A Big Easy Wedding, December 2011

Nicole and Tracey Get Married

Nicole Barron Hammill and Tracey Hammill, married December 3, 2011.
Nicole Barron Hammill and Tracey Hammill, married December 3, 2011.

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.

New Orleans' famous French Quarter was our venue for this event.
New Orleans’ famous French Quarter was our venue for this event.

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.

This was the view from our downtown New Orleans Hotel.
This was the view from our downtown New Orleans Hotel.

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.

This is the large front room at the New Orleans Athletic Club, decorated for the wedding.
This is the large front room at the New Orleans Athletic Club, decorated for the wedding.
Abby smiles as we wait to photograph guests as they arrive for Nicole and Tracey's ceremony.
Abby smiles as we wait to photograph guests as they arrive for Nicole and Tracey’s ceremony.

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.

The decorations suited the venue and the occasion perfectly.
The decorations suited the venue and the occasion perfectly.

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.

This is my aunt Margaret with her daughters, my cousins Valerie, Stacy, and Leslie.
This is my aunt Margaret with her daughters, my cousins Valerie, Stacy, and Leslie.
Abby and I chat with Adrienne Roshon, who I hadn't seen since about 1995.
Abby and I chat with Adrienne Roshon, who I hadn’t seen since about 1995.

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.

Nicole beams as I escort her down the center aisle. At her request, when asked who gives away the bride, I said, "In honor of our mother and father, I do."
Nicole beams as I escort her down the center aisle. At her request, when asked who gives away the bride, I said, “In honor of our mother and father, I do.”

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.”

Nicole and Tracey share a laugh during a lighter moment of their ceremony.
Nicole and Tracey share a laugh during a lighter moment of their ceremony.
Nicole casts an adoring gaze at her new husband during the reception.
Nicole casts an adoring gaze at her new husband during the reception.

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.

Pictured are our cousins Valerie and Leslie, Nicole and Tracey, our aunt Margaret, cousin Stacy, Abby and me.
Pictured are our cousins Valerie and Leslie, Nicole and Tracey, our aunt Margaret, cousin Stacy, Abby and me.
Nicole feeds a bite of "wedding cake" (doughnuts) to Tracey in the time-honored custom.
Nicole feeds a bite of “wedding cake” (doughnuts) to Tracey in the time-honored custom.

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.

Additional images:

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Hammill."
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Hammill.”
Those in attendance burst into applause at the end of the ceremony.
Those in attendance burst into applause at the end of the ceremony.
An elated and gregarious bride mingles and laughs with the crowd.
An elated and gregarious bride mingles and laughs with the crowd.
Tracey sings "Hooked on a Feeling" to Nicole from the balcony...
Tracey sings “Hooked on a Feeling” to Nicole from the balcony…
...as Nicole looks up with amazement and adoration.
…as Nicole looks up with amazement and adoration.
After photographing Nicole on the floor, I scampered up to the balcony to shoot Tracey.
After photographing Nicole on the floor, I scampered up to the balcony to shoot Tracey.
Tracey and Nicole share their first dance as husband and wife.
Tracey and Nicole share their first dance as husband and wife.
Their first dance was delayed slightly by a technical problem. It reminded me of all those times high school cheerleaders wait on the football field while someone in the press box tries to find the right song for their dance.
Their first dance was delayed slightly by a technical problem. It reminded me of all those times high school cheerleaders wait on the football field while someone in the press box tries to find the right song for their dance.
Bride and bridesmaids.
Bride and bridesmaids.
Groom and groomsmen.
Groom and groomsmen.
Catching the bouquet.
Catching the bouquet.
Catching the garter.
Catching the garter.
Nicole and Tracy look at each other longingly as they complete their wedding ceremony.
Nicole and Tracy look at each other longingly as they complete their wedding ceremony.
Nicole and Tracey hold hands as they exchange vows.
Nicole and Tracey hold hands as they exchange vows.
Abby and I pose with Nicole and Tracey.
Abby and I pose with Nicole and Tracey.
Adrienne and Tracey dance the night away during the reception.
Adrienne and Tracey dance the night away during the reception.
Margaret, Valerie and Leslie chat with Nicole and Tracey during the reception.
Margaret, Valerie and Leslie chat with Nicole and Tracey during the reception.
I danced with Nicole in lieu of our late father; it is a widely documented fact that I have no idea how to dance.
I danced with Nicole in lieu of our late father; it is a widely documented fact that I have no idea how to dance.
Tracey and Nicole listen as the Best Man makes the traditional toast.
Tracey and Nicole listen as the Best Man makes the traditional toast.
Tracey attempts to arrange a photo with his wife and parents.
Tracey attempts to arrange a photo with his wife and parents.
Tracey's mother Gayle poses with the happy couple.
Tracey’s mother Gayle poses with the happy couple.
As we were leaving, Michael and Thea wanted to be photographed with Nicole; Michael's images of this event were an excellent addition to mine and Abby's.
As we were leaving, Michael and Thea wanted to be photographed with Nicole; Michael’s images of this event were an excellent addition to mine and Abby’s.
Tracey and Nicole walk down the aisle after exchanging vows in what could only be described as a perfect evening.
Tracey and Nicole walk down the aisle after exchanging vows in what could only be described as a perfect evening.
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3 Comments

  1. Not being a wedding aficionado, it does appear in these images to have been a wonderful event.

    As for the photos, it looked like you and your assistants performed amazingly — considering the lighting circumstances — capturing the joyous spirit of the occasion.

    It’s evident that the light was low, from the occasional motion blur and obvious noise reduction used in some images, but somehow you managed to make it appear bright and cheerful. 🙂

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