The courtship of Gwendolyn Derbes Perrilliat and Richard Edward Turcotte began in a very conventional way, by being introduced by mutual friends in Gwendolyn’s hometown of New Orleans. But during their two-and-a-half years of dating, theirs would be a true whirlwind romance.
On a trip to New York City right before Christmas 2008, Richard asked Gwendolyn to be his wife. Gwendolyn had previously lived in New York City for several years so it was a fitting location for Richard’s proposal. The couple planned a wedding in New Orleans, where they met and where Gwendolyn’s family lives. Richard has a great love of the city, although he grew up the youngest of five children on a ranch in Sarita, Texas.
The Thursday before the wedding, the couple had an amazing rehearsal dinner downstairs at Arnaud’s in the French Quarter. As a surprise, near the end of the dinner, the groom hired Rebirth Brass Band to come and play a few sets for guests. It was a New Orleans-style good time through and through.
On the eve of the wedding, the bride’s and groom’s families and family friends hosted a patio party at Gwendolyn’s grandmother’s home for the out-of-town guests. Set in a beautiful French Quarter courtyard with a garden, patio and pool, the Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band provided the music.
The ceremony took place on June 13, 2009, at the chapel of the Academy of the Sacred Heart on St. Charles Avenue, where Gwendolyn attended, so it was an especially meaningful location to the bride and her family. She walked down the aisle in a strapless Vera Wang mermaid gown with fused Chantilly lace appliques and a pleated organza fan-tiered skirt from Saks Fifth Avenue in Dallas, Texas. Her veil was an heirloom, which most women in her family, including her mother and her cousin Hartley Meric Crunk, wore at their weddings.
Her bridesmaids wore strapless chocolate-brown cocktail-length gowns with tiered, ruffled skirts from Calypso in Dallas. Florist Meade Wenzel created the all-white bouquets for the bride and the bridesmaids.
In addition to the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the bridal party included seven flower girls, all daughters of Gwendolyn’s first cousins, and Richard’s nephew served as the ring bearer. “They were all precious!” the bride says.
Friends and family from near and far – including Texas, Hawaii, the Bahamas, Dubai and Canada – were in attendance. Gwendolyn’s college friends from Washington & Lee University and Richard’s college friends from Texas A&M University were all there to celebrate with the happy couple.
Following the traditional Catholic Mass and ceremony, guests gathered at the New Orleans Country Club for the reception. In the entrance hall, white roses, greenery and votive candles hung from curly willow and copper trees created by Meade Wenzel. Rust candelabras and iron sculptural pieces with hanging votives candles and flowers were strewn throughout the club, creating an elegant ambiance.
Rockin’ Dopsie & the Zydeco Twisters got guests on their feet, dancing all night long – especially Gwendolyn’s father, who never left the dance floor. Even Nell Nolan, the society columnist for the Times-Picayune, said, “When the dance floor beckons, Claiborne Perrilliat never misses a beat,” in her June 27 column.
The menu was an array of seafood and fine cuisine, including turtle soup, duck crêpes, shrimp cocktail, oyster shooters, a mashed potato bar and the Country Club’s famous fried catfish. The wedding cake, created by Swiss Confectionery, was a gorgeous five-tier creation with poured icing and sugared ribbons on each layer, topped with sugared calla lilies.
Near the end of the evening, the band members passed out tambourines to everyone to really get the music pumping. The band led the bride and groom in a second line, as they left their guests to stay at the Windsor Court Hotel.
The couple went on their honeymoon to Santorini and Athens in Greece and Istanbul for 12 days. They reside in Dallas, Texas where Gwendolyn is a director of development at the University of Texas at Dallas in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and Richard is self-employed with Turcotte Development Group in commercial real estate development.