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V82: CECI INSPIRATIONS – MAD FOR MARDI GRAS

MAD FOR MARDI GRAS

I’m mad for Mardi Gras! My father’s family comes from New Orleans, and one my fondest childhood memories is my grandmother bringing back loads of beads from the parades that I would wear for days. Plus, it means all eyes are on the Big Easy.

I’ve grown to love everything about this town – from the gumbo to the wrought-iron balconies that grace the French Quarter – so nothing could make me happier than designing an invitation for a wedding held in New Orleans. One stellar example is this week’s featured invite for Ruth and Michael, which incorporates a deep purple laser-cut sleeve meant to evoke the town’s famous ironwork.

To get you into the unique spirit of Mardi Gras, we’ve filled this week’s Get the Look with gorgeous fleur-de-lis votives and shiny beaded jewelry you can wear year-round. Plus, you won’t want to miss the amazing King Cake recipe we’ve dug up. As they say in New Orleans, let the good times roll!

Ceci

Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York - CELEBRATION TIME: Mardi Gras is the perfect occasion for Ceci to have fun dressing up. Shot by Mel & Co.

Photography by Mel & Co.

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V82: GET THE LOOK – MAD FOR MARDI GRAS

CeciStyle Magazine v82: Get The Look - Mad for Mardi Gras - Channel the spirit of Mardi Gras with these glittering, ornate pieces

  1. ELABORATE FLOURISHES
    Capture the spirit of New Orleans’ French-inspired beauty with an invitation like the one we designed for Ruth and Michael (various prices, cecinewyork.com).

  2. SHINE ON
    These Antique Fleur de Lis Mercury Glass Votives ($6.99 each, touchofeurope.net) will make your table feel like it was set with heirloom pieces.

  3. LET THEM EAT CAKE
    You’ll love this recipe for scrumptious King Cake from Taste of Home. See the recipe below.

  4. BEADS GALORE
    Put a glamorous spin on Mardi Gras with a stack of these Lola James Razzle Dazzle beaded bracelets ($60 each, maxandchloe.com).

  5. VISION IN PURPLE
    This dress from Prabal Gurung’s spring collection (prabalgurung.com) has just the right amount of unexpected purple – one of Mardi Gras’ signature colors.

  6. SUMPTUOUS STYLE
    A visit to a city famous for its ornate balconies cries out for similarly elaborate jewelry, like Kenneth Jay Lane’s 22-karat gold-plated cabochon clip earrings ($100, net-a-porter.com).

  7. FANCY FOOTWORK
    Express your love of embellishment with these Jimmy Choo Bunting metallic leather sandals ($895, net-a-porter.com).

  8. HAPPY MUSIC
    Don’t even think about celebrating Mardi Gras without some traditional Cajun music ($14.43, amazon.com)!

  9. GOLDEN TOUCH
    Evoke the flower-filled South with Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea eau de toilette, which is redolent of orange blossoms ($59, sephora.com).

  10. MASKED BEAUTY
    Mardi Gras is famous for its ornate masks. I’d love to wear this beautiful gold-and-white style ($20, cartaalta.com).

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V82: OUR MUSE – FESTIVE NEW ORLEANS WEDDING: RUTH & MICHAEL, PART 1

Our Muse

Be inspired by Ruth & Michael’s festive wedding in New Orleans

Luxury Wedding Invitations by Ceci New York - Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - ceci new york, wedding, invitations, letterpress printing, foil printing, die-cutting, laser-cut printing
Luxury Wedding Invitations by Ceci New York - Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - ceci new york, wedding, invitations, letterpress printing, foil printing, die-cutting, laser-cut printing

Invitations by Ceci New York

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V82: CECI CREATIVE TIPS – WEDDINGCHANNEL.COM PREDICTS WHAT’S IN (AND OUT!)

