This Stylish Wedding in the Woods Took Place at a Secluded Lodge in Tennessee

wedding grooms holding hands during portraits
Natalie Watson

Anthony Rosen visited Atlanta on a work trip in June 2015, where he met Robert Fowler (who lived there at the time) at the bar at the St. Regis Hotel. The two connected right away, and they went on their first date a few days later, this time at a South African restaurant. The couple's relationship quickly deepened, and in December of 2017, Anthony found himself planning an elaborate proposal.

To surprise Robert, Anthony planned a fake party in the Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel in New York and had an invitation hand-delivered to convince him that the party was real. The couple began their evening at The New York Philharmonic for a performance of Handel's Messiah, and then after the concert, the couple headed to what Robert thought was the party—but when they arrived at the Plaza, the Oak Room was decorated with rose petals and candles and filled with soft music thanks to a live violinist. Anthony popped the question with an IWC watch instead of a ring, and the couple celebrated their engagement with Champagne and caviar in their suite.

During the planning process, Anthony used his expertise as a CFO to help the duo create and stick to a budget, while Robert tapped into his 10 years in event planning to come up with a sophisticated design landscape that would accomplish their wedding vision, which they call "chic glamour in the woods." The pair invited 150 guests from around the world to spend their wedding weekend at RT Lodge in Maryville, Tennessee, just a half hour outside of Knoxville. The wedding took place on April 27, 2019, with a wooded ceremony on the country road leading to the venue and a tented reception with dinner and dancing that went on all night.

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guests sitting on rocking chairs outside venue
Natalie Watson

The couple wanted to host their wedding at a venue that would allow them to bring guests together in one place. A travel agent recommended RT Lodge for its 57 rooms, and the couple fell in love with the wooded locale at first sight.

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Signed, Sealed, (Hand) Delivered

blue and tan wedding invites with flowers
Natalie Watson

Robert has a passion for high quality paper, so he went all out on the invitation suite. He had such a great experience working with Alpine Creative for one of Anthony's birthday parties, that he decided to hire them for the wedding, too. With a navy-and-gold color scheme in mind, they chose deep blue paper with gold foil, backed with brown leather. "The invites ended up being so large and so thick, that they had to have a custom envelope; most were hand-delivered to guests!" Robert says. The couple delivered invitations to loved ones living in New York City, while Robert's mother delivered invites to guests in Atlanta.

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Robert's Meaningful Repeat

wedding grooms portrait close up
Natalie Watson

When the time came to find the grooms' wedding-day attire, they consulted New York City stylist Giulia Papailias, who suggested they use pieces from their wardrobe that had meaning rather than buy entirely new items. Robert previously worked for designer John Varvatos, who created a custom tuxedo with a silk shawl collar for him, so he decided to wear that on the wedding day. He paired the tuxedo with a custom monogrammed shirt from Proper Cloth.

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Anthony in Navy

grooms holding hands walking through forest
Natalie Watson

Anthony wore a navy tuxedo from Suit Supply; like Robert, his personalized shirt was also from Proper Cloth.

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Cool Kicks

wedding grooms black and blue shoes
Natalie Watson

Robert paired his tuxedo with bespoke Stubb and Wooten slippers, while Anthony wore classic black shoes from Bruno Magli.

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Bright White Bouts

grooms' boutonnieres on marble tray
Natalie Watson

Robert's boutonnière incorporated a white phalaenopsis orchid, while Anthony's consisted of various small blooms.

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Not Your Typical First Look

wedding guests walking up ceremony aisle
Natalie Watson

Instead of a first look, Robert and Anthony decided to get ready together at the venue. They shared Champagne as they watched guests arrive and make their way down the winding road to the ceremony area. It ended up being one of their most cherished moments of the entire weekend, they say.

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Into the Woods

wooden chairs set up on forest path for ceremony
Natalie Watson

When Robert first saw the venue, he knew he wanted to host the ceremony in the driveway, deep in the woods. Rather than a typical, elongated setup, 35 rows of chairs were set up with just two on each side. Vintage brass candlesticks were placed on either side of the road at the start of the long aisle, as well as at the altar.

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Take a Seat

flowers tied to wooden ceremony chair
Natalie Watson

The couple selected bamboo folding chairs for the ceremony; each reserved spot was adorned with flowers.

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An Elaborate Grand Entrance

grooms sitting inside open tailgate of car in the forest
Natalie Watson

Robert and Anthony took advantage of that long country road by traveling to the service together with their parents in a white Range Rover—it was quite the dramatic entrance.

Their fathers sat in the front, with their mothers in the back, and the pair sat on the tailgate. As they approached their guests, a bagpiper accompanied the car the rest of the way. Anthony and his parents exited the vehicle and made their way down the aisle first, and then Robert walked down with his mother and father as a string trio played with the bagpiper. "It was one of the most magical moments of the weekend for everyone, especially for us and our parents," Robert says.

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The Moving Ceremony

grooms holding hands during forest ceremony
Natalie Watson

The ceremony incorporated a few Bible verses to honor Robert's Christian background as well as a Jewish tradition, the stomping of the glass, to honor Anthony's. They also asked Anthony's sister, Talia, to read the majority opinion from United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy that solidified nation-wide marriage equality in June 2015. Robert and Anthony each wrote short vows that brought laughter and tears.

