Bold Jewel Tones and French Quarter Inspiration Defined This Celebration in New Orleans
After getting engaged in Paris in December of 2018, Sarah and Brady knew they wanted to plan a wedding that drew on their shared love of travel. "We loved the idea of a destination wedding that would feel like a vacation with all of our friends and family," says the couple. "We wanted our wedding to be not just an event, but also an experience built around friendship and community." They chose one of their favorite cities—New Orleans—for their nuptials on February 28, 2020, inviting 200 guests for a weekend of events in different neighborhoods throughout the town; the celebration culminated in their ceremony and reception at Il Mercato. "There is no better city than New Orleans when it comes to food, music, culture, and history," they say. "We selected a number of different venues so that our guests would have the opportunity to learn about the city, its history, and its culture from multiple perspectives."
With Sarah in the middle of earning a Ph.D. and Brady working full time in real estate finance, the couple knew they needed a little help to plan such an involved party, so they hired Layne Kula of Penny Layne to help them coordinate the details of their big day, a decision they recommend to other busy couples planning out-of-town events. "An amazing planner and designer is a must, especially when planning a destination wedding," says the duo. "We knew we were going to need all the help we could get. There was nothing they didn't do for us, and we are eternally grateful."
Stephanie Rapisardo of Line and Paper designed the couple's mixed-material invitation suite, which included deckled edge cotton rag paper printed with dark blue letterpress for the main card; a brown craft paper RSVP card with gold foil printing; vellum inserts; and an envelope liner that showed off a hand-drawn line map of New Orleans. Other iconic elements—like a custom sketch of second line musicians—reappeared throughout the day-of paper goods.
As guests arrived at their hotels, the couple treated them to welcome gifts stocked with New Orleans classics: coffee and beignet mix from Café du Monde, beer from Urban South Brewery, potato chips, hot sauce, and more. "We wanted to take our guests to a place where they—and we—would have new experiences together, get to know each other better, and make memories that would last a lifetime," says the couple.
Simple and Stunning
Sarah's Rime Arodaky cap-sleeved crepe wedding dress had a simple silhouette; it was accented by floral lace embroidery around the open back. "Trying on dresses was fun, but it wasn't something I wanted to spend a long time on," she says. "I felt special in this dress but still felt like myself. It couldn't have been more perfect."
The bride's large, asymmetrical bouquet from Antigua Floral included deep burgundy blooms contrasted with delicate peach-and-ivory accents. Juliet roses, lisianthus, ranunculus, sweet pea, and foliage painted with rose gold created an eye-catching interplay of color and texture.
Ladies in Red
Though Sarah and Brady chose not to have bridesmaids and groomsmen—instead, they got ready surrounded by all of their nearest and dearest—Sarah did ask some of the closest women in her life to coordinate their outfits by wearing black or shades of dark red, creating a cohesive look for portraits.
His Custom Tuxedo
Brady wore a bespoke tuxedo from Grayscale, pairing a black-lapel burgundy jacket and black bow tie with a white shirt and black pants.
By the Fireside
The outdoor fireplace at Il Mercato, accented with hundreds of pillar candles and an overgrown floral installation of smilax, grasses, and richly-colored blooms, became a striking focal point for the ceremony. Wood and metal French bistro chairs gave the space a dose of European flair.
Ready to Wed
Sarah and Brady saved their first look for the ceremony, creating an emotional moment as the groom watched his bride and her parents walk down the aisle to Voices of Theory's "Say It."
With This Ring
Portrait and Cocktail Hour
To allow time for both newlywed portraits and mingling, Sarah and Brady extended their cocktail hour to 90 minutes. They served their favorite beverage—Hennessy on the rocks—while waiters passed fried green tomatoes, smoked salmon paninis, and gouda and chorizo arancini.
There was next-level entertainment, too. "When we were visiting New Orleans, we came across the Vegas Cola Band on Frenchman Street and we knew we wanted them to play our wedding," says the couple. "We kicked off our cocktail hour with a live band before transitioning into a three-DJ set for the reception."
Jewel-toned cocktail napkins included the original second line musician illustrations that the couple featured on their invitation.
Cozy and Classic
The couple defined the open reception space with comfortable lounge furniture that separated the dance floor from the dining area. A long head table ran across one end of the space, while smaller rectangular and cocktail tables kept the setup from feeling too formal.
Out of the Blue
Deep blue velvet tablecloths set off centerpieces with the same burgundy, peach, and white color tones seen in the bouquets and ceremony florals. Gray taper candles and crushed pyrite added a subtle shimmer to the space.
Eat and Be Merry
Brass flatware and berry-toned napkins accented the place settings. Instead of a seated meal, guests chose from Joel Catering dinner stations that included hanger steak with foie gras butter, mushroom risotto, barbecue shrimp and grits, and fried chicken with cornbread. Sarah and Brady also opted to serve their own favorite dessert—bread pudding in lieu of cake—at a build-your-own station that offered toppings of whipped cream, pecans, caramel, and chocolate chips.
A Nod to Tradition
The couple honored Sarah's Chinese heritage by surprising their guests with a dragon dance from East Rising Lion Dance Troupe, which performed a traditional routine right after the cocktail hour to kick off the reception.
Father and Daughter
Before dancing with her father to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," Sarah changed into a red crepe jumpsuit from Reformation. "In Chinese culture, red signifies celebration, joy, happiness, and luck," she says. "As a Chinese-American woman, it was important to me to honor this heritage, so I knew that I wanted to change into my version of a red dress for the second half of the party."
Up in the Air
For an "epic" dance floor installation, the couple landed on the idea of suspending thousands of carnations in washed shades of purple, peach, ivory, and burgundy overhead.
On a Roll
Sarah and Brady incorporated several of the groom's favorite things throughout the reception, including a "post-dinner speakeasy" with a cognac tasting bar and a cigar rolling station from Cigar Factory New Orleans.
Photography, Trevor Mark Photography
Venue, Il Mercato
Event Planning and Design, Penny Layne
Catering, Joel Catering
Flowers, Antigua Floral
Stationery, Line and Paper (design); Paperleaf Press (printing)
Music, Vegas Cola Band
Rentals, Distressed Rentals and Revival; La Tavola Fine Linen Rental; Perrier Party Rentals
Bride's Gown, Rime Arodaky
Bride's Accessories, Faris jewelry; Stuart Weitzman shoes
Hair and Makeup, Cat Vo
Groom's Suit, Gray Scale
Bride's Jumpsuit, Reformation
Cigars, Cigar Factory New Orleans
Wedding Rings, Faris