Top 5 Wedding Venues

Posted: August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
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What a tough subject this is for me.  Nashville has so many incredible venues for your wedding day, there is no way I could do this and keep my bias out of it.  Because of my job as an off-premise caterer, I would only want to promote venues we are allowed to cater at, and that would not be fair.  So I had my good friend Ashley King from Ashley’s Bride Guide provide this guest post. You will want to visit her site at and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can find those links on the top of her website.

Thanks, Ashley!

Asking a wedding blogger and Nashville native to name the top 5 wedding venues is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child.

Lucky for us, Nashville has dozens of incredible venues, which makes my job of talking about weddings really easy but makes this best-of list a bit of a challenge.  But, here’s my attempt at boiling the ocean.

Front Porch Farms
For outdoor brides who seek a southern-style wedding, Front Porch Farm always delivers.  Isolated and perched on a hilltop, the view of Tennessee from this venue is breathtaking.  It’s close enough to Nashville to make it a reasonable drive for guests but it feels worlds apart from the busy the metropolitan area. Most brides host their ceremony in the open area under a big oak tree, which I love, and then head to the pavilion for the reception.

Locals and celebrities alike love the venue.  And, because it’s a make-it-your own space, it works for budget and platinum weddings.

Added bonuses: The venue offers a swimming pool, rooms for the bride and groom and an event caterer across the street that just happens to specialize in southern food.

Houston Station

With an active train station at its door, Houston Station offers brides a rare combination of Nashville’s past and present charm.   This restored factory offers exposed brick and post beams as its backdrop.  The rest of the space is wide open, allowing brides and grooms to create their dream space with few obstacles.

Beyond being a blank canvas, couples also appreciate Houston Station’s open vendor policy.  Unlike many venues, Houston Station allows brides to choose their own vendors versus hiring from a pre-determined list.  According to their customers, “savings from the open vendor and alcohol policies often offset entire venue fee.”

Added bonus:  The staff at this space consistently ranks as a favorite among planners and brides.

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame is a Nashville landmark that draws tourists and celebrities from all over the world.  But did you know that it is also a very popular wedding venue, especially for destination Nashville weddings?

Brides from all over gravitate to this INCREDIBLE space because it offers just about everything you need to welcome guests to Nashville: central location, steep history, exquisite city views, and timeless style.

Added bonus: The Omni Hotel, which opens in October, will offer luxury sleeping rooms just steps from the Country Museum of Fame.  Wedding guests will be able to take a connected walkway to and from the hotel and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

 Nashville Zoo

The Nashville Zoo is a fun option for the outdoor-loving bride who wants something off the beaten path or the little girl inside the bride who still loves animals and nature.

The Nashville Zoo offers animal encounters, where couples can get up close and personal in addition to self-guided tours for wedding guests.

With up to 12 different spaces available, the Zoo is a popular option for engagement parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, wedding ceremonies and receptions.

Added bonus: The catering at the Nashville Zoo will surprise you.  It’s tasty and inventive.

 The Bridge Building

My favorite new venue of the year is The Bridge Building.

I attended the venue’s very, first wedding, which took place before the building was complete.  It was breathtaking then and is even more stunning now that all 4 levels are done. The Bridge Building has one of the best views of Nashville.  Each level boasts its own spectacular sights of our city, even the restrooms! The space is ultra modern and is ideal for the cosmopolitan bride who wants to showcase Nashville’s city vibe.

There are several event spaces available and the top level will amaze you.   It contains a large, outdoor space with a panoramic view of downtown Nashville.  It can easily seat 100 for a ceremony or can serve as a reception area.  It’s to die for.

Added bonus: The Bridge Building has a huge parking lot that offers ample, downtown parking that’s completely free for your guest.  That’s like seeing a unicorn.

Again, Nashville has so many incredible wedding venues.  Which ones not on this list would make your Top 5?

Its July. Its hot. Pools are flooded with kids still out of school. Lakes are consumed by Professionals who saved up all their vacation time for a summer break. Its tough to cool off in Nashville right now. Thank goodness for the occasional rain shower or we would all have melted by this point.

