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Every corner of the South has a unique personality, and we like celebrating them all! On Fat Tuesday, New Orleans and its fabulously rich Mardi Gras history is an easy pick. From the colors to the symbols, every aspect of Mardi Gras has tradition and meaning, making it ripe with inspiration for a bold and vibrant wedding! If you need a brief run-down on Fat Tuesday fun, check out this post we published last year, then scroll down for the rest of the celebration!

The team, lead by Ashley from The Graceful Host, chose two dresses by Modern Trousseau from Hayden Olivia Bridal. Both were full volume and totally glam, just like Mardi Gras! They also included a cathedral-length veil, a classic choice for New Orleans brides, many who marry in grand cathedrals.

Separk Mansion, a newly renovated home, was the perfect backdrop. With Mardi Gras as their inspiration, the team chose to infuse the energy and fun of carnival season into the floral design while still keeping the overall look formal, like a Mardi Gras ball.

Classic New Orleans delicacies like mini muffulettas were served.

Love this ruffled cake linen, inspired by the bride’s gown! Sweets were in no short supply, from the tiered cake to beignet truffles. Of course, the team had to include the cake pull tradition, a New Orleans staple!

Love these fun photos Old South Studios captured of the second line!

From Ashley:

Being that I was born and raised in New Orleans, I jumped at the opportunity to design a real wedding inspiration with true New Orleans style! It was so important to me that no detail be left out. And, our bride and groom are actually a real married couple! They were so sweet, and had a blast “doing it all over again”! I wanted this wedding to be approachable and have elements that brides could take away and use within their own wedding. The entire day was so much fun, and it was so rewarding sharing my culture with Charlotte!

Photography: Julie Staley, Old South Studios | Event Design and Coordination: Ashley Culicchia Cash, The Graceful Host | Venue: Separk Mansion | Makeup Artist: Erin Ashley Makeup | Hair Stylist: Adrian Howe Esthetics & Beauty | Floral Design: Chelish Moore Flowers | Menu and Bar: Donald Shives, Best Impressions | Cake Baker: Got What It Cakes | Paper Goods: Elisabeth Rose | Rentals: Party Reflections | Wedding Gowns: “Tate” and “Teacup” from Modern Trousseau’s Fall 2014 collection, available at Hayden Olivia Bridal | Belts: Whitney Alyssa from Hayden Olivia Bridal | Jewelry: Haute Bride from Hayden Olivia Bridal | Groom’s Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Second Line Umbrellas: Gems Printing | Welcome Box: Paper Source

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Those mini muffalettas are too cute!

  2. avatar Mardi Gras Inspiration Photo Shoot | Hayden Olivia Bridal Boutique – Charlotte, NC reply

    […] of Fat Tuesday, we are thrilled to share a collaboration we were apart of that is featured on Southern Weddings Blog today!  Enjoy the beautiful color and amazing gowns […]

  3. avatar Charlotte Wedding Photographer | Old South Studios | Charlotte Wedding Photography and Family Portraiture | Published Southern Weddings<br/>Mardis Gras Styled Shoot reply

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  8. avatar Charlotte Wedding Photographer | Old South Studios | Charlotte Wedding Photography and Family Portraiture | {Published} Southern Weddings Mardis Gras Styled Shoot reply

    […] Take a peek at the fun we had at The Separk Mansion last February.  The ladies at Southern Weddings magazine wanted to “Laissez le bon temps roulez” too and were kind enough to feature us last Fat Tuesday HERE. […]

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Love Southern wedding traditions and want to include them in your wedding? We wrote our e-book just for you!

Welcome to Fat Tuesday, y’all! Our longtime readers might remember me professing my unending love for all things Mardi Gras last year, but I’m so happy to be sharing the love with all of y’all joining us more recently, too!

