Wedding in the Big Easy

Jill & Jeff on the Big Day at the Roosevelt in New Orleans LA

I flew down to New Orleans the day after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I caught a 5:30 a.m. out of Charlottesville to Charlotte, then a connecting flight to New Orleans. It was delayed only a half hour. But I was not bothered. I was leaving snow and sleet in Virginia and hoping for warmer climes in the Big Easy. I landed at 11 a.m., rented a car and drove out to the Westbank where I stayed at St. Rosalie with my good friend Fr. Jon. It was a balmy 70 degrees.

I met the groom (Jeff) for dinner. His potential in-laws were in town and spending time with his fiance (Jill). I had taught Jeff in high school some 14 years ago. Now he is a lawyer in private practice. I am very impressed. We talked over dinner about how preparations were going. He said he wasn’t nervous, but maybe his fiance was. We went and visited with her after dinner to go over some details. Before I left to return to the Westbank, we had discussed how the rehearsal would go on Friday evening. So I had a free day to visit with other friends.

Thursday, I had lunch with Fr. Jon at a local restaurant, parishioners of his. Great food, genuine Cajun cuisine. I need to pick up a couple of cookbooks. I don’t visit often enough. I met with Deacon Jerry, who with his wife Mitzi did marriage prep for Jill and Jeff. We had a few laughs, and shared some war stories. They would come to the rehearsal and the wedding, so I would see them a couple more times before I returned home. For dinner that evening, I visited with a former student Josh, who served in Iraq as a Marine a couple of years ago. He was happy to announce he had a girlfriend, and they were talking seriously about the future. Happy for him.

Friday, I had lunch with John, a former colleague of mine from the school where I taught Jeff years back. John was still teaching earth science, but was down to one class a day. He was not well when I came to town last April, so I feared the worst. But he was feeling better, in fact. His doctor had taken out some gallstones, but whatever his illness was, he never really knew. But he was better, so I suggested he keep doing whatever it was he was doing. It’s so much harder when you don’t know what you’re dealing with. I headed across the river for the rehearsal an hour early. I thought I would arrive without any trouble. But traffic was horrendous and I arrived at the wrong location to discover my GPS did not know there were two Academies of the Sacred Heart (apparently, the school split to accommodate a larger enrollment; the other location was only a few blocks up – but how was I to know?) I met Jason and his wife at the wrong location. I taught Jason also when he was in 9th grade, 2 years behind Jeff. He is now a lawyer in Houston. His wife is an RN.

Rehearsal started late and the ladies in charge of the chapel were quite the take-charge sort, and I was under the distinct impression I was running the show. So, I just had to talk louder. We started without the bride and groom. (Never in my life!) But when they arrived, they just jumped in and things went well otherwise. We headed out to dinner at Wolfe’s on Rampart (Dumaine). Lovely meal. Again, classic New Orleans. Parking was a nightmare though. I thought I was going to be towed. I had to walk a couple of blocks in my collar. The streets were not well lit. A tourist stopped me to ask directions to this bar. Sorry, I’m not from here. Then I thought, maybe that’s what they want to hear so they can mug me. But I made it to the restaurant in one piece. The forecast called for rain, lots of it, for the whole weekend. By the time we left the restaurant, it was pouring.

Game day, Saturday! I collected my belongings and drove into the city around 1pm to the Roosevelt Hotel on Canal Street in the French Quarter. The rain was coming down in buckets and traffic was horrendous again. Apparently, there would be flash flooding. I did not come prepared. My shoes were not the kind that would stay dry under water, but at least I had a golf umbrella. As we were getting ready to go to the chapel by limousine (really nice bus), the limo was late and it had not stopped raining. The streets were flooding and traffic outside the hotel was a nightmare. We arrived at the chapel a half hour late, but at this point, what could we do? The wedding went without a hitch. A few guests decided not to brave the weather. So they missed a really good party. The bride and groom were in good spirits. It helped they were among friends, joking, drinking and laughing. Seven groomsmen, four bridesmaids … and spouses, New Orleans, good food, rain, a wedding … I saw this movie once.

I left the reception a little after 9:30 p.m. It was still pouring, but everyone was enjoying themselves. The newly weds danced their first dance, they danced with parents, they danced to Twist and Shout. I decided I would head out before it got too late. They had not yet cut the cake.

My GPS was unresponsive as I navigated through the French Quarter not knowing where I was going. Eventually, it kicked in and I found my way back to the Westbank. It took me about an hour. But all was well. The house was quiet and I was ready for bed.

I fly back tomorrow morning, Monday … with best wishes for the bride and groom for a good flight to St. Marten in the Caribbean, and a wonderful life ahead.

The bride & her father, the groom and his mother … on the dance floor.