A Bridal Tale
● Published by Christy Quebedeaux
By Jackie Harsch | Photos by Fusion Photography
A Lengthy Courtship
Doug and I met in 2009 when I was waiting on him at the bar at TJ Ribs. Originally from Pennsylvania, he had just been transferred to Baton Rouge with his engineering company Dresser-Rand. At the end of his meal, he revealed that he already knew who I was through the coworker who had just transferred away from Baton Rouge.
After dating for over five years, Doug proposed by waking me up at midnight on February 28, 2015 (the closest he could get to his actual birthday on a non-Leap Year). He went straight back to sleep while I, of course, was too excited.
Planning And DIY
There was no question about where we were going to get married. The Shadows on the Teche is not only beautiful, but part of my family history. It afforded Doug’s family and friends, many who were travelling to Louisiana for the first time, to experience small-town bayou charm, while also letting the locals enjoy a little staycation. After much debate about rain and tents, we decided to chance the weather and have the ceremony in front of the house and the reception in the back yard despite the lack of shelter. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of planning the wedding.
The biggest obstacle facing us was planning a wedding that takes place in New Iberia while living in Baton Rouge. Making a plan on how to move the decorations and people became a logistical necessity. Luckily, Doug bought a Sprinter van for a different reason and it became our “wedding chariot.”
Being an organized, resourceful teacher, I wanted to personally create most of the décor and wedding details to save money and make the overall experience more meaningful. I hand-made all of the stationary, weathered the mini terra cotta pots for the seed favors, fashioned together yard games and even folded and pressed all of the napkins and tablecloths.
I asked my bridesmaids with a small bottle of champagne wrapped in a box with a note. Since my matron of honor lives in Wisconsin, I had to ask her via Skype. Doug asked his groomsmen each in a different way, but the most creative was sending his brother in California a “Best Best Man” shirt.
Since I am a budding seamstress, I could not justify spending a large amount on my wedding dress. I knew I wanted a dress with lace, natural waist and any neckline except strapless. I decided to buy my dress online, thinking one of three things would happen: I hate it and pay to ship it back, I kind of like it and take it apart to reconfigure it or I love it and check a box on my to-do list. It turns out that the dress was exactly what I wanted, with a few minor adjustments. I even bought some Chantilly lace to match the dress and made my own veil for less than twenty dollars.
Flowers were an easy decision. Again, trying to be thrifty, we ordered flowers online with GlobalRose and the girls assembled the bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres and centerpiece garlands themselves the morning of the wedding. I normally do not care for roses, but I fell in love with the antique garden roses. We also used my other favorites, carnations and alstromeria.
We used Gambino’s to bake our three-tiered cake. I designed the simple, flower-covered outside, and Doug got to pick the flavors on the inside. He chose basic almond buttercream, for me, raspberry cream cheese and lemon.
Even though we both prefer live music to DJs, it was not in our budget nor was it logically reasonable to hire a band. We did some research and found DJ Dave. Meeting him in a McDonald’s in Youngville might seem strange, but he was so kind, organized and willing to customize each and every part of our wedding. He kept our guests on the dance floor and helped me keep the reception’s timeline on schedule.
For food, we chose Clementine’s for several reasons. First of all, they are located a few blocks from the venue. Secondly, we had eaten there before and loved the food. Lastly, Mr. Wayne had often worked with my great-grandmother and it was meaningful to work with people who knew her. Doug loved that instead of a groom’s cake, Mr. Wayne made him miniature bread puddings in mason jars (a major hit with our guests). They did a great job of customizing our menu, especially altering dishes for our vegan friends and family.
The “Welcome Home” Feeling
When we discussed what kind of wedding we wanted to have, the most important goal to us was making sure that every guest felt welcome. We had been to many big weddings together where we did not even get to talk with the bride and groom. We wanted something relatively small and warm. Including the bridal party, there were 70 in attendance and Doug and I were able to talk with each guest and even dance with mostly everyone. To further our involvement with our weekend visitors, we had drinks Friday night at a local pub after the rehearsal dinner at Beau Solei Café and a farewell breakfast at Victor’s Cafeteria the morning after the wedding. We even loved that the local theater put our names on their marquee—a special touch our guests found charming.
We also wanted all of our guests to fall in love with and remember where they were—Southern Louisiana. The escort cards were tied to miniature Tabasco bottles, the welcome bags had Zapp’s Chips and homemade sweet dough pies, and the only beer offered at the bar was local (with the exception of a few Pennsylvania beers). The outdoor reception took place under the large moss-covered oak trees with Bayou Teche crawling along the edge of the back yard. Event Rental in Lafayette did an excellent job of understanding what we wanted—one large table for everyone to sit at under crisscrossing sting globe lights. The effect was stunning and magical.
We chose our wedding colors based on nature and a garden. The girls wore shades of blush pink and the boys wore tan suits with light blush bow ties and suspenders. We wanted all of the decor to feel like it had been sitting in a garden for a decade or so. We also asked our guests to dress comfortably, including wearing flats; I hate making people feel obligated to be in pain for appearances. One of Doug’s college roommates even took off his shoes and went barefoot for the whole night.
Our Plan In Motion
I knew that I would be nervous the morning of our wedding, not because of marrying Doug, but because of the hundreds of little details I had obsessed over for the past year; I was thankful to have the flowers to keep my mind occupied. The girls came over to my hotel suite in their floral robes I had given them, I cranked up the playlist I had created and Amanda Johns from On The Boulevard Salon fixed our hair and makeup in the room so that we did not have to hassle with traffic.
Jennifer Beslin from Fusion Photography arrived and the whirlwind began. I am so glad I did so much planning beforehand because once the time came, I couldn’t think straight. Before I knew it, we were on our way to The Shadows to take pictures. Doug and I decided to take most of our bridal party pictures and couple pictures before the ceremony to maximize our time with our guests. Looking back, I am so grateful we decided to have a first look. There are many pictures and moments from that special hour with Doug that I know would have never happened if we would have waited. Plus, we had some time with our “fur baby,” Nellie, who we could not have gotten married without.
During the ceremony, I could not see anything except Doug. The vows were short and meaningful and I love that we held each other’s hands the entire time. In an instant, it was over and we were making our entrance to the back yard for our dance. We decided, with Jennifer’s input, to get all of the formalities out of the way early so that we had optimal daylight.
The one hitch in the plan was that Doug had left a bag clearly labeled “Leave at DJ Booth” in the chariot, which was parked back at the hotel. This bag had the money dance and second line necessities. Thankfully two of our close friends made the excursion to retrieve the bag and our second line dance went off perfectly with our parasols. In fact, many of our guests thought that was one of the best parts of the Louisiana experience. I loved surprising the guests afterward with the Penn State and LSU fight songs - of course, the tiger fans were louder.
Overall, I do not think it could have gone better. The weather cooperated and allowed us to dance under those globe lights all night. I was also very happy with our decision to have the last dance alone. The DJ asked the guests to make their way to the front gate with their ribbon wands and Doug and I stayed behind for one final slow dance. It was a beautiful way to end our wedding and was very special.
Jackie and Doug