Race & Religious is my dream venue. It is so unique, so full of character and life, and yet so easily translates to so many different couples and different weddings! When I moved here, I put it at the top of my New Orleans bucket list – “Shoot a wedding at R&R” – and when I finally did after a year of working in New Orleans in 2013, it was the BEST! I have now photographed countless weddings at R&R but every one is so different – and that’s also why I love it so much!
Learn more about the venue and its manager, Sarah, below!
Tell us a little about R&R!
Race + Religious is the result of a 25 year labor of love. The owners Granville and Billie Semmes have such a unique eye, and the ability to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. The first house, the Creole Cottage, was purchased in 1977 and that’s when this whole crazy thing started. Gran started renovating and decorating, dreaming and conspiring. We are SO thankful he did! After years of pining over the Slave Quarter and Race house he was finally able to acquire the property in 2003. Originally, the purpose of the property was for his family of six to live here, he and his wife BIllie, along with their four children. However, when it came down to making the permanent move, they chose to make it a second residence and their permanent residence is in Slidell. One lovely afternoon, they threw a party. At this party was a young engaged couple with stars in their eyes and love in their hearts. Their sight was set on Race + Religious as their wedding venue. This one inquiry turned into an online pinning sensation! In November of 2010 the space was opened as an event venue in New Orleans. Nearly four years later, we are one of the most sought after venues in New Orleans, with international recognition! Who would have thought?? Definitely not Gran and Billie. They never dreamed of being in the wedding industry, but we are all so thankful to be part of this beautiful thing we call LOVE.
What makes R&R an unique wedding venue?
I think what makes RR stand out, is the fact that it wasn’t ever intended to be a wedding venue. People come in here and can envision themselves living here, most of our clients just want to be in the space, being a part of such a beautiful and living art project. Race + Religious is essentially a living gallery. The owner’s daughter Elsie is constantly coming through the venue, painting on the walls while her parents are collecting new pieces to add to the house to keep it interesting. People come in and different parts of the venue speak to different couples, but they all have a love for the eclectic vibes that the venue gives off. Plus, the staff is wonderful to work with–wink wink. We understand that it’s the clients event, and we don’t want to force them into a mold. We want them to have the freedom to come up with a night that is unique to them.
What keeps you inspired in your work?
It is hard not to be inspired within the walls of R+R. I am surrounded by great art and antiques all day long. Plus, our venue attracts an extremely creative clientele. I constantly have clients coming through the door with new ideas and a fresh look. I am lucky enough to have the freedom to make my workplace my own. I get to set the tone at the office which is an amazing thing to do. I try and keep a happy and upbeat environment for our clients. SO I guess the best answer is, making people happy keeps me inspired.
What is your favorite type of bride to work with (ideal client)?
This is a tough one! I love a bride who knows what she wants with realistic expectations, and has a positive outlook on things. Bring me a happy bride and you have found my ideal client.
What makes New Orleans weddings and brides unique?
New Orleans is one of the most unique places in the world, our Laissez-Faire attitude brings out the best in people.
What’s your favorite thing about being in the New Orleans wedding industry?
My favorite thing is being able to work with people during the happiest time of their lives. Every day of my life is the best day of someone elses- and that is pretty awesome. The vendors in the city are all so supportive and we all work hard to make someone’s dream day come true.
What is your favorite thing about living in New Orleans?
Big city living in a small town feel. We are such a hub for young entrepreneurs and we have big business here, but if I wanted to I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. I can walk to get coffee, drinks, dinner, and groceries from my house. The city also has so many different atmospheres , the quarter, uptown, mid city, the By-water. It’s such a wonderful mix!
What is a daily ritual you can’t live without?
COFFEE IN THE MORNINGS, WINE IN THE EVENINGS!
How can a bride make an appointment with you?