One Couple's Beautiful Black-Tie Wedding in New Orleans
Katherine Gorman and Austin Hodge met at a house party at Indiana University, where she is finishing up her undergraduate degree and he was working towards his Master's. "That night, Austin asked me out on a formal dinner date," says Katherine. "From that moment on, I knew he was different, and we've been inseparable ever since!" Three years later, Austin (a data science business analyst working towards his MBA) started planning the proposal—which was about one year before he actually popped the question over Memorial Day weekend. "Austin worked with my mom, Linda, to design a unique ring with my grandmother's diamond. Wanting the proposal to be a surprise, Austin used my birthday as an excuse for a night out downtown. Little did I know, he had planned an evening recreating my parent's proposal in a horse-drawn carriage!" says Katherine, who works as an interior designer. After she said "yes!" the engaged couple celebrated with her family on Monument Circle, an iconic location in Indianapolis.
Sixteen months after the proposal, Katherine and Austin wed on September 16, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the bride and groom had been living for six years. After a traditional Catholic ceremony at St. Mary's Church, they celebrated with a reception at Marché. Just under 100 guests attended the black-tie affair, which had a neutral color palette, plenty of greenery, and a traditional second line parade through the city streets. The couple also incorporated local details—like a beignet dessert station, live jazz music, and Spanish moss arrangements—so out-of-town guests could truly experience the Louisiana city.
The Stationery Suite
The stationery suite by Gourmet Wedding Invitations was inspired by the Spanish moss of New Orleans (a main décor feature at the wedding) and Katherine's interior design background. Inside of a cream-colored box with a fern pattern, a gold-printed acrylic invitation topped a display of moss. The entire suite was wrapped in a black velvet ribbon and secured with a custom gold wax seal. "The invitations were made unique through an array of color, pattern, and texture," says Katherine. "They were designed to hint at what was to come at the wedding."
The Ceremony Location
Katherine and Austin got married at St. Mary's Church in the French Quarter of New Orleans. "Every city has a unique vibe, but New Orleans's distinct cultural charm was the perfect setting for celebrating our love story," says Katherine. The couple lived in the historic city when they got engaged; however, about six months later, Austin was transferred to Houston. "It became a destination wedding for everyone!" says Katherine, adding that most guests had never visited New Orleans before.
The wedding day began at the boutique hotel Soniat House, where the bridesmaids, mothers, and grandmothers had their hair done. Katherine's mom, Linda, wore a Nicole Bakti gown. "While she did not give me marriage advice that morning, I can say she has lead by example," says Katherine of her mother. "It would be a true blessing to have a marriage that has as much unconditional love and respect as my parent's 33-year marriage does!"Austin and his groomsmen enjoyed breakfast and hot shaves before returning to the Royal Sonesta to get ready for the day.
The Black-Tie Ensembles
Katherine wanted a wedding dress with a classic silhouette, couture detailing, and a timeless design. She enlisted Veronica Sheaffer in Chicago to bring her vision to life. "It was an unforgettable experience to see my wedding gown transformed from sketches to completion," says Katherine of the "very involved" dress-making process. "Through every little detail, every layer, and every embellishment, the one-of-a-kind gown came to life." The tailored body of the dress was made with Mikado silk and flat embroidered lace, while the ball gown skirt comprised of silk taffeta and soft netting. Three-dimensional flowers embellished with tiny pearls added a romantic detail.
Katherine's favorite element of her wedding dress was the removable sleeves and skirt, which allowed her look to change throughout the evening. "The dress was elegance at ease, with an element of surprise!" she states. A custom veil from the same designer and diamond earrings borrowed from her mother were her only accessories.
Austin's classic and traditional black tuxedo echoed the formal atmosphere of the wedding.
"My engagement ring is my most prized possession!" says Katherine. After her grandmother gifted the couple a diamond, Austin worked with Katherine's mom and Reis Nichols Jewelers to create a unique ring. "It's stylish but evokes the history of the stone," says Katherine. "It's a great honor to wear a piece of jewelry from the woman I admire most! I could not imagine a more perfect ring that's both beautiful and sentimental." The couples' wedding bands came from Blue Nile; Katherine opted for two tiny bands, while Austin chose a thicker gold band.
Kim Starr Wise Floral Events created Katherine's bouquet with white flowers (including black-centered anemones and Veronica) and greenery (like eucalyptus and olive branches).
Katherine's bridal party included her sister, her sister-in-law, and friends from college and work. The ladies wore white floor-length gowns from BHLDN. "The sophisticated and tailored silhouette was juxtaposed to the perfectly imperfect bouquets," says Katherine.Austin's groomsmen (Katherine's brother and his friends) rented black tuxedos from John's Tuxedos. According to Katherine, "Having all the women in white and the men in black created simplicity that was visually powerful. I loved how elegant and timeless the black and white combination looked."
To further complement their bouquets, the bridesmaids wore pieces of greenery in their updos. The greenery also drew attention to a slit located on the back of the dresses.
The Flower Girl
Austin's six-year-old niece, Lilian, served as flower girl. She wore a satin and organza dress from Rosebud Fashions, as well as a white flower crown. The moss-covered basket served as a nod to the moss element of the stationery suite.
According to Katherine, "Including our 'dog-hter' in our bridal party was non-negotiable. Her name is Magnolia (Nola for short) after Louisiana's official state flower, the magnolia. We adopted her when moving from New Orleans to Houston. In my opinion, she completely stole the show with that adorable collar and her proficiency for posing!"
The First Look
Katherine and Austin had a first look in the lush courtyard of the Soniat House, located next to the church. Austin credits the first look as his favorite moment of the day. "When it was time to see my bride-to-be, my heart was about three-and-a-half feet out of my chest," he says. "I could hear her footsteps approaching behind me as I faced the courtyard. My eyes were wide open and I had to take multiple deep breaths. Katherine tapped my shoulder and I turned around. She stole my breath and suddenly all the nerves melted away. I knew everything was going to be okay with her by my side, and I knew the wedding day was going to be something truly extraordinary!"
