New Orleans, LA - At 7:30PM on Friday, December 10th the interior doors of Holy Name of Jesus Church opened to reveal the greatest Holiday gift Sean Steffee had wished for, his beautiful bride Livia Eckhardt walking down the aisle.
Based in Kiln, MS the couple began dating nearly four years ago after what Sean describes as an “amusingly sketchy” first encounter. “Liv was assisting a dear friend of mine, Fellers Drury, at a horse show in the Covington [LA] area and she was setting jumps for Fellers’ students- Fellers had some physical ailments that left him with a permanent limp. Well as I was leaving the schooling ring, typical of me I made a smart remark to Fellers along the lines of holding up the ring being so slow. He laughed, I laughed, but Liv’s head jerked round and she simply glared daggers at me!” Sean shared and Liv added, “I asked Fellers who is that jack ass? He laughed and said oh honey that’s just my friend Sean. I gave an ugly look in Sean’s direction and said well that was just rude! So my first impression wasn’t the best.” Liv said with a now warm smile to her groom.
It wasn’t long before fate stepped in bringing them together again when Sean became head trainer in New Orleans based City Park Stables and Liv soon after his assistant. She got to observe the man behind the talented professional, “He was warm and caring to everyone and has a wicked sense of humor!” Liv commented. Over time a personal connection began to grow, but Sean admits he was a little nervous to give into his feelings, “I had been told that Liv had a reputation for being tough on men and breaking hearts!” Steffee joked. After getting to know each other over many coffee gatherings and on the show circuits, Sean was both ecstatic and scared when Liv invited him to join her in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. “I was on the other side of town and you can’t just drive into downtown on Fat Tuesday morning, so she sent a cab for me.
So here I am all dressed to impress and the cab pulls up, I open the door and the back seat is covered in vomit! I call Liv while the driver is literally hosing out the back seat and explain I’m going to be a little late- she’s fine with that –just please come. I get dropped off about a block from where she’s staying and walk to just outside the doorway, then because I’m still not so certain she’s really interested in me, I hide behind a lamp post outside the building and call to say I’m about 5 minutes away. She sounds happy and says she’ll be right down. I stay behind the lamp post; I want to see if she bounds out maybe drunk and careless attitude or if she even looks for me. Not even 3 minutes pass and she bounds out the door with the most beautiful smile and eyes scanning the crowds. I tap her shoulder as she passes and WOW- she just lit up the street with that smile. I knew then I was hooked!”
Liv’s bridesmaids, most lifelong and college friends expressed their surprise when each learned of the engagement, “I just didn’t think anyone would capture Liv’s heart. Until I met Sean. They complement each other’s strengths and support one another’s weaknesses. We should all be so lucky to find this kind of love and happiness.” Maid of Honor Leslie Hellmers said. Mrs. Enid Eckhardt, mother of the bride, added- “Sean made an impression right off, he’s always been so kind hearted and generous with everyone he’s met in our family. And it was so easy to see how much he loves my daughter, he makes her happy and as her mother that’s all I’ve ever hoped for.”
Trying to find a date that work with the many friends in the equestrian world became a challenge for the couple. “December is usually the slowest time of the show season, but it was just our luck the St Louis show fell during our festivities and we weren’t sure what to do because several of my groomsmen would be there. Being the great friends they are, all said book it and we’ll be there! John McQueen just took over the shows yet he left his own debut to be here for me- I love this guy, like a second father to me, so having him standing up with me…just meant the world to me. Each of these groomsmen are a special part of my life and the greatest friends I could be blessed with.” Sean said.
The ceremony was designed to the couple’s desires, traditional and classic with small Holiday touches of greenery and white woven on the banisters. Each had ten attendants, with bridesmaids wearing Holly green one shoulder, knee length dresses while groomsmen were in classic black tuxedo suits and splash of color with soft pink ties. Brother of the Groom, George “Jed” Steffee of Folsom, LA served as Best Man. Groomsmen included William “Joey” Brumbaugh of Tulsa, OK, Spencer Cobb of Baton Rouge, LA, Peter Coleman of New Orleans, LA, Matthew Cyphert of Argyle, TX, Walter Eckhardt of New Orleans, LA, Burton Gremillion of Folsom, LA, Andrew Kocher of Tuscaloosa, AL, John McQueen of Calhoun, LA, and Christian Rogge of Cypress, TX. Standing with the bride was Leslie Hellmers of Lafayette, LA as Maid of Honor and bridesmaids included Rebekah Aronson of Los Angeles, CA, Christine Bradley of New Orleans, LA, Jennifer Chauvin of New Orleans, LA, Emily Edwards of Houston, TX, Jordan Falls of Lafayette, LA, Lindsey Farthing of New Orleans, LA, Arrie Ann Kain of New Orleans, LA, Elizabeth Moore of Houston, TX, and Blythe Roberts of Scranton, PA.
The bride was adorned in a slim line Ivory satin gown with jacketed train and lace veil which her groom described best, “Stunning! Took my breath away!” The processional began with both mothers escorted down the aisle to an organ rendition of Canon in D, following were the bridesmaids to the traditional version of Greensleeves and the bride escorted by her father, Mr. Elroy Eckhardt, glided down the aisle to a classic piece, Con te Patiro. Special passages and blessings were read by friends, including one of the couple’s young students Isabel Coleman. Father Robert Hagan presided over the rite of marriage and upon the pronouncement of husband and wife introduced guests to Mr. and Mrs. Sean Steffee. The applause and “hoots” were echoing through the church to the passersby on the streets.
An all night celebration began across the street at the lavish Round Table Club with Champagne flowing, delectable dining choices available, and a band who enticed everyone to the dance floor creating a reception to remember. When the wedding cake was revealed nearly 350 guests crowded round to see the elegant four tier cake shaped in the old fashioned oval design, complete with the bride’s parents original cake topper. Liv had sought out not only the unique design but as she stated, “TASTE! I’m a real sweets person and I swore that my wedding cake would be absolutely delicious!” There was nothing but ohs and ahs regarding that aspect. And the celebrating followed New Orleans protocol by continuing to the streets of the French Quarter till dawn.
Following a much needed nap, the blissful couple left Monday afternoon on a two week honeymoon comprised of one “Historical” week in Rome, Italy and one “Sun Worshiping” week in Jamaica. Upon returning home to Kiln, MS they immediately begin preparations for the winter circuit in Gulfport, MS and as both admitted using the phrases, “my wife” and “my husband” as often as possible!
Photo: Sean & Livia Steffee ©Flashpoint Photography