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First, I am only going to so much begging in relation to my own wedding but here goes.

Please, please, please, if you are visiting from out of town, do not go to a chain restaurant while you are here. I beg you. I implore you. It would be shameful. There are too many good restaurants in the Nashville area to even consider a chain. Nashville has a fabulous foodie scene with tons to represent our culture and the people who live here. There is something in every price range and for every taste. If you are feeling something in particular…check out Urbanspoon (I started an account a couple of weeks ago and have done my best to start reviewing). I am there under s-wag. But seriously, the food is worth writing a blog about.

Second, as an alternative to surfing the web, I have compiled a list of restaurants one could check out while they are here. Specifically those related to Southern specialties.They are in no particular order. Brandon and I consider ourselves to be “aspiring foodies on a budget”. We love food. We love trying restaurants and we are always up for anything food related. If you have questions…please ask!

Prince’s/Bolton’s/400 Degrees aka HOT CHICKEN!

Something extremely unique to Nashville and totally to die for is…hot chicken.  For those of you not familiar…it is spicy, fried chicken. If you don’t like spicy things, be careful. It will set you on fire! The local chicken joints are tiny and nondescript but you will not regret stopping by. Please visit!

Jack’s BBQ, Mary’s Hot BBQ, and Neely’s Memphis Style BBQ

When people think of the South they usually think of BBQ and although Memphis is the most famous for Tennessee BBQ Nashville doesn’t disappoint. The three places listed above are all options. Jack’s is located downtown on Broadway. Brandon gives it two thumbs up and a great option if you are planning on sightseeing downtown. Mary’s Hot BBQ is fabulous and known to any Nashvillian. It is far less touristy though. If you want to try something a little more “down home” Brandon and I would be to accompany you. One of my favorites is Neely’s BBQ (they have their own show on Food Network). There other location is in Memphis. I totally recommend the BBQ Spaghetti. Also, it is a great location. They have outdoor seating right on the Cumberland.

Pancake Pantry

A Nashville institution, anyone who ever visits Nashville has heard of the Pancake Pantry located in the heart of Hillsboro Village. Our take…they are great but not worth the possible two and half hour wait to be seated. Many times on the weekends the line extends down and around the block. That being said, they do have amazing breakfast and I would visit if I had more time during the weekday mornings!

 Marche’s in East Nashville

 Brandon and I caught wind of this little brunch spot in East Nashville a few months ago. I love, love, love it! Fresh and local ingredients. I haven’t been to Margot’s behind it but I have heard rave reviews as well.

 Loveless Café

 Another Nashville institution and famous country wide is the Loveless Café located at the start of the Natchez Trace on Highway 70. Nothing beats their biscuits. It is an attraction for locals and tourists and even the sight of a biscuit showdown with Bobby Flay. You have got to make room in your schedule for Southern Cookin and this is one option.

Monell’s

Another famous Nashville restaurant and a fine example of the best the South has to offer. There a number of convenient locations to choose from.

 Arnold’s and Copper Kettle-The Famous Southern Meat and Three Stop

Arnold’s, Copper Kettle and Southern Bred are perhaps the most famous/my favorite of the Nashville Meat and Three’s.  The first two have locations in the downtown area and are open during the day. I would try and avoid the lunch crowds though…there are always crowds.  Southern Bred is located in East Nashville and is perhaps my favorite fried chicken place. Arnold’s is a great example of putting “the south in your mouth” and the traditional meat and three setting. Copper Kettle is a tad more upscale and has a gourmet twist on southern food with awesome views of downtown and Titans Stadium. Sothern Bred has an adorable atmosphere and a large menu. They are also open in the evenings.

My other favorite restaurants

 Woodlands Indian Food

Gabby’s Burger and Fries

Vihn Long Vietnamese Food

Thai Phooket

Las Paletas

Savannah Tea Company

Holland House

Noshville Delicatessen

Germantown Café

Mitchell’s Deli

Ellendale’s

Sam and Zoe’s Coffeehouse

Calypso Café (multiple locations)

J-J’s Market

Pied Piper Creamery

There should be something on this list to please every palette. But like I said, when it comes to food, no question is too big or small so contact us if you want some individual advice.

Just over a month left…we can’t wait to see everyone!

