Cajun Ballroom at the Audubon ZooNeighborhood: Uptown 6500 Magazine St www.auduboninstitute.org
Average Cost: $15,800
*Average cost for each venue, including tax and gratuity, is calculated by figuring a 150-person guest list, ceremony fee, and 6-hour reception on a Saturday night using the least expensive menu and bar options. They do not include transportation to/from the venue, or any optional fees. Numbers are rounded up to the nearest hundred.
How it breaks down:
Facility Rental Fee: $1,700 for a three-hour reception
Food: Minimum food and beverage costs are $35/pp, with a $4,000 overall minimum. “Elegant” Reception packages for food range from $31/pp-$46/pp.
Bar: 5 bar packages are available, starting from a Basic Bar package (with only domestic beer, wine, and sodas) at $18/pp for three hours ($3.50 per person for each additional hour) to a Super Premium Bar package (Glenlivit, Jack Daniels Black, Kendall Jackson wines) for $27/pp per hour, ($6.00 per person for each additional hour). One bartender is complimentary for every 75 guests (Example: up to 75 guests: 1 bartender, 76 to 150 guests – 2 bartenders, etc.). Extra bartender charge is $150.00 for a three-hour reception. Each additional hour is $50.00 per additional bartender.
Tax and Service: 20% service charge and 9.75% sales tax on food, beverage, and any rented equipment
Party On! Each additional hour is $500. Parties can last from 7 pm-12 a.m.
What’s Included? Ceremony fee, existing dining room furniture, outdoor picnic tables, linen on inside tables and service ware.
Space Type: Inside/Outside
Size: 120 seated inside; 100 seated outside, 500 for seated and standing reception
Food Service Type: Formal seated and stations available
Dressing Rooms Available: No (not unless you consider a bathroom one)
Security Provided: Yes
How Will Grandma Get There? Guests arriving at the zoo, which is located in the Uptown area of New Orleans (a 15-20 minute cab ride from the French Quarter), can be escorted to the venue via a “zoo train” from the parking lot for a fee of $250 (based on a three-hour event). Without it, the walk would be a bit long for elderly people so this really is a must.
Things To Remember:
-The outside deck is covered with an overhang, but you’re screwed if you get a gusty rain since there is no side cover and no option for a tent. Thankfully the inside is big enough for a Plan B.
-The event coordinator revealed they are offering a 40% off the facility rental fee for the month of September.
The Report: The Cajun “ballroom” at the Audubon zoo is an actual re-creation of a Louisiana Swamp, complete with alligators, black bears, cougars, and otters (all secured in a gated area, of course) that are located around a very large wooden deck, where most people have their ceremony. Wooden picnic tables are scattered throughout, and I was told (secretly) that they can be moved and more formal tables and chairs can occupy that space if you prefer. From the deck you enter the actual “ballroom,” which looks exactly like my old summer camp dining room. It has wooden walls, floors, and ceiling fans, with framed pictures of musicians lining the walls. The relatively new venue, which can comfortably hold a large group of people, has a large built-in stage for the band inside, along with an additional long corridor that can easily be used for food stations.
Woman Getting Married Says: If you want a really unique and “different” wedding reception venue, this is it. The outside area is great because you are literally surrounded by amazing wildlife (though I would make sure my drunk friends stayed away from the bears’ holding area). The inside is comfortably rustic and the perfect size for a large yet intimate feel, and would even be cool if you decorated it to feel more modern and formal. The only downside is that it’s not as close to the quarter as I would like, but because it’s not “too” far you can get away with not having to arrange a bus from your guests’ hotel to the venue. If you are a wildlife lover, and have guests that can appreciate how special this setup is, then this venue is a great option.