Is the ring on your finger, but the “My Wedding” notebook frightfully empty? Well, not for long! The Dansereau House, along with dozens of other wedding vendors, will fill the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center for the Eighth Annual South Louisiana Bridal Show this Sunday, March 3. You can sample food, look over the floral designs, listen to the DJs, and watch a fashion show of dresses!
The Bridal Show was our first real step into the community, back in 2010. The doors to The Dansereau House had not even opened yet when we learned about the show at the Civic Center, and knew that we wanted to attend. We created some marketing brochures, took some furniture from the House, and set up a miniature “Parlor” in our booth space. We hadn’t had one guest yet, let alone any weddings!
We’ve come a long way since then, and this will be our fourth show. We have had many weddings, receptions, showers, and honeymoon couples at the house, and we are very proud of what we can offer.
This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone planning a wedding, so plan to be at The Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 at the door. Be sure to step into our “Parlor” and learn more about how The Dansereau House can make your wedding truly remarkable!
On January 21, 2010, Paul and I pulled the 26-foot rental truck up to the side of The Dansereau House and stepped out into a lifestyle that would utterly change our lives. We had educated ourselves for years, prayed for the opportunity to arrive, and then stepped back to let God allow it to happen.
We left South Florida, saying hard good-byes to family and friends, travelled the miles in a very loud, very bumpy truck, with lots of time to think. And, occasionally question ourselves. Along the way we jettisoned furniture and belongings to our children, and other family members. The last miles between New Orleans and Thibodaux were freezing cold, rainy, and contemplative.
People always say that one of the first things that you notice about Thibodaux is the friendliness of the people. To say that we experienced this almost instantly would not be an exaggeration! I will never forget the gentleman who peddled up on his bike shortly after Paul slid open the back of the truck and we stood there, tired and befuddled. I couldn’t understand him entirely, but he said something like “you sure can’t empty that yourselves” and proceeded to give us about two hours of his time helping with the heavy things. And in the days that followed, people stopped to welcome us, to chat, and to encourage. I think I met half the population while in my sweat clothes, washing baseboards! In addition, we learned that “You’re not from around here, are you?” is not a censure, but a simple observation of fact.
We came armed with our business model, our projected goals, and lists of priorities. What we still didn’t know was what kind of towel feels the best, which bath toiletries appeal to both men and women, which sheets give that “AHHH!” reaction. We had yet to learn how many toilet parts to have on hand, how many different lightbulbs could be found in one house, how important a needle-nose pliers and an allen wrench are to have within reach.
I know we will never forget our first honeymoon couple, our first baby shower, our first wedding. What an honor to share in such precious family memories! I’ve cried at weddings. I’ve stood in empty rooms, sad that its guest had gone because we’d become friends. We’ve had guests from all over the world, and from our own backyard. Each one is different, but we pamper them all in the same way.
People ask interesting questions, say interesting things. I’ve been asked, “What have you learned, doing this?” That is almost impossible to narrow down, but the most encompassing answer would be “Expect the Unexpected.” Our day, our plans, our calendar can change in a heartbeat. Guests can do funny things, and we’ve learned to laugh quite easily. Things break when you need them the most; dishwashers being top on the list. People stop by when you look your worst or your schedule is tight.
We’ve been told on more than one occasion that working in The Dansereau House must feel like we’re on vacation all the time. We’ve yet to figure this out, but we know it has something to do with the beauty of the house. We work hard. This is not a “ 9 to 5” occupation, but a “24/7” vocation. We felt called to do it, and are blessed each day.
One of our goals from the start was to make each guest feel important. We wanted them to feel that they had slipped away from their real world for a while, to a place where their comfort was important, and where relaxation began as they stepped through the door. We were not going to be a place just to spend the night, but an experience to remember. We wanted Thibodaux to be, not a city they didn’t plan to visit, but a city they would visit again and again. And as Paul said when he accepted the LTPA Accommodation of the Year award for 2011, it was not simply our efforts, but a joint effort of many. The tourist centers, the Chamber of Commerce, the fine restaurants, the welcoming shopkeepers, our Drinkery patrons all have had a part in making The Dansereau House guests feel welcome.
We thank you for three breath-taking years! Happy Anniversary!
