This Couple Took a Postnuptial Bike Ride Following Their Micro-Wedding in New Orleans
As COVID-19 surged throughout the country, this bride and groom carefully invited just five guests to witness them exchange vows in a courtyard ceremony, then spent the majority of the day outdoors due to city regulations.
Ashley's wedding-planning experience wasn't one she saw coming. "I literally planned everything from my laptop at home while sheltering in place," says the bride, who married her groom, Adrian, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, just two weeks after the couple decided to do so. "We decided on June 1 to get married on June 20, so we did not have a lot of time," she continues. "I just focused on the things that mattered—hiring the right vendors (during a pandemic!) and making sure we looked and felt good."
Surprisingly, the last-minute nature of the event wasn't an issue, namely due to the torrent of vendor cancellations that occurred in the weeks leading up to Ashley and Adrian's intimate, five-guest-only celebration in New Orleans. "Everything just fell into place—the irony," the bride says. "I made a list of all the local vendors I admired and started reaching out to them in early June. Because COVID-19 rescheduled their weddings and events, I got lucky and had several options. In any other situation, I would have never been able to secure vendors two to three weeks out—and I would have definitely not been able to get married at The Elysian Bar at the Hotel Peter & Paul (the venue was booked for the rest of the year)."
The timing couldn't have been better—and the timeless, curated event that followed exceeded their expectations. In the end, they did it their way, and their celebration was better for it. "It was almost like everything was perfectly aligned with our intentions for us to have the best day," she says of the personalized event, which involved a short-and-sweet ceremony, delicious snacks and drinks, and a fun postnuptial photoshoot (on bikes!). "We experienced an unexpected outpouring of love and generosity; everything was taken care of and we were showered with love, kind words, and gifts. It makes us happy knowing that we will forever have the memory of sharing that special moment with just our immediate family exclusively, which allowed us to just enjoy each other. Although it would have been nice to have all of our friends and extended family there to celebrate our love, I could not imagine our wedding any other way—it allowed Adrian and I a great deal of flexibility on how we chose to spend our day."
A Fortuitous Venue
"The entirety of Hotel Peter & Paul's property is stunning, so we knew we couldn't go wrong," Ashley explains of their venue choice; they held the latter half of their event inside the hotel, at The Elysian Bar, which honored Adrian's profession (he is the Director of Business and Strategy for both this business and Bacchanal Wine). "We love the well appointed vintage décor, thoughtful details, and the charm of both. The Elysian Bar has a very elevated, but relaxing feel to it." There was also another plus to hosting their intimate celebration at the property: "Because it is a restaurant and bar, we knew that they would have all the things we needed in terms of glassware and more to make our small ceremony and mini reception seamless."
Two Become One
"Interesting story," Ashley recalls of her wedding dress search—which actually began with two pieces from BHLDN (the gown she wore on the big day was initially a crop top and skirt, pieces she thought she'd wear to a prenuptial party). "I had no idea they would actually become my wedding look," she explains.
Since the couple decided to tie the knot just two weeks before they actually did so, Ashley knew she didn't want to shoulder the stress of finding a dress under that time constraint. "So, I contacted a local seamstress and told her that I wanted to take these pieces and connect them as a dress—and take it in to create a flattering silhouette," she says, "all in the midst of a pandemic!"
The Final Result
The final result checked all of her boxes. "I knew I wanted to look timeless and polished," she says. "What I liked about what we created is that we maintained the modern and minimalist look with clean lines," she says. A back cowl neckline created movement; when the bride raised her arms, just a sliver of skin was visible beneath the drape ("A little sexy hint!" she says).
Suits Me Fine
"Adrian's day-to-day style is casual—it is rare for him to wear a suit," explains the bride. "So I knew that if we were buying a suit, then it had to be something he could wear beyond the wedding." They landed on a slim cut navy linen alpaca silk ensemble from SuitSupply; to speak to his casual aesthetic, he completed the look with white leather sneakers and a white Egyptian cotton dress shirt with a Mandarin collar.
Into the Courtyard
Because of COVID-19, the couple knew that their ceremony should be outdoors. "We chose the courtyard of the Elysian Bar amongst all the greenery, but underneath the church bells and the beautiful stained glass windows of the adjacent church," says the bride. This wasn't, however, the couple's first celebration in the space. "Ironically, we had a small impromptu celebration in that same courtyard last year on March 28, 2019, when we invited friends to join us for a few glasses of bubbly to announce our engagement. So the courtyard is a very special place—and it has become a place of good memories for us."
