First Look Weddings, Weddings by Corine

Immaculate Conception Marche French Quarter Wedding | Sonja & Zeb

Married: December 28, 2019
Bridal Prep: Pere Marquette Marriott
Ceremony: Immaculate Conception
Reception: Marche
Videographer: Tim Mcaskill
Band / DJ: Patrick Almogela
Florist: Crystal Vase
Bakery: Bywater Bakery
Hair: Flawless Bride
Makeup: Flawless Bride
Brides Gown Designer: Morilee
Bridal Boutique: Marry & Tux Bridal (New Hampshire)
Tuxedo Store: Men’s Wearhouse

How did you meet?
Sonja and Zeb share friends in Stefanie and Jason Norris. Stefanie and Sonja worked together at UNC Wilmington, yelling at each other through an office wall, while Jason and Zeb both grew up in Sneads Ferry, NC, where they caused some ruckus together for years.

Stefanie had mentioned Zeb to Sonja for about a year, noting that he was Jason’s only single friend and suggesting that Sonja should meet him. Sonja was not interested in being fixed up. Stefanie was persistent though and found a way to finagle a meeting between Sonja and Zeb on October 18, 2014, when Zeb was in Wilmington for his 10-year high school reunion and she and Sonja were out downtown to celebrate the end of a work event.

Stefanie took Sonja to the Level 5 bar in downtown Wilmington after dinner, which also happened to be the reunion afterparty location for Zeb and his classmates. Stefanie sent Zeb over to where Sonja was chatting with some other UNCW colleagues with the opening line of, “I was told to come over and meet Dr. Sonja.” Sonja realized what was happening then and cautiously engaged in conversation with Zeb, who won her over with his dance moves and a little bit of charm.

Include a little bit about yourselves. What do you do?
Sonja is an educator, serving as an assistant professor of student affairs administration at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She teaches courses to graduate students who want to serve as university administrators and researches and writes about first generation college students, rurality, social class identity, and other topics.

Zeb is an information account executive for Travelers Insurance in Charlotte, NC. He works with businesses to analyze and understand their claim data.

How did the proposal go? Who proposed to who, were you surprised?
Sonja had been traveling a lot for work in November 2017 and was finishing up her fall semester when Zeb told her to “keep Saturday” December 16 for a day for just the two of them in downtown Boston (where they were living at the time). He told Sonja it was an early Christmas present and congratulations on the publication of her second book.

He reserved a hotel room at the historic Taj hotel near Newbury Street and the Boston Public Garden. The hotel is one of few in Boston (and the U.S.) that still has wood-burning fireplaces in its rooms.

After checking in, Zeb asked Sonja what she wanted to do and she suggested walking over to Frog Pond on the Boston Common to potentially go iceskating. They headed that way, winding their way through the Boston Public Garden and taking in the frozen pond. Sonja suggested they pass by the Make Way for Ducklings statue to see what the ducks were wearing for winter (since the ducks are dressed up for each holiday).

Zeb got down on one knee at the statue and asked Sonja to marry him. Sonja was shocked and thrilled, immediately saying “yes!” and then repeatedly saying “this is so crazy.”

A few minutes passed and Sonja realized she knew someone at the statue – a former Boston University graduate student, Lyndsey – who Zeb had secretly contacted to capture pictures of the proposal. The rest of the day included celebrations all over Boston.

Where was your ceremony held and why did you pick this site?
Our ceremony was a full Catholic mass at Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in the Central Business District of New Orleans. We chose the church for its beauty, history, and prime location.

Where was your Reception held and why did you pick this site?
Marché on the riverfront was our reception location. Sonja loved its ceilings and floors, while Zeb appreciated the layout of the space and its outdoor space options.

What unique or special things did you do at the reception? (for example, ice sculptures, live painter, glow sticks, sun glasses, 2nd line band, mardi gras indians, memory table, the list goes on of fun things you may have done)
We tried to combine a bit of New Orleans traditions with Sonja’s Cajun culture to provide our guests with a more holistic representation of Louisiana. Our entrance into the reception was a second line, we served a variety of king cakes as our “wedding cake,” we had beads and Cajun (Slap Ya Momma) seasoning as favors, and we played a few Cajun songs throughout the night.

Pick one moment in the day that was your favorite thing?
Hands down, it was the dancing at the reception!! So much dancing! Our guests commented on how much of a party the reception was.

What was the inspiration behind picking the color palette and decor that you picked?
Since we were planning from afar and for a holiday wedding between Christmas and New Years, we picked colors to align with the Christmas decorations that would already be in the church and the color palette of Marché, so we ended up with white, gold, and black with some pops of red. It felt festive!

Who was your baker, what was the flavor of your cake? Was it delicious?!
We went with a variety of king cakes from Bywater Bakery. They were in fact delicious and allowed our guests, particularly those from out of town, to have a literal taste of Louisiana!

Did you do a first look? If so how did you feel about it? If not, do you wish you had?
We decided to partake in a first look in order to capture some photos downtown with our wedding party and families in daylight and to allow for more celebration time at the reception. It was the practical choice for us and we were happy with it.

What was your first dance song? Why this song?
Sonja has strong opinions about music and wanted a song that was not typical or overplayed on the radio. She selected four songs from which she and Zeb decided on Nick Angelo’s Til I’m Ninety Nine. It is an upbeat song that discusses a committed relationship and loving one another through all that life may bring.

Band or DJ? Did they rock it?
DJ – Pat Black. He was amazing! He kept everyone on the dance floor all night long and allowed many of our guests to relive their college days for a few hours. 🙂

We want to hear YOUR advice for future brides.
Do you. Lots of people will tell you that you have to have this or do that for your wedding, but you don’t. Make it your own so that it represents what you care about and who you are.

And try to be flexible. Something will go awry the week or day of your wedding. Know that. Expect it. Then roll with it. Those moments may end up being some of your favorites of the wedding (which I can attest to!).