Renee Bouchon took the New Orleans expression “Let the good times roll” to heart by taking her wedding on the road (literally) in this lively Louisiana city. The Atlanta-based artist planned a fun-filled destination ceremony complete with some local jam: parading the Garden District with Kinfolk Brass Band and her friends in tow! Here’s her story as she merged with Geoff Pope on a gorgeous spring day …

Sealed with a kiss: Renee and Geoff had a midnight dance party on the streets of New Orleans.

The invitation and graphics had an artistic flair befitting the successful painter.

Geoff Pope and Renee Bouchon both started out in the advertising industry, but recently Renee has gained a lot of acclaim as an artist, and Geoff is in marketing technology.

Renee’s father walked her down the aisle at the awe-inspiring Immaculate Conception church. The wedding included almost 300 invitees.

The wedding party was able to prep at the nearby Henry Howard Hotel.

Special moments during the festivities include girl time with Renee, her mother and dear friends in the bridal party.

How did you meet?

Little did I know that Geoff and I had both worked at two of the same advertising agencies in Atlanta (back when I used to be in the ad world) but at different times … we somehow kept missing each other in the fast-paced industry. Geoff moved to NYC for a few years and then found his way back to Atlanta. He claims that he would always see me pop up on the “friends you may know” feature on Facebook and was curious as to why we had never met before given all of the mutual acquaintances we had in common. It was not until a year later that he had a mutual friend introduce us … finally! Our first date was at St. Cecilia. We met for drinks and (unknown to me) Geoff had a dinner reservation just in case things went well … needless to say, we even stayed for dessert.

Why did you want to get married in New Orleans?

I was born and raised in New Orleans. My family moved to Charlotte, NC, right before I started high school (yes, the most traumatizing time to move!), and then I went to UGA. But once you live in New Orleans, it’s in your blood … I will always consider it home. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives all still live in the city. There is a soul to New Orleans that sucks you in and a creative energy that is always present. I wanted to marry my favorite person and celebrate with friends and family in one of my favorite cities. New Orleans means more to me than anyone probably knows.

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The front porch at the Henry Howard Hotel offered a place for groomsmen to relax.

Renee’s gorgeous flower bouquet was from Antigua Floral + Styling.

Outside seating at the reception site offered a glam place to take in the city scene.

The wedding cake was by local favorite Swiss Confectionery.

Geoff and Renee sample cake against the aged patina of the Il Mercato walls.

Il Mercato was originally a neighborhood market, but a 2014 renovation added herringbone wood floors, Italianate chandeliers, and a furnished library with banquet seating.

What was the church and reception venue?

We chose a gorgeous Catholic church called Immaculate Conception for our ceremony, which I’ve always thought was one of the prettiest cathedrals in the city. Our reception followed at a venue called Il Mercato in the heart of the Lower Garden District, one of my favorite areas of the city. The Mercato was built in 1931 and is a Spanish colonial-style building originally constructed as a neighborhood market. It epitomizes old New Orleans and is out of the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, which is what most people unfortunately think of when they hear New Orleans. I wanted people to feel like they were locals for the weekend and getting a taste of the hidden gems of the city.

What were some of your special touches?

The feeling I was going for was fresh, elegant and timeless. I wanted to look back at my wedding in 20 years and still love every detail. From a roaring outdoor fireplace and champagne in the courtyard to greet guests, to a midnight snack of passed beignets and café au lait (a New Orleans tradition) at the end of night, I wanted every detail to mean something and epitomize my childhood growing up in the city. Our cake was from Swiss Confectionery, a New Orleans staple and the same bakery who did my parents’ wedding cake! We hired the fabulous 10-piece band, Phunky Monkeys, and they did NOT disappoint.

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Local band The Phunky Monkeys got the dance floor in high gear. Says Renee: “I’m afraid Geoff and I spent more time on the dance floor than actually mingling … oops!”

Renee and Geoff surprised guests with an appearance by Kinfolk Brass Band, which epitomizes New Orleans-style music.

What a memory! The newly married couple boogied their way down Magazine Street with wedding guests, accompanied by their own jazz band. “I wanted my ceremony and reception to welcome people with open arms,” says Renee, “in the same way I feel the city does when people come to visit.”

What was your special surprise at the end?

Perhaps my favorite part of the reception was when Kinfolk Brass Band surprised guests by busting through the doors at the end of the night with saxophones, drums, trumpets, you name it, to lead all of the guests through the Garden District and around Magazine Street in a classic NOLA second line. Kinfolk was founded by brothers Percy and Richard Anderson in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Playing a style of music that encompasses and melds New Orleans funk, modern jazz and traditional brass band sounds, they’ve been at the forefront of the New Orleans Brass Band renaissance. The adrenaline, excitement and happiness I felt while parading through the streets at midnight being led by a brass band playing classic New Orleans jazz and being followed by all of our wedding guests was unlike anything else.

Cheers to the happy couple! All of these beautiful photos were taken by the talented Lacey McLaughlin.

RESOURCES

Wedding planner: Brooke Casey

Makeup: Lynna Vo
Hair: Ali Vasquez
Church: Immaculate Conception in New Orleans
Venue: Il Mercato
Photography: Lacey McLaughlin
Flowers: Antigua Floral + Styling
Linens: Nuage Linens

Reception music: Phunky Monkeys
Grand finale music: Kinfolk Brass Band
Cake: Swiss Confectionery
Guest accommodations: Henry Howard Hotel

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