Year after year, our sweet real wedding brides have proclaimed that their most memorable wedding day moments occur during their ceremonies. This year is no exception: from exchanging of specially written vows to walking back up the aisle as husband and wife, wedding ceremonies tend to hold treasured moments that are made even more special with sweet details. Everything from jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops to very special reserved seating for the parents of the bride. Our 2016 real weddings were overflowing with incredibly meaningful details and moments, and we’re excited to share ten favorites with you!
Amy and Mike met one fateful night at a karaoke bar in New York City, and while they currently reside in San Francisco, they are from Texas and the New York area respectively. With quite the geographical hurdle to overcome, Amy and Mike chose to celebrate their marriage in none other but the fabulous city of New Orleans! They may come from very different backgrounds, but one common thread throughout both families was the love and support for their commitment to each other. With the help of their planner, Blue Ribbon Vendor Sapphire Events, Amy and Mike welcomed 200 out-of-town guests to The Crescent City to enjoy a place that Amy referred to as having “unbeatable hospitality, a way of welcoming everyone that makes you feel like family, and a spirit you can’t find anywhere else–not to mention, wonderful food and strong cocktails.” From the old brass band to the unforgettable second line, I’m sure guests had nearly as much fun as Amy and Mike did!
Big hugs to Arte de Vie for sending along this magical day!
Finding the right dress was a process. I probably went to eight different stores, some twice. I quickly learned that what I loved in magazines didn’t necessarily look best on my figure. I also discovered that I was drawn to dresses with vintage, romantic details and interesting colors. Not easy to find in one dress! While I was home in Texas for a weekend, I took my mother on a shopping trip. We had a few appointments set up for the day, but after trying on this gorgeous Watters dress with interesting lace, a rose gold underlay, and a great silhouette, I knew I’d found the right dress for me. We canceled the rest of our appointments and said “yes” to the dress!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? It was important to me to do a first look with both my groom and my dad. Mike and I knew we would want a moment to ourselves before the ceremony and to shake off the nerves. He was scared of tearing up, but when I saw him for the first time, I’m the one who started crying a little! It was a wonderful way to enjoy a private moment before having all eyes on us. I also decided to do a first look with my dad. We’ve always been very close, and I knew I wanted him to be one of the first to see me in my wedding dress. As the last of three daughters to get married, I just wanted to congratulate him, give him a huge hug and kiss, and thank him for everything.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Mike and I met in New York City. We live in San Francisco. He’s from the New York City area, and I’m from Texas. We’ve always loved the city of New Orleans and knew it would be the perfect place for us to be married–not only because it’s a great halfway point where all of our friends and family could easily meet, but because we love the culture, food, music, people, and atmosphere of The Crescent City. We visited several venues around New Orleans to find a place that felt right to us and absolutely fell in love with Il Mercato. We loved that it was outside of the French Quarter, giving our guests the opportunity to explore more of New Orleans beyond Bourbon Street. We loved the history of the building (a former marketplace), its stunning brick courtyard, the architectural details, and the beautiful, modern finishes. It was the perfect mix of vintage and modern, which is 100 percent our style.
Having our wedding in New Orleans was really a dream come true. To me, it epitomizes what I love about the South: unbeatable hospitality, a way of welcoming everyone that makes you feel like family, and a spirit you can’t find anywhere else–not to mention, wonderful food and strong cocktails. It was important for me to share Southern culture with Mike’s family and friends who are primarily from the Northeast. Many had never been to the South before, and they haven’t been able to stop talking about it since. Outside of that, our second line was an amazing experience. Dancing and singing in the streets of New Orleans while being cheered on by strangers standing on balconies and driving by in their cars was absolutely incredible.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Mike and I wanted to offer our guests something more than the traditional wedding cake. On the tip of a friend who had also gotten married in New Orleans, we decided to go with donuts, and ordered an assortment of 250 gourmet donuts from District Donuts, including Spicy Maple Praline, Wedding Cake, Elvis (peanut butter and banana), Oatmeal Cream, Blackberry Black Pepper, Piña Colada, and, of course, Beignet.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. One October night in 2011, while Mike was supposed to be fasting for Yom Kippur, he and his pal, Kyle, decided to go to Union Hall in Brooklyn for a routine Friday night at Karaoke Killed the Cat, an underground karaoke dance party. That same night, three of my closest friends were in town to visit me in New York for the first time since I moved that summer from Texas. We also decided to head to Karaoke Killed the Cat. Fast forward an hour or two and many $2 Yuenglings later, Mike and Kyle approached me and my friends over the song book. What happened between that moment and the point in time hours later when Mike and Kyle dragged us all onstage to join them for The Killers’ “When You Were Young” is a little hazy, but good whiskey and cheap beer are the building blocks of any solid relationship…right?
