Crashing waves. Snowcapped mountains. Centuries-old castles. Last year, a few Baton Rouge brides brought their weddings out of the Bayou State with the goal of not only finding stunning big-day backdrops but also making memories with a small group of loved ones.
“Quality time is my love language,” says Lauren Whittle, an event coordinator who married her husband Adam Coe in West Palm Beach, Florida, last September. “I’ve been to a destination wedding before, and I loved seeing how everyone bonded and formed relationships that wouldn’t have necessarily happened otherwise. That’s what I really wanted—to be able to spend more time with the people in our lives.”
Situated with clear views of the Atlantic, the Ocean Lawn at The Breakers Palm Beach resort served as the setting for Lauren and Adam’s nuptial ceremony. All 130 guests also received invitations to the rehearsal dinner, and because guests were able to meet and mingle with the bride and groom there—not to mention during time spent poolside or during other resort activities—by the time the wedding day came, the bride and groom were able to focus purely on one another without the pressure of playing host.
“Since The Breakers hosts weddings all the time, the staff was able to plan our wedding in about a week,” says Lauren, who hosted the wedding reception in the resort’s Circle Ballroom, a space dominated by a sparkling chandelier à la Beauty and the Beast. “It took a lot of pressure off us, and forced us to be decisive about details.”
Katie Baron also took a fast track to wedding planning after becoming engaged to Joey Migues and organizing their ceremony for a snowy New Year’s Eve in Whitefish, Montana. Katie, a Baton Rouge native and Realtor, has always loved to travel, and after the couple expressed their first “I love you” at the top of a Colorado mountain, they knew they wanted to celebrate their union in a place with a similar sense of awe. Katie chose Whitefish for its beautiful ski slopes situated between glacial landscapes.
“My husband had never skied before, so before the wedding he took some lessons with my nephews,” says Katie. “I didn’t even have time to stress because we were constantly on sleigh rides or skiing or just hanging out with everybody, and since it was a small, 45-person wedding, we got to talk with all of them instead of just seeing them for five minutes before the wedding.”
For Katie, the small guest list didn’t amount to a massive sacrifice—not after becoming an honoree at 2021’s Best Dressed Ball just a few months earlier, where she spent the night among 1,200 people. The intimacy of the Holt Stage Hideaway venue, a red barn in Montana’s Flathead Valley, and the -8-degree temperature only amplified the sense of coziness at the ceremony and reception. Katie even chose a meal of casual Montana barbecue for her rehearsal dinner.
“My dear friend married us, another dear friend said a prayer over us, and that friend’s sister sang our first dance song,” says Katie. “It was just so focused around our people, and that made it really special.”
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, another couple was celebrating the first months of marriage in the university town of St. Andrews, Scotland, not far from the Church of St. Mary on the Rocks, the medieval ruin that served as the makeshift backdrop of their COVID-era July wedding. For Claire Landreneau and Nathan Poole, an unexpected change in venue turned into an experience they couldn’t have replicated anywhere else.
“We were supposed to get married in Baton Rouge and had the whole thing planned out, including the dress,” says Claire, who is studying for her master’s degree in medieval history and biblical studies from the University of St. Andrews, the same place where she met her Manchester-born husband as an undergraduate. “But restrictions were really intense in Scotland, and Nathan couldn’t enter the U.S., so we ended up scrapping everything and planning a new ceremony—with no invitations or anything—in about two weeks.”
Restrictions forbade indoor ceremonies but allowed limited gatherings on public land, which meant that the couple tied the knot in a civil ceremony with Nathan’s family and Claire’s fresh-out-of-quarantine mother, brother and sister in attendance—along with any other onlookers who paused to applaud from the street. As for the dress, Claire ended up wearing the white gown she last wore for her Le Cercle de Bacchus presentation ball in Baton Rouge, a selection Nathan helped her make during his first visit to see her in the States.
“My sister handled the flowers, made the cake, and had the rest of my family write letters to me, which was really sweet, and we had an impromptu barbecue rehearsal dinner at an Airbnb,” says Claire, who still plans to have a larger ceremony in Baton Rouge when timing allows. “Even so, this is the place where we met and decided to have a life together. We were able to visit our favorite spots and take photos in these places that feel so magical and quaint. It just ended up feeling perfect, like being in a storybook.”
This story originally appeared in the 2022-2023 inRegister Weddings issue.