Inside Nicole Kramer and Chase Bader’s Stylish, Vibrant Hotel Drover Wedding
Nicole Kramer and Chase Bader said “I do” in style at Hotel Drover in a weekend full of Texas-meets-Cali vibes, perfectly mismatched bridesmaids dresses, Beatles and bougainvillea. Join us for an exclusive Q&A with Nicole as we dive into the details of their special day.
the couple. Nicole Kramer & Chase Bader
the venue. Hotel Drover
the planner/designer. Rachel Giles of Honey & Co. Weddings
the photos. Feather & Twine
The Love Story
I was living in Atlanta back in 2018 and went to a festival where, purely out of happenstance, I saw Chase’s band at the time, Waker, playing. I saw him performing and, of course, immediately thought I was going to marry him. I have a Snapchat to prove it. A year went by and I saw his band play again when they came into town (Chase was living in Nashville) and we met after the show. We went on our first date a few weeks later in Chattanooga (the halfway point between Atlanta and Nashville) and ended up running around the city for around 10 hours. We never wanted the date to end. From there we started dating long distance until COVID-19 when I moved to Nashville.
Chase had been planning the proposal for months (asking both my parents for their blessing, having the ring made, and finding a free weekend to ask me which was hard since at the time every weekend someone else was either getting married or engaged themselves AND not to mention Chase travels a lot on the weekend for his music, etc.). But in May 2022 we drove down to Chattanooga to celebrate our third anniversary and at that point, it was hard to miss that something was coming. Shortly after arriving, we got drinks at the top of the Edwin Hotel. Then we walked across the Holmberg Bridge to the Hunter Museum looking out over the Tennessee River where our first date started 3 years prior. Then Chase got down on one knee and proposed, I said yes, and off to dinner we went to celebrate! The following day Chase and I drove back to Nashville which is where another surprise was waiting for me. He had gotten our families and some of my best friends to fly in and we had an incredible engagement party at our house. To round out the evening a few of us hit Broadway in downtown Nashville where I don’t think I stopped smiling for 12 hours straight.
The Wedding Venue
We spend a lot of time in Texas and California so finding a venue that felt naturally like a mix of both was important to us. Hotel Drover was great not only because it has beautiful Spanish-inspired architecture and landscaping that you see all around Texas and California, but it also made a great place for visitors to stay and explore the historic Stockyards and other parts of Fort Worth.
We told our planner, Rachel [Honey & Co. Weddings], from the beginning that we wanted this to almost feel like a party we could’ve thrown in our backyard. The feeling we wanted to share was you could find all the details somewhere in our home whether that be bowls filled with limes at the bar or framed photos of our loved ones or potted herbs or Italian and Greek-inspired serving dishes. We also wanted our guests to be able to feel like they saw pieces of Chase and myself throughout the night like having concert ticket stubs as our guests’ table assignments as an ode to Chase’s love for music and having my favorite flowers, bougainvilleas, throughout the reception. Also having our guest book be an assortment of vintage postcards was a way for Chase and I to reminisce back on the days when we were long-distance we would send postcards to each other. Basically, we wanted our wedding to be a peek into our relationship and what we love.
Chase and I are obsessed with film photography so having someone shoot film on our big day was of the utmost importance. So, working with Feather & Twine was a dream. Their combination of digital and film was the perfect recipe for classic nostalgia mixed with elevated modern photography. We just really wanted to make sure we could look back on these photos 50 years from now and still love them just as much as we do now. Not to mention they filmed our wedding on Super8!
I deliberated between two dresses for a while and ended up going with a dress by Danielle Frankel from Loho Bridal in Los Angeles. All the signs ended up pointing to this dress. It is called the Charlie dress which is my nephew’s name. This dress looks strikingly similar to not only my first communion dress but also my great-grandmother’s wedding dress. I wanted to feel timeless and I wanted Chase to love it and this dress achieved that for me.
The earrings I wore on my wedding day were a last-minute addition. Chase gifted them to me the morning of our wedding and they fit seamlessly with my dress so I had to wear them. My veil was one of my favorite parts of my look. It was a vision I had for a long time and it came together so beautifully thanks to Mi Bridal which I found on Etsy. This veil felt like an appropriate, elegant nod to my Italian heritage of which I’m very proud and complimented my dress perfectly.
