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Settle into your seats this morning, y’all–we have an extra sweet love story to share! Ellen and Richard first met in middle school, and their friendship grew throughout high school. In college, after realizing there were sparks between them, Richard finally suggested they start dating, but Ellen resisted, afraid of losing such a close friend if things didn’t work out. The ultimate comeback? “Richard thought it might be problematic if, by not giving it a shot, we would both end up married to other people, and he would still want to call me every night to tell me about the funny things that had happened during the day!” Naturally, Ellen couldn’t argue with that, and a little ways down the road, these two friends-turned-sweethearts planned a fabulous celebration in New Orleans to kick off their marriage. Our Blue Ribbon Vendor Sapphire Events helped them pull the details together at the same hotel where Ellen’s parents had honeymooned years before, and from the traditional ceremony to the energetic second line, I can only imagine that the 350 loved ones in attendance won’t soon forget this joyful day!

Thank you so much to the talented Ryan Ray for sharing Ellen and Richard’s celebration with us!

My mom and I shopped all over Houston for three weeks for my wedding gown. I have always heard that I would just know it when I saw it. I was 99% sure I had found the perfect dress, so we decided to go back and try it on one more time before ordering it. When we walked into the shop, my mom, who knows me so well, said, “Now, Ellen, do not look to the left or right. Go straight to the fitting room.” Well…I looked to the right, and there it was: the dress of my dreams, which had not been there before. My mom cried when she saw me in it–I had found my dress!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? From the welcome bags that were filled with Mardi Gras beads, Zapp’s Spicy Crawtater chips, Aunt Sally’s pralines, and maps of things to do in the French Quarter, to the Cajun Creole dinner at the reception that included seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, braised short ribs, and king cake, everything about the wedding was Southern! We also had a classic Louisiana “cake pull.” The pastry chef put ribbons with pewter charms tied to the ends in between layers of the bride’s cake. Each ribbon had a wish or fortune, such as “you will soon find love.” Before we cut the cake, 12 of my close friends, who were not bridesmaids, were asked by the band to go to the cake table. Each friend grabbed the end of a ribbon and pulled out her charm. In addition to getting to participate without having a duty, each lady had a special keepsake from the wedding.

After much discussion, and getting way too much advice, we did decide to do a first look. Since the wedding was in picturesque New Orleans and the ceremony was at 7:00 P.M., we had so many fabulous locations and daylight hours for photographs. We wanted to take advantage of that, so we met in the courtyard of the hotel. It was such a sweet, fun time, and it felt private, even though our wedding party and parents were watching from the surrounding balconies and french doors! The pictures of our first look are such treasures. Plus, having already seen each other, we were then able to walk around the French Quarter with our wonderful photographer, getting so many pictures out of the way before the ceremony, freeing us up to celebrate with our guests the rest of the evening! For us, the first look also calmed lots of nerves.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we did not write our own vows. We are both very traditional, and wanted to make the same vows our parents had made years ago. Our favorite pastor did a beautiful job officiating, using Scripture we had selected together, helping us begin our marriage with the solid foundation of our shared faith.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? One of our dear, lifelong friends read 1 Corinthians 13, the beautiful “love chapter” from the New Testament.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I was born in Mississippi and have many childhood memories of happy times in New Orleans. Both my maternal and fraternal grandparents, as well as my parents, spent their honeymoons there. As a matter of fact, Richard and I got married in the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Sonesta, the hotel where my parents honeymooned! My mom and dad had taken Richard and me to New Orleans a couple of years before we got married, and we did everything we could to make Richard fall in love with the city. It worked! When the time came to plan our wedding, New Orleans was the obvious choice. We wanted our guests to have fun! Everyone was so excited to spend the weekend in the French Quarter and celebrate with us.

