This Couple's Opera House Venue Inspired Their Vintage-Style Wedding in New Orleans
In August of 2015, while out in a big group, Jenny Heckaman and Paul Fromm were introduced by mutual friends. Even after everyone else went home, the duo kept talking—they hit it off over their shared love of music and the arts. They knew from that point on that their connection was more than casual. Paul popped the question three years later, during a surprise trip to Telluride, Colorado, in September 2018. The proposal did almost get derailed by Jenny's altitude sickness, though. But once she was feeling better, Paul convinced her to go on a hike, and the moment unfolded beautifully. "I'm happy he changed my mind—the hike led to a picnic he had hidden at the base of a waterfall and that's when he proposed!" Jenny recalls.
While the two aren't natives of New Orleans, Louisiana, they were drawn to the city for their wedding day after taking frequent trips there and developing a love for its natural romantic feel and architecture. "When we found Marigny Opera House, a 150-year-old church converted into an opera house, we were blown away by its history and character," Jenny says of their ceremony and reception venue. "It was a unique space that was also a center for the arts, which was fitting for us, as artistic people."
With only six months to plan the event, they enlisted the help of Mint Julep Productions (the team guided them through the last 30 days of preparations) and brought their whimsical, romantic big day to life on November 16, 2019. The couple recommends that other future newlyweds find great vendors, too, as they plan their weddings. "Start by deciding which elements are most important to you as a couple, and make sure to book those vendors first," the bride says. "It will make planning more of a breeze if you're able to secure your favorite vendors and spaces!"
Jenny designed the romantic invitation suite—in addition to the menus, signature cocktail signs, and programs—with Paul's help. The groom drew the illustrations seen on the save-the-dates; they were also carried onto the paper suite.
Ahead of the main event, the couple hosted a rehearsal dinner and welcome party at an intimate cocktail bar that they discovered and fell in love with while exploring New Orleans.
After taking countless local shopping trips in Chicago, Jenny trekked to New York to continue her wedding dress search. Once she stumbled upon her Oscar de la Renta gown, however, she knew it was the one. "The dress I chose was flattering and made me feel like I was walking in a dream," she says.
Jenny carried a wildflower bouquet with muted colors by Pistil & Stamen for her walk down the aisle.
Words of Love
Since the couple didn't plan to recite personalized vows during the ceremony, they wrote each other intimate notes to read alone that morning.
Paul wore a black BLVDier tuxedo for the ceremony. His grandfather's pocket watch—a gift from his aunt—completed his ensemble.
The duo shared their first look on a staircase in the Maison De La Luz Hotel, where Jenny got ready for the wedding.
A Classy Ride
"Paul and I rode through the neighborhoods and parks of New Orleans in a vintage Rolls Royce, stopping to take pictures before the ceremony," Jenny says of their pre-nuptial drive. "This was the longest period of alone time we had together and was a wonderful way to share a few intimate moments before being greeted by all of our family and friends."
By Their Side
Both the bride and groom wanted their halves of the wedding party to feel comfortable on the big day, so they left their attendants choose their own ensembles. The groomsmen wore dark suits and the bridesmaids donned long dresses in a neutral color palette ranging from nude to gold.
The patina of the Marigny Opera House's façade set the tone for the whimsical and romantic event inside; colorful foliage was wrapped around the entry's railings, creating a striking focal point.
A Packed Event
Inside, foliage accented the grand archways and the altar; warm string lights illuminated the space below.
Meeting at the Altar
After Jenny's father walked her down the aisle, the couple listened to a few special readings and then exchanged traditional vows in front of their 130 guests.
The Perfect Note
Harry Hardin, a traditional New Orleans jazz trio, played throughout the cocktail hour, which took place outside the venue.
Sazerac, a classic New Orleans drink, was the sip of choice during the interlude, which they personalized with a little help from their pup. "It was important to us to incorporate our dog in some way, so we made a signature cocktail sign and named the bar after our dog, Olive," Jenny shares.
Assignments on the Half Shell
Jenny calligraphed halved oyster shells with each guest's name and seating assignment.
All attendees sat at long farm tables surrounded by bistro-style chairs; string lights and the venue's stately chandeliers created a warm glow.
Assorted vintage glassware, simple white plates, flower-filled bud vases, votive candles, and fern springs defined each setting.
Paul often played Nick Drake records for his future bride when they started dating, so when it came time to choose their first dance song, the singer's "Northern Sky" felt like the perfect fit.
Quick Outfit Change
Making a show-stopping debut at some point in the evening was a priority for both the bride and the groom. "Since Paul planned to change into a white dinner jacket, I changed into a sleek silk column gown by Galvan for dinner," Jenny says. "Guests loved the grand entrance!"
Shake Sugary baked the newlyweds' white naked cake, which was composed of vegan strawberry, almond, and vanilla and chocolate ganache tiers and covered in wildflower sprigs.
We All Fall Down
Music was the highlight during the reception, and brought all of the couple's family and friends together. "It was really important to us for our guests to have fun," Jenny shares. "To see everyone enjoying the jazz music and oysters at cocktail hour, packing the dance floor for the band at the reception, and dancing through the streets during the Second Line made us happy that everything came together so well."
Classic New Orleans
To cap off the evening, guests joined the newlyweds for a quintessential New Orleans parade, also known as the Second Line. They walked with the Kinfolk Brass Band, who filled the night with music. "Our guests' sparklers lit the streets, Paul and I held parasols, and strangers came out to celebrate with us from their porches and balconies," Jenny says. The bride changed into her final look of the night for this favorite moment—a Rodarte dress.
Photography, Kristen Marie Parker
Venue, Marigny Opera House
Getting-Ready Venue, Maison De La Luz Hotel
Month-of Coordination, Mint Julep Productions
Flowers, Pistil & Stamen
Stationery Printing, Double Trip Press
Invitation Ribbons, Frou Frou Chi
Paper, Fabulous Fancy Pants
Vintage Stamps, Little Postage House
Officiant, John Thornton
Bride's Attire, Oscar de la Renta (ceremony), Galvan (dinner), Rodarte (second line)
Bride's Jewelry, Gucci; Cartier
Bride's Shoes, Jimmy Choo
Hair, Diem Luu
Groom's Attire, BLVDier
Engagement and Wedding Rings, Ethan Lord Jewelers
Music, Harry Hardin (cocktail hour), The Block Party Experience (ceremony and reception), Kinfolk Brass Band (second line)
Cake, Shake Sugary
Rentals, Pure Vintage Rentals; Yur Event Rental
Transportation, VIP Transportation
Lighting, Yur Event Rental