Growing up in Mobile, Mardi Gras was a big part of our February (don’t tell, but I even like it better than Valentine’s Day!), and though I’ll be spending Fat Tuesday in Arizona, I’ll be doing my best to track down a king cake even in the dessert! Because of my far-from-NOLA current locale, I’m even more thankful I get to celebrate with you ladies on the blog! So grab a MoonPie (best served after a stint in the microwave for 7 seconds), and let’s go over a few Mardi Gras traditions you might never have heard of!

Source for first two; source for third

Let’s start with Krewes. Mardi Gras wouldn’t happen without them, as Krewes are the groups/organizations that put on the balls and parades. Each Krewe meets throughout the year to discuss and build their floats in secret, and on the day of their parade, they ride wearing masks. Some Krewes have been around since the 1800’s, while others have been in existence for just a few years; in some, membership is limited to only relatives of previous members, and in others, anyone who can pay the membership fee can join.

Each Krewe holds their own parade leading up to Mardi Gras, each with a unique theme, and two Krewes — Rex and Zulu — hold parades on Fat Tuesday itself. Aside from a captain, each Krewe has a royal party headed by a king and queen (which I’ve always wanted to be!) that preside over the parade and floats.


Oh Mardi Gras colors, you’re so ugly and so fabulous all at the same time! Purple, green, and gold is the official Mardi Gras’ color palette, and can be seen on everything from costumes to beads. In true Southern form, even the colors themselves have symbolic meaning: purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.


Beads are still the most popular throw from floats, but doubloons have a history of their own, too! When we moved out of my childhood home, I can remember finding boxes full of these brightly colored coins – boy, did we have a collection. Originally used as currency, today’s doubloons are two-sided coins thrown from the parade floats (keep an eye out for them — these sucker can be dangerous!). They are imprinted with the Krewe’s name, emblem, and founding date on one side, and the current year and theme of the parade on the other.

Krewe doubloons are highly collectable and can create quite a ruckus in the crowd!


I know quite a lot about Mardi Gras traditions, but The Golden Nugget is new to me! Originally thrown by the Zulu Krewe, these coconuts are thought to be the most sought-after throw in any Mardi Gras parade. In the early 1900’s, Zulu members threw coconuts (yep, just plain old coconuts) from their floats as a cheaper alternative to glass beads. Today, the coconuts are drained and hand painted either in gold or black and white.

Don’t be scared, my friends! In 1988, the City of New Orleans banned Zulu riders from throwing the coconuts from the floats and demanded the “throws” be handed to the crowds, making them even harder to catch and all the more valuable to spectators!


Although I’ve never seen this next tradition in person, I can imagine it is a fantastic show! The Flambeaux tradition dates back to the 1800’s when New Orleans did not have electric street lights to light the night parades. Traditionally, the Flambeaux walked in front of the floats holding large torches, and put on their own show in front of the riders, dancing and doing tricks with the torches. Today, a few Krewes still roll out at night with the Flambeaux leading the way.


Last, but certainly not least, we have Mardi Gras balls! Similar to my love for debutante cotillions, the Mardi Gras ball is one of my favorite aspects of Mardi Gras! Each year, Krewes host elaborate formal balls during Mardi Gras season. This is the time when kings and queens are first introduced, and the queens get to wear the most fabulous costumes! The queens’ stunning gowns, sparkling tiaras, and over-the-top collars are still my very favorite part of the Mobile Carnival Museum!

The original Mardi Gras balls were such important social affairs that Krewes had the invitations die cast in Paris and sent to New Orleans – fancy! Today, some Krewes still hold private invitation-only balls, while others have started allowing anyone to purchase tickets.

Well, now that I’m WAY too sad that I’m not spending today in Mobile (or Nola!), tell me: What’s your favorite Mardi Gras tradition? Have you ever caught a golden nugget?!

