Last month we traveled to New Orleans for my sister Lauren’s wedding. We’ve adored Bradley from the start and it was a joyous experience watching on as they took this big next step together. Even better was the opportunity to celebrate these two with our families in the city that they love so much.
As I mentioned before the wedding we decided that the best way to make this trip affordable and also maximize forced family bonding was for us to carpool in a rented minivan with my brothers Reid and Ryan and Ryan’s girlfriend Erin. So the Saturday before the wedding Dan and I drove to Durham, picked up the boys and the van, and then drove to Charlotte for Erin. The original plan was to stay the night in Charlotte and then start the 10 hour drive to New Orleans early Sunday morning. But the nice/insane thing about younger brothers is that they’re up for things like pulling all nighters in a rental van driving through the rural South. Sure! We all said. Let’s drive all night! We’ll be getting there as the world wakes up, ready to eat po’ boys and live it up in New Orleans! Who needs sleep?
Ryan, Erin, and Reid at the Friendship Oak. Sadly the only two pictures of Dan and I together the entire week were blurry. The sad cost of being behind the camera.
We made it safely with no hiccups (save that one victim of vehicular possumslaughter in the middle of Alabama somewhere at 2am) and arrived in New Orleans just in time for lunch with Lauren and Bradley (after a memorable stop in Gulfport to see the 500 year old Friendship Oak). After a sandwich and a nap we were ready for a crawfish boil with Bradley’s family to get our week started on the right foot. And while most of the week was a blur of wedding projects and parties, Sunday stands out as one of my favorite family days, ever. I loved that we had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Bradley’s family before the wedding, and it made my heart happy to see how much they’ve welcomed Lauren as one of their own.
Dan and I photographed the wedding and its surrounding events, which was amazing and also insane. I loved being able to be there for their special moments, to help capture one of the most important days of their lives. And since I was also the Matron of Honor I had the rare opportunity to really throw myself into the wedding, to see it from the inside out. I relished being the sister of the bride, and since Genevieve is constantly threatening elopement this may be my one shot at the job. I like to think I did alright.
Elena, Lauren, & Genevieve, Bachelorette party
One of the things I was most excited about in visiting New Orleans was the eating. You know me, I love to eat my way through every vacation, and this was no exception. We ate well. We ate a lot. We indulged. Mostly in beignets. Every day included at least a few iced cafe au laits and beignets a’plenty. From the famous Cafe du Monde to freshly fried dough in City Park we were not shy in our beignet consumption. In fact, some of us got very into it.
Ryan enthusiastically coating himself in beignet powdered sugar, horrified child in the background.
photo by Dan
Inside the tornado of to-do lists we threw a bash of a bachelorette for Lauren in the Marigny (complete with lots of live music), hung out on some giant live oak trees, watched Ryan dig a hole with an old man, had the obligatory Bourbon Street experience (mine was at 9am on a run but Gen, Erin, and the boys did stay out until 6am one night), had take out daiquiris, explored the French market, played plenty of music on the back patio, cooked a big catfish dinner together as a family, and listened to Genevieve and Naoise say “only in America” about one gazillion times. Plus so much more I can’t even remember it all to list it. Did I mention the beignets?
photo by Lauren’s bridesmaid, Caitlin. From left: Genevieve, James, Janet, Bradley, Lauren, Elena, Ryan, Reid, Dan.
Cousins! From left: Mary, Elena, Lauren, Genevieve, Elizabeth. Photo by Dan
All in all, the wedding was perfect. There were moments when it seemed the world might end (as with all weddings), but I’m of the school of thought that quirks enhance the experience, so the more the merrier! At the end of the day Lauren and Bradley were married, the family had a raucous good time, and their love and happiness were infectious. Congratulations, Lauren & Bradley!
We’ll definitely be back to New Orleans soon to visit (with a bit less on our figurative plate next time and more on our literal plate, I think), which already has me hungry. Until then, I’ll have to make do with beignets at home. These were simple to throw together and hit the spot. They absolutely satisfied the beignet craving that strikes every time I look through the wedding photos!
Lauren & Bradley’s surprise second line exit from the reception, complete with a full brass band! For more pictures keep your eye on the Pressed Magnolia blog, they’re steadily rolling out!
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1/2 cup hot water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups flour, plus more for kneading
Oil for frying (we tried it with coconut- fantastic results!)
Powdered sugar to top
Mix the yeast and the water together in a large bowl. Melt butter, milk, and cream together in a saucepan and then pour into the yeast mixture. Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and half of the flour. Knead in the remaining flour and then knead for 5-7 minutes or until stiff and fully incorporated. Transfer to a plastic bag and chill 4-6 hours or overnight.
Heat oil in a deep skillet to 375F. Flour a working surface and roll the dough out until it’s about half an inch thick. Slice the dough into 3×3″ or 4×4″ pieces. Fry about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly and then coat with sifted powdered sugar. Serve very hot and with an ice cold cafe au lait.