A Nashville Wedding in a Historical Chapel

Where nothing went according to plan, and the magic happened anyway.

Christine, Social Media Editor & Robert, Operations Manager

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A laid-back Southern summer party.

Soundtrack for reading: “Hummed Low” by Odessa Rose

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As someone who has written about wedding and special events for a living, I thought wedding planning would be as easy for me as it could be for anyone. But it turned out to be challenging in all sorts of ways I didn’t expect.

In fact, my now-husband and I had a truly impressive array of wedding day mishaps. Standstill traffic on the freeway put the bridal party an hour behind schedule and scrambled the pre-wedding time line in a major way. Flash flood warnings meant we had to scratch the plan to get married under an ancient tree. The venue kindly offered the (thankfully unbooked) chapel on the premises constructed in 1823 by President Andrew Jackson, but we had to nix all our wedding decor due to decor restrictions on the historical building. I had literally thought when planning the whimsical and unusual wedding decor: The wedding blogs are going to love this.

Ah well.

Despite the wedding day craziness, I still got to marry Robert, and the celebration was as joyous as we had hoped for—even if it didn’t take the form we had envisioned.

What Robert and I had pictured was a relaxed summer party—and for me, I also wanted to show the people I love, most of whom traveled for the wedding, the state I love and grew up in. So there was a lot of Tennessee in the details.

We set the tone with our wedding invitations, printed by one of the oldest letterpress companies in the nation, Nashville institution Hatch Show Print, known for their country music posters. Our wedding and reception took place on the property of President Andrew Jackson. Food included biscuits, shrimp and grits, and peach cobbler—and a late-night snack of gourmet popsicles from acclaimed Nashville popsicle shop Las Paletas. And we surprised our guests with country line dance instruction, including a barn dance that had us switching partners every 30 seconds—and allowed Robert and I to speed-chat with many of our guests.

But one of the most memorable moments is when the fireflies came out. Many of our California guests had never seen them before, and the evening broke out into an impromptu firefly-catching session.

It was pretty magical. And so was the whole evening. It didn’t go remotely according to plan, but those were just details. When Robert and I discussed our wedding in the planning stages, we often described the feeling we hoped to capture. And our wedding day had all the fun and joy we imagined.

Favorite Thing About The Wedding

Getting married to each other. Also, the fireflies were neat.


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  • Lindsey d.

    Love the bridesmaid’s skirts!

    • Thanks, Lindsey. They wee cheap enough that I was able to buy them myself for my bridesmaids! Then they could choose a cream top of their choice to go with it!

  • Megera

    I had a chat with my manfriend this week about how he got really grumpy about wedding planning. It turns out that he’s afraid to get excited about the party (and, I think, the marriage in general) because so often things don’t turn out as they are planned. I’m glad to see that despite all the not-going-to-plan you experienced that you were able to focus on the fun and excitement of being with friends and family as well as getting successfully hitched (congrats). These photos (and your story) are a wonderful reminder that as long as you are married at the end of the day it’s a successful wedding. Thanks for sharing.

    • Aw, thanks Megera! It was a good reminder to us as well, and as a detail-oriented person, I’m happy I was able to let go of all those details and plans in the end. There’s so much going on on your wedding the day that the details tend to fall away a bit. I think it’s a good thing for brides planning their wedding to keep in mind. I wish I had during the planning process!

  • vegankitchendiaries

    I so hear this. I’m back at work as of yesterday and have been telling people about our Saturday wedding, “Nothing went like it was supposed to. It was an amazing day.”

    Maybe your whimsical decor didn’t get its full use but “the blogs” will surely love your drop dead gorgeous dress, rad bridesmaids, and pastel yogurt pops? Plus… GROOMS SHOELACES? I die. Seriously, thanks a lot, because I’m a dead person now.

    It looks like it was a total gas… congratulations to this very happy looking couple!

    • ART

      (can’t wait to hear about it!)

      • vegankitchendiaries

        <3 ;)

    • Congrats on your wedding and thanks so much! And yes, those were pretty much my words exactly when people asked how our wedding went.

      Credit to the groom on those shoelaces. People assumed that was me matching him to the color scheme, but it was all Robert!

      The earrings are from Anthropologie, and if memory serves cost $38.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        They are bloody fantastic! God bless, Anthropologie.

  • H

    I’m not trying to stir things up but I wanted to point out – I’m from Nashville, and we were taught that the Hermitage was a working plantation with hundreds of slaves supporting its existence. Did that enter into your decision-making at all? I know this isn’t a discussion about this but I’m interested to hear how people negotiated having weddings in beautiful but morally-troubling locations like this one? I’m sure plantations can’t be the only place like that out there.

    • GG

      I think any historical venue in the south is going to have that specter.

  • Becca

    Unashamed Claire Pettibone fanatic here. I recognized the Claire Pettibone-ness RIGHT AWAY in the first picture (THAT OVERLAY), but I don’t recognize the dress. Would love to know, please share if you can!

    Also, of course, lovely, lovely, lovely wedding and so much love :)

    • Thank you, Becca! Having written about weddings long before I had one, there was really no question where my dress would come from. I’m a longtime Claire Pettibone fanatic myself. I bought my dress at a sample sale and believe it’s one of her older designs and no longer being made. It was called Charlotte, if I remember correctly.

