NOLA Cont’d

The wedding!

With all due respect to all of my married friends and compatriots, this was a tough one to beat. I’ve been to my fair share of weddings and I have to say, they really did an incredible job on this one.

Being in New Orleans, for one, really lends a touch of sultry romance to the whole affair. Not to mention that they spread it out over 3, impeccably planed and organized evenings, giving us a chance to experience a few things we would never have had the opportunity to see or do otherwise.

The first night was sort of a meet and greet for immediate family and friends. We all met at an amazing restaurant called….The Pelican? The Seagull…..Albatross? Clearly not my focus as far as that goes. Suffice it to say that it’s a lovely place with amazing food and we had a great time getting to know all the new names and faces. Top shelf people as far as I can tell. Considering there were over 200 guests at the wedding, with a good portion of them being immediate or extended family, intimate connections were a little hard to come by. When there are so many unfamiliar people, the whole affair turns into an extended reception line that just carries on and on and on. Sometimes with awkward results.
For example
– ” Hi, I’m Alistair, boyfriend of the grooms cousin….. nice to meet you. Congratulations!”
– “I’m the photographer…”
– “That explains the gear… carry on”

I’m sure you all get the picture.
That being said the few people that I was fortunate enough to have a proper conversation with were all, without exception, lovely. Including the photographer.

The following night was the pre-wedding blowout. All the late arrivals were pouring in from all over the place, including a significant Dutch contingent that I have to say were some of my favourites. Likely because of the age proximity as well as being equally unfamiliar with the rest of the group.
Perhaps just their enthusiasm for being in the US? I understand that a rented convertible Mustang and cowboy hats were involved for some of the Nederlanders involved in the bachelor party. Fantastic!

We were all shuttled from the hotel to a beautiful old house in the Garden District, with everyone, once again, impeccably dressed. Some really embraced the locale and looked like they walked right off the pages of “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Gone with the Wind”. Southern Belles and Gentlemen all about the place. In full regalia as it were.

All of this in stark contrast to the German DJ that was brought in for the event. I’m not sure the music went over too well with everyone at first but by the end everyone was in fine spirits and dancing away. Mix it up i say!

Now, as I alluded to in the first NOLA entry, I was, up to this point, more than a little disappointed with the music scene I had been so far exposed to. I had visions of hot, sweaty, brass soaked, foot stomping, balls out, New Orleans Jazz bleeding out into the streets at every turn. This was not the case.
As I said, you really need to know where to find the legit stuff. As it happens, not so much by coincidence, the bride was born and raised in NOLA and the groom, subsequently has spent a lot of time there and THEY knew where to go. So when things wrapped up at the house party, they had a few shuttles waiting, for those interested (ME!!!!!) in going to Frenchman st.

Just outside of the French Quarter, this is a stretch of smaller, more….indigenously populated bars, well off the Bourbon st path.
Three mid sized buses pulling up in front of the main cluster of bars, dressed as we were, must have been an odd site for some but once in the dark, dank, sweaty bars no one cared. Well…we didn’t care.
After trying a few bars with bands playing a little more mellow, dixie land, type stuff (equally awesome but didn’t get the blood pumping so much) we landed at VASO (I think).

Holy, sweet, merciful jackpot!!!! The band (The Pocket Aces) were just what the doctor ordered. I think I may have gone into a state of sensory overload because I vaguely remember standing there, static, for I don’t know how long, trying to keep my brain from exploding.
People were dancing and jumping and screaming and laughing and drinking and….. I’m getting shivers thinking about it. Unbelievable!!!!

I can’t remember how many players there were but it was essentially a front line of brass (trumpet, trombone, alto sax?, tuba, french horn?) and a drummer, possibly a bass player and an amazing singer/rapper that was growling away like an angry little hedgehog. An absolute blowout! There must have been sweat dripping from the ceiling.
As you may have surmised, I enjoyed it. Very much.

This would not be considered your traditional New Orleans jazz by any stretch but it had all the instrumental ingredients and it fed the little music monster in me, ten fold. They did an incredible cover version of Michael Jacksons “Dirty Diana” for example that had some of the local ladies twerking (look it up) and the rest of the room either trying to jump up through to roof or stomp through the floor.
Ahhhh…. sated. Ten fold.

Wedding day:

Finally the big event! Once again, we were all shuttled off in our now familiar fleet of mini buses to a truly, beautiful church. I’ve never been much of a church goer but I have always appreciated the architecture and majesty of church buildings and this one was certainly one of note.
Now, I don’t mean to sound callous or uncaring but… as I have never been a big church fan, same goes for anything church ceremony related. Weddings, funerals, sermons etc… not a big fan. Just saying. I doubt I’m alone in that sentiment.

The ceremony was lovely none the less and mercifully short. Cheers, tears and applause ensued and off we went in our cavalcade of mini buses once again. This time back to the hotel for the reception which was most welcome as the heat was kicking up and…for the most part, the build up was over and it was time to really let loose. Because until then we had all been completely restrained and decorum was the order of the day….. giggle.

Well, back at the hotel, all 200+ guests were all mingling, eating, drinking and re-introducing themselves. Bride and groom arriving in a white Rolls Royce (I think) with police escort no less. All very swank.

The usual protocol; food, drinks, speeches, first dance etc… all went off without a hitch. Top shelf once again.

Then, upon returning from a trip to the little boys room, I see everyone filing out of the reception room with white handkerchieves in hand and a brass band leading the throng of guests out through the lobby of the hotel. Clearly, I didn’t get the memo.

Confused and desperately looking around for Carine or anyone I know for that matter, I melted into the pyroclastic flow of this seemingly spontaneous exodus that spilling out into the street in front of the hotel.

Have you ever heard of a second line? Here is the definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_line_(parades)

In essence, we swarmed Royal st like a mud slide with a brass band and 200+ (mostly loopy) wedding guests and watched the newlyweds dance in the middle of the street with frilly parasols, while all the guests were waving white linen handkerchieves and proceeded to parade around the hotel block (with police escort) all through town, until we eventually arrived at a bar/house/restaurant? place, right on Bourbon st. where I found Carine who was equally wide eyed and excited as me. This was our second line and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!!!

As ridiculous as I found Bourbon st to be initially, there is something to be said about having a mezzanine view of the circus below. Turns out that Mardis Gras beads maintain their currency well beyond their intended raison d’etre. Enough said.

It was a beautiful old building, ornate and gilded with that gorgeous, New Orleans style wrought iron ornamentation and it was perfectly in tune with the overall elegance of the day. This was one of those times when my camera truly let me down as well. Yes, I am blaming the camera…..

Eventually we all reconvened at the hotel bar (which is considered to be one of the better bars in that part of town) and that’s where things got a little hazy..for me anyway.
Enter…..the Jester!!!! Once again we meet! Like I said, things were already a little hazy…it was a long day…. a few people I chatted with had not heard of this noxious/delicious concoction…. and I was itching for that crazy, green, icy temptress once again. There may have been more than one trip to the Jester bar that night, I won’t tell…..and I can’t remember.

All in all, it was an incredible experience that won’t soon be forgotten (Jester induced lapses aside).

Despite my cynicism, it was a beautiful wedding and I am elated and honoured to have been a part of it and I wish the bride and groom eternal love and happiness from the bottom of my heart. Truly and sincerely.

Thank you and congratulations!

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