Want to learn more? Check out last year’s Traditions + Inspiration, Inspiration Board, and Color Palette Finds!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Liz reply

    Being from New Orleans, I have to say getting a coconut from the Krewe of Zulu would be amazing. I have yet to get my own coconut. The riders are such a tease! You may think they’re going to pass a highly coveted coconut to you, but they’ll quickly pull back and wait to pass it on to someone a few feet away. I’ve often seen them passed to the kiddos, and they get a kick out of it. Of course, no Mardi Gras would be complete without the king cake :) Happy Mardi Gras!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Oh, Liz! I can’t imagine – I have never received a coconut either and would die! Such a fun tradition! And yes, you MUST have a king cake! xx Happy Mardi Gras!

  2. avatar Patti reply

    What a great post! I too miss the excitement of celebrating Mardi Gras, although I did find a king cake in Publix last night. You did forget to mention some of the oddities we’ve caught in the past at parades – candy (sometimes full bags) toys, roses and even a giant toothbrush. There’s nothing like the excitement of a Mardi Gras parade1

  3. avatar Janna reply

    Sounds like fun! I follow a few blogs of girls who live in NOLA and it is definitely one of those events I have on my bucket list! Tonight I’ll be heading to a Mardi Grad party at a friend’s house- they had family mail them a king cake :) and for dinner it is crawfish and low country boil! :) I’m off to find a purple shirt to wear with my gold wedges- figured I could wear some of the colors- even if it is close to LSU wear! Go Gators! :)

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Have you taken our 2012 survey yet? Thanks, y’all!

Y’all, we don’t often get to read entire wedding interviews from the groom’s perspective, but every once in awhile, one does come in and we LOVE it. Nick brought plenty of chuckles around the office with his story, but what we adore the most is how in love he is with his new bride, Whitney! Really, y’all — it’s too sweet. Whitney + Nick’s New Orleans wedding is perfect for Mardi Gras week and just bursting with Southern charm.

Since Whitney + Nick’s nuptials were more like a destination wedding for many of their guests who had never been to NOLA, all the stops were brought out! The first? How about Whitney’s lacy-sleeved wedding dress, netted veil (with a few feathers, of course!) and bright shoes? I think it’s a genius idea that W + N held their wedding in The Cabildo , part of the Lousiana Museum of State History — what better way to set the historic Southern vibe? — and that their ring ceremony was led by Whitney’s grandfather.

This next part is what had us head over heels for this wedding — The Second Line! Here’s what W + N had to say about their “hands down” favorite part of the day: “We started from the Cabildo and marched a square through the heart of the French Quarter, led by a fantastic brass quartet called Kinsfolk. Most our friends and family had never seen or heard of a Second Line, but they were instantly hooked, dancing, waving hankies, taking pictures, celebrating with onlookers who joined in the celebration. It was insanely fun and an experience of a lifetime.”

According to Whitney + Nick, Southern traditions came into play at every level. “The Second Line was a big one, and we provided all our guests with handkerchiefs with our wedding date printed on. The food, from top to bottom, was thoroughly Southern, and a huge reason why we wanted to get married in New Orleans. We served jambalaya, duck and andouille gumbo, shrimp and crawfish, fried oysters, steamed veggies, shrimp ‘n grits, blackened alligator, Louisiana crab claws and crawfish tails.”