      • Becca

        Thanks so much, Christine! It’s beautiful on you :)

  • Lindsey d.

    “And we surprised our guests with country line dance instruction,
    including a barn dance that had us switching partners every 30
    seconds—and allowed Robert and I to speed-chat with many of our guests.”

    This is awesome! Down here in the south (and other cultures do this as well), there is a totally tacky “money dance.” I’m not a fan of people pinning money to the bride and groom, but I always participate because it usually gives me my only chance for 30 seconds with the groom or bride of the whole evening.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I lived in Scotland for 8 years and Scottish weddings are THE BEST for this. Even a newcomer to Scotland can pick up the basics for ceilidh dancing and before you the wedding is over you’ve “stripped the willow” with everyone from the bride’s grandma to the groom’s boss. It’s SUCH an awesome way to break down the barriers and get people a bit reckless. Whisky helps too, probably.

      • I agree, Lindsay — I usually participate in those too, just so I can talk to the bride or groom for bit without feeling like I’m tearing them away from something. And that Scottish tradition sounds amazing, vegankitchendiaries!

    • Caitlin_DD

      Not going to lie, I love the money dance. It works especially well for people with traditional Southern family who otherwise could not stomach just giving the couple money.

  • Aj

    That dress. On you. GORGEOUS! and the whole wedding looks like such a fun time. You and your husband are laughing in nearly every picture. Sure, the things we plan for hardly go just so but you really can’t plan for those moments filled with mirth and love. And those? those make the wedding (in my opinion). The wedding blogs are going to love That.

    • Thank you, AJ! I agree with you. It’s so important to focus on how you want your wedding to feel, and yet, so easy to get caught up in how it should look. More blogs should focus on the emotion of the day, like A Practical Wedding does!

  • Rachel

    beautiful wedding! Also, I love that song – can’t find it on itunes or amazon though. Any idea where I could buy it?

  • Mary Jo TC

    Christine, friend me on facebook! I live in Nashville too and have been trying (sporadically and not with much success) to get an APW group going here. Loved your pictures!

    • Christine

      Hi Mary Jo — I’m actually in LA these days, so I’m afraid I’m not much help. We had the wedding where a grew up, but it was actually a destination wedding for us!

  • Nope.

    Wait wait wait, California doesn’t have fireflies? How did I not know this? Those poor, poor west coasters.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I actually thought fireflies were a made up thing (like fairies) for a couple of years… I’ve still never seen one in real life! The picture showing one trapped in a jar looks pretty unreal and fantastic!

      • I was shocked when I moved to California, and they didn’t have fireflies myself. I miss them. I was hoping they’d come out for the wedding and was so delighted when they did. Seeing everyone’s faces when they came out was so amazing!

        • Until I read this post, I thought that fireflies where just becoming extinct opr something. I grew up in the south with fireflies, but then moved away and thought that they were becoming extinct everywhere. I am so relieved they still exist! I just need to head back south in the summer! :)

    • Glen

      Having grown up in the Midwest, I hadn’t realized that fireflies were missing in LA until my SoCal-born-and-raised SIL asked me about them. Fireflies have kind of faded out of the Chicagoland area, so I naively assumed the same about LA.

    • Alison O

      I never saw them growing up in Oregon either. First time was in western Massachusetts in late May my senior year of college at our last formal event outside an estate. It was sorta magical.

    • Emma

      Fireflies and thunderstorms were the two things I was most excited about when I moved to the East coast!

  • Becca

    Wait! What happened to the comment about difficult pasts of historical places?

  • macrain

    We live in Brooklyn and a lot of our guests will be traveling down from NYC for our North Carolina wedding, many of them for the first time. We’ll be getting married in a historic hotel. I just love how much southernness you have going on, especially the line dancing! It looks so special and so beautiful. Congrats!

    • Thank you! It was interesting how the location of the wedding began to inform all our decisions. We didn’t plan it that way — it just seemed natural. And I think it made the experience feel really cohesive and distinct. Best wishes for your wedding day as well!

  • Alison O

    omg thank you so much for introducing me to THIS SONG!

    • You’re welcome. I’m OBSESSED with it!

  • Natalie

    Oh, it all looks so happy and fun! I love the not-matching bridesmaids bouquets that are tied together by your gorgeous bouquet. They’re beautiful. I may steal that idea for my wedding, as I love bouquets with just one or two flower types, but cannot possibly narrow my choice down to just one or two flowers.

    Also, I seriously teared up at the thought of catching fireflies at a wedding. It somehow seems like the most magical thing you could have at your wedding.

    • Thanks, Natalie! I was really pleased with how the bouquets turned out. In fact, you can’t really tell here, but they were intended to have an ombre effect, going from coral to peach to sandstone to white.

      I had my fingers crossed for the fireflies to come out but didn’t want to get my hopes up. The reaction of guests was honestly even better than anything I could imagine! It was definitely a special kind of magic.

  • Kim

    Where did you get the fireflies for release?

    • We were lucky — they just appeared! Folks captured them in the mason jars we were using for beverages and then let them go later.