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Two cities, two weddings = one couple

by The New York Times | January 17, 2021 at 2:15 a.m.

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," said Frampton, 37, a law professor at the University of Virginia.

Frampton, whose parents live in Washington, and Orians, 34, whose parents live in New Orleans, 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.

Had the couple, who currently split their time between Charlottesville, Va., and New Orleans, picked just one city, then one set of parents would have had to travel almost 1,100 miles for the wedding. "So we did the traveling for them," said Orians, co-director of the First 72+, a program in New Orleans that helps ease the transition from incarceration to everyday life. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and received a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

"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," said Orians, who met Frampton in 2015 in New Orleans, when they were both public defenders. Each had a significant other at that time, so they settled on becoming friends.

Four years later, the public defenders were brought together by a mutual friend in trouble with the law, their lives now in a completely different place. They were both single and while Orians was busy running First 72+, Frampton, then a lecturer of law at Harvard, was living in Cambridge, Mass.


Orians was appointed to represent their mutual friend, who had spent four years behind bars and was living life as a free man in New Orleans until authorities belatedly accused him of starting a riot at one point during his incarceration. Frampton, who had more trial experience and had successfully defended the same client on his earlier cases, quickly reached out to Orians to offer help, which she gladly accepted.

"To be honest, when we first started talking, I was really intimidated by Kelly, who is a wildly impressive person," Frampton said. "In a world of criminal justice performers, she was an incredibly formidable and successful person."

Frampton agreed to be a co-counsel with Orians on the case.

Although the charges were eventually dropped, there was still a case to be made for a potential love story between the two lawyers. 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, who graduated from Yale, from which he also has a master's degree in American studies. He earned a law degree from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

"In fact, I know that she is always going to push me," he said. "She's going to challenge me my whole life."

In August, Frampton emerged from quarantine with Orians, and shortly thereafter proposed to her in Rehoboth Beach, Del., while on vacation.

"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, with the biggest stars outfitted in a white polka dot wedding dress and dark tuxedo.

It all began on Orians' home turf, in the early morning hours of Nov. 7 in New Orleans, on the steps of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, where Judge Nandi Campbell officiated before seven guests, including the bride's parents, Constance Orians and Gregory Orians.

In a nod to their beloved New Orleans Saints football team, the bride recited her vows behind a gold sequin mask; the groom did the same behind a black sequin mask.


Shortly after, the couple made a beeline for the airport and took an early afternoon flight to Charlotte, N.C., where they had a brief layover before boarding another plane to Washington.

During the flight to Washington, the bride switched from white strappy stilettos to a pair of light blue hightop converse sneakers, decorated with fake flowers to match her bouquet of sunflowers, daisies and red roses.

They arrived at Bishop's Garden at Washington National Cathedral before sundown, and soon after had their legal wedding -- a Quaker-style, self-uniting ceremony led by their friends, Anne L. Kendall and David Kendall. The intimate ceremony, with five guests in attendance, included the groom's parents, Betsy Karel and George Frampton Jr.; his stepmother, Carla D'Arista; the groom's brother, Adam Frampton; and his sister-in-law, Karolina Czeczek.

After the ceremony, the couple returned to their hotel, about five blocks from the White House, when they happened upon scores of people dancing in the streets and car horns blaring in celebration of Joe Biden's election to the presidency.

"After we dropped our bags at the room we decided to go for a stroll through Black Lives Matter Plaza," the groom said. "It was an awfully fun reception, and we got lots of undeserved applause from well-wishers and celebrants."


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