Home » First Came Family. Then Came Marriage (to a Grandmother’s Relief).

First Came Family. Then Came Marriage (to a Grandmother’s Relief).

by Marko Florentino
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Mary Morton, a 99-year-old retired assistant principal in the Bronx, N.Y., wanted to live long enough to watch Melanie Renee White, her granddaughter, walk down the aisle with her then longtime boyfriend, Andrew R. Trotter.

“I hope my eyes are still open by the time y’all get married,” she told Ms. White while the couple was dating.

On Feb. 22, Ms. Morton’s eyes were fixed on her granddaughter, 37, and Mr. Trotter, 38, as she led their ceremonial celebration at Secret Gardens Miami, an event space in Homestead, Fla.

“She just wanted to see it happen so bad,” said Ms. White, who had legally married Mr. Trotter on Jan. 18 at Philadelphia City Hall. “It was just an honor to have her do it.”

The couple had tested the nonagenarian’s patience: They first met over a decade before, in 2012, when Ms. White, who now runs a custom jewelry line called Melanie Marie, worked as a sales associate at Saks Fifth Avenue in Philadelphia. Mr. Trotter, who flips residential real estate, visited the store looking for a pair of 7 for All Mankind jeans. After meeting Ms. White, he left with nine pairs and his newfound crush’s phone number.

“I thought she was just beautiful,” Mr. Trotter recalled.

Mr. Trotter, who goes by Drew, called Ms. White twice to ask her out, but Ms. White was busy both nights. Mr. Trotter decided to give her one more chance.

“You give a person three tries,” Mr. Trotter said.

The third call yielded a different response: Ms. White was free on the night Mr. Trotter suggested, but she could only stay for 30 minutes because her mother was in town from New York. The two agreed to meet at Zesty’s, a Greek restaurant in Philadelphia. After Ms. White ordered food, Mr. Trotter jokingly asked her if she had planned to “eat and run.”

The date went well. “We had good conversation,” Ms. White said. “Everything was light and playful.”

They began going out more frequently and began dating. The couple didn’t move in together until Ms. White, who graduated from Hampton University in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, became pregnant with the couple’s first child, AnnDrew, who goes by Annie, in 2016. Despite the seminal moment in their relationship, the couple said they felt no pressure to get married once they shared a child together.

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here.

“We were just enjoying her,” Ms. White said.

The couple broke up in 2018 for about a year, but reconciled shortly after Ms. White texted a photo of Annie to Mr. Trotter, who responded, “We did good.”

“And then it said, ‘Oh, we need to have another one,’” Ms. White recalled of the text exchange. The two had another child, True, in 2021.

In 2023, Mr. Trotter, who attended Temple University in Philadelphia, decided to propose. “I knew it was very big for her,” he said. “You want to set an example for your kids, first and foremost.”

A high school friend, Eric Wortham II, offered the couple tickets to Adele’s Las Vegas residency, where Mr. Wortham supported the British crooner on piano. Mr. Trotter had been trying to come up with a proposal plan, “and I thought what better than at the Adele show,” he said.

But after arriving in Sin City, Mr. Wortham, who had been clued in on Mr. Trotter’s plans, reached out to tell him the floor tickets he had promised the couple were for the wrong date. He gave the couple tickets in the balcony instead, which scuttled Mr. Trotter’s hopes of proposing to Ms. White as Adele, who ventures out into the audience during her show, walked by them.

After Adele belted her last song and no ring materialized, the pianist suggested the couple join him and his bandmates to see a musical act perform at the Barbershop, a cocktail lounge and live music venue at the Cosmopolitan resort. Mr. Wortham then spoke to his old high school friend privately.

“He was like, “Listen, you could do it here if you want. I’ll have the band members play and bring you out and tell you to jump on stage,” Mr. Trotter said. “And that’s what I did.” A surprised Ms. White said yes.

