BEHIND THE SCENES

The Making of a Whimsical Wedding for Margot and Carla

New Orleans, Louisiana
BY SHIRA SAVADA / 06 07 23
Photo by Laura Murray Photography

Every wedding vendor team is created a little differently. In this series we explore how and why each couple selected the right wedding vendor team for their wedding day.

In the final weeks of 2020, Margot and Carla were enjoying time away in a little cabin in Big Bear, California. They were watching a movie by the fireplace and sipping sake when Margot asked Carla to marry her. It was simple and romantic, and the perfect start to the Los Angeles-based couple’s engagement.

That night, they started looking into potential wedding venues. Originally, the couple considered a small ceremony and dinner in Big Sur, with a larger reception in New Orleans (where Margot is from), but as they looked into the logistics and assessed their budget, it made more sense to just have one big event in Louisiana. Easy enough to fly into, a lot of the couple’s California friends had been wanting to go there, and a lot of Margot’s family members already lived there. So it was decided: the big day would take place in The Big Easy.

DECISION 1

Wedding Videographer, Officiant, & Florist

Before researching any venues and vendors, the couple turned to their inner circle to secure two key parts of their dream team. First, they reached out to Margot’s long-time family friend Chris Bourke, who owns Westfolk Film Co., a video and production company. Years prior, Margot had offered to shoot his wedding for free, if he would someday do the same for her. The “best exchange ever” meant that Chris and another artist on his team came fully loaded with top-notch gear, ready to put their spin on the documentation of the celebration (considering they usually do commercial content).

Chris’s mother, Elena, was then tapped to officiate the ceremony, which was non-denominational and spiritual.

Brides exit their ceremony venue—a former church—at their whimsical wedding in New Orleans.

The brides made their first move by hiring florist, Pistil & Stamen (now Theia and Subtle Fields). Margot and Carla found the then-duo on Instagram and loved their playful approach to floral arranging. They were equally impressed by their process and that much of what they used they grew themselves.

“We probably would have changed our date if they weren’t available. They were a dream to work with and did the most phenomenal job. When we got up to the ceremony floral circle, it was completely overwhelming seeing our loved ones’ faces and being surrounded by all these gorgeous, fragrant flowers. That will be the most memorable moment from the day.” —Carla, bride

Thankfully they were available on April 16th, 2022—a date chosen mostly because the couple optimistically thought COVID-19 would be done by then and also because April is considered the last month of nice weather before the heat rolls in for the summer. The weather was ultimately warm, and the setting was delightful for their florists to create within the “whimsical Easter bloom” aesthetic. Pistil and Stamen often mixed fruit with their flowers, and the brides loved that look. A lot of Carla’s Peruvian relatives noted how excited they were to see the loquats (known in Spanish as nísperos) in the arrangements.

Brides hold complementary bouquets at their whimsical wedding in New Orleans.
For this whimsical wedding in a former church, a low, pastel floral semi-circle was built for the couple to stand in the middle of.

The brides carried unique bouquets—a petite monotone bundle of pink sweet peas and trailing jasmine flowers for Margot, and a larger arrangement of assorted sweet peas, roses, foxglove, and jasmine). The ceremony was not only stunning but meaningful, as hydrangeas were incorporated to honor Margot’s late mother.

For the reception, Ikebana-style arrangements graced the tables, with flowers spilling out of busts and footed pedestals, as well as adorning mantelpieces. No two were the same, with the flowers and fruits in different combinations for each piece.

Ikebana-style arrangements of flowers and fruit adorned the reception space of a whimsical wedding in New Orleans.
At this whimsical wedding in New Orleans, fresh fruit and flowers were arranged in unique vessels, like a bust of a woman.
DECISION 2

Wedding Venues & Caterer

With the florist in place, and a date in mind, Margot and Carla needed to decide on a location (or two). Initially envisioning an outdoor ceremony, they quickly changed their mind after seeing the former Catholic chapel at Hotel Peter + Paul.

“We knew it was special. It had the perfect amount of patina. Hues of pink and green, and a soft warm glow from the stained glass. We also loved that we were able to seat people in-the-round. It was a grand space but also felt very cozy.” —Carla, bride

The brides asked relatives to bring soil from meaningful places in their lives—like their childhood homes in Louisiana and Texas and Carla’s grandmother’s garden in Peru—and combined them in the base of a potted olive tree during a special ritual they had first observed while photographing a wedding together.

