Like many engaged couples in 2020, Tracie Hitz and Greg Bauman were planning a wedding against many odds. Their original plan was to get married on Martha’s Vineyard on June 13, but it turned into a 15-hour wedding in Indianapolis, IN, and Nashville, TN, on September 19. Two cities in one day, you ask? Yes! Because they put their wedding on wheels.
Once Massachusetts restricted events to 50 people maximum, the couple was forced to give up that dream of getting married on Martha’s Vineyard. “I jokingly suggested that we split the wedding so that we could have half of the people in each city we’ve recently lived in: Indianapolis and Nashville,” Tracie says. “Greg thought I was crazy at first, and then he laughed and agreed to just go with it, as he does about a lot of things.” So the couple rented a tour bus and started to piece together what would be the wildest day of their lives.
Greg and Tracie matched on the dating app Tinder on July 26, 2016. “I decided to get on there when I turned 40 and was going to give it one year,” Tracie shares. “We met for our first date three days before my 41st birthday. It was his first date from the app.” They played games at an arcade, and when Tracie handily beat Greg, he just laughed. “I knew from that moment that this was the guy I was supposed to be with long-term. He just didn’t let the little things bring him down. We moved from Indianapolis to Nashville in June 2018 and got engaged there November 2019,” Tracie explains.
Frustrated by the insensitivity of her original vendors on Martha’s Vineyard surrounding safety and the pandemic, Tracie chose to believe it would all work out with big doses of positivity and creativity — a mindset she employs daily in her job as an artist manager and music marketing guru. The couple forged ahead, assuming they might lose up to $15,000 in deposits from the original date. With only three weeks to plan and two states’ restrictions to worry about, they were hesitant to sign more contracts. Within this new mobile wedding plan, Tracie was able to choose the vendors in Nashville and Indy that she wanted to support, and she found they were much more flexible about contracts and deposits.
“We decided to invest in as many small businesses and friends who had their jobs affected by COVID,” Tracie says. There was so much talent represented on their guest list that they enlisted 28 guests to help with different tasks. “It was amazing to be surrounded by people who actually cared about our wedding. Our friends said they were ‘honored’ to be part of the wedding crew. We also felt that by keeping as many strangers out of the event, we would also keep guests safer,” Tracie recalls. All of Tracie and Greg’s key “staff members” were friends of the couple, including four wedding coordinators, a transportation manager, a photographer, four wedding singers, a hair/makeup/nail stylist, a dress stylist, a DJ/emcee, a pastry chef, a wedding favor producer, four event operations assistants, a craftsman, a live stream director, a designer and a bouquet maker. “If you didn’t have a job at my wedding, I would be surprised!” Tracie says with a laugh.
Tracie says, “One of our guests is a therapist, and she said that once we mourned the loss of our original dream wedding, it would open us up to a new dream. This is such an important piece of advice that every bride, groom and person should hear!” Once they let go of the past, Tracie and Greg’s wedding went a little something like this:
- $15,000 in potentially lost deposits
- 3 weeks of planning time
- 2 cities across three states
- A 15-hour wedding day
- 578 miles traveled in 32 hours
- 92 total guests
- 28 working guests
- 19 tour-bus guests
- 14 states represented
- 22 small businesses supported
- 2 vow exchanges
- 1 father of the bride recovering from a kidney transplant
After signing contracts for the bus and venues in each city just days before the big one, it was time to get to work! The 19 working tour bus guests loaded up early that morning and drove 289 miles to Indianapolis to begin the first half of a 15-hour wedding day. The first ceremony was live-streamed and began at 10:30 a.m. By 3 p.m., it was “halftime,” and the crew was on the road back to Nashville with a pitstop in Louisville to support a beloved bar that was closing due to COVID. After another 289 miles back through three states, the crew arrived in Nashville at 7 p.m., and Greg and Tracie had saved their first dance (“This Is It”) for the Music City party, renewed their vows, cut the cake, and enjoyed more live music from platinum-selling artists Chancie Neal and Joe Denim.
