Imagine it: Girl kisses girl at a New Year’s Eve party, a whirlwind romance follows and they exchange vows in a spectacular ceremony three years later, riding off into the sunset secure in a near-perfect love that began, quite by chance, when the two locked eyes one night.
It may sound like fiction but it’s real life for newlyweds Jennifer and Franchesca O’Connell. The Alpharetta pair recently marked their union with not one but two ceremonies — including a 110-person Atlanta celebration complete with a glamorous couture gown, provocative florals and a reception fit for a Cajun queen.
The gorgeous decor — described as steampunk with touches of Alexander McQueen — matched the personalities of this playful, upbeat couple. And to think, it all started with a random meeting — or did it?
“I was definitely trying to trap her,” Franchesca, 30, jokingly told Georgia Voice recently, wife Jennifer, 36, giggling at her side.
In fact the pair had crossed paths before that fateful New Year’s Eve, but didn’t quite hit it off.
“It was my best friend’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid,” said Franchesca, who noticed Jennifer when she was talking to an ex.
Through the casual encounter, the pair learned they both lived in Alpharetta and shared some of the same social circle and activities. Neither was looking for love. Yet when they reconnected at the New Year’s party, something sparked.
They kissed, and two weeks later, they were inseparable.
“It just kind of happened,” Jennifer, a medical business owner, said of the lucky meeting. “It was too good to pass up.”
And so, armed with a stunning five- karat halo-style ring, Jennifer proposed in August 2016, and the couple began planning for their eccentric ceremony.
Just a few months later, however, plans were thrown into a lurch by, of all things, politics. That November saw the surprising election of Republican Donald Trump, who threatened to reverse LGBTQ legislation across the country.
Suddenly, the couple’s glamorous October affair was up in the air. The women made a tough decision to hold a rooftop ceremony at Ventana’s downtown in February 2017.
“We weren’t certain that he wouldn’t put a hold on issuing marriage licenses to gay couples,” Jennifer said. “We wanted to make it legal just in case something happened before October.”
That modest ceremony lacked a full guest list and even custom vows, Franchesca said.
But the hairstylist and makeup artist more than made up for it on Oct. 21 when she walked down the aisle in a form-fitting satin gown, complete with crystal details and ivory tulle flourishes. Jennifer was striking in a deep pink Hugo Boss suit, an edgy choice that perfectly complemented their black-clad wedding party.
Franchesca said she envisioned lots of black with gold accents, dark burgundies and mauve. Her reception hall would include bell jars and found items, arrangements of rich mosses and berries and even acrobatic performers.
“I had a really strong vision of what I wanted,” Franchesca said. “I’m kind of all or nothing. I wanted it to be all the way — go big!”
A season later, the two have settled into married life and are preparing to become foster parents. To those still looking for a soul mate, they said, don’t throw in the towel just yet.
“Look where you weren’t expecting,” Franchesca said. “Stay true to who you are and what you want and that right person will come along.”
Aerial Performers: Liquid Sky
Attire: Hugo Boss (Jennifer) and Ian Stewart purchased at La Raine’s Bridal (Franchesca)
Cake: It’s a Sweet Life and Publix
Catering: Boudreaux’s Cafe Acadiana
Dessert Cart: Cult Carts
Flowers and Decor: Bowman and Clark
Hair and Makeup: Arlene Cisneros, Sarah Townsend and Salon D’Allure
Photographer: Chelsea Patricia Photography
Ring: Royal Design of Buckhead
Venue: Ambient + Studio
Wedding Planner: Kristi at Coco Red Events