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It may have taken an entire decade of dating for Zenisha Ghimire and Gregory Mattson to walk down the aisle, but they always knew that’s where they were headed. Well, almost. When the couple met in an honors class during their senior year of college at the University of New Orleans, Gregory was immediately smitten. It took Zenisha a bit longer to get on board, but Gregory persisted. “She doesn’t remember that we even had a class together, but I do!” laughs Gregory. “I asked her out several times before she finally agreed to go on a date with me.” One thing led to another, and the couple wed on their 10th anniversary in a stunning French Quarter ceremony that combined Zenisha’s Nepali culture with the celebratory spirit of New Orleans.

Bride and groom walking in French Quarter

Zenisha Ghimire and Gregory Mattson said “I do” in a vibrant, culturally-infused ceremony at the French Quarter’s W Hotel.

Being from the mountains in Nepal, Zenisha has always loved the mountain landscape — an affinity that Gregory shares. So, a proposal in the mountains was only natural. “We’ve been to the Smokies three or four times,” says Zenisha, “and it’s been one of our favorite places.” Anticipating a relaxing vacation, the couple rented a cabin in Bryson City, North Carolina, in September of 2020. It turned into an adventure they’ll never forget, as Gregory got down on one knee in their cabin and proposed, with a beautiful view of the Smoky Mountains just outside the window. And though COVID threatened to spoil their plans, the couple set about organizing an intimate ceremony in the French Quarter.

As Zenisha was in the throes of writing the dissertation for her Biology Ph.D., Gregory was tasked with securing many of the wedding details. In fact, while Zenisha presented her dissertation, Greg was out scouting venue locations. “There’s a presentation that goes into defending your dissertation, and then there’s a closed one with your committee, which is when the professors ask a bunch of questions. While I was doing that, he went and looked at the venue,” Zenisha tells us. “I was like, ‘If you like it, I’m sure I’ll love it.’ A lot was going on for me, and I trust his judgment!”

Luck was on Greg’s side, and he found the perfect spot for their big day — the W New Orleans in the French Quarter. “We wanted to keep it smaller,” Gregory says of their wedding plans. “Many of the places here in New Orleans cater towards larger weddings, and they had a minimum [guest capacity] that was too high. We found the W Hotel, which was very intimate and perfect for what we were looking for.”

The ceremony begins

“We only invited people to the wedding we both know,” says Zenisha of their special day on October 8, 2021. “That was our rule,” adds Gregory.

The wedding planning was gaining momentum, with major players like the photographer and DJ coming on board, when everything came to a screeching halt — Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on New Orleans, causing widespread destruction. “At the end of August, Hurricane Ida happened,” explains Zenisha, “and it pretty much destroyed our house. We were just trying to figure out where we were going to live. We’re fortunate that we have really good friends and family who opened their doors for us.” Gregory adds, “We kind of put the wedding on the back burner. I literally got the cake two weeks before the wedding!”

Against all odds, the couple pulled together their dream wedding on October 8, 2021, hosting around 65 of their close family and friends as they were pronounced husband and wife. Zenisha wore a stunning crimson lehenga, while Gregory sported a gray suit with an appropriately red tie. “Traditionally, you wear a Sari,” says Zenisha of her wedding dress. “In the Hindu religion, you wear red. It signifies a lot of things. I didn’t wear a sari because it wasn’t an actual Hindu wedding. However, I still wanted some of my traditions represented, so I decided to go with a lehenga, which is still culturally appropriate.”

She found the ideal dress shop in Dallas, where a classmate from Nepal had opened a boutique with her mother. Zenisha’s sister contributed a great deal of assistance to complete the look. “A lot of my jewelry, such as my necklace and earrings, came from my sister in Nepal,” Zenisha tells us. “She shipped them to me along with my headwear, a Nepali veil called ghumto. A lot of my bangles came from my best friend, who wore them during her wedding back in Nepal.”

The bride's henna-adorned hands as she has her makeup done.

“My bridesmaids threw me a Mehndi night, which is a big day in Hindu and Indian weddings,” says the bride, explaining the gorgeous henna art adorning her hands. “It was at one of my best friend’s houses. We got Indian food, put henna on our hands, and danced. It was a whole ceremony.”

The bride has her headpiece adjusted

The bride and her friends had brunch in the French Quarter on the wedding morning, then got ready at the hotel.

A vignette of the brides accessories, including red flats and bangles

“I wore red,” says Zenisha of her wedding attire. “That’s the color of the dress you wear in Nepal for weddings.” The bride’s beautiful accessories included a Nepali veil and bangles and traditional Nepali-Indian shoes, called jutti. “I bought the shoes for myself and my bridesmaids from a store in India,” she explains. “I was really worried they wouldn’t get here in time!”

The bride in her red gown and ornate necklace

Zenisha simply dazzles in her traditional Nepali lehenga.

