A “Tree of Life”-Inspired Wedding at Il Mercato in New Orleans, Louisiana

Former New Orleans, Louisiana, residents Chanel Brennan (28 and a preschool teacher) and Navid Brewster (31 and a lawyer) returned to the Big Easy with friends and family in tow for a destination wedding in the picturesque Garden District. “Man, did we live it up those few years,” Chanel says of their time living in New Orleans. “It was extremely important to Navid and me to share with our friends and family how special New Orleans is to us and how it is simply one of a kind. New Orleans is rich with history.” Chanel and Navid exchanged vows in Audubon Park under a massive 300-year-old oak tree that inspired their tree of life theme. The couple decorated their outdoor ceremony with branches, leaves and wine barrels topped with lush arrangements. After the ceremony, friends and family celebrated at Il Mercato on Magazine Street. The recently renovated venue, originally a neighborhood market built in 1931, was the perfect place for their nuptial celebration. During cocktail hour, guests sipped wine and local beer, and snacked on char-grilled osyters. “It was important to us to share our favorite things about New Orleans, and that included the food and beer,” Chanel says. “When you’re in New Orleans there is no shortage of amazing food.” For dinner, guests enjoyed a zucchini and goat cheese Napoleon salad, petite filet mignon, hickory grilled shrimp, a roasted tomato and herb gnocchi and a roasted yellow pepper puree that was finished with Tabasco beurre blanc. During the reception, the newlyweds slow danced to “Lucky” by Jason Mraz, then broke out in a choreographed dance to “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease.” “We had taken dance lessons for months and we still messed up, but we had so much fun—and it really surprised our guests,” Chanel says. “We just wanted to have fun and laugh.” Toward the end of the celebration, guests snacked on sliders, then departed to Canal Street to join the newlyweds in the celebratory second line. With parasols in hand, Chanel and Navid paraded down Canal Street with the Kinfolk Brass Band. Guests joined the parade, waving hankies embellished with a brass band and the newlyweds’ names and wedding date. “The energy was contagious—my face hurt from all the smiling,” Chanel says. —Marissa Hermanson