Nicole and Tracey Get Married
Abby and I flew to New Orleans on December 3 to participate in the wedding of my sister Nicole Barron to Tracey Hammill at the New Orleans Athletic Club on the French Quarter. Our flight left Oklahoma City at 6 am, so we left Ada at 2:30 am, which meant getting up just after midnight for Abby. Despite only a few hours of sleep, our travels went without incident and we landed at Louis Armstrong International Airport at just after nine in the morning.
Our long-time friends Michael Zeiler and his wife Thea Goldsby drove to the “Big Easy” from their home in Norman, Oklahoma two days prior so they could see the sights of New Orleans before attending the wedding, and Michael agreed to be our chauffeur. We wanted to go to lunch somewhere special, so Nicole recommended La Peniché. It took all of Michael’s patience to find it in the cluster of one-way and oddly-angled streets near The Quarter, but once he did, he found a parking spot right in front of it.
Getting back to our hotel was a weird adventure in waiting in impatient, super-slow traffic, since, unknown to us, a parade was just starting up on Canal Street. When we finally arrived, Abby laid down for a well-deserved nap.
As evening approached, Abby and I got ready, and she looked absolutely radiant. Since I was the primary photographer, and Abby and Michael were my secondary shooters, we arrived at the Athletic Club about an hour early. We found the preparations were coming along nicely, and that as I suspected, there wouldn’t be a lot of light. It was a large, square room with high ceilings. However, with four chandeliers placed evenly, the light would be fairly constant, and had something of a romantic or dream-like quality to it.
Abby and Michael and I made some images of the scene before it filled with people, then kept an eye open for anyone we knew. Before long some of Nicole’s oldest friends walked through the door, and were very happy to see me again after many years. Also, it was a privilege to see my aunt Margie and her three daughters, Leslie, Stacy, and Valerie. I hadn’t actually seen my California cousins since 1974.
Since our parents are both gone, giving away the bride fell to me. After shooting my pre-wedding images, I handed my camera to Abby and waited for Nicole just outside the double doors of the room. When she arrived she seemed intensely nervous, so I told her to breathe and relax, and she tried, mostly without success. She peeked into the room, which she had not seen decorated, and was impressed.
Instead of live music or the traditional wedding march, Tracey had created a YouTube playlist of songs that were meaningful to both of them. The song they chose for the entrance of the participants was “Funeral for a Friend” by Elton John. Nicole picked the song because, as she explains, “I’ve always thought it’d make a great wedding march song (the way the music swells seems to announce a bride), and for another thing, I wanted to insert an homage to (the late) Vincent into the celebration somehow. We both loved that album, and the title of the song couldn’t be more appropriate.”
The actual ceremony went without incident.
Afterwards, the party started, including many of the staid traditions of weddings: the first dance, the first dance with the father (or in this case me), the throwing of the garter and the bouquet, and the cutting of the cake.
During my dance with Nicole, we mostly talked about how it was going, as well as the fact that the traditional first dances are boring for everyone who is waiting to have fun, and that the song was way too long.
Shortly after that, Tracey ascended to the balcony where he sang B. J. Thomas’s “Hooked on a Feeling,” much to everyone’s surprise. Nicole was blown away.
We gathered wedding party members for the customary group photos.
At the end of the night, everyone agreed it was a perfect wedding. Abby and I had lunch with Michael and Thea the next morning, then flew home to Oklahoma. It was a great trip.