"Yeah, baby. Yeaaaahhhhh." - Fred Wesley & The JBs, Doing It to Death
On May 14th (and 13th), 2011, Tiffany B. Brown and I got married in New Orleans, Louisiana. The hashtags were #nerdwedding11 and #jtandtb. Tiffany has also included #winning and #epic but those aren't specific to us even though they accurately describe the events of the last week.
We took a red eye from LAX to MSY with a long layover in Memphis (just as the Mississippi river began threatening to flood it, Tennessee and on through Louisiana) on May 8th arriving in town on May 9th. Delta has been and continues to be our airline of choice. Once in New Orleans, we rented a car from Hertz. The Hertz shuttle driver welcomed us to The Big Easy (Whodat Nation) with some smooth jazz.
We stayed in a king suite at The Roosevelt Hotel in the Central Business District (CBD). They have the best beds. We ate breakfast regularly at or from Teddy's Cafe. We had a lovely conversation with the saleswoman at The Gift Shop, who is originally from San Diego, and informed us about Operation Comeback. They also have the best valets and the guys in their Business Services office give great marriage advice...when they aren't trying to drink the liquor you're shipping.
Why New Orleans?
Tiffany and I were in a long distance relationship. New Orleans was the first trip we took together (that wasn't a conference) and we have returned just about every six months after that initial trip in 2009. We adore the city. When we decided to get married, we had four requirements: A. It had to be a destination wedding. B. It had to have great food. C. It had to have great drinks. D. It had to have great music. Is there a better place for all that than NOLA?
Louisiana requires a birth certificate and some official form of ID for both participants to secure a marriage license. Locals have a 72 hour waiting period but that is waived for out-of-state couples. That waiting period was waived for us...but we waited three days, anyway. The total cost of the license, waivers, and records was $38. We got it from the Vital Records Office in the CBD. After a short wait and some comedic conversations with some locals, it took about 10 minutes. Despite how really simple this process is, Louisiana Civil Code prohibits same sex civil unions of any kind. Oddly, they did not check our genitalia ever during this process. On this day, we ate at Lüke for breakfast and dinner at Stanley. We also napped...a lot.
Why Two Ceremonies?
The funny thing is that before we met each other, we never thought we'd get married at all. That said, Louisiana requires couples to be married by a recognized officiant of the parish where you've secured your license. It was important to me that we were married by someone who knew us. This presented a problem. Our original plan was to have a courthouse ceremony with just our witnesses. Our friend, Cinnamon, however, suggested the French Quarter Wedding Chapel. With many of our family and friends in town by Friday, this seemed like a great idea and a way for people who like the more traditional church and legal weddings to get their fix. More on this later.
Our official ceremony would be at Calcasieu Rooms which is part of Donald Link's Restaurant Group. We did our walkthrough with their amazing team on Wednesday, right after one of their many private parties for the AIA National Convention that was in town. We ate lunch at Cochon Butcher then returned (late) to MSY to pick Felicia and my sister. They arrived at about the same time even though they live on opposite sides of the country. We then visited the amazing Rathbone Mansions, a bed and breakfast in the Tremé. Y'all know about the Tremé, right? You at least watch the show?*
After making another run to the airport to pick up Anna, there was Bourbon Street. The Good Friends Bar. Despite being treated kindly by their great bartenders, we did experience some hilarious and oft-putting drunken racism from one of the patrons (sushi fried rice shot. kunta kinte-ville. har har har!).
On Thursday, we volunteered with The St. Bernard Project just like we did last year. We love Sister Judy. Molly, one of their Americorps Volunteers, went to school with my sister. Elle, a rescued pit bull puppy, was the star of the volunteer office. We worked on a shotgun house in the Lower Ninth Ward doing mudding. We ate lunch at The Joint. My parents schmooped out on me at the end of the day. We then met up with the Thursday arrivals of friends and family at Loa followed by dinner at Rambla. We expected a party of 6. We ended up with a party of 17...at one table! Sometime on this night, I lost my credit card.
Our civil ceremony was at 4pm on Friday at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel. We expected about 20 people to show up. We had close to 35. Our families met for the first time on the corner of Burgundy and Iberville mere minutes before we walked in the chapel. The first interaction of our mothers was my mom helping Tiffany's mom with a wardrobe malfunction. It was a casual affair. I was wearing my favorite suit jacket from Marc Ecko Cut & Sew and a new shirt from Jos. A. Bank with Old Navy Jeans. Tiffany was wearing a pretty summer dress and shoes from Target (2007 collection). We were married by the very amusing Rev. Tony Talavera. We had no idea what to expect and it was an absurd, hilarious, and very sweet affair. Our first dance was What A Wonderful World performed by a violinist whose name we have forgotten.
We then returned to the Roosevelt for celebratory drinks at The Sazerac bar. The families then met up at Restaurant August for Family dinner. It was as amazing as we hoped it would be. Tiffany's mom, however, didn't make it. She wasn't ready for drinking in N'awlins.
On May 14th, our official wedding day, we started with a late breakfast at The Green Goddess followed by manicures and pedicures at the Guerlain Spa in the hotel. They have a great staff. Ronisha, one of Tiffany's attendants, had our ceremonial flowers delivered to the hotel and I wrote a brief blog post. My parents and attendants (Anna and Dominique) helped us get ready along with Tiffany's attendant, Shoshana. I wore an Italian made suit from Bertolini, a tie from Bloomingdales, shoes by Stacy Adams (courtesy of my mama), and a shirt from Jos A. Bank. Tiffany's dress was by Badgley Mischka. She made her own earrings and wore a beautiful necklace provided by her mother. Our rings were made by Magnolia Jewelers in Burbank, CA. They also made Tiffany's engagement ring.
The event started at 6pm. We arrived late. Our officiant was Lynne d Johnson. She was the first person I didn't already know that I talked to when I began blogging in 2002. She was there when Tiffany and I first met at SXSW in 2005. We wanted someone to marry us who knew us, understood us, and best represented our ethics, values, and outlook on life and love. She's just all around awesome. (more details about the ceremony to come).
Our processional music was Doing It To Death by Fred Wesley & The JBs. We danced our way down the aisle. Our Recessional music was Dance Tonight by Lucy Pearl. Our amazing DJ, Mau Balvanera, had to come up with this on the fly. The Father/Daughter Dance was Unforgettable by Nat King Cole. The Mother/Son Dance was Thank You (Falettinme Be Micelf Agin) by Sly & The Family Stone. Our First Dance was For Real by Amel Larrieux. The full setlist.
We crowdsourced our wedding with kindnesses from our friends. Felicia was our Day-Of Coordinator. Michelle and Melissa were our photographers. You can already see some of the pictures on flickr. Gift tumblers were handcrafted by Sibbotery. New Orleans themed Gift boxes were put together by Ronisha.
We didn't do much else after the awesomeness of Saturday night except for: Domenica (again). A trip to CVS which featured the most drunk person we saw, an amazingly inebriated young lady from Idaho. We walked the riverwalk. The New Orleans Holocaust Memorial.
Our last meal was at Cochon.
*This post was inspired by The Treme Explained posts from Nola.com.