As Jen Pearsall and Kyle Vrooman – who reside in Houston, Texas – began to plan their wedding, they easily settled on a fantastic setting for the casual, elegant fête they had in mind. The couple had a special connection to New Orleans since Kyle had grown up there and they both love visiting the city.
When touring venues in "The Big Easy," the bride and groom were captivated by The Cabildo museum in the historic French Quarter. They thought it would make the perfect site for their ceremony. “Kyle is a huge history buff, so getting married in the building where the Louisiana Purchase was signed was a cool added bonus” says Jen with a smile.
Being from the Northeast, a sit-down dinner reception was a given for Jen; however, this proved to be difficult to coordinate. “New Orleans is more known for ‘reception style’ weddings, almost like cocktail parties with stations and heavy [appetizers]. While that makes for a great party atmosphere, we wanted something more traditional,” she explains. In the end, Jen and Kyle were drawn to the personality of a ballroom in an opulent hotel.
On a spring afternoon, light from arched windows facing Jackson Square filled the brilliant white museum gallery, as guests took their seats for the service. Showcasing the palette of the celebration, a modern altar was fashioned from a floral arch that included alabaster orchids, ivory and pale pink roses, and curly willow that appeared to float over slender bookcases adorned with gold and silver mercury-glass vessels. Antique crystal chandeliers with gilt frames were suspended over the aisle.
The statuesque bride was flawless in an off-the-shoulder Alençon lace dress with an illusion neckline, and a hair clip of rhinestones and pearls secured her loose side bun. Pale pink ranunculus blossoms accented Jen’s bouquet of vanilla garden roses. “My uncle was our officiant, and having a close family member up there with us when we said our vows was very touching,” she shares. “He is an incredible public speaker and gave the most moving speech.”
As guests exited the ceremony, they were given umbrellas and handkerchiefs embroidered with the couple’s names and wedding date to wave while parading through the streets of New Orleans during the traditional second line. The newlyweds led the way to the reception holding festive umbrellas crafted by the groom’s sister.
Having forgotten to pack their guest book, the couple purchased the cookbook of a famous New Orleans chef and used that instead – to a resound success. Attendees had a great time signing it before entering a ballroom that featured silk wallpaper, mirror panels, and grand chandeliers set against pools of blush-recessed lighting.
Long tables were dressed with metallic sequined linens over satin tablecloths, while trumpet vases held bursts of white blooms including roses and orchids, as well as curly willow. Low ivory floral arrangements or crystal candelabra adorned round tables clad in champagne linens with circular appliqués. A multitude of votive and floating candles in elegant vessels set all tablescapes aglow. Gold and silver chiavari chairs added another refined element. “I remember walking into the reception with my mom and both of our jaws dropping – it was way beyond my wildest dreams,” the bride reveals. “My mom has incredibly high standards and even she gasped, shook her head in shock, and said, ‘This is the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen.’”
After friends and family dined on the delicious Southern fare the city is famous for, Jen and her attendants participated in another regional custom. “We also did a cake pull – every bridesmaid [pulled] a little trinket out of the cake and it serves as a mini fortune,” she explains.
During the festivities, Jen and Kyle took time to step back and observe the scene. “Everyone was smiling and having fun, and all of these people were in New Orleans to celebrate the start of our marriage and our commitment to each other,” she notes. “In that one moment we never felt so loved and happy. It was incredible.”