Sometimes, a nice cool treat is all you need to go from Boiling to Comfortable.  Here are my favorite places to go cool down!

Las Paletas
I dare you…just dare you…to drive down 12th Ave South and not see a line outside this local favorite.  Sometimes the line is for Burger Up, but usually there is a large crowd searching for some gourmet popsicles. I recommend the cookie or strawberry.  I recommend them all…you can’t go wrong as Las Paletas!

Mike’s Ice Cream
No matter if you’re a tourist checking out downtown in the middle of the day or a late nighter enjoying Broadway – Mike’s feature’s homemade ice cream in flavors that will blow your mind.  Sure, you can go in and look at the menu, or you can just trust me and get the Nutter Butter ice cream and be on your way.  That’s right…that infamous cookie has been turned into delicious ice cream.  Well done, Mike’s…well done!

East Nashville is home to a lot of unique, one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars, shops.  Its part of the charm that has loads of young professionals flocking to that neighborhood. One such place is Jeni’s.  While they have a few “classic” flavors, they specialize in over-the-top, gourmet flavors.  Ever had chili powder in your ice cream?  You can at Jeni’s.  Make sure you go…in fact…get off the internet and go now!

While I am not a huge fan of their “famous” burger, I am a HUGE fan of their shakes. Hand spun on site, these shakes will definitely cool you down on a hot summer day.  I’m a sucker for anything strawberry, and their strawberry shakes do not disappoint.  Of course, like anywhere in Nashville, finding parking is a problem. But if you find yourself at Centennial Park, just walk on over!

Silly Goose
Those dairy-free friends will appreciate this one.  Next door to Jeni’s in East Nashville, you will find a little hidden gem called Silly Goose.  The first thing you do when you walk in is order the Basil Lemonade.  Then, follow up with a thank you email, because it is amazing. Of course, you can double dip from this list and knock out Jeni’s and Silly Goose in one sitting, and then send me some sort of gift card.  It would be that incredible of an evening.
silly goose

What treats help cool you down on a summer day in Nashville?

Its a cliche, but its a cliche that has made Nashville very popular.  We are Music City U.S.A. We’ve talked a little about music on this blog, and will have more to say about it in the future.  But with CMA Fest just ending and Bonnaroo starting in a few days, I thought it was the perfect time for a Music City post.

Most people think Nashville is solely about country music.  Sure, this is the home to country music, but it is so much more. Thanks to Hipsters, Rockers and Pop Stars, this city offers more musically than Pandora.

Original songs are great – and we are the home to some of the best songwriters…ever.  But here are the Top 5 covers by some of Nashville’s best artists. You’ll notice each one is their interpretation of the song. These aren’t cover bands…just artists with their own unique twists on great songs.

1. Andrew Ripp – Mirrors
ndrew has one of my favorite voices…ever.  He is to singing what Texas is to BBQ Brisket…the best!  I’ve heard him live and whether its in person or one of his EP’s, his voice brings the house down!  Check him take JT’s latest hit to a whole new level!

2. Ben Rector – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
nother one of our amazing singer/songwriters, Ben Rector always engages the crowd with his entertaining live shows and ability to make everyone laugh and sing along to his ever-catchy songs. He took this dance hit by the infamous Whitney Houston dance tune and breaks it down to its bare bones and adds one of the smoothest voices ever. You’ll still want to dance…just like Whitney would want.

3. Bryce Merritt – Seven Nation Army
I’ll never forget walking into 3rd and Lindsley one night, and this guitar-strutting, Jason Mraz-sounding artists gets up and punches the entire crowd in the gut with an amazing set.  And just when I thought the set was done, he broke out this pop/funk cover of a rock and roll song.

4. Jenna Basso – Flat on the Floor
Besides knowing Jenna and her wonderful husband Blake, I have been a fan of Jenna’s since the first time I heard her sing.  She is truly one of Nashville’s best up-and-comers.  She has a voice that commands an audience, and try to never miss an opportunity to hear her sing live. While this is the truest of all the covers to the original version, she still brings the Jenna twist to the vocals that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up!

