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REAL WEDDING:: JAIMIE HEFELFINGER + MIKE LUNSKI {New to NOLA Nuptials}

REAL WEDDING:: JAIMIE HEFELFINGER + MIKE LUNSKI {New To NOLA Nuptials}

Written by Myndee Corkern

Photos by Brenner Photography & Films

THEIR STORY IN JAIMIE’S WORDS: 

“Mike and I met on Tinder when we were both living in Manhattan,” shares Jaimie. “My first impression was “swipe right immediately!” Since we met on a dating app, our initial conversations were all via text. I found his dry sense of humor to be hilarious. Those online dating convos can be so BORING and here was this super cute guy that made me laugh right from the beginning. When we met in-person, I realized he was kind of shy with these dry, witty remarks. He had me laughing the whole time. He was just so easy and fun to be around.”

Jaimie and Mike's wedding invitation suite and wedding rings.

“Within 9 months of meeting each other, he had to move to Roanoke, VA for his residency,” Jaimie continues. “We did long distance for about year before he convinced me to move out of the Big Apple. We spent 2 years there before moving to New Orleans for his fellowship at Ochsner. We had been talking about getting married, but knew that he wasn’t going to propose until after we moved to New Orleans. I was completely floored when he popped the question a year in advance on our way for a long weekend in the mountains of Virginia. It was the best surprise!”

audubon tea room wedding first look
Jaimie and Mike, just before the first look.

The couple had two main reasons to opt for a First Look. Jaimie explains, “We could spend as much of the day together as we could, and we could get the photos done while we were still fresh and then go straight from ceremony to fun.

The two had a great time sharing this intimate moment before the ceremony, laughing the entire time. Jaime tells us more about the photo shoot. “We met at Audubon Tea Room for our first look. I was beyond excited and just a little nervous. I wasn’t sure what Mike would think of me in my big gown and all made-up (spoiler alert: that’s not how I usually dress). But he saw me, he started crying his happy tears, and my fears melted away. He looked so handsome and I couldn’t stop smiling. We started joking right from the get-go. I don’t even remember what we said, but I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god I haven’t really spoken to you all day and there’s so much I need to catch you up on.’ That was the moment that felt like the wedding day was really starting. The whole morning had been a blast, but that was the moment that it became our wedding day.

Mike also shares his feelings about the First Look. “I tried to fight back tears (and failed) when I turned around because I had never seen a more beautiful sight. I just kept thinking how lucky I was to get to marry my best friend. I’m lucky everyday in life since I found her, but at that moment, it was the luckiest I had ever been.”

bride and groom first look kiss

“When we were planning our wedding, we hadn’t moved to New Orleans yet. We didn’t know much about the area, and had no experience with wedding vendors in the area. We knew we wanted a place that could host both the ceremony and reception. We didn’t want somewhere that we’d have to bring in everything ourselves, but we still wanted a place that we could customize. Lastly, we wanted to choose a venue that had experts on staff to help guide us in the right direction/could understand our vision. We narrowed down our list to about a dozen locations, my sister and I flew down one weekend to tour them in person. Audubon Tea Room was the first place we looked at and it was the location to beat.” Jaimie recounts their experience selecting their venue.

“We loved how peaceful it was. We loved that we could have the outdoor area for the ceremony and cocktail hour, and then head inside for the reception. It gave each part of the day its own distinct space. I LOVED the architecture of the room. The wood, the incredibly high ceilings, the beams, the windows – it is gorgeous. The cherry on the cake was Vivian. She was so knowledgeable and had an answer/real life experience for everything. You could tell that nothing could rattle her and she would make everything go off without a hitch – and that’s exactly what she did!”

This wedding was a true family affair. Jaimie’s brother Rob was the officiant for the ceremony while Jaimie’s mother crafted the veil and created the bridal bouquet and orchid centerpieces that donned the tables.

new orleans outdoor wedding at audubon tea room

Jaimie and Mike’s wedding was right on the brink of the pandemic outbreak, she recalled. “I believe we were the last wedding for a number of our vendors. We were married on a Friday night and that Saturday night they shut down Bourbon Street. It is incredible to see how much has changed since that day.”

new orleans weddding cocktail recipe wedding guest book

“My father passed away 8 years ago and sadly never had the chance to meet Mike or be part of our big day.” Jaimie tells NOW Weddings Magazine about the importance of having her father’s memory incorporated into the couple’s big day. “My mom, who has been the strongest rock in my life, walked me down the aisle in his absence with my dad and my song ‘Stand by Me’ being played by the string trio. She also surprised me with having a blue heart from one of his shirts sewed into my wedding gown and wrapping the bouquet in one of his ties. Lastly, we decided to forego the wedding cake and opted for a family favorite/something my dad always made on big occasions, Bananas Foster. It was hard not having him there, but it was special having all these little touches of him around.”