Describe your wedding flowers. My bouquet was a cascading arrangement of white garden roses, white gardenias, white lilac, white ranunculus, and white orchids. The flowers used throughout the evening were lush, imperfect combinations of beautiful white flowers and green foliage.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was probably the second line parade. This tradition descends from African American Jazz funerals. Led by a New Orleans jazz band, the newlyweds carry parasols and are followed through the French Quarter by family, wedding party, and guests. It is basically a huge street dance and block party! We had hankies with our names and wedding date on them for guests to wave as we all sipped champagne, celebrated, and danced our way a few blocks to and from the hotel. Crowds lined the streets, waving and cheering, with some even falling in line and joining the parade. It was such a festive experience for us, as well as our guests, many of whom had never witnessed a second line, much less joined in one. It also gave the hotel a chance to “flip” the ballroom for the reception.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Richard and I met in seventh grade when Richard transferred to the small private school I attended. We became close friends in tenth grade, but always dated other people. He was captain of the football team and I was the cheerleading captain. We spent a lot of time with each other, and even went to senior prom together! College found me at Baylor University and Richard at The University of Texas at Austin. Throughout freshman and first semester of sophomore year, we saw each other often, as friends. In February of sophomore year, Richard suggested that there might be something more than friendship between us. I agreed, but feared losing him as a friend if things were to go badly. Richard thought it might be problematic if, by not giving it a shot, we would both end up married to other people, and he would still want to call me every night to tell me about the funny things that had happened during the day! I couldn’t argue with that, so we started dating, running back and forth between Waco and Austin each weekend. We have never regretted going for it!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Richard: I graduated from law school in May 2014. One night in June, I picked Ellen up to go out to dinner. When we got in the car, I made up an excuse to run back to my house, and I suggested that she come inside. When we walked through the house, she looked into the dining room and saw the table set for dinner for two (which I had prepared), along with an open ring box containing the heirloom setting we had admired a couple of years before, with my grandmother’s diamond in the center. Ellen became a little hysterical, and kept asking, “What is going on? Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” Yes, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes!” (For the record, I had taken her dad to lunch a few weeks earlier to get his permission!)
When did y’all get married? March 28, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Our hope was to have 300 guests. Amazingly enough, there were around 350 people in attendance!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Since we knew each other and each other’s families so well, we were already ahead of the game. We share so many of the same values, so a lot of the typical compromises and adjustments were not really necessary. We did attend a wonderful marriage prep class at our church, in addition to excellent premarital counseling with our precious pastor who conducted our ceremony.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Although our grandmothers would be horrified, we chose thermography over engraving for our invitations and save the dates!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy every minute. Do not let anyone steal your joy! This is the one time in your life when it is okay to be a little selfish. You cannot please everyone. You and your groom need to have it your way, as long as your underwriters (in our case, my parents) are fine with your decisions. When we got engaged, my parents told me, “This wedding is our gift to you and Richard. It is about the two of you.” What a great gift it was!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We have bought our first home and look forward to starting our family in the near future. I hope we will always remember to cherish the simple everyday things that really bond and unite us as a couple.

Photographer: Ryan Ray Photography | Videographer: Studio Vieux Carre | Planner: Sapphire Events | Venue, Catering, and Cake: Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans Grand Ballroom | Florist: Kim Starr Wise Floral Events | Band: Memphis Soul Revue | Save the Dates and Invitations: Crane & Co. | Custom Welcome Bag Packets and Wedding Programs: Bering’s Hardware | Bride’s Gown: Style 9215 by Alvina Valenta | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bride’s Belt and Veil: Anne Barge | Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Makeup Beauty Services | Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 450049 by Monique Lhuillier | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids Houston | Menswear: Perlis Magazine Street | Second Line Band: Storyville Stompers | Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Musicians: New Orleans Finest Musicians | Invitation Calligraphy and Custom Monogram: PenDance Calligraphy | Custom Stamp: Paper Gold Co. | Custom Map: Designs by Robyn Love

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Richard King reply

    What absolutely beautiful work, Inspired!

  2. avatar Jen M reply

    Beautiful wedding! My husband and I were married at Royal Sonesta in 2013…lots of amazing memories! Wyeth was a joy to work with and she is such a sweet, sweet lady. Best Wishes to you both!

