When I first clapped eyes on today’s gorgeous New Orleans wedding, I knew something about it felt familiar, but I couldn’t quite work out what is was.

Shawndy & Kiley married in a beautiful historic Southern venue with a celebration that was brimming with glamorous details and pretty touches.

And it just so happens it was the same venue as Solange Knowles’ epic wedding a couple of years back, Marigny Opera House (remember those cool caped portraits?)

Shawndy & Kiley put their own, entirely unique stamp on this atmospheric space, and we’re so delighted to be sharing the stunning photographs by Marissa Lambert Photography.

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After being unfortunately laid-off shortly after getting engaged, Shawndy dived head first into wedding planning, and put together this luxurious and laid-back celebration in just a few months.

As she says, “…After the tears dried, I realized this gave me the opportunity to pour all of my efforts in to planning my dream wedding. From that point on, planning my wedding was my full time job. I spent every waking second pouring my blood, sweat, and tears in to every detail.”

And the results are obvious, from bespoke accessories to a contemporary unmatched colour palette, and made to measure linens to a DIY ceremony backdrop, the attention to detail is meticulous.

Scroll down to read all about how Shawndy & Kiley planned their day, and don’t forget to pin your favourite details, to pinch some ideas for yourself!

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Our Love Story

Kiley and I met through mutual friends in early 2011, and then I hired him to renovate the bathrooms of the small house I purchased in March of that year.

Because he was working on the house while I was painting, unpacking, and getting settled in, we spent almost all of our time together. Eventually our “working” relationship grew in to something more, and as we got to know each other, we realized that we’d actually crossed paths several times over the years, we just hadn’t put the pieces together.

It turned out that he’d lived in the apartment that shared a wall with my mother’s apartment for over a year! When I stayed with my mom, the room I slept in shared a wall with his room!

Eventually Kiley moved in to the house he worked so hard on, and we were together three and a half years before he popped the question.

Kiley proposed on Thanksgiving night 2014 while we were walking along the Mississippi River in New Orleans. It was late at night, and no one else was around, which is exactly how I wanted it – very private and personal.  No crowds, no nonsense.

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The Inspiration

For the décor, I used all shades of pink and metallic gold, contrasting with the vintage wooden tables and furniture we rented.

However, I didn’t want everything to be too ‘matchy matchy,’ so I intentionally chose a contrasting shade of blue-gray for our wedding party gowns and bow ties.

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The Attire

The most unique, personal items from my wedding are my engagement ring and my shoulder necklace. I worked with two different jewelers for months to design and create each piece.

My engagement ring was created using the melted original gold and diamonds from three family rings – Kiley’s mother’s ring, his grandmother’s ring, and my parents’ 15-year wedding anniversary band.

The design was loosely based on a photo of a vintage Dior ring I found online.

My shoulder necklace was created by a jeweler in Florida who I found via Etsy. We exchanged tons of messages, photos, and ideas, and I just hoped for the best. When it arrived, it understandably didn’t fit perfectly, but after a little cutting and sewing, it was perfect. I love it because I’ve never seen another bride wear anything like it.

I love my Christian Louboutin shoes that perfectly matched the color of my gown.

The floral crown that Poppy & Mint Floral created for me was perfect. I absolutely loved it.

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The Venue

I stumbled across this venue while helping my Matron of Honor plan her wedding the year before and immediately knew it was “the one.” I’d even contacted them to request availability long before we were engaged!

The fact that they don’t allow many weddings each year made the venue even more appealing to me. I felt like the distressed, historical look and feel was a perfect fit, and nothing else would have compared.

Neither of us are very religious, so we were always unsure of a “real” church wedding being for us. With this building being a former church, we felt like it was a perfect fit. And the fact that Solange Knowles was married there just before me was exciting as well. Her photos taken there were featured in Vogue!

That doesn’t mean this was an easy venue to work with! The building is obviously very old, so it only has one toilet inside. Since we had about 115 guests, we had to have a trailer of fancy portable toilets parked in the venue’s side driveway.

There were also VERY strict rules regarding sound inside the venue. Because of the age of the building and its location in a residential area, no amplified music was allowed, so our band had to play an entirely acoustic set.

This meant that the music was pretty mellow for the most part, which ended up being more disappointing than I was expecting. After a few cocktails every – one was hoping to do a little dancing, which wasn’t really possible with the music.

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The Flowers

Coral peony, blush peony, magenta garden rose, pink Maria Theresa garden roses, blush Café au Lait dahlia, white anemones, hot pink peony, and blush Haiku garden rose.