Ceci Creative Tips
Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York

WEDDINGCHANNEL.COM PREDICTS WHAT’S IN (AND OUT!) FOR 2012 WEDDINGS

We were honored and so excited to be featured as the invitation experts in WeddingChannel.com’s trend predictions for 2012! Read below to learn what’s in and out for this year.

Ceci

Which wedding trends should you wave good-bye to in 2012? Dare-to-bare necklines, towering cake tiers and reckless registries, to name a few! Have no fear – WeddingChannel.com, the number-one wedding and gift registry website, has created a list of wedding details not to skip during wedding planning this year.

To help couples get inspired for their own nuptials, WeddingChannel.com recruited the most sought-after pros, who have worked with some of Hollywood’s top A-listers like Katie Holmes, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Katherine Heigl, Jim Carrey and Billy Joel, to give an insider’s look at what’s in (and out) for 2012.

Wedding Dress
WEDDING DRESS
IN: Coy coverage
OUT: Dare-to-bare necklines
Although designers have been creating dresses with sleeves for years, Kate Middleton has brought the trend mainstream. Don’t consider long sleeves your only option. Think: capelets, illusion sleeves, sheer backs and even a bolero for a demure wedding day look that’s all your own. “Every bride wants a gown and wedding that is uniquely theirs,” says Randy Fenoli, star of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress and fashion director at Kleinfeld Bridal New York. “They no longer desire to be that cookie-cutter bride, but wish to express their individual style and taste.”
Wedding Style
WEDDING STYLE
IN: Country-chic, waterfront weddings and Napa nuptials
OUT: Vintage everything
Some of the most recent celeb weddings offer style ideas that step away from the overdone vintage theme. Be inspired by Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth’s country-chic wedding that took place at her rustic ranch, where guests were seated at long wooden tables, served mustard-grilled chicken and herb-roasted lamb and danced to the sounds of a bluegrass band. Reese even donned a pair of cowboy boots when it was time to hit the dance floor. If water and sun are your wedding day must-haves, take a cue from Brooke Burke and David Charvet, who exchanged vows on a 77-foot yacht in St. Barts with an intimate guest list and ended the night by sending a handwritten message in a bottle out to sea. Wine lovers? Look to the Napa nuptials of Seth Rogen, Tamera Mowry and Nikki Reed for influence.
Wedding Food
WEDDING FOOD
IN: Global meats
OUT: Bacon, bacon, bacon
2012 is all about expanding meat options beyond steak and chicken, and while bacon is a flavor classic that showed up in a ton of weddings last year, it’s time to move on. “Lean global meats like goat, kangaroo, antelope and horse will be big,” predicts Peter Callahan, creative director of Peter Callahan Catering, whose clients include Will Smith, Kelly Ripa and Regis Philbin. “Nothing takes on Moroccan, Mexican, Greek and Middle-Eastern flavors better than goat!”
Wedding Cake
WEDDING CAKE
IN: Hand-painted designs
OUT: Towering tiers
Having an over-the-top wedding cake actually tower over the bride – à la Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries – is so 2011. Skip the desire to break a Guinness world record for the tallest cake and concentrate on the detailing. Buddy Valastro, owner of Carlo’s Bakery and star of TLC’s Cake Boss predicts, “In 2012, hand painted designs will give brides a new medium to add detail and personality to their cakes. Whimsical designs can be painted on top of fondant, and can be as subdued or as bold as the bride wants.”
Wedding Flowers
