Welcome to Real Wedding Spotlight, where we feature our favorite nuptials that have happened in real life.
A Backyard Celebration in New Orleans
How did you meet?
Jen: We met at Marty’s best bud’s party during a pub crawl in San Francisco back in 2007. We were the only two dancing on the dance floor. His apartment was above one of the bars on the crawl. At least we met above the bar and not in it, right?
How did you get engaged?
Marty: I was going to propose on New Year’s Eve of 2012. Both of our families knew and were expecting it that night, but Jen had a shift at the restaurant where she was working at the time. I hung out at the bar and helped her out a little bit, and after she got off work we went out to a party. We had so much fun I didn’t get around to proposing until the next morning! I even had the ring with me the whole time.
How did you choose the blue sapphire engagement ring?
Marty: We had talked about the engagement ring way back in our relationship, and we both liked the idea of not going with a diamond. I work as a mariner so I’m out on the ocean a lot and I think that’s why I liked the deep blue of the sapphire stone.
Jen: We also found out that it was actually more traditional. Before diamonds came along, rubies and sapphires were the most common engagement stones.
What was your vision for your wedding?
Jen: We wanted a semi-traditional ceremony with Martin’s brother officiating. We decided to have it in my parents’ backyard, which is right on the Tchefuncte River, about 40 minutes outside of New Orleans. I wanted it to be easy and laid back.
Marty: My whole family is from California and we live in San Francisco, so people have been telling us for years they want to go to New Orleans (where Jen is from). It is a city with so much character and so much to offer.
What was your favorite part of wedding planning?
Jen: My favorite part was envisioning what this destination wedding (for many) would all be like for our guests. It was so fun to bring the Californians “home” to the South.
Marty: Getting my suit made was fun, but tricky. My older brother had his jacket custom made at a shop in North Beach here in San Francisco, and I thought that was a really fun idea. But, I work on ships and I was away at sea for about three months. I got back two weeks before the wedding, so a lot of the decisions about material were made over email. It was nerve-racking, but it worked out really well and was fun to wear.
Did you incorporate any local traditions into your wedding?
Jen: There is a New Orleans tradition called a second line that happens at the end of a wedding. Traditionally there would be a brass band leading a couple through the streets in New Orleans after the wedding, but we did an adapted version and made our own mini-parade with traditional umbrellas. My sister actually made those umbrellas herself, which was really special. Everyone had a handkerchief with our names and a fleur-de-lis on it that they could wave around and dance to send us off. That’s how we led everyone back to the shuttles after the wedding was over.
What was your favorite wedding moment?
Jen: I was really nervous through the whole ceremony and afterwards there was a lot of hugging and greeting people. When dinner started, our coordinator set up plates for us away from the crowd and Marty and I got to go sit down. We were kind of hidden, so we got to really observe the party. We finally had a minute to just sit and eat, and take it all in!
Marty: My favorite wedding moment was a total surprise. On our way back to the city after the wedding, the bus we were on broke down. We were stranded on the side of the road, and it could have been the worst thing that happened, but it ended up being a huge party right off the freeway. There was a little embankment we could get behind so the whole bus, which was filled with our best friends, unloaded right there. Everyone had drinks and we just made the best of it, right there on the side of the freeway, until another bus came to pick us up.
How did you start your wedding registry?
Jen: I have a very dear friend in New Orleans who is a culinary artist. She sat down with me and helped me get my registry started, with all the cookware I would need. I am not the biggest cook, but I want to be! She helped me make sure I had all the basics, chose the right set, that kind of thing. She did the skeleton with me, and Marty and I did the rest. We got sheets and towels. We were basically thinking of a lifetime of what we would want and need, since you don’t get the chance to register ever again!
What was your favorite part of registering?
Jen: Just how real it made everything seem, especially when the gifts started rolling in with congratulatory messages of love.
What’s one thing you registered for that you use all the time now?
Marty: Our pot rack. It’s genius.
What’s your best registry-related advice for other couples?
Marty: We registered for a lot online, but I think going to the store in person was helpful. I like to be able to pick things up and see them in person. It can really help you decide what size or color you want.
Jen: Limit your registry to one or two stores at most. Another couple gave us this advice and we found that, after all of the other things that come into play, it was nice to have just a couple places to manage.
Right now, we’re also running our Win Your Registry Sweepstakes. Simply create your own registry in one of our stores or online, and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win your entire registry! See more details here.