When Kayla Grace Valls and Nicholas Perry Hansel were introduced by a mutual friend, they spoke for only a few minutes. Despite the fact that he was moving to Washington, DC, the next week, Nick knew he wanted to get to know Gracie better and asked her on a date. They ended up spending Nick’s entire last week in New Orleans together, even meeting each other’s families. By the end of the week, they knew they wanted to keep seeing each other, and a few months later they decided to try and make a long-distance relationship work. Two years (and many frequent flyer miles) later, Gracie was elated when Nick decided to move back home.

Fifteen months after returning to New Orleans, Nick told Gracie that they were stopping by to see some family friends at their condo on Jackson Square before going to dinner. Little did she know a photographer was hiding nearby with a camera, and Nick’s sister was waiting to film a video. As they were walking by the Cathedral, Gracie was stunned with Nick got down on one knee! She said yes through happy tears, and the couple celebrated a toast with their families at the condo.

With the joy of the engagement, it was almost possible to forget that they were in the middle of a global pandemic. However, COVID soon became a factor in their wedding planning. After a close family member had a health scare, they decided to get married as soon as possible, realizing that spending their special day with the people they loved the most was the most important thing to them. They set the date for just over a month away when many family members would already be in town.

With little time to plan, their loved ones sprang into action to help make their day unforgettable. Nick’s father and stepmother offered to host the wedding at their home, where they constructed an aisle and stage on the front lawn. Family members and friends pitched in to create the flowers and décor for the ceremony and reception. Even the guests became part of the décor; women wore light neutrals and men wore dark suits to complement the wedding’s color scheme.

On December 26, 2020, Gracie walked down the aisle wearing a custom ivory gown made by local designer Kathleen Van Horn from KVH Designs. She and Nick were pronounced husband and wife by family friend Debra Hoffman, who officiated with assistance from Nick’s stepfather.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests enjoyed catering by Greg Reggio, cofounder of Taste Buds Catering and Events, and a delicious wedding cake made by Barbara Bagert. Their smiles during the festivities were captured by photographers Carmin Frisard, Julianna Crozier and Sophia Petrou. Videography by Chris Williams, founder of Divine Media Arts, ensured that Gracie and Nick would be able to relive their wedding day for a lifetime.

The couple capped off their celebration with a trip to Malibu and Santa Monica for a long weekend as a “mini-moon.” They then returned home to New Orleans, where Gracie works as a Real Estate Agent for Latter & Blum based in their Garden District Office and Nick works in finance for Focus Automated Equities. The couple has exciting plans for the future, including a big post-pandemic party to celebrate their marriage and an extended three-week honeymoon in France, Ireland and the United Kingdom!

➺ Wedding Details

Ceremony Music: Taylor Capielano (brother-in-law of the groom)

Makeup: Abby Manuel with Abby Manuel Makeup

Hair: Sydney Staehle with Staehle Beauty, LLC

Photographer: Carmin Frisard