For Elle and Spencer Bentley, wedding bells have been ringing from the Big Apple all the way to Music City. Though they may have officially said “I do” in May 2020 in New York City, their grand ceremony took place on October 2, 2021, at Nashville’s Old School Farm, catered by local favorite Juniper Green. From sweet, intimate details to traditional elements that reflect their Jewish heritage, this is one wedding that’s not to be missed!
Newlyweds Elle and Spencer met in Manhattan’s famed Central Park over soccer and a bottle of rosé. It may sound like an odd combination, but as it turns out, it was a match made in heaven. Vanderbilt grad student, Elle, who’s currently working toward her master’s degree in genetic counseling, and her husband, a former finance professional in New York, met only a few months after Elle moved to Manhattan.
“We met through a friend of a friend of a friend,” says the bride. “I joined a coed soccer team that Spencer happened to be on, and there was a gathering in Central Park on the first nice day of the year. Spencer brought some nice rosé, and I was like, ‘Who’s the guy who brought the nice bottle of wine to this little, informal gathering in Central Park?’ I went up and talked to him, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.”
Their chance meeting was the start of something special, and their ties to Central Park grew, too. About a year and a half after they started dating, the couple found themselves back in the park sharing another bottle of rosé … only this time, Spencer had a ring in his pocket. “He’d made a dinner reservation,” explains Elle, “and said, ‘It’s by Central Park. Let’s go there beforehand, have a drink, and hang out before dinner.’ So, we went to Central Park and drank rosé, and he was playing some of the music that we bonded over the day that we met. He started saying all of these nice things about me, and then he got down on one knee and proposed.”
The first thing on Elle and Spencer’s agenda was deciding on a date and finding the perfect venue. However, the pandemic led them down a slightly different path than they’d initially intended. “At the time, we planned on getting married in New York — either Manhattan or Brooklyn,” says the bride, “so we decided to go with a longer engagement. We were thinking Spring 2020, so it came down to the date and the venue. We’d almost put a deposit down in New York, and then we decided to move to Nashville. We had already discussed moving somewhere more affordable, and then the pandemic sped up that timeline. It’s hard to live in a 600-square-foot studio apartment with a 60-pound dog. We were like, ‘Let’s get out of here!'”
Immediately switching gears, the couple began searching for a venue in Nashville. They landed on Old School Farm, which the bride describes as “beautiful and rustic.”
After Elle and Spencer found their venue and secured a ceremony date in Nashville, the remainder of the planning followed soon after. The couple forewent a wedding planner, opting to split the planning duties between them instead — including picking out Elle’s wedding dress. “Spencer did as much work as I did,” Elle tells us. “We each had different things that we were in charge of; I could not have done it without him. I even went dress shopping with my parents and Spencer — we’re not very traditional.”
Elle chose a dress she calls “a bit more unconventional” than other wedding dresses she’d seen, and it was well worth the deviation from tradition. The champagne-colored stunner boasted everything from lace detailing to beading on the straps — a beautiful mix of romance and whimsy. The bride paired Loeffler Randall heels and simple jewelry that included earrings from Tiffany & Co. that Spencer had gifted her for their recent anniversary. Elle also wore a simple diamond necklace and a matching tennis bracelet.
On the morning of the wedding, the bride and her bridal party gathered at the Old School to prepare for the festivities. “My bridesmaids, the usherette, my mom, and Spencer’s mom were all there, and we got ready together all day,” she tells us. She gifted her bridesmaids with Mejuri necklaces and a Pashmina wrap in case it got chilly, and everyone celebrated with a champagne toast.
When the pandemic altered their plans, Elle and Spencer officially exchanged their vows in New York. However, the couple also wanted to find a way to incorporate their families and traditions once the timing was right. “For us, the ceremony was really about including our religion and culture,” says Elle. “And it was about reading our vows out loud to each other in front of everyone.”
The couple wrote their own vows, and their Rabbi helped them elevate the meaning of their ceremony by infusing elements of the Jewish tradition. “Neither Spencer nor I are super religious,” says Elle, “but we both identify culturally as Jews. Our Rabbi did a good job of making the ceremony what we wanted it to be. I circled Spencer three times at the beginning of our ceremony, and she read the seven blessings.”
Though they had quite a few last-minute dropouts due to COVID, the bride and groom’s 130 guests joined in to celebrate the newlyweds as the reception commenced. Though Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for an outdoor cocktail hour, the couple and their guests adopted a “go with the flow” attitude and moved the festivities indoors.
Cocktails flowed, with a signature Aperol Spritz as a standout. A family-style meal followed, with an incredible feast from Juniper Green. “Everything was amazing,” gushes Elle. “My favorite was the brisket. It was a really good example of melding Southern culture with Jewish culture. I also love how seasonal the menu was. That’s one of the reasons we went with Juniper Green; using ingredients that are in season and local is their bread and butter.”
During the cocktail hour, guests dined on spiced lamb and beef meatballs and a beautiful Meze board filled with charred scallion tahini dip, smoky butternut hummus, muhammara, za’atar-brushed flatbread, and crisp seasonal vegetables. “Meze boards have become a signature item for us,” says Juniper Green’s Chef and Owner, Molly Martin. “They give all the variety and visual appeal of a cheese and charcuterie board, but they’re incredibly fresh, with an array of textures and a rainbow of vibrant colors.”
Molly created “Everything Bites” to bring in Elle and Spencer’s Jewish heritage. “The couple said they wanted a creative nod to their New York, Jewish heritage,” Molly tells us. “They asked if there might be a fun way to incorporate one of their favorite deli foods — ‘Everything’ bagels with lox — into the cocktail hour. It was a custom item we put together just for them, which made it such a fun, personal conversation starter.” Caper and chive crème fraîche, pickled shallots, and fresh dill added even more depth of flavor.
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A family-style seated affair followed the cocktail hour, which included a beautiful red wine-braised brisket, pomegranate molasses-barbecued chicken, kale Caesar salad with shaved pecorino, and cracked pepper brioche croutons. Next, the bride and groom cut the cake — a three-tiered beauty with fresh florals to highlight the autumn color scheme. Additionally, mini black-and-white cookies and rugelach from East Nashville deli, Shep’s Delicatessen, offered a little taste of New York.
As guests enjoyed dessert, the bride and groom had their first dance, and then everyone congregated on the dance floor to celebrate the newlyweds. “We did the hora,” says the bride of being lifted into a chair on the dance floor, “and that was one of my favorite parts of the night. It was hilarious to see my grandparents up there. They aren’t Jewish, but they were having the time of their lives!”
After an enchanting evening filled with tradition and joy, Elle, Spencer, and some of their guests hopped on a party bus for some extended fun, as school buses brought the remainder of the guests back to their hotel. As for Elle’s advice for future brides, she says, “It’s so important to truly try to relax and enjoy it because it goes by so quickly!” She also touts the benefits of tackling the planning with your partner and splitting the workload. “Relying on your partner is so helpful,” she tells us. “Working together on it makes it fun. Plus, it makes a lot of the details even more special when you pick them out together.” We couldn’t agree more!
Thank you for sharing your special day with us, Elle and Spencer, and thanks to Madi Flournoy for the photos.
Bride’s hair/Make-up: Indigo Beauty Collective
Florals: Olive & Birch
Cake: Kailey Cakes
Bride’s gown: FloraVere
Bride’s shoes: Loeffler Randall
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