Melanie & Rudi’s Funky Fresh New Orleans Wedding

As most of you know, David and I visited New Orleans this fall for a wedding, and fell in love with the place. The city that invented second lining is clearly my kind of city. So I’m thrilled (thrilled, thrilled, thrilled) to present APW’s first New Orleans wedding. This wedding is practical in all the right ways, while still being throw-down impractical enough to involve a parade. Just. Right.
My husband and I are both northerners who have been living in New Orleans for about five years. We got married this past October. The ceremony was at the park down the street from our house. The after party took place at an old theater Uptown. All in all, it was a lovely day.

Our wedding was extremely do-it-ourselves, especially in the hours leading up to the ceremony. It was simple. The reception venue took care of food, drinks, and cake, so we didn’t worry about that at all. My husband’s cousin played the harpsichord for the ceremony. We wrote the ceremony together and my husband’s brother officiated. A friend DJ’d. My friends threw together some last minute favors the night before (who doesn’t love Jordan almonds, right? Right?). There were few flowers and details, because in the end, those things don’t matter. I found a great photographer on craigslist for a great price (BTW, he’s Brett Szemple, and he travels). And the vases used for my minimalist flower approach? Heinken Light bottles. I’m classy like that.At the last minute, I threw a pre-wedding ‘meet and greet’ in the courtyard of a restaurant that a colleague owns – we couldn’t afford a rehearsal dinner, and this way, all out of town guests could come.After the ceremony, everyone came over to our house and drank champagne. Oh yeah, and there was a parade on our block! With marching bands and cross dressing horse-people and everything! The guests loved it, and it made for some great photos.Teamwork made the wedding sane. (Are any weddings sane?) I gave my husband a hard time in the months leading up to the wedding because he didn’t seem interested in the planning process. He was right for this, because I spent way too many hours of my life staring at wedding blogs and fretting over useless things. My husband and his friends were wonderful that weekend. They were the ones renting the UHaul van to cart all the shit around town, painting the little signs with arrows so people would know where to go at the park, and climbing into a huge oak tree to hang my wedding day flags. And who bought a ton of nail polish remover from Walgreen’s and removed all the sticky adhesive from my hundreds of Heineken Light bottles? My lovely ‘bridesmaids.’
Things I learned while wedding planning:

  • Do what you want. It is highly unlikely that you will meet others’ expectations. I didn’t want a wedding to begin with (an elopement would have been just fine with me), but my now-husband really wanted a wedding (“My mother will kill me if we elope”). In the end, his mother was disappointed with our secular wedding (she cried for a week, but that’s another story), and we wondered aloud if we should have just eloped and saved thousands of dollars. Oh well. It was still a good day.
  • Going with the ‘do what you want’ point, don’t let your friends get you drunk and convince you that you need bridesmaids. This happened to me. It was very nice to have them around that day, but I had no bridesmaids-y activities for them to do.
  • DIY may or may not save you money. I Gocco’d my invitations, but spent hundreds of dollars doing so (they did turn out pretty!). I did my own flowers and probably saved thousands (and if you do your own flowers, remember to get help removing thorns from the roses – preferably prior to the wedding day).
  • If you have a long engagement (ours was about a year and half), you will have countless opportunities to second guess every decision that you make. Love the dress. Hate the dress. Love the dress. Should I sell the dress? I will not even tell you how many pairs of shoes I bought to wear at this wedding. I will tell you that I wound wearing $25 shoes off the clearance rack. Make a decision and (attempt to) stick with it. No regrets.
  • Out of town guests will want to spend time with you. This is nearly impossible. Two days before the wedding, all I wanted to do was go to the gym and take a nap. This did not happen because I felt guilty that people had flown in from all over the country to see us get married. Yes, I’ll have lunch with you. Sure, I’ll have a second lunch with you. Of course we can meet you for dinner. And so on. If necessary, be selfish and take the alone time that you need. Out of town guests will understand.
  • It’ll be over before you know it. That’s a good thing.

So now we’re married. Everyone asks, “How’s married life?” For us, it’s quite similar to nonmarried life (except now I’m lucky enough to have health insurance and we get a discount at the gym).

Awesome photos by Brett Szemple

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  • Yeah, letting the friends/bridesmaids get you drunk leads to all sorts of stuff. It looks gorgeous, though–so glad you had fun!

    Also, thanks for permission to have alone time before the wedding. I needed to hear that.

  • A PARADE?!? With a marching band and cross-dressing?! No wonder your friends got you tanked and wrangled bridesmaid duty, I would have done the same thing just to be a part of that!!

    Melanie, you wedding was awesome and wonderful. You know it's a great wedding/party when strangers look at the pictures and go, "Man, I wish I'd been invited to that…"

  • I love the 'what you learned' portion. I, too, have had a long engagement and it is SO easy to double guess your choices. It can be really frustrating for everyone involved in the wedding planning (including you and your fiance) and it's great to know that it's a common problem for those with engagements that seem to never end. I also like the last bullet point–that it will all end eventually. :)

  • Megan P

    Omg thank you! I'm glad to know I'm not the only second-guesser of wedding decisions! I am probably annoyingly indecisive in just my regular life, but our 22 month engagement (so I can finish graduate school first) has excacerbated it exponentially. I have changed the dress, the venue, the date, the city (!), all to eventually redecide on everything I had previously decided almost a year and a half ago. But I am (slowly) learning to stand my ground to family trying to help but who end just feeding my inquenchable indecision and most importantly to myself! Thanks for the advice! :)

  • Love that last picture, just beautiful. Thanks for the tips!

  • Living in New Orleans I'm always thrilled to see others' weddings down here. Unfortunately I haven't had as much experience going to practical, sane weddings like this one appeared to be but it's great inspiration. And thanks for the photographer recommendation!

  • Anonymous

    I heart NOLA. I got to go for the first time last March and I love the vibe of the city. It hasn't even been a year and I am craving a return visit so bad.

    This wedding sounds perfect in all the right ways and that dress is gorgeous!

  • I hope that this wedding starts the parade trend… that would be fantastic. I would like to have an impromptu parade just for kicks after reading this post. This wedding looks like it was a blast. I also enjoyed the detail about nail polish remover and beer bottles.

  • Love her words of wisdom. All so true!

    And I love that dress

  • I loved it! We are getting married in New Orleans next October (also a looooong engagement) and seeing your photos and reading your advice has made me so much more excited. Thank you for sharing your day (and your photographer tip!)

  • April

    Any wedding that includes a parade is aces in my book. :) Looks lovely and fun!

  • these are the kinds of weddings that I am not sick of seeing and that *don't* me want to poke my eyes out after regretably looking at a wedding blog. <3

    i love weddings.

  • Katie Parker

    Hi there! Where is this gorgeous tree located in New Orleans? My fiance and I are hoping to get married under an oak tree in a public space in NOLA. Would love to know the name of the park! Thank you so much!