The afternoon that Aaron Hahnselle and Carter Hahnselle got engaged, the pair enjoyed celebratory Aperol spritzes and the bafflement of how they got so lucky. The couple was at Chateau De Bagnols in the Beaujolais region of France, when Carter first popped the question. Aaron then countered with his, and the duo skipped around the fountain, hand-in-hand. "It was magical,” Aaron says. "Carter could not have planned a more perfect place and time. A castle. In France. Surrounded by fields of lavender. Are you serious?!”
From there, the couple began planning a destination wedding in New Orleans, complete with playful details that the couple describes as "a fashionable gay prom.” That included surprise drag queen performances, X-Men-inspired attire (i.e. capes), holographic paper goods, “glitter” jars filled with confetti, a double rainbow cake, and a second line led by a grand marshal on a pink unicorn bike—because, as Aaron says, why not?
The couple was extremely hands-on when it came to putting the celebration together. Aaron, an event designer by trade, was in charge of executing their vision. “We spent countless mornings coming up with wacky creative ideas, and we never had to worry about whether or not Aaron could pull of said wacky creative,” says Carter. But the pair did collaborate with a local planning company, Clark & Kelly, to manage the month-of details. “Becca and Kate executed on a not-so-simple vision, and we’re forever grateful,” the couple says.
As for personal touches? Aaron and Carter claim the ceremony was the most memorable part. When they were announced, the newlyweds were announced as the Hahnselles, a combination of each of their last names. “Don’t feel handcuffed by tradition,” they say. “Fill it with all the magic and glitter.”
Read on for more details of Aaron and Carter’s celebration, designed by the couple, coordinated by Clark & Kelly, and photographed by Trevor Mark Photography.
Don’t feel handcuffed by tradition. Fill it with all the magic and glitter.
The holographic invitation suite (by See Level Design) included a vellum envelope with confetti and lots of nods to space, like the wording “A not-so-distant galaxy of magic and mystery awaits you in the Big Easy!”
On Friday night, Aaron and Carter threw a welcome party at the historic Preservation Hall. They donned sparkly, galactic-inspired suits and treated guests to a one-hour show by the famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
“In addition to traditional wedding bands, we also exchanged ‘flair’ rings as a symbol to keep our relationship light-hearted and to never take life too seriously,” the couple says.
Aaron’s wedding shoes said “LOVE” in embroidering across the uppers of his Christian Louboutin smoking slippers.
Instead of boutonnieres, the grooms wore vintage brooches from Poli Trading Company.
Choose your own adventure was, not surprisingly, the couple’s attitude toward wedding planning. “Fill the rest with all the magic and glitter and wacky ideas you can come up with,” they say. That extended to their outfits too.
For the wedding, Aaron wore a dusty rose double-breasted suit and Carter donned a custom green tuxedo, both by Franc Milton.
The only stipulation for the wedding party’s attire was “formal with flair,” complemented by smoke bombs.
Holographic signs from Designtown welcomed guests to the Martine Chaisson Gallery, where the couple held the ceremony. Their hashtag, #thehahnselles, is a blend of their last names, Hahn and Hartselle. It was so popular, say the grooms, that they decided to legally blend their last names into Hahnselle.
The couple let the dark ballroom show off by using ghost chairs for the guest seating and framing the altar with hurricane around taper candles.
As soon as we were announced as the first-ever (in the history of the world), Hahnselles, the room was filled with a sea of mauve balloons.
“So much love, so much magic!” the couple says of their balloon toss. “Each guest’s program contained a washi-taped balloon, which they were instructed to hold onto. As soon as we were announced as the first-ever (in the history of the world), Hahnselles, the room was filled with a sea of mauve balloons.”
The wedding party danced down the aisle to Bob Sinclair’s “Love Generation.”
The couple says that as much as they love their parents, they wanted to enter the ceremony together. The song was a custom mix by the Dart Collective, a mashup of “Here Comes the Bride" and Jessica Simpson’s “I Think I’m in Love with You.”
“It was magical and perfect,” the couple says of the ceremony, which was their favorite part of the day. In addition to a reference to the repeal of Prop 8, allowing same-sex marriage, Aaron and Carter included a reading from X-Men’s “The Wedding of Cyclops and Phoenix” as a nod to Carter’s love of comic books.
