Nighttime Elopement at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel

Everyone has seen traditional wedding portraits taken in glowing, golden sunlight. Those images can be incredible, but there’s something uniquely romantic about portraits taken at night. Nicole and Jake’s elopement at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel took place almost entirely after dark. It gave me a chance to use artificial lighting that highlighted the edgy, editorial atmosphere.

A bride and groom exchange vows at the altar of the French Quarter Wedding Chapel.

The French Quarter Wedding Chapel

Jake and Nicole have been together for several years. He’s a tattoo artist, as evidenced by all of their ink. She’s a hairstylist with amazing taste. Together they have a beautiful, blended family with six kids. For their elopement, they traveled from the Houston area. They chose the French Quarter Wedding Chapel for their informal wedding celebration.

A woman helps a bride put on a long white veil.
A bride poses for Polaroid portraits in her hotel room.
A woman poses in a lace wedding dress in a New Orleans hotel.
Details of a lace wedding dress include a high color and buttons.

Since it opened in 2000, the French Quarter Wedding Chapel has become a bit of an institution. As the only wedding chapel in the French Quarter, it’s ideal if you want vintage elopement vibes in the heart of the historic district. You can book a ceremony day or night any day of the week as long as you do so in advance. Reverend Tony Talevera, the sometimes quirky officiant, makes sure ceremonies are anything but boring.

Wedding guests gather outside the French Quarter wedding chapel.
Dollar bills hang from the ceiling of the New Orleans wedding chapel in rows.
A woman plays a harp in the corner of a chapel.

The French Quarter Wedding Chapel is an eclectic space. Wooden pews line either side of an aisle that leads to a white arch in front of gold curtains. Vintage chandeliers and colorful lamps light the room. Dollar bills, signed by previous couples, hang from the ceiling like oversized confetti. The unusual space is warm and welcoming.

Polaroid wedding photos show a groom waiting at the altar.
A man escorts a bride up the chapel's aisle.
Jake and Nicole laugh at Reverend Tony at the altar of the French Quarter Wedding Chapel.
Jake puts his hand on Nicole's waist beneath her veil.

Technically, the chapel has capacity for 50 people, but it’s a bit of a squeeze to seat so many people. Jake and Nicole decided that they wanted the feeling of an elopement with all of their favorite people around. They packed in as many of their loved ones as they could into the French Quarter Wedding Chapel. They definitely achieved that balance of intimacy and community. 

Jake and Nicole hold hands while they exchange vows at their New Orleans wedding.
Reverend Tony reads the vows for the New Orleans wedding ceremony.
Jake kisses Nicole at the end of the wedding ceremony.
Jake and Nicole laugh and turn to face their guests at the New Orleans wedding chapel.

Edgy Wedding Portraits

Jake and Nicole’s ceremony and reception took place entirely after dark. A lack of sunlight meant relying on artificial light, including direct flash. I’m always up for a challenge! In early conversations with Jake and Nicole, I emphasized that  using flash would make for edgier photos. We agreed that it fit their vibe perfectly.

Nicole sits in Jake's lap on a vintage red couch.
Nicole and Jake face the camera after their wedding ceremony.
Nicole poses in front of a French Quarter house in her wedding dress and veil.

Some of my favorite photos from the night are the portraits of Nicole getting ready with a lamp backlighting her. Their hotel room was small, which meant I had to get creative with posing. I trusted my gut and worked in a corner of the room that provided the most interesting light. Nicole looks hauntingly angelic in the soft light. These pre-ceremony portraits are so entrancing.

A bride and groom walk down a French Quarter street at night.
Nicole walks over a brick sidewalk in New Orleans.
Nicole holds her wedding bouquet of baby's breath flowers and smiles.

Overall Jake and Nicole’s elopement photos are some of the work that I’m most proud of to date. All were taken using artificial light sources, which is normally a smaller portion of my work. I was really intentional about the way I approached each part of the night. From the time that Jake and Nicole booked me, I thought constantly about how to document the event, what equipment I should use, and how much time to spend with each set up. These images are proof that any lighting can be beautiful and captivating if you use it right!

Jake and Nicole walk through the French Quarter before their wedding reception.
Black and white Polaroids show a couple standing under a white arch at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel.

An Editorial Approach with Direct Flash

Early on I decided to do a lot of the evening with direct flash. This technique is trending in wedding photography, but it has enough of a vintage effect that it doesn’t feel like it’s just a trend. The direct flash gives an edgy, editorial look that made so much sense for Nicole and Jake’s aesthetic. I especially love the way the flash lit their tattoos.

A bouquet and veil sit on the corner of a chapel pew.
Wedding guests gather in the chapel after the wedding ceremony.
Jake and Nicole pose with their kids in the chapel after their ceremony.

So much about these photos from Nicole and Jake’s elopement at the French Quarter Wedding Chapel is different from my previous work. I was able to use different techniques with artificial light sources because Nicole and Jake put so much trust in my vision and ability. Whatever I did, they trusted that it would turn out incredible. That trust gave me freedom to create something really unique.

Nicole signs their New Orleans marriage license.
Jake and Nicole cut their wedding cake.
Nicole feeds Jake a bite of wedding cake.

Would you like me to photograph your New Orleans elopement? Reach out to me! I can’t wait to learn more about your day.

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