Along with their band who kept everyone on their feet all night, the food was one detail that couple was happy they splurged on.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Whitney and I met at church! It was the summer of 2009. Whit was teaching Sunday School at a congregation for young single adult Mormons, and I was smitten. She was smart, funny, well-traveled and had this incredible sparkle – a smile and personality I instantly wanted to be around. But it wasn’t until two months later that we finally hung out, on a long bike ride from NYC up to the Palisades in New Jersey. That bike ride quickly turned into a weekly ritual, where we’d meet up for early morning rides in Central Park, slowly getting to know each other and giving me ample opportunity to stare at Whitney’s cute bum in spandex. We still didn’t go on an actual date until December. Finally on that date, it was just…ON. We never looked back, and I’ve never been happier.
Describe the proposal. The morning of the proposal, we had breakfast together followed by a 90-minute bike ride through Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, rekindling some of the magic of our very first “non-dates.” We followed it up with lunch at a hot dog place we both love and where we went after one of our first rides together. That night, we had a date night planned: a perfect way to set the mood, and an easy disguise for my proposal maneuverings. We decided on dinner at a delicious French-Mexican restaurant, and swing dancing at the 92nd Street Y. Whit was beautiful and charming at dinner as always, questioning my curious, sappy romantic side that was gushing out. Dancing, which was dominated by the retiree crowd, was quirky and delightful, with men four-score older than me anxious to ask Whit to dance, hoping to capitalize on her twinkle toes and my own ineptness. Later on, after getting dessert to-go and a cab home, I led Whitney out to the roof-deck of her apartment – a place special to both of us — dropped to one knee, poured my heart out, and asked the girl of my dreams the most important question of my life, “Do you have forks for the dessert?” No, I popped the question, of course. She said yes, and we’ve had an incredible adventure ever since.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Magical, delicious, joyous
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? Approximately 125.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: (From the bride) The wedding dress was a bit of a challenge as I wanted covered shoulders. It seems like 99% of dresses are strapless! I narrowed down the exact look that I wanted and found a sleeveless lace dress that could be tailored pretty easily to become the vision that I wanted. My mom went to the garment district in New York to match the lace and then I worked with a great tailor, Ellen’s Couture who made my bespoke wedding dress.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We’ve never been huge fans of wedding cake, so we decided on cupcakes instead. We had tasty little bite-sized cupcakes for our guests, and Whit and I had king (and queen) sized ones for our cake cutting. Sadly, there was no cake smashing in the face.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Leaving the reception in the back of a Pedi cab, with the cool evening breeze brushing over us, on-lookers cheering, and kissing the whole way to the hotel. The ultimate victory lap, I’d say.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No – we didn’t do a first look as we had a two-part ceremony. The first part was a traditional temple wedding in Baton Rouge, so we rode up in the car together on our wedding day. It definitely helped release any nerves as we could both relax – we both knew we wouldn’t be stood up at the altar!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Elope! No, just kidding. Our best advice is pretty simple: decide at the very beginning what’s important to you, and focus on that with your time and money. For us, it was food and music. Both turned out great, and we had an awesome party.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Besides world domination? Actually, we’re just loving the newlywed bubble and being done with wedding planning. We’re looking forward to our annual trip to New Orleans in March, family vacations this summer, spending more time with friends, taking some classes, cooking, getting to the outdoors more often, practicing our baby-making skills, and hopefully, a little more time back on the bike.

Photographer: Rachel Thurston // Ceremony Venue: Baton Rouge Temple, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints // Reception venue: The Cabildo, Lousiana Museum of State History // Caterer: DC Events

We thought you might like more Mardi Gras fun!
Southern Delicacy: King Cake
A Modern Mardi Gras Inspiration Board
Modern Mardi Gras Traditions and Inspiration
Modern Mardi Gras Color Palette Finds

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Wedding Albums By Hayley reply

    I simply love the vibrant colour of the shoes and how they match the bridesmaids dresses and everyones ties. So well coordinated.

  2. avatar Marissa reply

    I LOVE this wedding! So much! It’s like Mardi Gras for my eyes! I feel like I need to go put on some beads, and eat a Moon Pie!

  3. avatar Shelley reply

    Are those beignets? Swoon!

  4. avatar Love List « reply

    […] {Couldn’t let the week of Mardi Gras pass without a little NOLA tribute I think that the second line tradition needs to make its way into other states, because parading around with a jazz band after your ceremony sounds like way too much fun! Picture by Rachel Thurston Photography via Southern Weddings} […]

  5. avatar Rachel Thurston reply

    Can I be an honorary Southern girl? I loved everything about this celebration and was honored to be a part of it. Thank you Southern Weddings for inspiring us all!

  6. avatar Tim Duncan reply

    Totally loving her shoes! And that last picture is too adorable!

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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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