A former church that currently operates as a hotel in New Orleans was the setting of a whimsical wedding ceremony for two brides.
Textures and pastel tones abound at the old church turned hotel that a couple chose for their whimsical wedding ceremony.
A ceremony in the round was anchored by pastel flowers at a whimsical wedding in New Orleans.

As for their reception space, the couple turned to a spot that Margot frequented back in the day: The Columns. A great place to grab a drink and enjoy a live jazz performance, it was also discovered that the chef from Margot’s favorite restaurant (Coquette) was now operating there. It seemed like a no-brainer as well as a great opportunity to showcase a different part of New Orleans for the out-of-towners.

“For the reception, we wanted it to feel like a house party, with a seamless flow from one room to another. We love the New Orleans classic charm. The building was built in 1883, directly on St. Charles. Hearing the streetcars in the background was a nice touch. It was beautiful, so colorful and warm.” —Margot, bride

Vibrant art and bold furniture set the scene at the reception venue of a whimsical wedding in New Orleans.
The reception venue of this whimsical wedding also handled all food and drink—including a trio of signature cocktails, which were served with lavender cocktail napkins.

The Columns also tackled catering for the 140 guests. Upon arrival, passed hors d'oeuvres made the rounds, and a seafood station was set. Dinner was served buffet-style to encourage everyone to mix and mingle, with a menu that included regional staples like gumbo, shrimp and grits, crab rice, and biscuits. The cocktails also flowed—with a trio of specialty drinks on offer: an herbaceous French 75 chosen by Margot, a strawberry piña colada picked by Carla, and a Sazerac in honor of the pair’s pup, Roux.

DECISION 3

Wedding Photographer

Knowing that seasoned photographers book early, the next move was to secure someone to document their wedding day. It was also a significant decision to tackle considering both women are photographers. And while Margot and Carla wanted different things—a film photographer with a proactive approach for Margot, and someone that creatively used light and was more of a fly-on-the-wall for Carla, they found everything they needed in Laura Murray of Laura Murray Photography

“We were so lucky to have Laura shoot our wedding. She was proactive about finding spots to shoot but also non-intrusive. We absolutely love the images Laura captured for us and the enthusiasm she brought to the day. She was the perfect photographer for us.” —Carla, bride

Both professional photographers, the brides couldn't resist picking up a camera at their whimsical wedding in Louisiana.
A quiet moment between two brides, post-ceremony at their whimsical wedding.

“I have so many favorite parts of their day, but what stands out the most to me are moments that are unstaged and unplanned. As Carla and Margot ended their ceremony and recessed out of the church, they both welled up with happy tears. I felt such gratitude and a duty to capture these two, exactly how they were in that moment. Then they tucked away in a side room while the guests exited. The side room wasn't glamorous, it didn't have great light, and I'm fairly certain there was a mop and broom just a few feet away from them. But in that instant, they were just married and I could see how in awe they were with each other. I kept shooting and will always remember their conversation in that moment. They sat in that side room and retold each other about the day they each knew they were going to get married to each other.” —Laura Murray, photographer

DECISION 4

Wedding Stationer

Margot and Carla found Laura Shema from Jolly Edition on Pinterest and were drawn to her diverse style. For their stationery, the couple drew inspiration from artists like Matisse and Rodin, and they introduced their spring color palette of cornflower blue, pinks, purples, and oranges. A vellum overlay sporting an illustration of the reception venue’s facade topped it all. Every detail in the suite was carefully planned and designed with intention.

“I’ve always been drawn to Matisse paintings, in particular the colors used. So when it came time to plan for the invites, we wanted to incorporate a similar free flow design with expressive colors.” —Margot, bride

Illustrations of flowers, their wedding venues, and key landmarks of New Orleans were combined with pastel colors for this whimsical wedding invitation suite.
DECISION 5

Wedding Entertainment

Highlighting the sounds of the city and getting into the celebratory spirit, the couple enlisted Kinfolk Brass Band to play during cocktail hour and perform a second line at the end of the night as everyone spilled into the streets. Legends in New Orleans, Margot and Carla felt lucky to have them as part of their celebration. They also played everyone out, with the last song of the night being their version of Bruce Channel’s “Hey! Baby!” The brides hired New Orleans Classical & Jazz as well as Phil Quinaz of Que Fancy Music, who DJed.

