Bride Laura shares her romantic New Orleans wedding at Il Mercato.
Say ‘hello’ to today’s bride Laura! She and her beau Caleb met in medical school and these soon-to-be doctors fell in love over library study sessions and the occasional night out. Laura and Caleb were inspired to plan a wedding day with the old world feel that she had fallen in love with on family travels to Italy and Spain. Laura knew she loved New Orleans and its historic, romantic architecture, and upon discovering the Il Mercato, NOLA proved to be the perfect place for a destination wedding… of 275 friends and family! Y’all know we like our weddings like our hair here in the South, big! And what pairs well with big hair? Good food, of course! A girl after my own heart, Laura said, “A Southern wedding must also have lots of good Southern food.” And judging by their menu of such delicacies like barbecue shrimp and grits, duck confit, and blue crab beignets (!), I’m sure all their guests left with full bellies and full hearts!
Thanks to Lance Nicoll for sending this wedding our way!
With the national test looming in the spring, it was going to be extremely difficult to have time to search for a wedding gown. We decided to limit travel to locate a wedding dress. After a search of bridal shops in Jackson, we went to Tupelo, MS to a shop that carried a designer I loved. The shop was Willow Bride in downtown Tupelo. The dress I had been eyeing proved to not be “THE” dress. However, the dress I chose was not anything on my wish list, but when I put it on, we all knew it was “THE” one! It was a beautiful white trumpet gown by Alvina Valenta. The strapless bodice had a sweetheart neckline with encrusted pearls and jewels on the bodice. I loved it! The problem then became the stress over the distance needed to drive for the fittings. Every moment was precious to me, as I needed the time for studying. The problem was solved by Liz Rose, owner of Willow Bride, who brought the fittings – the dress and the seamstress – to Jackson, to avoid traveling several hours and losing precious hours of study time in the process! What a huge relief that was!
When we chose a first look it was not primarily for a “staged photo shoot,” but simply because we wanted an intimate moment to ourselves to catch our breath, calm our nerves, and say “I love you.” Caleb is such a calming force for me when I am anxious and this helped me get ready to say “I do” without being so nervous.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. Two medical students met on the first day of medical school at UMMC and it was love at first body mass index (BMI)!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? I wanted to replicate the romantic, old world feel of Italy and Spain that I loved from family travels. I had attended graduate school at Tulane University and loved New Orleans and its architecture. I loved the idea of a New Orleans wedding. So, when we discovered the il Mercato in New Orleans, it captured exactly the feel I was looking for. The Spanish Colonial-style structure with its beautiful herringbone oak floors, plaster walls, Italianate chandeliers, beautiful library, and intimate brick courtyard proved ideal for our evening outdoor ceremony and reception. Walking down the aisle filled with flowers and floating candles filling the fireplace combined with the most perfect weather made the courtyard breathtaking!
Family is very important to us and we wanted to include our siblings and family in various aspects of the wedding. Caleb comes from a large family of 9 children and many are musically talented. Three of Caleb’s sisters sang “The Prayer” by Foster and Sager. The combination of their voices with the New Orleans Classical String Quartet was very emotional for me and a very special part of our ceremony. Also, having our young cousins and a close friend’s child walk out in a group as flower girls and ring bearers was very sweet. We had 6 children ranging in age from 18 months to 9 years.
What was Southern about your wedding? Southern weddings have charm and often some history to the church or venue. I felt our venue had that old, vintage, romantic look that occurs in many Southern weddings. A Southern wedding must also have lots of good Southern food. Our menu included many coastal and New Orleans favorites including barbecue shrimp and grits, duck confit, crab and corn bisque, blue crab beignets, cochon de lait, and shrimp ravigote. Late night partiers enjoyed mini cheeseburgers and typical New Orleans fare of cafe au lait and beignets!
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? When I walked out the double doors that were covered with beautiful flower garlands into the courtyard and saw the joy on my dad’s face and then saw Caleb smiling was the most memorable moment. It took my breath away as I walked out. Also, when taking photos after the ceremony, my 3 year old nephew Hayes, who was a ring bearer, heard the photographer say “Ok, y’all kiss” and he leaned over and kissed the other ring bearer. Then he also wanted to kiss me in a photo! These moments are priceless to me!
The cake was a stunning work of art! It was a five tiered design with the top two tiers painted in gold leaf with cascading peonies in blush and white. The delicious cake flavors we selected were Italian cream cake with amaretto, olive oil carrot cake, and chocolate hazelnut soaked in Kahlua. The cake was phenomenal! Caleb’s favorite dessert is cheesecake so instead of a traditional groom’s cake, we had multiple cheesecakes displayed on different height cake stands in strawberry, Oreo, and pecan praline. He loved the cheesecakes and how they were arranged around our wedding cake.