  3. avatar Cyprus Wedding Photographer reply

    Beautiful work, really, really inspiring!

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My favorite thing about Theresa and James’ wedding is that they look like they’re having so much FUN in every single picture! When I read their interview, it quickly became evident how these two were able to relax and enjoy their day so much–they prioritized the details that meant the most to them, and then left everything in the very capable hands of our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Sapphire Events, to pull it all off. I love Theresa’s advice for brides, because it certainly seems like they took it to heart themselves, and created so many special moments because of it: “Don’t immediately dismiss every seemingly silly/goofy/embarrassing idea you come up with. A lot of the time, the goofy idea that you propose as a joke is the one that best expresses you and your partner…a few silly details can become almost inside jokes between you and your significant other, remind you why this other weird person is your match, help you relax during a sometimes formal event, and become the things you will remember most years down the line.”

Many thanks to Marissa Lambert for sharing this fun day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I had quite a few “old” items, including a sixpence in my shoe, passed down through the family, an “add-a-pearl” bracelet that my grandmother had amassed growing up, and my engagement ring, which had been passed down from my great-great-grandmother. My earrings were both old and borrowed–I borrowed my mother’s diamond stud earrings, one of which was made from the original diamond from her engagement ring. I also borrowed my veil from a friend. My dress and shoes were new, and my toenails were blue.

I never had the “feeling” or the “moment” when dress shopping–but I also didn’t really expect to. I found my dress in the third store on the first day I went looking. Both my mom and future mother-in-law had flown in to shop with me, and they both had “the moment” when I put the dress on. It took me a few more shops and a few more visits to finally commit, but–in the end–I felt beautiful on my wedding day, which is what matters.

Describe your wedding flowers. James and I wanted to focus on greenery and herbs as much as (or more than) flowers. We were hoping for a lush, natural feel, possibly incorporating the sense of smell with the herbs, and we tried to emphasize that to the florist more than getting into particulars about types of flowers and plants. All flowers are pretty, and I trusted her to use what was in season. The actual bouquets ended up being some of the most aromatic, enticing things I have ever smelled! As for colors, I asked for whites, creams, and hints of blush for the ceremony florals, to keep the palette crisp, and then for bright berry tones to be mixed in for the reception florals. The various tones of greens we used throughout acted as a neutral.

We did a first look, largely based on the recommendation of our amazing friend/wedding planner, and partly because we didn’t want to waste precious celebration time after the ceremony. Instead of the typical first look, where the bride sneaks up behind the groom and taps him on the shoulder, we made sure James and I first saw each other from a few yards apart. That way, we each got to take in the full picture and were able to savor the expressions and anticipation as I made the walk to meet him. I think it drove our photographer a little crazy, since she couldn’t capture both of us at once at the exact “reveal” moment, but this way, we were able to feel as though we were first seeing one another from either end of the aisle, while still getting all of the formal photos done before the ceremony.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We used traditional vows, but we were lucky enough to have had a mutual friend, who knew us both individually before, as well as after we became a couple, act as our officiant. He was able to work in lots of personal details that made the ceremony feel tailored to us a couple.

As a nod to our Midwestern, Great Plains roots, we requested that the musicians play “Hoedown” from “Rodeo” by Aaron Copeland (the “beef–it’s what’s for dinner” song) as we walked back up the aisle. I’m not sure how many people caught it, but it was a detail that made us smile. Our first dance was to “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. James really pushed to pick something else, since “Wonderful Tonight” is such a popular choice, but he made the mistake of making it our song by singing it in my ear as we danced at the very first wedding I took him to.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We chose to do our first look and photos at the Latter Branch Library in New Orleans, which is was where we went on our first date. We did the ceremony and reception at a brand new venue in New Orleans, which came highly recommended by our planner. One of the things she knew we would love was that the venue has a library/lounge area. While we loved this detail in and of itself, we found out months later during one of the planning walk-throughs that all of the books used in the library had come from the Latter Branch Library!

