One of 12 centerpieces created for Samantha and Harden’s rehearsal dinner.

Samantha’s chosen flowers in buckets; prepped and ready to be arranged.

Chair-back bouquets for the couple with their names written with gold pen.

Samantha rushes into the kitchen to give Chef Bobby a flashlight so he can keep cooking! The incredible staff held flashlights and added pillar candles to light the room.

During the toasts, Harden shows off a T-shirt that says “Game Over.”

A Spark They'll Never ForgetJohn Mark Church, Robert Chaffe and Harden Smith have been friends since kindergarten, so when Harden asked Samantha Ferrigno to marry him and she said “Yes!” we were thrilled and went into high gear. Robert’s mom wanted to host a party and other friends and family threw a bridal shower. Both Samantha’s and Harden’s parents were from out of town, so this couple planned everything themselves. When I found out that Samantha and her sister were doing the flowers for the rehearsal dinner, to be held at a private club on St. Charles Avenue, I immediately offered my help and took Samantha on a trip to the florist to see which flowers she loved. She had already picked out the flowers for her reception and wanted something different but just as personal for her rehearsal dinner.

Samantha chose pink, orange and melon-colored roses along with some rubrum lilies. She picked a menu with pizazz to match, beginning with an arugula salad with walnuts, bleu cheese and apples topped with vanilla dressing, followed by pomegranate sorbet.

The entrée was composed of two petite filets with pesto, smoked mashed potatoes with truffle oil and asparagus. To finish, Samantha chose cantaloupe mousse with kiwi, strawberry and pineapple.

The day of the rehearsal dinner, the flower arrangements were created and votive candles were placed on all of the tables. I left with everything totally under control – especially with the help of the club’s exceptional staff. My husband and I returned to the club at 5 p.m., to the roar of fire engines, a thick blanket of smoke and no electricity! A house only two doors down was completely in flames and Entergy had turned off the entire grid to keep the fire from spreading.

The staff was incredible! By the time the dinner started, they had lit candles on all of the tables and added pillar candles and flashlights that were positioned in the corners of the room. Cocktails and drinks were served and the evening went on as though nothing had happened. Because this club uses gas grills and stoves, Chef Bobby went on with the planned menu and the staff served everything beautifully.

As the toasts went on, all we could think of was how happy Samantha and Harden looked and that this was a night they would never forget! Of course, everyone was concerned for the family whose home was on fire and, thankfully, we found out that no was hurt. The wedding the next day was beautiful and Harden and Samantha are living happily ever after here in New Orleans!