Tell us all about the proposal! There was a mutual attraction when we met on the first day of medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. We were paired for one of the first exercises taking vitals for BMI using height and weight. I measure a whole foot shorter than Caleb’s 6’4 so we laughed as I tried to improvise the measurement. We spent the first semester as study partners and friends. After Christmas, we knew we felt something more than friendship. We began officially dating in January and knew very quickly we were in love. Our dates consisted of studying in the library, but we managed an occasional night out to relax. Our main focus was trying to prepare for a national test called the STEP, required for all second year med students, but we still managed to have time for each other. The fall of our second year, Caleb ask my dad if we could marry. The November after our semester exams, he asked me to go to the botanical gardens where he proposed. He left clues of the impending proposal scattered around the botanical gardens for me to discover. The clues which included pictures of our dates, concert ticket stubs, and items that he’d given me were overlooked!! However, Caleb was undaunted and led me to a romantic picnic with champagne where he finally proposed. His sister, who is a photographer, hid and photographed the moment! We celebrated that evening with my parents!
When did y’all get married? The wedding took place in New Orleans, LA on 5/26/17.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275 family and friends attended our destination wedding. Moving the wedding away from our hometown allowed us to keep the wedding smaller than at home.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We decided we wanted very joyful, upbeat music at our ceremony. When we selected the New Orleans Classical Quartet, they mentioned using a trumpet with the quartet and we loved the idea! The music then fell into place. We picked “Te Deum” for my entrance and our recessional was “La Rejouissance,” both using trumpets These are beautiful pieces and showed the joy we were feeling that day. Both my sister and brother used “Lord of the Dance” by Carter (uptempo) for the entrance of ring bearers and flower girls during their wedding ceremonies. This piece is so happy and reminds me of children dancing so the selection of that piece for the children was easy!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? I absolutely loved the invitation suite. They were a beautiful gold-engraved stationery on triple thick pearl white card stock. We had a vintage inspired double M monogram in sparkling gold that served as our design element that we carried throughout our accessories and program.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? Finding a venue that I knew would be amazing and then getting to sample the fantastic catering the venue provided was my favorite part of the planning. Tasting all the coastal, New Orleans food from appetizers to dessert was a great preview of what our reception would be like!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Medical school demanded so much of my time that I had to turn many details over to my mom. I would try to touch base with my mom as much as I could to help with the decisions. She was great about keeping me informed, showing me photos and letting me select the details that were most important to me.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Using an initial budget and shifting more money into things that were important to me and taking away from things we felt we could live without helped us keep our budget in line while not sacrificing the items we really wanted.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? If you can afford the help of a wedding planner, it proves to be invaluable. If your budget will not allow a planner, ask a friend to assist at least on the day of with all the details so you will not have to worry about anything.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? The most fun detail that we came up with was our signature cocktail. It was a framed sign reading “Doctors’ Orders”: Bride’s Signature Cocktail, the “Painkiller,” and Groom’s Signature Cocktail, the “Transfusion,” with recipes included. We thought this was a fun, unique idea since we are both becoming doctors. I loved our flowers at the wedding as well. We used lots of greenery, orchid, and blush peony garlands around the iron gates and around the doors to the entrance of the il Mercato, which made such a beautiful statement. The inside chandeliers were draped in greenery with hanging orchids that added such a beautiful touch. I also adored the use of various sized floating candles in the fireplace and on the tables. I just thought everything was gorgeous!
Photographer: Lance Nicoll | Videographer: Take Two Video Pro | Planner: Ruby and Pearl | Venue: Il Mercato | Florist: Poppy and Mint Floral Company | Wedding Cake: Melissa’s Fine Pastries | Caterer: Joel Catering and Special Events | Rentals: Lovegood Rentals and Luminous Events | Lighting: Luminous Events | Ceremony Music: New Orleans String Quartet | Band: Musical Fantasy via Music Garden | Calligraphy: Becky Hopkins | Paper Products: Fresh Ink | Bride’s Gown: Style 9660 by Alvina Valenta | Bridal Salon: Willow Bride | Bride’s Veil: Ariel Jennifer Taub | Hair Stylist: Chuck Kelly (Bride) and Flawless Bride (Bridesmaids) | Makeup Artist: Melissa Vaccaro | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Sora” and “Sheridan” in Fawn by Amsale from Bella Bridesmaids | Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank