Photography by G. Chapin Studios.
Let me start by saying, this is not your average wedding! Alicia & Mathew’s day included plenty of unique touches and was relaxed, cool and seriously fun. From stylish Alicia’s bridal looks (oh yes, she donned both a jumpsuit and a cape!), to semi-gothic twists (the groom’s ring inlaid with a skeleton, those romantic blood red florals), to a brass band, food trucks and a never-empty dance floor, this is a classic New Orleans good time. And how do you top off a day like that? With most everyone ending up in the pool, of course!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We really can’t think of anything we would do differently. Perhaps similar to what other people say, slow down and take it all in. But we were both too excited to slow down!
Did you have a first look? Why or why not? We did, but not in my wedding look! Instead, I wore a jumpsuit with my hair down. Since we did our cocktail hour before the ceremony I didn’t want our guests to see me in my wedding dress. So our planner, Brooke Casey Weddings, who was magical, made a perfect timeline for us. We did a first look before everyone arrived, had a drink with our guests, then I quickly changed into my wedding dress and cape for the ceremony. My hairdresser was so sweet and put my hair up in a matter of five seconds, and just like that it was a new look. Our planner really convinced us to do a first look and I am so glad we did. It’s nice to say hello, hi, I love you, before things turn into a crazy love fest with everyone else.
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? We currently live in New York City, but being from Louisiana Mathew and I knew we had to get married in New Orleans. When planning our wedding we wanted a more laidback, less formal venue. Race and Religious had everything. Every inch of the building screams New Orleans, plus it has a cozy yet romantic vibe, and a beautiful, inviting outdoor space that wasn’t stuffy.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? I have to mention our cat coozies! We had the cutest coozies with our cat’s face on them. And we had thank you bags made with the traditional Chinese double happiness symbol, filled with tea bags.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Hire a wedding planner. They can help you save money! Our wedding planner Brooke Casey Weddings pointed us in the right direction every time. She recommended vendors in our price range and made sure we never splurged on things that weren’t needed.
Your ceremony in three words. Non-traditional, emotional, fun-spirited.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? I used Snippet & Ink! I also spoke to friends who were officiants or had used friends as officiants. Getting everyone’s advice really helped us settle on the style, and most importantly how we wanted to share our love story with our friends and family.
What was your ceremony music? We had the awesome Kinfolk Brass Band play In My Life by The Beatles for the wedding party. Then they switched to La Vie en Rose for my dad and I to enter. It’s such a beautiful song, and it immediately reminded me of my childhood watching old movies with Audrey Hepburn and Louis Armstrong. It totally did the trick in calming my nerves.
Who officiated your ceremony? My dear friend from graduate school, Rachel.
How did you choose him/her? First of all, she has a great speaking voice and knows how to use a microphone! Also, she is so eloquent and knows us so well that we knew she would be the perfect person to perform the ceremony and to keep us both calm.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? I wanted to make the statement that Mathew and I were in this together; that together, we decided on this union. Rachel did a great job with the wording to make it less patriarchal, and added feminist touches here and there.
What were your ceremony readings? We searched high and low and found two that we both have never heard before – To My Valentine By Ogden Nash and an excerpt from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own and when it was time to say them, it got very emotional. Mathew is an excellent writer and wrote his alone in thirty minutes. I took a whole month and had multiple friends read and edit them. I again used Snippet & Ink and found a few vows that emulated the flow we were after and the love I wanted to convey. I also stole a line or two from an episode of Grace and Frankie!
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? That it was the perfect representation of our personalities and our relationship. If you didn’t know us before, just listening to our vows you could get a clear picture of what makes us tick and why we operate well together.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? We wanted our friends and family to be a part of our ceremony. At one point our officiant asked us to turn around and look at all our friends and family. Seeing everyone’s faces and taking a moment to acknowledge the love around us is something I will never forget.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? We really didn’t follow any rules or traditions. Whatever felt right we did it. If it was a tradition that was simply a wedding tradition with no meaning behind it for us, we tried to avoid it. But one classic New Orleans tradition that we had to do was the second line. A second line parade has two parts. The first line is the couple and the brass band, and second line are the guests. It was so fun to dance in the streets right after the ceremony. All the locals get into it, honking and waving from their cars. I think our out of town guests especially got a kick out of it.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? A photographer! I think this is one of the most important things to do your research on. With so many great wedding photographers out there, we really focused on the photographer and their personality. We wanted to find someone that was like us, and who felt like a friend. After looking at so many photography websites, we ended up choosing G. Chapin Studios. As soon as I talked to her on Skype and read her blog I knew we had found the one. Finding someone that can make you comfortable and feel like yourself I really think is the formula to getting the best pictures.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We loved that our ceremony and reception could be at the same venue. We knew we wanted a fun laidback vibe, and we knew with our group of friends people would end up in the pool!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Following the spirit of the Big Easy, our goal was to keep it relaxed, no fuss, and not pretentious or sterile. I kept telling our vendors to picture a fun laidback tailgate or backyard party!
What was your wedding menu? We had two food trucks!
Rue Chow served Louisiana staples: Chicken and sausage jambalaya / Chicken and waffles / Truffle bacon mac n’ cheese / Roast beef sandwiches / Roasted vegetable bruschetta.
And the second truck served our favorite food, tacos! Taceaux Loceaux offered three types of tacos (vegetarian, beef, and pork) and gazpacho salad.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? I am going to be honest – I did not want to do a first dance. I hate being the center of attention, slow dancing in front of everyone! Forget it! But Mathew put his foot down and begged me to dance with him for ninety seconds (up from the original one minute I agreed to!) I feel like there has to be other brides out there that feel this way!?
Our first dance was Louis Armstrong’s A Kiss to Build A Dream On. Thankfully my dad and I are likeminded when it comes to dancing, so we skipped the father/daughter dance. Mathew and his mother danced to Forever Young by Joan Baez.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had three cakes from The Sweet Life Bakery. They were buttercream with vanilla icing, chocolate peanut butter with chocolate icing, and my favorite, red velvet with cream cheese icing. We also had local coffee provided by the Petite Rouge coffee truck.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Think about weddings you have attended. What did you remember and what can’t you remember? If you can’t remember if you had glass or plastic cups then maybe don’t worry about paying extra for the finest china. If you loved getting in the photo booth at that one wedding, then don’t even think twice: get the photo booth! And if you can afford it, hire a wedding planner!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? It may be very cliché, but seeing all our friends from childhood to adulthood dancing together. And also turning around and realizing half of our guests were dancing in the pool.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? It’s just one night so don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the love and marriage. And don’t forget to eat!
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Watching a guest strip down to his red swimsuit and get in the pool.
How would you describe your reception overall? One huge, sweaty, dance-and-pool party!