R5 A Gatsby-esque Affair

“Laid back, adventurous, and unconventional” are the words Clover Lake Hale, 39, uses to describe herself and her new husband, Trae Hicks, also 39. But those words also double as a description of their wedding, held in the backyard of Clover’s parents’ mansion in New Rochelle.

In 2005, Clover, a middle-school teacher and dean of students at a Manhattan public school, spotted Trae in jeans, a white shirt, and cowboy boots at a bar in the West Village—and “wanted to talk to him.” When she learned that he was part of the group that she and her friends were scheduled to meet that night, “it made it easier,” she says.

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Fast-forward two years, when the couple spent a month-long holiday at Erg Chebbie, a desert in Morocco. One evening, after reaching the top of a dune at sunset, Clover found Trae down on one knee. The couple spent the next year planning their wedding, inspired by F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Guests were asked to wear white or light colors as part of the “old time-y look of summer.” White Chinese lanterns hung in the reception tent while white “twinkle lights,” dangling from a weeping willow, sparkled like fireflies. In a nod to Trae’s career as a theater actor, the program was divided into three parts:

Act I—the ceremony in a neighbor’s garden;

Act II—cocktails in Clover’s mother’s garden; and Act III—dinner and dancing in a tent in the bride’s parents’ backyard, where the music was 1920s “speakeasy music” was provided by the Mad Jazz Hatters.

“Making all parts of it meaningful” was most important to the couple. The skills of Lake Charles, Clover’s mother and “master gardener,” influenced not only the location, but also the place settings, which mother and daughter hand-made for each of the 119 guests. The food was an “eclectic mix” of the bride and groom’s favorites, from the beef jerky at the bar at Clover’s request to Austrian wine for Trae.

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Clover’s sister strung on wire a rainbow spectrum of 1,000 origami cranes that were handmade by Clover, her family, and Clover’s students. It hung over the dessert table and now resides in the bedroom of the couple’s now three-month-old daughter, Luna Rae Hicks.


Resource Guide:

Location: private home in New Rochelle. Photographer: Jenny Ebert jennyebert.com. Florist: Did it themselves. Caterer: Good Food, Good Things, Darien, CT (203) 655-7355, goodfoodgoodthings.com. Music: Mad Jazz Hatters (Brooklyn, NY) madjazzhatters.com. Invitations: Made by a friend. Favors: Hand made. Cake: Make My Cake, New York, NY (212) 932-0833/(212) 234-2344; makemycake.com. Gown: Vera Wang, New York, NY (212) 628-3400; verawang.com. Shoes: Faryl Robin at DSW. Bridesmaids’ dresses: Own dresses. Flower children’s clothes: Own clothes. Tuxedos: Own clothes

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