What’s Bob Got To Do With It?
If you’re a 20-or 30-something, or a relatively recent New Orleans transplant, or perhaps a destination bride, it is highly unlikely that you have heard of or remember “Bob Walker’s Wedding Guide.” And now you are probably wondering, “Who is Bob Walker, and why would he have a wedding guide anyway?!”
On the other hand, if you’ve been around New Orleans for a while and if you planned your wedding anytime from the late 1980s to the first few years of the New Millennium, you may fondly recall that you planned your own wedding using the “Bob Walker’s Wedding Guide” (or the “Wedding Guide New Orleans” as it was later known). But many of those brides may still not know who Bob Walker is or how he became the publisher of New Orleans first wedding magazine 30 years ago.
Of course there are many things to love about New Orleans, but one thing that New Orleans loves is its own storied history. And this magazine is a very real part of the city’s history – which is something that should not be forgotten. It’s been 30 years since Bob Walker first decided to put together a guide with advertisements and resources for all the brides who repeatedly would ask him for his recommendations when he was working evenings as a mobile DJ. In the 1980s, Bob Walker was a well-known radio personality, known as the original New Orleans rock ’n’ roll oldies king. Bob spent 45 years in the radio business. He started in the mid-1960s on WTIX AM-690, a notable local and national Top 40s station. Bob once said in an interview that “as long as you knew how to empty an ashtray, you were eligible to be on the air.” When Bob started a family in 1975, to make ends meet, he began making extra money working as a mobile DJ, working weddings, dances and other events.
In the Spring of 1987, The Beastie Boys, Bruce Hornsby, Bon Jovi, Janet Jackson and Huey Lewis & The News were topping the charts. In the evenings when Bob worked weddings, brides would frequently ask him if he could recommend a photographer, a florist or a venue. After a few years, Bob realized that these brides needed a resource that had all the information they needed, all in one place. Bob decided to help by producing a booklet full of wedding vendors that he could provide to New Orleans brides of the day. So that Spring, in 1987, he published “Bob Walker’s Official Wedding Guide.” The blue and white advertisements were mostly just a copy of vendor business cards. Just as you’d expect, there were numerous bridal shops, florists, and bakeries. That first issue looked more like a section of yellow pages than a magazine. Bob included simple itemized lists, such as “Hints About Your Wedding Gifts,” or “Packing for Your Honeymoon.” A listing of favorite songs for the bride and groom’s first dance included: “Just the Way You Are,” by Billy Joel, “Endless Love,” by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie, and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” by The Carpenters. He published it quarterly from then on, missing only one issue in Fall 2005, after Hurricane Katrina.
Throughout the 1990s, the magazine was still primarily a black and white directory with a smattering of full color advertisements, though much more substantial than earlier issues. The advertisements were more sophisticated and more similar to what you’d see in a modern wedding magazine.
Bob said that the bridal shops were the mainstay of his business and were absolutely essential to the success of his business. He liked to deal with each bridal shop as a separate entity. “To keep the peace,” Bob published six different magazine versions. Each of the six bridal boutiques that advertised with him would receive a different version of the magazine. They each had their own advertisement on the back cover. Most importantly, there were no other bridal boutiques advertised in the entire issue other than that store.
The magazine entered a new stage in its development under Troy Marks, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief from Fall 2010 though Fall 2016. In a similar fashion to Bob Walker, Troy Marks frequently worked weddings with his band “No Idea.” At one event in 2010, Troy asked Bob if he was getting tired of running the magazine after 23 years. He told Bob to let him know if he ever wanted to sell the magazine. Troy was only half serious, but when Bob called him back a few days later, Troy decided it was something he wanted to pursue. So in July 2010, Troy and his wife Suzy bought Wedding Guide New Orleans, as it was known by then. They changed the name to Nola Wedding Guide. Carrying on with Bob’s legacy, Troy took the magazine to the next level with glossy printing and elaborate styled photo shoots. He has often referred to his work on the magazine as a “labor of love.” When asked about Bob, Troy has said “Bob Walker should be thanked for starting and building a local wedding magazine industry. He has done a great service for many, many brides and built the careers of many, many vendors.”
The Wedding Guide is proud to celebrate its 30-year anniversary with this issue. Thirty years of providing essential information for New Orleans brides, 30 years of building the careers of many, many vendors. At the same time, the Wedding Guide is excited to celebrate its future. Returning to its roots, the magazine name is once again the Wedding Guide New Orleans. Under new ownership, the magazine will continue its legacy, while establishing new standards. Most importantly, the Wedding Guide will be there to support local and destination brides for the next 30 years!