WEDDING FLOWERS
IN: Textural, leafy bouquets
OUT: Giant colorful bouquets
When it comes to bouquets, don’t be afraid of green. Think: mixed greenery with lots of texture such as bupleurum, hellebores, green hydrangeas and green dianthus for a monochromatic arrangement of lush foliage that differs from the traditional floral bouquet. Even incorporate greenery into your bridal party look like Kate Moss did with lush, green head wreaths worn by her bridesmaids. “Bouquets that are textural and interesting, yet not busy are in for 2012. Remember, it’s about you, then the dress, then the flowers. Not the other way around,” says Todd Fiscus, owner/creative director of Todd Events, whose clients include Tony Romo, Eli Mannng and Jay-Z.
Wedding Invitations
WEDDING INVITATIONS
IN: Dual-purpose interactive invitations
OUT: Ribbon and buckle embellishments
Thanks in part to Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo’s airplane ticket wedding invitation to their Necker Island nuptials, dual-purpose interactive invitations are on the rise. “Airline ticket invites for destination weddings, invites that double as fans for an outdoor affair and comic book save-the-dates that tell the engaged couple’s story are definitely in for 2012,” predicts Ceci Johnson, founder and creative director of Ceci New York, who’s designed invitations for Diddy and Katherine Heigl.
Wedding Photography
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
IN: Stylized postwedding shoots
OUT: Trash the dress sessions
Trash the dress photo sessions where a bride steps back into her gown postwedding to swim in the ocean or play paintball with her husband have definitely run their course. In for 2012 is the stylized postwedding dress session/photo shoot wearing your dress, but this time restyling your look with chunky colorful jewelry, sultry makeup, wild hair or any completely different look than what you walked down the aisle in. “Maybe it’s the accessories that didn’t make the wedding day cut, or the hairstyle your mom didn’t approve of that you’re now able to rock in a restylized postwedding shoot,” says Robert Evans, celebrity photographer for Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise and cofounder of WeddingPhotography411.com. “It’s like the bride gets to style and star in her own magazine spread.”
Wedding Videos
WEDDING VIDEOS
IN: Bride-to-be roast videos
OUT: Choreographed bridal dance videos
Definitely out in wedding videos this year? The choreographed bridal party dances we’ve seen time and time again to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Chris Brown’s “Forever” and even Justin Bieber. Expanding beyond the popular “Sh*t Brides Say” YouTube video, brides are having a blast making fun of the silly (and sometimes ridiculous) things they’ve said and done during their wedding planning via Comedy Central-style roast videos. We won’t be surprised if more of these videos pop up at bachelorette parties where bridesmaids have the opportunity to “roast” the bride-to-be as a fun send-off before her big day.
Wedding Registry
WEDDING REGISTRY
IN: Charity registries
OUT: Reckless registries
If your registry includes things like a $1,200 serving spoon, $500 teapot and nothing under $100, you’re sure to upset more than a few of your guests. Instead of registering for the most expensive items you can find and not considering your guests, take a cue from Kate and Wills and create a charity registry. “At a time when most couples are feelings so thankful for what they have, the Charity Donation Program on WeddingChannel.com provides the perfect opportunity to give back to those who are less fortunate,” says Amy Eisinger, associate editor of WeddingChannel.com.

