One Couple's Rustic, Family-Focused Wedding in Tennessee
Alphabetical seating gave William Bruce a leg up on getting to know Amanda Brown: The pair sat next to each other in contracts class in their first year at Harvard Law School. (Amanda jokes that she noticed him while she was drafting a prenuptial agreement in class.) Then, a few months later, they were in a five-person workshop together—again, thanks to their last names. Will used the opportunity to impress Amanda with his humor, eventually landing a pizza date at which the pair bonded over a shared love of The West Wing and The Golden Girls. Four and a half years later, during a vacation in Hawaii, he proposed.
Though Chicago residents, the couple decided to have their September 16, 2017, wedding in Will's native Tennessee, on Trinity View Farm, in Franklin. He was especially taken with the venue's sweeping views. "The ceremony location was on top of a hill overlooking an expansive, green landscape that the sun always seemed to hit just right," he says. Amanda loved that it was a good match for her vision of an elegant cookout—complete with lawn games and dancing—that would feel like a family gathering for their 155 guests.
In honor of the location and the groom's southern roots, they decided to give bottles of Jack Daniel's as favors, and chose a menu of whiskey-pecan chicken, collard greens, and biscuits. But the Chicago-native bride didn't want to go overly country or rustic in the décor. Planner Ashley Coston helped them set the tone, built around a loose, earthy palette with refined gold accents. Displays of local blooms suited the venue and the time of year—that sweet spot when late summer meets early fall.
The outdoor ceremony included personal vows and a reading from Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. It said, in part: "No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were." For two family-centric lawyers, that message was a perfect fit.
A Metallic Save-the-Date
Dressing the Part
An Edgy Accessory
A Barn Setting
"Most of my friends and family were traveling for the wedding and had not spent time in Nashville, so I loved the idea of having scenery so quintessentially Tennessee serve as the backdrop," says Amanda. "I'm also a sucker for white-painted brick—I loved, loved, loved the look of the stable."
A Floral Arch
Florist Petal and Pine used dozens of local dahlias, garden roses, and more to create a ceremony arch that framed the stunning landscape.
Amanda's father escorted her down the aisle to Pachelbel's "Canon in D" played by Silver Strings.
A string quartet played as the newlyweds recessed and the ceremony transitioned into cocktail hour. Will chose the songs for the playlist, mixing classical tunes with contemporary ones by bands such as Coldplay and the Beatles.
Amanda's bridesmaids, including her sister (third from left) and close friends, wore Jenny Yoo gowns in pale-purple hues.
The groomsmen wore black tuxes from Street Tuxedo, with boutonnières of English roses, scabiosa pods, and petite berries.
Cocktails by the Barn
Cocktails were served before the ceremony for guests to enjoy while mingling outside the venue's timber-frame and brick barn.
The Drink Menu
Amanda is a big cocktail fan, so they hired a mixologist through Aperitif Events & Cocktails to serve a range of the classics, like Old Fashioneds and mojitos. During their tasting, they were sold on two signature drinks: a citrusy gin one called the "Lucky Will," and a riff on the spicy margarita, the "Spicy Mandy" for the bride.
Passed apps by Dream Events & Catering included Caprese skewers, fried green tomatoes, bacon-wrapped figs, and more.
Will's parents, Bill and Lois, had been married for 41 years at the time of the wedding.
Calligraphed Escort Cards
Guests were led to their seats with calligraphed escort cards mounted to a mirror, which the couple now has hanging in their home. The floral emblem on the wax seals tied in the embellishment motif that nods to the bride's gown.
Amanda and her mother, Andrea, were all smiles throughout the day.
Dinner was served outside at pale-pink-linen-covered tables. Strings of lights and simple wooden chairs contributed to the laid-back vibe.
The Table Décor
Loose arrangements and gold calligraphed table numbers kept the al fresco dining setup elegant and casual.
Birds of a Feather
Instead of a traditional guest book, family and friends wrote well wishes in an Audubon book; it's now a coffee-table fixture in the couple's home.
A Simple Cake
The four-tiered confection by Dulce Desserts included layers of vanilla, banana cake with salted caramel buttercream, and chocolate with raspberry buttercream and ganache.
The First Dance
The newlyweds shared their first dance to "That's How Strong My Love Is," by Otis Redding.
Location, Trinity View Farm
Event planning, Coston & Co.
Catering, Dream Events & Catering
Flowers, Petal and Pine
Photography, Cassidy Carson Photography
Officiant, Lovejoy Weddings
Stationery and signage, Olive Juice Press
Cake, Dulce Desserts
Bride's gown, Vera Wang
Engagement ring and wedding rings, dimend Scaasi
Hair and makeup, Kat Marie
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's attire and menswear, Street Tuxedo
Lighting, Bright Event Productions
Transportation, Signature Transportation Services
Bar service, Aperitif Events & Cocktails