With as many bridesmaids as I had, I wanted to make their lives and mine as easy as possible. I told them they could wear whatever color they pleased, but if they wanted a bit of guidance they could wear any shade of a bougainvillea. Luckily, bougainvilleas come in many colors so seeing what everyone picked and how the variety of colors turned out was such a fun surprise for me! Everyone standing together looked so fabulous!
We told Chase’s groomsmen to wear traditional black tuxedos and they did just that. 🙂
The Wedding Rings
All of our rings, my engagement ring, and both of our wedding bands are by Jane Pope who is based out of Charleston. I originally fell in love with her rings because they have a subtle hammered detailing on them and Chase had mentioned how it reminded him of a symbol on a drum kit. That sealed the deal for me that we needed to have our rings made by her.
The Hair and Makeup
Cathi is a dear friend and colleague of mine. I’ve watched her do hair and makeup for three years and she is the only person I trusted on my big day. I said what every bride says: “I want to look like myself”. Cathi knows me personally so she knew exactly what I wanted. I often wear my hair in a low wavy ponytail and with the back of my dress, it was the best option for my hair for the ceremony. I felt comfortable and beautiful all at the same time. Cathi helped me go through multiple hair changes throughout the night as I wanted to change up my look slightly as the night went on. It went off without a hitch.
East Rose was a recommendation from our planner Rachel. East Rose helped us execute exactly what we were looking for with our invitations and other paper goods as well as the cutest matchbox books ever! Her designs for the ticket stubs as guest table assignments were such a fun project to oversee and we were so happy with the results.
Jim [Irwin] is a dear friend of my mom’s and was the only person we were going to turn to for florals for a day like this. He brought in everything I wanted from bougainvilleas to olive branches to herbs to candles galore! Seeing the finished product was like a dream!
The Morning Of
Making sure my morning started calmly, but still very much like all my mornings was important to me. I didn’t want to completely disrupt my nervous system by trying to squeeze in an intense workout or do any crazy face masks so waking up and having my morning coffee was the ticket for me. I also made sure I took the time to write Chase a letter that morning and someone very kindly hand-delivered it to him as he got ready at my dad’s house. I curated a special playlist just for the morning (which to my friends will come as no surprise) that kept the energy up while also keeping me relaxed while everyone got ready. My mom and sister helped me put on my dress as well as my nephew/godson, Everett (who immediately jumped on the train of my dress once I had it on, but luckily his boots were brand new so no harm, no foul). Once my bridesmaids and I were ready, Chase and his groomsmen came over. Chase and I got to have our first look in my mom’s backyard followed by pictures with our bridesmaids and groomsmen. Then, off to Hotel Drover we went!
Our ceremony had to make a last-minute pivot from being held on the lawn outside to a covered porch upstairs in Hotel Drover due to rain. Rachel made sure this change happened seamlessly and I didn’t have to do much thinking, so, a big thank you to Rachel. We were also extremely lucky to have Chase’s groomsmen Adam and Conor provide music for our ceremony as they are two extremely talented guitar players. My dad and I walked down the aisle to “I Will” by The Beatles. And the man to marry us was my brother-in-law, Jonny, whom Chase and I are extremely close with. He is an amazing storyteller and husband so having him perform our ceremony was one of the best decisions we made when it came to our wedding. We had our mothers accompany us with the Unity Candle lighting which is a Catholic tradition we wanted to incorporate into our ceremony. After we sealed our union with a kiss, Chase and I walked down the aisle as a married couple to “Till There Was You” also by The Beatles.
We were lucky to have the weather clear up for cocktail hour, so we got to be outside for a little while where guests enjoyed drinks and donkeys! Making sure we allotted as much party time as possible was a huge part of the planning process for us so getting everyone fed and getting to all the reception-related customs right off the bat was our approach. Once everyone was seated Chase and I danced to “Strangers in the Night” by Frank Sinatra followed by my dad and I dancing to a medley of James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and Boston’s “Foreplay/Longtime”. Chase and his mom danced to “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan. After that, we knocked out the bouquet toss and the garter toss (which is an underrated, neglected wedding tradition in my opinion). My dad, a former pilot, gave a lovely speech comparing marriage to flying an airplane and there was not a dry eye in the house. Once dancing began, I changed into a sparkly pink vintage dress from Happy Isles Salon along with a pair of silver flip flops – I had to take it easy on my feet at that point. Seeing everyone with their illuminated cowboy hats and light-up foam sticks really made it feel like a party that could go all night. The night wrapped up with Chase and me singing and dancing on stage. My dad joined us for “Eight Days A Week” by The Beatles (there seems to be a theme here…). Our encore was “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie which was an apt choice considering we never wanted the night to end.