Ashley walked arm-in-arm with her mother towards the courtyard, where Adrian was waiting for her. "I was very excited, but nervous waiting to see Ashley walk down the aisle," reflects the groom. "Once I saw her, I locked eyes with her, and we felt like the only two people in the world at that moment—I did not want to look away. It was a great feeling to be in the moment. I was filled with joy and gratitude."
Timing-wise, Ashley and Adrian knew a morning ceremony was best. "It is very, very hot in NOLA in June," explains the bride, "so we chose to get married in the morning to beat the heat—but also so that we could have the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. The Elysian Bar is now open for dinner on Saturday nights, as well, so we knew we wanted to have everything completed before the staff started showing up that afternoon for their shifts."
The ceremony itself—which was attended by the couple's five guests, including the bride's mother and aunt, plus the groom's mother, father, and sister—was spiritual, not religious, and was officiated by Waning Moon Weddings by Latoya, who performed a sage blessing during the proceedings. After they were pronounced husband and wife, their loved ones showered them with rose petals—a touch the bride orchestrated herself.
As for the service's musical component? Ashley entered the ceremony space thinking she was listening to a beautiful violin piece via Bluetooth speakers. "But I had no idea that my friends had hired a violinist, Shaun Ward, to play live," she explains. "It was a pleasant surprise to walk out and find a person standing there playing." Shaun stayed until the end of the ceremony and treated guests to his music until they all went inside for cocktails.
Back inside, an impressive spread awaited the celebrants, who sipped on low-ABV Aperol spritzes, mimosas, red wine, rosé, and Champagne post-service.
"We had a huge cheese plate that covered the entire table with cured meats, Bacchanal's signature bacon wrapped dates, peaches, nuts, fresh bread, and crudité," says Ashley. "The spread was so pretty, it was sad to cut into everything."
The bride and groom congregated with their family for snacks and sips, lingering in the moment before the next portion of the celebration.
Stairway to Heaven
Ashley, Adrian, and their loved ones headed to the School House, the main hotel building, to pose for family portraits and sign their marriage license.
The most difficult part of the planning process, notes, Ashley, was "honoring that we are still in a pandemic" and determining "how to safely bring our parents and vendors together for our wedding day."
Ahead of their nuptials, she and Adrian followed all safety precautions during quarantine. "Our wedding day was the first time in months that we actually enjoyed our parents without being several feet apart or waving at them from the car," she continues, adding that she formed a plan with her family ahead of the event to ensure everyone was comfortable: "We knew that it would become a challenge to keep everyone in masks the entire day with all the activities going on. Also, we were unsure how we would handle photos and what would we do when our parents wanted to hug us before or after the ceremony. So we decided in advance on what our healthy boundaries would be—and we asked our vendors to wear masks."
Making It Official
Surrounded by their loved ones, the newlyweds made their marriage official with a few signatures.
Cutting the Cake
The rest of Ashley and Adrian's wedding day was dedicated to a photo shoot, which took place both inside and around Hotel Peter & Paul and throughout the Marigny neighborhood—and involved multiple looks. The bride changed into another BHLDN two-piece (this time, in peach!), while Adrian opted for a sand-colored blazer from SuitSupply and salmon pants from Amazon.
Biking Around Town
They concluded the festivities with a postnuptial bike ride (Ashley changed into a flowing camisole and pant set from Mango, and added a mint FENOEL cape for the excursion)—something that honored their history together. "We had photos captured of us on bikes because that blue bike was the first gift Adrian bought me when we started dating," says the bride. "Riding bikes is a huge part of who we are as a couple—everyone who knows us will attest to that."
And after everything was truly over? They switched to another form of transport. "We reserved electric scooters from the same bike shop where I hosted Adrian's 35th birthday biking bar crawl," says Ashley. "We joyfully scooted around town with minimal effort."
Photography, Mo Davis Photography
Venue, The Elysian Bar at Hotel Peter & Paul
Videography, Chris Foster Media
Flowers, Antigua Florals
Officiant, Waning Moon Weddings by Latoya
Bride's Gown, BHLDN
Brides Robe, FeNoel
Tailor, Christina Blunt, Polished Brand
Bride's Shoes, Loeffler Randall
Hair, Fascio Hair
Makeup, Erica Nicole Makeup
Groom's Attire, SuitSupply
Groom's Barber and Grooming, ShaqCuts at AntiGravity Salon
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Blue Nile
Violinist, Shaun Ward Xperience
Catering, Bacchanal Wine
Cake, The Royal Cakery, with flowers from Antigua Florals