Bells Are RingingFamily friends create a magical wedding party for a special couple

Veronica Swanson and Jamie Beard—from California and Connecticut, respectively—were married in New Orleans in November 2004. Veronica’s family, the Pipes, have lived in New Orleans since the early 1800s and she graduated from Tulane University. Veronica chose to have her wedding in New Orleans to celebrate her ancestral roots and her love of the city.
A few days before the wedding, longtime family friends Hunter and Lynne White, me and my husband Johnny, and Priscilla Jordan hosted a cocktail buffet and dance for guests who hailed from all over the world: Paris, London, Venezuela, Chile, New York and California. It was the first party the couple would attend in New Orleans after they arrived, so we chose the 1830s Garden District home of the Whites to showcase the Old-World charm of our incredible city.
Priscilla, who is a world-renowned designer and decorator, orchestrated all of the flower arrangements. Her designs were inspired by Veronica—by her femininity and sophisticated style. Color and scale also dictated that flowers would be used in each of the palatial rooms. Native plant material from the Whites’ garden accented each arrangement: elephant ears, giant ginger and fatsia.
As guests arrived, they were greeted by the hosts and serenaded by Jimmy Maxwell at the piano. There was an array of Swanson wines (Veronica’s parents—Elizabeth and Clarke—own Swanson Vineyards in Napa) and New Orleans most famous seafood dishes created by Epsie Hennessey, including those with shrimp, oysters and crabmeat. Set against lavish arrangements created by Priscilla, everything wowed Veronica and Jamie and set the tone for the incredible wedding weekend to come. •