Kim · Married on 04/03/2016
I cannot say enough to recommend The Elms Mansion! Their team, especially Judy and Faith, did a truly fantastic job with our garden ceremony and reception. My husband and I are still amazed at how fabulous our wedding there was. Throughout the entire planning process, for every random question (and there were many) I sent them, they responded immediately, all the while reassuring me that it was all going to be fantastic. And it was!! Our entire wedding and reception was flawless. The mansion and garden are just stunning. Our guests keep raving about it, saying it was the most beautiful location for a wedding. The food was exceptional, the servers so friendly and yet professional - everything was perfect. The value of their packages is absolutely amazing. There are other lovely venues around town, many of which are considerably more expensive and offer less, but The Elms' location on St. Charles Ave, centuries-old history, tasteful elegant decor and thorough events team are simply unmatched in my opinion. They quietly took care of every last detail and provided my husband and me with the most beautiful wedding imaginable.Sent on 04/18/2016
User3821441 · 2+ years ago
The Elms mansion was the perfect setting for our dream New Orleans wedding and now that it's done I can't imagine getting married anywhere else. The setting was picture perfect, inside or out, and the service was truly excellent. I also think that for all that you get and shopping around other venues, it's a pretty good value. Everyone raved about how good the food was and they even ended up adding a lot of extra items to the menu beyond what we ordered, which was a nice surprise.Sent on 10/21/2014
They run a tight ship and have a certain way of doing certain things, but there is of course room for individual brides to do things as they want or need. However, because they do tend to run weddings a certain way, they do it very well and seamlessly which makes it easy on the bride and couple. Working with Judy and Faith was generally very easy and I knew I was in good hands with the both of them.
Elms Mansion's reply:Thank you so much for this lovely review. We love our brides.
Emily · Married on 02/16/2013
The Elms Mansion was the absolute perfect place for a New Orleans wedding. It has it all - a historic gorgeous home, expansive side yard with a gazebo and paved area for dancing, situated directly on the streetcar line. We hosted 200+ guests there for a February wedding. We were married in the gazebo and then had a flawless indoor/outdoor reception. The band, Refried Confuzion, was setup to play mostly outside, but at one point, they changed to brass instruments and processed inside the home and played in the back bar area (another option for a small band setup). The food was amazing. We had heard great things about the chef and he definitely lived up to his reputation.Sent on 03/24/2013
Judy, who worked with me throughout the whole process, was just great. I didn't have a wedding planner and definitely didn't need one. She had everything under control, kept me informed as we needed to make planning decisions, and was a pleasure to work with.
I'd recommend the Elms to any bride looking for a perfect wedding venue in the heart of New Orleans.
Stefanie · Married on 05/23/2009
The Elms Mansion was a beautiful location for our ceremony and reception. The interior of the mansion is just stunning and the exterior grounds were breath taking as well. The staff is amazing and they worked very hard to make our day go over smoothly. It was a great location right off of St. Charles and it was very convenient for out-of-town guests. We highly recommend them!!!Sent on 07/10/2009
Lauren · Married on 03/22/2014
Holy wow batman! What a gorgeous venue!! We had an intimate ceremony out in the courtyard under the stone peristyle- my photos are amazing! I'm so glad my sister found this gem!!Sent on 03/27/2014
Rachel · Married on 04/11/2015
At first sight, the Elms seemed to be everything I was looking for in a wedding venue. Unfortunately, the experience of working with the Elms significantly detracted from its beauty and value, and made my fiancé and I ultimately question our decision to get married there. The problems really boiled down to the “wedding planner” that the Elms bills as being inclusive to having a wedding there. Working with her was stressful and left the impression that she did not care about us or our wedding. The biggest problem was the fact that she did not inform us that our wedding fell on the weekend of the French Quarter Festival. We had no idea that the city’s population doubles that weekend. We only found out about this when we began calling hotels to reserve room blocks. Despite the fact that we picked out our date a year and a half in advance, no one at the Elms, including our “planner,” bothered to alert us to our bad date. At best, this was negligence, at worst, a deliberate lack of information due to the fact that no one else would be ignorant enough to choose to get married then. As we feared, the festival did indeed wind up being a significant stumbling block for our wedding: several guests could not attend due to inflated cost. The biggest issue turned out to be the tent, however. The Elms says it can provide a tent in its contract, but when we saw a 90% chance of rain the week of our wedding, the planner couldn’t get a tent, due to the festival! The Elms’ indoor space cannot comfortably accommodate more than 75 people—less than half our guests count. They have no back-up plan for rain. Our guests were literally standing in the hallway during the ceremony. This is not at all how I envisioned my wedding, and it remains a major regret for what should have been a perfect day. The Elms' space was absolutely stunning and the staff very friendly; we heard the food was great, too. The Elms could be unrivaled in New Orleans, but that would require hiring a new planner.Sent on 05/03/2015
A · Married on 03/11/2017
Elms Mansion is very rigid around: 1) their timelines for ceremony rehearsal and the day of the wedding, 2) what is/isn't allowed on their property, and 3) the menu and food selection (good luck if you have dietary restrictions).Sent on 11/28/2017
The venue is beautiful, but it's such a shame that the owners and main manager are so difficult to work with considering how much you're paying for three hours of being on the property.