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V82: OUR MUSE – FESTIVE NEW ORLEANS WEDDING: RUTH & MICHAEL, PART 2

Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
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V82: SAVVY STYLE ADVICE – RUTH PRYOR, REAL BRIDE

Savvy Style Advice
Ruth Pryor

RUTH PRYOR
Use people whose creativity you trust and then let them do their jobs. My invitations, flowers, and makeup were spectacular. I think it helped that I didn’t try to design all of those things myself. I let each of them get to know me and then design something they thought we would be happy with. For your wedding planner, you should pick someone amazing and whom you trust and then let them work things out. My planner, Michele, really helped design the whole wedding and then made it all come together. There is no way I would have come close to doing the amazing job she did. It really allowed me to just enjoy the whole weekend stress-free.

What It’s Like to Be a Ceci Bride:
I tried to think of the invitation design before I went into my meeting with Ceci. Instead, once I got there, she asked me to describe what I loved about New Orleans. She took my description and turned it into the most amazing save-the-dates and invitations. I never could have come up with anything so wonderful. Now, every time I look at the invitations, they remind me of what is so fantastic about that city. Even though I didn’t do any of the creative work, I still feel like I helped design them.

I knew I wanted beautiful invitations but I didn’t realize how special they could be. Because that was one of the very first wedding tasks that I took care of, it inspired me to incorporate that level of magic and creativity throughout the entire wedding.

View Ruth & Michael’s wedding invitations and photos in Our Muse

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V82: OUR MUSE – FESTIVE NEW ORLEANS WEDDING: RUTH & MICHAEL, PART 3

Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
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V82: EXPERT STYLE TIPS – TIPS FOR CHOOSING AND WEARING BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES BY ARIANE GOLDMAN, TWOBIRDS

Expert Style Tips

Ariane Goldman, twobirds

ARIANE GOLDMAN, TWOBIRDS
Ariane Goldman was born and raised in Manhattan and is the founder and creator of Twobirds, a line of convertible bridesmaids dresses that marry elegance, customization, and consistency. Her revolutionary dresses have been lauded in media outlets ranging from Oprah and the TODAY Show to Vogue, and are a favorite among millennial brides and bridesmaids everywhere. After the success of Twobirds, Ariane realized there was a void for women wanting to feel sexy and chic during pregnancy as well as investing in pieces to wear again after the baby’s arrival – thus Hatch was born. Ariane lives in Manhattan with her husband and baby daughter, Charlie Grey.

Surrounding myself with other intelligent, clever businesswomen is a favorite pastime of mine. I feed off their energy, and their creativity is contagious. After my conversations with Ariane, I always leave pumped-up and inspired. She is a girl who followed her dreams and created not one, but two successful businesses. She is one to keep an eye on as she climbs the ladder of success. I’m proud to be her friend. - CECI JOHNSON

Top Five Tips for Choosing a Dress for Your Bridesmaids

  1. Order in advance: Most girls don’t realize there is a lead time for bridesmaids dresses just as there is for bridal gowns. It is best to order 4-5 months prior to the wedding so the girls can get their dresses altered and find shoes and jewelry to match.

  2. Schedule two appointments: One to find the dress (with your mom and maid of honor), plus one to have the girls try on the dress you chose. Too many opinions lead to an unnecessary headache.

  3. Choose versatile dresses: Choose a dress that comes in different styles (hint: Twobirds Bridesmaid) so they can choose a style that flatters their different body types!

  4. Delegate: Don’t try and do everything yourself. Give your maid of honor or one of your bridesmaids the responsibility for gown purchases. You have enough on your plate as it is!

  5. Be nice: Don’t make your girls buy a dress they will never wear again. They will really appreciate this!

Top 5 Tips for Bridesmaids to Look Fabulous

  1. Wear comfortable shoes: If you feel good, you will look good, too!

  2. Be overly prepared: Bring double-sided tape, a sewing kit and safety pins for those last-minute emergencies.

  3. Hair & Makeup: Don’t get too creative with hair and makeup on the day of. If you are going to try a new hairdo or eye shadow palette, try it before the wedding to make sure you like it.

  4. Jewelry: Wear a piece of jewelry that will bring out your individual style. You will be wearing the same dress as the other girls so it will make you stand out just a little more.

  5. SMILE!

Discover more on Twobirds

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V82: OUR MUSE – FESTIVE NEW ORLEANS WEDDING: RUTH & MICHAEL, PART 4

Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding
Our Muse - Festive New Orleans Wedding - Be inspired by Ruth & Michael's festive wedding in New Orleans - wedding

Ruth & Michael’s Dream Team

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V82: CECI COLOR STORIES – GOLD & DARK PURPLE WEDDING COLORS

Ceci Color Stories

Use this palette as a stepping stone toward creating your own dream event.
Click on the color swatches to see how the colors come to life at a real event or discover more inspiring color stories now.

