Jarred and I were fortunate enough to spend eleven days in Oklahoma seeing family, friends (although not as many as we would have liked) and our precious foster babe. As is the reoccurring theme with most of our trips home, a considerable amount of driving was involved as we road tripped between Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Alva and Stillwater; but the time spent with people we love was worth it’s weight in mileage. We boarded our flight en route to New Orleans on the morning of December 29th sleep deprived, but more importantly with overflowing hearts from our visit.
I get excited at the prospect of any reunion with my college besties, but when our friend Erin decided to tie the knot the day before New Year’s Eve in a city I’d never been, I was ecstatic. Due to our group being dispersed across seven states, the addition of children and the general demands of being an adult we don’t convene as much as we’d prefer. However, within minutes of squeezing our posse into a four story, 19th century home we reverted back to our college ways within no time.
Thankfully several members of our group were very familiar with New Orleans so I left all meal planning in more experienced hands. Our first taste of Creole cuisine was at Palace Café. I wish I could report that the food was amazing and recommend it to everyone, but unfortunately the waiter failed to deliver Jarred and I’s shared meal. The recommendation I can give you is this – don’t explore Bourbon Street on an empty stomach. Another piece of unsolicited advice would be to refuse any libation called a “hand grenade” regardless of who endorses it.
Saturday morning we were greeted with the best weather imaginable, which was ideal for Erin’s 5 o’clock outdoor ceremony. My lifelong best friend, Morgan, and I were both first timers to NOLA so we drug our husbands along as we devoured breakfast at Daisy Duke’s, played tourists in the French Quarter, posed for pictures at Jackson Square and ultimately settled down on the outdoor patio of The Bulldog in the Garden District.
Saturday afternoon our entourage, rolling three ubers deep, arrived at il Mercato reading to ring in the Burketts. Morgan attempted to make a grand entrance upon arrival by draping her scarf over a candle, but thankfully the picturesque venue came out unscathed by the arson.
Erin and Blake were undeniably the stars of the ceremony, however their wedding band, Az – IzZ, stole the spotlight during the reception (hands down the most entertaining wedding band I’ve ever seen). Following their festivities the newlyweds encouraged their guests to join them at The Columns to continue celebrating. Apparently every one in attendance was eager to keep the fete going as the converted 1883 mansion was overflowing with wedding guests. Needless to say, the Burketts know how to throw a successful wedding party.
December 31st could not have been more opposite in terms of weather than the previous day; it was cold, windy and spitting moisture – essentially winter in Seattle. Jarred and some of the other husbands decided the black jack tables at Harrah’s would provide the perfect shelter from the elements while the rest of us bundled up and braved the cold to do some sightseeing. At this point I still had no understanding of New Orleans’ layout; I basically blindly followed wherever our leader at the time guided us. We wandered into The Roosevelt Hotel to see their stunning Christmas décor and popped into Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar & Lounge. However, between NYE and The Sugar Bowl, every attraction in the city was over capacity, so the majority of us abandoned our plans and retreated home to rejuvenate before the night’s festivities.
The Oklahoma State alumni crew started the countdown to midnight at our own VRBO. In true middle school dance fashion the men and women separated immediately. The guys took over the living room to compete in an intense game of hockey while the ladies remained in the dining room jamming out to Celine Dion, adorning ourselves with as many beads as humanly possible and snapping no fewer than 500 pictures. It is truly lost on me as to why the males didn’t stick around.
Around 9 o’clock the residents of our house plus the newlyweds climbed into a fleet of ubers en route to Bourbon Street. As a gift to the bride her twin sister, Lizzie, organized a private New Year’s Eve party for all the “young adults” in attendance of the Burkett’s wedding celebrations. Talk about the greatest, nonconventional wedding gift ever. On behalf of every young adult in attendance of said soiree, I want to take this moment to say – Thank You, Lizzie!
The older I get the less emphasis I tend to put on NYE, however this year was an enjoyable exception. Not only did we celebrate on the second story of a building on Bourbon Street without having to deal with the masses of people below, but we also got to ring in the new year with so many of our good friends. Twenty seventeen definitely went out with a fantastic bang.