Good things come to those who wait—and that's true for Michael and Ashley. The couple met in 2009, and Michael was immediately smitten. But Ashley? "It took him months of persistence before I finally caved in and accepted his invitation to go out on a date," she says. His determination paid off, though, because after that first date, the two quickly fell in love.
In December of 2011, Michael used Ashley's love of the Christmas season to his advantage. "He surprised me with a trip to New York City to see the tree in Rockefeller Center," Ashley says. On their way to dinner, they stopped by to see the tree. "We had to fight our way through the crowd to get in front of the tree for a photo," she remembers. After several failed attempts at taking their own photo, Michael sought out a security guard to take the photo for them. "He took his time asking the guard to help us out," says Ashley, "and he had a huge grin on his face when he came back." Michael turned to Ashley, saying there was another reason they were there...and he got down on one knee! "His plan worked perfectly," she says. "We have photos of the whole thing!" Then Michael whisked his fiancée off for a private dinner in the wine cellar at Maialino Restaurant—an indulgent end to an unforgettable evening.
The Texas-based couple headed south to New Orleans for their wedding celebration on May 25th, 2013. "I've always loved the feeling that I have when I'm there," says Ashley, whose father grew up there. "There was no better place for two families that know how to have a good time to come together!"
Photo: Greer G Photography
The couple envisioned a classic, romantic evening full of candlelight. The elegant calligraphy of their invitations, by Katie & Co., set the mood.
As her "something borrowed," Ashley wore her mother's amethyst pendant.
Michael's monogrammed cufflinks were a gift from Ashley for the first birthday they celebrated together. Ashley paired her layered Rivini gown with shimmering Jimmy Choo pumps.
"I never thought I'd find my wedding dress on the first day of shopping," says Ashley. "My first appointment didn't go so well, and I thought I'd never have an 'aha' moment." But when she walked in to her second appointment, everything changed. "My mom pulled an ornate Rivini dress, and we all knew it was the one the second I walked out of the fitting room." Ashley added a more detailed belt to her mermaid gown, and accented the train with a chapel-length veil. She carried a tight white bouquet of ranunculus, peonies, and hydrangeas.
Michael wore a classic black tuxedo with a black bow tie and a white phalaenopsis orchid boutonniere.
Ashley's niece was the flower girl. She wore a white dress with a black sash and sparkly silver flats. "She performed beautifully! She and the ring bearer laughed, smiled, and ran down the aisle," says the bride.
The bride wanted her 'maids in formal, classic dresses, so she chose black floor-length designs by LulaKate as the starting point. They each chose one of three tops and bottoms to create a silhouette that they felt most comfortable in. The bridesmaids carried bouquets of white hydrangeas to complement Ashley's.
"I'd wanted to be married at the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans for as long as I can remember," says Ashley. "It's the oldest cathedral in North America, and I love the historic beauty and the gorgeous, long aisle."
"The cathedral is so pretty on its own, so I didn't want to add flowers and take away from it," says the bride. The couple had a traditional ceremony, including having the Trumpet Voluntary played on the organ as Ashley processed with her father.
The couple opted for a cocktail reception over a seated dinner, but kept the feeling formal with mirrored accents, cream banquettes, and gorgeous flowers. "The room was full of candles in mercury votives that filled the space with a romantic glow," says Ashley.
A combination of high and low centerpieces, interspersed with crystal candelabras, dressed up the room. Peonies, ranunculus, and hydrangeas gave soft texture to the white-on-white arrangements.
Sofas, banquettes, and mirrored furniture gave the room a luxurious lounge vibe.
Ashley swapped out her veil for a tulle birdcage for the reception. She and Michael shared their first dance to Van Morrison's "Someone Like You."
The four-tiered wedding cake was decorated with Swiss dots and sugar Magnolia flowers. Tucked around the back of the cake were ribbons ready for the Cake Pull, a southern tradition where the bride's single friends pull charms of luck and fortune from the cake before it's cut.
Michael's groom's cake was a nod to the couple's love of wine. "One bottle was the wine we drank the night we were engaged, the other was the wine we served at the reception," says Ashley. The table was covered with corks the couple had saved from wines they'd shared while they were dating. Embossed forks were ready for the couple to share their first bite.
The couple and their guests took their celebration to the hallways of the hotel in a Second Line parade, complete with personalized parasols.
In Ashley's words, "The entire day was a fairytale! I kept reminding myself to absorb certain moments so that I would remember the little details later." Her favorite moment was when she, Michael, and her parents snuck into the ballroom before the guests entered. "It was such a special moment to see all of our hard work come to life," she says.
The couple, who spent their honeymoon relaxing in Turks and Caicos, encourage those planning their weddings to be proactive. "Accomplish as much as possible early on," says Ashley. "That way the weeks leading up to the wedding are exciting, not overshadowed by last-minute stress and details."
Ceremony Venue: St. Louis Cathedral || Reception Venue: The Roosevelt || Wedding Planner: Tying the Knot Wedding Coordination || Bride's Wedding Dress: Rivini, from Ivory Bridal Atelier || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Jewelry: The Bride's Mother || Hair & Makeup: H2O Salon & Spa || Bridesmaids' Dresses: LulaKate. from Bella Bridesmaid || Groom's Tuxedo: Hugo Boss || Groomsmen's Tuxedos: Men's Wearhouse || Wedding Bands: Robbins Brothers || Florist: Plants N' Petals || Invitations: Katie & Co. || Music: New Orleans' Finest Musicians, Louisiana Spice || Catering & Cakes: The Roosevelt || Rentals: Lounge Furniture - Plants N' Petals, Chiavari Chairs - New Orleans Party Rentals || Favors: Parasols from Beads By The Dozen || Late Night Snack: Lucky Dogs || Photo Booth: Big Easy Photobooth || Photography: Greer G Photography