Sailing into Love | April Eiswirth + Norman Vallette | May 20, 2017
Written by Natalie Pompilio | Photography by Sandra O’Claire, Eau Claire Photographics
Many couples have “It was meant to be” stories, detailing their smooth course to happiness. They meet in grade school, find love in high school and then move into adulthood together as one, an inseparable unit, with nary a hitch.
This is not one of those stories.
April Eiswirth and Norman Vallette attended schools together from grades K through 12 but they barely spoke. Almost a decade after their high school graduation, both were again living in New Orleans but a miscommunication kept them from getting together. And when they did, finally, meet up as two single adults, they “picked up right where they left off: hardly talking to each other,” as their wedding website noted.
Despite that less than stellar start, and Norman’s later refusal to go out for a night of “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” karaoke, and April’s initial hesitation to go on an actual “date” with Norman, who spent 10 minutes begging and pleading with her before she changed her mind, a love story began.
Three years later, the avid sailors were in the final stretch of a race that saw Norman knock April into the water and their boat flip over. Driving the boat and trimming the mainsail, Norman pulled out a ring box and casually said, “Hey babe, I have a question.” April, focused on winning the race, replied, “Are you serious?” before saying “YES!”
The couple became co-captains for life on May 20, 2017. They said “I do” in the front yard of April’s childhood home, so she could dress in childhood bedroom while overseeing ceremony preparations from the window.
Like their romance, April and Norman’s wedding day didn’t follow a typical formula: Both tuxedo-clad ring bearers were under a year old (and stole the show in their tiny tuxedos!). One of the bridesmaids fainted during the ceremony, making April the third of her siblings to have a member of their wedding party go down during the nuptials.
Later, the couple’s 200 guests joined them for a celebration at Marché in the French Quarter. Norman and his mother shunned a tear-jerker song for their first dance and got down to “Twistin’ the Night Away.” Norman’s love of Pillsbury’s Funfetti was honored with a groom’s cake that looked like his family sailboat and included mini-sculptures of the couple’s cat, Dawn, and Pomeranian, Ferrah. April and a bridesmaid were able to “live out our college fantasy of belting out ‘Friends in Low Places.’”
April and Norman’s wedding day may have been untraditional, but it was filled with love: “The pictures always have Norman and I smiling ear to ear or tearing up with emotions,” April says.
GETTING READY + CEREMONY LOCATIONS: Bride’s Childhood Home | OFFICIANT: Pastor David Lofthus | RECEPTION LOCATION + CATERER: Marché | BRIDE’S GOWN: Yvonne LaFleur | BRIDESMAIDS’ GOWNS: Bella Bridesmad | FLORIST: Meade Wenzel | BAKERY: The Sweet Life Bakery | CEREMONY MUSIC: Big Fun Brass Band | RECEPTION ENTERTAINMENT: Crescent City Soul | TRANSPORTATION: Big Easy Limos, Mid-City Carriages, Need A Ride Pedicabs | HAIR: Ali Vasquez | MAKEUP: Francelle Daly (bride) and Kellie Bode (bridesmaids) | WEDDING PLANNER: Bride’s Mother | JEWELRY: Designs in Jewelry | STATIONERY: Rudman’s (invitations) + Lulu Roniger (programs) | CHAIR RENTALS: Chap’s Party Rentals