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V82: GREAT ESCAPES – GUIDE TO MARDI GRAS IN NEW ORLEANS BY DAWNNE KEENEY

Great Escapes

I like to think that Mardi Gras is something everyone should experience at least once in their life: to see the spectacle of the floats, the costumes, the beads, the display of color that is so abundant on the streets. And to enjoy the food and drinks, of course. So I tapped my cousin, Dawnne Keeney, who grew up in New Orleans and has attended Mardi Gras every year of her life, to tell us how to truly do it right! Lucky for us, she agreed to share her day-by-day, play-by-play secrets below. Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

Ceci

Guide to Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Having been born during the Mardi Gras season, I have always planned a varied-yet-comprehensive five-day schedule that literally starts and ends in the same place – the French Quarter – and leaves no stone unturned.

Friday

The weekend officially begins on the Friday morning before Mardi Gras when at 10 a.m. I attend the “Greasing of the Poles” at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. This is a well-loved tradition born of necessity! The French Quarter gets pretty crazy during Mardi Gras and revelers will sometimes try to climb up to the balconies via the 200-year-old wrought-iron columns. The staff at the Royal Sonesta Hotel found that the best way to deter this potentially dangerous practice was to “grease” the columns with Vaseline prior to the onslaught of revelers. Word got around and, in true New Orleans style, people came to witness this truly “only in New Orleans” moment. The hotel invites local news anchors to be the Celebrity Greasers who are accompanied by a brass band, the Saintsations (the official cheerleading squad of the New Orleans Saints), the King and Queen of Zulu (a Mardi Gras organization), and local dignitaries.

After the Greasing of the Poles, it’s on to any one of New Orleans’ world-famous restaurants for a five-hour luncheon where everyone table-hops with champagne in hand. A native New Orleanian chooses from one of the following restaurants: Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, Galatoire’s, Dickie Brennan’s and the Rib Room. It’s all about catching up with friends you haven’t seen all year. Around three o’clock everyone heads to the Absinthe House Bar on Bourbon Street where the bar provides sidewalk service and people spill out into the street. If you want a decent glass of wine, stroll about a block in any direction and order by the glass from Galatoire’s upstairs bar, the Hermes Bar at Antoine’s, or the French 75 Bar at Arnaud’s. Lunch officially ends around sunset.

For dinner, we usually go casual to a New Orleans favorite like the Bon Ton Café on Magazine Street, Cochon in the Warehouse District, or Tommy’s Cuisine on Tchoupitoulas. You can see a parade from the windows of any of these restaurants. Later, there are fabulous music acts to see so take your pick of larger venues like the House of Blues, Tipitina’s, the Republic, and the Joy Theater. Or you can head to the small music clubs on Frenchmen Street or to Rock ‘n’ Bowl, a bowling alley that has live bands, a fabulously huge bar and great food – not to mention a hardwood dance floor.

Saturday

Saturday morning finds me wanting to go Uptown to see the daytime parades – but breakfast comes first. Everyone knows about the beignets at Café du Monde but I recommend them as a midday pick-me-up or a nighttime snack. For breakfast in the Quarter, head over to Stanley near the St Louis Cathedral. In the CBD/Warehouse district head to Mother’s on Poydras or the Ruby Slipper on Magazine if the line at Mother’s is too long. If you are heading Uptown then you must go to Camellia Grill. All of these places will have lines and all of them are worth waiting in! Then I head to a friend’s house on Napoleon Avenue where I can see the floats and bands line up and wait for the parade to begin. Imagine towering live oaks creating a canopy over a grand boulevard with high school marching bands practicing drum lines. Before parade time we head over to the Columns Hotel, which is more of a bar and reception venue than a hotel (it only has about 10 rooms). A beautiful Belle Époque mansion, it has what is probably the most fabulous veranda on the avenue. Friends of mine host an all-day brunch there and we often invite tourists to join us and have a “real” New Orleans experience!

