Backyard Nashville Wedding | Ashley + Martin

Ashley and Martin were dating other people when they met, then they became friends and even went on double dates together. Later, when they were no longer with their previous partners, Ashley always swiped left when she encountered Martin on dating apps. She didn’t want to give Martin the wrong impression! (Does this sound like the premise for a rom-com or what?!?!) After some time, they met for a platonic dinner and drinks, and everything changed. As Ashley explained, “…Things were just different. It was weird for both of us, but a good weird.”

When Ashley and Martin got engaged (our sweet bride relays that adorable story below), the two began planning a Nashville wedding. That process soon turned into a rollercoaster of venue and date changes (thanks, pandemic) until finally they were able to wed at their church and celebrate in a friend’s backyard.

Throughout it all, one of the things that kept Ashley going was her Astrid & Mercedes Joy gown. “After I decided on Joy, my mom told me that it was made of the same material in which my great-grandmother, Mamoo, was married, and she always loved her wedding suit. That made me ugly cry because my Mamoo was very dear to me. I did not know all of the craziness that would happen with covid and wedding planning. Still, my dress was named Joy, and I really had to focus on what brought me joy to get through some tough times. I felt BEAUTIFUL in that dress and received so many compliments on it, especially from people who know my personality and style. “Perfect” was the best word that people could use to describe the dress on me.”

For the record, that story gives us some serious feels as does how Ashley found her gown, which she shares below (along with some other details like the reason for their choice of first dance song—more feels! And a late-night Mickey-D’s run!)!


How did you guys meet?

“Technically, we met in college (the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS) at a bar. We had mutual friends, including our significant others at the time, and double-dated and connected that we were both from Nashville, TN. We became pretty good friends, especially when we both moved back to Nashville in 2014. I left Mississippi for a job in Indianapolis but transferred to the Nashville office. Martin had been working in Oxford before moving back to Nashville.”

wedding dress: Astrid & Mercedes Joy via  Lillian Ruth | photographer: Laura K. Allen | scroll down for full vendor list

How did you know Martin was “the one”?


“We had always been close friends and even confided in each other about relationship woes. I even swiped left on the dating apps when I saw him because I didn’t want to send the wrong message. HAHA. Then we met for dinner and drinks one night after not seeing each other for about six months, and things were just different. It was weird for both of us, but a good weird. I think for me, I knew when it was just so easy. I truly married my best friend.”


How did you guys get engaged?


“It was Thanksgiving Day 2018, and we were in Monteagle, TN, where his family has a house in the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. My in-laws live in Monteagle as well, and we were going to their house for Thanksgiving lunch. We went to this beautiful overlook on the Assembly grounds to take “family photos” of us and the dog. We were all wearing Barbour jackets (even the dog!). His cousin was taking pictures, and then Martin wanted to take some kissy photos (which I thought was a weird request), then his cousin was like, “Okay, gross. Enough.” Then Martin backed away and said that he got me an early Christmas present, got on one knee, pulled out the ring, and I just began ugly crying. His cousin was smart, and she immediately started filming, and she had no idea what he had planned.”


How did you choose your gown?


“I went shopping with my mom, sister-in-law, and aunt to look for a style of dress that I liked. I wanted to use as much of my mom’s dress as possible but didn’t know what style I wanted and had no intentions of purchasing a dress at that time. We went to our first appointment and found a dress that we all really liked, but I didn’t want to decide without going to our next appointment.

The second appointment was with Lillian Ruth in Knoxville, TN, a boutique bridal salon. Because I am a plus-size girl, I was nervous about going and was afraid nothing would fit. I can’t say enough great things about this shop. I never felt “too big” for a dress. The stylist that was helping me did a fantastic job of getting me in the dresses, and my apprehensions quickly went away. One dress was extremely simple and elegant, which is everything I wanted in my theme for my wedding. The second time that I put it on, I started tearing up. I ended up saying yes to the dress!”


Tell us about your day!


“Oh boy. I have planned more weddings than I ever imagined because of the pandemic.
We originally planned for April 18, 2020, in Nashville, TN, but we ended up having many issues with the original reception venue. We then moved it to Monteagle, TN to the Assembly, where we got engaged and is one of our favorite places. They changed the reception venue on us mid planning. Then the pandemic hit, and on March 19, 2020 we decided to postpone to August 8, 2020. Memorial Day weekend of 2020, the venue sent notice that they were canceling all events through the end of the year. By this point, we were just ready to get married. LOTS of tears were shed, but we decided to still move forward with the August 8th date. Nashville was still pretty locked down at this point, and restrictions were constantly changing. Our church in Nashville had an opening for the evening wedding that day, and a friend graciously let us use his yard for our rehearsal dinner and reception venue. We had to make the tough decision to cut down the number of guests from around 300 to about 120. However, it ended up being amazing! We had a lot of changes to work with, but we did it.

