Jazz and Joie de Vivre: Cassandra and Matt Maharrey

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story by Lindsay Pace // Photography by Ryan Coon

Cassandra and Matt Maharrey met in a laundromat parking lot. To be exact, it was a laundromat in Fulton, Mississippi, where their friends from Itawamba Community College gathered to play guitar. On the night the couple met, their friends mysteriously disappeared.

“We still don’t know if they abandoned us on purpose,” Matt said.

The duo has come a long way since the 2013 encounter. They traded laundromat lots for Alaskan glaciers (one of which Matt proposed on), and are known by his father as “the adventurers.” A love for architecture and history captivates them both.

For that reason, New Orleans had always seemed a fitting place for their vows. Not to mention, their first trip together was to the city. Upon their March 2021 engagement, though, they reconsidered the idea. Protecting friends and family from pandemic travel was a priority. 

They decided upon All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Tupelo, a space that fosters their newly-kindled faith. The task, then, was to bring New Orleans to Mississippi. The simplest way to accomplish that was through food and decor: they served shrimp poboys and red beans and rice; Mardis Gras beads were placed throughout the reception hall; French Quarter-style lamp posts served as centerpieces for each table. 

The showstopper, though, would be a Second Line.

 


 

A Second Line is a New Orleans tradition with ties to West Africa. In any context, whether funerals or weddings, Second Lines are joyful celebrations of life. The First Line is composed of the parade leader or grand marshal, while the Second Line is composed of those parading behind. Participants wave handkerchiefs and carry parasols – two accessories that distinguish this style of parade from others. 

As a gift to the couple, Matt’s father rounded up a jazz band – a crew of young musicians from the area – to lead a First Line up and down Jefferson street, ending at the church’s reception hall. 

“Most people thought, ‘What in the world? Why are we parading?’” Cassandra said. “But I love the tradition. It’s a celebration.”

When they returned to the parish hall, Cassandra asked for female volunteers. Fifteen women circled around her cake and were asked to pull a small, pink ribbon from the bottom of it – another New Orleans style practice called cake pulling. At the end of the ribbon was a small charm, which they would exchange for a fortune from Cassandra.

The couple says they wouldn’t change a thing about their wedding day, apart from making it longer. A contrast from their quiet first encounter, their wedding was a call to lean into joie de vivre.

“I’ve never seen some of our older relatives laugh and smile so much in my life,” Cassandra said.