5. Johnny Cash – Hurt
Not many old country artists could take a Nine Inch Nails song and turn it into an award winning song, not long before they pass away.  This was Johnny’s closing act to an unbelievable career. This is the only song on the list that was an actual radio hit, and listening to it I am sure you can see why. There’s nothing funny/witty to say here. Its just awesome.

So which Nashville artists have you heard cover a song that you think belongs on this list?

Nashville loves tourism. It brings in more revenue, tax dollars, and visibility than most people could imagine. Tourism is to Nashville what Cheese is to Wisconsin. No matter if you are a local or a tourist, these are my favorite places that very few have been to. And if you can find a way – you should take advantage and visit these places (legally and with permission). I do not condone you sneaking on to any of these places without permission (one of which will get you shot).

1. Dyer Observatory
Owned by Vanderbilt, this incredible hilltop property not only gives us great views of the sky with a HUGE telescope; but it also is a wonderful location for weddings and private events. They have a great library and classroom area where they host educational groups. If you are ever driving down Granny White, look to your left just before Old Hickory Blvd in Brentwood, and wave to one of Nashville’s best amenities.

2. Governor’s Mansion – Conservation Hall
You will probably never get to go here. I don’t want to be mean. But the only reason I have been is because of work.  Any event being held here has to be a government event. And they don’t host that many. But its gorgeous inside.  Its an underground bunker that features a fascinating display of artwork, and a venue with an atmosphere unlike any other. Sure, it raised a lot of controversy when it was built. But tax dollars are meant to be spent!

3. Ultra Lounge at Icon Building
To come to the UL, all you have to do is  live in the Icon Building or know someone who does.  So maybe you have been. But for those of you who haven’t, its a pretty cool spot. Garage doors open  up the entire lounge to an open air patio. The views are killer and unparalleled. But go at night. Nashville is pretty, but seeing Nashville at night from the UL might be my favorite of this amazing town. If you ever buy a condo in the Icon building, holler at your boy.
ultra lounge

4. OZ
My good friend Sara Moggio has taken over the old CAO cigar factory and turned it into a wonderful event space. Its new, but if you go to enough weddings and social events, you will probably end up at OZ. It has a HUGE 12,000 sq ft salon, and other areas that make this a one of a kind space in this area. It also features incredible artwork, and if you are nice enough to Sara, she will get you a cigar from the CAO foudner’s private collection. It’s near a prison and a small airport on the northwest side of town, but don’t let its unique location fool you – its amazing. So go, run, book OZ. You will not be disappointed…that is unless I don’t cater it.

5. Santa’s Pub
Nashville has bars left and right. You can’t go down Broadway without tripping over a honky tonk. But I had yet to come across a great dive bar. But then I ventured to south Nashville and visited Santa’s Pub. Sure, you need a tetanus shot just to walk in the front door. But this holiday painted trailer offers so much character and fun on the inside. Out-dated karaoke, a blend of Nashville natives and college kids hammering for cheap beer, and Santa himself bartending, this is the perfect spot to let loose and have some fun.  The pool table may be uneven, but who cares. I have not had that much fun in a long time.  Great friends (of which I was a part of doing Bohemian Rhapsody on the karaoke slate) makes everything better. Add it Santa’s. Not everyone knows your name, but you’re family…

So have you ever been to any of these places?  Share your stories!

Nashville is filled with incredible people.  Sure, we have the venues, the music, the history that help make this town a step above any other.  But we are also blessed with people that make Nashville even more special.  Here are the Top 5 Men making this city better. Don’t worry, ladies…you’re up next!

Dave Ramsey
Helping thousands, if not millions, of people get out of crippling debt has made Dave an icon (except to those in the credit industry J ). Dave has a radio show, appears regular on tv programs, is an award winning author and speaks all over the country.  I always joked that if I became president, Dave would be the Secretary of Treasury. I’d love to see Congress work inside the constraints of envelopes.  But Dave and his empire have grown by leaps and bounds, and he still remains as grounded and philanthropic as we would all hope successful people would be.

Karl Dean
Want to know why Nashville is growing, become so popular and seeing growth when so many parts of the country are in decline?  Mayor Karl Dean has been the lead in growing this city. He has surrounded himself with amazing people. But that’s a sign of a great leader. None of us can take over the world on our own, but Mayor Dean has given this city a leg up on accomplishing that goal.

