A Rustic-Chic Wedding on a Tennessee Farm
When Chamique Holdsclaw (left) and Cara Wright went on their official first date at the NCAA Final Four tournament in 2015 (they actually met a few years before at a basketball camp in South Africa which only resulted in friendship), it was, as they say, love and basketball. Chamique is a mental health advocate who played for ten seasons in the WNBA and also an Olympic gold medalist, while Cara, who has her doctorate in athletic administration, is director of business operations for an NBA G League team. So when Chamique was ready to pop the question about a year later, she took Cara back the site of their first date, the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and surprised her with a video montage before popping the question.
For their big day, the Los Angeles-based pair left their hometown behind and traveled to another location that was important to their story instead: Howe Farms, in Georgetown, Tennessee, near where Chamique had played basketball in the WNBA. The farm's rolling hills and rustic barn gave the couple inspiration for their romantic and chic country celebration, which included a color palette of off-white, petal pink, pewter, silver, mint, and gold. It was on July 7, 2018, among 157 of their family and friends, that the pair exchanged self-penned vows in a ceremony led by a local judge. "Everything worked out perfectly and we felt so much love and support from everyone in attendance," Cara says. "It was incredibly special!"
The pair kept a few items on hand to bring them good vibes. Chamique's evil eye charm, a gift from Cara, was meant to ward off bad luck on the wedding day and be her "something blue." As for Cara, she held onto a few special tokens: "My mother passed away in 2013 and she was my best friend, so I wanted to have something special of hers with me for the wedding," she says. "I cut a piece of lace from my mother's wedding dress and put it on the pin to fasten to my bouquet," Cara says. "Then my sister, who was a matron of honor, brought me a tie clip with a camera on it from my grandfather who passed away, because if he had been at the wedding he would have designated himself the honorary photographer." Cara also carried a handkerchief from her late grandmother as her "something blue," and in case she got emotional during the ceremony.
In addition to her new bling, Cara wore sparkly drop earring and a tennis bracelet given to her by her grandmother for her 21st birthday. A spritz of Gucci Bloom eau de parfum was a finishing touch.
Getting Ready with the Girls
Cara gifted each of her bridesmaids gray jersey knit robes and flip flops to get ready in. "It fit with our theme, and I wanted the ladies to wear the robes again," Cara says. Chamique chose orange and white satin robes (for the University of Tennessee) as a keepsake for her attendants.
"I knew I wanted to wear a pantsuit from the beginning," Chamique says and she got the inspiration for hers from a Martha Stewart Weddings
slideshow. (We knew we liked her!) "Next, I talked to a friend from high school, who did a sketch, and I contacted Kevan Hall, who made everything come to life," she says. "I loved the material of the train and the fabric of the pantsuit."
Instead of a traditional bouquet, Chamique, a Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, held a hoop of white roses and greenery, an idea from their planner, Sean Cox of Cue the Champagne.
The First Look
"My favorite moment was when I first saw Cara in her gown," Chamique says. "She approached me from behind, and when I turned around she looked stunning. I was smiling ear to ear."
Before the ceremony, the pair took photos on the Howe Farms property, where a swing dripping in roses made for an gorgeous photo op. "Just to know our patience and love created this moment made me smile," says Cara, who wore a lace wedding dress by Allure Romance with cap sleeves that fit her perfectly when she tried it on and didn't need any alterations—a rarity for most brides.
Cara's 'maids were decked out in pink dresses, while Chamique's wore pewter gowns. "We chose the most versatile bridesmaid's dresses we could find because we had 12 women, and we wanted them to wear it in their own unique way," Cara says.
Cara's adorable nephew, Austin, took on ring bearer duties that day. "He was so cute, and even beat a few of the bridesmaids down the aisle," Cara says.
Boxes of tissue labeled "tears of joy" were on hand for guests to grab before the ceremony. You know, just in case.
The pair's wedding planner placed signs with the lines from 1 Corinthians along the aisle.
Bundle of Joy
Even the youngest of guests, like Cara's nephew, arrived at the wedding wearing chic cocktail attire.
Here Comes the Bride
Chamique walked down the aisle to "A Couple of Forevers" by Chrisette Michele.
The Sweet Ceremony
The pair incorporated religious and non-religious elements into their ceremony, which was officiated by Judge Rachel James Bell. It started with a reading from the book of Ecclesiasticus, then a second reading, the poem "Touched By an Angel" by Maya Angelou, was performed.
After making it official with a smooch, the pair recessed down the aisle to "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers.
Guest Book Redux
The newlyweds asked their friends and family to write well wishes on wooden hearts that went into a jar for safe-keeping.
Find Your Seat
Guests found their tables by referencing cards that were strung from an antique window frame.
The couple had originally planned to celebrate the entire day outdoors, but had to move the reception inside at the last minute because of rain. "It had been raining that morning and even threw the start time for the ceremony off," Cara says. "But it stopped long enough to say I do and then we partied inside!"
On the Table
Wooden blocks and lanterns adorned each table and fit with the rustic theme of the night. Guests took their places after choosing from one (or more!) of the many food stations that served up BBQ, Chattanooga shrimp and grits, fried chicken, beef tenderloin, and biscuits.
Lady Vols Love
The couple's baker also made them a second confection: a cake shaped like the mascot of the Tennessee Volunteers women's basketball team, where Chamique played in college. The "23" on the collar was a nod to her number when she was on the team.
During the party, the pair took the dance floor to groove to "Why I Love You" by Major, Chamique's pick from the minute she heard it.
Dancing the Night Away
Guests hit the dance floor before being treated to a special performance by Cara and her older sisters. The group did a dance to "What Can Do with this Feeling" by Aretha Franklin. "We use to do the dance and sing from the adaptation of the song in the movie Sparkle when we were little girls," she says. "So I surprised them by having it play and we did the dance for the whole song."
A Glowing Gift
At the end of the night, guests took home candles with custom labels that the pair sourced from The Dancing Wick.
The couple left the party in style thanks to a sparkler send-off from their friends in the bridal parties. And the following day celebrated once more—this time for Cara's birthday.
Photography, Mecca Gamble
Location, Howe Farms
Event planning and Flowers, Cue the Champagne
Catering, Events with Taste
Videography, Epicc Weddings
Cake, Yellow Cake Company
Music, Salah Ananse
Cara's gown, Allure Romance
Chamique's pant suit, Kevan Hall
Chamique's hair, Julius Knowles
Brides' and bridesmaids' makeup and Cara's hair, Aliyah Hayoun of F.A.C.E.