Living in a close-knit community, as Carolyn puts it, “one would tend to ‘know of’ a person before truly getting to know that person.” With Stephen preparing for his first trip abroad, he was aware of Carolyn’s love for travel, having lived in Europe for a year, and so decided to reach out to her for traveling advice. A natural connection immediately formed between them as they realized they shared more in common besides a love for travel. That conversation would set them on a journey continuing to this day, and every day after – forever together as husband and wife.
Read all about Carolyn & Stephen’s love story, surprise birthday proposal in Jamaica, and experiences in their winter wonderland wedding in Nashville.
Bride & Groom: Carolyn & Stephen
Occupations: IT/Business Sales/Consulting & Real Estate Investor
Wedding date: 12.01.2018
Wedding location: Omni Nashville Hotel; Nashville, TN
How did you meet? Our love story isn’t very traditional as it doesn’t have a date, time or location of where we first officially met. As Nashville Natives, living in a close-knit community, one would tend to “know of” a person before truly getting to know that person. I am a business woman who believes in traveling and social entrepreneurial activities that impact the local community. Steve is a real estate investor with a love and passion for changing the world. It wasn’t until December of 2014 that we began the transition from “knowing of” each other to getting to know each other. In fact, it was my spirit for travel that brought Steve’s heart of wanderlust right to me. Having known that I recently lived in Europe for a year, Steve decided to reach out to seek advice from me in order to prepare for his first trip abroad. Our first encounter was filled with a magical conversation that made us both yearn for constant and consistent refills. Little did either of us know that night something that was to begin as a trip destined for one person would turn into a lifetime of trips to come with each other.
Tell us about the proposal Carolyn: “What I thought to be a celebration of another year in Steve’s life, Steve knew it as the day that would change our lives forever. I couldn’t wait to celebrate Steve’s birthday so much so that I had him open all of his birthday gifts at midnight before our early morning flight to our favorite destination, where we would be staying at our all-time favorite resort. I was just looking forward to the fun in the sun with my favorite person.
Everything went smoothly in terms of traveling to Jamaica… When we arrived at the resort, we had already planned to take pictures together… We got dressed for the photos and headed out to the courtyard. I started taking pictures with Steve’s cousins who joined us on the trip. Steve and I even managed to take a few together too, before saying he needed to “go to the bathroom” and managed to disappear for what seemed like forever. After almost an annoying level of waiting on Steve to return, I began to call him, when suddenly I receive an email from him with the subject line: “Relax Yourself and FINALLY LET GO!!!” …I finally finished reading one of the sweetest things he’s ever written for me, and I was instructed to: “FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO YOU”. So, I did as instructed. I notice Steve’s cousins begin to video my every move. I was handed a deck of cards and began to be enthralled into the mystery. Steve and I love games! So of course he would naturally turn my proposal into one. I was given clues to find other clues until I reached the last clue, where I was blindfolded and escorted to him on the balcony of our oceanfront room.”
Stephen: “I watched Carolyn play into the scavenger hunt game while I reminisced over how much my life has changed for the better with her in it. I grabbed her hands when she reached the balcony and sat her in her favorite swing chair. At this time, I whispered in her ear that this was in fact her proposal. I told her the people I’d talked to about my decision and the blessings that they extended our way. She began to cry.
Next, I walked Carolyn to the perfect spot so that she could have a full view of the beautiful ocean. I then told her, “You can open your eyes to your new life!”
I wanted to make sure that I told Carolyn my full story so I couldn’t let her rush me through the proposal part. I helped her to become more composed so that she could hear everything. I then asked her to be my wife, and asked her, “Are you ready to run? The rest is now history!”
What was the wedding shopping experience like for you? We wanted to have a “Winter Wonderland” wedding theme… For the dress, I wanted to wear something that was reminiscent of the theme. My ring is platinum and sparkles, so I wanted a dress that added the same effect with a bit of sexiness. I went with my mom on one Saturday in June with four appointments and an agenda to find our dress. The first three locations had options, but the price points and the styles were all compromising to my vision. We came up with a game plan of reviewing all of the dresses we’d seen so far and going to the first place to go and buy the dress that I liked there. We were even going to cancel our last appointment, but as we walked out the door, a bridal store caught our eye. We decided to give it a try, and I’m forever grateful that we did! To our luck, we walked in with the designer right there to assist… I was very upfront in what we were looking for and the fact that we were on our way to go buy a dress. The designer asked me what I liked about the dress, what I would change, and began sketching, put some different materials on me, and we sealed the deal. Working with Olia Zavozina has been a true joy and I highly recommend her to anyone interested.
