Bride Cathleen shares her New Orleans-inspired wedding in St. Louis!
Today’s wedding looks very familiar and brings back a lot of happy memories for me! I have to admit that when I saw “Peabody Opera House Wedding by Mike Cassimatis” in our queue, I thought it was a mistake! You see, my wedding, featured here, was by (the incredible!) Mike Cassimatis with our reception at the Peabody Opera House. It turns out the similarities don’t even end there. We also had extremely similar bridesmaids’ dresses and hairstyles (both for the ceremony and reception!). So clearly I think today’s bride, Cathleen, has exquisite taste.
But what makes this wedding so special is the way Cathleen and Mike brought Cathleen’s hometown and the city where they met, New Orleans, to St. Louis! It’s especially fitting, because St. Louis also has a rich French history, its own French Quarter, and a rollicking annual Mardi Gras celebration. No traditional New Orleans detail was left unturned, from the second line to the cake pull to the beignet cafe! Cathleen summed it up best, saying, “All of these special touches definitely left our guests singing, ‘laissez le bon temps rouler!'”
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met by complete chance on the streets of New Orleans, and as they say, the rest is history!
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? I really enjoyed designing our save-the-dates and invitations. My sisters and I loved the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis” growing up. So it was really fun to incorporate it into the paper products and get all of our guests excited to come visit The Lou!
When did y’all get married? July 15th, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you decide to do a first look? We decided to stay traditional and not do a first look. I will truly never forget the earnest look on Mike’s face as he waited for me at the end of aisle. Instead, as quite the daddy’s girl, I decided to do a first look with my dad. From dance recitals to proms, I remember eagerly rushing down the stairs to see the reaction on my dad’s face. On my wedding day, as he slowly cracked the door open and looked at me with the same doting expression and his eyes welled up with tears, I felt just like that little girl again. It was a moment with my dad I will always cherish.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is our home parish just a few blocks from where we live. The first time we attended mass there, we noticed a few details that felt very personal to us. Just inside the entrance to the church on the ceiling reads “keep the faith” which is saying used frequently by both of our families. The ends of the pews have a carving of a fleur de lis inside of a celtic cross. As I’m from New Orleans and Michael is Irish, we took it as a sign that if we ever got married, this would be the place. We chose the Peabody Opera House as the venue for our reception because of the fabulous art deco-inspired architecture and details. I really wanted our wedding to have a 1920s feel with a lot of Southern flair, and the Peabody was a perfect fit.
What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? We had a full Catholic ceremony complete with the Basilica’s talented choir. My two best guy friends served as lectors for the mass and sat across from us up on the alter. I remember a very specific part of the wedding just before our vows when they had all of our bridal party join us on the alter. The choir was singing a capella, and it was the most surreal and beautiful moment having all of our closest family and friends on the alter with us as we prepared to say, “I do”. Our wedding was also the anniversary of my aunt’s passing. She was my godmother and namesake and holds a very dear place in my heart. We had a special set of intentions on behalf of her and other loved ones. So although they could not be there in person, we felt them in spirit celebrating our day of love and joy.
Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. One of my surgery co-residents and I went dress shopping after being on call for 24 hours. We were both completely exhausted, but after trying on this one dress, we both sprang to life and knew it was perfect! Of course, I could not make the final decision without the blessing of my mom and sisters. So they made the trip to St. Louis and after seeing it agreed wholeheartedly that this was the one!
We had so much fun incorporating a bunch of Southern traditions into our wedding. First was the steamboat. Historically, the steamboat played a huge role in developing the South from the ports of New Orleans to St. Louis along one of the greatest rivers in the world, the Mississippi. Between the ceremony and reception, we had our guests board the Becky Thatcher river boat and take a journey through time down the Mississippi River.
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? I especially loved the roaring twenties elements we incorporated into our reception. From a champagne tower, flapper girls, a gramophone, and an old school man in the moon photo booth, it all came together. My favorite detail, however, were F. Scott Fitzgerald quotes we had framed and displayed throughout the venue. They appeared to be written on an old type writer and held sweet sayings such as, “I love her…and thats the beginning and end of everything.”
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? We chose to do a traditional New Orleans wedding cake: white, almond flavored confection, with a sweetened pineapple filling, and butter cream icing. We also found a terrific bakery in St. Louis that was able to make beignets!
