If there is one thing I love about this wedding, it’s that it is on my computer screen right now. Seriously, I can’t pick just one detail. Mark Eric Weddings captured a soiree so grand, everything about it is my favorite. And rightly so. It’s filled with so much of the couples’ personality, and so much of Elyse Jennings Weddings‘s touch, that every single image screams fabulous!
From the lovely bride … Nate and I were born the same year, one day apart. Me, May 10th. Nate, May 11th. We took a trip to the Bahamas for our 30th birthdays and on my birthday while sitting in front of an old rusted sunken ship with a beautiful sunset as the backdrop, he asked me to marry him. We had only been there one day and he said that we didn’t have to discuss the wedding plans during our whole trip, but wanted me to know that he thought having southern food at the wedding was a must. I agreed, which meant there was only one place to make that possible!
I have been to many New Orleans weddings and sometimes you get the feeling as though if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. We knew that we didn’t want a traditional wedding. We wanted to do something that would embrace the local flavor of New Orleans while avoiding the popular tourist areas of the city and use as many family and friend vendors as possible. We also knew that a lot of our friends had never been to New Orleans, but had always wanted to go and needed a reason. Well, we were their reason and were going give them a true local experience, so they would understand why we love this city so much. An exciting weekend of airboat tours on the bayou, late nights in the French Quarter and on Frenchman Street and more than enough opportunities to get an appropriate fill of po-boys, gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee and beignets.
I had the idea of using a space that had a history. Perhaps once upon a time it was glamorous or had an important purpose, and overtime had worn with age and was currently in the process of rehabilitation. Probably not the most common thought that enters a bride’s mind, but knowing that there are many buildings currently being rehabbed in New Orleans, I really wanted to embrace the architecture of the past. When I came across the Marigny Opera House, my jaw dropped to the floor. The decommissioned Catholic Church had recently been bought by a couple from San Francisco and was being used for community events including the performing arts. The inside was absolutely stunning and exactly what we were looking for.
We wanted to embrace the weathered, grittiness of the building while transforming the space into elegance – a “Great Expectations” Mrs. Havisham’s mansion kind of vibe. We tried to keep the colors to what you would actually see in the building if it were still functioning as a church. The idea of dusty rose, antique peach and slate gray with splashes of metallic hues really seemed to work. The natural wood color of the chairs came into play as if they were church pews and the rod iron candelabras on the altar gave a sense of Romeo and Juliet romance. We also used old doors and furniture made from repurposed wood originally from New Orleans homes crafted by local carpenter, Jim Horvath. The two white columns and small wooden table used on the altar now has a permanent home in our living room.
The first thing many people noticed when walking into the building after the flip were all of the flowers. I worked for months with my talented and artistic sister, Brenna DiGerolamo, to select unique, beautiful flowers and foliage. She with the help of the staff at Distinctive Floral Designs assembled all of the arrangements. The building was also filled with beautiful ficus tress and ferns courtesy of Convention Plant Designs.
For six months, my mother and Aunt Janet hand crocheted more than half of the doilies scattered under the votives on each table. We were able to give stacks of these away to family members after the wedding.
Our cake design was very special. We wanted to bring a piece of our neighborhood in Pasadena, California to the wedding. Bungalow Heaven is the name of the historical area where we live and it’s made up beautiful craftsman style homes with Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture. We met with the team at Melissa’s Fine Pastries and showed them photos of these houses. We wanted our cake to encompass elements of the homes, but not necessarily look like a house. Not only were they spot on with the design, but Nate actually built the lantern topper made out of balsa wood in lieu of one made of sugar glass, so now we have it forever as a keepsake.
One southern wedding tradition is having little charms attached to ribbons that stick out from the bottom of the cake called “cake pulls.” All of the single ladies and close friends gather around the cake, grab a ribbon and pull out a charm. Traditionally, a charm might be a ring, which means you’re the next to be married, or an anchor, which means an adventure, is coming soon. But since there was nothing traditional about this wedding, we had all New Orleans inspired charms, which included a crawfish, red bean, king cake, fleur de lis, umbrella, among others.
Music played a major role at our wedding. Our leading lady on the mic during the reception, Jenn Howard, was responsible for bringing in all the musicians for the day. Since the buildings’ acoustics are very sensitive, non-amplified instruments are a must. We took advantage of the baby Grand Piano already in the space and had a pianist play all the songs for the ceremony. During the cocktail hour, we had a 3-piece jazz band play some New Orleans classics. Nate and I spent a lot of time selecting our favorite songs for the reception that would showcase the soulful and rocking voice of Jenn. The showstopper of the night was when she played “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes and every lady came to the floor and sang along at the top of their lungs.
The last song of the night was “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” That was everyone’s cue to take out their hankie they’d been hanging on to all night and wave it around for the second line. My dad was at the front of the line, which sort of resembled a conga line because it was a parade that wrapped around the whole room. The line started going outside the building and we were pulled to the side because we were to be the last to exit. Nate and I had a little moment before we said good-bye to our beautiful reception and when we took the first step outside, we were drenched in iridescent confetti and Mylar pink hearts and silver dots. An unbelievable ending to the first day of our lives as a married couple.
Photographer: Mark Eric Weddings |Wedding Coordination: Elyse Jennings Weddings | Venue: The Marigny Opera House | Flowers: Brenna DiGerolamo + Distinctive Floral Designs | Plant Rentals: Convention Plant Design | Bakery: Melissa’s Fine Pastries | Caterer: Vega Tapas Cafe | Rentals: Mandeville Party Company | Band: Jenn Howard | Dress: Badgley Mischka | Shoes: Badgley Mischka