Tell us all about the proposal! Mike and I had taken a brutal red-eye flight to New Jersey to meet up with his family and attend the wedding of his close friend. After landing, we took a cab to his parents’ house and crashed. After a quick nap, a bagel, and an emergency manicure with Casey (Mike’s sister), I started to get ready to leave for the wedding. As I was wrapping up, Mike alerted me that everyone else was already waiting in the car. We rushed downstairs through the garage to get to the car when Mike told me he had a surprise. He opened the garage door to reveal a limo. Seriously confused, I followed Mike as he escorted me to the door and helped me inside. It was then that I noticed rose petals and votive candles. “Where is your family?” I asked. Mike replied by climbing into the limo and getting down on one knee. He tried to start the proposal once, but then had to start again, half-hyperventilating and half-laughing with nervous excitement. I put my hands in his and told him to take a deep breath. He did, and then he looked up and smiled at me and got the words out. I, of course, said yes. We enjoyed the 45-minute ride to our friend’s wedding by polishing off a bottle of champagne while calling a few family members and friends to share the news.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a traditional New Orleans brass band play for our ceremony, second line, and cocktail half-hour. We love old brass band/jazz music–we visit the historic Preservation Hall every time we visit NOLA, and knew we wanted our guests to experience it. We had Kinfolk Brass Band play “Dream a Little Dream of Me” as family walked down the aisle, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” as the bridal party walked down the aisle, and “La Vie en Rose” as my father and I walked down the aisle. Our recessional, which led straight into the second line, was “Washington and Lee Swing.” Our first dance song was “The Very Thought Of You” by Billie Holiday. It’s completely romantic, had a very vintage, old-record sound, and uses the phrase “my love” a lot, which Mike has always used. It’s a song that stands the test of time–something that was important to us as we started our marriage.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Mike and I come from completely different walks of life. I grew up Catholic in a small Texas town, while Mike’s family is Jewish and based out of the New York City area. Living in San Francisco, we had to navigate several time zones and long distances between both our families and our wedding venues and vendors, which added to the challenge of navigating our very different cultures and backgrounds. We learned how to balance our wants with our families’ expectations across the country. It wasn’t always easy, but I think the entire process made us closer to our families that we’ve ever been.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Mike is a graphic designer, so we spent a lot of time designing our own invitation suite. We also called on our friend Jen Phillips at Press Engaged to consult on materials and letterpress the suite. Putting in a lot of our own time and skills, coupled with help from friends, saved us a lot on invitations. Also, we decided to cut back on some decor, like upgraded linens and extra florals, to cut costs. We knew the venue was stunning on its own, and it really didn’t need anything else.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Stick to your budget, but don’t stop reevaluating what’s important to you as a couple. We initially budgeted more for decor, but later realized it wasn’t as important to us as good food and drink, so we put the money where we wanted to have the most impact. A friend once asked me, do you remember the color of linens at the last wedding you went to? No? Then people probably won’t remember at yours. It was a good test for evaluating what we spent money on.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We’re settling into our new house in San Francisco, as well as both settling into new jobs. We’re looking forward to slowing down, enjoying each other’s company, and becoming an old married couple!
Photographer: Arte de Vie | Videographer: Velare | Planner: Sapphire Events | Venue: Il Mercato | Florist: Kim Starr Wise | Dessert Baker: District Donuts | Caterer: Joel’s Catering | Rentals: Distressed Rentals | Lighting: Luminous Events | Band: Kinfolk Brass Band | DJ: DJ Jack Magic | Party Bus: Club Mayweather Party Bus | Paper Products Design: Mike Winston | Paper and Letterpress: Press Engaged | Calligraphy: Curlicue Designs | Bride’s Gown: “Vida” by Watters | Bridal Salon: Bridal Boutique Lewisville | Hair and Makeup: Just Face It | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung | Menswear: “Midnight Blue Tuxedo” by The Black Tux | Transportation: Hotard | Hotel: Le Pavillon
Sapphire Events and Distressed Rentals are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
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