Brenna McGuire and Brandon Dubinsky lived in the same Manhattan building, but had never met. A night out with mutual friends revealed their residential proximity, and sparked a friendship that lead to more. As their relationship developed, Brandon didn’t come to a crystallizing revelation that he wanted to propose to Brenna – it was more like he just waited until the inevitable time was right.
That time came on a getaway to Playa del Carmen in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where Brandon surprised his love with a sunset dinner aboard a catamaran. Afterward, as the pair sat on the edge of the craft, dipping toes in the crystal Caribbean waters, Brandon asked the question to which the answer would determine how they would spend the rest of their lives.
As with so many women, Brenna had been planning elements of her wedding since she was a girl. On a family vacation to The Breakers resort in Palm Beach as a child, she peeked into a wedding and decided then and there that she had found the place where she would one day share her first dance with her prince. When she brought Brandon to the 116-year-old landmark for a vacation shortly after their engagement, he agreed that it would be the perfect destination-wedding venue.
With the locale chosen, they embarked on a year and a half of planning the celebration of a lifetime. Brenna’s vision for the wedding-day theme was timeless elegance, a fitting match to the historic hotel and church that would host their day, and a nod to a love that transcends the ages.
When it came to the dress, Brenna’s career as a model lent her valuable expertise. She had participated in a bridal photo shoot a month before she became engaged, so she already knew what types of dresses and hairdos flattered her most.
Her choice for the wedding was a classic ball gown with an airy strapless sweetheart neckline to complement the stately, subtropical beachfront venue. The veil was something borrowed. It was the very one her grandmother had commissioned nuns in Ireland to make for Brenna’s mother to wear at her own wedding. Beautiful shamrock designs were fashioned into the draping lace.
While Brandon’s career as a professional hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets may not have prepared him for wedding planning the way his fiancée’s work did, he was still handily involved in selection of the food, cake, and decor. Moreover, he personally focused on picking the evening’s entertainment and signature cocktails. Brenna’s father was also along for every step of the planning process, ensuring the two most important men in the bride’s life were instrumental in crafting the most important day of her life.
To match the historic nature of their reception venue and the timeless design theme, the couple wed at the nearly 90-year-old Saint Ann’s Church. The aisle and altar were bedecked with cascading arrangements of white orchids to complement Brenna’s bouquet of white peonies and stephanotis blossoms. Bridesmaids carried arrangements of creamy Vendella roses offset by soft grayish-green lamb’s ear. The cool tones of the floral arrangements served as counterpoint to the vivid, glowing stained glass.
Says the bride, “I always dreamed of having a choir at my wedding.” Therefore, throughout the ceremony, a host of singers and musicians performed selections from Bach and Handel up in the choral loft.
Dress at reception was black tie. The groom exchanged his already elegant dark-toned tuxedo jacket for a white one, an ode to the bygone days of southern Florida art deco opulence.
The Mediterranean Ballroom at The Breakers features towering classic arches color painted with intricate reliefs harkening to grand halls of French royalty. “We didn’t want to compete with the room, but rather enhance the already stunning ballroom with our flowers and lighting,” says the bride.
Installations of ivory-hued squares were suspended from the ceiling for the event, bearing showering strands of rose petals, glass bubbles, and crystals. Tables were set with gold-rimmed glass chargers and tall glass centerpieces that formed a canopy of white orchids and roses above guests so as not to block conversation. The multi-course meal was stretched throughout the evening with periods of dancing in between to keep the energy high. Brandon praises their band, saying “They really know how to control the mood and the room.”
Family is important to the couple, so both of the newlyweds recall that some of the most meaningful moments of their wedding involved their mothers. Brenna’s mom spent the night with her before the big day, helping to calm her nerves. Brandon reflects on getting to dance with his mom. “She had just beaten cancer and traveled from Alaska to Florida. It was a very emotional moment for me,” shares the groom.
The reception concluded close to midnight, but Brandon and Brenna hosted an after-party in the hotel’s Gold Room that ran until the wee hours. Sensual purple lighting and a DJ-fueled soundtrack transformed the lavish setting into a private club for the couple’s guests.
Brandon’s one piece of sage advice to future grooms echoes the wisdom women have already passed to each other for generations: wear comfortable shoes.