Nashville Area Attractions

Cheekwood Botanical Gardens

Chihuly

I believe this is one of the most beautiful things in Nashville. It is an extensive garden and art museum and wow…it is beautiful. I would highly recommend it if you want something low key and beautiful. The Chihuly exhibit will be there through the end of October and it will take your breath away.

http://www.cheekwood.org/Home.aspx

Centennial Park/Parthenon


This is one of the iconic places of Nashville and also how Nashville became “The Athens of the South”. If you don’t stop by while you visit Nashville you must be out of your mind. Centennial Park is a cornerstone of our city and the Parthenon sets this park apart from all others. It is an accurate replica of the Parthenon in Greece. Just standing in the park and admiring its beauty suits me but you can also visit the art museum inside if you like.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Nashville’s version of a sexy and hip art museum bringing fine art from all over the world. Another one of my favorite places and worth seeing if you give a hoot about art at all. The exhibits change every few months but every piece is worth seeing

http://www.fristcenter.org/site/default.aspx

Union Station

When you drive by The Frist, make sure you check out Union Station. It’s free to take a gander and worth the stop. I have brought family here and would recommend it to anyone who likes to appreciate yester year. The Union Station was once a 19th century train station converted to a hotel. Word is, it was scheduled to be torn down before it was saved and converted. Check out their website for more fun facts and how to book a room

http://www.unionstationhotelnashville.com/history/index.html

Broadway/Downtown/Honky Tonks/Bluebird Cafe


Nashville is the Music City and no trip would be complete without a visit to what made us famous. Even if you despise country music I can guarantee you will have a good time downtown and specifically at the Honky Tonk bars. Brandon puts a full endorsement on this activity even though he isn’t very fond of country music. They are a draw for locals and tourists alike so don’t forget to check this off your list.

http://www.gactv.com/gac/nw_feature/article/0,,GAC_26499_4728636,00.html

Shelby Street Bridge 

A pedestrian bridge that crosses the Cumberland River and leads you from Downtown Nashville to the Titans Stadium parking lot. It offers the most beautiful view of downtown Nashville night or day. What’s more it’s free to take a walk along the bridge and enjoy the beautiful October weather. This has become one of Brandon and I’s favorite things to do.

The Hermitage

Located in Hermitage, TN on the outskirts of Nashville the Hermitage is another gateway to the rich and sometimes heartbreaking story of the South. Originally the home of President Andrew Jackson you can thoroughly understand his life as well as the lives of the slaves who worked this plantation. It is a beautiful place and offers a lot of perspective.

http://www.thehermitage.com/

Belle Meade Plantation

Another window into Nashville’s past is Belle Meade plantation currently located in the most affluent part of the city. It was once a horse farm and is now preserved as a museum and event venue. If you want to get a feel for the wealth and history associated with plantations in the South you can’t go wrong.

https://www.bellemeadeplantation.com/

Farmer’s Market


Fall is an amazing time to visit the Nashville Farmer’s Market and highly recommend a quick stop. One of the things I have really appreciated about living here is the readily available fresh fruits and vegetables. I love this place and come here multiple times a month! There are restaurants and vendors available all the time.

http://www.nashvillefarmersmarket.org/

Grand Ole Opry/Ryman

If you are a fan of country music, music, or just want to really explore an important part of Nashville check out the Ryman. Located in Downtown Nashville it is really the epicenter, where country music really took off and first location of the Grand Ole Opry. Although typically Grand Ole Opry concerts take place at the Grand Ole Opry house in Donelson (suburb) they have been moved back to their beginning location because of the May 2010 flood. If a concert isn’t in the budget or schedule you can tour the facility and the museum.

http://www.ryman.com/

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame is quintessential Nashville but I wouldn’t recommend going unless you really LOVE country music. It is everything you need to know or could ever care about. Also, it’s a little pricey. I have heard it is worth every dime but something Brandon and I just haven’t been able to cough up the money for yet.

http://www.countrymusichalloffame.org/

Art Scene-Downtown, East Nashville, Belmont/Hillsboro Village

Nashville has a beautiful and amazing art scene I would recommend checking out if you are at all interested. There are art galleries everywhere by the main ones are in the areas listed above. You could spend days just wondering through them. Also, on the first Saturday of each month there is free art crawl downtown which is one of my favorite activities ever!

