As the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, signifying the start of 2016, Patrick Thomas – who had been complaining that he felt ill all evening – crouched down. “He was pretending to be hurt, but he was really trying to distract me so he could get the ring out of his pocket and be on one knee,” Emily Ussery confirms. All of their party guests had been notified of his intentions beforehand, and loved ones cheered when Emily accepted his proposal.

Their chosen reception venue at a luxury hotel came with a wedding planner and the couple couldn’t have been more thrilled. “She was the most calming, organized, and helpful person – she gave us a ton of advice and much-needed guidance,” muses the bride. Upon hiring an adept team of vendors, Emily and Patrick set about conceptualizing their glamorous nuptials. “We had a fantastic creative team that led us in bringing our hopes to life,” the bride reveals. Over the course of the year-long engagement working toward their New Year's Eve wedding, Emily confessed that everyone she worked with made the process fun and immersive.

The celebration began at a church familiar to the groom. “We wanted a traditional Catholic wedding with traditional vows,” says the bride. “Because Patrick was raised going to this parish, it was important to us that this sacrament take place there.” As it was still late December, the space was decorated with small Christmas trees and poinsettias, creating a warm, wintry ambience. The bride wore a ball gown with illusion sleeves and detailing that matched her floral headpiece. She and her bridesmaids carried bouquets comprised of blooms in various shades of ivory with small hints of blush and blue to complement the season. “Walking down the aisle – I don’t think I have ever been so unimaginably happy. Seeing him with our daughter in the front row looking on: it was a supernatural moment,” gushes the bride.

"The romance and idealistic beauty of our special day is very much something I hold dear."

Once the vows had been exchanged, 180 friends and family traveled a short distance to continue the festivities. The ballroom was made to embody a time-honored author as the wedding’s motif. “From the deep hues of navy and gold, to the over-pouring crystals, roses, and feathers; it all led back to our mutual love of acting and Shakespeare,” explains Emily. Round tables displayed dark blue linens with sliver patterns as well as towering glass vases filled with all-white roses, hydrangea blooms, peonies, and anemones, suspended strings of gems, and whimsical feathers as an allusion to a different time period. The long head table showcased an overhead structure featuring sheer material and smaller, more colorful flower arrangements and glass votives with floating candles. 

Guests enjoyed dinner, fervent dancing provided by a top-notch DJ and band from EastCoast Entertainment, and slices from a five-tier blue lace wedding cake with rose and glitter details featuring lemon curd and raspberry cream filling. “The romance and idealistic beauty of our special day is very much something I hold dear,” Emily explains. “Also, the nods to North Carolina were pertinent – from the Tar Heel fight song, to the monogram, to ‘Sweet Caroline’ blasting out into the night as we watched the fireworks beneath the winter stars.”