Photos by Tia Nash

Offbeat partners: Ronni & Brian

Date and location of wedding: The ceremony was at The Tree of Life in Audubon Park, New Orleans. The reception was in The Parish Room at the House of Blues New Orleans. 11/10/2019

Our NOLA destination wedding at a glance: We’re from California so having the wedding in New Orleans was a destination for us and all of our guests. We wanted everything to be classic NOLA! We went as far as making voodoo chicken feet charms for our welcome bags :). We organized a pub crawl to classic NOLA bars to get everyone together on Friday night, then we got out of the city for a beautiful and peaceful swamp tour on Saturday. Our ceremony was on Sunday and we served local beer from Urban South Brewery and Zapp’s chips at the ceremony. We had a Second Line parade (my favorite part) and went to a jazz show at Preservation Hall after the reception. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band invited Brian and I up to the stage to dance during the last song!

We had hints of Star Wars in the guy’s boutonnieres and on the bouquets, as well a Star Wars cake topper. Brian had a Han Solo boutonniere so of course, I had Princess Leia on my bouquet. My older brother passed away a few years ago so I also had Luke Skywalker next to Princess Leia on my bouquet, so my brother could be with me.

Tell us about the ceremony:
A year before our wedding Brian and I went on a road trip from California to see my family in Kentucky, with a little detour to New Orleans. He surprised me by proposing under The Tree of Life in Audubon Park. He gave me my Grandma’s pearl ring. Brian had actually never met my Grandma since she passed away before him and I met. I was very close with her because she lived with us since coming to the US from the Philippines when I was two years old. My Grandma actually gave my little brother, Patrick (our officiant!), the ring when he was planning to propose to his wife back in 2016.

My brother didn’t end up proposing with that ring but his wife wore it as her “something old” at their wedding. Then when Brian was telling Patrick that he needed to get an engagement ring, Patrick told him he had the ring. He said the ring actually belonged to me, because I was closest with my Grandma. The whole thing was very special!

Anyways, while in NOLA on our road trip, Brian and I rented city bikes and rode to the Audubon Zoo. Brian had wanted to see it because there’s a Meters song about the zoo that he used to listen to as a kid. The Tree of Life is right around the corner from the zoo so we rode there next and sat on a bench. Brian was telling me that people used to climb the tree to peek over the fence to see the giraffes. I decided to climb the tree but didn’t make it very far (I was very unstable :). I sat down on the tree branch a few feet off the ground, with Brian holding on to me so I didn’t fall. But when I looked down he was on one knee.

Brian and I live in Santa Barbara, a very beautiful beach town in California, with many amazing wedding venues. But we never really got excited about any of them. Every time we talked about getting married under The Tree of Life, both of us would get super giddy. Finally, we decided to go for it. It was really amazing to be married under the same beautiful big tree that he proposed under, with all of our favorite people surrounding us.

While my dad and I were hiding behind another tree, waiting to walk down the aisle, I looked over the zoo fence and could see a giraffe looking toward the ceremony! The ceremony was beautiful with blue skies and a few clouds and lots of green grass and trees surrounding us. My little brother was our officiant and he did a great job! He was very funny but also sentimental. The ceremony was short and sweet and I especially liked when Patrick related marriage to the tree. Of course, he motioned to me when talked about being “aloof, head in the clouds”, which made everyone laugh, but it is very fitting.

“And now, a year later, here we are, standing under this same tree, completing one journey and beginning a new adventure. As we bring the journey of a new relationship and engagement to a close, this tree becomes a marker for a new chapter in your lives. The tree has two parts: one above the surface always reaching to the sky, the other below the surface providing stability. You may each find yourself in these different positions at different points in time. One aloof, head in the clouds. The other grounded and keeping you stable. But both are always working together to benefit each other. Marriage is like that: both working together to support and encourage one another.”

Brian and I said the same vows, adapted from Walter Mitty, a movie about adventure: “I promise to see the world with you, things dangerous to come, to see beyond walls, to draw closer, to find each other, to feel, and to love you.”

After (and before) the ceremony, our guests enjoyed champagne, wine, and local beer from Urban South Brewery, and snacked on local Zapp’s chips. They played cornhole and giant jenga while we took photos. A bus transported everyone to The House of Blues for the reception.

Tell us about the NOLA destination wedding reception:
My husband is a Blues drummer so having a live band at the reception was very important to him. I thought we would never find a band that lived up to his standards, but finally, NOLA Dukes fit the bill! They were amazing and got everyone on the dance floor! The best part was when my husband (a drummer) and his dad (a guitarist) were invited on stage to play a few songs with the band. They rocked it and our guests demanded “one more song” from them! They played an old school funk instrumental song, “Cissy Strut” by The Meters, and “Let The Good Times Roll”, which was sort of our theme (Laissez Les Bons Temp Rouler). It’s awesome that they can now say they played the House of Blues!

Our friend’s birthday fell on the same day as our wedding so we sang him Happy Birthday at the reception and had a unicorn cake.

At the end, our guests were ushered out to the stairwell while Brian and I had a private last dance while NOLA Dukes played “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. Classic New Orleans!

The Second Line Parade was definitely our favorite part! Brian just said, “I was so happy during the Second Line, I couldn’t even control it.” That’s exactly how I felt too! We were parading down the street in front of Young Fellaz Brass Band (who we happened to see playing on the street a couple of days before), with a police motorcycle escort, and all of our friends and family dancing behind us!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Hiring a day-of wedding coordinator was a splurge for us, but was one of the best decisions we made and worth every penny. Rena from Alchemy Events was so knowledgable, and not only helped us with day-of coordination, but she made recommendations on local vendors which was incredibly helpful since we live in California.

Her help on the wedding day made the entire day stress-free for us and our family. She was there at every moment to make sure everything was set up perfectly, we were in the right place at the right time, and even made sure I had champagne in my hand when I needed/wanted it! I am so thankful for her and I appreciate all her help.

For those who think they can manage your wedding day yourself, I highly recommend finding a way to hire someone to manage the day for you. It’ll take all your stress away and allow you to enjoy the day!

Vendors

Coordination: Alchemy Events | Photography: Tia Nash | Reception: House of Blues New Orleans |
Entertainment: NOLA Dukes Band |  2nd line music: Young Fellaz | 2nd line pedicabs: @nola_pedicabs⁠ | Ceremony music: @sutherlandentertainment⁠ | Beauty: @michellemartinmakeupart⁠ | Cakes: @bywaterbakerynola⁠ | Rentals: @truevaluerental⁠ |
Transportation: @riverbendcharters⁠ | Flowers: Christina For Unique Floral Designs⁠ | Dress: BHLDN

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