Carol McDonald and Ryan O'Connor met at Tulane Law School. Carol has an enduring reverence for history and bygone eras, so there was never any doubt about where they would get married. New Orleans, steeped in centuries of tradition, was the perfect choice for the couple who now make this unique city their home. Carol dreamed of an elegant garden ceremony–sophisticated, yet relaxed–with all the romantic ambiance that a New Orleans venue offers. The Pavillion of Two Sisters at City Park more than suited Carol's discerning taste. With an eye for design and the smallest of details, Carol planned a wedding filled with deeply personal connections and charming stories.
The ceremony was held under the massive and aged grand oaks in front of the sculpture, The Flute Player–the centerpiece of the garden fountain. Carol's best childhood friend, Reverend Felsha Foster, performed the ceremony. "We've shared so many special moments having met in the third grade. But having Felsha marry us was the greatest bond ever," explained Carol in her warm and wonderful way. It is clear that Carol takes her friendships seriously and builds story after story around them. The early spring azalea buds and camellia blooms created the most picturesque backdrop for Carol and Ryan to exchange their vows. And oh, the stories those soulful oaks could tell.
Carol and Ryan found her circa 1890 pink sapphire engagement ring at a fifth-generation jewelry store in New York City. "I love that the ring has a history before us. I have a penchant for antiques and the story of the generations of jewelers in this family enchanted me," expressed Carol. Her crepe de chine wedding gown, a v-neck sheath by Anne Barge, harkens back to old Hollywood glamour. Lace and intricate beading were stunning accents and the sweep veil finished the ensemble. Carol wore her hair down in soft curls, an updated version of a retro style, swept back with a vintage-inspired comb in keeping with her aesthetic. Her handsome groom wore a classic black tuxedo and carried his grandfather's rosary.
Carol knew exactly the vibe she wanted in the floral design. "I wanted a true garden feel filled with soft neutrals and rich textures. Nothing too formal or fixed but lush arrangements and bouquets layered with detail and depthful color. Besides those directives, I let Josie and Christine work their magic," Carol said. The Petalers chose an earthy-hued palette of ivory, champagne, and a burnished soft rust which worked beautifully with the dove grey bridesmaids dresses and the colors of the Pavillion. Blush Clooney ranunculus, cappuccino and snowy white garden roses mixed with glossy green gardenia leaves produced the perfect effect and an intoxicating fragrance. Draping tiny lilacs and fragile hellebores created the movement and "just picked" sensibility Carol envisioned.
Carol and Ryan had a plan in mind that would elevate the first dance to a whole new meaningful level. "It required more than the "step and circle" routine we knew," Carol laughed. So they took dance lessons at the Dance Quarter in preparation. "The dance lessons turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the planning. I highly recommend it," is her advice. After vows, they second lined with their guests into the reception where Carol made a quick change into a very special dress. For their first dance to Nat King Cole's "If I Fall In Love," a fifties standard, Carol wore her beloved grandmother's wedding dress. Yes. Something old and something blue–this nod to her "second mother and best friend" was one of the most memorable moments of the entire wedding. Seems like Carol's Grammy was ahead of her time wearing chic blue rather than white and Carol loves honoring the past with just as much gusto.
Guests danced the night away to soulful tunes provided by Papa C and the Slammin' Horns and dined on New Orleans favorites such as fried oysters and shrimp and grits. Every piece of the occasion–so sensitively planned by Carol–celebrated loyal friendships (the bridesmaids and groomsmen were all friends from high school, college, and law school) and family (the Maid of Honor was Carol's sister and the Best Man was Ryan's brother). The flower girls, Carol's nieces, in their ballet slippers and wreaths of tea-stained roses, watched this generational story of love unfold. The "Unplugged Ceremony" sign that greeted guests for the ceremony pretty much captures Carol and Ryan's mindset–be present, honor the past, and look to the future with things that matter close to your heart.
This story appeared in the 2018 Bridal Issue of Adore.