Real Wedding: Brooke & Trae

May 3, 2013: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden



Bridesmaids wore floor-length chiffon gowns from Bridals by Lori; groomsmen sported classic black tuxedos by Vera Wang from Men’s Wearhouse.

Critsey Rowe Photography

Trae Johnson, a business consultant, and Brooke McCray, a validation engineer for Teva Pharmaceuticals, got engaged at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden during a surprise picnic with all of Brooke’s favorite foods and desserts. While walking by the fountains and noting what a perfect spot it was for a wedding—romantic and glamorous—Trae made a joke about how she couldn’t plan a wedding without being engaged and handed her a Ring Pop. Brooke laughingly suggested she’d take a picture of it and tell people “I said yes” to the Ring Pop when Trae replied, “Well, before you do that, let me give you the real thing” and dropped to one knee. 

This self-described type-A bride knew they already had the venue nailed, so her next step was the dress. Not everyone can pull off a mermaid silhouette, but Brooke’s Rosa Clara lace gown with voluminous pleated tulle skirt made it look as though the style was invented for her. Etsy designer Traci Ubante created her sash detail: a brooch with horsehair, feathers, and rhinestones.

Bridesmaids looked chic in floor-length gowns in sea-green chiffon from Bridals by Lori, with small clutch bouquets of white hydrangeas and hot pink orchids. Flowers by Lingky also designed the bride’s bright fuchsia peony bouquet, with its hot-pink pin and satin ribbon.

Trae’s groomsmen went classic with Vera Wang black tuxedos from Men’s Wearhouse, black neckties, and vests, while the groom wore a white vest and black bow tie.

The bride says she is glad she decided against a “first look” shot. “That first moment, when you’re walking with your daddy and you see him and you’re ready to take your vows—that moment is sacred,” she says. The bride’s childhood pastor, Richard Styles, who married both her sisters, delivered a beautiful homily on love, and Brooke got emotional realizing the strength of the couple’s commitment. After the ceremony, guests drifted to the crape myrtle grove for cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres of crab cakes, five-spice chicken wontons, and baked Brie en croute.

For dinner and dancing, the reception moved to the ballroom, uplit in fuchsia and sparkling with chandeliers and candles. Ines Aranguren of Sky’s the Limit Cakes designed the main cake—vanilla almond with vanilla buttercream—while Trae’s aunt made the two groom’s cakes in red velvet and key lime. Brooke created all of the décor over the dessert table herself: green and gold origami moons. She also designed the centerpieces for the tables—tall vases of baby’s breath and pink orchids, towering glass globes of white candles, and tiny posy baskets painted gold to display the table numbers. Best Impressions presented stations of roast beef and turkey, shrimp and grits, grilled vegetables, chicken Alfredo, and primavera marinara.

Trae’s favorite moments of the evening were the dinner speeches from his mother-in-law, best man, and his young son, D’Juan, who stole the show when he asked if he could call Brooke “Mom.” Their DJ, Shaun Nyce, rocked the dance floor until it was time to send the newlyweds off in their vintage Rolls-Royce to the Dunhill Uptown before their honeymoon flight to Jamaica.

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