Have a drink in East Nashville-Everything from Holland House to 3 Crow

Brandon and I love this neighborhood and will be moving to this side of town within the next year or so. It is a fun and trendy place with tons to do especially involving the food and drink scene. There are some upscale bars as well as some low key beer joints. We will be happy to show you our favorite spots should you get the hankering for a yummy cocktail, beer, or a sweet tea.

http://www.eastnashville.org/index.html

Belcourt Theatre 

Located in the Hillsboro Village area near Belmont this is a fun and not so obviously touristy place to check out, particularly if you are movie buff. They play independent and foreign films as well as some awesome documentaries. They serve drinks (of all kinds if you catch my drift) and your support helps keep and old theatre alive and well for many generations to come. It’s definitely a piece of Nashville’s history.

http://www.belcourt.org/

Adventure Science Center

If you have kiddos or just really want to crazy on some science check out the adventure science center. I have plans to take my nephew there as soon as he is big enough. Although I have not visited, Brandon did and said it was tons of fun for all ages.

http://www.adventuresci.com/

Nashville Zoo

You must be crazy not to love the zoo. Nashville’s is all around pretty good for a city of this size and once again, a prime spot for the young ones to have a grand ole time.

http://www.nashvillezoo.org/

Away from Nashville

Jack Daniels Distillery

If you like whiskey, want to check out the brewing process, or just want to check a rich piece of Southern History the distillery is only about an hour and a half drive from Nashville.

http://www.jackdaniels.com/age.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fDefault.aspx

Greenways/State Parks/Metro Parks

Nashville is beautiful. Tennessee is beautiful. Even if you aren’t an outdoorsy person (I’m not) please make it a plan to go somewhere green while you are here. (Shout to my AZ family!) I am constantly struck by how freaking gorgeous this place is. It really is what sets Tennessee apart.

http://www.nashville.gov/greenways/

http://www.state.tn.us/environment/parks/

Historic Franklin

About a half an hour drive from my house downtown Franklin is like stepping into a movie. In my mind it is what people picture when they think of America (sidewalks, perfectly manicured streets and Southern influenced architecture). It’s is really beautiful to just walk the streets and grab a bite to eat. The other good thing is that is on the way to Arrington Vineyards (more info to come) and Natchez Trace.

http://www.historicfranklin.com/

Natchez Trace

Hop in the car and start driving and check out some of the most beautiful scenery the state of TN has to offer. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat at the famous Loveless Café.

http://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm

Memphis

About a 3 ½ hour drive west from Nashville. Home of famous BBQ, Graceland, and the Civil Rights Museum it may be worth it if you are going to be in town awhile. Otherwise I would save it for another trip (one which you can invite me on).

Knoxville/Gatlinburg

Also about a three hour drive but going east Knoxville is the home of Brandon’s beloved University of TN. Gatlinburg is the jumping off point for the Great Smoky Mountains, Dolly World and other magnificent attractions. Although beautiful and worth a trip, I would caution against doing it in one day. Brandon and I made an overnight trip here on my first trip to TN and so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Chattanooga

Two hour drive Southeast of Nashville and another TN jewel with plenty to keep you busy. Brandon and I fell in love when we visited last Christmas.

OMG! We have been working, working, working on these darned wedding projects. It’s crazy how many hours we have spent tying ribbon, cutting rafia, and printing this or that. The three main projects as of late have been “The Wedding Wishes Tree”, confetti for the ceremony, and bubbles for the reception.

The first is an alternative to a guest book in that our guests can “leaf us a message” and hang it on a tree at the ceremony. This was probably the biggest project we have done so far in regards to hours. Creating the tree with our own hands, printing leaves, cutting leaves, and tying ribbon. I thought we would never get done. But here is a close up of some of the ultra cool leaves.

Fall Leaves!

The picture was taken with my camera phone so it isn’t the best quality but you get the idea. I am super proud of the way they turned out. The tree itself looks even better but I want to save that for the wedding. Some things have got to be a surprise.

Then we had the bubbles and the confetti. The confetti is biodegradable and melts as soon as it gets wet (first rain or with a water hose). We are going to have guests throw it as we walk back down the aisle after the ceremony. The bubbles are really just for fun or for when we leave the reception later that evening (I haven’t decided yet if we will stay and dance late or skip out a little early.) Brandon really helped out with these two projects. Once again, for surprise purposes I will not post any pictures but overall I have become quite the DIY chick.

