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Dancing in the Dark: A Styled Elopement

Randi Fracassi

Her smile was radiant. It lit up her eyes and brought a warmth to his soul, and he knew that he wanted that smile for the rest of his life. He had become her rock, her partner in all things, and without a shadow of a doubt understood that without him being by her side, her life would be meaningless and not nearly as full as it had been since they met. So hand in hand, excited and scared and nervous, they decided on forever.

And so they laughed. And they loved. And they cried and got angry and forgave. They worked together and didn’t give up on each other. They were partners, a team, the perfect match in every way. And they cared for each other in such a way that words cannot describe it.


I hope ya’ll garnered some inspiration from this inspirational shoot that we did in collaboration with Hannah Herpin Creative, Madames and Mermaids Artistry, Pure Vintage Rentals, Banter and Charm and The Keeping Room, and Blush Formal and Bridal. It was such a joy to work on, and I know that the various elements of this shoot can be altered to fit your aesthetic and your vision.

Happy planning,


Creating a Ceremony from Scratch

Randi Fracassi

First and foremost, let’s address that no two ceremonies are alike: like the couple getting married, there’s a personal touch in every aspect of it, and this is what makes weddings so unique from each other.  While most Southern wedding ceremonies follow the religious customs of a couple, there may be the instances where you may want a non-denominational officiate or a close friend to preside, or you may opt for a simpler ceremony. With that in mind, what all does a ceremony need? What can you do to make it fit you as a couple? And what parts are even necessary for it to be considered legal?

The general order of a ceremony goes something like this:  Processional, Opening Remarks, Addressing the Couple, Exchanging Vows, Exchanging Rings, Marriage Pronouncement, The Kiss, Closing Remarks, and finally the Recessional. It sounds like a lot, but once it’s all said and done, most ceremonies take 20-30 minutes. This may change depending on religious preferences (for example, a traditional Catholic ceremony includes the celebration of Eucharist and several readings, or a Vietnamese wedding generally will consist of a Tea Ceremony earlier in the day), but the essential formulation outlined above tends to work out best to start from.


The processional is the few minutes it takes for everyone to come into the ceremony, whether it’s a church, hall, or outdoor space. Generally done to music, the Processional can vary as to the order of persons entering. With my clients, we tend to start off with the grandparents being escorted in, then mother and father of the groom, groomsmen, groom, officiate, mother of the bride and her usher, bridesmaids, and finally the bride and her father. However, you can shake things up a bit by having bridesmaids and groomsmen walk with each other up, or walking with both of your parents.

Opening Remarks

Many ceremonies start off with “Dearly beloved…”, “Friends and family, we’re gathered here…”, usually followed by “Who gives this bride”. The level of formality can vary depending on the overall style of the wedding, as well as the presentation/exchange of the bride, and can be moved or adjusted to fit the needs and wants of the couple. Traditionally, the parents of the bride giving the bride away was done in the age of dowries and bride gifts, essentially paying the groom and his family to have the bride as his wife. This tradition has evolved to a newer and more touching meaning, now done is respect to welcoming the groom into the bride’s family, and giving a nod to the new family being formed through this ceremony.

After the opening line, the officiate will take a minute to two to acknowledge the family and friends gathered before and as to why, give a little background on marriage and its importance, and throw in how the bride and groom are ready for this next chapter with a summary of the trials of their relationship so far that has prepared them for those that they’ll face in marriage.

Addressing the Couple

The perfect Segway from the “story” portion of the ceremony, this part of the ceremony is specifically for the bride and groom. The officiate takes time to make sure that the brevity of marriage and this commitment is not lost upon them, and fills them in specifically on what marriage entails. Between the Opening Remarks and Addressing however, Addressing should be more thoughtful and cater to the couple and the foundation in which they want their marriage built on.

This is a great part in which to include a reading or two – a couple of my favorites are Union by Robert Fulghum, and To Love is Not to Possess by James Kavanaugh. Both of these readings speak of the foundation of marriage and what it means to be making this commitment to each other, and while a little bit more formal and lengthy, they’re perfectly appropriate for the occasion.

Exchanging Vows

The most important part of any ceremony is by far exchanging vows. It’s at this time that you make promises to each other, whether you go the traditional route of repeating words from your officiate or reciting your personal vows to each other. If you opt for writing your vows individually, ask your officiate to review them to ensure that they match the level of formality and length. Conversely, if you decide to repeat your vows and both have the same, I love this article from The Knot that has a variety of scripts and options that are more than just “Do you, X, take Y to be your husband/wife…”.

Exchanging Rings

Traditionally, the ring bearer presents the rings to the bride and groom, but there can be the instance in which an overly excited or shy child can no longer participate and do their full role. It will always be to my recommendation to make sure the Best Man has charge of both of the wedding rings, and should they be dropped, he be responsible for picking them up (this also assists in avoiding an awkward shuffle between folks all going in on retrieving them).