“We let our DJ choose most of the music to match the vibe. However, Margot insisted on having at least a few 90s hip-hop songs and I wanted some salsa for my Peruvian side. And our first dance was to Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Thank You,’ which was constantly playing in the background when we were first dating.” —Carla, bride

Newlywed brides share their first dance during their whimsical wedding reception.
At the end of their whimsical wedding reception, the couple and their guests were led on a second line through the streets of New Orleans by a brass band.
DECISION 6

Wedding Coordinator & Designer

Margot had photographed a wedding coordinated by Elyse Jennings of Elyse Jennings Weddings many years prior and recalled how notable her organization and unique vision were. While it had been some time, the impression had been made, and so Margot and Carla reached out to see if she could be part of their big day. She was available, and brought on to ensure the celebration went smoothly and looked great too.

A pair of brides holding pink bouquets smile at the setting of their whimsical wedding ceremony, surrounded by a curved installation of pastel flowers.
In typical New Orleans fashion, iron work was part of the setting for a whimsical wedding reception, as were fresh flowers in colors like cornflower blue and soft purple.
DECISION 7

Wedding Cake Maker

With gluten and dairy allergies, finding a wedding cake that Margot could safely enjoy was tricky. But fortunately, she and Carla discovered Bittersweet Confections, which made Carla’s favorite: a strawberry cake with strawberry icing. The design was kept simple and sleek, knowing that the dessert would be surrounded by beautiful spring blooms. However, inside, surprises awaited. While cake pulls are a Southern tradition, Carla remembers taking part in them as a kid in Peru and in the San Francisco Bay Area. Charms specific to New Orleans (i.e. a fleur de lis, a pelican, an oyster, and a crawfish) were sourced on Etsy, and were accompanied by a small card listing the fortunes that the couple read aloud).

Other sweets were served too. A New Orleans favorite—a Doberge cake, made with layers of cake and custard—was served, as were dairy- and gluten-free cookies made by Columns.

A rainbow of flowers and fruit surrounded a small wedding cake at a whimsical wedding reception in New Orleans.
The couple's inner circle grabbed the cake pulls, which had meaningful charms at the ends, a Southern tradition woven into this whimsical wedding.
DECISION 8

Wedding Lighting Designer & Rentals

Elyse suggested bistro lights be strung on the patio for an extra glow (already going strong elsewhere thanks to candles on the tables and in the fireplaces). Element came on board to make it happen. They were also tapped for the majority of the rental pieces, with linens coming from BBJ La Tavola Specialty Linen.

Pale linens dressed the outdoor cocktail tables at this whimsical wedding.
Bistro lights and green umbrellas dressed up the cocktail hour space at a whimsical wedding reception in New Orleans.
DECISION 9

Wedding Poet

One final touch on their low-key wedding was hiring Cubs the Poet, the artist in residency at The Columns. Blown away by his paintings, they soon heard he was also a talented poet and jumped at the opportunity to bring the artist into the fold. He created a book of poems for the brides, which was a compilation of poems he wrote throughout the evening based on stories the guests told him about the happy couple.

The in-house artist at The Columns, in New Orleans, wrote poems during the whimsical wedding reception.
Poems were typed on a typewriter during a whimsical wedding reception at The Columns in New Orleans.
DECISION 10

Wedding Hair Stylist

Both women knew exactly what they wanted for their makeup and felt it seemed easy enough to do it themselves. But they found Faces of Virtue on Instagram and reached out to stylist LaToya Ware to tackle their hair. Margot and Carla were able to do a trial with her on their third and final planning trip to New Orleans before the wedding and confirmed their hairstyles then. For Margot, her outfit was more elaborate—especially with the details across her shoulder—so a sleek ponytail was created to complement the look. Carla opted for a deep side part and soft finger waves, with a pearl-adorned veil topping things off.

Soft finger waves were requested by a bride who wore a pearl-adorned veil at her whimsical wedding.
A sleek ponytail was the perfect hairstyle for this bride who wore a one-shoulder ensemble at her whimsical wedding.
Brides share a first dance during their whimsical wedding reception in New Orleans, Louisiana.
An Indoor Wedding for Margot & Carla
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Laura Murray Photography