James and I are not big cake people, so this was not a big focal point for us. We just wanted something that looked nice and tasted good for our guests. I had told him ahead of time that I was going to smash the cake in his face, but James didn’t believe me until it happened. We got into a full-out cake war–I’m pretty sure we have some photos with cake shoved up my nose! Laughing, goofing around, and going crazy with the cake is another of my favorite memories from the day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. In true New Orleans fashion, James and I met a few times through mutual friends before finally being stuck together waiting out a hurricane. A group of us decided to get together to weather the storm (and to eat everything in our refrigerators!), and during those couple of days, we decided we kinda, sorta liked one another.
Tell us all about the proposal! James picked me up from work on a mundane Tuesday night and took me around town on a progressive date under the guise of scouting out potential party locations for my birthday at the end of the month. I suspected nothing, even when he mentioned that one of the restaurants would be a great rehearsal dinner venue! When we finally got home that night, our house was completely filled with flowers. He dropped to his knee in our living room, just the two of us, surrounded by blooms.
When did y’all get married? September 19, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 175
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: James had organized a group of friends to compete in a charity barbecue competition called Hogs for the Cause. The year after we started dating and I joined the team, the team won the cocktail category of the competition with a drink called a Bourbon Missile Crisis. We decided to serve the Bourbon Missile Crisis to guests prior to our ceremony and during cocktail hour, and we set out the team’s trophy to hold paper straws. Because guests had drinks for the ceremony, our programs were printed on cocktail napkins. We also had personalized wayfarer sunglasses available to wear during the outdoor ceremony, and to take home as favors. For the reception, we had flower crown headbands for the guests. A group of close, generous, crafty friends all gathered at our house a month or so before the wedding to help me hand-make nearly 100 flower crowns. We saw a few of those flower crown favors resurface again for Mardi Gras!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our wedding took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, where James and I met and are making our life together. We included a courtyard ceremony, a jazz band, and a brass band.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Along the way, someone advised us to make a list of our most valued aspects of the wedding, and to prioritize only those items. Nobody is going to remember every tiny detail, so splurge on one or two important things, and then make it work with the less important items.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t immediately dismiss every seemingly silly/goofy/embarrassing idea you come up with. A lot of the time, the goofy idea that you propose as a joke is the one that best expresses you and your partner. While you don’t want the entire wedding to feel unorganized, a few silly details can become almost inside jokes between you and your significant other, remind you why this other weird person is your match, help you relax during a sometimes formal event, and become the things you will remember most years down the line.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re looking forward to our blowout 50th anniversary vow renewal–and everything before and after!

Photographer: Marissa Lambert Photography | Planner and Rentals: Sapphire Events | Venue and Rentals: Il Mercato | Florist: Meade Wenzel | Cake Baker: Haydel’s Bakery | Caterer: Joel’s Catering | Lighting: Southern Hospitality Event Rentals | Bands: Harry Hardin, Joe Simon’s Jazz, and Paulin Brothers | DJ: DJ Mike Swift | Paper Products: Presse Dufour | Bride’s Gown: “Style 5911” by Stella York | Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Makeup Beauty Services | Bride’s Shoes: Valentino | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo, J. Crew, Donna Morgan, Amsale, and BHLDN | Groom’s Tuxedo: Luca Falcone | Busses: American Luxury | Save the Dates, Napkins, and Programs: Rudman’s

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Nicole reply

    Oooh I love how dreamy this is! And her dress is phenomenal!

  2. avatar Adrienna reply

    What a gorgeous wedding! Sapphire Events always put on such gorgeous affairs, with so much detail.

  3. avatar Meredith reply

    What a breathtaking day! Well captured, too!

  4. avatar Sarah Drake reply

    Is there any way for me to get in touch with this bride? I am IN LOVE with that light blue bridesmaid dress with the one shoulder flowers. I can’t find it in the links provided. Please help! :)

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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