A little rain on their wedding day didn’t deter these two lovers from Tennessee from having a beautiful outdoor ceremony with all their favourite people.
DWH: Tell us a little about yourselves
H: I’m a 32-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee who loves Tennessee football in the fall, enjoys playing softball and loves a good book.
R: I’m a 27-year-old from Lenoir City, Tennessee. I have been a horseback rider since before I could even walk, I surround myself with animals, and also loves sitting down with a good book.
H & R: Together we have two cats, Rue and Sophie, and a six-month-old puppy Lucy, in addition to Rebecca’s two horses. We love going on adventures and taking vacations to places new to both of us. As much as we love getting out, we also enjoy staying spending a quiet evening with our animals just as much.
DWH: How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
H & R: We have been together since December 2014. We both worked for the same company and struck up a friendship first. We were friends for almost a year before mutual attraction took hold, and the rest is history. Having that foundation as friends first made falling in love
DWH: Tell us about the proposal.
H & R: We knew for a long time leading up to the proposal that we were going to get married. While we didn’t have the surprise proposal that a lot of people want, we got the opportunity to plan out a memorable engagement trip.
We decided to go to Washington DC and tour the monuments and museums as we both love history. We spent the first night walking around the monuments to see them lit up. It was lightly raining, which almost postponed the exchanging of rings as it was making for an unenjoyable walk trying to find a perfect location.
We ended up sitting on the side of the Lincoln Monument to escape the rain and realised that we couldn’t wait anymore. We exchanged rings in a very peaceful area, overlooking the Washington Monument as the lights reflected in the pool.
DWH: What lead you to the venue? Had you been there before?
H & R: After our engagement, we had been doing a lot of research into local LGBTQ+ friendly venues. We didn’t want to go through the hassle of falling in love with a venue that we had no chance of getting. On one of the lists we were viewing, we found Smith Event Centers.
We were looking for somewhere outside to have our ceremony. At the time, we were planning on hosting the reception at our house. We visited the ceremony site and fell in love with the historic bridge. We also decided to save ourselves a bit of a headache and utilised one of their banquet halls for the reception and hired their wedding coordinator for on the day services. Lara and the staff at Smith Event Centers eased the stress of planning and coordinating for the day.
DWH: Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?
H & R: We made our centrepieces for the tables. We were trying to find ways to cut down on money, and we thought that spending the time creating the centrepieces was the way to do it. They consisted of a tree bark platter that contained a tall candle and vase, three small tea candles, and three potted succulents.
While I am not sure that we saved any money in the long run, we do at least have the memories of picking out and planting all of the succulents with a favourite aunt who drove 6 hours to help us out.
DWH: Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
H & R: We decided to forgo tradition and do our wedding dress shopping together. You always want your best friend there while picking out the dress and for us, that was each other.
We went in with an idea of the designers and styles that we liked and the staff at David’s Bridal was more than accommodating. Rebecca ended up buying the first dress she tried on, and Holly ended up with a style slightly different that she was planning, but suited her perfectly.
DWH: Talk to us about the big day!
H & R: We were very nervous that the big day was going to get rained out. We had planned an outdoor ceremony and only had the backup option of moving into the reception hall. It had been raining off and on all day and was pouring the hour leading up to the ceremony.
We had booked a vintage Bentley to take us to the venue, and when we got in the car to head over, we had already turned over our phones to a bridesmaid. The wedding coordinator tried to contact us on the way over to confirm if we were moving the ceremony indoors or still hosting it at the bridge. Since she could not get in contact with us and it had just been raining there, they hedged their bets on it being indoors.
We rode up in our classic car to make a grand entrance, and no one was there! Our very sweet British driver gallantly walked over to the reception hall while we sat in the car to get all of our guests to come outside to the ceremony site.
While it was not the grand entrance that we had planned, the kindness of our driver and the accommodation of our guests for leaving the air-conditioned reception hall for the baking summer heat was very meaningful.
DWH: Any stories from the lead up to the wedding, stressful or funny?
H & R: We intended from the beginning to have our mutual friend Erin marry us. Even before we were officially engaged, we had asked her if she would be interested and she was the second person we told about our engagement.
She went through with getting ordained online and, thankfully for us, did her diligence in following up with the local city officials. It turned out that Tennessee had recently become one of the states where an online ordained minister wasn’t considered legal to perform wedding ceremonies.
We ended up having to go to the courthouse the day before the wedding to get legally married. While a courthouse wedding ceremony was not what we intended, we were just happy to celebrate with her and Rebecca’s parents in attendance. The following day, we got the privilege of restating our vows with Erin officiating, which will always be the ceremony we remember.
DWH: Whoops! What does marriage mean to you both?
R & H: Marriage is the next step in a lifelong journey. You get the take the foundations you made as friends, and then built upon as lovers, and cultivate it throughout your life. It is about waking up each morning to the person who gets you and makes you smile and that person being the last one you see before falling asleep. It is about experiencing life, the good and the bad, with someone who loves you for you.
Photographer Erica Culver and Rebecca Hanley, Sage & Fae Photo
Cake & Catering Krista’s Cakes | Ceremony Venue Historic Brown’s Creek Bridge at Smith Event Centers | Celebrant Erin Evans | Event planner / Stylist Lara Nuchols | Engagement Rings Lamon Jewelers | Florist Flower Shop, Inc | Hair / Makeup Dawn Casey | Photographer Erica Culver and Rebecca Hanley, Sage & Fae | Reception Venue Life Event Center at Smith Event Centers | Stationery Minted | Transport Regal Carriages Vintage Cars | Wedding Favours Amazon and Target | Wedding Rings Lamon Jewelers | Bartender The Pour Guys | Gown Designer Galina Signature, Oleg Cassini | Bridal Boutique David’s Bridal