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REAL WEDDING:: Francesca Tusa + Stanton Levi Middleton, IV {MARRYING MIDDLETON}

Francesca and Stanton's reception ended with a Second Line and a confetti drop over the dance floor.::AS SEEN IN THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF NOW WEDDINGS MAGAZINE::

Written By: Jessica Burke | Photos: Studio Tran

:: Be sure to scroll to the end to see Francesca & Stanton’s video by Dyle Films ::

Francesca and Stanton grew up around the corner from each other, but only met when introduced by their parents at St. Clement of Rome in June of 2016. It wouldn’t be until 6 months later at a New Year’s Day party that they’d reconnect and the rest, as they say, is history!

“We got engaged on December 15, 2019, right before COVID rocked our world,” shares Francesca. Stanton presented her with an engagement ring on his parent’s balcony overlooking the Mississippi River. Caught completely off guard, she replied “Oh my god. Are you joking me? Is that real?” Then she said “yes!”

The lace, laser cut invitations by Rudman's Gifts.
Rudman’s Gifts created Francesca and Stanton’s elegant laser cut lace wedding invitations.

“Stan and I knew that no matter what happened with our wedding and COVID, we both agreed that we would not reschedule,” Francesca says. “Marriage was our top priority and we didn’t care if there were 5 people or 500 people at our wedding because the big party wasn’t important to us. We wanted the marriage.”

Francesca's engagement ring.

The couple held the faith throughout 2020 that everything would work out as planned and that their wedding wouldn’t be impacted. Then 10 days before, the Mayor of New Orleans announced even tighter restrictions on gatherings, limiting their venue to 5 guests from the same household. Not wanting to uninvite all of their guests on such short notice, the couple sought out alternative locations. Fortunately, Stanton’s parents were members of Metairie Country Club where the rehearsal dinner had been planned and they were able to host the reception as well!

“I remember meeting with the event planner, Jennifer Keen, at Metairie Country Club nine days before the wedding and completely replanning the reception,” shares Francesca. “It was stressful, but ended up being so worth it!”

Francesca's wedding gown

Francesca found her dream dress while on an impromptu shopping trip with her mother. “I grew up watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’, and expected my bridal dress shopping experience would be just like what I saw on TV,” she shares. “Nope! Less than a week after getting engaged, my mother and I were running errands and decided to stop into Yvonne LaFleur only to browse. I tried on 4 different styles of dresses before I found MY gown. Mrs. Yvonne asked me if I would try on her favorite dress in the store. I agreed (because who can say no to Yvonne LaFleur?!) and once I was in the dress, I was speechless.” 

At first Francesca was unsure if this gown was “the one” as it was not what she’d imagined she’d wear on her wedding day; however, the longer she wore it, the more she fell in love with it. “After about 5 minutes in the dress, my heart was telling me that I was meant to wear this dress on my wedding day because it was traditional and purely elegant. “I said ‘yes’ to the dress!” she shares.

Francesca and Stanton's first look in the Ritz Carlton's courtyard.

On the wedding day, Stanton saw Francesca in her luxurious gown for the first time in the courtyard of the Ritz Carlton. The First Look was a favorite for both the bride and the groom. 

“The first look was the best part of the entire wedding day!” says Francesca. “It was such a special moment for us. It was the moment when both of us realized that amidst all of the craziness we encountered the week leading up to the wedding, we had made it through and we were just moments away from getting married. It was truly like a weight was lifted off of our shoulders. It was the moment I laid eyes on my Stanton that I knew my heart was at peace. We both knew that we had made it to the finish line, and if we could survive our wedding planning experience, we could do anything together!”

Francesca's father walks her down the aisle.

After a traditional Catholic ceremony at Immaculate Conception Church, the couple and their guests celebrated the newlyweds at the reception.

Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church

The first kiss

For the wedding cake, Francesca wanted a very traditional and elegant design. “The cake had a lace design that resembled the lace on my wedding gown,” she says, “and the fondant flowers added another element of femininity.”

The wedding cake

Francesca surprised Stanton with his groom’s cake. “I designed his cake based off of two of his favorite things: whiskey and cigars.” La Louisiane crafted the cake with a Bulleit Rye bottle, Stanton’s favorite. The cigar bands included the “S&F” design from the wedding invitations by Rudman’s Gifts and the cake also featured a whiskey barrel with “Middleton, est. 2021” on the front. “He ended up loving it!” shares Francesca.

The bride and groom pose with the groom's cake

Guests watched as painter Denise Hopkins captured the wedding on canvas and took home Italian-themed favors – Baci chocolates and Italian almonds at the end of the night.

The favor table

The evening ended on a truly “New Orleans” note with a Second Line and a confetti drop over the dance floor.

The first dance




VIDEO: Dyle Films

INVITATIONS: Rudman’s Gifts

ADDITIONAL CREDITS: GETTING READY LOCATION: The Ritz Carlton, New Orleans | CEREMONY LOCATION: Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church | OFFICIANT: Fr. Andrew Rudmann with Fr. Luis Rodriguez, Fr. Joseph Krafft, D. Min., and Deacon Carlo Maniglia | REHEARSAL DINNER + RECEPTION: Metairie Country Club | BRIDE’S GOWN: Yvonne LaFleur | BRIDESMAIDS’ GOWNS: Alfred Sung, The Dessy Group | GROOM’S + GROOMSMENS’ ATTIRE: The Black Tux | PHOTOGRAPHY: Studio Tran | FLORALS: Bee’s Wedding Designs & Events | BAKERY: La Louisiane | CEREMONY MUSIC: Lisa Lafleur | RECEPTION ENTERTAINMENT: The Mixed Nuts | WEDDING PAINTER: Denise Hopkins | TRANSPORTATION: Bonomolo Limousines | MAKEUP + HAIR: Lauren Rodas (makeup) + Lyndsay Talley (hair), Up’Sa Daisy Salon | WEDDING PLANNER: Rhonda Tusa, Mother of the Bride | JEWELER: Aucoin Hart




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