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A New Orleans Friendship Festival

Strutting our stuff with family and friends

Emily, Field Producer for documentary films & Steven, Assistant Editor for documentary films

One sentence sum-up of the Wedding Vibe: A wholehearted Friendship Festival in New Orleans (with a second line parade!).

Soundtrack for reading: “Come On Now” by The Kinfolk Brass Band

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Steve’s grandmother “Gammy” reigned from New Orleans, and so when we decided after eight years together to get hitched and throw a party, we knew just where to go. It’s a good middle point for family spread far and wide, but more importantly New Orleans has that indescribable vitality that seeps into your bones and sticks with you.

We both come from nontraditional and diverse families, and initially the word “wedding” made us cringe. We love weddings, but for us this felt limiting, historically perverse, and exclusive—like something I didn’t want to have to navigate. This is what happens when two overly analytical party-poopers who work in documentary film get married! The theme became “Friendship Festival.” I was able to free myself from anything a “wedding” needed to be, and we started from scratch figuring out what held meaning for us. (A huge shout-out to the APW community and Meg’s book for helping us to home in on what this all means to us anyway!)

We fell in love with a venue that is literally at the intersection of Race Street and Religious Street, because it is beautifully appointed, and as an added bonus the names are brilliantly fitting for our families.

My moms spent days sewing hankies for the parade. Our incredibly talented friends and family designed and screen printed the invites, hand-cut papel picado that fluttered in the sky, built a man-in-the-moon photobooth, gussied me up, hung the lights and my father’s prayer shawl for the chuppah, photographed, and coordinated the day. Steve’s best friend, a Brooklyn-based DJ, spun the most epic dance party I’ve ever attended.

My godmother, a poet and literature professor, who has also been passionately married to my godfather for thirty years, spent a full year creating our ceremony with us, keeping the details a secret until the ceremony. It was supremely crafted: there was Walt Whitman “Camerado! I give you my hand… will you give me yourself?”; celebration of sensuality in a relationship; discussion of marriage equality; family history; and blessings from our parents.

Our community hooted and hollered during our ceremony. They strutted their stuff in that brass band parade. They toasted with gusto and sung along to my gurl Beyoncé. This was a Friendship Festival, and yet, it was a traditional wedding too, built by us all.

Favorite Thing About the wedding

Every so often throughout the evening, I would stop and just take a look around. There was this sparkling energy all night long, with our favorite people gathered together from all over the world, hugging their new friends and family, celebrating loudly and dancing like crazy.

Credits

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