Though Ella Monsted Bright and Christopher Lee Baldwin grew up in New Orleans, they went to different high schools and never knew each other. That changed when Chris’ cousin got engaged to one of Ella’s best friends in December 2018. Chris’ aunt introduced them that night.
Chris and Ella had their first date at Audubon Zoo in January 2019. Shortly after, Chris – who had only been in town for the holidays – returned to Houston. Luckily, there were many reasons for him to come back to New Orleans, and soon he and Ella were dating long-distance. As they got to know one another, they realized that their dads had grown up as next-door neighbors! More and more, it seemed like they were meant to be. Chris moved back home in January 2020.
The next month was his mom’s birthday, and Ella was planning to join the Baldwins at dinner. When Chris arrived to pick her up, he proposed out of the blue! Though it was a complete surprise, he must have known she would say yes, because when they arrived at dinner both of their families were waiting to celebrate.
That February day they couldn’t have imagined COVID would impact their wedding. However, they had enough time to work with their venues to create safe spaces for their special moments. Pre-wedding celebrations included two classic New Orleans restaurants – a bridesmaid’s luncheon at Brennan’s and a rehearsal dinner at Arnaud’s. The wedding day itself began and ended at Ella’s parents’ house, where she and her bridesmaids watched the setup for the reception come to life as they got ready in Mi Golondrina dresses. When they were ready, they headed to St. Stephen’s Church, where Ella’s parents and maternal grandparents had married. On November 14, 2020, Ella became the third generation to say her vows there.
When they arrived back at the Brights’ for the reception, Ella and Chris found a surprise front-porch bar stocked with wine purchased by her father and brother in the months leading up to the wedding. Above the bar hung a sign reading “The Star Bar – for one night only” made by Ella’s Aunt Holly. She also made other signs found around the reception, including “Temperature Check & Mask” and signs detailing special moments in the bride’s and groom’s lives.
The signs stood next to the pink, green and white décor designed to perfectly complement the Brights’ garden. In this elegant atmosphere, guests enjoyed sipping Ranch Water and Old Fashioneds. To pair with the cocktails, Joel Catering created a menu featuring ahi tuna cornettes, beef tenderloin, fried chicken and a grits station. Aquarius Desserts and Pastries served up an unforgettable wedding cake.
After cutting the cake, the newlyweds drank from the same heirloom silver cup that Ella’s parents and grandparents had toasted with at their weddings. They danced their first dance to Louis Armstrong’s “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” which was special not only for its message but also because it was one of Chris’ dad’s favorite songs.
As guests left the reception, they were given burlap bags made by Sweet Olive Gifting Co. The bags featured two lovebirds flying – original artwork by Simon Gunning, commissioned by Ella’s parents. While saying goodbye to their guests, Ella wore her mother’s vintage denim jacket, which had been decorated for the occasion by Avery Rowan.
Ella wore the jacket frequently on their honeymoon, a week-long road trip through California. They then returned to New Orleans, where Ella is VP of Marketing for Standard Mortgage Chris works as a Commercial Manager for Seacor Holdings Inc.
Coordinator & Reception Décor: An.gle Events
Celebrant: Monsignor Christopher Nalty
Ceremony Music: vocalist Sarah Jane McMahon
Wedding Gown: Suzanne Perron
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale, Wedding Belles Nola
Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire: Tux, Perlis
Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands: Friend & Co.
Florist: Giverny Designs
Photographer: Elizabeth Dondis
Videographer: Bride Film
Hair: Heather Mahoney, H20
Makeup: Tisa Beauty Bar (bride) & H20
Music: cocktail hour electric violinist Shaun Ward followed by Az IzZ