On Matalin “Matty” Carville’s very first day of work at New Orleans City Hall, she met the man she was meant to be with; but it happened to be his last day of work there. Luckily, she later reconnected with Sam Joel at a co-worker’s going away party. Or, maybe it wasn’t luck. “A psychic had predicted this meeting, in detail, to me,” Matty shares. The psychic also told her that Matty and her soulmate had been split from the same atom and met countless times before in previous lifetimes. This lifetime was to become the one they’d got married in.
Even though she certainly knew Sam was the one, Matty didn’t know the proposal was coming. “Sam is a master of surprise,” she says. “We got engaged on the rooftop garden of Sam’s cherished grandmother’s Midtown apartment in October 2018. Sam’s dad, a professional photographer, was waiting in the wings to capture the moment. When we walked back into the apartment, Sam had invited an intimate circle of family and friends to surprise me.” They celebrated with a custom menu at one of Matty’s favorite restaurants.
When it came to wedding planning, they started with what they didn’t want. “In our first meeting, I told planner Allison Jackson how important it was for our guests to feel comfortable,” Matty recalls. “I wrote out a list of everything I ever hated about going to weddings, and asked her if we could eliminate or improve on as many of those things as possible. I wanted the vibe to be Friday night at your favorite bar in New Orleans—but in the mountains. I love the aesthetic of Jack Rose, a restaurant in the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans, so that’s where we had our meeting.”
The venue, at least, was a no-brainer. “The Matalin-Carville family farm—built in 1753, and bought by Matty’s parents six months before Matty was born—is where Matty and her sister spent their early years,” the couple shares. “It’s where they always gathered for the most important and special events in their lives.” The bride’s wedding would be no different. From there, the couple pegged vendors who matched their creativity and enthusiasm for doing something unexpected. “We wanted to think really out-of-the-box and have a lot of fun,” they say. Of course, nods to their psychic-predicted meeting and soulmate status were woven into the celebration.
Read on to see all the playfully unique details of Matty and Sam’s November 6, 2021, wedding day, planned by Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions and photographed by Kate Headley.
The palette was pulled from “colors of nature, autumnal jewel tones, and a variety of textures,” Matty says. “We love bird watching together in Audubon Park in New Orleans, so we incorporated a bird motif throughout.”
While this lead to a beautiful invitation design, getting them to guests was a challenge. They changed their date due to the pandemic, then the new invites were shipped during hurricane season in Louisiana, where many of their 250 guests reside. “Our invitation send-out unfortunately coincided with Hurricane Ida, so everyone’s mail was disrupted and many were evacuated for long periods of time. Some folks’ hard copy of the invitation arrived a month after our wedding,” Matty says. “To all future brides, I would recommend the practice of perspective and laughing at the things you just can’t control.”
We wanted our guests to know that we love them so much, and that their presence at our wedding means so much.
The personalized touches was endless, and the couple took on quite a few DIYs. “The best example would be our guest goody bags,” they say. “We had fun cups made with our name and date; gave out copies of Matty’s grandmother’s cookbook; and even had T-shirts made that said, ‘Someone in the Shenandoah Valley Loves Me.’ Was it cheesy? Sure. Did we care? Hell no! We wanted our guests to know that we love them so much. We know things have been difficult for everyone and their presence at our wedding means that much more because of it.”
For her bridal attire, Matty paired a crepe Sarah Seven gown with an overskirt by Alexandra Grecco. “I had long been a fan of Sarah Seven; all her gowns are so chic,” the bride says. “It was the first one I tried on, and my heart knew immediately. I paired it with the overskirt at the suggestion of my sister—the most stylish person I know—and I fell in love with the combo. The other key was trying it on with the cathedral-length veil. I also wore a bow from my mother’s wedding gown, which she hand-sewed onto the back of my skirt.”
Matty’s makeup look was effortlessly beautiful, with hair was inspired by her mother. “My mom wore a Vera Wang headband on her wedding day, and I wanted to mirror that with a white headband that I had [our florist] decorate with fresh flowers,” Matty says. “It felt really glam and fun, and my hair was out of my face so I could dance all night.”
“The best, best accessory was the homemade flower crowns my cousin made for all the kids,” Matty shares. “Her daughter was one of our flower girls, and she was sure to model it like a pro and show the other kids how to wear it with enthusiasm. We also had cute little signs for our kiddos to wear down the aisle—things like, ‘I’m just here for the cake!’ and ‘Has anyone seen the rings?’ It added levity and humor in a serious moment.”
