Kelly Orians and Thomas Frampton had two weddings in two cities in one day.
"It was all about keeping our family and friends safe and healthy during this pandemic," Frampton said.
Orians, 34, whose parents live in New Orleans, and Frampton, 37, whose family is in Washington, D.C., had a wedding in each of those cities on Nov. 7, so that family members would not have to risk traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We did the traveling for them," said Orians. "Doing two events 1,000 miles apart on the same day might seem unorthodox, but we wanted it to feel like both families were part of the same ceremony."
The two met in New Orleans in 2015, when they were both public defenders. Frampton, 37, now a law professor at the University of Virginia, and Orians, 34, co-director of the First 72+, a program that helps ease the transition from incarceration to everyday life, both had significant others at that time, so they settled on becoming friends.
Four years later, although neither still was a public defender, they were brought together by a mutual friend who was being accused of starting a riot. Orians offered to represent the friend. Frampton, who had more trial experience and had successfully defended the same client earlier, reached out to Orians to offer help, which she gladly accepted.
Although the charges were eventually dropped, there was still a case to be made for a potential love story between the two lawyers, both of whom had ended their earlier relationships. Orians set this in motion by "working up the nerve," as she put it, to ask Frampton if he would escort her to a Mardi Gras ball in New Orleans, which became their first date.
"Since that day, there has always been an ease between us," said Frampton. "In fact, I know that she is always going to push me. She's going to challenge me my whole life."
In August, Frampton proposed.
"We knew we definitely wanted to get married, though we didn't want a long engagement," Orians said. "Based on what we had been through with COVID, we had become fearful of our respective families risking their lives just to see us."
They devised their unusual wedding plan, a doubleheader of sorts.
It began on Orians' home turf, with a morning ceremony on the steps of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. Judge Nandi Campbell officiated before seven guests, including the bride's parents, Constance and Gregory Orians.
The groom wore a dark tuxedo, while the bride had on a white polka dot dress.
Changing on the fly
Shortly after that ceremony ended, the couple made a beeline for the airport and took a flight to Charlotte, N.C., where they had a brief layover before boarding another plane to Washington. During the second flight, Orian switched from white strappy stilettos to a pair of light blue high-top Converse sneakers, decorated with fake flowers to match her bouquet of sunflowers, daisies and red roses.
They arrived at the Washington National Cathedral before sundown, and soon after had their second wedding — a Quaker-style, self-uniting ceremony led by their friends, Anne and David Kendall. The five guests included the groom's parents, Betsy Karel and George Frampton Jr., as wells as his stepmother, brother and sister-in-law.
"Now we have a great story to tell our own children one day," Orians said.
As a matter of fact, they have two stories to tell.