Where we’re at: while we’re down here in the South, I’m covering my trip to New Orleans in October 2022!
Where do you go to celebrate someone who’s basically a human glitter disco ball?
There are certainly options, but one city in particular seemed particularly suited to Shannon, my work wife at Wander Women Retreats and one of my best friends through thick and thin since we first bonded on Koh Tao seven years ago. Shannon is one of the most loving, thoughtful and just plain fun friends a girl could ask for, and when she decided to celebrate her upcoming nuptials with a bachelorette weekend in New Orleans, those of us lucky enough to be there couldn’t wait to shower her with love, surprises and champagne.
As many celebrations in recent years, this was a rescheduled one that was more than worth the wait. And, as we learned, there’s so much more to do than get blacked out on Bourbon — there’s some super unique bachelorette experiences to be had in the Big Easy!
We had a little bit of a disaster with our rental that you’ll read more about should I ever revive my behind-the-scenes Great Escape roundup series (holler in the comments if you’re craving those!). In short, we had a house rented and confirmed for over a year when we found out that one of the managers of the house had been triple booking the property, pocketed the extra cash, and then disappeared. The owners went to small claim’s court; we went back to the drawing board.
By that point, Airbnb was picked over and all that was left were places I would generously describe as “not Alex in Wanderland approved” and places that were four times the original budget.
Sometimes, ya gotta go back to the basics! I found Book NOLA, a company specializing in rentals in New Orleans, and they came to the rescue with a house that was affordable, centrally located, and chicly decorated — the perfect place for us to make our very own. I went to town on New Orleans themed balloons which the seller was sweet enough to customize for me — with a champagne bottle finisher, of course — to make it our very own.
How cute is this helium-filled place! And how cute is this bubble-filled bride!
After planning approximately seven thousand bachelorette parties for my closest friends, I finally won what could be considered my own personal Saints Superbowl win (wow am I proud of myself for knowing the local sports team, by the way) — I ordered all Etsy flair within a reasonable time frame and did not have to re-mortgage my non-existent home to pay for express shipping. How’s that for personal growth!
The theme? Disco balls, champagne, magical metallics, and glitter galore.
The frames, instant camera and bubble machine (perfect for that big reveal moment!) were items I or someone at the party already owned, and the house came with a great built-in speaker system.
If you’re planning a party of your own and looking for some great small businesses to support, I adored the makers that created our disco cups, our ring-finger-up napkins, and the matching cups. Everything was so Shannon, I couldn’t have been more delighted!
Of course, the best part of bachelorettes is meeting your bestie’s besties! Longtime readers will recognize Janine and Andie, two of the other Real Housewives of Koh Tao (sadly for us, but probably happily for our future new baby bestie, Amy had to sit this one out as she’s pregnant) and we were stoked to meet one of Shannon’s sisters and a few of her fabulous friends who love her so much they flew in from Mexico, the UK, and Canada.
What a crew!
For the last big bachelorette in this friend group, Amy’s fête in San Tropez — which yes, I will blog someday! — we came up with a “one surprise a day” system. Amy was hands on in planning the weekend so she could be confident she was having the weekend of her dreams; but we got to spoil her with one surprise a day.
It was a hit; so we did the same for Shannon! Our day one surprise got axed due to some scheduling issues, but it was so perfect for a bachelorette weekend I want to give it a shout out here: a bounce and twerk tour with Mika, a NOLA local. Now that Shannon and I work together creating experiences like this all year, I appreciate accommodating vendors more than ever and she was so awesome about customizing the tour and creating something perfect for us. If you’ve got a bride that loves to boogie, hit her up for sure!
Soon we were all dressed up and off for dinner at Cuban-Creole mashup Cane and Table. I was so excited about this reservation and it didn’t disappoint! Empanadas, crispy brussel sprouts and self-professed “Proto-Tiki” cocktails in the French Quarter? Yes please! We went around the table all sharing our favorite memories of Shannon which warmed my heart, and after hit Frenchman’s Street for some live jazz. With many of us, myself included, having woken before 4AM to catch flights we weren’t long for this world, but it was the perfect first night.