Steve wanted to have a custom piece so we did our searching. We landed at Jos A Bank with a midnight blue velvet jacket, with black lapels, custom interior design, and customized text included inside. The experience was seamless as we were in and out within what felt like minutes. It was ready within two weeks and perfect for our Winter Wonderland!
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? For our wedding ceremony we incorporated a few cultural elements – 1. Libations; 2. An African Tasting; and 3. Pouring of the sands.
Wedding party gifts: We only had a Maid of Honor and a Best Man for our wedding. For the MOH – it was more sentimental with memories of our years, custom stemless champagne flute, lodging in Nashville, etc. For the Best Man – Titans jersey, custom glass, cigar/flask holder, and more.
Ceremony entrance song: A Myriad of songs:
Groom/Officiant/Best Man – “The Christmas Song” by Stevie Wonder
Flower Girl – “Twinkle Twinkle Little Me” by Stevie Wonder
MOH- “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Sam Smith
Bride/Dad/Brother- “Best Party” by Daniel Caesar and H.E.R.
First dance song: “Primetime” by Janelle Monae feat Miguel (Chloe Martini Remix).
What is your best memory from your wedding? My highlights for the wedding day were our billboard located in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Nashville, our entire weekend of activities (Welcome Game Night Reception at a rooftop location with food, games and family fun, and a newlywed farewell brunch at my parent’s house featuring Nashville’s finest Slim & Husky’s catering), our venue decorations that highlighted our winter wonderland room transformations, our ceremony with it’s interactive and educational elements, my father walking me down the aisle, alongside my big brother, despite his limited mobility with Parkinson’s disease, our Casino Cocktail Hour, our Downtown Nashville photoshoot, our Photo Booth with a green screen that featured snow globe type photos, our beautiful wintry cake, and our Prince’s Hot Chicken Exit.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? My best wedding advice is to make sure that you do what you want and don’t let others influence you. Also, you get what you pay for so keep that in mind when it comes to your expectations. If you’re a “planner” type of bride, don’t let anyone make you think that you can’t do it. Trust in your own skills and vision. Day-of-planners are a major necessity. Be sure to spend time with each other throughout the weekend to remain connected and remember your why. Push through every photo experience because in the moment it’ll seem like a lot but in the end, it’s never enough.
Wedding Ceremony: Omni Nashville Hotel
Reception Rental/Catering/Bar/Lighting & A/V: Omni Nashville Hotel
Cake: Dulce Desserts
Food Truck: Prince’s Hot Chicken
Casino Rental: Full House Events
Day of Wedding Coordinator Planner: Laurie D’Anne Events
Wedding Planner: Carolyn Griffin
Photographe: FootPrint Fotos
Videographer: Noah Washington & Solomon Simmons
Photobooth: Nashville Smile Bar
DJ: DJ Crisis
Florals: Branching Out Floral & Event Design
Chairs, Chargers,Cloths: Please Be Seated
Curtains, Birch Trees, Lamps, & Bar Fronts: Quest Events
Guest Book: Zazzle
Groom’s Hair: Calvin Ross
Grooms Designer: Jos A Bank
Groom’s Shoes: Magnanni
Bride’s Designer: Olia Zavozina
Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Best Man/Men of Family: Men’s Wearhouse
Matron of Honor Dress: Alfred Sung Collection
Slap Bracelet: Amazing Wristbands
Hair for Bride, MOH, and MOB: It’s My Hair ATL
Makeup for Bride, MOH, and MOB: Gabrielle Simmons
Save the dates: Minted
Wedding Counseling/Coaching/Officiants: Paula Farmer & William Radford
Billboard Display: The Nashville Sign
Invitations: PaperKuts Studio