Napoleon House Wedding Ceremony in the French Quarter
Michael Caswell Photography

Napoleon House Wedding Ceremony in the French Quarter

This Oregon couple's Napoleon House wedding took place in January, with the ceremony beginning right after sunset. This can be a challenging time to photograph outside, as there will typically be a mix of warm artificial light, such as the string lights hung above the courtyard, as well as some much cooler natural ambient light that remains for a period of time after sunset. I will sometimes use my flash to some extent in situations such as this, usually in a small amount that supplements the existing ambient light.

Napoleon House Courtyard Wedding

This was an intimate wedding with about 30 guests, which is about the right size for the Napoleon House courtyard, with an unconventional bride who wore a burgundy dress rather than the traditional white. Also, rather than her and the bridesmaids carrying bouquets, she instead had fans crafted, with each being in the color of the dress that person was wearing.

Bridal Fans

Before the ceremony though, the couple had a first look and we did some portraits in Exchange Place, which is only a few blocks away from Napoleon House and is probably my favorite spot to shoot in the French Quarter

Bride and Groom in Exchange Place

We also did some portraits around the venue itself, such as the cupola that overlooks the French Quarter.

Bride and groom in cupola at Napoleon House

On our way back down from this spot, I noticed an unused and somewhat grungy looking room with a dormer window that faces Chartres Street. With the worn paint, crumbling plaster and exposed lathe, I thought it would be the perfect spot for a dramatic silhouette of the couple.

Bride and groom silhouette in Napoleon House

I was appreciative that the couple decided to do a first look before the ceremony, as this was the only way we'd be able to get some daylight portraits of the two of them.

After the ceremony, the venue staff needed a few minutes to flip the courtyard space for the reception (setting up tables, moving chairs, etc.), so we took that opportunity to walk around the corner to the steps of the Supreme Court building for a group shot of all the guests in attendance, before returning to Napoleon House.

Wedding guests in French Quarter

The building that is now Napoleon House was constructed in 1814 by Nicholas Girod, who was the mayor of New Orleans at that time. The historical marker plaque on the outside of the building reads:

"Girod House – erected in 1814 by Nicholas Girod. The two story wing facing St. Louis Street was built by his brother, Claude Francois Girod, about 1787. Nicholas Girod was the mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815, and it is said that he offered his house as a place of refuge for Napoleon Bonaparte in a plot to rescue him from exile."

One small thing I particularly enjoy about photographing weddings at Napoleon House is their selection of background music for the restaurant downstairs... when I arrive before the event and am getting my equipment set up, the glorious sounds of symphonies by composers like Beethoven and Brahms can be heard.

Location: 500 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130.