Brittany · Married on 04/01/2012
Pros: The Elms Mansion is absolutely gorgeous; the mansion and grounds are some of the prettiest New Orleans has to offer and because of that our wedding was equally beautiful. Our guests are still raving about the quality of the food (we didn't have much opportunity to eat at the wedding, nor were we ever offered a tasting prior). The serving and grounds staff are outstanding.Sent on 05/26/2012
Cons: Everything else. There are plenty of other places in New Orleans that are beautiful with delicious food. If I had the chance to do my wedding all over again, I wouldn't entertain the thought of selecting Elms Mansion as our venue for even a moment. I would choose Chuckie Cheese or the bowling alley before Elms, since they would probably at least treat me like a person. While the support staff are incredible, the management is abysmal.
Summary: The Elms Mansion is probably the perfect venue for extremely traditional weddings, hands-off brides, or New Orleans debutantes with unlimited budgets, well known families, and prima donna personalities. I would strongly urge anyone else to run away. Your venue should *never* treat you the way we were continually treated, especially not a venue that prides itself on 40+ years of hosting special events. Please review the details and avoid making the same mistake we did. Your Elms wedding will be beautiful, but it will always be about *them,* not *you.*
Details: When we were initially researching our wedding venue, we actually skipped over Elms Mansion due to the unimpressive website. Upon further review, we discovered the virtual tour and were certain that this was the right choice. I was extremely impressed with the images of the yellow room on the second floor, which was set up for an event. This seemed to be the ideal space for our reception, and I contacted the Elms Mansion immediately. One of our biggest concerns at this time, and through all of our planning, were the dietary needs of me, my family, and my guests. There were a number of severe food allergies and dietary restrictions, and I inquired as to the ability of Elms Mansion to assist me with these concerns when the time came to develop a menu. In addition, the sample menus we received were all for evening receptions, but we were planning on Sunday brunch. It seemed inappropriate to serve pasta, carving stations, etc. at 11:00am. I asked if we could begin working on the menu prior to submitting a deposit, but this was the first of many instances where I was told "no" for no particular reason, as the Elms Mansion way is to create the menu 4 to 6 weeks in advance of the actual wedding. I should have recognized that things would only get worse once they had my deposit, but I naively trusted them and I was repeatedly reassured that it would be no problem to accommodate these concerns. There was never any mention of the additional cost or aggravation that might be associated with changes to their sample menu, and our Elms contact even sent us an example of a recent brunch (without an associated pricetag), suggesting that this substitution would be comparable to the $46.50 menu option provided in the information packet. I continually received email messages indicating, "We absolutely could customize a menu to include brunch items" and "Re. your menu--yes, we will be able to accommodate your vegetarian and allergies." With that information, we submitted a signed contract and deposit to the Elms Mansion. This was the last time that anyone at the Elms Mansion would be gracious, kind, or accommodating.
Our wedding was a semi-destination wedding - I am from NY, while my husband has lived just outside of New Orleans for most of his life. We would have family and friends traveling from across the country, and even Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. We were able to visit the Elms Mansion around Thanksgiving (after emailing about an appointment on 9/26 and again on 10/5, we didn't actually receive a response until 10/11), and found it to be more spectacular in person than it was in the virtual tour. We asked a number of questions regarding special details we were beginning to envision, and also asked about the capacity of the beautiful yellow room on the second floor. Apparently, the second floor is off limits to anyone from the wedding. The Elms Mansion *might* be able to accommodate me and one bridesmaid if I chose to get ready there, but no additional guests, family, members of the wedding party, or even photographer could be admitted upstairs. The wedding could *only* be held outside, except in the event of rain, which would require a tent rental or moving the wedding into the ground floor of the mansion. For the seating outside, there would only be four round tables and patio seating, and the ceremony would have fewer seats. The maximum number of seats available, including the tables, patio furniture, and deck was 100 *at most.* My request for additional seating for all of our guests (at this time we were expecting about 130) was met with exasperation and a half-assed willingness to "try." This was particularly bothersome, since the Elms Mansion requires a minimum of 100 guests, yet will only provide seating for that number or less. This was another instance where we should have seen the warning signs, but did not realize that this was just a taste of what was to come. Plus, we had already submitted a non-refundable initial $1,000 deposit which we really did not want to forfeit. Anticipating a small guest list and willing to adjust to the outside reception, we decided to just roll with it and stupidly continued our planning with Elms Mansion as the venue.