The next morning, it was surprise time! Shannon is known worldwide for her love of a cheeseburger breakfast, a recipe, she claims, to cure any hangover on earth. So when we were all scheming and Andie proposed cheffing one at the house, I was thrilled.
This girl took it to the next level with mini sliders, grilled halloumi, cute little mini fried eggs, vegan options, and a million other fixins’. And then even better, conspired with Shannon’s future brother-in-law, a t-shirt designer, to make us matching tops for the occasion. Be still our breakfast-burger-loving hearts!
And then it was time for the second part of the day’s surprise — a personal glitter party! I’d say 90% of Shannon’s motivation behind choosing New Orleans for her bachelorette was doing drag brunch at Country Club. As my Shannie is the queen of costuming, I’d originally found a unique Costumes and Cocktails tour of the Bywater where we’d stroll drink in hand through some of the areas costume shops picking up last minute accessories before ending up at Country Club, boozed up and ready to be enthusiastic audience members.
Cute, right?! Unfortunately, that business didn’t last through our reschedule, but I found a truly fabulous alternative in this at-home glitter extravaganza.
However, panic ensued when forty-eight hours before our reservation — which Shannon had secured months in advance, as you must — Country Club sent us an ominous email saying feathers and glitter were strictly forbidden and we’d be turned away at the door if we showed up in them. Say what?! We were shocked — Shannon had to scramble to buy a new non-feather top, and the rest of us went into a frenzy trying to salvage our surprise. When we called to make sure there wasn’t a misunderstanding, the rules we re-iterated.
Sam, our glitter guide, was a total star and helped us work through several options. In the end, she joined us in the morning for personal glitter-making as planned, and then we all agreed to rendezvous that night for a fresh signature glitter application.
Sam and her partner was so cute, and I love that in a city like New Orleans, being a glitter guide can be a full time gig! Dreams really do come true.
Bellies full and faces free of glitter, we arrived at The Country Club, one of my favorite places in all of New Orleans! I’ve been twice before and couldn’t wait to see Shannon live her drag dreams. After all, this is the club where a few years ago, regulars rioted when the pool was no longer nudity-optional.
You know our girl had a surprise for us, too! I screamed with delight when Shannon, who had instructed us all to wear white, showed up in a top hat, rented from one of the city’s dozens of costume shops, and a full sequin tux, taking her turn as the groom.
The bubbles were flowing, the tunes were boppin’, and we had the best time. A few highlights included when Shannon sprung for a bucket of jello shots and handed them out to the crowd, the moment we created a human limbo line under our outstretched legs against the door frame, and us being unanimously voted the most fun table at drag brunch.
Really, the only low point was releasing that basically every other group there was bedazzled with sequins, glitter, and feathers galore. And they looked great! I politely mentioned to the hostess that while we had an amazing time, it was stressful and expensive to shift our plans and outfits to accommodate a late-revealed rule that clearly wasn’t enforced in the slightest.
She did have the decency to wince and genuinely apologize; and said she’d discuss the situation with the team. I’m not sure if I should advise you to glitter or not to glitter, should you yourself be Country Club-bound! I guess that is the question.
After a nap and a living room dance party recharge back at the house, we were ready to emerge to the world again. Our next target? Bourbon Street! It was the Krewe of Boo Halloween Parade, so we headed into the French Quarter and met up with our glitter glam squad along the route.
It was the most fun way to hype up for the night! We took turns getting glittered, buying jello shots in syringes, and catching beads from festive floats passing down Decatur Street.
Next we were off, stopping at whatever random dance club or street performer caught our eye. This is what I love about Bourbon Street — few places charge a cover, so you can really truly bop around at whim.
It’s like an open air festival! Honky tonk dive with saddle bar seats? Sure! High school prom playlist in a pop club? Yes please! Wanna drink your body weight in hurricanes and listen to a man in a purple witch costume sing Adele covers? You got it!