“We just want to help any way that we can as we know so many people are struggling during these times. My husband and I have been thriving as we see every challenge as an opportunity to do something better, and we would love for more people to believe that anything is possible,” Tracie says. We were so struck by all the small businesses Tracie graciously supported, so we asked her to walk us through how a few of them impacted her wedding day.
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Tracie turned to one such small business for help with her dress. “Krystal Douglas at Music City Sewing is amazing,” Tracie tells us. “Nashville got hit by a tornado about two weeks before COVID shut everything down, so it was especially difficult in Nashville. Krystal works with musicians, so she lost a lot of business when the music industry shut down. She made more than 7,000 masks to help with the pandemic. While she was struggling, she chose to help others who were struggling more.”
Tracie came to Krystal with her mother’s wedding dress from 54 years ago. Along with Payton Dale from The Payton Project — a celebrity stylist who also lost her clients in the music industry — Krystal designed the perfect iteration of this special dress. Krystal and her assistant, Chloe, did all of the sewing, which included pockets … “for snacks,” Payton says. After many hours, the product was above and beyond what Tracie expected. “She cared about what my mom would think,” she explains. “She wanted to do this dress justice.”
Katy Hacker of Katy’s Kitchen is a friend of Tracie’s trying to make her side hustle as a vegan chef a full-time job. “Even though we aren’t vegan and she’s not actually a pastry chef, we wanted her to make the cake for us so we could support her dream,” Tracie says. “The final product looked beautiful and tasted great. We heard so many people say, ‘This is vegan!?’ because they didn’t expect it to taste so good!” Tracie and Greg’s ask really pushed Katy outside her comfort zone, but she stepped up to the challenge and can now offer wedding cakes as part of her business.
To set the soundtrack for the whole day, Tracie leaned on four wedding singers, including Chancie Neal and Joe Denim. These two platinum-selling songwriters lost their income when all of their shows were canceled indefinitely due to COVID. “Being able to have these amazing artists take 32-hours of time out of their weekend to be with us was above and beyond. They entertained us not only at the wedding in Indianapolis but also on the tour bus up and back,” Tracie tells us. Now that is the true tour bus experience!
To add a fun touch in Nashville, Jen Watkins at Nashville Smile Bar came through big time with her fabulous photo booth very last minute. “Having the photo booth in Nashville was great because the guests started arriving there at 7 p.m., and we didn’t make our entrance until closer to 8 p.m.!” says Tracie.
Tracie’s favorite detail of the day was their officiant, Amy Potter. “She is a dear friend of mine who is extremely caring, thorough and funny, which is why I asked her to be the officiant. But I couldn’t have imagined how incredible she would make the ceremony. She talked Greg through his nerves while he was waiting for me to walk down the aisle. She shared stories from our families and made jokes that had people laughing throughout. She even made sure we stopped to say hello to everyone at home watching via Zoom. She made sure every person knew that they were a special part of our day … that being here was no accident,” Tracie says. “The comment we got the most from the day, besides the fact that we jumped on a tour bus to Nashville, was how entertaining Amy was … that they often hope the ceremony goes quickly so they can get to the reception, but they wanted to hear more from her.”
We asked Tracie for some words of advice to brides planning a wedding right now or in the near future. “Keep an open mind, stay flexible and surround yourself with people and vendors who truly care about your wedding,” she says. “Things aren’t going to go exactly the way you planned, but that’s when some of the best ideas are created. It may sound like having more people involved in your wedding planning will be chaotic, but if you’ve got the right ones, you can create a wedding you never even imagined.”
Thank you, Tracie, for sharing this creative and special adventure with us. You do not want to miss the full recap of Tracie and Greg’s wedding on wheels. Click “play” to watch the video below:
Dress design: Music City Sewing/Krystal Douglas
Dress stylist: The Payton Project
Cookies: Flygirl Custom Cookies
Music: Chancie Neal & Joe Denim
Cake: Katy’s Kitchen
Bartender: Kelsey Macginnis
Photobooth: Nashville Smile Bar
Logo designer: Aaron M. Villalobos
Bridesmaids’ gifts: The Shop Forward
Thank you gifts: Bluestem Wellness
Rehearsal dinner: Dugout Bar
Transportation: Premiere Transportation
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