Meredith and Hank didn’t exactly hit it off on their very first date. “We met in college at the University of Alabama on a blind date,” she says. “It ended up being a horrible first date but we reconnected in January of that next year and were inseparable ever since.”
The couple dated for another eight years, graduating college together, attending grad school in New Orleans, moving to Memphis for jobs, and eventually landing in Dallas so that Hank could pursue another career opportunity. It was during one of his going away parties in Memphis when Hank proposed to Meredith. “He totally surprised us all and popped the question right before all of the guests arrived at the party,” she remembers. “Of course, it ended up being an engagement celebration and next thing I knew, I was moving to Dallas too!”
After attending grad school in New Orleans, the two fell in love with the historic city and always knew it would be the perfect spot for their wedding. A few years before getting engaged, they had actually attended a wedding at the Old Ursuline Convent and had all but decided then they would eventually tie the knot there, too. “It was the first place I called after the engagement,” she says. “The venue is so beautiful on its own and tucked away in a quiet corner of the French Quarter. I knew I wanted to keep it traditional New Orleans style with a soft classic feel.” Instead of choosing a local wedding planner, Meredith decided to hire Ellen Massey of PJ West Events, who, even though she is based in Aspen, had planned her brother and sister-in-law’s wedding a few years before at the top of a mountain in Colorado. “Our families fell in love with her and she always told me to call her when I got engaged,” she adds.
When looking for her dress, the bride was set on finding a full lace, long-sleeved gown with a cathedral length veil for her big day, but ultimately decided on something else entirely. During a bridal appointment at Memphis’s Maggie Louise store, owned by Molly Claire, she ended up trying on a dress that she initially did not like hanging on the rack. “Instantly, everything changed, even though it was the completely opposite of what I thought I wanted,” she says. The deal was sealed after Molly added a lace bolero, cathedral length lace veil, and blusher.
The rest of Meredith’s wedding accessories were kept at a minimum. “My mom bought me white sapphire studs by Lagos as a gift and my aunt lent me a family diamond bracelet,” she says. As for shoes, she went with a pair of sparkly platinum Stuart Weitzman block heels that were “comfortable yet stylish and added a little bit of a modern twist to my overall look.” Her bridesmaids wore black silk Dupioni strapless gowns, while Hank and his groomsmen all went with traditional black tuxedos from Perlis in New Orleans.
The day of the wedding, guests were invited to a 5:00 P.M. mass at St. Mary’s Church next to the Old Ursuline Convent. The ceremony was led by Father Greg Daigle, a friend of Hank’s father. “He is an amazing singer and everyone still talks about his solo of ‘Ave Maria,’ ” Meredith recalls. “Every row in the church was filled, and we could truly feel the love.”
The reception then took place next door in the courtyard, where the bride’s father kicked off the evening with a toast to the newly married couple and a poem he wrote called “My Cup of Tea.” “It was sweet and thoughtful and was all about Hank and I being each other’s cup of tea,” Meredith says. “It was definitely original and different from any toast I have ever heard at a wedding.”
Since it had rained all day, the courtyard ended up being tented form end to end. Each tent was outfitted with draping and crystal chandeliers, while votives and bouquets of hydrangeas, garden roses, freesia, and greenery from Ambrose Gardens decorated the round tables inside. After cocktail hour, guests filled their plates with favorites from three food stations: a savory crepe station; a southern style grits station, and a stuffed Creole chicken station. For their first dance, the couple kicked off the party to Leon Bridges’s “Coming Home.” “I adore his music and he is from New Orleans so it just seemed fitting,” she explains. After that, a Memphis band called The Party Jammers entertained the crowd, while Hank and Meredith gave out custom Mardi Gras beads with their names monogrammed on them to guests. “The crowd loved it!” she adds.
Once the reception was over, everyone joined the second line parade from the Old Ursuline Covnent to a bar in the French Quarter called Johnny White’s for the after-party. Carrying custom-made umbrellas that read “Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins,” the couple was serenaded by the Kinfolk Brass Band, who ushered the crowd down the streets of New Orleans. “They are truly the best in the New Orleans and I was so excited that we were able to book them,” Meredith adds. “This was easily a favorite moment for all of our out of town guests!”