Our bar crawl continued on to Oz, Bourbon’s Alice in Wonderland-themed gay dance club where we really settled in for a bit. As our numbers dwindled, the late night crew went for a nightcap at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of the oldest bars in the world, where they serve purple frozen drinks and play piano sing-alongs by candlelight
It was the most fun night I’ve had in a long time. And I’ve had a lot of fun nights lately!
The next morning… we paid for it!
I had anticipated that we might be feeling a little less than fresh by day three, and so prepared a little hangover kit to bring us back to life. Once again I worked with the sweetest Etsy seller who was super accommodating about sending me drafts before they went into production (I may or may not be a tad picky about fonts…)
Totally and 100% healed by our mini-packs (ha!) we headed over to The Drifter for a very special surprise — a private Bride Vibe yoga class!
The second I heard about The Drifter I was obsessed, and knew Shannon would be too. Country Club pool exiles can find comfort in the toptional dress code here; and regardless of modesty levels, it would be pretty tough not to be won over by the immaculate energy and cool in-the-know local crowd.
We were greeted with mimosas and laid-out mats and flower crowns.
Our teacher, Talia, was actually one of my sister’s bridesmaids, so this was our second bachelorette yoga class together (my sister’s bach weekend in Palm Beach is another I need to blog!), and I was once again so impressed with her ability to herd hungover yogis into various yoga shapes, while even bringing a tear to my dehydrated eye with an opening meditation on how special it is that women come together to celebrate such a big milestone in one of their loved one’s lives.
There may not have been a ton of movement happening on every mat, but there were a lot of giggles and ocasional groans — and the absolute most beautiful setting to start the day.
While The Drifter is uniquely New Orleans, Bride Vibe is actually all over the US — so if you’re looking for a bachelorette or bridal yoga class, check if they’re in your destination city!
After a nice long swim and several mimosas, we were off for a late brunch at Birdy’s. This place was cute as can be and had all kinds of Instagrammable items on the menu like a breakfast board — basically, think charcuterie board but with morning treats — and colorful cocktails.
One warning — they did give us a reservation for the time the kitchen closed, which was a little confusing upon arrival. We actually had a similar but not as dire situation at Cain and Table, where the kitchen closed thirty minutes after we were seated. After a bit of back and forth at Birdy’s, they did agree to seat us and were totally lovely once they did, but I’d say it’s worth in New Orleans asking what time last order is if you’re making a reservation on the later side.
Post-brunch, exhausted from a wild weekend, we retreated back to the house for naps and cuddles. Personally, I was asleep so early I woke up naturally before sunrise the next day, and had the pleasure of watching it from our balcony with tea while I watched opossums lumber around in the distance, and thought back on warm memories of the weekend.
It was perfect.
There were lots of big hugs and belly laughs that morning as we said our goodbyes, and while Shannon may be eloping, I know it’s not the last time I’ll see these gals!
Lucky for me, there was one big goodbye I got to put off, because Shannon was sticking around a few extra days — and I was too! Stay tuned for what I got up to in my Big Easy bonus time.
Honestly, I might have to label New Orleans as my new favorite city for a US-based bachelorette! There’s so many unique and fun ways to celebrate, it’s just an affordable and drama-free place to get down and have a good time, and it’s not completely overrun with other identical groups.
Yet Shannon, we would have gone to the moon for you! Thank you for being such a bright star in all of our orbits, and making life intergalactically fun. Celebrating you was so special and you deserved every little drop of it. Love you to Mars and back, baby.
I liked this
It liked you back!
Love this post, Alex! So fun to hear about your adventures in NOLA celebrating Shannon. Sounds like you all had a fantastic time (and yes, I vote for restarting your Great Escape roundups, as I always enjoy them!)
I’ve got one coming up this month Melissa! They’re coming back!
Would love a restart, or even a yearly look back if monthly is to much work.
How about a bit of both 😉 One of each is in drafts at this moment!
Bring back the roundups!
The people have been heard 😉 Working on one right now!
Another vote for bringing back the round ups!
Wow, popular series — so glad to hear it! Major motivation for the new one I’m working up!