After a day of parades, I head back to Mid City to catch one of the largest and most beautiful parades called Endymion. There are three “Super Krewes” and this is one of them (Bacchus and Orpheus being the other two). Endymion is the only parade that still uses the Mid City Canal Street route and since this is where I grew up, it’s the only place to be on the Saturday night before Mardi Gras. I have a friend who grew up one block from the parade and her parents still live there so we all congregate at her folks’ house and eat incredibly tasty yet unhealthy food and watch the parade, which lasts about three hours. Recommended restaurants in the Mid City area are Mandina’s on Canal, Venezia’s for Italian on Carrollton and a really cool new restaurant called Redemption housed in an old church just a short walk from Canal and Carrollton Streets.

Sunday

Sunday morning is “take stock” time. Since I go to the Bacchus Ball Sunday night, I need to decide if I need some rest time on the couch or if I should throw my ball gown and shoes in the car and go back uptown. Last year, I chose the latter option and ended up lounging in the backyard of one of the city’s most famous restaurant families eating fried catfish po’ boys and boiled shrimp! All around were debutantes, police officers, political figures, local actors, you name it. Great places to grab a bite in the Uptown area are Tracy’s on Magazine for po’ boys and The Irish House on St Charles Avenue. Or, if you’ve always wanted to go to Commander’s Palace and don’t feel like getting all dressed up, then this weekend is your chance to wear jeans to one of the city’s finest restaurants.

Around 4 p.m., it’s time to get the car and head downtown to a hotel near the convention center. A bunch of us usually rent a room for Sunday night as a home base since it can be hard to get cabs. The Bacchus Extravaganza is not a traditional Mardi Gras ball; it’s truly an extravaganza. About 4,000 people wear strictly formal black tie and buy tables of 10 at the convention center where there is live music and dancing. When the parade reaches the center, the doors open and the whole procession – complete with marching bands, police on horseback and gigantic floats – winds its way into the convention center passing all of the tables. Every year I try to bring at least one person who has never experienced this event, and I just love watching their face throughout the night. Last year, we had six people from Hattiesburg, Mississippi and guess who is coming back this year? If I were not going to the Extravaganza then I would have booked a table at the Palace Café on Canal Street and asked for a table by the windows on the second floor so I could watch the parade or venture outside in between courses.

Monday

Monday is Lundi Gras and the best thing happening that day is a party at the end of Canal Street at Spanish Plaza. There is the Acme Oyster House in the Hilton Hotel and if it’s not too crowded get a seat at the bar and order chargrilled oysters. You’ve never tasted anything like them in your life! Outside there are bands and food and lots of fun. At 6 p.m. the King of Zulu arrives by boat and is greeted by Rex, the King of Carnival. Zulu is the oldest of the African-American social aid and pleasure clubs and the only one that still parades at Mardi Gras. Rex is one of the oldest of the old line Mardi Gras Krewes and the king each year is considered to be the king of carnival. After the Lundi Gras celebration, we head over to St. Charles Avenue to see the Orpheus parade, which was started by Harry Connick, Jr. and some friends. It’s another of the Super Krewes and is just a beautiful spectacle to see. For dinner reserve a table at Café Adelaide in the Loews Hotel or Grand Isle on Fulton Street or try the new sports bar called Manning’s and owned by you-know-who! It just opened and the food is spectacular!

Tuesday – Mardi Gras

On Mardi Gras Day, restaurant choices can be dicey since most are on limited menus and staff. Many don’t bother to open. The Rib Room at the Royal Orleans Hotel is a great place to cap off a long day with wonderful prime rib. The Desire Oyster Bar on Bourbon is open all day and has great gumbo and fried seafood in addition to fresh raw oysters. Most hotels have full-service restaurants that are open all day so I would recommend a good old fashioned hotel breakfast buffet to start the day. Then look for street vendors along the parade route. If you see someone grilling in a parking lot, venture over and find out first if they are selling the food (there is usually a sign) and if so, you are in for a real treat!

