Darren Criss, the Emmy-winning actor, songwriter, and musician who got his start playing Blaine on the high school dramedy Glee and has most recently starred in Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story on FX, married his longtime love—director, producer, and musician Mia Swier—over the weekend in New Orleans, and the celebration was, as one might expect, one massive concert. Rather than hiring a band, the couple enlisted the help and talent of their wedding guests, including Lea Michele and John Stamos. “You could say we married ourselves, with a little help from our friends,” Darren jokes.
It was a nonstop four-day celebration that started on Valentine’s Day with an ’80s prom night at the burlesque and comedy show hotspot One Eyed Jacks. On Friday, everyone took a swamp tour excursion to the bayou where baby alligators were held and Mia drove an air boat. Later that night, the couple hosted a rehearsal dinner and welcome drinks at Sylvain. Staying on theme, songs were sung at every single event. “It just kept going and nobody wanted it to end,” Darren says. “It was less a celebration of us specifically and more a celebration of the life we’ve built together. The whole thing was a dream. It was exactly what we had hoped it would be. Best weekend of our lives.”
The day of the wedding started out with the couple taking photos at the Ace Hotel. “New Orleans holds a special place in our lives,” Darren explains. “It’s full of fond memories from a lot of time spent there over the years. It encapsulates our collective personality: a combination of hedonism and elegance. It’s a unique, colorful town full of celebration and music. Also, it’s equidistant from our home cities of Los Angeles and New York, where most of our guests were coming from. Suffice it to say, they don’t do things in New Orleans the way they do in other parts of the world—and we wanted to be sure our wedding was unlike anything our guests had experienced before.”
Nothing was traditional—not even their wedding looks. Yes, the bride turned to designer Vera Wang—who was there the morning of the wedding to help her get ready—for her dress, but the soft white strapless crepe gown was subversive. Classic garter-belt elements accented the full tulle skirt, and the cathedral-length tulle veil had black Chantilly lace detailing. Mia finished off the look with white Dr. Martens to boot. Darren, meanwhile, chose an off-white custom Giorgio Armani shawl-collar tuxedo trimmed with silk grosgrain.
Once all of the necessary pre-ceremony photos were taken, Mia and Darren drove over to the ceremony location in a friend’s vintage red Rolls-Royce convertible. “Because I always wanted to roll up to my own wedding in some hot wheels,” Mia shared. The festivities kicked off with an outdoor ceremony in the sculpture garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The vibe was very Stevie Nicks meets the mystery and sultry ambiance of the French Quarter.
Wedding designer and planner Kristin Banta covered the space in antique rugs and illuminated it with a sea of candelabras lining the path leading up to several giant oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and Mardi Gras beads. Darren then appeared, grabbed a guitar, and started singing a song to accompany his and Mia’s families down the aisle. When he finished, he went to go retrieve Mia himself , and they both walked up the aisle together.
From there, they gave their own unique spin to typical programming by hosting and officiating their own wedding. Mixed in with friends and family offering words of love and wisdom, songs, poems, and stories, the proceedings were, as guests put it, “So Darren and Mia.” When the newlyweds eventually processed down the aisle, they were joined by a second line band, and together they led guests to the cocktail reception on the front steps of the museum.
At around 10:00 p.m.—right at the moment when guests likely thought things were about to wind down—there was a dramatic light change, and buckets of glow sticks poured onto the steps of the museum, signaling it was time to move into the museum. As the doors flew open, guests were greeted with live music and servers passing trays of what they were told was “dance fuel” (aka shots of tequila and espresso).?The live concert portion of the evening had begun.
“One of the things we looked forward to the most was something we actually hid from nearly everyone at the wedding,” Darren explains. “The idea was to take an old tradition and turn it into something a lot cooler and certainly a lot more fun for us as bride and groom.” When guests moved inside the museum, the band introduced the bride and groom and announced that they would have their first song together. “This was our cue to appear at the top of opposite sides of this huge marble staircase. The two of us descending into the crowd was such a beautiful moment, and the point was to have guests think we were going to get to the bottom and have our first dance. But instead, as we reached the stage, I quickly put on a guitar and Mia put on a bass, and we exploded into ‘The Ballroom Blitz’ by Sweet to get the party started. We had a first song together as husband and wife—it was the coolest. The whole goal of our wedding was to take traditions and turn them on their heads with our own flair . . . and me playing a brand new Thinline Telecaster in my white tux with Mia rockin’ out on a matching white Duff McKagan P Bass in a wedding dress and combat boots—that whole moment was probably the pinnacle of that goal.”
The rest of the evening was an almost 3-hour concert featuring a lineup of the couple’s family and friends as performers. By the end of the night, about 30 different songs were performed by almost 30 different guests. “There was absolutely no way I was going to have a wedding where I wasn’t putting all of the music together!” Darren laughs.
At the end of the concert, guests were handed headphones for a silent disco with a personalized playlist of even more of the couple’s favorite songs, split into three different channels. Darren and Mia changed into their final looks of the evening—matching sequin T-shirts—and outside, coffee and beignets from a Cafe Du Monde food truck were up for grabs. Can’t get much more New Orleans than that!