Jeff and I were introduced by a mutual friend, Lauren. Lauren and I went to high school together and she and Jeff worked together. We hadn’t spoken in over ten years but we’re Facebook friends. One day, I got a message from her completely out of the blue saying that she knew this was very random but there was a guy at work who is single and when he described his ideal woman, for some reason I came to mind. She had followed my travels and posts over the years and told him about me. When he said she could reach out, he didn’t think I’d respond. I almost didn’t because I thought she had been hacked, but I did and it was one of the best decisions of my life. We chatted on Facebook for a bit while at work and spoke on the phone later that evening for over 4 hours. That continued for a few days before we finally had dinner together that weekend. We’ve been together ever since as we just instantly clicked.
What is your favorite thing about each other?
Ashley: My favorite thing about Jeff is definitely his heart. He is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met and loves fiercely. He’s not ashamed to show emotion and is loyal to everyone he cares about.
Jeff: my favorite thing about Ashley is how strong willed she is. She definitely not a push over and I wish sometimes I could be as charitable as she is. She’s always the first to help others.
How did the proposal go? Give us all the sweet details!
We went to North Carolina for a long weekend for Jeff’s aunt who was getting married. Jeff had been telling me since the very beginning of our relationship that he wanted to take me to Asheville, the town he lived in when he got out of the Navy and before he moved to Louisiana. It’s one of his favorite cities in his home state. His mom gifted us a couple of days in Asheville at the historic Grove Park Inn and we spent an amazing weekend sightseeing and enjoying great food, all culminating in a visit to the Biltmore to see their gardens in full bloom. I’m a big flower fanatic and it is on my bucket list to picnic in a giant field of flowers. After Palm Sunday mass at Jeff’s former church, we went to the Biltmore and I excitedly ran to the first garden I could see. It was a field of 40,000 tulips in full bloom and absolutely spectacular! While I was taking iPhone photos, Jeff suggested that we ask other visitors in the garden to take our photo. He asked a man holding a giant telephoto lens to take our picture. The camera should have tipped me off but didn’t in my joy over the flowers. As we got in place for our photo, Jeff got down on one knee and proposed. The camera man and his wife were not other tourists but rather family friends who are photographers who were there to catch the whole proposal and take engagement photos following it. It was truly magical, and while I didn’t get to check off my bucket list picnic, I got something even better instead.
Where was your ceremony held and why did you pick this site?
We were married at the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square by our local priest, Father Mark Lomax. We chose this church for a few reasons. We are both practicing Catholics and knew that having a full mass was important to us both. With Jeff’s family being from North Carolina and many of my friends and family also being from out of state, we figured having our wedding in the French Quarter was ideal. Our host hotel was just across the street so our guests never had to get into a vehicle unless it was to get to and from the airport. The beauty, history, and grandeur of the Cathedral was also such a draw and we feel so blessed that we were able to be married there.
What unique or special things did you do at the reception?
Because about half of our guests and the vast majority of our bridal party were from out of state, we threw a big, New Orleans wedding. We had a second line parade through the French Quarter with a Mardi Gras Indian right after the ceremony back to Jackson Square for our reception at the Presbytere Museum, complete with custom printed handkerchiefs that doubled as additional favors. The Museum features a permanent Mardi Gras exhibit and we were able to give our guests a taste of Carnival with a photo booth in front of a Mardi Gras float and a full spread on the buffet of New Orleans foods, including chicken and sausage gumbo, shrimp and grits, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, shrimp pasta, and mini muffalettas. We were also able to incorporate a bit of the Christmas holidays into the festivities with a Christmas tree full of custom metal ornaments of the Cathedral as favors for our guests.
Pick one moment in the day that was your favorite thing?
It sounds cliche, but my favorite moment of the day has to be when Jeff and I said our vows. It was a beautiful moment permanently tattooed into my memory.
Did it really go by as quickly as everyone says?
Yes! The entire day literally flew by!
Who was your baker, what was the flavor of your cake? Was it delicious?!
Our cakes were just as delicious as they were beautiful!! La Louisiana Bakery made our cakes and they were beyond amazing! Jeff is a self-proclaimed pie man, and at our cake tasting, Jeff cleaned the plate and wanted more immediately after. We knew right away they were the right bakery for us.
Did you do a first look? If so how did you feel about it? If not, do you wish you had?
We did not do a first look and I’m glad we did not. There’s something truly special about seeing each other for the first time when those church doors open. We know it would have made photos a bit less rushed, but it rained up until it was time for us to leave for the church any how so arranging photos would have been complicated.
Did you have a coordinator or did you plan everything yourself? If you didn’t have a coordinator any advice for brides planning their own wedding?
I plan very large scale events and productions as part of my job but knew I needed a wedding planner to assist, especially during my busy travel season. I hired Elizabeth Burkhardt with Elizabeth Burkhardt Events for wedding coordination and she is worth her weight in gold. She let me plan my wedding while offering guidance and assistance when needed, and then the week and day of, she made sure I didn’t have a care in the world.
What was your first dance song? Why this song?
Our first dance was to the song, “Perfect” sung by Ed Sheerhan and Beyoncé. We had a few songs in mind but this one spoke to us and our relationship in so many ways and was a beautiful fit for a wedding.
Band or DJ? Did they rock it?
DJ all the way! We had DJ Donovan Calfee with Calfee Productions as our DJ and he played a great mix that had us dancing all night! We chose to have live music before, during, and after the ceremony with a bagpiper in Jackson Square and for the processional, as well as a trumpeter and cantor for the ceremony, and of course the Kinfolk Brass Band for the second line.
Anything else you want to say?
It’s so easy to get bogged down by the details and the stress - especially when it comes to finances and trying to please people. At the end of the day, just remember that while the details are important, make sure you’re spending your money on the big things that you will remember long after the day is over (photos, video, food, wedding planner, etc.) and do what makes you and your fiancé happy. People won’t remember your centerpieces or the colors of the tablecloths, but everyone will look back at the photos and video memories that will last a lifetime and will remember if they enjoyed the reception and food. You as the bride or groom deserve to have someone else worry about executing the details, so if you can’t afford a wedding planner for the entirety of your wedding, at least consider a day or month of coordinator. Jeff and I both talk about how when the weather was nasty or a vendor mistakenly called us about things, all we had to say was “Call Elizabeth” and we didn’t have to do or worry about a thing. Regardless, have a plan for the inevitable hiccups the weeks and day of, and organize your time well enough that you can relax and enjoy it. We had things so well managed time-wise that we could just soak in every moment of the weekend and that’s what I wish for every couple.
Trent is THE BEST!! As a former pageant titleholder who has modeled before, I’ve worked with a lot of photographers and Trent’s work hands down is the best in Louisiana, if not some of the best I’ve ever seen anywhere. We absolutely loved working with him for every step of our wedding. He has an amazing eye and talent and understands angles so well. As someone who is self-conscious about my weight following illness, he always made sure I was comfortable and would show me the images on his camera to reassure me that they looked flattering. He also handled edits so quickly and made it so we could limit who could access our images upon request. The special details of lighting our cakes at the reception to get artistic shots shows how serious he is about giving couples the most amazing and detailed images he can. His prices are also some of the most reasonable I’ve seen and he offers something for every budget. On top of just being an amazing professional, he and his assistant photographer Titus were just a total blast! I can not recommend Images by Robert T. enough!