As the wedding approached, my unanswered questions kept building, but they were never really answered. Lack of information and incredibly untimely responses were the norm. In an effort to move the ceremony from Audubon Park to Elms Mansion, I had a series of questions regarding seating and tent rentals. My emails of 12/1 and 12/7 were not answered until 12/8. I then followed up on 12/8, 12/13, and 12/21 before receiving a response. I actually resorted to asking someone to please contact me on both of the Elms Facebook pages on 12/19, since the inability to confirm the ceremony site was holding up the printing of our invitations which was then holding up just about *everything* else. These were basic questions about pricing and space that should have easily been answered within a few business days at most. I suspect part of the problem is an overall reluctance to discuss any elements in writing, something that characterized all of my interactions with Elms, even though this would have protected us both in the event of a disagreement or misunderstanding.
Despite the Elms Mansion claiming that they provide a "Wedding Consultant to help coordinate your wedding day," this never actually materialized and I needed to hire outside assistance (Bridal 911 truly saved our wedding). Bridal 911's meeting with the owner of the Elms Mansion was somewhat more productive, although I now realize that we were given a lot of "yes" answers that ended up turning into "no" according to that longstanding "this is the Elms Mansion way" mantra. The many, many issues were all minor details and areas where I was willing/able to be flexible. One area where I had extreme restrictions (which was communicated since the beginning) was my menu. When we were 6 weeks away from the wedding date (the earliest possible time to discuss the menu, apparently) we proceeded to have a number of conversations which revealed that the purported flexibility wasn't really that flexible at all. The owner was extremely put off my by cautious insistence that we have a brunch menu comparable to the standard dinner menu without actually paying a higher price than we were originally quoted. She finally relented, suggesting a "red pepper scramble" in lieu of a pasta station. Since it seemed odd to only serve eggs alongside the many more traditional offerings, we decided to upgrade to the "Premiere" catering package and substitute crepes for the carving station, which Elms would "probably" be able to do. This would also provide a full bar with name-brand liquor (but not champagne). However, it did not include coffee or tea which, to me, was unheard of. This was technically my mistake, as I never looked closely at the "Dessert" section of the catering package, since our wedding cake was to be our dessert. If I had, I would've seen coffee listed there instead of alongside the other beverages. So much for the budget we worked so hard to stick to! We ended up adding $11.75pp to our original price for the coffee and "Premiere" catering package, which while *technically* wasn't payment for the flexibility we were promised, kinda ended up being exactly that. I was really disappointed that previous reassurances about menu flexibility now seemed like a ploy to get my deposit and put me off until the last minute. A classic bait and switch, it seemed, especially when our Day of Coordinator was told that menu flexibility would be available based on how much we were spending beyond the base price that had always seemed available. We were made to feel like we were asking to substitute Kobe beef for Fruity Pebbles, when really we were just hoping for a brunch menu that was close to the quality of offerings available for dinner.
The bigger challenge came with the need to address food allergies. I decided to include our menu in the program and indicate any food allergies there for easy reference (i.e. * = Contains Nuts, & = Contains Shellfish, # = Contains Onions, etc.). As anyone with food allergies and dietary restrictions knows, this is probably the best way to make sure you are not putting yourself in a dangerous (and possibly life threatening) situation. I suggested two ways to do this, and I was more than happy to deal with either method. The first was for Elms to provide me with the ingredients for each item, allowing me to do the work of figuring out which item had which allergen and then reflecting that on the menu. The second option was for them to simply tell me "X item may contain A, B, or C allergen" if they did not want to provide me with full ingredient lists. Neither option was acceptable, as the Elms Mansion wishes to give their Chef full flexibility. I could understand that argument with regard to custom menu items, but all of our hors d'oeuvres and chef's table items were straightforward selections from their own catering package - was the Chef really going to decide to start throwing shellfish into the spanakopita for the first time at our wedding? Even if that were the case, I would think the health and safety of guests would trump the creative license of a Chef, and apparently I was a complete idiot for thinking so. It was yet another area where the Elms Mansion misled me during our pre-deposit conversations and later said "no," making things far more difficult than they needed to be simply because they could. When our Elms contact person told us that she usually only provides allergy information to the bride and her family, and that other guests should simply look at the food and decide whether they could eat it or not, I finally realized just how terrible our decision was. I was absolutely shocked that such a glib statement could be made about something as important as a food allergy, and was also completely baffled as to why some guests should have the courtesy of allergy information while others would be left to fend for themselves. According to Elms, the solution was to make your best guess or don't eat at all. I was appalled.
