Written by Jessica Burke
Photos by Rare Sighting Photography
HOW THEY MET IN RACHEL’S WORDS:
“Jimmy and I met when I was living in Los Angeles. He grew up there. I had moved there for a job. We both worked for the same company; however, we technically didn’t meet in the office. Our office building had a bar on the first floor that was frequented by many coworkers for happy hour. We met one evening, and went on a couple of dates. I was a little unsure about dating a coworker, but he ended up changing jobs about a month after we met (not because of me, though!). So, timing was just perfect!”
“After dating a couple of years in LA, I decided to go to grad school in Baltimore,” shares Rachel. “He decided to come with me, and we moved in together. Our house in Baltimore has a rooftop deck with a nice view of the harbor and downtown. One nightafter taking me to a nice dinner, we came back and the rooftop deck was decorated with rose petals and candles. He got down on one knee and proposed, with our dog in the middle of us.”
“New Orleans has always been a special place for my family and me,” shares Rachel. “My grandfather and father both went to school at Tulane. My sister and I followed in their footsteps and are also Tulane graduates. My sister lives there now with her family, so Jimmy and I visit often. We currently live in Baltimore, but I grew up in Kansas City. Jimmy is from Los Angeles and that’s where we met. Since I’ve moved around a bit, Jimmy and I have friends and family spread out all over. No matter where we picked it was going to be a destination wedding for most of the guests, so we decided it might as well be a fun place for all of our guests and also had a special meaning to us.”
“We were both nervous before the first look,” says Rachel. “I knew that once we saw each other, the nervousness would go away and we could enjoy the day more relaxed. Jimmy said that he had no idea what to expect in terms of what the dress would look like or what I would look like, but once he turned around, ‘it was so much better than he imagined.'”
“Jimmy’s family is Indian, so it was a fun challenge to try to incorporate traditions from Indian weddings, western traditions as well as New Orleans wedding traditions,” says Rachel. “Instead of having two ceremonies for each heritage, we settled on creating one ceremony that incorporated all of the traditions in one. I wore a white dress, and he wore a tuxedo. We exchanged garlands (a process called jai mala) at the beginning of the ceremony and had Jimmy’s friend act as the pundit who walked us through the Indian vows including mangal phera (circling the sacred fire) and saptapadi (the seven steps). We also exchanged traditional western vows and rings.”
“We loved Compass Point because of the large oak trees and old Creole cottages. It is a beautiful setting with a New Orleans feel,” says Rachel. “I had always leaned toward an outdoor wedding. The venue represented our style very well with the mixture of nature and old New Orleans history. We also loved Erin, the owner, from our first meeting. She was warm, kind, and helpful.”
“One of my favorite traditions in some Indian weddings is when the bride and groom get to the altar, they have to remove their shoes,” explains Rachel. “However, it’s a fun tradition for the bride’s family and friends to steal the groom’s shoes and he can only get them back if he pays for them! Jimmy and I were planning to remove our shoes for the Indian portion of the ceremony, but little did he know, I had sneakily told my sister that she had to steal his shoes. No one on his side was expecting it, so she was successful and Jimmy’s cousins and friends had to buy his shoes back after the ceremony!”
According to their event planner, Rena Sweeney of Alchemy Events, this was one of the most “hard core” Joota Chupai she’s ever seen. Rachel’s family held Jimmy’s shoes ransom well into the cocktail hour of the reception and turned a nice profit from this mischievous wedding tradition!
“We had the hardest time picking a song for our first dance since we have very different music tastes,” shares Rachel. “We struggled so much picking a song that we were going to skip the first dance altogether! We had literally told the DJ we weren’t doing it. Then, a few days before our wedding, we went to the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone with some friends and family for live jazz. The band played this song [“What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong] and Jimmy grabbed my hand and we started dancing. It was a fun moment so I asked him if this should be our wedding song and he agreed. We told the DJ and our wedding planner the next day at the rehearsal. We’re both so glad we ended up doing the first dance.”
FEATURED NOW VENDORS:
EVENT PLANNER: Rena Sweeney, Alchemy Events
WEDDING VENUE, CATERER, RENTALS + FLORALS: Compass Point Events
RENTALS: True Value Rental
BRASS BAND (send off): Rewind Band
PHOTOGRAPHY: Rare Sighting Photography | REHEARSAL DINNER LOCATION: The Maison New Orleans | GUEST ACCOMMODATIONS: Hilton Riverside | OFFICIANTS: Calvin Soni (groom’s cousin); Pundit Ankit Tripathi (groom’s friend) | BRIDE’S Attire: Essense Designs, Claire’s Fashions Inc (wedding gown); BHLDN (second line dress); Utsav Fashion (traditional Indian dress) | GROOM’S ATTRIE: The Black Tux | BAKERY: Haydel’s Bakery | CEREMONY MUSIC + RECEPTION ENTERTAINMENT: DJ Ronnie Roux | HAIR + MAKEUP: Flawless Bride | TRANSPORTATION: New Orleans Tours | JEWELER: Brilliant Earth | INVITATIONS: Basic Invite | BRASS BAND: Big Fun Brass Band (Baarat/Second Line) | HENNA: New Orleans Henna
Advice from Rachel:
- We are so thankful we hired a wedding planner. It was so helpful to have a planner who had the connections in the city that we didn’t have. Whenever we had a question, she knew exactly who to ask. She also knew which vendors would work with our budget. So, if hiring a wedding planner is doable, I think folks should absolutely consider it! We’re sure it ended up saving us money in the long-run.
- If you have the opportunity, we found it helpful to visit New Orleans a couple of times before the wedding. During these trips, we scheduled meetings with the vendors and were able to knock out a lot of decisions during these trips.
- Pick a city where you don’t have to manage your guests’ free time! New Orleans was great, because we knew our guests could keep themselves occupied during down-time between wedding events and we wouldn’t have to field requests about where to go, what to do, and where to eat.
- Be flexible with last minute changes. Who would have thought that the ferry would shut down two weeks before our wedding!? It all worked out in the end, and I’m sure we were the only ones who cared!