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Debra Duncan’s Wedding

Tuesday, January 1, 2002 @ 12:01 AM

Wedding Bells for Debra
by Linda Miller Anzaldua

Without the hot spotlights of her KTRK TV studio but with plenty of internal glow from the bride and her proud papa, Deborah Kay Duncan, Houston’s award-winning talk show hostess, needed no producer or director to guide her into the arms of her groom-to-be, George Neal Horner.

Some say it was a match made in heaven, but it’s no secret this romance started out as the result of a botched appointment at a doctor’s office.

Debra (the professional format for her name) remembers well that fate-filled day. Though she and Neal were accidentally booked for the same time slot, they both graciously offered to cancel and reschedule. Neal (his preferred nametag) had never “picked up a girl” at a doctor’s office before, but he was intrigued by Debra’s infectious (pun intended) personality. He decided to make the move and call her for lunch, having no idea that she was such a well-known television celebrity. Debra liked that.

Boy Meets Girl

And so the story goes. Boy meets girl, boy dates girl, girl likes boy, and so on and so on. But wait, wasn’t that supposed to conclude with boy marries girl? Well, not exactly.

Debra will admit that she has interviewed or hosted on her many shows just about every recognized authority, author or get-them-to-the-altar self-help guru around. She has learned the rules from the best in the field. Neal, a successful local business owner, was smitten beyond belief, but he wasn’t so good at the next step.

Debra loves to share her Most Remembered New Year’s Eve story. Where are most Texas guys and their buddies over the holidays? Where else, the deer lease. So Debra made her way down to exotic Edna, Texas. She stopped at the local WalMart (where she was well recognized) to pick up some long johns and then bravely spent the next few days in Neal’s deer stand. Come New Year’s Eve, Neal promised her the finest that Edna had to offer, the local Pizza Hut. And as he motioned to the waitress, he said, “I want everything first class for my gal,” sign us up for the salad bar.?

The Way to a Man’s Heart is Through His Calendar

So how did they get to Second Baptist Church for a wedding? Easy, Debra set up a timetable with deadlines. Though she knew she had found more than the love of her life, a true soul mate and one who could make the marriage commitment stick, it was her only recourse. While it was no secret Neal shared the same love connection emotions, he was a little timid about marriage, especially given that Debra is such a well-known celebrity.

Neal realized Debra’s deadline was fast approaching. So in typical businessman style, he asked for an extension.

When the second deadline approached, Neal woke up in terror, realizing he may have just messed up big time. As he had come to know, deadlines in television, and especially in TV news, are crucial, and he had to do something before she left for the office.

And Your Ring Came From Where?

Being an old-fashioned guy and wanting to show Debra he was dead serious this time, Neal knew he had to show up with a ring. You can imagine trying to find a jewelry store open before 10 a.m. But Neal put on his thinking cap and remembered a jeweler’s cart that Debra had stopped by once at a nearby Fiesta grocery store.

Luckily, the proprietor kept early hours, and Neal was able to purchase a ring and hightail it over to Debra’s at the final hour. Proudly, he rang the doorbell and professed his love through the peephole.

And You are Calling Me From Where?

“Hi, Debra. Can you talk now?” asked Neal.

“Not really, honey. We are in a pre-show production meeting.”

“Well, I just wanted to tell you that I’m sitting in front of your house.”

“And so what? I’m not home,” said Debra.

“Well what I mean is, I’m sitting in front of your parent’s house in San Antonio, and I just wanted to tell you that I’m about to go in and ask them if I could marry their daughter, OK?” said Neal.

Needless to say, once Neal’s true love motor was in motion, he scored all kinds of points on that one special day.

Real Wedding Plans

The Fiesta ring found its way to popular Houston jewelers Mike Plummer of Diamonds and Time and Mark Klein of Michael Klein’s Fine Jewelry. The original band became the base for a knock your eyes out princess-cut solitaire. Diamond studded double bands finished the unique three-part wedding and engagement ring set.

