Lexie & Al's Gatsby-inspired transatlantic elopement

By on Oct. 12th

This week we're celebrating intimate weddings with destination elopements, cozy City Hall vows, and private romantic ceremonies. It's the warm fuzzies on a smaller scale.

Al & Lexie

Photos by Chris Williams

The offbeat bride: Lexie, English Literature student and writer

Her offbeat partner: Al, engineer and Computer Science geek

Date and location of wedding: Freezing, water-logged courtyard, New Orleans — January 7, 2010

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: It was a teeny tiny wedding with just immediate family and very close friends. This was a wedding for a wedding-phobic couple. We wanted to elope, but our families made sure they eloped with us!

Al & Lexie

I used to work at a country house wedding reception venue as a teenager and it left me questioning if I ever wanted to go through such a spectacle. So when my long-distance boyfriend and I got tired of late night phone calls and decided to "go nuclear," I knew it would have to be a wedding that wouldn't consume us whole, make us go broke, or turn us into monsters.

Al & Lexie

The wedding was planned remotely. I was living in Rugby in the UK, while Al was living in Detroit, and we got married in New Orleans. We first met when I was living in Florence, and when he returned to the U.S., he emailed me tickets to Jazz Fest for our third date, so NOLA held romantic significance for us. It seemed a good halfway point for our families to meet for the first time. Because of our love of jazz, Josephine Baker, Bugsy Malone, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, elements of our day were inspired by the Jazz Age.

Many wedding details were sorted on the hoof, and very last-minute. We just popped in to the nearest florist to the hotel and ordered our flowers, and made our table centrepieces from Mardi Gras decorations purchased at the French Market on the morning of the ceremony.

Al & Lexie

We concentrated on details such as the favours (personalised, cheeky charm bracelets and we gave the Yanks British candy and the Brits American candy) and the food (good hearty Louisiana cuisine such as gumbo, filet mignon, and bread pudding). We just wanted a really good dinner party in the evening before decamping to a nearby bar for an absinthe toast. The next night we all met up at the Ritz to go dancing.

To avoid guests having to wait around while endless photos were posed and taken, we told our photographer to take documentary-style snaps of the ceremony and reception, and then we clambered back into our wedding clothes the next day for a portrait session in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (a nod to my former goth days).

Al & Lexie

Al & Lexie

Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony took place in the pouring rain at dusk. I'm English though so it's my favourite weather. The rain was a silver lining as the temperature rose above freezing for the first and only time on the entire trip. My dad was hero of the hour as he went around buying up all the big black umbrellas he could find (it wasn't planned, but ended up looking very romantic in the photos). He walked me from my room to the courtyard as a string quartet played "I Put A Spell On You."

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Al's sister Gabby officiated and made the ceremony very personal to us, basing it around our love of classic literature. Our readings were "The Sun Rising" by John Donne and our giggly bridesmaid read "Your Laughter" by Pablo Neruda.

Al & Lexie

My dad had to hold my dress up to avoid it getting wet, and the groomsmen hovered with dripping umbrellas. Despite that, I could have stayed in that courtyard forever because I was so happy getting married to Al. As soon as we were pronounced married, everyone groaned during the kiss because they wanted to dash inside out of the rain. The reception was in an old Civil War hospital that was reportedly haunted so I guess the guests were stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Al & Lexie

Our biggest challenge: It felt a little lonely planning the wedding remotely, especially as I'm the only girl in my family (my mum died many years ago). I was worried that I didn't know what made a wedding "good" and was worried about disappointing everyone, including myself. I would get very stressed after reading bridal mags because they are so mercilessly consumer-driven. Al got me to rip them all up. In the end we had to say "sod what people think" and just concentrate on what worked for us.

One thing that didn't work out was our cake. The bakery had told me they were "between managers" and they ended up forgetting to make our cake! Instead they sent around everything they had left in the shop. We managed to get a full refund (and donated it to the earthquake relief fund in Haiti so it wasn't worth sulking over).

Al & Lexie

My favorite moment: Actually getting married and knowing that I would soon have the man I love on the same land-mass as me like a normal couple. Also knowing that two days later I would have to fly home to the UK alone again to hand in an essay at university was a good incentive to live in the moment and cherish it.

I also loved that my dad gave me away. I've been fighting a chronic illness for 10 years, so we've been through an awful lot together. It felt like the end of an era.

I wore my mum's pearls and tried not to be sad that she didn't get to see the wedding.

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My funniest moment: When we had our photos taken the day after the wedding, it was horrifically cold, so cold that my fingers were red raw. I was dressed in my 1920s-style outfit again, and being almost unnaturally pale, I probably looked a little eerie to the tour groups there because a woman in white kept flitting silently between the mausoleums.

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We tried everything to keep warm: Al lent me his jacket, I was wearing huge biker boots under my dress, and between shots we were running around screaming. We arrived at the Ritz with faces like beetroots.

Al & Lexie

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? You can't control everything. We thought we would avoid the harsh Michigan winter by marrying down south, but were greeted by the worst cold snap in 20 years. All you can do is laugh and make the best of things.

Al & Lexie

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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