Vince Gill
Arguably one of the greatest musicians alive, Vince not only shares his skill in the studio and on the road, but also donates his time, skills and money to countless organizations. You may see him at a Belmont basketball game yelling at the refs, or popping in at the Ryman and jamming with that evening’s act.  The best part – with all that gives back – he is sincere about all of it.  Vince is truly one of the good guy.

James Franklin
Vanderbilt is known for a lot of things; football has never been one of them. But a few years ago they had an opening and hired an assistant coach from Maryland who has brought  Vanderbilt football back to life!  This past year – they won 9 games! They play in the SEC and have normally been a cake walk. But Franklin has brought energy and passion; which I would dare say is unmatched by any coach in the country.  He loves the game of football. He loves his players. He loves Nashville. He has energized the Commodore fan base and brought life to college football in this town. I doubt Vandy will ever play for a National Championship. But with Franklin’s tireless work ethic and commitment to excellence, nothing would surprise me.’re right…that would surprise me.

Max and Ben Goldberg
Ever heard of Catbird Seat?  Well, if not, you should.  Possibly one of the best restaurants in the country, This flagship restaurant of Strategic Hospitality has won just about every award you can think of.  They own event venues, honky tonks, The Patterson House;  and I am sure this is only the beginning.  Max, Ben and SH are helping make Nashville the culinary destination of The South. But if you don’t feel like spending a small fortune, go to Paradise Park at 3 am and get a cheeseburger…it will cure any/all of your ails. Thanks, fellas!

What other guys do you know in Nashville that leaving their mark on the city?

Nashville has everything.  Well…almost everything.  But like Gordon Gecko said in Wall Street “Greed is good”.  And Nashville is definitely greedy and we want it all!  So, if any of you city planners are out there, here is my Top 5 Things Missing in Nashville.  Also, I am  available for contract work if you want me to spearhead these projects.  Sure, its crazy busy with event and wedding season. But I can always work from 3 am to 6 am.

1. Downtown Parking
Nashville has been in short supply of this ever since I moved to town. The opening of the Music City Center will only highlight this issue.  We need more parking garages and more free transportation from Titans stadium to downtown as there is plenty of parking on that side of the river. While folks from Chicago and New York will say $20 to park is a steal (when you can find a spot), but locals around Middle Tennessee are getting more frustrated than kids at a Vegan restaurant.  But if you want to make some money, buy up property downtown and put a giant parking structure there. You will make a fortune!

2. Another Professional Sports Team
Folks in Middle Tennessee have money. They also have the interest in sports that could support another franchise.  I was listening to a national sports talk show the other day, and they said within 5-10 years, Nashville would have either a MLB or NBA franchise. They listed all the reasons why,  and also included stats of franchises in the NBA and MLB that Nashville was better than. We have room for a real baseball stadium and already have the basketball arena.  Can you imagine if we got either one of those All-Star games?  Like I said in the opening paragraph…we are greedy in Nashville and we want it all!

3. Large Outdoor Music Venue
Middle Tennessee is flooded by live music venues. Large, small and everything in between.  But other than the Woods at Fontanel, there are no large outdoor music venues (not including Titans stadium).  We have just about everything.  But our beautiful scenery would be the perfect home for a unique outdoor music venue. Red Rocks, Hollywood Bowl, etc etc – Nashville is screaming for a large 15,000+ outdoor venue.  We already draw some of the greatest tours, but we need to draw those large amphitheater tours, as well.  There’s nothing like seeing Hootie and the Blowfish sweat to the point of dehydration to fill out your summer schedule.

4. Movie Studio
LA and New York are home to movies and tv.  We all know that.  But Nashville has become such a popular town.  We have our own TV show and several other tv shows are based here.  Some movies have been based here and I am sure several more want to.  But imagine how many more would be shot here if the we had the sound stages and offices to shoot the whole movie here, as well?!  New Mexico did this and saw a HUGE increase in revenue for the state as not only did people shoot scenes, but entire movies and tv shows were produced in the state.  Nashville is home to some of the most creative people in the world.  Let’s show that talent off to the rest of the world…I mean outside of the YouTube viewership.