As guests entered the ceremony space, they were greeted with warm spiked local apple cider and savory parmesan rosemary shortbread. “The focal point of our ceremony decor was the floating chuppah, which was designed by Amaryllis Floral & Event Design. The die-cut wood chuppah frame was suspended from the poles of our sailcloth tent,” Matty describes. “The corners of the chuppah were adorned with silk ribbons. During our ceremony, special friends and family members pinned photos of lost loved ones to the ribbons.” To make the event more intimate and inclusive, they set their ceremony in the round.
Matty’s dad, James Carville—a well-known political strategist, commentator, and author—walked her down the aisle to the sounds of “Stand by Me” strummed by a string quartet. Her mother, meanwhile, looked very chic in pink. “She wore a Carolina Herrera dress and accessorized it with an Oscar de la Renta boa and vintage Givenchy opera coat,” Matty says. “She also carried a small posy of roses and dahlias, accented with peacock feathers, a symbol of good luck.”
There was no first look, as the bride and groom wanted to see each ofter for the first time at the ends of the aisle. “It was amazing,” Matty shares. “I got the teary-eyed photo of Sam under the chuppah that I always wanted!” During the ceremony, “I loved sharing our Jewish faith traditions with Matty’s Catholic family, and I loved that they loved it,” Sam says. “I’m also so glad we wrote our own vows. We really said everything we needed to say [and] made promises we’re excited to keep. To me, that’s the best way to start life together.”
Guests tossed birdseed and confetti at the newlyweds as they retreated down the aisle. “Our recessional was a traditional hymn, but it morphed into ‘Jambalaya (On the Bayou)’ by Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ray Charles, which my dad arranged as a surprise on our wedding day,” Matty says. “Guests were dancing down the aisle as they made their way out of the tent to the cocktail hour.”
The newlyweds traversed the property to enjoy the first few moments as husband and wife, and took portraits with their photographer Kate Headley.
“An oversized wooden wagon held candles and soaps my mother made in the months leading up to our wedding day for each guest,” Matty says. Guests filled swag bags and snapped photos in a vintage trailer during cocktail hour, while a Cajun zydeco band created a festive atmosphere. “We had a variety of signature cocktails inspired by our family and friends,” Matty says. “We clipped fortunes to cocktails and served them with tarot card coasters as a fun nod to our psychic-predicted meeting.”
We melded NOLA’s spirit of fun and exuberance with the bucolic elegance of the Shenandoah Valley.
The reception tent decor was inspired by Jack Rose, the New Orleans restaurant where they’d had that first meeting with their planner. “Allison suggested we approach the design by melding NOLA’s spirit of fun and exuberance with the bucolic elegance of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley,” Matty says. “Our tent was draped in rich textured peacock-blue fabric and finished at the top with a patterned valance. Wrought-iron and gold-leaf lanterns with pillar candles, Southern smilax, and dripping jewel-toned flowers filled the ceiling of the tent for a whimsical and lush look.”
“A large oval mahogany bar featured decorative panels with a bold coordinating print,” Matty continues. “The center of the bar housed a large shelving unit filled with botanicals and curiosities—even a peacock, which is a known omen foretelling success and luck.”
The bandstand was created from a wooden wall painted brick red and decorated with disco balls and a neon sign reading “You Belong Here.”
Their semi-naked cake was adorned with sugar flowers, fresh figs, and Seckel pears—and there were more treats, as well. “Our groom’s cake was a delicious loaf of challah surrounded by honeycomb and fresh figs. Southern sweets like Mississippi mud bars and lemon squares rounded out the dessert menu.”
Dinner was an homage to New Orleans. “Roasted outside our tent in an antique trailer, traditional cajun-style whole suckling pig was served at a butcher-block table with local apple chutney,” Matty says. There was also jambalaya, New Orleans roast beef debris, and blackened redfish. The couple even served a famous salad recipe pulled from the Carville family cookbook.
The duo had their first dance to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” then the party got going. “Reaching out for Sam’s hand and looking over the crowd together when we were lifted up for the hora, I thanked my lucky stars for the health and presence of everyone there,” Matty shares of her most cherished moment from the day. “I tried to just melt into the blessings around me.”
Fireworks erupted as a surprise grand finale to the evening, while chicken sliders and paper cones of tater tots were passed around. Looking back on the day, Matty has some advice for other to-be-weds. “Be bold, lead with kindness, politely ask for what you want, and cultivate your own style and infuse that into your wedding in a way that genuinely celebrates the love you have for your partner, your family, and your guests,” she says. “Also, trust the professionals—you’ll be blown away by their creativity.”