Most often, rings are blessed as they are exchanged, and if you’re wanting to do a hybrid version of reciting your own vows and having your officiate prompt you, this is a great time to integrate it. The Spuce has a great database of different wording and lagniappe you can do to make exchanging rings more meaningful and to fit the level of formality of your ceremony.

Marriage Pronouncement

Possibly the (second) shortest part of your ceremony, pronouncing you as officially married often prompts The Kiss.

The Kiss

Pro tip: hold it for 7 seconds so you get excellent photos and video!

Closing Remarks

These remarks should be brief and end with the introduction of the bride and groom as a married couple. With a statement along the lines of “Now that X and Y have declared their vows as witnessed by their friends and family, and by the power granted to me by the State of Louisiana, I now am honored to introduce for the first time as married couple…”


Starting from the bride and groom walked back down the aisle, and followed by bridesmaids and groomsmen (whether walking together or individually, in which case, bridesmaids will go before groomsmen), with the bride’s parents and groom’s parents taking up the rear. The officiate is generally the absolute person last down the aisle, in case of final announcements (such as reception location, moving chairs, where refreshments are, etc). Music for the recessional can be lighthearted and fun (my personal favorite is Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Swede) or more traditional. It is also a good idea that if you are formally exiting the ceremony site (such as a church), to linger in front of the doors or space and share another 7 Second Kiss, if for nothing else than to celebrate being married to your soul mate.

Your ceremony is the main piece of your entire wedding; without it, there would be no marriage to be celebrating! Taking the time to make sure that it reflects you and your spouse, that you make it sincere and heartfelt, will set the foundation in which your marriage will be built upon. You’ll always remember those moments that seemed where time stood still, just for that second. With this guide, I hope I made the process of planning and formatting your ceremony a little less stressful, and a lot more fun!

Happy planning,


Hidden Gems of the Red Stick: Baton Rouge Wedding Venues

Randi Fracassi

It's no secret that I love Baton Rouge -- the people, the culture, the way there's a mix of traditional values and traditions with modern ideas and design. The way residents of the city approach gatherings are set apart from the state because of this eclectic combination, and has created some of the most striking and beautiful wedding venues. That being said, there are quite a few popular and go to spaces that people adore, but among the charming paths of MidCity and down Old River Road, we have some of the most quaint and special hidden gems of venues that will leave lasting impressions on your guests for years to come. 

The James Grace House

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Found in the midst of cane fields, the James Grace House is a classic Antebellum home with sprawling acres of meadows and oak trees, and offers both indoor and outdoor spaces for weddings and events. With a bridal suite and restrooms on site and the availability of tables and chairs, the James Grace house has taken every detail into consideration of what an event could need or want. The property owners are kind and relaxed, and the ease of which they work with your clients make you feel like family. 

For more information about the James Grace House, you can click here. 

Cane Land Distilling Company

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With minimalist design being combined with rustic detail, Cane Land Distilling on the edge of Downtown along the Mississippi River is the perfect setting for a more modern couple. The neutral decor that allows you to get creative with colors and design elements, as well as the views into the taproom and the actual distillery, both work in the favor of this space in making it ideal for a wedding or large party. 

More information about events at Cane Land Distilling can be found here

Lucky Plantation 


Lucky Plantation is a short drive down Old River Road, where you can fly by the sugar cane fields and Mississippi River and pull into the quaint drive of the home. Sporting a lush garden and fountain as well as oak and magnolia trees over the property, Lucky Plantation is ideal for smaller and more intimate weddings seeking classic Southern Charm. The property has indoor options as well (perfect for a Rain Plan) that matches the look and feel of the rest of the home with floor-to-ceiling shutter doors and 1860's details. 

More information about Lucky Plantation can be found here

The Trademark on Third


Located in the heart of Downtown Baton Rouge, the Trademark on Third is a newly renovated space in neutral tones and flooded with natural lighting, and is right above the Driftwood Cask and Barrel. What makes Trademark special and unique to the downtown area is it's proximity to nearby ceremony venues, as well as the array of options you can select from for food and beverage (that is, not just seafood from this gorgeous place!). 

More info about the Trademark can be found here

The Cabin Restaurant 

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The Cabin is quaint and off the beaten path in Burnside, Louisiana, and features a brick courtyard and original buildings throughout the property. With shiplap walls and rustic motifs scattered around, the Cabin is the perfect local find for a Fixer Upper aesthetic with a reasonable budget. 

More information on the Cabin can be found here

I hope this guide about the hidden venue gems of the Greater Baton Rouge area helps you in finding a unique venue for your big day! Each of these venues have their own distinctive charm that make them unique from each other, weather it's the location or the amenities. I strive to show reasonable and beautiful venues to my brides and grooms that fit their aesthetic and style, and if you have any suggestions of spaces within the Greater Baton Rouge area (or beyond!) I would love to hear about it over a cup of coffee. 

