The Newspaper for Smaller Cities, Facilities and Planners.
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www.smallmarketmeetings.com Venue Showcase 34 By Kristy Alpert Above: Oak Alley Plantation is a favorite Louisiana venue for weddings and other elegant events. Left: Oak Alley's in-house catering team provides food for events in the West Pavilion banquet facility. W ith a grand dame reputation for Southern hospitality, Oak Alley Plantation makes memories as sweet as the sugarcane fields that once surrounded this stately des- tination. The story of Oak Valley Plantation starts in the early 1700s, long before the first brick was laid, when the first oak tree was planted in its Louisiana soil. The oak trees were more than a century old by the time wealthy businessman Jacques Telesphore Roman built his celebrated mansion on the site. In 1839, the mansion was christened Bon Séjour, meaning "pleasant sojourn," but the name didn't last long, as steamboat travelers passing by the property nicknamed it "Oak Alley" due to the 28 giant live oak trees that lead up to the home. The nickname stuck, and the Greek Revival style mansion became known as Oak Alley Plantation. Over the years, the plantation has been the site of extreme fortune and extreme loss. But despite its varied history, it has never lost its sense of decorum and grandeur, and today it stands as a gentle reminder of a bygone era. The 28 oak trees still line the 800-foot road- way in two stately rows leading up to the mansion, but instead of passing between any of the 28 stunning white columns to enter a private residence, today's guests find a preserved portrait of what life would have been like on a working sugar plantation. The plantation is open to the public for individual or group tours, and has become a famous backdrop over the years for bridal portraits, weddings, events and even music videos. It was here that Beyoncé Photos courtesy Oak Alley Plantation filmed her music video "Déjà Vu" and NBC filmed segments for the daytime drama "Days of Our Lives"; major films like "Interview With a Vampire" and "Primary Colors" also feature scenes shot at the planta- tion. But more than a backdrop for film and music, the plantation acts as a grand setting for hosting impressive events, from casual business meetings held in historic quarters to fairytale weddings set beneath canopies of ancient oaks. Meet Me at