After the first kiss, the newly anointed Hahnselles exited to Abba’s “Dancing Queen” amid a sea of balloons.
Then, their second line grand marshal appeared to escort guests to the street. In another nod to comic books, the grooms wore custom capes during their second line as did their “Best Dog,” Moose.
Guests could choose from fun props for the parade, including tambourines adorned with ribbons.
One of the key reasons we chose New Orleans was so we could have a second line parade. And it did not disappoint! Parading through the streets surrounded by family and friends was so surreal.
“One of the key reasons we chose New Orleans was so we could have a second line parade,” the couple says. “And it did not disappoint! Parading through the streets surrounded by family and friends was so surreal.” The couple’s grand marshal rode a pink pegasus unicorn bike with a bubble machine. “The parade ended in giant dance party outside the reception venue,” the grooms add. “Kinfolk Brass Band stuck around and entertained the guests as we walked into the Civic Theater.”
Reception details included custom matchbooks, drinks stirrers with a sketch of the couple’s dog, and personalized cocktail napkins. “We made sure everything had a thoughtful message,” the couple says of the entire wedding celebration, including their holographic umbrellas.
To go with their “fashionable gay prom” theme, the décor needed to be modern—but with a touch of kitsch. The reception at Civic Theater featured a dark palette accented with an overload of glitter, metallics, rainbow elements, disco balls, and more balloons. In fact, the circular reception bar had a mylar balloon installation comprised of 50 balloons in the shapes of dolphins, rainbows, rocket ships, unicorns, and stars.
Bold floral arrangements of anthuriums by Antigua Floral kept the few floral details feeling unexpected, like the other décor. Jonathan Adler “glitter” jars were filled with confetti—for spontaneous tossing—and guests could have their pick from a lineup of cocktails, including Aperol spritz.
The couple got creative with the signs, with wording such as “Stuff Your Face” and “Dance Your Pants Off.” The food was aplenty too. During cocktail hour, Carter and Aaron treated guests to a taco cart, a nod to their love of California, and dinner was all Southern soul food like shrimp and grits and whole hog-pulled pork. For a late-night snack, they served Champagne and french fries.
Don’t feel handcuffed by tradition—take what you want from what is expected—then fill the rest with all the magic and glitter and wacky ideas you can come up with!
Since their venue was a theater, the couple was able to create quite the theatrical entrance to the reception by ascending from a trap door. Dancing then ensured, including a surprise performance by drag queens singing Beyoncé and Kesha and making it rain with dollar bills.
The couple also put tons of personality into their first dance. Under a hanging ceiling installation of disco balls, they danced to a custom mix by the Dart Collective of Lady Gaga, Calvin Harris and Whitney Houston. There were also spirit flags and some dry ice involved, the grooms say.
Aaron and Carter had two adjoining groom’s cakes featuring rainbows that connected in the middle.
“The Civic set the perfect scene for an epic party,” the grooms say. Beyond performances by drag queens and dramatic entrances, the reception featured a Soul Train dance competition, reveals of hidden lounges, a live band, a photo booth made of 100 white balloons, and plenty of love. “Don’t feel handcuffed by tradition—take what you want from what is expected—then fill the rest with all the magic and glitter and wacky ideas you can come up with!”
Ceremony Venue Martine Chaisson Gallery
Reception Venue Civic Theater
Wedding Coordination Clark & Kelly
Event Design Aaron Hahnselle
Officiants Daniel Gard Agostino; Christine Wennekamp
Grooms' Attire Franc Milton
Grooms' Shoes Christian Louboutin; Gucci
Wedding Bands XIV Karats
Flair Rings Gucci; The Great Frog
Floral Design Antigua Floral
Invitations & Paper Goods See Level Design
Printing The Paperleaf Press
Music Dart Collective; Preservation Hall Jazz Band; Kinfolk Brass Band; Sam Hill Entertainment
Catering My House Events
Cake Beth Biundo Sweets
Rentals Firefly Ambiance; La Tavola Fine Linen; Yur Event Rentals
Balloon Installations It’s a Nice Day
Photo Booth Smile Booth
Accommodations Ace Hotel New Orleans
Photography Trevor Mark Photography