. I’ve been way behind on posting my wedding paintings from the last couple months and have been hesitant to use them towards any of these “31” days. I’m over that. I want to celebrate all of them. Check out the latest ones from November- January below.

 

Lacey and Paul, Windsor Court 2/4/17

Lacey and Paul, Windsor Court 2/4/17

“Lacey and Paul” 24x30in. Wedding guests can order a print here

 

IMG_5273This is how a painting starts. At this point, I had a good feeling about this reception, but what transpired was really unexpected. Let’s start with the venue.

This was my first time to paint at the breath-takingly beautiful Windsor Court. The space is not huge. The ceilings are not soaring. It’s intimate and oozing with elegance. 

 

 

 

 

Can you believe it? Birds!

 

IMG_5265When I walked in, the first thing I noticed, of course, was the birds. I knew immediately this would be my kind of wedding. Bella Blooms Floral completely rocked the arrangements and flowers. They told me it was their first time using birds in the decor, and after they scanned my instagram, noted we were a perfect match– bird centerpieces meet bird lover/painter. I was in heaven.

Mise En Place Events coordinated the entire beautiful event. They were rockstars. And I haven’t even gotten to the couple yet. Drop dead gorgeous comes to mind. 

 If you think you’ve been to a New Orleans wedding before, I guarantee you this one will outdo it. 

 

 

 

Wedding Surprises…

 

Version 2Let’s start with surprise guest Rockin Dopsie whom the maid of honor secretly arranged to show up mid-way through the night and sing a few songs with the band. He was off the charts, leaving everyone wanting more and reassuring them that they’d meet again at Jazz Fest.

It doesn’t stop there. When all was said and done and the most energetic of guests were wiping sweat from their brows from dancing so hard, a second line began out on the street led by none other than a group of Mardi Gras Indians. 

Another wedding painting adventure in the record books. I dare you to tell me there’s better place to get married than New Orleans. Go on, I’m waiting. 

 

 

Book A Live Painting

Kaci and Dustin, Balcony Ballroom 1/28/17

FullSizeRender (26)

 

Last weekend I painted at the wedding reception of Kaci and Dustin at Balcony Ballroom in Metairie. Let me tell you, it was a total party led by the dancing queen featured below. At one point she had a crowd all around her and she, well, let’s just say, she could cut a rug. And the band, At Fault, gave her plenty of reason to keep going. They are high energy and can work the crowd.

Version 2  IMG_5205

 

 

What I like about the venue

IMG_5198I’ve both attended weddings here and painted at them. Never passed a bad time. It’s one big room, which is nice because all the guests are together in the action. The columns and the chandeliers always give me great visual interest for the painting. And, of course, there’s the balcony which didn’t make it into this painting, but provides a great spot for the photographer to get shots of the entire group of guests. Kaci and Dustin even had their first dance up there– a little different than most venues and everyone could see them (they were flawless) without having to peer over someone’s shoulder or elbow their way to a spot near dance floor. It’s almost like the ballroom was a wedding cake and they were the adorable little toppers.

I captured Kaci and Dustin when they’d made it down to the main floor and were giving it all they had on the dance floor. Seriously, the whole night was a dance party.

 

 

 

And the style award goes to…

This guy. His beard was awesome. 

FullSizeRender (1)  FullSizeRender (27)

Once again, I left this reception feeling amazed that I get to go to people’s weddings and just paint. I’ll risk sounding like a teenager and just say it– it’s, like,  totally so much fun!

If you attended the wedding and are interested in a print of the painting, check out your options here