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Advice for Other Couples

Etsy! So many items for my wedding were purchased through Etsy. I found it to be a great way to save money. I saved hundreds of dollars by purchasing my veil through Etsy, and it was beautiful.

The only regret I have from my wedding is “saving money” by not hiring a videographer. When planning, everything added up so quickly, I made the decision to cross that from the list because I knew we could live without it.

I now feel 100% confident that it would have been well worth the extra money, but with a wedding, there are no “do-overs.”

Advice for newly engaged couples: try to remember that some guests just won’t understand why you did things the way you did, and some people have no shame in voicing their negative opinions.

“Why are no children allowed?” “Why don’t you have a normal wedding cake?” “Why would you serve Asian food at a wedding?” “Why don’t you have a DJ?” “Why didn’t you have a larger wedding party?”

Try to block out any negativity and remember that they don’t need to “get it” as long as YOU do. It’s not your job to please everyone. 

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The Photography

I fell in love with the photos on Marissa’s website. The colors and lighting were very soft, feminine, and artistic, which is what I was hoping for.

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The Decor & Details

One of my table centerpieces started as a flower pot I found at IKEA. I spray-painted each one gold and filled them with small battery-operated lights.

My initialed door wreaths started as plain wooden letters I ordered through Etsy. I covered them with moss and artificial flowers. The amazing 8′ flower frames used as our ceremony backdrop were inspired by Pinterest, designed by my husband, and built by his talented coworkers.

It was a team effort getting them from Houston to New Orleans so they could be filled with flowers!

My table runners are one of favorite parts of my wedding decor. I wanted something special, so I ordered 15 yards of gold and metallic sequinned fabric from California and hired a seamstress to cut it in to runner size.

They catch the light so perfectly – photos truly don’t do them justice!

As favors we had drink Koozies that were designed by PaperLeigh via Etsy. The bar used custom reusable plastic cups designed by GraciousBridal via Etsy.

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Unique Details

This wedding was planned quickly! From the day I was engaged to the day we were married was less than five and a half months! I’m too impatient for a long engagement.

Our wedding happened to fall on the same weekend as New Orleans’ Jazz Festival, so during our reception, there were sky-writing airplanes in the sky over the area drawing smiley faces and writing sweet words like “Love.”

Due to the crowds of people in New Orleans for Jazz Fest, getting a cab to take me and my bridesmaids from the hotel to the church the day of the wedding was a huge fiasco! The hotel was supposed to reserve a van for us, but with the crowds of concert goers, there was too much confusion, and people took our rides.

A valet parking attendant saw us standing in the wind, waiting for far too long, and he was kind enough to bring us to the venue in his own vehicle!

We did a completely “adults only” event, which didn’t please some people, but I’m very glad we did it that way. 

I feel like our wedding was a good reflection of who we are as a couple – it was pretty, but it wasn’t pretentious. We followed tradition, but we kept it casual and laid-back.

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The Refreshments

Since me, my maid of honor, and my father are all gluten and dairy intolerant, the food at my wedding was unlike any other wedding I’ve been to.

After struggling to find catering companies that could easily satisfy my dietary restrictions, I called my favorite restaurant, PF Changs, and asked if they’d consider catering my wedding. The manager said they’d never done a wedding before, but they were up for the challenge!

We were their first ever wedding catering project, and they did a phenomenal job. We had servers assist with two buffets, and our guests sat where they wanted to, no menus, no seating charts. We wanted it to be easy and casual. People moved around and talked a lot.

When it came time for dessert, we chose to forgo the traditional wedding cake. Instead we did a variety of cupcakes and treats that could appeal to all tastes. Dawn at Shake Sugary was amazing and worked with me to create several options including mini pies, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies. Several of the options were gluten and dairy free.

We had an open bar inside the venue and outside on the patio. On the patio, guests helped themselves to cold beers out of a pirogue filled with ice (a small boat).

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The Honeymoon

Unfortunately, we had to get back to work and were not able to take a trip immediately after the wedding.

Instead we went on our “honeymoon” for our one-year anniversary. It was a great celebration in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

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The Music

First dance as man & wife: Dara Maclean, ‘Yours Forever’.

Father/ daughter dance: Natalie Merchant, ‘Kind & Generous’. 

Mother/ son dance: T Carter Music, ‘A Mothers Song’. 

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Isn’t it gorgeous? So many pretty touches. And I love that Shawndy was so honest about the sound limitations of their venue and her regrets in not having a videographer – real talk is important when you’re discussing weddings!

Thanks so much to Marissa Lambert Photography, and newlyweds Shawndy & Kiley for sharing their fabulous New Orleans wedding with us.

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