Story By Shelbi LeMeilleur
Civil Ceremony Photos by Liana Matin
Reception Photos by Specialties Photography
Nicole Gilbert Johnson never wanted to have the big white wedding. That’s why when she and her now-husband Dr. Brandon Johnson tied the knot, it was in a courtroom in Dallas surrounded by a small group of their loved ones. Nine months later, they celebrated their marriage at Pebble Creek Country Club with friends and family. Planned by Nicole’s mother Linda, the party was similar to a traditional wedding reception while honoring Nicole’s wish to have an intimate wedding ceremony.
Nicole and Brandon met at a New Year’s Eve party in Houston. If you ask Nicole, she will tell you they met minutes before the New Year, on Dec. 31, 2012. However, Brandon swears they met after midnight on Jan. 1, 2013.
They went on a date soon after meeting, and Nicole wasn’t all too impressed. “He was telling me this story about how he had jumped off of his parent’s roof,” she explains. Luckily, a mutual friend talked him up, and they went out again.
They officially started dating Valentine’s Day of 2013. Brandon proposed on Feb. 13, 2015.
“I went to his new apartment [in Dallas],” she explains. “I came in with all my things, and he had made the bed really nicely and arranged rose pedals in a heart with a box in the middle. ‘Love Never Felt So Good’ by Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson was playing. He told me to open the box, and it was this beautiful engagement ring.”
Unlike most brides-to-be, after the engagement, Nicole’s life wasn’t overrun with wedding planning. The couple decided to get married in a civil ceremony on Dec. 30, 2015, because it was close to the day they met. It also meant their anniversary wouldn’t be overshadowed by a holiday.
“I always was against a [big wedding],” Nicole says. “My husband was fine with [a civil ceremony], but my mom was very against it. She supported me, but I knew it wasn’t how she envisioned it all happening.”
After Brandon and Nicole were married, Nicole told her mom she could plan a reception as long as Nicole didn’t have to get involved in the planning process. Linda worked with close friends and family, including Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Mirza, to plan a reception in honor of Brandon and Nicole at Pebble Creek Country Club on Sept. 24, 2016.
“We had a great time; our friends and family had a great time,” Nicole says. “I definitely appreciate my mom taking the reins and doing it. … It was perfectly done because I wasn’t caught up in the details. I just showed up and everything was already done.”
Like many traditional wedding receptions, Nicole and Brandon shared a first dance, but they opted not to participate in many other rituals such as bouquet toss and garter throw. “We were just having a party,” Nicole says. “I wanted to keep it as low-key as possible.”
Overall, everyone had a great time and got what they wanted. Nicole’s advice to brides who may not want a traditional wedding is simple: “If everyone – friends and family – wants to have a wedding, then you should try to accommodate them, but not completely lose yourself. Try to find a middle ground, because it’s their time, too. It gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate you.”
Photography Specialties Photography (College Station); Liana Matin (Dallas)
Civil Ceremony Dallas County Courthouse
Lunch After Civil Ceremony Palomino Restaurant & Bar in Dallas
Reception and Catering Pebble Creek Country Club
Cake Fabulous Fare
DJ Nicole’s Uncle, Darell Druery
Florist Post Oak Florist
Reception Prayer of Unity The Rev. Kenneth Hall