Families, Fireworks and Fairies

The anatomy of a spectacular wedding

Jeff Cooke

When Michael Franklyn Griffith, Lead Instructional Technology Specialist and adjunct professor of English at Tulane University, surprised Morgan d’Lane Packard with a vintage rare color-change lavender sapphire ring, the wedding planning began! Morgan, editor of New Orleans Bride magazine as well as St. Charles Avenue and managing editor of New Orleans Magazine, had been working on the elements of weddings for several years, so she knew exactly what she wanted – almost! She knew that she wanted their wedding in City Park with the ceremony at the Peristyle and reception in a large tent on the Great Lawn, fireworks and Urban Earth to handle the overall look and florals. She and Mike enlisted the help of her mom and dad and event and wedding planner Terry Cambise. The ring set the tone for the color scheme – lavender and silver – in the bridesmaids’ dresses, fairy wings for the flower girls, fabrics on the tables and throughout the wedding.

Morgan’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Dighton Packard are from Dallas, Texas, and wanted their friends and family at their only child’s wedding – most were housed at the Windsor Court, where the Packards also held a celebratory brunch on Sunday after the wedding. They also gifted Morgan and Mike a spectacular painting from Frenchy, which he painted during the reception.

The first order of the planning was up to Cambise, who assembled all of the ideas that Morgan dreamed of with sketches from James Clawson of Urban Earth, who pictured window panes that greeted guests, giant trees, an “over the top” family table to symbolize both families coming together, the cake table as a focal point, swatches of fabrics, the tent and accents with lighting techniques and more. The elaborate lighting, which included a “moon” inside the tent, was designed by Nicholas Nevares of Solomon Group.

The Peristyle featured lavender lighting, windowpanes created out of branches and giant trees and flowers, and 400 Chiavari chairs – all over looking the bayou. The flower girls, complete with beautiful dresses and lavender wings, held baskets with lavender petals and wands, all created by Mrs. Packard. Jimmy Maxwell’s orchestra played music that had all of the family, bridesmaids, children and Morgan and her dad dancing up the aisle.

The couple asked Chef John Folse to create the menu for the evening, which included passed hors d’oeuvres – including crabcakes, lamb chops, and mini fried oyster poor boys – before dinner on the lawn while Jeremy Davenport’s quintet played. The fireworks display created by Pyrotecnico was timed for 8:45 p.m., when Davenport introduced Morgan and Mike as husband and wife. After they kissed, the guests were treated to the “great reveal” of the tent doors opening.

Guests walked into the magically decorated tent created by Urban Earth. Clawson and his team hoisted trees with cranes which they decorated elaborately, then lit them with firefly lighting, which changed all night long.

Chef Folse served cochon de lait as well as seafood displays, fruit, pasta and a duck, ham and chicken carving station and as well as a special “late-night menu” that included beignets and sliders.

The cake, created by La Louisiane Bakery, was poured fondant over traditional white almond wedding cake accented with almond and raspberry mousseline filling. The five tiers were decorated with white calla lilies. The tablecloth, created by Morgan’s mom included illusion netting from her own wedding dress and felt bells and doves sewn with sequins created by her friends. The canopy of lavender stock and white lilies was a dramatic focal point.

The family table centered the tent and brought the two families together. Urban Earth created a giant ball of silvered hydrangeas accented with lavender lighting, four dome covered cakes made of all flowers and vases of lilies, orchids and so much more. Jim Perrier of Perrier Party Rentals created tablecloths just for the night. Each of the 20 round tables had a different arrangement. Event Rentals created the tent, structures, glass walls and air conditioning.

Music by Bonerama with special guest Dave Malone from the Radiators played all night. Morgan and Mike’s first dance was to “Such A Night” by Dr. John; she and her dad danced to “What a Wonderful World” and a jam version of “Froggy Went a Courtin’,” the song that he sang to her as a child; Mike and his mother, Betty Collins Griffith danced to “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon.

The Scotch and Cigar Bar had comfortable sofas behind lavish windowpanes. The futuristic movie Metropolis, a black and white 1927 film, played while guests had bourbon and cigars.

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