Planning a wedding and reception, or any large party, entails a million small details that add up to a perfect event but can be overly stressful for the hosts -- unless you call on the folks at The Carrollton (4710 S. Carrollton Ave., 482-1611) for help.
Not only will you get an elegant ballroom with a picturesque stairs as a setting for you party, but Carrollton Caterers also provides everything a host needs, from a guest book and pen to alcoholic beverages and food all around.
"We do as much for our customers as possible," says owner Christopher Kennair, who worked at The Carrollton for eight years before buying it three years ago. "It's a complete package. You get unlimited food, unlimited drink, everything is served on china and in glassware. We include engraved napkins, a guest book and pen, a DJ and sound system (with a play list tailored to the host's tastes), security and off-street parking."
For wedding receptions, the caterers also provide the wedding and groom's cake. "The couple gets to choose what kind of cakes they want from the bakery," he explains. "They're not generic cakes."
In addition, The Carrollton's menu includes more than two dozen hor d'oeuvres, seafood gumbo, crawfish and corn bisque and an assortment of finger sandwiches graced with the Carrollton's housemade condiment spread. Every party buffet also includes a large elevated floral centerpiece to add beauty to tables laden with sliced roast beef au jus, baked ham, housemade Vienna rolls, Swedish meatballs, shrimp and smoked sausage jambalaya, crawfish pasta, imported cheeses and seasonal fruits. Silver punch and coffee services also are included. The open bar includes bourbon, scotch, gin, vodka, rum, amaretto, beer, wines, champagne and non-alcoholic beverages.
"We plan the reception for them, essentially," Kennair says. "With all the planning that goes into a wedding, the couple and their parents should be able to just sit back and enjoy the reception." To help in that endeavor, The Carrollton provides a black-tie wait staff, plus a private waiter dedicated to serving all the needs of the bridal couple and their parents.
Competition among party sites and caterers is stiff in this city, renowned for excellent food and a zest for entertaining, but Kennair says he keeps his reception hall booked by employing a simple philosophy: "If you provide good food and good services, you'll have a good business in this city."
He recently renovated the graceful reception hall to freshen it up and update its look. The lobby provides a well-appointed space for guests to visit before entering the main room, a coat room is available on request, and a multi-level ballroom with high ceilings and chandeliers is fully decorated and furnished with cocktail tables and chairs for guests' comfort. A picturesque staircase leads to a mezzanine where brides and grooms have separate changing suites and the décor lends well to wedding party photographs as well as garter and bouquet tossing.
The Carrollton also hosts anniversary parties, Sweet 16 celebrations, company Christmas parties, fundraisers and other events, but Kennair admits that weddings are his favorite.
"This is a happy time in people's lives and they're open to suggestions since we've been in the business so long -- 21 years," he says. "We accommodate them for everything for the reception. That way, they can focus on the smaller things that mean so much: the gown, the flowers, the invitations, those things. Everything for the reception is included in the package. It's done for you, so enjoy."
Although his business is booming, Kennair says he has no plans to expand in size. "I like to keep it small," he says. "I'm from the old school of family business; you do everything yourself. It's quality and not quantity that counts." The attitude has garnered him business from couples who have moved to another state but want a New Orleans-style party for their reception instead of the more formal sit-down dinners and more staid affairs favored in other places.
"We get a lot of people who have moved to Georgia and Texas and come home to get married because we're (the city) the only ones that do this kind party reception. Here they get to mingle and enjoy their guests."
Kennair makes sure that happens by attending the booked events to make certain they proceed without any hitches. The celebrations, he says, are his favorite part of his busy job.
"I'm a people person," the owner says. "The actual parties are the fun time for me. At the events I just walk around and make sure my staff is doing what they're supposed to and that everyone is having a good time."
- Christopher Kennair, owner of The Carrollton and Carrollton Caterers, provides everything you need for a party, except the guests.