New Orleans Wedding from Maile Lani Photography
May 3, 2012
DIY InspiredCasualReligious Institution
I might need help with this wedding. Every time I sit down to introduce it, my mind starts swirling in a pretty New Orleans-induced haze, filled with beautiful cotton bouquets, stunning historic churches, big brass bands, cookies and milk, soft candlelight, natural (and gorgeous) decor elements... You see, this is the problem. The images from Maile Lani Photography set my soiree-adoring mind swimming in romantic Southern details, and not a coherent word is to be found! I simply must leave you with the gallery, so I'm not the only one muttering about the gorgeous that is this wedding.

Click here to see the rest in the gallery!

When people ask me about our wedding the one word that comes to mind is “perfect.” From the moment I was engaged (and let’s be real even before we were engaged) I had a picture in my head of what this day would be like. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do most of the planning ourselves. I’m a theatre director and Marcus is a lighting and sound technician/designer. We really wanted our wedding celebration to be a big party with all of our friends and family. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be married on New Year’s Eve. That wasn’t an option at our church so December 30th it was.

We are the eighth generation on my mother’s side of the family to be married in St. Michael’s Church. I grew up attending this church with my grandmother and have so many fond memories in this beautiful wood and marble structure. Once we decided to have the wedding here everything else started to fall in place. Poche Plantation is gorgeous and located right next door to St. Michael’s Church. The bridesmaids and I stayed here the night before the wedding. It’s also where Marcus and I had our “first look.”

Behind the church is a great big empty parish hall that we were able to transform into anything we wish. We’ve always loved the outdoors and all things Southern. Somewhere early in my planning, I came across a blog post about using cotton in place of flowers. I instantly fell in love with the idea for our December wedding. It reminded me of snow (something I knew we would be very unlikely to get for a December wedding in Louisiana). My mother started phoning Louisiana cotton farmers until she got a very nice lady on the phone at Young and Young Cotton Farms. Her name was Dorothy and she was incredible. She informed us that we only had a week or two left in the cotton season and if we wanted to come pick cotton that we needed to come that weekend. So my mother, godmother and I drove up to Wisner, LA the following weekend for a cotton-picking expedition. Being in that cotton field was one of the most amazing moments of my life. It was so beautiful and Dorothy taught me so much about cotton!

I love natural materials and neutral colors so burlap seemed like an obvious choice to accompany our white cotton theme. Marcus and I met in New Orleans at college and we spent a lot of time in Audubon Park among the oak trees. So when I started looking for wedding invitations a tree theme emerged. Being the DIY girl that I am I decided to design and print my invitations. My friend and co-worker who is a wonderful graphic designer stepped in and helped me finish them up so we could mail them before the wedding date passed us up!

I’m allergic to milk so I didn’t want to have a traditional wedding cake. I love oreo cookies (they are vegan!) and saw the idea of oreo’s stacked in the shape of a cake on Martha Stewart – it seemed like a perfect choice for me. We had a “milk bar” to accompany the oreo cookie “cake.” We offered almond, soy and cow’s milk in repurposed Starbucks frappuccinos bottles. I’m a teacher and collected the bottles from my students then my dad used his sand blaster to engrave “MILK” on each bottle. My mother really wanted me to have an actual wedding cake so she agreed to bake one for me dairy free. She is an amazing baker (and cook!) and actually ended up baking cup cakes and other goodies for the desert table.

We truly did everything ourselves and only hired people to cater and provide music. We called in a lot of favors from our family and friends! All of Marcus’ work friends donated their time to hang the truss and lights for the space. I’m born and raised in New Orleans, so we hired The Pinettes, the only female brass band, to play for our reception. They were waiting for us outside of the church and we second lined with our entire wedding party and guests into the reception hall. The party started right away! We wanted this to be a celebration of our love for each other and all of our friends and family who have been with us along the way.

We ended the night by releasing Chinese Lanterns into the sky. It was such a beautiful moment to be standing on the levee with all my family and friends watching the sky light up with our lanterns. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

Photography: Maile Lani Photography / Wedding Dress: Pronovias from Bustles and Bows / Shoes: TOMS / Grooms Suit: Rubensteins / Bridesmaids Dresses: Amsale from Wedding Belles / Hair piece: Created by Bride / Hair: Mandy Pembo, Shear Fun / Groom’s Cake: May May Cakes / Entertainment: Pinettes Brass Band / Wedding Coordinator: Cindy Pembo / Lighting & Production Management: SM Entertainment Consulting / Ceremony: St. Michael's Church