The culture of New Orleans is close to the heart of Canadian Chris and Cliff, who’ve frequented the Big Easy throughout their 16-year relationship. The music, the colors and the vibe were perfect for their dream wedding, a ceremony held in the historic French Quarter amongst 55 of their closest friends and family. Shot by Dark Roux Photography, this fun-filled celebration perfectly captures the New Orleans magic.
The Love Story
Chris and Cliff’s story is true romance from beginning to end, proposal to “I do.” After dating for 16 years, Chris proposed to Cliff behind a waterfall in Maui completely spontaneously. “I’d been thinking about proposing and had decided that if the moment felt right I’d do it,” explains Chris. “I just wasn’t sure when that moment would be until it happened.”
The grooms picked the Pharmacy Museum Courtyard in the French Quarter of New Orleans for their ceremony for practicality and aesthetics. It fit their number of guests perfectly, and the intimate setting mirrored the romance and beauty of New Orleans. Since most of their guests were flying from Canada to Louisiana for a weekend, they wanted to pack as much culture into the weekend as they could, and the Pharmacy Museum was the perfect place to start.
While Chris and Cliff were already legally married in Alberta, Canada, they wanted to hold a ceremony in New Orleans, as Louisiana did not recognize marriage equality. “We wanted our ceremony to have a wow factor, follow a few NOLA tradition and be somewhat non-traditional,” notes the grooms.
Their evening ceremony was lit by candles and chandeliers draped from surrounding trees. The couple hired their favorite French Quarter buskers to play music throughout the wedding. Their ceremony concluded with the tradition of jumping the broom: the broom, symbolic of the obstacles minorities face with traditional marriage, was a perfect ending to this gorgeous ceremony. It didn’t stop there — as a send-off, the Treme Brass Band led the grooms and their guests on an unforgettable second-line walk down the French Quarter.
The most important thing to Chris and Cliff was to be able to immerse their friends and family from Canada into New Orleans culture. The grooms-to-be took their guests on a whirlwind tour of New Orleans, from drinking hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s to a Haunted Walking Tour of the French Quarter and treated everyone to authentic New Orleans jazz show at Preservation Hall. The grooms worked tirelessly with their event planners Sapphire Events to make their vision come to life to help give their guests the ultimate New Orleans experience.
The color palette was pulled straight from the streets of Mardi Gras. Pops of purple and tangerine decorated the otherwise understated space and accentuated Chris and Cliff’s suits: matching beige linen suits to reflect a “Southern gentleman” feel. Featured at the reception were three large bouquets containing mostly sunflowers and a boutonniere bar, where guests could choose the type they wanted to wear. For those guests with a sweet tooth, the dessert featured an elegant red velvet cake decorated with strawberries and greenery. The grooms worked with their caterer to create the most authentic Louisiana-style cuisine to wow their visiting guests. The food, served buffet-style, featured New Orleans classics such as char-grilled oysters and, of course, gumbo.
The grooms put together welcome packages for each guest as their wedding favors; for most people, it was their first time visiting The Big Easy. “Everything, of course, was New Orleans-themed,” says Chris. “We found wine called Voodoo that we put in each one, Mardi Gras beads, locally made potato chips, pralines, tourist brochures and maps, voodoo dolls, NOLA Favorite Recipes and bottles of water. We had purple ribbons with ‘Welcome to New Orleans from Cliff and Chris’ printed on it that we used to tie each bag. As a final touch we actually tied the ribbon so it hung like a neck tie.”
Chris: My most memorable moment was actually an entire evening — the night before the wedding when we treated everyone to a private show at Preservation Hall. Everyone was up their feet, clapping and dancing … the show the band put on for us was absolutely incredible. Everyone had such an amazing time and our guests still talk about it with us more than a year later.
Cliff: My more memorable moment was during the second line. The Treme Brass Band was playing in the front. Fifty-five of our guests were following behind us (we were sandwiched comfortably in the middle). And the sidewalks and balconies were lined with tourists and locals whistling and waving — showing positive support for one of, I’d imagine, very few same-sex unions in NOLA. We really didn’t know what response to expect, but we were thrilled with the positive energy and the show of love and support from the community. One local gentlemen actually followed our second line, right back and into the reception!