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A Festive, Southern-Style Wedding in the Big Easy

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Greer Gattuso

Investment analyst Bradley Feingerts had known Jenna Gottlieb, editorial content manager at Shopbop, through friends for over a year before he finally asked her out on a date at a Halloween costume party. “He was dressed as one of the Duck Dynasty guys,” Jenna remembers. “Gross beard and everything.”

The fake beard clearly didn’t matter much, as they later went on to date for three years. One night at their shared home in New York, Jenna was about to leave the apartment when she was caught off guard by Bradley in the living room, surrounded by tea lights. “He asked me to marry him, and then surprised me with dinner at Narcissa in the East Village with both of our families,” she says.

Since Bradley grew up in New Orleans, the couple decided to tie the knot in the Big Easy. “We thought it would be so fun to host our friends and family in his wild and crazy hometown for a weekend,” she explains. Little did they know how crazy the wedding weekend would get, as an impending hurricane forced them to go through a last-minute change of venue. “We moved our ceremony and reception from an outdoor venue to The Windsor Court Hotel, where we, and many of our out-of-town guests, were staying. Fortunately the hotel’s venue was available and the lovely and accommodating staff was completely down to roll with us through the insanity.”

The couple worked with planner Belinda Belk of Blue Gardenia Events, and Cathering Polacek from Printerette on all the paper products for the wedding. “She helped set a fun, lighthearted tone,” says Jenna.

As for her wedding dress, Jenna wanted to do something different. “I really wanted to get married in a pantsuit, but that got nixed pretty quickly by certain involved parties—hi mom!” she says with a laugh. (As a consolation, Jenna wore a cream, slouchy Theory suit to her welcome dinner.) And for her big day, she ultimately went with a dress by Marchesa. “I wasn’t that amped up about wedding dress shopping—everything felt so not me—but I loved this particular design from the moment I first saw it on,” she explains. “I thought the silhouette felt easy and ethereal and a bit wood nymph-like.” She paired the dress with rose satin mules by Barneys’ own label and her mother’s diamond studs. For the after-party, she changed into an ivory Nili Lotan slip dress and stayed barefoot.

The day of the ceremony, guests gathered in the library room at the Windsor Court Hotel, where Jenna was walked down the aisle by her mother. “I was completely shaky and clutched her like I was a little kid,” she says. “It was a surreal moment, I basically melted when I saw all of our people there, in one place. I immediately started crying, because, of course I did.” The couple was married in a traditional Jewish ceremony, and they each read their own vows. “While I definitely don’t remember every word that was uttered during the ceremony, I will always remember the particular feeling in that room. It was pure warmth.”

Once the ceremony wrapped, it was time for a traditional New Orleans second line. “It’s a local wedding custom, which is led by a parasol-wielding bride and groom,” Jenna explains. “Everyone else follows the couple while dancing and waving white handkerchiefs. It’s so fun!” For the parade, guests were offered handkerchiefs and vodka lemonades and the newlyweds and their friends and family marched down to the hotel courtyard and back into the hotel lobby for cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres.

Then came the “reception style” party, which Jenna describes as “a Southern serve yourself, sit-where-you-please setup.” The concept was foreign to her until then, but she fully embraced it as it allowed the night to flow naturally and helped keep the energy up. For hungry guests, there were several buffet-style food stations on hand and oyster shuckers out on a balcony.

The couple’s first dance was to Alabama Shakes’s “You Ain’t Alone,” which Jenna admits they didn’t rehearse at all. “Bradley has a few moves up his sleeve, so we got some good twirls in before making everyone else come join us on the dance floor,” she says. Their band, The Phunky Monkeys, had everyone on their feet all night, and the only time the bride and groom sat down was when their siblings gave their speeches. “My brothers made me cry, and laugh, and then cry again,” Jenna says.

“My favorite part was just letting my hair down and going crazy on the dance floor,” Jenna says after dealing with some hectic wedding planning. “After all of the nutty reshuffling, it was such a release to go wild with our friends and family, who are truly the most fun.” When it was time to end the reception, everyone continued the night’s festivities at the Polo Club Lounge, an old school cocktail bar in the Windsor Court, where one of Jenna’s family’s favorite singers from their summer home town was brought in to perform “a billion” cover songs—everything from Darius Rucker to Snoop Dogg. “We danced and ate chicken fingers and beignets until 3:00 a.m.—it was the best.”