College sweethearts Gabrielle McQueen and Adam Prah first met at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as freshmen. “The most memorable thing about our early time together was how well we seemed to understand each other and how much fun we had,” shares Adam, who later proposed while they were on vacation in Key West. “After he got down on one knee on the beach and I said yes, he revealed two special guests… He had flown in my two best friends from New York and Boston to be there for the celebrations!” Gabrielle smiles. 

The couple spent the next two years planning their nuptials with the help of Gina Myers of La Cosa Bella Events. On the day of the alfresco fall ceremony, loved ones were seated as a string quartet performed classical renditions of modern songs, including “Carolina In My Mind” by James Taylor and “Dreaming of You” by Selena. Wooden chairs with white cushions faced an arbor highlighting fresh tropical greenery as a tribute to the bride’s Puerto Rican heritage, alongside soft, romantic drapery in neutral tones. 

Gabrielle was radiant in a striking gown with an intricately designed bodice, which her glamorous curls cascaded over as she walked down the aisle holding a bouquet of crisp white orchids, the mother of the groom’s favorite flower. Gabrielle and Adam worked closely with their officiant to blend religious beliefs for their ceremony, which included a reading by a close family friend. “We wanted to give a nod to religious elements and sprinkle some of the values we hold near into our declarations,” adds the bride. 

“The reception theme was ‘Old Hollywood Glamour’ – not to be confused with The Great Gatsby!”

Following the vow exchange, friends and family members gathered beneath bistro lights to enjoy cocktail hour, complete with signature cocktails, a cigar roller, and specifically selected hors d’oeuvres. “One of the passed bites was empanadas with Puerto Rican flags in them, which was one of the most complimented food items we had!” affirms the groom of their choice to honor his wife’s background, adding they also had three styles of hot dogs – New York, North Carolina, and Chicago – as an ode to their families. 

When guests entered the reception space, they were in awe of the black, white, and gold décor inspired by the geometric pattern of the bride’s dress. “The reception theme was ‘Old Hollywood Glamour’ – not to be confused with The Great Gatsby!” notes Gabrielle. 

Tables were strewn with varying linens featuring gold elements, art-deco patterns, and feather textures, while chic black-and-gold showcased elegant velvet detailing. Centerpieces varied in size, height, and composition to emphasize the Old Hollywood aesthetic, while also highlighting tropical, Puerto Rico-inspired accents. 

Following dinner, the bride and groom made their way to the dance floor, showcasing a large geometric monogram design, for their choreographed first dance to “Stand By Me,” which incorporated Ben E. King’s original as well as a bachata version by Prince Royce

“The music was a mix of our favorite songs with a good amount of Spanish included,” Adam explains of the element they looked forward to most: the party. The newlyweds spent the rest of the night dancing with loved ones and shared a private last dance before being sent off into the night as Mr. and Mrs. by guests waving sparklers in celebration.

This real wedding was originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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