Happy planning,


Operation: I Do | Military Traditions, and do I Have to do Them?

Randi Fracassi

Welcome to the first installment of a new series here on the blog, Operation: I Do, where we’ll be discussing the different facets regarding military wedding and event planning, including determining formality, the differences between enlisted and officer events, wording paper goods, and etiquette when it comes to the military. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the experience to assist in coordinating and planning numerous military functions between the different branches, and I hope that by sharing this knowledge and the knowledge of other industry professionals, it can help ease the stress of planning for our future Milspouses and their servicemen and women.

We’re kicking off the first part of this series with common military traditions, and answering the question of do you have to incorporate them into your wedding. Though units, squadrons, flights, and battalions could possibly have their own traditions (and therefore be different, especially between branches), we’ll be covering traditions that have been observed between all branches. If you have questions about specific traditions, especially if you want to incorporate those from your service member’s battalion or squadron, be sure to ask your service member, and have them ask their coworkers or DO if they know of anything.

So, onto the traditions, and the pomp and circumstance that you may be wondering about!

The first and foremost, and possibly most photographed when it comes to military weddings, is the saber and rifle arch. The saber and rifle arch is has traditionally been at the end of the ceremony, and operates as a grand exit for the couple. Sabers are strictly reserved for officers, while rifles are used for enlisted members. The team operating the arch almost always where’s pristine, white gloves. If you areconsidering an arch, be sure to inquire at your venue if it’s allowed – as you can imagine, a venue may not be too keen on having operational weapons on their grounds, or the church may ask you to have your arch line up outside.

Saber Arch Captured by  Amy Arrington

Saber Arch Captured by Amy Arrington

Arch of Rifles captured by the  US Army

Arch of Rifles captured by the US Army

Speaking of sabers, it is traditional during the cutting of the cake to use the highest ranking officer’s saber as your cake knife. Now, whether or not you want to be wielding a saber around your beautiful cake will be totally up to you, but if you should decide to go that route, be aware of sanitizing the saber so you’re good to go for eating your first slice and a married couple.

It must also be noted that for seating throughout the reception, if you are doing assigned seating, to do so by rank. For the ceremony, it is also traditional to reserve seats for high ranking attendees (including veterans), and to have their seats reserved by family members. Observing the intricacies of hierarchy is not only following the rules and regulations of the military, but is a generous olive branch in acknowledging the lifestyle of your significant other. 

Another tradition, though more so of just a fun aspect you can incorporate and has become popular in recent years, is that of party shirts. If you've attended a formal event with your service member, you might've noticed a few folks wearing these. Party shirts are generally shirts where the back and sleeves have been replaced by fun fabric, and are commonly seen when folks are in Mess Dress (aka their tuxedo equivalent of a uniform). You can have a lot of freedom with party shirts, especially if your groomsmen are all service members (also, what a neat gift to give them the Day Of!). 

Party Shirts Captured by  Alex M

Party Shirts Captured by Alex M

Finally, the biggest tradition and perhaps most observed is that of wearing their uniform. Whether you decide on black-tie (which would be Mess for your service members) or business casual (which would lend itself to be Service), letting your attendees know what level of formality to expect will keep not only continuity throughout the ceremony and reception, but as someone who is currently serving, your obligated to give that nod. However, much like that of recently separated veterans, your service member is not obligated to wear a uniform at all; it is completely up to you and your future spouse as to that. If your service member is in the Guard or Reserves, it is suggested that they not consider wearing their uniform, or observe many of the traditions outlined above. 

However, the question at large left to answer is should you have these traditions incorporated into your wedding?

And the answer is both yes and no. 

Contrary to what many believe, unless you are not an American citizen, the government does not care who their service members marry. Like a regular job, they still have to report the change in marital status to HR, and you'll have to enroll is DEERS and Tricare, become their Power of Attorney (which I strongly's a struggle to pay the bills when you're FIL is still POA and you don't quite have bank accounts sorted out). Though it is generous to invite their coworkers, as you would consider if you were not marrying someone in the military or separated, there is a level of formality and tradition that is expected, and with that comes the uniforms and the arches, and wording your invitations differently (which will be coming soon, I promise!). This is a trial run for the rest of your lives together -- observing, acknowledging, and incorporating the different facets of your service member's life into yours, and knowing that there is something bigger that both of you are going to be a part of. 

I hope this little guide relating to some of the wedding traditions of the military helps you as you plan your big day! As someone who is a Milso and assists future Milspouses regularly, I love sharing this information and helping brides and grooms make sure that all the intricacies and details are followed through, and that they are pulled together in a tasteful and beautiful way. 

Happy planning,