Emily Lambert and Emerson Hemperley first met in May of 2014, but it was surprising that it took that long. "We technically met on Tinder, but quickly realized that not only did we have a ton of mutual friends, we actually went to the same grammar and middle schools but had never actually met!" says Emerson. The two women hit it off quickly, though Emerson did have a back-up plan just in case. "I brought my best friend, Kathryn, with me in case our first date was a bust," she admits. "But once Emily and I hit it off, Kathryn was stuck talking to a 70-year-old at the bar all night. During the rehearsal dinner, she referenced that fateful night when she said that, 'A couple beers and a cigar later, I knew Emerson no longer needed me,'" Emerson adds with a laugh.
Three years later, the women had moved to D.C. but were in New Orleans visiting Emily's parents outside of the city. "We love getting up early to watch the sunrise, so I surprised Emerson with our favorite blueberry cake doughnuts and coffee and planned to ask her on the balcony overlooking the lake," says Emily. "I was so nervous! When I finally got Emerson out onto the porch and started my speech, Emerson asked if I was proposing and I said 'Oh my gosh, no'—as I was pulling out the ring!" Thankfully, Emerson realized what was happening and said yes, and the brides spent the weekend celebrating.
While Emily and Emerson love NOLA, they wanted a place where their entire 130-person guest list could spend the weekend together. "We looked up and down the East Coast, and fell for Charleston," Emerson explains. "It reminds us of the romance and history of New Orleans, and the natural setting at Lowndes Grove quickly sealed the deal." The couple hired Ooh! Events to coordinate and Brooke Boyd Photo + Film to capture their special weekend. Take a peek to see how Emily and Emerson made their Charleston celebration their own!
"The house on the property is impeccable," says Emerson of their venue. "It was the perfect space for us to get ready with our bridesmaids."
Emily and Emerson's invitation suite featured an illustrated wreath and deckled edges on the inside and a rainbow wax seal on the outside. The couple made sure to photography their engagement rings (by jewelry designer Susie Saltzman) with the suite on the big day.
"Dress shopping was the hardest part of the process," says Emerson. "We originally tried to shop separately and keep our dresses secret, but we had no idea if they would be exactly the same or clash completely. We finally gave in and went shopping together!"
Emily chose a blush high-low wedding dress by Jenny Yoo, finished with 3D floral appliqués. "I wanted something unique, feminine, and comfortable," she says. She completed her look with two beaded headbands—one for her hair and one to add to the dress as a belt.
Emerson's crepe Sarah Seven dress had a modern fit, side cut-outs, and a plunging neckline and back. "I had something completely different in mind, but after trying on what felt like a million dresses, I realized that what I was looking for was simplicity," she explains.
Before showing their final ensembles to one another, Emily and Emerson had first looks with their dads. Emerson also invited her brothers to join in on the fun.
Though Emerson and Emily had gone dress shopping together, they say seeing each other in their wedding dresses was an exciting and emotional moment on the wedding day.
"As an LGBT couple, we felt like we had a lot of freedom to throw tradition to the wind," says Emily. "We spent the day together, doing yoga and getting ready with our closest friends. That really relieved the pressure—we didn't want the suspense at the aisle as much as we wanted a calm and fun morning!"
The bridal party embraced the couple's wine-inspired palette, with Emily's sisters in a cabernet tone and the rest of crew in champagne and blush. "Our sisters had loose bouquets of anemones, peonies, roses, dahlias, and scabiosa in white, blush, and burgundy, while the rest of the girls carried single white rose stems," says Emerson.
Emily and her father walked down the aisle to "All You Need is Love" by The Beatles, followed by Emerson and her dad to "Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley.
The couple took elements of an Episcopalian ceremony, made it gender-neutral, and added personal readings. "We worked closely with our officiant to create a ceremony that felt like us," Emily says. "The best part was the reading of Lin Manuel Miranda's poem, Love is Love is Love. It's a love sonnet to his wife, is written about LGBT rights, and is an ode to marriage and partnership. When our friend got to that iconic line, there wasn't a dry eye anywhere."
Emily had planned to wear a veil down the aisle, but it pulled at her hair in the breeze and started to make her nervous. "Emerson could tell I was getting tense, so she pulled me into another room and told me not to wear the veil and gave me a big kiss," she says. "At that moment, all my fears were pushed away because I knew I'd picked the perfect partner to spend my life with."
At cocktail hour, guests sipped Moscow mules, old fashioneds, and Champagne as they enjoyed Southern-inspired dishes like spicy maple fried chicken with corn waffles and pimento cheese crostini. "We had cocktail hour overlooking the water, so we kept the décor simple with just a floral monogram behind the bar," says Emerson.
A mirrored bar served as the centerpiece beneath the clear reception tent. "Food hadn't been a top priority for us, but the meal ended up being absolutely incredible," Emily says. Favorites included shrimp with smoked gouda grits and chorizo gravy, cavatelli bolognese, and frutti di mare orecchiette—and late-night fried chicken biscuits!
"We had a band from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, called Tyler Kinchen and the Right Pieces," Emily says. "They are a little bit funk, a little bit soul, and a little bit folk, and played everything from '90s rap to Chris Stapleton—no one left the dance floor!" When the band wrapped up, a deejay played a set of songs handpicked by Emerson, starting with Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." "It created an incredible atmosphere, and we realized just how good our friends' moves are," Emily recalls.
Looking back on their planning process, Emily and Emerson had an important piece of advice to share: Throw tradition out the window if it doesn't speak to you! "You don't have to be gay to do things differently on your wedding day," Emerson says. "It should be about the two of you getting married, and you shouldn't try to make anyone happy but yourselves."
Wedding Planner: Ooh! Events
Venue: Lowndes Grove
Officiant: Father Adam
Emily's Dress: Jenny Yoo
Emily's Shoes: Alexandre Birman
Emerson's Dress: Sarah Seven
Hair: Slate Hair & Makeup
Men's Attire: The Black Tux
Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands: Suzie Saltzman
Floral Design: Out of the Garden
Paper Products: Alaina Polander Design
Catering & Cake: Lowndes Grove
Ceremony Music: Bespoke Strings
Reception Music: Tyler Kinchen and the Right Pieces
Rentals: Ooh! Events
Transportation: Low Country Valet
Photography & Videography: Brooke Boyd Photo + Film