Houston-based London designer Vanessa Riley created a one-of-a-kind wedding ensemble for Debra, while Lucho designed Neal’s tux, and the wedding was soon to be a reality.

Here Comes the Bride

So now we return to the beginning of this love story, with more than 300 guests on a beautiful, cool, crisp late fall afternoon in the simply elegant Second Baptist Church Sanctuary.

The Rev. Ben Young led the groom and groomsmen out in front of the altar. Neal’s hunting buddy, Kevin Duke, served as best man, and groomsmen included Matt Mahoney, Bruce Mosher, Mike Odeguard and Joey Vallone. The five bridesmaids entered regally, each in a black gown of their own choosing, but somehow so appropriate for the uniqueness of this event. And each carried a freestyle bouquet of assorted white blossoms, again in five differently styled designs. Marsha Branniff was Debra’s maid of honor, and her attendants included Kim Jackson, program manager of KTRK, Wendy Granato, executive producer of “The Debra Duncan Show,” Michelle Mosher, Debra’s new sister-in-law, and special friend Antoinette Latham.

As Debra proceeded down the aisle, Tony Glover of Brentwood Baptist Church began a beautiful rendition of “One in a Million.” We looked around and as is often said, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

The service did not have any personally scripted vows, but somehow, Rev. Young made each and every word more meaningful this time around.

Let’s Party Heart-y

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the guests departed for the reception at one of Houston’s most elegant estates right in the heart of the Memorial Villages, the home of Larry and Janet Rammings. Meanwhile, inside the church, the bridal party posed for the traditional post-ceremony photos with one of Houston?s most in-demand wedding photographers, Nhan Nguyen.

On this perfect day for an outdoor afternoon reception, the crowd swelled to nearly 400 guests. We were wined and dined by a fabulous buffet from Ruggles hats off to Bruce and Suzanne Molzan. Richard Flowers and Associates’ Scott and Karen were on hand to oversee the details, along with a most attentive staff from Carlton Staffing. It was a picture-perfect reception amid the elegant gardens, pools and courtyards of this fabulous swank-ienda. What a great mix, the A-plus list of socialites, politicians, television anchors and well-known reporters mingled among family, friends and best of all, lots of Debra’s own regular audience members. We all loved being there and feeling the bond that had just been created between the local TV star and this very exceptional groom.

Florist Lyman Ratcliffe’s talented floral designer, Kirksey Gregg, filled big clear globes with the freshest of flowers – all different – as centerpieces on the dozens of satin-striped tables.

“The Heat Band,” led by Lawrence Overshown, kept everything cool as the happy couple made their way through the throngs of well-wishers. Eventually, Debra took to the microphone to sing Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable.” But, of course, this was Debra’s own version to her beaming groom.

Among the last official duties on the agenda was the cutting of the cakes. The official bride’s cake was a one-of-a-kind creation designed by Julie’s Cakes (Baker to the Stars) of Missouri City. Originally called the “Heirloom Cake,” Julie Clifton took family jewelry pieces from both the bride and the groom and used her talented icing artistry to create something special.

The groom’s cake was on display in a hunting-themed den and was, of course, decked out in camouflage icing. Emblazoned across the cake in bold lettering were the words, “The Hunt is Over!”

Family Secrets

Like most brides, Debra followed the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” tradition. But it’s the “something borrowed” that had everyone at the wedding in awe.

Debra’s good friend, Jim “Mattress Mac” McIngvale “loaned” Debra the Princess Diana jewelry to wear at her wedding. The $700,000 necklace and earrings came complete with an armed security officer to guard them. The flash of diamonds and pearls and the chance to see the real ice close up had everyone totally impressed, except for Debra’s mom, who said, “Oh, nice beads.”

So with Debra adorned in this beautiful necklace and fabulous one-of-a-kind gown, we all could see that she was the princess of Neal’s eye, not only on this day but forever in his future.

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