Hannah: James and I met back during my freshman year of college at his fraternity house. The polite way I worded the encounter for our website was: "Hannah was a little too shy for outgoing James at the time," which pretty much sums up being offered a beer by a young man in cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and his skivvies best. He jokingly claims that's when I knew he was "the one." For the record, I declined the beer.
We ended up staying in touch well after college--always drawn back together after lost time somehow. After some turbulent times with both of our jobs, we found support in each other and things quickly built from there. We both share the same sense of humor, love a party, weirdly finish each other's sentences, and are obsessed with our dogs: a golden retriever named Maverick (pro tip: don't name a dog Maverick for he will live up to his name) and a wiener dog named Odysseus. If you must know, Odysseus runs this house.
If there's one thing we love about where we are from, it is Louisiana's unique culture that is steeped in celebration. We wanted to share what we find so special about our state, and what better city to do that in? New Orleans.
We picked a venue in the heart of the French Quarter, putting everything in the middle of the action. With my relatives scattered across the country (and some around the globe), we wanted to show them a true New Orleans time. With such a bounty of local musicians, priority number one was to have a live band. Scratch that--priority number one was to have a second line band.
The second line is a unique New Orleans tradition where the honored guests (bride and groom) and brass band make up the "first line" of a celebratory parade. With them leading the way, the guests follow along in what is called the "second line," strutting their stuff to the music and waving handkerchiefs in the air. One of the most fun aspects of the second line is how many people just join in the party as you parade down the street. We knew this would be an experience like no other for our friends and family from outside the area, and could not wait to share it with them.
Thus sums up our overall goal of our wedding: To make sure our guests have the time of their lives, get to experience local food and traditions, and create memories they will never forget. And if our pictures tell you anything, boy did we succeed.
Some other unique lagniappe: Our invitations were designed by a close friend of mine as a gift, and we had a groom's cake made to look like our wiener dog. Did we mention we like our dogs?
A First Look - I swore I didn't want one, but due to struggling with anxiety in my life that was not necessarily related to wedding planning, we made the decision to move forward with a first look. I was like a new person when I saw him; the biggest weight lifted from my shoulders. I'm not going to be the one that's like "oh it didn't take away from seeing him at the ceremony at all!" It did. But I'm okay with that. I felt so amazing after I saw him and literally nothing else mattered after that moment. I got the most beautiful photos from that moment and cherish all of them.
The Wedding Coordinator - Our venue came with one and I honestly don't know what I would've done without her. I literally showed up to my wedding, no work to be done on my part. I spent my day drinking champagne and getting my hair and makeup done. Was there any vendor crisis that day? No clue. And I like it that way.
Don't worry too much about decor. I barely focused on it in the end and I don't think it's what anyone notices honestly.
Worrying about the opinions of other people. I say that because other people caused the most stress throughout the planning experience. Focus on your goals and priorities, find those you can confide in, and tune out the noise.
An unplugged ceremony. Our pictures turned out lovely and hardly anyone had the phones and cameras out anyway. Plus, seeing their pictures kept the wait for our professional ones bearable! It was definitely not worth the stress for us.
My greatest piece of advice that I play on repeat: Trust your vision and it will turn out more beautiful than you expected. (And hire a bomb ass photographer so you can see it all later.)
Bridechilla provided me a place to gush about all things wedding without getting clashing opinions from close family and friends. It provided a great place to vent and laugh about the absurdities of the planning process, like crying because the kerning on my invitations didn't come out right at the printer....you know...normal stuff...