5. Texas Food Establishments
I love Nashville.  I love Texas.  I love food.  Now, its time for all of those three things to get to know each other better.  Music City is is home to many Texans, and many of them would love Rudy’s BBQ, Whataburger, Taco Shack, Trudy’s, etc. We have Chuy’s, and they are all doing very well. This is just further proof that Nashville wants an influx of all things Texas, besides my collection of Longhorns gear. In the 1800s, many Tennessee Volunteers went to Texas to help fight for their freedom.  Its time my fellow Texans returned the favor and brought that delicious food to the Volunteer state!


So what else do you think Nashville is missing?

They love sports in the south.  Football is king, but basketball and baseball are not far behind.  Sports are crucial to Nashville.  Being a town of imports, there is a diverse fan base of both professional and collegiate sports teams. Sports bars are flooded with fans of every kind, and live sporting events are well attended.  The draw of all that this city has to offer brings in several sporting events that you need to check out.  If you are not into sports, show up anyway.  All the cool kids are doing it.

1. Music City Bowl
very New Year’s Eve, an ACC and SEC team gather in Nashville to bash their helmets together and see who leaves Nashville with bragging rights. The Nashville sports council does a great job of putting on several days of exciting events, followed by the NCVB putting on one of the greatest NYE parties ever in downtown Nashville. The game itself is always entertaining and one of the more reasonable priced bowl games, even if your team is not playing.  There is not a bad seat at LP Field and its one of your last chances to see live football until the following September.
NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-North Carolina State vs Vanderbilt

2. Country Music Marathon
There are no teams. There are no referees. Only tens of thousands of lunatics running up and down the hills of Nashville.  Its now the 4th biggest marathon in the U.S., and it is an incredible event. Grab a cooler, some signs supporting your friends, lawn chairs and go watch a fantastic sporting event, assuming you think running is a sport. For me, its more of a chore, but don’t kid yourselves, these people are incredible athletes. Nashville is one of the toughest marathons because of the hills involved. I can barely walk up them, not sure how they run them. But they have a great party downtown afterwards, which includes a free concert.  Don’t miss out on watching the pain on their faces at mile 15, but the elation they express when they cross the finish line.

3. Nashville Sounds / Nashville Predators
Yes, the stadium is old and outdated. But the AAA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers are a good team and they put on a good show at Greer Stadium. My friends and I do a yearly gathering on one of the many party decks and its one of the few ball games I attend and feel like I get my money’s worth. There are always good deals and incentives to go to the games and they market their promotions better than expected. I hope to be back several times this season…join me and I will buy you some peanuts and cracker jacks.

The Predators are our hockey team. Its NHL and they put on a great show (including a live house band), and Carrie Underwood’s husband is on the team.  I would say less than 10% of the attendees know the rules, but they love a good fight and the chance to bump into Carrie.  But they went on strike so maybe next year they can have this spot all to themselves.

4. OVC Conference Basketball Tournament
Each March, as the madness of college basketball enters full swing, one of the first conference tournaments in the Ohio Valley Conference.  The men and women converge on Nashville to fight for that all-important automatic bid at Municipal Auditorium. The arena hold about 10,000 of the craziest mid-major fans. Sure, the SEC comes to town every 4 years or so, but the OVC, I would argue, is a much more compelling tournament. The tickets are cheaper and (this year for sure), the basketball is a better quality. With the addition of Belmont, the OVC has become an even better conference and will continually grow its product. For all of you dad’s wanting your kids to play and see good fundamental basketball, then grab a pretzel and a good seat!

5. Tennessee Titans
After University of Tennessee fans get their hopes and dreams crushed on Saturdays, they turn their attention to LP Field on Sundays as the former Houston Oilers fight for their AFC South lives. As far as pro football is concerned, the Titans are a great deal. There is always the hope that they will step away from mediocrity this year, but let’s not hold our breaths. But win or lose, Titans games are a lot of fun.  Its the south and its football…its a no brainer.

I know there are many other sporting events in Nashville…which ones do you like attending?