My Mardi Gras morning begins with a repeat trip to my friend’s house on Napoleon Avenue to see Rex’s paper mache floats line up. The lieutenants and float riders are all masked and are not allowed to reveal their identities so this is really the proper time to go “visiting.” Before the parade begins we jump in the car and head to the Garden District to meet friends who rent an apartment on the Avenue just for the Mardi Gras season. We watch Rex’s and then get back in the car and go through the area of the city called Central City, which is one of the oldest African-American neighborhoods in New Orleans and ride around looking for the Mardi Gras Indians (you can usually catch them gathering at the corner bars on Washington Avenue or on Second Street). The Mardi Gras Indians are African-American men’s clubs where membership is handed down through the generations. Various tribes perform elaborate song-and-dance routines that culminate in a “meeting of the minds” of the chiefs. Eventually all of the Uptown Indians congregate in one area and the Downtown tribes congregate on Claiborne Avenue. Further information can be found at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

After seeing the Indians, I head to the French Quarter to watch the revelry from the balcony of the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. From my perch I can see all of the costumes and decorations and antics of the people below. To wrap up the weekend, we always leave the Royal Sonesta Hotel around sunset and head to Popeye’s for a big bucket of the best fried chicken in the world, which we take home so we can watch the TV coverage of Mardi Gras. If you can stay up until midnight you can watch the meeting of the courts of Rex’s and Comus on TV, which is the meeting of the two oldest carnival organizations with kings, queens, debutantes and pages all in a very formal bal masque-like performance.

A Note on Hotels:
Depending on how well you know the city or how adventurous you are, there are many hotels you can choose from. New Orleans is a very walkable city and the French Quarter, CBD and Warehouse District are adjacent to each other. In the French Quarter, I like the more classic hotels such as the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street, the Monteleone on Royal Street and the Omni Royal Orleans on St Louis Street. If you want a smaller hotel in the Quarter, I highly recommend the Hotel Provincial, Bienville House and the Place d’Armes. For Central Business District (CBD) hotels, the Loews, the W, and the JW Marriott are all located on parade routes and provide easy accessibility for public transportation and taxis. Be warned that the French Quarter is closed to traffic over the Mardi Gras weekend and even taxis may not be able to get you to the door of a French Quarter Hotel. The Warehouse District is the city’s most recently developed area and boasts a plethora of hotels, restaurants, bars and music venues.

More Favorite Restaurants:

Guide to Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Dawnne Keeney
Guide to Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Dawnne Keeney

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V82: RECIPES FOR STYLE – MARDI GRAS KING CAKE

Recipes for Style

Mardi Gras King Cake

Recipes for Style - Mardi Gras King Cake

This frosted yeast bread is the highlight of our annual Mardi Gras party. If you want to hide a token inside, do so by cutting a small slit in the bottom of the baked cake – and remember to warn your guests!

Yield: 24 Servings

Prep: 40 min. + rising

Bake: 20 min. + cooling

Ingredients:
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup warm milk (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cans (12-1/2 ounces each) almond cake and pastry filling

For Glaze:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water
Purple, green and gold colored sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, shortening, sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll one portion into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Spread almond filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cooled cakes. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Yield: 2 cakes (12 servings each).

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V82: DON’T MISS – SMITTEN MAGAZINE FEATURES AN IN-DEPTH PROFILE OF CECI JOHNSON

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SMITTEN MAGAZINE FEATURES AN IN-DEPTH PROFILE OF CECI JOHNSON

Smitten Magazine recently interviewed Ceci to get an inside look into her process. See some of the highlights below or check out the full issue of Smitten Magazine here.

Smitten Magazine Features an In-Depth Profile of Ceci Johnson

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V82: NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE – THE ART OF DECO

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In next week’s issue: The Art of Deco

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The Art of Deco - Embrace the intricate beauty of Art Deco style

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CeciStyle Magazine V81: Love, Italian Style
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Ceci Johnson, Founder and Creative Director of Ceci New York, is the authority on style and invitation design. She is also the author of her highly coveted weekly style magazine, CeciStyle. Loaded with gorgeous tips and takes on invitations, fashion, parties, weddings, décor, gifts and more, CeciStyle is free and full of trusted, time-saving advice.
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