I can’t stop them from giggling! Almost two hundred Teddy Bears, sent from the North Pole to the Bayou Country of Southern Louisiana, arrived on the front veranda a bit early. They were just too excited about the Victorian Teddy Bear Christmas Tea to be held at The Dansereau House again this December. I’ve got them stashed on the third floor, but every once in a while I hear giggling. They are cute, and I wish I had time to sneak up and play….
Reservations are now being taken for The Teddy Bear Tea, held this year on Saturday, December 8, and Sunday, December 9. Sittings are at Noon and 3:00 PM both days. Santa Claus, of course, will be here to listen to desires of all the good little girls and boys, and his official photographer will be ready in our Photo Corner to capture the moment. Mrs. Claus will be here, too, sharing stories and little-known secrets about their life at the North Pole. We’ve also invited a special princess guest this year!
Every child will take home their own Dansereau House Teddy Bear, and each adult will enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne. Our menu will appeal to both young and old, with a sampling of the sweet and savory fit for a queen! And, of course, a variety of teas from which to choose. The cost again this year, is $35 for adults, and $25 for children under ten, not including tax and gratuity. Photos with Santa will be available at a minimal cost, depending on the size.
Last year’s tea was such a success, and sittings filled quickly. Don’t miss this special time to enjoy the Christmas beauty of The Dansereau House with family and friends.
Who doesn’t love a fall festival? It’s a time to enjoy beautiful weather, savor a variety of foods, and start thinking about the holidays. Here in the bayou country of southern Louisiana, we have one of the best! So good that it’s been named the Number 1 festival in the southeastern United States. Thibodeauxville, held in the historic downtown district in Thibodaux, returns this year on November 10, bigger and better than before.
According to Rhonda Demptser of the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce, “The festival will have a new look this year. We have expanded to include Highway 1. Our Food Court and the Car Show will be on the banks of beautiful Bayou Lafourche, and the Thibodeauxville Duck Race will take place on the Jackson Street Bridge.”
Almost 200 vendors will be on hand to get your holiday shopping started. Three different stages will provide continuous live entertainment. And, of course, the Food Court provides a wide variety of incredible Cajun food! There is no admission charge.
Local residents, as well as visitors to the city, enjoy the day-long festival from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. The Dansereau House has had reservations on the books since last year’s festival!
For Paul and I, Thibodeauxville marks the beginning of our holiday preparations. Two of our most cherished Houseguests, David and Andrea Sanford, travel from Florida to help us jump-start our Christmas decorating. Festival attendees will probably see Paul and David out in the yard again this year unwinding hundreds of feet of lights, modifying our light-show technology, and whatever else it takes to ‘deck our halls!’
Mark you calendars for November 10th, and we will see you in our booth at Thibodeauxville 2012! For more information, check the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce website, here.
We had a guest at The Dansereau House this week who did not make reservations. We knew he might be in the area, but never dreamed he’d choose to stay with us. His name was Isaac; we never got a last name. He is now on the “No Further Reservations Allowed” list.
Paul and I are not novices to hurricanes. We both grew up in Florida and we know the drill. In my childhood innocence, hurricanes seemed almost fun. While my dad put up storm shutters, we tied sheets to our roller skates and ‘sailed’ around the block. When preparations were finished, we’d pull mattresses into the living room, and would all be together for the great adventure.
As adults, with a home of our own, the adventure part faded. But, we put up shutters, threw the patio furniture into the pool, brought in the orchids, pulled out the mattresses and waited in the darkness for the storm to pass. After all the hard work preparing, it was a great chance to sleep.
Preparing a 165-year-old, 9,000 square foot house for a hurricane is another kettle of fish! Everywhere you turn, there’s something else that needs attention. The first and second floors have shutters, and it only took two trips to Lowes to get them secured! We could not have done it without the help of Thibodaux Main Street Director Cody Blanchard, who came over to lend a hand. And, we are much appreciative that Trey Folse took some time away from helping his own family, to help us.
Our Innkeepers House sits under two old Oak trees and is structurally a bit more questionable than the Big House. I prepared it as best as I could, packed a little suitcase, and we ‘evacuated.’