Another major concern was the possibility of needing a tent since we could not have our wedding indoors as I had hoped during our initial review of Elms. I repeatedly asked for information about tent vendors and pricing, and after being given half answers, was finally told that since we did not need lights (since it was a day wedding), our Elms contact could get a quote for the price if I was interested. I'm not sure why I had to indicate that I was interested in a quote since that was what I had been asking for, but she later responded that she couldn't get a quote from the tent company, but that it would "probably" be less than $2,600 since we didn't need lights. $2,600 that was not budgeted is a *major* problem, and "less than" $2,600 could mean $2,500 or $10. The fact that we could not get actual pricing information on the tent that we were required to rent *only* through Elms was a serious issue, but the only thing we could do was hope that we didn't have rain. The tentless back up plan offered to us was to move the entire wedding inside, where our Elms contact informed us that the only people permitted to be seated would be me, my husband, and our parents. The question was again asked when our external Day of Coordinator met with the owner, and she received completely different information. The owner indicated that the tent price was inflexible and would be lighted regardless of what time the wedding was. In addition, once a tent goes up, it remains up for the entire weekend - so, for example, if a bride requests the tent for Friday, the Sunday wedding will also have the tent. To strangely sweeten the deal, the owner explained that once the tent is up, it will not be taken down but there are not additional set up fees, so the cost of the tent is split across all weddings held that weekend. The information provided by Elms pre-booking indicates tent pricing is available upon request, yet actual interactions clearly indicate that there is a set price for the tent no matter what. Based on the seemingly conflicting information and exorbitant pricetag, it is difficult to comprehend the entire debacle as unprofessionalism at best and dishonesty at worst (I'm giving Elms the benefit of the doubt with unprofessionalism, although there are other areas of the information packets that are equally vague, such as the "Security Guard," which in some areas appears to be included and in other areas appears to be an optional $175 add-on, but in actuality is a mandatory aspect, despite the absence of any mention of Security Guard in the contract and a yet-to-be determined purpose). Luckily, the weather was cooperative and we didn't end up needing to entertain the tent (although after contacting Elms to indicate this, our contact continued to suggest that we would need one anyway. In one of the best decisions I made with regard to Elms, I ignored her). I have a feeling that if the tent came into play, someone would've ended up in court. There was no logic or foundation for their bizarre difficulties, and this was the last straw. One month before our wedding, I found myself seriously considering another venue since the financial and emotional implications of changing at such a late date *still* seemed preferable to spending another day interacting with Elms. My husband agreed to handle all other communications regarding the menu, and they eventually reached a compromise where Elms would put a little card next to each item indicating potential allergens as per our list (which they actually did follow through with).
Obviously, though, that probably wasn't true and we stuck with the original plan. There were a series of minor annoyances over the coming weeks, including another "no" answer with regard to an idea for gazebo decor and an attempt to shave 30 minutes off our reception time. Fed up, I finally asked our Elms contact to highlight where exactly these issues were specified in the contract, and suddenly it wasn't a "no" anymore but rather a "well, I just didn't really think you'd want to do all of that yourself" (the 30 minutes question remained unanswered, which is another popular Elms strategy). This wasn't the first time that this happened, but the first time I really pushed back and was able to confirm that Elms truly was being difficult just because they could be. Fortunately, many of our last minute concerns were assuaged during a 2 hour meeting in lieu of a rehearsal the week prior to our wedding (which remained unscheduled for a few weeks despite everyone's best attempts to confirm an appointment with Elms; the rehearsal was out of the question, since my entire wedding party wouldn't be in town until the morning before the wedding, and no one could come in on Saturday to give us access to the site). We met with our Elms contact and external Day of Coordinator and went over many of the logistics, special details, etc. We divided the responsibilities and had a clear sense of who would be responsible for the set up and management of each part, and the plan seemed to work. Despite being derided by our Elms contact for months about our decision to use handmade paper flowers instead of a "real" florist (at one point she actually asked me, "but don't you want it to look nice?"), we were able to bring samples of all of the handmade details we were including and assumed this would put an end to being asked who our florist was, or being told that they won't give us details on measurements, etc. because our "florist will know that." During the meeting, I was again frustrated by the rude, bossy demeanor or our Elms contact, who spent close to 20 minutes debating who was or wasn't "allowed" to sit in the front row of our ceremony. As it was our wedding, you would think that decision would be up to us, but Elms insists on micromanaging every detail of your day, whether these details are meaningful or not. Since there were other issues that were more important to us than something as trivial as ceremony seating, we conceded, but were again met with that same attitude in discussion of our first look, when our Elms contact frankly asserted that the first look was "ONLY" for us and our photographer, and anyone else present would be removed from the room in whatever way necessary. We again bit our tongues instead of explaining that many couples choose to include close friends or family in the first look since the fight really wasn't worth it. But what couple should feel like they have to justify or explain very personal choices about their wedding? And why should it ever even be an issue? As long as we didn't burn the place down, it never should have been any of the Elms' concern how we chose to do our first look, flowers, ceremony seating, ceremony music, decorations, or anything else. Yet our Elms contact persisted in passing (negative) judgment on *every* *single* *thing.* If that isn't the best way to put a damper on the entire wedding experience, I don't know what is.