The groom adjusts his red tie.

Sporting a tie that picks up the colors in his bride-to-be’s dress, Gregory prepares to say, “I do.”

The bride and groom met up for first looks before the ceremony, sweetly exchanging affectionate words of excitement for their future together. Then, gathering their wedding party, Zenisha and Gregory led everyone to the celebration site, where the couple descended either side of the grand staircase to tie the knot. A close friend officiated.

“People didn’t know what to expect because it wasn’t a traditional wedding,” says Zenisha. “Nobody ‘walked down the aisle.'” The couple did, however, exchange vows. “We wrote our own vows,” explains Zenisha. “She wrote her own vows,” laughs Gregory. “I just kind of talked off the top of my head!”

The groom kisses the bride's forehead

The bride and groom steal a sweet moment during first looks.

Bridesmaids surround the bride

“I gave the theme of pinkish, pastel colors, but they picked out their dresses,” Zenisha says of the instructions she gave her bridesmaids. “I wanted them to be comfortable and enjoy the night. Also, I always think that when bridesmaids choose their own dresses, [there’s a better chance] they might wear them again.”

Groomsmen toss the groom into the air

Gregory’s groomsmen prove they’re supportive … literally and figuratively!

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The bride and groom's hands decorated with henna.

The bride and groom join their hands, hearts, and henna.

The bride and groom descend the ceremony steps

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

The bride and groom look out at their guests

“A lot of my family’s not here,” Zenisha tells us. “Only two or three of my family members  — those in America — came because of COVID. But everyone knew everyone.”

A black and white photo of the bride and groom walking together in the French Quarter.

Looking picture-perfect, the bride and groom stroll the French Quarter before heading back to their reception.

The bride and groom lean in for a kiss on the street of New Orleans.

Not even Hurricane Ida could prevent this couple from celebrating their love for New Orleans and each other. The day wound up being even more celebratory when the couple received news that their roof repairs were beginning!

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Once the happy couple returned to their wedding reception, they enjoyed their first dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” — a tune that carries a great deal of significance for them. In fact, it’s a frequently played song in their house. “I had given Gregory a birthday gift during COVID — a record player,” explains Zenisha. “I know he likes Frank Sinatra, so I bought two of his records. We listened to them so much that I became a fan!” Because Greg’s birthday is March 4, the city shut down soon after. “When we went into lockdown, the only records we had at the time were the two Frank Sinatras,” laughs Gregory.

To further infuse the Nepali culture into their reception, the bride and groom had their DJ play some of the Bollywood songs that Zenisha grew up listening to. Everyone got in on the dancing, dined on food such as tacos and authentic New Orleans boudin balls, and feasted on the cake — a three-tiered beauty with a pretty red scroll design reminiscent of henna. “We wanted something that tied in her culture,” says Gregory. “I basically Googled Hindu-American ceremonies and found a bunch of ideas!”

All in all, the wedding night was precisely what the bride and groom hoped for. “People told us it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to,” says Gregory. “Everybody said it was so us. After college, we were the host of many parties and get-togethers. We don’t have kids yet, but all of our friends do. We’ve hosted multiple baby showers and cookouts.” Zenisha agrees, adding, “Our house has been the place. We love entertaining!” With the festivities turning into an extension of one of their house parties, the couple laughed and danced the night away, then exited to a magical downpour of bubbles.

Three-tiered wedding cake with red design and "Mr. & Mrs." topper.

The three-tiered cake from The Sweet Life Bakery offered a touch of color to the dessert table.

The bride and groom cut their wedding cake.

The bride and groom cut their cake, which was accompanied by a Miller Lite groom’s cake — Gregory’s beer of choice on the weekends. “It’s the champagne of beers,” quips Zenisha.

The bride and groom lead the conga line at their New Orleans wedding.

“I know it sounds cliché, but our main goal was to have fun and make sure that everybody who attended had fun,” says the bride. “My thing was to have a good venue, good food, good alcohol, a good DJ, and a good photographer. I feel like everything else is negotiable.”

The bride and groom leave to a bubble reception.

“This is how busy we were,” laments Zenisha, “I was supposed to buy sparklers, and [it didn’t happen]. We sent one of my good friends to raid all of the Walmarts in the area to get us a bunch of bubbles instead. We’re still using them!”

Thank you for sharing your special day with us, Zenisha and Gregory! Special thanks to Linka Odom Photography for the images. 

RESOURCES

Ceremony and reception venue: W New Orleans – French Quarter
Photographer: Linka Odom Photography
Caterer: W New Orleans – French Quarter
Bride’s gown: Maya’s Desi Boutique
Bride’s shoes: Fizzy Goblet
Bride’s Hair and Make-up: Jacqueline Reynolds
Groom’s attire: Indochino
Cake: The Sweet Life Bakery
Reception Music: DJ Dave

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