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On the Rocks

string trio playing for wedding by water
Natalie Watson

After, the cocktail hour took place on the back porch of the venue, surrounding a koi pond. "In the middle of the pond there is a large, flat rock," Anthony says. "Robert knew from the first site visit he wanted a string trio to play on the rock during cocktails. His vision came to life!"

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Appetizers and Champagne

server carrying wedding appetizers of shrimp and oysters
Natalie Watson

Robert and Anthony wanted to be the first ones at their cocktail hour, and it was a decision they didn't regret. There was a full open bar for guests as well as Ruinart Champagne—the couple's favorite—by the glass.

Passed appetizers were also served, including caviar on homemade potato chips, oysters and shrimp cocktail, and foie gras chicken liver tarts. Some of the snacks were presented on custom trays that RT Lodge made just for the wedding.

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Throwback Escort Cards

wedding place cards with black and white pictures
Natalie Watson

This couple wanted to personalize each and every escort card for their 150 guests. In the few months leading up to the wedding, the couple hunted on social media and asked friends and family for wedding photos or old snapshots of everyone on the list. They printed the photos and applied them to blue-and-gold paper to fit the color scheme. On the big day, the couple enjoyed watching each guest locate their escort card in delight.

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Sneak Peek

grooms holding wine and kissing outside reception tent
Natalie Watson

Robert and Anthony skipped the last few minutes of the cocktail hour to get a first look at the reception setup.

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The Draped Entrance

wedding tent entrance with branch accents
Natalie Watson

The newlyweds hired Leesha Newton of Luma Designs to create a dramatic draped entrance for the reception's sailcloth tent, which was decorated with cherry blossom and spirea.

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Glitz and Glamour

reception tables with shimmering blue tablecloths and tall centerpieces
Natalie Watson

Inside the tent, several round and rectangular tables surrounded by black cushioned Chiavari chairs were set up around a black-and-white dance floor. The couple worked with the venue to add lighting to the trees around the tent, which set the mood for the black-tie party.

Robert and Anthony wanted the reception design to bring some glamour to the venue's natural atmosphere. They selected navy velvet and sequined linens; some tables had low centerpieces while others were topped with tall arrangements on stands. Black taper candles were placed inside glass hurricanes on each station.

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Up Above

wedding tent pole with floral decorations
Natalie Watson

String lights were hung from the tent ceiling and around each pole; two large flower arrangements were suspended from the main one and hung over the dance floor.

The florals for the reception included phalaenopsis orchids, garden roses, hellebores, butterfly ranunculus, spirea, cherry blossom, and Solomon's seal.

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Luxe Details

white, blue and gold place setting with monogrammed napkin
Natalie Watson

Place settings featured gold-rimmed plates and white linen napkins emblazoned with the couple's initials.

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The First Dance

grooms first dance in reception tent
Natalie Watson

Anthony and Robert shared their first dance to Kina Grannis' rendition of "Can't Help Falling in Love." "The cake cutting and first dance are always one of my favorite and most memorable parts from all the weddings I have attended as a guest, so it felt amazing to be doing it for myself," Anthony reflects.

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A Spin with Mom

robert anthony wedding mother and son dance in reception tent
Natalie Watson

Robert shared a dance with his mother, Leslie, to Van Morrison's "Days Like This," while Anthony took a spin with his mom, Charlotte, to "Tennessee Waltz" by Patsy Klein as a nod to the wedding location.

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The Light Show

grooms kissing in colorfully lit party tent
Natalie Watson

As guests were invited onto the dance floor, a custom light show was projected onto the tent ceiling. DJ Brian Mills, who the couple hired for Anthony's birthday party the year prior, kept the celebrants on the dance floor all night long.

A particular highlight? The couple loved dancing the Horah with their friends circled around them.

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One Bite Wonder

robert anthony wedding grooms cutting cake
Natalie Watson

Even though Robert and Anthony didn't actually eat a full slice of cake on their big night, they know it was amazing from the one bite they took of it during the cutting ceremony. The four-layer confection incorporated Anthony's choice of almond cake with buttercream filling and Robert's preference of strawberry cake with strawberry icing.

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Our Little Secret

robert anthony wedding cake with golden accent layer
Natalie Watson

The navy cake, designed by Lisa Cunningham of Ovenart, featured a central layer covered in gold foil. "Here's a little wedding secret: Only part of the cake was real, as Robert wanted the cake served immediately after cutting," Anthony shares with us. "Lisa prepared sheet cakes that were cut previously and plated."

After the wedding weekend, the couple went to Blackberry Farm for a two-night mini-moon and later took a three-week trip to Bali, Bhutan, Thailand, and Laos.

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grooms recessing after ceremony and giving guests high fives
Natalie Watson

Photography, Natalie Watson
Venue and Catering, RT Lodge
Coordination, Katie Stinnett of RT Lodge
Event Design, Robert Fowler
Flowers, Colby West Design
Invitations, Alpine Creative
Paper Products, For Your Party
Makeup, Makeup by Jessica Miller
Robert's Attire, John Varvatos; Propercloth
Robert's Shoes, Stubbs & Wootton
Anthony's Attire, Suit Supply
Anthony's Shoes, Bruno Magli
Engagement Watches, IWC
Music, Special Notes Knoxville; Brian Mills
Cake, Oven Art
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen
Transportation, Chariots of Hire
Lighting, Ogle Entertainment
Tent Draping, Luma Designs
Balloons, Volunteer Balloons
Yoga, Flow to Go Yoga

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