The setup for Michael David Westmoreland’s marriage proposal to Claire Elizabeth Copeland was pure magic, except for one thing: She didn’t believe it was meant for her. Stumbling upon a rose-filled, candlelit picnic area on the Boat House waterfront in New York’s Central Park, Claire remarked, “Honey, we are in someone’s spot!” Michael replied, “No, this is for us,” then proceeded to get down on one knee and ask Claire to be his wife. “It was truly so romantic!” the bride recalls happily.
After a brief, seven-month engagement—“quick, but doable,” notes Claire, a music teacher (Michael is a clinical pharmacy manager)—and a joyful rehearsal dinner at Courtyard on St. James, the couple wed in a ceremony full of meaningful, hand-picked music, conducted by ministers with close family ties. The bride wore La Sposa to marry her groom, in Al’s Formal Wear.
After the ceremony, guests gathered at the Houston Country Club reception where heirlooms, favorite recipes and personal touches abounded. In a room done up in shades of cream, with touches of blue and accents of green, 400 guests dined on Southern specialties that included shrimp and grits—a favorite of the North Carolina-born groom. Topping the bride’s Who Made the Cake creation was a Dresden figurine that previously had been used by the bride’s sister for her wedding cake; the groom’s cake, meanwhile, celebrated the University of North Carolina Tar Heels—heroes of Michael’s alma mater.
For the couple’s first dance, Claire and Michael “shagged”—shagging is a popular North Carolina dance, explains the bride—to “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You.” Later, the bride surprised her groom by joining the band onstage to sing Captain and Tennille’s classic, “Love Will Keep Us Together.” As the evening’s festivities progressed, Claire and her bridesmaids distributed pink boas, silver top hats and glittering microphones to guests, reflecting the bride and groom’s love of music and of New York, the location of their engagement.
The newlyweds, who honeymooned in Bora-Bora, continue to enjoy wedding gifts from registries including Bering’s and Williams-Sonoma, and will forever savor their celebration through images by renowned Houston photographer Nhan Nguyen.
Claire has this advice for her sister brides-to-be: “Do not stress about every little detail, and be sure to keep an organized, up-to-date notebook.” But most of all, “Enjoy this season of life and enjoy the wedding planning process.”