The Ring Pillows
Austin's nephews served as ring bearers and carried white pillows with embroidered details from BHLDN.
Katherine's father walked her down the aisle to "Trumpet Voluntary" by Jeremiah Clarke.
Deacon A. David Warriner, Jr. officiated the traditional Catholic ceremony. Family members presented readings and prayers, and the newlyweds recessed to "Hornpipe" from Water Music by George Frideric Handel.
The Second Line
Following the ceremony, guests joined a "second line" (a traditional brass band parade) lead by Bucktown All-stars. Everyone walked around the French Quarter and ended up at Marché, the reception location. According to Katherine, "From the moment the ceremony ended, the party was on! While live music played, Champagne and beer were handed out in custom koozies as guests exited the church. We loved hearing that out-of-town guests felt like celebrities when they danced down the streets with a police escort and tourists taking pictures! I can't think of a better way to celebrate right after officially becoming Mr. & Mrs." During the second line, Katherine carried a fluffy white umbrella, while Austin toted a black version.
Upon arrival at Marché, guests were greeted by a foliage-covered wall by Luminous Events, which displayed flutes of Champagne in wooden holders. "It was a true showstopper!" says Katherine. "Guests grabbed Champagne and lingered in courtyard as the band played soft jazz. Guests were able to truly relax and mingle before dinner."
The Escort Cards
For the escort card display by Luminous Events, rectangular pieces of paper were attached to poster board inside of gold picture frames. The entire display was set against a background of greenery. "The escort cards were a stylish way to incorporate elements from the invitations," says Katherine. "The gold wax seal topped the handwritten gold calligraphy (by inLoft Calligraphy) on cream parchment paper."
The Reception Site
Katherine and Austin wanted to their reception to be a mix of their personal style and the unique visual traditions of a New Orleans wedding. They channeled sophistication with modern décor, as well as a subdued color palette. "Austin and I wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us, so we took inspiration from our lives and experiences. We looked to everything from our home décor, wardrobes, and favorite New Orleans spots to create a vision that was universally beautiful and deeply personal."Guest sat at long rectangular tables covered in soft ivory and metallic linens. The fabric contrasted with the centerpieces: oversized arrangements of leafy foliage that towered above everything else. Glass and gold candles lined the tables and windowsills to create ambient lighting. "The room truly transformed as the sunset over the passing steamboats and the space was illuminated with candlelight. Guests kept commenting that it felt like eating dinner at Hogwarts—truly magical!"
The Table Settings
Guests enjoyed views of the Mississippi River and New Orleans skyline from their tables. Each place setting included gold flatware, ivory napkins, and menus (designed by Blue Gardenia Events) wrapped in a black velvet ribbon and topped with a cut of greenery. "The black ribbon helped ground the muted settings and mimicked the ribbon that secured the invitations," explains Katherine. Creole Cuisine catered a first course of duck gumbo, followed by a salad and a main course of either beef or fish.
The Place Cards
The couple used marble tiles as place cards. Guests' names were written in black by inLoft Calligraphy. Splatters of ink added modern allure while also indicating each guest's entree choice. "The place cards were an unexpected gift that guests could take home with them," says Katherine. "Following the wedding, it's been so interesting to hear how people have used them, from décor in their homes to nameplates at work!"
"Austin and I brainstormed guestbook ideas that would be personal, uncommon, and able to be displayed in our home afterward," says Katherine. They ended up recruiting Alyson Johnson Creative to paint a picture of their church, reception venue, and second line. Guests were encouraged to sign the artwork. "I love that the artist painted Nola (our dog) marching alongside us!" adds the bride.
Melissa's Fine Pastries baked a cake split into two flavors: red velvet and café au lait. The sweet treat was enrobed in black fondant and detailed with abstract orchid stems in gold leaf. On top, an architectural cascade of white moth orchids with gold centers created an eye-catching display. "This cake was truly a unique and unexpected creation. It was made to be a focal point at the reception by having the black cake stand in contrast to the white architectural details and soft neutral decorations," says Katherine.
The father of the bride, maid of honor, and best man gave speeches after dinner. Then Katherine and Austin cut the cake before dancing began.
A Night of Dancing
After Katherine and Austin were announced, they danced to "All of Me" by John Legend. Then guests joined in for a night of dancing, staying energized with alcoholic popsicles and mini personal pizzas.
A Sweet Ending
"Everyone loves a New Orleans's beignet, especially during a late night of drinking and dancing!" says Katherine about the reception's beignet station. After everyone snacked on the desserts, they watched the bouquet and garter toss. The newlyweds did a grand exit with silver streamer poppers at midnight, and then rode off together in a white carriage.
Photography, Greer Gattuso
Event planning and design, Blue Gardenia Events
Catering, Creole Cuisine
Flowers, Kim Starr Wise Floral Events
Videography, Studio Vieux Carre
Officiant, Deacon A. David Warriner, Jr.
Stationery, Gourmet Wedding Invitations
Place cards and escort cards, inLoft Calligraphy
Cake, Melissa's Fine Pastries
Music for Second Line and reception, Bucktown All-stars
Bride's gown and veil, Veronica Sheaffer
Hair and makeup, Flawless Bride
Bridesmaids' dresses, BHLDN
Flower Girl dresses, Rosebud Fashions
Menswear, John's Tuxedos
Lighting, champagne wall, escort card display, Luminous Events
Pedicabs for Second Line, Bike Taxi Unlimited
Carriage, Royal Carriages
Guestbook, Alyson Johnson Creative