Kentuckians have known CNN reporter Pamela Brown since before she was born.
Her father, then-Gov. John Y. Brown Jr., announced her impending arrival on April 15, 1983, with a joke: “I’m happy to announce I’m pregnant — that is, Phyllis is.”
So it’s not surprising that Pamela Brown, a graduate of Henry Clay High School, is returning to Lexington for her wedding in June. Brown recently became engaged to longtime boyfriend Adam Wright, who moved from California to be with her after more than a year of long-distance dating.
The engagement happened at the couple’s home in Washington, D.C., where the couple’s dog “Bubs,” a boxer-pit bull mix, carried the ring box on his bow tie.
Immediately after the engagement, Brown told TheKnot.com, a wedding website, that she was getting married in Lexington, “with horses and bourbon being a key part of the festivities,” but she hadn’t gotten further in the planning.
What’s interesting is that Brown drinks bourbon only rarely. But at the wedding, she said, she might indulge. And the horses, she said, will be right nearby. Living in Washington, Brown misses horses: “I miss true riding, like competing.”
“I want all my guests to experience Kentucky bourbon,” she said. “I want them all to come and experience the full flavor of Kentucky.”
She has a dress, from Canadian designer Romona Caveza, that she found in less than an hour. She Facetimed with her mom about the dress “and she immediately broke into tears,” she said.
Pamela Brown describes the dress as “what I envision a Southern belle wearing at her wedding.”
She also has lined up caterer Cooper Vaughan, wedding planner Sarah Leer and Elizabeth Hemphill at Rose & Thistle for flowers. Snacks will be provided by food vendors including Whoo Wants Waffles and Crank & Boom ice cream.
The guest list numbers about 230 and the wedding will be held at Cave Hill, the large traditional house in southern Fayette County where the Browns lived when her older brother Lincoln and she were children. Although another family now owns the house, Brown said she always wanted to get married there because of her fond memories of the house during her childhood.
The couple will honeymoon in Japan.
Pamela Brown’s father, the former governor, will walk her down the aisle. The couple would like for Bubs the dog to be the ring-bearer, but “our fear is he is going to go off course and start chasing squirrels.”
Before Pamela was born, Phyllis George hoped for a girl the second time around — Lincoln was born in 1980 — and she already had a pink room planned in the Governor’s Mansion. And the baby had a name before her gender was confirmed: Pamela, after Brown’s sister who was lost when she and companions tried to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a hot-air balloon in the early 1970s.
Pamela Ashley Brown was born on Nov. 29, 1983, just before her father’s term as governor ended. John Y. Brown Jr. said afterward that Phyllis George was “singing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ when they brought the baby into this world.”
John Y. Brown Jr., now 82 — “an active 82,” he specifies in a telephone interview — said his daughter “has got the entrepreneurial streak in her.”
When Pamela Brown sought his advice, he told her, “You have to be prepared when opportunity comes.”
John Y. Brown, who was an entrepreneur before running for governor, is delighted to brag about his youngest child, who he said has an easygoing personality and a charm that always allowed her to sell her father on any project.
“I’m so proud of her. She works hard, and life could not be better. She’s met a wonderful young man who I could not be more impressed with.”
In addition to Lincoln, Pamela has three older half-siblings from their father’s first marriage, among them former Kentucky Secretary of State John Y. Brown III.
Brown said that at the rate Lincoln and Pamela Brown are progressing, they will make their parents look like underachievers.
Pamela Brown’s parents divorced in 1996, after 17 years of marriage. Both Phyllis George and John Y. Brown Jr. live in Lexington.
After graduating from Henry Clay, Pamela Brown went to the University of North Carolina. Now, she jokes that she “bleeds two kinds of blue” — Kentucky’s bold blue and UNC’s pastel blue.
Before starting at CNN, Brown worked for WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Washington.
While Brown is happy with her work at CNN — “the people are just great to work with” — she sees more reporting and hosting challenges in her future. Recently she was the correspondent for the network’s “Unfinished Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton.”
“I would like to still be in the business and have my own show one day … and still keep up the reporting,” she said.
Does Pamela Brown ever get tired of hearing how much she looks like her famous mom, the Miss America who played a role in shattering the glass ceiling of women in sportscasting?
“I think it’s the biggest compliment,” Pamela Brown said. “I’m never tired of it.”