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Destination I Do

Nashville Destination Weddings

Words by Courtney Kellar

Nashville might not be an obvious choice for a destination wedding or honeymoon, but those are the spots I personally love most: unexpected, original and surprising. The city has recently come into the forefront of pop culture thanks to the ABC hit show “Nashville,” but what you might not realize is that this iconic, hip town has been making a name for itself for years – and in more ways than one.

The city has seen a record-breaking number of visitors in the past three years and after going, it’s not hard to see why. Beyond the diverse and impressive music scene, Nashville is being hailed by many as a major up-and-coming foodie destination. Stand-outs are Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant because of the live music and succulent fried chicken, Peg Leg Porker for classic, inexpensive West Tennessee BBQ and The Southern for their fresh oysters and biscuits. While none of these eats are particularly new, the folks in Nashville are doing classic comfort food really well.

For a place to hang your hat, any one of these hotel options has something wonderful to offer. The Omni Nashville Hotel is a brand-new property located in downtown Nashville and is the only four-star hotel in the area. It just so happens to be attached to the Country Music Hall of Fame and boasts a rooftop pool and comfortable, modern rooms. For a more historic option, The Hermitage Hotel was built in 1910 and would make a stunning home for your honeymoon or destination wedding festivities. Everything about this five-star, five-diamond hotel is glamorous and unforgettable. If you’re expecting a large number of guests, the Gaylord Opryland Resort is the option for you. The Opryland Resort can handle just about anything you throw at it and boasts massive conservatories and twelve restaurants. While the hotel is right next door to the Grand Ole Opry, it is 20 minutes outside the city, so plan on driving most places.

For a night out on the town, there are, of course, the infamous Broadway honky-tonks. However, don’t be surprised to hear all kinds of live music coming through those swinging doors; rock, jazz, and blues – you name it, Nashville’s got it. Look for the “Live Music Venue” signs shaped like a guitar picks outside of any venue which has live music at least four times a week.

For country music fans, the Ryman Auditorium, a.k.a. the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame are all musts. Music buffs in general would enjoy a tour of Music Row, a neighborhood of unassuming buildings which house some of the biggest recording studios in history. Elvis recorded more than half his entire music catalog here and the list of other famous names who have made music here is mind-blowing.

If music doesn’t interest you or your guests, not to worry – there’s always wine and historic mansions. Arrington Vineyards and its rolling hills would be a beautiful spot for a rehearsal dinner or a romantic date night. They offer free wine tastings every day and live jazz music on the weekends. Another breathtaking spot for your wedding events is Belle Meade Plantation. The carriage house which dates back to 1892 is perfect for a rustic reception and the formal gardens are understated and lovely for your ceremony.  History nerds need to make time to visit The Hermitage: President Andrew Jackson’s homestead dating back to 1804. The level of authenticity here is captivating and more than 90 percent of the home and its interiors are perfectly preserved.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the World, and there are certain places which have a palpable energy – a feeling in the air which makes you happy and excited to be there; Nashville is one such place. If you think Nashville is just country music, you’re wrong. In reality it has so much more to offer: historic sites, ground-breaking restaurants, beautiful countryside and good ol’ Southern hospitality. Whether you visit for a few days to say “I do,” or stay a week for your honeymoon, for goodness sake – just make the trip!

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2014 issue. You can order a copy here.

Photos courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation (1st & 3rd) and Courtney Cox (2nd & 4th)

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