Hi all, Dianne here. We had a fantastic time in New Orleans attending the wedding of one of our daughter's long-time friends. Jennifer recently graduated from law school. She was one of the Tulane students who had to leave for a semester after Hurricane Katrina, but she went back as soon as she was allowed to. She loves New Orleans, and wanted her wedding to be as authentic a New Orleans experience for her guests as possible. I must say she certainly succeeded in that! I'll let Roger fill in the wedding details below.
First, though, we spent our time in New Orleans at the French Quarter RV Resort. This is a much fancier campground (oops, sorry, "resort") than we are used to. Normally our motor home falls somewhere in the middle-to-upper range of those where we are parked. At the French Quarter RV Resort we were parked between some "mighty fine" neighbors-- Fancy enough that we wondered who some of them might be (somebody famous??)
We don't usually splurge on private RV resorts such as this, because we actually prefer to be out in nature. Once in a while it's a fun change of pace, though.
This resort was actually close enough for us to walk to and from the French Quarter (daytime only; at night, the two blocks in between are unsafe, so we took a cab). The resort itself is gated and patrolled; very safe once you're inside the fence.
It had brick-paved sites with coach lanterns at each.
There was a terrific tiled salt-water pool and hot tub, which we took full advantage of!
We had it to ourselves each time we used it, and it was fun to float in the salt water pool without needing a
We picked our daughter, Amanda, up at the airport on Thursday and showed her around the city on Friday. Of course, we made the obligatory stop at
Cafe du Monde for some coffee and beignets!
We had a delicious lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in town, Crescent City Brewery. We then walked down by the river and took some shots of
St. Louis Cathedral,
where the wedding was to take place the next day. Note the cloudy skies in these photos. The weather forecasters had dire predictions for the weekend, with up to 4 - 5 inches of rain! Contrast that with the next photo showing how beautiful and blue the sky actually was
for the wedding on Saturday.
Roger here... Normally, the male of the family is not the one to report on a wedding, but since I was the bride's principal in both elementary and middle school, and because many of the wedding guests were also my students, it will be fun to relive the three days of festivities. Before I begin, I must tell you that Dianne and I feel very close to Jennifer. She spent a great deal of time with Amanda at our house as she grew up in suburban Indianapolis.
On Thursday, after we picked up our daughter, Amanda, at the airport, the three of us met Jennifer, her fiance, her family and friends at Cooter Brown's - an establishment located at the end of the street car line near St. Charles Street. It was great to see Jennifer and to catch up with old friends. The food was pretty good, too. We all had po-boys. Mine was shrimp with the obligatory Louisiana hot sauce. Amanda's was alligator sausage!
The wedding and reception was on Saturday. We walked, in the humid heat, about ten blocks to the St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square.
Thankfully, it was air conditioned, because by the time we got there we were all pretty warm and sweaty (me, at least). The cathedral itself is magnificent.
It is the oldest continuously-operating cathedral in the country. We took a few pictures inside, including one
Dianne and Amanda.
After the ceremony, the wedding party and guests waited outside for what would truly be a unique experience. During the wait, we were able to talk with one of my former teachers, Natalie, and her husband,
Larry. Natalie was, and still is, an outstanding math teacher. She worked with me for many years. She was very close to Jennifer and Amanda during their middle school years. I also enjoyed talking with several of my former students, including the bride's brother, Matt
(now a Captain in the army), and one of his best friends, David. David is the son of another one of my former teachers, Claudia. I had not seen him since his junior high days. It is so much fun to see people that I knew when they were 14 and who are now impressive young adults. Jennifer's matron of honor, Kelli, and her parents were also there. Unfortunately, somehow we did not get their picture. Kelli was also a very close friend of our daughter. The entire experience was an uplifting trip down memory lane.
Now for the FUN! A brass band arrived in front of the cathedral, followed by a police escort. The bride and groom lined up behind the band,
followed by the wedding party, followed by the guests. The band played New Orleans jazz as the entire procession danced (some better than others - I was ridiculed for my lack of rhythm) down the streets to the reception. The streets were closed as we glided by.
People on the sidewalks took pictures of us. Following tradition, the groom, Mike, waved a gaudy (orange and black) umbrella while Jennifer danced with a white lace parasol. Everyone else waved white handkerchiefs
in the air as we strutted down the streets. Sooo much fun! (Short note from Dianne -- if you recall from our Key West blog, we saw a similar wedding parade in Mallory Square. We never dreamed we would actually participate in one!!)
We have included a short video that Natalie took on her Blackberry to give you an idea of what the parade was like. The narration on the video is Natalie.
Eventually, we arrived at the reception hall on Bourbon Street, the Bourbon Vieux.
The room was on the second floor with a huge balcony overlooking the street below. You can see several of us on that balcony in one of the photos.
The food was all New Orleans style, including catfish, blackened chicken, crawfish sauce over rice, and more of that alligator sausage (which was really pretty good). The open bar included those famous New Orleans hurricanes. One of the highlights was throwing bead necklaces from the balcony to the people walking down the street below. Note the photo of our beautiful daughter, hurricane in hand,
getting ready to toss some beads.
A New Orleans band played during the time between the traditional wedding toasts. (Kelli's toast was excellent as she passed out buttons with Jennifer's elementary school picture, heavily braced (with head gear) teeth, to the guests. The words "I'm taken" were the title on the button). The word "festive" does not come close to describing the setting.
You would think that everything would end after the reception, but the festivities continued to the next day. Friends of Jennifer hosted a traditional New Orleans
Crawfish Boil for everyone at their house just off St. Charles Street. A long, narrow, courtyard was the setting.
People enjoyed the boiled crawfish and shrimp while yet another band played in the background. The vocalist entertained everyone with what might be described as suggestive lyrics and flirting (with Natalie, and others). Great fun. We got a picture of David holding one of the crawfish that escaped the pot, just before he hid it in the shrubbery.
David always was a nice kid.
Unfortunately, we did not get a picture of Jennifer's parents, Sherry and Kim, whom we have known for decades, but I did get a great picture of Sherry's heavily bandaged foot, next to Dianne's. Too much walking in uncomfortable shoes!
Next stop, beautiful Enid Lake, in northwestern Mississippi.