When it came time for our actual wedding, though, the previous 2 hour meeting was irrelevant. Our Elms contact was incredibly rude to guests and members of the wedding party, especially those who came slightly early. One wedding party member who drove from over an hour away was told "you should have thought of that before" when he asked where he could change into his tuxedo, ultimately having to change clothes in his truck without any further assistance from our Elms contact. Due to a glitch with hair and makeup, our bridal party was running about an hour behind schedule (which only cut into the first look, a conscious decision which is why I scheduled everything that way). When I arrived, I was chastised for my lateness and told to hurry up. I'm not sure why the lateness mattered, as I later heard from other guests and staff that our Elms contact was so busy giving a tour to another couple up until 10:00am that she couldn't assist with many of the duties outlined during the previous meeting, nor was she available to assist our Day of Coordinator with her tasks until the last minute (despite the fact that our ceremony was 11:00am and we were guaranteed "Exclusive use of the Mansion and the Garden" from 9:00am until 3:30pm as per the contract). Our photographer actually had to assist the Day of Coordinator with set up and flowers until our Elms contact's tour was over, and many of the details were left unfinished since our Elms contact couldn't be bothered to help. When the ceremony began and the microphone wasn't working, she was nowhere to be found outside, instead chatting in her office. She continued to complain about our flowers, this time to other staff and guests, whining about how long it took her to unwrap them and how much better it would have been if we had just used "real" flowers like she told us to (each bouquet, boutonniere and corsage was wrapped in 1 layer of bubble wrap). During our reception, I was appalled that I spoke with our Elms contact more than some of our guests. We were continually being bossed and picked at, and her eagerness to make us sit down and eat the tray of food she brought actually resulted in her literally shooing some of our guests away. What could have been an incredibly sweet, helpful gesture ended up being completely inappropriate and insulting. This is never acceptable behavior, and as adults, it was embarrassing and frustrating to be treated this way. While our Elms contact surely meant well and wanted us to enjoy the food we had chosen, it was far more important to us that we have an opportunity to meet with all of our guests, many of whom traveled from other states and even other countries to share in our wedding day. Our guests were similarly insulted by this behavior, and it is so indicative of the overall Elms Mansion experience. Elms never let us forget that our presence was an annoyance and inconvenience, treating us like children that needed to be disciplined and directed.
At the end of the reception, we received a bottle of champagne, tiny bag of what I presume was food (it disappeared in transit), and our remaining cake upon leaving Elms (I'm not sure if this was the "Wedding Goody Bag," but really didn't care. I was just happy to get out of there). I also still haven't figured out what our "Security Guard" was for, but she was definitely present. For the food during the reception, we were too busy to really eat much of anything. The two hors d'oeuvres I did have (maybe the baked havarti and a deviled egg) were very good, and the guests raved about the food. There also did appear to be more food (or at least different food) than we originally discussed; I believe there were cheese grits in addition to the crepes and scramble, and there were also friend green tomatoes and deviled eggs, which I don't have any record of discussing. Because of the many difficulties, it's entirely possible that Elms went out of their way to include additional food items on our menu, which I appreciate. But at that point the damage was already done, and even a full refund wouldn't have been worth the absolute misery of dealing with Elms for the 8 months prior.
I can practically guarantee that your Elms Mansion wedding will be breathtakingly beautiful and that the food will be delicious. However, before choosing Elms, be prepared to get *every* detail in writing, be ready to justify and defend your decisions, and prepare for months and months of hassle and inadequate communication. If you still choose to move forward with Elms, I'm certain you'll be pleased with the final result, but the ends might not justify the means.