Rachel was an absolute angel during the planning process. I needed someone more organized than me, someone who could communicate with all of our vendors, and someone who could see our vision. She was the only person I communicated with for all things wedding-related. From her recommendations to the rain plan and execution, she made my life EASY! My sister was trying to hire her to work for her by the end of the weekend!
Chase and I really wanted a specific kind of Italian wedding cake, but it was hard to find someone local who would do it. Truth be told, Chase and I didn’t care much about the cake. We cared more about there being cannolis (which were from Swiss Pastry Shop and were delicious!) so we flew our cake in from Oasis Cafe. While I’m sure the cake was fresh in their store in Queens, New York, I will say, by the time the cake got to the venue it was kind of the most pitiful cake you’ve ever seen. Chase and I laughed as soon as we saw it. It wasn’t the 7 tier cake you see these days, but the memory we made with our sad little cake is something we look back fondly on.
Tortilla soup, chicken fried steak, salmon and salad were just a few things on the menu, but hearing how much everyone enjoyed the food was a pleasure I didn’t know I’d relish so much in. Hotel Drover did an incredible job with the food! My dad and aunts also baked and wrapped over 200 Italian cookies that were displayed alongside our cannolis from Swiss Pastry Shop!
Blue Roses packed a punch with their performance! They kept people dancing from the moment they started till the last song and they were kicking us out. It felt like a concert, which is exactly what we wanted. Not to mention they let us sing and dance on stage which was a dream of mine!
The Favorite Moment
Nicole: Our first look – A lot of my nervousness went away when Chase and I got to see each other for our first look. Being able to be arm-in-arm with him from that point forward made everything better. I’m always more at ease when I’m near Chase. Highly recommend doing a first look to any brides or grooms who have a feeling they will be extra nervous or anxious!
Chase: Private dinner – I loved being able to have a private dinner right after our ceremony rather than eating while everyone else did because it allowed us to take a breath and really take it all in. At that moment we realized what we did and what we wanted to do: throw a big party for us and our friends, but most importantly come together as a unit. Plus the food was fire and we actually ate versus getting too distracted and not eating.
Trying to figure out what to do about the rain definitely threw a wrench in our ceremony plans, but Rachel made it an easy decision to move the ceremony. Also singing “Eight Days A Week” with Chase and my dad (as this is one of their favorite Beatles songs) was something that I had no idea was happening. We had that song stuck in our heads for 2 weeks after there because we couldn’t stop replaying the memory in our minds.
Everyone should be allowed to take a month off for their honeymoon! Chase and I got to spend five glorious days in Mexico, and I could’ve used about 25 more just to continue to come down from feeling all the emotions you feel during a wedding! We stuffed our faces with so much delicious food that was served at the One & Only and soaked in all the sun we could. We can’t wait to go back one day.
Someone told us no matter what after the ceremony and going into the reception, try your absolute hardest to stay by your partner’s side the whole night. Chase and I truly only separated to go to the bathroom! But by doing this you two share all the same memories from the night 🙂
VENUE + CATERING HOTEL DROVER
PLANNING + DESIGN HONEY & CO. WEDDINGS
WELCOME PARTY BILLY BOB’S TEXAS | GUITAR BAR
PHOTOGRAPHER + VIDEOGRAPHER FEATHER & TWINE PHOTOGRAPHY
FLORAL JIM IRWIN FLORAL
RENTALS BIG D PARTY RENTALS
CANNOLIS SWISS PASTRY SHOP
REHEARSAL DINNER: JOE T. GARCIA’S
BEER BURROS BIG CITY FARM
ENTERTAINMENT DART COLLECTIVE | THE BLUE ROSES
HAIR + MAKEUP CATHI SINGH MAKEUP ARTIST
STAFFING AO STAFFING
TRANSPORTATION IGPORT LIMOS