Mary “Molly” Claybrook, daughter of Cammie and John Claybrook of Nashville, and John Newell, son of Debbie and Gordon Newell of Mandeville, Louisiana, met in 2016 in New Orleans while she was in nursing school at Louisiana State University and he was a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

John proposed in February 2019 in a garden at Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Planning to marry in the spring of 2020, the couple scheduled their engagement party for September 20, 2019 — the Friday night before the LSU-Vanderbilt football game — when many of their friends would be coming to Nashville. Plans changed, however, over Easter weekend, when Molly and John realized they didn’t want to wait another year to tie the knot. “We decided to marry on the date already set for the engagement party but to keep the ceremony secret and more intimate,” explained Molly.

The Rev. Lissa Smith officiated the Friday morning ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral with only 35 family members and close friends in attendance. A wedding luncheon followed on the terrace at Belle Meade Country Club. That evening, as many out-of-town friends arrived for the “engagement” party at The Old School, Molly’s father asked them to gather in the barn for an announcement. “I’m not sure how to tell you this, but Molly and John decided this morning to terminate their engagement,” he said with a dramatic pause before continuing, “because they married this morning!” The barn doors opened, and the bride and groom walked out onto the dance floor amidst thunderous applause.

The festive evening of dining and dancing to the music of the Erik Blue Band ended with a Second Line parade. The next day, they all gathered for a tailgate brunch to cheer on the LSU Tigers against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

After a wedding trip to Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia, the couple settled in Madisonville, Louisiana. Molly is a registered nurse at Ochsner Medical Center, and John is a civil engineer at Rimkus Consulting Group, both in New Orleans.

Photographs by Michelle Preau