We had water and food, batteries and lanterns, books and reading lights. Finally, at 3:30 in the afternoon we sat down to catch our breath and watch the Weather Channel. Within moments the power went out and this big, old house got strangely quiet and dark.
I hadn’t wanted to start using up batteries so early in the game, but there wasn’t much else to do but read. If we had known what the night was to hold for us, we would have slept! It was about to become a roller-coaster ride! About three hours later the power returned, so I began heating up freezer food for dinner. As soon as we sat down to eat and watch the news, off it went again! At least we had a hot meal, in the dark.
We have a wonderful, state-of-the-art alarm system here in the House. And, whenever they detect a problem, including a loss of power, they call to check on us before alerting the fire department. I’m sure that their call center is in some nice, sunny location and the operators were oblivious to our situation. It was nice to hear from them the first time. Paul explained to them that we were taking a direct hit from Hurricane Isaac, and that we had lost power, but were fine. I’m sure we both thought they would put that in their notes, and further calls would not be necessary….
The power returned, and we checked ourselves into The Caldwell Room. (That bed IS wonderful!) We watched TV, and must have fallen asleep for a bit.
Can you be awakened by darkness and silence? I guess. But lying there, in the dark, coming out of sleep, I recognized another sound. I whispered to Paul, “I hear water. In the house.” We scrambled toward the sound. As we headed up the stairs to the third floor, I realized that I was getting rained on from above. But, I was in the dead center of the house! I confess, I began yelling, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! What is happening?” But Paul had to shush me, because he was answering a call from the alarm company. The operator was asking, did we know that we had trouble?
Water was coming through the ceiling of the third floor, rolling and bouncing off stairs and handrails, and traveling as far down as the first floor. We continued up to the attic, and what greeted us there, in hindsight, seemed a bit like the Titanic to me. The air was swirling in the attic, and especially in the cupola. To say that water was ‘dripping’ everywhere is too mild. ‘Running’ is more like it. Every wastebasket and bus pan was put to use. I dumped items out of storage containers and Paul wedged them into place. We dried and rearranged some of the Christmas décor that was in storage up there.
I came down out of the attic before Paul, and as I came into the stairwell foyer, I see the beautiful draperies being sucked in and out of where there once was a window! It was like a pulse, a heartbeat, and I think I was stunned into watching it for a few seconds before I yelled for Paul. Oddly, there was no glass shards, no wood, just rain pouring in and I realized that the window pane had just gotten sucked right out! Paul ran back to the attic for some old boards, and we simply screwed them in place. Later, when the eye of the storm was passing, I went outside for a look-around. There in the grass was the window- completely intact!
Knowing that this 165-year-old house has withstood its share of hurricanes, I felt pretty secure. But, as the night went on, that security began to fade. The house shuddered and groaned. The windows above the front door vibrated badly, making the same sound that a transformer makes as it blows off the pole. The third floor was not a place for the faint of heart! The windows seemed to breathe with the gusts. Finally, the last straw! The kitchen began to leak! Everywhere! More containers! More towels! And after the eye finally passed, they all had to be moved to the other side of the house, as the wind changed direction and the bar began to leak.
When Isaac moved on, we were grateful. On his way out, he toppled the side fence, exposing our A/C equipment area, leaving probably the most unappealing part of the property exposed. As Paul said, “It looks like we got caught in our underwear.” The trees all look as if Fall came early, and there’s a lot a repair work ahead. But we are grateful for safety, and the ability to laugh together even when it’s raining – outside and in.
Temperatures have been steamy in Thibodaux lately, and you can blame it on us! Just in one week alone we’ve had three couples celebrating their anniversary here at The Dansereau House. But even more romantic is the special Proposal Dinner that we put together on the Fourth of July!
Who says romance is dead? Not for John Warren! Even though he knew we were not a restaurant, John approached us and asked if we could provide him with an intimate dinner where he could propose to his sweetheart, Megan, and, of course, we said yes! And, when John asked the important question, of course, she said yes!
John had the vision, and let us do the planning. Because we had guests that night, we chose the third floor foyer to set the stage, as well as the table. Soft piano music filled the air, candles lined the window sills, and a single red rose awaited.