These wedding projects and the whole planning process is quite a huge task though. Our apartment has been overrun with wedding stuff. It used to be okay in just the spare room but now it is spilling out into the rest of the house too. I am doing wedding planning on my lunch breaks, my weekends and my evenings. However, with only 55 days left we can’t afford to slack off.

Take a look at this chaos!

Our Guest Room!

The other side is worse!

Anyone who knows me knows this isn’t how I normally function but by month 8 or 9 of planning I just gave up trying to keep order and started throwing it all in a room.  I promise to have it cleaned before we have wedding guests arriving though. Matter of fact, I have to start cleaning soon just so I can rediscover all I have in there! For all you brides out there, never underestimate the power of DIY…or the mess it creates. The good news is we are getting close. Brandon and I will soon be husband and wife!

Brandon and I realized that yesterday marked one year since we got engaged! My how life just passes you by. So much has continued to change in our lives. We are so thankful for each other and for the life that we have together. We absolutely cannot wait to celebrate our big day with our friends and family. We are so looking forward to seeing all of you and to celebrating this very special day in our lives. Thanks for all of your support, love, and encouragement.

Love you bear!

Well, by now, everyone should have gotten their wedding invitations.  If you did not, you should soon.

I’d like to start off this post by thanking my brother Thomas for his hard work on these invitations.  (If anyone out there needs some freelance design work for invitations of any type, I’d suggest emailing Thomas).

The invitations went through a lot of progressions.  Shannon and I both wanted something a little different than your typical wedding invitations.  We wanted to have a consistent look and feel through our save-the-dates, invitations, and response cards.  We wanted something that fit our personalities, and something that would make people smile.

So, Thomas went to work.  We gave him some ideas of some stuff we liked – and he gave us some preliminary samples.  Want to see?  Ask, and you shall receive.

Pay close attention here, because the end result will be a combination of the two.  We liked the invitation on the right, but didn’t really like the colors (we’re having a fall-themed wedding and the green really didn’t work for us).  However, the invitation on the left had more elements of our save-the-dates.  What to do?

I know – go to Thomas and give him revisions.  So, let’s see what he came back with?  See below:

We were really encouraged by this item – colors are great, fall leaves look great.  One issue – we both felt it was a little too busy.  So… what to do?  Go back to Thomas with more revisions.  He came back with 6 options – basically three different invitations with a slight variation:



Needless to say, this is quite a process.  So, we finally decided which one we liked the most (third item, above).  But, once more, after looking at it closely, we still felt it wasn’t close enough in feel to our save-the-dates.  What to do?  I think you know the answer to that question.  Here’s what Thomas produced:

I think at this point, you’d be happy to know (for Thomas’ sake) that we were thrilled with this invitation.  Looks like we had finally found it!  Thomas did an incredible job, and thanks to the good folks at UPrinting, we were able to get high quality invitations printed for a great price.  So, the final invitation is featured above, and what’s an invitation without a response card?  (Note: Rustic, Whimsical, Elegance)

Reply Card Front

Reply Card Back

So, again, a special thanks to my brother, Thomas Cox.  He’s the freakin man.

Invitations, Envelopes, Response Cards

Oh, and if you’ve gotten your invitations, you’ve probably noticed the stamps.  We ordered those from Zazzle.com – they were on sale so they didn’t end up costing much more than normal stamps – and they’re awesome.

I think that’s all!

One of the basic necessities of any good wedding is the ring. According to tradition, Brandon and I will exchange rings and it will be awesome! We want to send a special thank you to Al Armstrong of City Limits Jewelry in LaVergne. He has been awesome in helping Brandon find my engagement ring and then advising us on both of our bands. We definitely would recommend him for any of your jewelry purchases.

Brandon went totally manly and purchased a tungsten ring. They are all of the rage right now. However, if he gains any weight you can’t cut if off. He will have to lose a  finger…or lose some weight. On another note…it’s gonna look weird for him to be wearing a ring. Weird cool.

It looks something like this!

The article below gives me some insight into the importance of the rings and their history. I love the idea that we are taking part in something that has survived for centuries and crossed so many cultures.

http://www.weddingvendors.com/planning/articles/symbolism-wedding-rings/

Anyway, sixty days until the big day! Lots to do between now and then!

So…

This entry will be short – although I do plan on adding a new blog soon.

Wedding Invitations are in the mail, and a vast majority of our invitees will be receiving those today.

So, if you’ve come to the blog because you saw the website on your response card: Thank you for visiting our blog.

New entries pending!

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