Bride showing off her wedding gown
bridal party pre-wedding photos

Book a cake tasting now with Gambino's Bakery. Photos (l-r) Brocato Photography, Brocato Photography, Tasha Rae Photography

The newlyweds chose a New Orleans cocktail recipe book for their guest book. “It was my mom’s idea and we loved it! We didn’t want something that would just sit on a shelf and never seen. Our guests signed pages with their favorite New Orleans cocktails or restaurants. It was fun reading them afterwards and hearing about everyone’s special NOLA experiences. Plus, learning the new recipes has been a fun way to spend quarantine!”

boy helping wedding dj
new orleans wedding cocktail recipe guestbook
newlyweds walking up the aisle

Gratitude is the underlying theme for the couple. After their wedding, Coronavirus cases increased, and Jaimie and Mike were concerned for their friends, family and vendors. Jaimie shared her heart saying, “We are so grateful that we were able to celebrate with everyone we love, and even more grateful that no one we know ended up sick from our wedding.”

Audubon Tea Room wedding reception oyster boat
bride dancing with her mother

“The best part of the day was celebrating with everyone we love. That sounds so cliche, but it’s accurate. It’s impossible to describe how overwhelmed I was walking down the aisle surrounded by all of my closest friends and family who had flown from the Northeast to celebrate with us. Our day was filled with joy, happiness and giddiness. The ceremony was filled with laughter and lightness. My favorite part of the wedding was being able to share those true, honest moments of love with everyone we love in our lives.”

Book a cake tasting now with Gambino's Bakery. Photos (l-r) Brocato Photography, Brocato Photography, Tasha Rae Photography

A little advice from Jaimie:

“Trust your gut and trust your vendors. You’ll know what you want your wedding to look like or the “vibe” you’re going for. Stick with that.

More than ever, our wedding vendors need promotion as their businesses are suffering. I am sure everyone says this, but our vendors really were the best! They took our vision and brought it to reality. They deserve all the praise and press in the world!!”

FEATURED NOW VENDORS:

CEREMONY + RECEPTION, CATERING: The Audubon Tea Room

RECEPTION ENTERTAINMENT:  Aaron Lane Pro DJ Entertainment

TRANSPORTATION: Audubon Limousine

ADDITIONAL CREDITS:

PHOTOGRAPHY: Brenner Photography & Films | WELCOME RECEPTION: The Press Room Lounge, Eliza Jane Hotel | GETTING READY LOCATION (bride and bridesmaids): The Eliza Jane Hotel | OFFICIANT: Rob Iannuzzi (bride’s brother) | BRIDE’S Attire: Signature by Justin Alexander, Ellie’s Bridal Boutique (Alexandria, VA) | BRIDESMAIDS’ GOWNS: BHLDN, Nordstrom, Lulu’s | GROOM’S ATTRIE: The 1905 Collection, Jos. A Bank | GROOMSMEN’S ATTIRE: Banana Republic | FLORALS:  Fat Cat Flowers + JacqAlene Floral Design (Bouquet + Orchid Centerpieces) | CEREMONY MUSIC: Arco Music | HAIR + MAKEUP: Glam on Location | WEDDING PLANNER: Vivian Timm Eppling (Audubon Tea Room) and the bridesmaids | JEWELER: Kanell Jewelers (Philadelphia, PA) | INVITATIONS: Annie Richardson (design), Fitzgerald Press (letterpress printing)  | FAVORS: Sip Sip Hooray, Etsy

sparkly bridal shoes
little girl holding note for bride
wedding invitation etched into wood
bride and bridesmaid toast
bride seeing her dress on her wedding day
bride with bridesmaids and flower girls
bride and mother on wedding day
wedding table centerpiece
bride and groom exchanging vows
photo of wedding reception hors d'oeuvres
new orleans wedding food
bride dancing at reception

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Myndee Corkern

Myndee is a freelance writer and author. She is a New Orleans area native who has been creating digital content for over 10 years. Her work has been featured in local and national publications, including New Orleans Living Magazine and CNN. In her free time, she enjoys trying out new exercise classes, listening to audio books and spending time with her three kids. As an introverted extrovert, Myndee loves being part of the generation where most of her friends live in her computer.

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