A Southern Love Affair – Stylish New Orleans Wedding

Liberty and Bilal were first introduced in San Antonio, Texas, while both were working as medical instructors for the military. Over time Liberty began to notice that while attending the same social gatherings Bilal seemed to always gravitate towards her. In her words, "he was loud, he was funny, and it was hard not to like him; he was literally the life of EVERY party." After a year of acquaintanceship Bilal invited Liberty to his home for a Fourth of July party, where her "phone magically was left" behind. Returning the next day to pick it up, Bilal asked her on a formal date, and they have remained together ever since...

Read all about Liberty & Bilal's love story, proposal, and experiences in their stylish New Orleans wedding - featuring planning & design by MunaLuchi Coterie member Chris McKinley Events.

Bride & Groom: Liberty & Bilal
Occupations: Hospital Corpsman, United States Navy
Wedding Date: Saturday, May 26, 2018
Wedding Location: New Orleans

How did you both meet? It was June 2011, we met in San Antonio Texas at work, we were both instructors for Navy and Air Force enlisted hospital corpsman and medics. He was new and a mutual friend of ours was introducing him to everyone. I don’t think that we paid each other any mind at first. We then began to frequent the same groups and parties. I began to notice that he would make a seat right next to me in any room we were together in. He was loud, he was funny, and it was hard not to like him; he was literally the life of EVERY party. One day, about a year after we met, he invited me over to a 4th of July celebration and, my phone magically was left at his home. I had no choice but to return the next day to retrieve it. That was when he went in for the kill, offering to take me out to eat seafood. And the rest was history.

Tell us about the proposal. Bilal and I had been together for 4 years at this point, 3 of those years had been long distance with oceans between us. We had decided that we needed a little get away. I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and he had just returned to San Diego California from a 9 month deployment floating all over the world. We decided that Jamaica would be the easiest place for us to get-a-way. We chose an all-inclusive resort Montego Bay. It was great just to sit and be together. Looking back now, Bilal was unusually nervous during the first few days that we were there. November 4, 2016, after yoga one morning, we went back to our room and while sitting on the balcony, Bilal got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. He said he wanted it to be just the two of us when he asked. I was in shock, no words came, only tears. I finally accepted and we spent the rest of our vacation as an engaged couple…this was also the week Trump was elected President…it was a bitter sweet week.

How did you know they were "the one?" There was never one particular moment when I knew he was the one, rather it was a combination of moments. It was his first “I love you,” it was how he would come to my house just to wash my car, it was how he always gave me his last bite of food, it was how he supported every insane thing I’ve ever wanted to do, and lastly it was how he flew halfway across the world to show me that he was serious about making our long-distance relationship work.

What was wedding shopping like for you? The most time consuming and stressful part of the wedding shopping was getting the perfect gown. Otherwise, I did pick up little things like candles, gifts, etc., and that was really easy for me. I did most of it like two weeks prior to the wedding. I work best under pressure. Wedding favors were ordered a few months prior, and everything else was taken care of by my wonderful wedding planner.

Describe your wedding attire. I started my search for my bridal gown in Madrid, Spain. It was really hard because all of the samples were a size two and I was supposed to “imagine” what is would look like in my size, I couldn’t. I tried a few more wedding shops in the states, and they had dresses that actually fit, but I just did not feel inspired by any of them. After scrolling through Facebook, there was a cartoon bride that a friend of mine had posted. The dress that she was wearing was my dress! It was modest, it was simple, and I could imagine myself in it. After watching several YouTube videos, I came across a young lady whom claimed that there was a seamstress in Los Angeles that made her dress from scratch after she only showed them a photo. I quickly made my way to LA, showed them the cartoon bride, we made some minor adjustments, and one year later, I had a custom made, one of a kind bridal gown that I absolutely loved.
The Tux process was simple. After attending a bridal show in New Orleans, we had spoken to a tux company that could customize any combination of tuxedos that we wanted and they could also do most of the work over the phone and alterations in a few hours. This was the best option for us seeing as though we were not in New Orleans until three days before the wedding.

First dance song: "This is Why I Love You" by Major.
Entrance song: “Before I Let go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze

Wha is the best memory of your wedding? There were so many great memories from our wedding it’s really hard to pick just one. I would have to say that near the end of our second line, having our wedding party circle around us, and celebrate us was such a beautiful moment for the both of us. We chose our wedding party very carefully and every single one of them have been our family from the day we met them.

What’s the best advice you could give to engaged couples? The best advice I could give an engaged couple is to take your time in planning so that you get everything you want, there’s no rush. Everything is not going to go perfectly (believe me) but as long as you have done everything you could on your end, you will be satisfied. Make a list and knock things out one at a time. Ask for help when you need it and make sure that you get yourself a great team for support. Don’t expect anyone to do anything for free, pay for what you want. It’s your day, make sure that you have plenty of memories for the years to come!

Coordinator/Planner/Designer: Chris McKinley Events
Venue: Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel
Event Manager: Mina White; Samuel Blanchek
Catering: Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel
Cake: Tiona Johnson of Butter a Baked Boutique
Florals: Lauren Thomas of Fresh & Feaux
Hair: Jamie Griffin
Groomsmen Suits: Tuxedos To Geaux
Photographer: BNJ Photography
Videographer: Liz Trahan of Genuine Collective Films
Musician: Denise Gobert
Bridal Gown: Shin Bu Bridal
DJ: DJ Ronnie B
Brass Band: One Mind Brass Band

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