Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Nathan Lowery
Memorable wedding unites Alyssa Zaunbrecher, Joshua Lowery
Before Alyssa Ann Zaunbrecher met Joshua Nathan Lowery, she had her heart set on one day walking down the aisle in Luola’s Chapel in Winnebow, North Carolina—the same chapel where Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) and Landon Carter (Shane West) tied the knot in Nicholas Sparks’ romantic drama, A Walk to Remember. An avid admirer of the 2002 film, Alyssa grew up smitten with the picturesque chapel and its surrounding gardens, joking with her closest friends and family that she’d already found her wedding ceremony venue, long before she found her fiancé.
But when Josh, a U.S. Army veteran from Lake Charles, became friends with Alyssa, a Rayne native, through LSU’s MBA program in 2011, it didn’t take long for the pair to begin forming dreams of their own. The first of many came true on Valentine’s Day of this year, on a weekend trip together in Central Texas.
She was sick at the time, but Josh kept convincing her that she needed to go. On Sunday, as they were leaving to head back home, Josh asked if she wanted to take a photo in front of the famous Wedding Oak tree in San Saba, a legendary Indian site that sheltered many marriage services in the early 1900s. As soon as his dad started snapping, he got down on one knee and asked Alyssa to be his wife. Needless to say, Alyssa was overjoyed.
Both knew they wanted their wedding to be a very intimate affair, between just immediate families. And for them, all signs pointed to a destination wedding in West Point, New York -- where Josh had completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Military Academy in 2005. The fact that there was a Catholic chapel on campus made the decision a no-brainer for the two.
Only eight months later, the lovebirds took their Louisiana-based families on a trip of a lifetime to celebrate their becoming husband and wife.
September 29, 2016 kicked off the wedding weekend festivities for the bridal party with a guided cruise of the Hudson River, a tour of Manhattan and the 9/11 Memorial Site, a stroll through Central Park, and lunch in Hell’s Kitchen. The day before the wedding, the guests enjoyed a private guided tour of the West Point Military Academy campus, Josh’s old stomping grounds, and afterwards, father of the groom Danny Lowery hosted a rehearsal dinner for the couple and their guests at the Historic Thayer Hotel’s Hap Arnold Room.
What mattered most to the couple was that it was stress-free and a fun weekend for everyone involved. And it can honestly be said it was.
Josh and Alyssa wed on Saturday, October 1, 2016 in an intimate and religious ceremony celebrated by Father Byron Miller, CEO and President of Liguori Publications in Liguori, Missouri and close friend of the bride’s family, and Father Jeffrey Starkovich, director of vocations for the Diocese of Lake Charles and cousin of the groom. About 20 of the couple’s closest relatives gathered at the Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity to witness the afternoon nuptials.
Alyssa looked radiant in a beautiful crêpe Mikaella by Paloma Blanca gown with cap sleeves and a chapel train, made even more romantic by her floor-length cathedral veil. What her guests didn’t see, however, was the cloth military name tag of her beloved sewn into the inside of her dress close to her heart—just one of the many unique details of their big day.
As she started walking down the aisle hand-in-hand with her father, Alfred Zaunbrecher, Jr., Purcell’s Trumpet Tune in D played boldly and eloquently in the background, announcing the pivotal entrance and enlivening the space with joyful song. The light pouring in from the church’s stained glass windows illuminated the path to her waiting groom, who was accompanied by his best man and brother, Israel Lowery. In the hand that wasn’t holding onto her father, Alyssa carried a small bouquet of lily of the valley blooms, an amethyst rosary belonging to her great, great grandmother, and the same bridal handkerchief that her paternal grandmother and matron of honor Marceline Zaunbrecher carried on her wedding day 60 years prior.
The bride recalls feeling excited, but not even a little bit nervous. Hands down, her most memorable part for her was the exchanging of wedding vows -- she was ready to become a Lowery.
The ceremony ended on a memorable note with patriotic music performed by bagpiper Kevin Grace as guests congregated outside of the church to congratulate the new Mr. and Mrs. Lowery. While the bride and groom were taking photos on the West Point Campus, the guests met for cocktails at General Patton’s Tavern at the historic Thayer Hotel.
The celebratory dinner to follow was hosted by the bride’s parents, Ann and Alfred Zaunbrecher, Jr., at the West Point Club overlooking the Hudson River, where the newlyweds and their family enjoyed a spread of lobster bisque, Maryland crab cakes, mesclun mix salad, filet mignon topped with gulf shrimp, and wedding cake. Alyssa and Josh asked each of their family members to sign their copy of Rick Atkinson’s The Long Gray Line, which follows the 1966 class of West Point cadets and the women they loved from graduation to the fires of Vietnam, as well as the peace and struggles that followed the war. The book speaks for a generation of American men and women about innocence, patriotism and the price we pay for our dreams—topics that hit close to home for the groom, who served in the armed forces for five years before meeting Alyssa.
Rather than take a honeymoon trip, the couple opted to return to their home in Spring, Texas, where Josh is currently employed by Baker Hughes and Alyssa by Shell Oil, and settle into their first month as a married couple. But the celebration wasn’t over yet, not by a long shot.
Three weeks later, on a warm evening in Lafayette, Mr. and Mrs. Josh Lowery joined together with 150 of their friends and family at Cafe Vermilionville for a night of dinner, drinks, and dancing to commemorate their newlywed status. One of the first things guests saw when they entered the cafe was the couple’s four-tier cake, engraved with a heart on the front to symbolize the oak tree where Josh proposed, and a sculpted LSU tiger, inconspicuously jumping through the back of the cake reminding the couple of their first meeting. Fresh flowers were arranged throughout the venue, most in antique silver containers belonging to Alyssa’s great grandparents. Hundreds of white potted mums were placed throughout the courtyard to add that southern garden feel. Famous local band, Louisiana Red, played popular favorites in the courtyard as guests gathered in conversation, and danced the night away under a blanket of stars. Guests dined on classic Cajun cuisine, including turtle soup with sherry, crawfish beignets, duck confit empanadas, herb crusted filet mignon, pistachio pesto chicken salad on crostini, braised green tartlet of roasted pork and pepper jelly, and shrimp, parmesan and tasso penne pasta.
Having every single one of their friends and family in the same room together made the couple so happy. That was the most incredible thing—the bringing together of everyone that they love under one roof. There’s only one moment that you possibly get that chance while you’re alive, and taking that all in was very special to them as a couple.”
The charming North Carolina chapel of Alyssa’s youthful dreams may not have made an appearance in her real-life wedding, but the love and joy that Alyssa and Josh shared on that autumn day in New York, and then again at their Lafayette reception several weeks later, was every bit as touching as the unforgettable wedding scene in her favorite Nicholas Sparks film—and, according to those who witnessed the sacrament, a thousand times more meaningful. Let’s just say, it was truly a wedding to remember.
The bride is the daughter of Ann and Alfred Zaunbrecher, Jr. of Rayne. She is the granddaughter of Marceline and Alfred Zaunbrecher, Sr. of Rayne and the late Jane and John H. Golden, Jr. of Crowley.
The groom is the son of Daniel Lowery and the late Donna Lowery of Lake Charles. His grandparents are Helen Hedrich and the late Raymond Reeds of Lake Charles and the late Arthur Lee Lowery and Mae Dell Lowery.