While Lori prepared the four-course meal, Paul did the serving. But we wonder if either of them really tasted the food, because the big moment was saved until the check arrived. In it? An incredible ring, tied on with ribbon, and the check that simply said, “Will You Marry Me?” And she said yes.
When a son or daughter gets married, it’s a wondrous thing! Paul and I have helped plan many weddings here at The Dansereau House, and we take pride in making every wedding perfect; fitting the needs of each bride and groom. When our son announced his engagement, we sadly acknowledged that the wedding would not be here in southern Louisiana, in this beautiful venue, but somewhere in the Atlanta area. When they called us to say that they had chosen Kimball Hall, in Roswell, Georgia, we could tell that they had found the place they had been envisioning.
“This is it!” I remember my daughter-in-law saying. Kimball Hall is a two-story Queen Anne house dating from the 1880′s. The owner, Julie Stephens, has transformed the house into the perfect wedding venue. I came for a visit in December, and took a peek around the outside. Even though the gardens were in their winter state, I knew why this was “IT.” By June, the yard and garden had transformed in a lush, flowering oasis. Dan and Erin were married under the arbor in the garden, which has been designed to create a cocoon of privacy and beauty. The reception was held inside the house, in the lovely ballroom made almost totally of floor-to-ceiling windows. The decor is spectacular, planned to fit any bride’s color-scheme and taste. The flowers were perfection!
The kids had told me repeatedly what a wonderful host Julie is, and they did not exaggerate. She has the ability to make the bride and groom feel that their wedding is the most important that she will ever host, and her attention to detail and ability to handle wedding-day chaos is remarkable.
The upper rooms are used for bridal preparations, and Julie and her staff do a marvelous job of keeping bride and groom separate until the final moment. The little room for the newlywed supper is one of the best ideas I’ve seen! Special touches are everywhere inside the house, and the gardens outside make this a photographer’s dream! The food and bar service was wonderful!
Having done our share of weddings here at The Dansereau House, I knew that I would look at things elsewhere with somewhat of a critical eye. It was the most perfect day, with nothing that needed changing! Kimball Hall was full of love and joy and sparkling beauty. I know that all of us returned to our real lives feeling like we’ve experienced something magical. Thank you, Julie and the Kimball Hall staff!
We are excited to offer another Wine Dinner, Saturday, May 12 at 7:00 PM. Celebrate Mother’s Day, or come with friends just to relax and enjoy a four-course meal, paired with wines. The cost is $100 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Dinner begins at 7:00, cocktails will be available at 6:00 PM.
I don’t think you can spend much time at the The Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival held at Nicholls State University without smiling and moving to the music. Paul and I went for the first time last year, and had one of the most memorable afternoons! Thinking about it still makes me smile.
Scheduled for Friday, March 16, through Sunday, March 18, this year is the fourth year for the festival, which features local as well as regional musicians. When you need a break from dancing, check out a variety of local artisans and craftsmen selling their wares. And, of course, there’s Louisiana food waiting to be sampled!
For more information about the Swamp Stomp, visit their website here.
Thibodeauxville is almost here! This year’s Fall Festival will be held on Saturday, November 12, in historic downtown Thibodaux, Louisiana. But, it’s not just arts and crafts! Incredible local food, great music, and entertainment can be found, as well. The Dansereau House will have a booth again this year, with information about upcoming holiday events and displays of photos from our first two years.
The festival has been named one of the top twenty by the Southeast Tourism Society, and has attracted visitors from many states. We still have a few rooms available, if you need a comfy bed and delicious breakfast while you are here.
Here’s a bit of Thibodaux trivia: Have you ever noticed that there is an ‘e’ in Thibodeauxville, but not in Thibodaux? Here is the explanation, from Rhonda at the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce: On April 2, 1832 the town of Thibodeauxville was incorporated, and that was the original name of the town. During the act of incorporation that increased the size of the City on March 10, 1838, the ”ville” was purposely dropped from the name. On May 29, 1846 there was a supplement to the Acts incorporating the Town of Thibodaux. That is when the State Legislature left out the ”E” on the spelling and the name became Thibodaux.
Come out and enjoy the Fall Festival and the historic downtown district on Saturday, November 12! Shop, eat, and enjoy yourself from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.