Once they were back in Yonkers, N.Y., where the couple now lives, the newly-engaged parents showed their two daughters a video of Mr. Trotter’s onstage proposal. Annie asked her parents, “What does this mean?” The couple explained it meant they were getting married.

“Traditionally, you date, get engaged, get married, and then you have kids. We had kids first,” Ms. White said. “For me, it was special. My daughters were involved in everything.”

Ahead of the wedding, the couple’s two daughters, now 3 and 7, who would serve as flower girls, attended Ms. White’s dress fittings. “Even though it’s nontraditional, I like the fact that now they get to see everyone being excited for the wedding and looking forward to it,” Ms. White added.

On the day of their reception, the couple drove from their hotel in downtown Miami to the venue in a Rolls-Royce. As the nearly 150 guests arrived at the venue from out of town, they each received a custom newspaper, The Trotter Times, filled with sections like the ceremony run-down, the reception’s seating chart and guest awards, which included categories like “Longest Distance Traveled” and “First to R.S.V.P.”

Ms. White wore a white sweetheart neckline dress with a slit front during the ceremony before changing into a beaded dress for the reception. Mr. Trotter donned a white tuxedo jacket and black pants, but switched into white pants during the reception.

During the ceremony, Ms. Morton, who still drives and cooks as a near-centenarian, nodded to the couple’s many years as an unmarried pair, according to Ms. White.

“She just kept throwing shots the whole time, saying like, ‘The long-awaited wedding,’” Ms. White said. “‘Melanie and Drew had many years to get to know each other.’”

“My father was a minister,” said Ms. Morton in an interview. “Marriage meant to me that it would be bonded by the spirit of God.” Ms. Morton, who was married for 45 years before her husband, Melvin Morton, died in 1997, added, “It would be a guide for both parties.”

The event catered to guests with accouterments like a hedged wall where guests could ring a bell and a hand would emerge with a glass of champagne. The wedding also featured a lion, which replaced the tiger.

“I’ve always wanted to throw a party with a tiger in the background,” Mr. Trotter said. “If you look at ‘Scarface,’ he had a tiger at his wedding.”

But Tony Montana lived in a less security-minded era than the Trotters. The tiger’s keeper said he had a “domesticated lion,” with whom the couple took photos before the ceremony.

The couple’s daughters stayed up past their bedtimes, dancing with the newlyweds and their friends, enmeshing themselves in the celebration. After almost a dozen years together, with two daughters by their side, the couple viewed the act of marriage as an important step in solidifying their family.

“It’s the unity of being together, really officially having a document that says, ‘Hey, we are a family,’” Mr. Trotter said of what he wanted to signal to his kids. “‘And no one can tell you different.’”

When Feb. 22, 2024

Where Secret Gardens Miami, Homestead, Fla.

Ring Pop During the ceremony, Mr. Trotter and his groomsmen played a practical joke on Ms. White. After Ms. Morton asked for the rings, Mr. Trotter turned to his best man, Norman Power III, who patted down his pockets and pretended he couldn’t find it. Mr. Power then turned to the other groomsmen to ask if they had the ring, and they all began patting down their own bodies. One groomsman pretended to find it, delivering a Ring Pop to Mr. Trotter. A different groomsman then passed the real ring to Mr. Trotter. Ms. White, after some initial panic, ultimately found the gag funny.

Celebratory Cigars During the reception, two men, donning white button-down shirts and pants, rolled cigars for guests. The rollers cut tobacco leaves in front of guests, wrapping the cigars, and using a blow torch to light them.

DJ Friends Two of the couple’s friends joined the event’s hired D.J., Don Fresh, on his turntables to entertain the crowd. Luckily, the friends were professional D.J.s: Maurice DeLoach, known as DJ Aktive, who has joined Janet Jackson on tour, and Aaron Nearn, who goes by DjAYEboogie. The duo played hip-hop hits like “Swag Surfin’” by the Fast Life Yungstaz, which had recently gone viral from Taylor Swift dancing to it at a Kansas City Chiefs game.

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