March 7, 2012

Venue Showcase

To my handful of followers, I'm sure you're just dying to know more information about the venues we've chosen for our wedding festivities. I'm super excited about the places our guests will get to experience. Our choices satisfy my desires as well as the groom's while also providing a scenic 
and historical picture window for our out-of-town guests. Our local guests will appreciate the selections, as well, I'm sure.
Gulf Hills Hotel overlooking Back Bay and Fort Bayou
Ever since I moved into the Gulf Hills neighborhood nearly two years ago, I knew that I wanted it to play some part in our wedding logistics plan. It's picturesque in that it's a golf course and hotel nestled quaintly into one of the coast's oldest upscale neighborhoods. 

Where I'll spend my last night as a single lady.
Trivia: Elvis had an custom, oversized king bed put in this
room originally, but the hotel now keeps a regular
king size mattress, hence the oversized headboard.

I believe that Mississippi girls are born to love Elvis. The King of Rock and Roll is our own state's baby boy and many of us know the lyrics to Hound Dog before we're out of diapers. Elvis made his summer home at Gulf Hills in the 50s, courting a local Biloxi lady. He's still a legend around these parts, locals proudly pointing out places he visited and the older generations remember seeing him around town.

The bar Elvis used to play guitar from.
My own PawPaw, now gone, used to tell the best stories about working at Gulf Hills and holding the reins for Elvis as he rode the horses at the old dude ranch. PawPaw also knew every nook and cranny and every quirky fact about the neighborhood, as he laid the foundation for many of the homes in the 70s with his dirt and gravel hauling business.

Gulf Hills is where I've got a room block for our guests and I'll spend the night in the Love Me Tender, Love Me Suite with my bridesmaids the night before the wedding. The photos pictured above are from the suite.
Artistic view of St. Alphonsus

Nuptial Mass
Kevin and I will be united in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony by a full mass at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in quaint downtown Ocean Springs. The ceremony choice was a no-brainer as both of us are pretty serious about our Catholic faith and want our marriage blessed by the church. St. Al's sits among moss covered live oak trees and is a mere one block from Ocean Springs beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It's also one block from the restaurants and shopping downtown has to offer. After the sun goes down, our guests can enjoy the nightlife on Government Street.

Aside from the simplistic beauty of this church (which the groom and I both feel rivals that of the magnificent Nativity Cathedral), I've got a few sentimental connections to this parish. Long before I was even thought of and back in the day when fishing and mud riding was what kept them busy, my own dear parents were married at the same St. Alphonsus church in August of 1980.
A very young Mama and Dad in 1980 at St. Alphonsus.

My mama's family actually attended St. Alphonsus as she was growing up. Last January when our family faced the unthinkable - the sickness and death of PawPaw - as our time left with him grew smaller, we asked the tough question of, "What church do you want us to use?" Although he'd attended another church in his older years, he told us with complete certainty that he wanted St. Alphonsus for his funeral mass and services. That connection may be a somber one, but it still serves as a reminder of the special significance of the church to our family.
A friend's wedding held at St. Alphonsus in November
The last reason I decided St. Alphonsus was the only choice for our wedding is that the pastor there now is Father Henry McInerney, the same priest who baptized me back in 1986. This past weekend when Kevin and I met with him together for the first time, Fr. Henry joked with me, apologizing for he did not remember baptizing me nearly 26 years ago. I smiled and said, "That's okay Father, neither do I." :) His Irish accent will provide comedic relief in the ceremony, especially hearing him say KOWALEWSKI.

This is an older picture, that parking lot no longer exists.
The reception venue of choice was possibly the hardest decision of all. There were a couple of options, but the Nativity Sacred Heart Center provides a happy compromise for all parties involved. It's actually the parish hall for Nativity Cathedral. It is the old Sacred Heart Academy, a long-closed Catholic school. It's been renovated into a beautiful event space, complete with tall ceilings, wood floors and ornate lighting. I love it because it fits very well with my vintage travel decor. Just walking in the ballroom gave me the feeling that I was stepping back in time but with updated features and modern equipment. They provide the tables and chairs is nice, too. I checked the bathrooms, plenty of stalls, and a good deal of counter space should my heart desire to fancy it up in there. I also really like that it's also got a classroom with a private potty so I'll have my own refuge for bustling dress, refreshing hair or makeup, and my bridesmaids and other attendants can have a place to keep their stuff.
This is what it looks like now.

The ginormous windows will let in a great deal of natural sunlight in the early hours of the reception, I'm hoping for great pictures with folks not having to use flashes, etc. I'm in love with the entranceway as well (not shown here), it's a good sized foyer that will allow for a large sign in table for my secret sign-in idea (no books here, y'all), there is also room to set up the display of our parents' and grandparents' wedding photos and any other decor I could imagine could fit there.
They have another set of banquet chairs, the ones I'll use
are yellow with gold metal.

We've secured the Biloxi Visitor's Center for the rehearsal dinner, but the only pictures they've given me have been tiny little pictures from a word document they sent. Once I have better images I'll showcase that, as well.

My next orders of business are to formally ask my bridesmaids for their hands in bridesmaidery and to send Save the Dates as soon as we have engagement pictures taken!

Also - Project: Wedding Diet started hardcore last week and I'm already 7 pounds down.


  1. Those places are amazing! So happy for you that its working out and your getting a lot done. Those are some of the hardest decisions to make and I love the date you picked out. My wedding was also a couple days before my bday so I can totally relate. Good luck with the rest of the planning. LOVE YOU!

  2. Awe thank you my love! I am always so glad to see your sweet comments on my posts. I still owe you a return phone call if I can get my head wrapped around these silly timezones! :) I hope you and Mr. Hilton and Baby Hilton will be able to make it!

  3. Love these venues! and i LOVE the photo of your mom's wedding in the same chapel :)
    The love me tender suite needs to get that EXTRA LARGE king size bed back in there!

  4. Sounds like you incorporated all the venues you wanted. Glad it's coming together for you. I'm working my way through your blog to catch up on all things wedding with Sheila.


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