Rachel + Paul’s New Orleans wedding was a rich and fun-filled affair complete with delicious food, an old mansion venue and a breathtaking Pnina Tornai wedding dress. It’s hard to believe that ‘Plan A’ was to have a romantic flower covered outdoor ceremony…when rain moved the nuptials indoors, it made for wonderfully intimate and charming ‘I Dos’ and a few memorable bride and groom ad libs too. So sweet, enjoy!
Rachel + Paul | April 2015 | New Orleans, Louisiana | Dress Listing: Pnina Tornai, 4301
My husband and I met in New York City and we live in Brooklyn, but I’m from Mississippi and went to school in New Orleans. I knew I didn’t want to have the wedding here, not only because of expense but also because, at heart, I’m a Southern girl. New Orleans has such a magical vibe and ambience; it’s unlike any other place in the world. I wanted to play up the city’s old school but backwater charm in executing our wedding. And anyway, none of our friends had any complaints about heading to the Big Easy! For many of them – including guests from Japan, Hawaii, France and Australia – it was their first time not only in New Orleans, but also in the South. To play that up and ensure they got the most out of their visit, we also had Southern-themed activities – a swamp tour and a crawfish boil – the day before the wedding.
Unfortunately, it rained at exactly the moment we needed it not to rain for our outdoor ceremony, so we had to relocate from a romantic, flower-covered gazebo into a room inside our venue, which was also the location of our reception. But we improvised and rolled with the punches, and the tight quarters made the experience seem even more intimate. We kept things short and sweet. The idea was to capitalize on party and socializing time, since we had an allotted amount of time at the venue to do with what we wanted. We did have a few fun ceremony bloopers, though – notably, kissing as soon as I arrived at the altar (whoops!) and my husband proclaiming, “Nailed it!” after our officiant pronounced us man and wife – a phrase that became the theme of the evening.
The venue was a resplendent Southern mansion under centuries-old oak trees lining St. Charles. We had both an indoor and outdoor area, an upstairs and a downstairs, so our 175 guests had plenty of places to explore, dance or find a quiet moment. For flowers, we had a wild, True Blood-inspired look, including cypress knees, Spanish moss and carnivorous pitcher plants. We began the reception with a jazz band, which I found via my alma mater, Loyola (the university has a great jazz music program). The jazz band played old New Orleans favorites while guests enjoyed fried soft-shell crabs, boiled shrimp, an oyster bar, crawfish etoufee, shrimp creole, boudin balls, jambalaya and other Southern delicacies. My husband and I performed a choreographed first dance to an artsy remix of the Jurassic Park theme song (love that movie! plus we don’t take ourselves too seriously…), after which a DJ friend from NYC took over, spinning remixes of The Cure and LCD sound system. We ended the party with Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” with everyone belting out the lyrics ballad-style while slow dancing.
Rachel’s Dress Search
So many dresses! I went to four different salons and tried on probably 6-12 dresses at each place. The one I settled on was actually one I encountered in my first trip to the bridal salon, but I felt compelled to shop around more (thinking it was kind of like how you’re supposedly not supposed to marry the first guy you date!). That first date with my dress, however, stuck with me…and the more dresses I saw, the surer I became that this was the one.
Immediately after slipping it on and lacing up the corset in the back, I knew it was a winner. The looks of awe on my sister and one of my bridesmaid’s faces told me that they concurred. It perfectly fit my body as well as my personality – delicate and girly yet edgy and different. It also felt like an excellent match for my wedding venue, which was elegant, charming, sophisticated and beautiful. However, even as I became more certain that this gown was the one, I knew it was a bit out of my price range. Luckily, I spoke with the owner of Kleinfeld’s about my concerns and he wound up giving me a generous discount. That was all the prompting I needed, and I immediately said yes to the dress!
How Rachel Felt in Her Wedding Dress
Royal, Gorgeous, Sexy
Why Rachel Decided to Sell Her Wedding Dress
Even with the discount, this was a very big purchase for me – one that I could only justify by deciding ahead of time that I would try to sell the dress after the wedding. I also know that I’ll never get another chance to wear the dress again. Why keep something so beautiful and fine locked up in a closet? Nothing would make me happier than for this dress to be given a second opportunity to make a bride feel perfect on her wedding day.
Wedding Dress: Pnina Tornai, 4301 | Photography: Morgan Lynn | Ceremony + Reception Venue: Elms Mansion & Gardens | Floral Design: Urban Earth | Cake: The Sweet Life Bakery | Groom’s Cake: Joe Gambino’s Bakery | Stationary: Ceci New York
See all of our wedding dresses by Pnina Tornai…