Days after Bianca Betancourt documented Madison Utendahl’s engagement party extravaganza for Harper’s Bazaar, she was getting ready for her own big day—her wedding! The culture editor married fiancé DJ Ben Stepnowski in October. The couple tied the knot in The Big Easy on the sixth anniversary of their first date—and a year after they got engaged at the same hotel. The weekend was a glittering celebration of dancing, NOLA, and of course, love. Let’s let Bianca take it away.
I’m a wife! I married my husband, Ben, in New Orleans, on October 20.
Ben and I met in late 2017—waaay before I became the culture editor at Harper’s Bazaar—when I was living in Chicago. Funny enough, he was my ex-boyfriend’s roommate, which is always a fun conversation starter. At the time, I ran an indie art magazine called Circus, and when I found out he was a DJ, I asked him to play at a gallery event hosted by the magazine. He was a real DJ playing at clubs, but there I was asking him to do this small event, both because I needed a DJ but also because I liked him. We hung out for a couple of weeks, and the night of the party, he asked me to be his girlfriend.
The first trip we took together was to New Orleans to celebrate Ben’s birthday. I had gone to NOLA by myself earlier that year, and I loved everything about it—the food, the music, the people—and I just knew that Ben would love it, too. After that first trip and up until the pandemic, we went every year, whether it was for a birthday or an anniversary or just to get away for the weekend.
On our five-year anniversary last year, Ben surprised me with a stay at Hotel Saint Vincent, and he proposed on one of the balconies with dinner and flowers. We looked at a few other venues when we were planning our wedding early on, but we eventually landed on HSV. Not only was it gorgeous, but we loved the food, the drinks, and the staff. It was a no-brainer.
The color scheme for the wedding was cream and black. We also had pops of silver—the photo booth had a fun, metallic fringe, and we had a disco ball—so it kind of gave Beyoncé’s Club Renaissance, before we even knew what that would look like.
In the beginning, I wanted a princess gown. Don’t get me wrong, those gowns are beautiful, but they had way too much fabric when I actually started trying them on. I ended up finding the perfect dress from Eva Lendel. It has a really beautiful off-the-shoulder neckline, a train that isn’t overwhelmingly long, and a leg slit for a little bit of sexiness. It’s off-white, too; I didn’t want a true white because it would be too stark on my skin. I wore a pair of strappy sandals from Magda Butrym for the ceremony, and then switched into Loeffler Randall kitten mules that carried me through our second line, cocktail hour, and our first dance. When the dance floor was really going, I switched into a baby blue strapless dress from 16Arlington and silver kitten heels from Larroudé.
I worked with makeup artist Mollie Gloss for my makeup. We met in Chicago and moved to New York around the same time, so we’ve been friends for almost a decade. Going into it, she already knew what I was—and wasn’t—willing to experiment with and what works for my face. My two main inspirations were Zendaya, especially her work with Raoul Alejandre, and Beyoncé. I thought her makeup on the Renaissance tour was so good. It was festive but not over the top. So, I really wanted a little bit of the shimmer from Renaissance and the fresh, glowy look that Zendaya is known for.
Mollie used a lot of Charlotte Tilbury, Rare Beauty, and Saie on me for both the rehearsal dinner and the actual wedding. For my dinner lip look, she used a combo of the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat liners in Iconic Nude and Pillow Talk 3 Intense, with a bit of the Rare Beauty Lip Soufflé Matte Cream Lipstick in Courage on the center of the lips, topped with the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre Gloss in Pillow Talk to blend it all in. The next day, we kept the Charlotte Tilbury combo but swapped in the Rare Beauty Lip Soufflé Matte Lip Cream in Confident and the Saie Glossybounce Lip Gloss Oil in Kiss.
My updo was very ‘90s and Pamela Anderson-inspired. Now that I’m thinking about it, it definitely gives off Selena Quintanilla vibes, too; Selena-everything is always embedded in my brain. Ultimately, my looks were a two-part process. I went to my regular hairstylist Mickiela Mbatha for a fresh trim and my first-ever extensions for volume. Honestly, I was scared—I thought they might look crazy—but no one knew I had them unless I told them. Then in New Orleans, my hairstylist was Courtney Bradberry from Paris Parker. She’s basically the queen of hair in NOLA. She’s been doing it for 15 years, so if you want fabulous, special event hair, you go to her. We went with a side bang for my rehearsal dinner hair and beautiful, voluminous waves for the ceremony. For the after-party, she put it back up in just 15 minutes. She’s magic.
I went to this really cute salon on Magazine Street called Southern Swings Nail Spa, where you literally sit on swings, for a classic French mani—I didn’t want to think about it too hard. For my toes, I went with a really nice pinky nude called My Vampire is Buff from OPI. Ben got a mani-pedi, too.
Choosing a perfume for the weekend was so important. I ended up layering Phlur’s Father Figure and Dauphinette’s 369. Father Figure is very fig-forward with touches of bergamot, which is a huge yes for me. The night before, I wore Phlur’s Missing Person, a warm, spicy scent with a hint of citrus, mixed with Reduox’s Paradise Service.
We’re really excited for our honeymoon next year. We’ll probably go to the Amalfi Coast in the spring, but for a small celebration, we spent a couple of days at the Delamar Hotel in Southport, Connecticut after the wedding. Ben laughs because I keep saying it felt like an episode of Gilmore Girls during the fall, but it did!
—As told to Daise Bedolla
Photos by Mollie Gloss and JP Calubaquib; Courtesy of Bianca Betancourt