Fate brought James and I together when my housemate went to Spain for the summer and decided to sublet her room without consulting me on the new inhabitant.
Initially I was upset about living with a guy I didn’t know, but he turned out to be not only the best roommate I ever had, but the love of my life. Our very first conversation was about jazz and the city of New Orleans, and that summer held many more late night chats about anything and everything. We had our first date the week he moved out, and have been inseparable ever since.
Being an architect, James usually works much later than me. I should have known something was up when, four years later, he surprised me by getting off work early to take me to Washington Square Park (where we first met) to enjoy the beautiful weather. After gourmet pizza and gelato, we walked over to the Hudson waterfront and watched the sunset while sharing headphones. James got nervous and let the playlist lag while searching for the ring in his bag and I wound up DJing his proposal with Cat Power’s version of “Sea of Love.” He asked me to marry him without opening the ring box. Of course I said yes, but the beautiful Art Deco ring was the icing on the cake.
Within 10 minutes of getting engaged, we decided on a destination wedding in New Orleans. James lived there after attending school until Katrina forced him out. Over the years, we’ve been back many times and consider it a second home. Since our family is spread out all over the world, it was a perfect excuse to share the city with them.
We decided that this wedding had to be fun, relaxed and not the least bit stuck-up. There had to be great music, good food and strong drinks. We took so much inspiration from the city itself, and believe me, it has a lot to offer. DIY was a choice we made, because we wanted the wedding to reflect us as much as possible. Making things is so much a part of who we are, there is no way we would have been happy with anything mass-produced.
Our venue – Race and Religious – is a wild place. It’s two Creole houses connected by a courtyard, and it feels almost mystical. Everywhere you look, there is some little detail hiding, like a model ship stuck in a tree. It’s rustic, eclectic, and a little mysterious. We were able to rent it for the whole weekend, so it felt like we were getting married in our home.
Since the venue itself has so much going on, we tried not to overdo it with the decor. We made sure the florals were a little “weird” to reflect the mood – incorporating succulents, air-plants, and a lot of greenery. I designed all the decor, made the bridesmaid bouquets, bridesmaids’ accessories (fascinators, bouquets, earrings), and made my own headpiece. Even the makeup was DIY – as a makeup artist, there was no way I was going to let anyone else do it! Plus, it was a great way to spend a little time with my bridesmaids.
We also made all the paper goods ourselves – from design to printing – keeping it light and funny with “fortune teller” programs and menus made with vintage clip art.
I was literally putting the finishing touches on things minutes before I walked down the aisle, but in the end, all the hours I put into making every little thing made it that much more meaningful. When I look back, the actual day it was over in a flash, but I have a year’s worth of memories creating our wedding, that’s for sure!
All photographs by Sean Flanigan.