New Orleans Plays Special Role in Rhode Island Nuptials

Claudia & John

June 18, 2016 • Bristol, Rhode Island

By Stacey Marcus | Wedding photography by Nicole Gesmondi Photographer, LLC

It seems that the stars of serendipity were shining on Dr. Claudia Pagliaro and John Callahan when they met on Fat Tuesday at Mardi Gras 2012 in New Orleans. Claudia was there attending a conference when she and her colleague, Karen, decided to skip the day’s activities and instead take part in Mardi Gras. They stopped by their hotel at the very moment John’s marching band veered off the parade route, headed toward Poydras Street. And that’s where Claudia’s and John’s worlds collided.

Anyone familiar with Mardi Gras knows about the tradition of tossing beads. Instead, John’s band, Irish Channel Corner Club, doled out kisses on the cheek and tissue-paper flowers. “We looked at each other and kissed on the cheek,” remembers Claudia. “I got a flower and we exchanged numbers, and that was it.”

Their long-distance love blossomed through e-mails and phone conversations. During their courtship John lived in New Orleans and Washington, D.C. while Claudia lived in Michigan, North Carolina and Rhode Island. They met for their first official date in Prospect Terrace Park in Providence, Rhode Island, overlooking the Roger Williams statue—a spot that has since become the couple’s “special place.”

On Easter weekend in 2015 the couple headed to their spot in the park. “Little did I know he had a ring in his pocket,” says Claudia. After enjoying ice skating and hot dogs, John proposed to her.

The couple’s wedding at Herreshoff Marine Museum had a distinct New Orleans flair, with the reception menu including gumbo, muffuletta sandwiches and wandies (Italian cookies). Highlights of the spirited celebration included a surprise appearance by the Hot Tamale Brass Band, which performed a line dance and paraded to “When the Saints Come Marching In” after the couple was pronounced husband and wife.

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