Our theme was “simple elegance,” and our designer and florist, Ken Taylor, did an AMAZING job with the theme. You kind of forgot that you were in the yard of a private residence. It felt very much like us. Classy & timeless (hopefully, haha), but not in a stuffy way. The boys wore tuxes with tails — was Martin’s one request about which he was adamant. We really just wanted to have a good time. We had to make changes for covid. Hand sanitizer was on every table, and we had custom face masks made, etc. My mother-in-law’s cousin ended up lending us his time and car to be our getaway driver in his 1922 Rolls Royce. My favorite book is The Great Gatsby, and I felt like Daisy Buchanan.”


What was your first dance song?


” “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves. It was actually chosen well before the pandemic and all the changes. So day of, this song meant even more to us. I hardly cried during the wedding day, except for during our first dance. We were doing our dance and singing along to each other, and when the lyric, “everything is alright now,” played, I started BAWLING. It was a moment of complete and total emotion at once: happiness, sadness, exhaustion, and relief. We had made it through all the challenges. Whenever I feel worn down, Martin will tell Alexa to play this song and we dance to it in the kitchen.

And fun fact/coincidence…we flew to the beach for our honeymoon, got a rental car, and as we were turning onto the main beach road, a baby blue Bronco coming in the other direction caught my eye. The driver was Shane McAnally, who is one of the writers of the song “Rainbow!” ”


One detail you couldn’t live without?


“Our reception’s nacho bar. It was my number one request from the beginning….and I never ate any that night. But actually, it was having a videographer. I fell in love with the work of my videographer, Griffin R. Dunn, before I was even engaged and knew that I had to hire him to capture our wedding day. In my opinion, that was the best money we spent. Photos are great, but I loved how he captured our wedding and the emotions of everyone. I watch it frequently to relive the day.”


Describe your wedding day in five words or fewer:


“A long-awaited perfect day.”


What was the funniest moment of your day?


“Not many witnessed this, but people laugh when we tell them, and my Instagram story got a lot of responses about it. Late-night McDonalds! We both hardly ate that day, and by the time we got back to the hotel, we were STARVING. Nashville was still pretty locked down because of covid. We went to a friend’s room for some drinks, and we tried to order Taco Bell for delivery. After we had waited an hour, they canceled. It was close to 1 am at this time. FINALLY, we got McDonalds delivered. To this day, it’s the best McDonalds that I have ever eaten. We ate in bed with the food spread out and just laughed.”


What was your something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue?


“The whole saying is “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe.” Which I actually learned on my wedding day!

Old: a real sixpence gifted to my mom by my late grandfather on her wedding day in 1983 that she gave to me— I wore in my shoe the entire day. Also, my garter was made out of silk and lace from my mom’s wedding gown.
New: my wedding dress.
Borrowed & Blue: blue topaz earrings from my mother-in-law that were her mother’s.”


Three words that best describe your partner:

Me about him: Best friend, Patient, loyal
Him about me: compassionate, mindful, outgoing


Where did you go on your honeymoon?

The Pearl Hotel at Rosemary Beach, FL. This was not our original plan, but it was still great! After sitting on the beach every day, we ate at some of our favorite restaurants. Rosemary Beach is where we took our first real vacation together in August of 2017 and has become one of our favorite places to go and relax. ”


Any advice for future brides/grooms?


“It’s so cliché, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick a few things that mean the most to you and focus on those. In the end, most people do not realize what went wrong or didn’t go as planned. The most important thing is to HAVE FUN. Also, during the reception, once everyone is dancing and having a good time, take a step back and just watch. We did this, not on purpose, but happened to be a little distant and on a slight hill just watching our closest friends and family having a great time. It was one of those moments where all the stress just washed away. All those people were there for us, and the love was 100% felt.”

Ashley + Martin’s Nashville Wedding Vendors

wedding dress: Astrid & Mercedes Joy via  Lillian Ruth | photographer: Laura K. Allen | videographer: Griffin R. Dunn | designer + florals: Taylor’s Mercantile | band: Emerald Empire Band

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