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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Randi Kreiss
Les bon temps roulez (the good times roll) in New Orleans

My niece Amy was always the quiet one at the table. Through years of rude, noisy family dinners, she listened more than she talked. She was calm and reserved. Sometimes it was hard to know what she was thinking. Now I know. She was thinking she wanted to dance through the streets of the New Orleans French Quarter when she got married, followed by a brass marching band.

Who would have guessed?

There’s something counterintuitive about a wedding in New Orleans. Just think about the piety of a wedding ceremony juxtaposed with the revelry of Bourbon Street.

But the Bourbon Street scene wasn’t what Amy and Jeff saw when they got engaged in the Crescent City last year and decided that was where they had to be married. These two young people, confirmed Brooklynites, saw the romance and character of the French Quarter, the elegance of the Greek Revival architecture and the grace of the Garden District mansions. They heard the soulful jazz drifting out of nearly every club and they smelled the dizzying aromas of etouffee and gumbo floating throughout the city. They ran along the Mississippi and stopped for beignets at Café Du Monde.

That’s what love is, isn’t it? They forgave the city its shortcomings and fell deeply in love with the place, even as they fell in love with each another. At their engagement (seen on video), Jeff got down on one knee as a street band played “It’s a Wonderful World,” and Amy said yes. So the date was set and they began the nearly full-time job of planning a destination wedding for more than 100 guests.

Then, in a remarkable (to me) turn of events, they asked me to marry them, to officiate at their wedding, something I had never done. They wanted me to write their ceremony. They asked an uncle of the bridegroom to co-officiate, bringing to the occasion some of the traditional Jewish prayers. We met several times during the year to talk about the “blueprint,” but Amy and Jeff never heard the words of the ceremony until the night they were wed.

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