Michael and I were driving home one day, and Tim McGraw’s “On Top of the World” came on. There’s a line that goes, “we could have something or nothing and we’d still be sitting on top of the world.” It really captured the feeling of timeless love we wanted for our wedding, so we chose it as our first dance. The most anticipated dance, however, was the father-daughter dance. I am the last of my dad’s three girls to get married, so I knew we wanted to make it really special. For months leading up to the wedding, we took dance classes together to prepare, which were amusing to be sure. We chose the song, “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright. Of course our live performance was not without a few missteps, but it was 100% us. At the end of our dance, the band kicked in with James Brown’s, “I Feel Good.” We surprised everyone with a quick two-step routine and then invited all of our guests to the dance floor to kick off the party!
At our reception, guests enjoyed New Orleans-style beignets and coffee at the Cafe Beignet as well as a traditional New Orleans wedding cake. Prior to cutting the cake, the single ladies gathered around the cake and participated in a “cake pull” where they each pulled a ribbon attached to a charm beneath the cake to find out their fortune. College football is, of course, a huge part of the South. Mike and I went to the University of Florida, and the rest of my family attended LSU. So of course the reception included fight songs with guests chanting, “geaux tigers!” and “go gatas!” But the absolute highlight was for sure the second line. Mike and I carried feathered white and black umbrellas and paraded everyone in attendance up the stairs and around the balcony above the dance floor. The trumpet and saxophone players accompanied us on the parade as guests spiritedly waved handkerchiefs that we had made special for the occasion. The band was absolutely phenomenal! At the end, we served our favorite Southern late night snack…Chick-fil-A! All of these special touches definitely left our guests singing, “laissez le bon temps rouler!”
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Our reception venue, the Peabody Opera House, shares a corner with the Scottrade Center where the St. Louis Blues Hockey team plays. A few weeks before the wedding, my wedding planner and I found out that it might be possible to use their pyrotechnics for our wedding reception send-off on the front steps. It was the only detail I kept an absolute secret from my fiance, Michael. So at the end of the reception after all of the guests were escorted outside, they opened the front doors and Michael and I stepped out into what seemed like a sea of fireworks around us. Michael was in complete shock as we walked down the steps grinning ear to ear. It was truly magical!
Tell us all about the proposal! Mike and I did long distance from Florida to Nashville for one year, so Nashville holds a special place in our hearts. Five years later, after we moved to St. Louis, Mike had a conference in Nashville, and I flew there to meet him so we could then both drive down together to a family beach trip in Seaside, Florida. I decided it would be a good idea to get an impromptu spray tan while waiting for him to finish up. When I met up with Mike, he looked at me in horror, as I resembled an oompa loompa! I did my best to scrub off the orange tint, and we headed out to dinner with some of Mike’s friends. On the walk back to our car we were midway across the John Seigenthaler bridge, and Mike said to hold up to take a picture. He then dropped to one knee in front of the Nashville skyline and popped the big question. His friend Doug surprised us with champagne and we sat along the Cumberland River excited to share the big news with our family. The next day, we drove to Seaside, Florida where our families surprised us with a marvelous engagement party. It was a weekend to remember!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? I think the hardest part of the planning was having my mom and sisters in a different state. I really wanted their opinions on everything from venues to cakes to music. So it took a lot of Facetiming and Pinterest boards, but we made it work!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? After you make a decision, whether it be the cake, invitations, or dress…stop looking! Continuing to look at magazines will make you start to re-think your decisions. Just stay true to your vision of your wedding day and it will turn out perfectly!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? I just wanted to give a huge thanks again to all of our incredible vendors mentioned below. Especially Frankie from Festive Couture Florals, who is unbelievably talented. When we walked into our venue for the first time, his arrangements left me completely speechless. He created a true work of art that I will remember and love forever.
Photographer: Mike Cassimatis | Videographer: Mike Dalton | Event Planner and Designer: Kristin Ashley Events | Ceremony Venue: Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis | Reception Venue: Peabody Opera House | Florist: Festive Couture Floral | Wedding Cake Baker: The Cakery | Rentals and Lighting: Exclusive Events | Band: TC Squared | Hand-painted Photo Booth: Oh So Vivant | Paper Products: Denise Wilson | Bride’s Gown: Essence of Australia | Bride’s Hairpiece: Maria Elena | Hair Stylist: Danielle Style | Makeup Artist Whitney Reynolds | Bride’s Shoes: Bella Belles | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Adrianna Papell | Beignet Baker: Cafe Ventana