“Nick and I both come from families that have incredibly rich heritage and traditions, and we worked really hard to incorporate elements from both Greek and Southern cultures,” Mary Nelle explains. She and her now-husband Nick Karas had two ceremonies: a Methodist Blessing and a Greek Orthodox Ceremony. Guests traveled from around the world for the ceremonies and celebrations that followed. This wedding wove important aspects of the bride’s Nashville roots and the groom’s Greek heritage, resulting in a multi-day celebration of love and culture.
The couple was engaged during an anniversary trip to Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Nick proposed to his girlfriend of four years with a ring holding her mother’s engagement diamond. “He had secretly conspired with my mom to reset her engagement diamond (which she wore as a necklace) into the most beautiful gold halo setting featuring her oval diamond in the center,” Mary Nelle tells us. “I wear it today with my wedding band and my Grandmother Nelle’s wedding band. If you can’t already tell, I am named after her! I love that my set of rings not only represents our marriage but also represents our roots — my parents have been married 43 years and my grandparents were married for 50.”
Mary Nelle wove details of her family’s rich traditions into many aspects of the wedding. During the Methodist Blessing, she wore her mother’s veil, which was worn by her mother 43 years earlier as she was married on the same altar. During the Greek Orthodox Ceremony, flowers from the same veil were incorporated into the comb of the cathedral veil Mary Nelle chose for the second ceremony. “I loved wearing that little part of her on the big day,” she says.
The Methodist Blessing was held at Franklin First United Methodist Church’s Historic Sanctuary. On Thursday, December 28, the two families gathered for the exchanging of vows. “Nick’s family, who traveled from Cyprus, loved being in the historic church and seeing the traditional American ceremony,” she says. After the ceremony, a seated luncheon was hosted at the LilliHouse, home of Marty and Ronald Ligon. “Located in historic Franklin a few blocks from the church, the LilliHouse was built in 1895. When you enter the Ligon’s gorgeous home, you feel like you have been transported back in time to the antebellum South,” Mary Nelle explains. “We drank from silver water goblets and enjoyed a delicious Southern meal in a house full of heritage surrounded by our family and friends from all over the world. It’s impossible to describe how wonderful it was — it was one of my favorite memories from the wedding.”
Two days later, the celebration continued at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. The ceremony, which was primarily in Greek, was made accessible to all guests. “We created a program that explained the important moments in the ceremony and the history and symbolism of those moments for our guests to be able to read and learn about the ceremony,” Mary Nelle explains.
Before the ceremony, the groom partook in the Cypriot dressing ceremony. “During the dressing ceremony, different family members helped Nick put on different items of clothing and also shaved his face (you read that right). There is a lot of dancing and singing — some of his cousins and aunts and uncles wrote him poems in Greek, which they sang to him during the dressing ceremony.”
The reception was infused with aspects of Southern and Greek cultures, such as a dinner of Loveless Cafe biscuits, chicken and fixin’s, mashed potato martinis and Greek pastries for dessert. The reception also combined traditional Greek dancing (with a Greek DJ) and contemporary music (with the Atlanta Allstars).
“We kicked off the dancing with the traditional Greek Kalamatiano wedding dance. The bride leads this dance and, gradually, family members and the wedding party join in followed by everyone in attendance! Nick’s parents also gave us Greek lira (coins) to wear on a red ribbon around our neck during the dance. By the end of the dance, practically all of the guests were on their feet and our dance line had left the dance floor and was snaking through the tables. Another fun tradition with this dance is that guests throw dollar bills on the bride and the groom — both the Greeks and the Americans happily embraced this custom showering us with dollar bills. After that, the band started and we alternated playing Greek music and contemporary music during the band breaks — the music and dancing never stopped.”
“It wasn’t the flowers or the food or the decor,” Mary Nelle says when trying to put her finger on the most memorable part of her wedding. “Honestly, it was the feeling that we both had the entire weekend of being surrounded by the people who we love and who love us during one of the most important times of our lives. The feeling of having everyone who you love in the same place and knowing that they have (literally) traveled from all over the world to be there with you is indescribable. It’s joyful, and we will treasure those moments with our loved ones forever.
“In a prayer that was read for us at the luncheon after our Methodist blessing, Ronald Ligon read a beautiful prayer for us: ‘Father, we thank you for the gift of marriage you created for us … May they [Mary Nelle and Nick] know the joy of a lifetime commitment … We thank you for this magnificent season of love and your great love for us.’
“It’s hard to put my finger on it, but something about these words summarizes the most memorable part of our wedding. This joyous time we had with our family and friends was truly a gift. It was a magnificent season of love.”
Congratulations to the happy couple!
Wedding date, time and location of ceremony and reception
December 28, 2017
12 o’clock in the afternoon
Franklin First United Methodist Church — Historic Sanctuary
December 30, 2017
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
December 30, 2017
- Photography: Haley George Photography; Videography: Little Josh
- Venue: Loveless Barn
- Wedding planner: Anita Hogin
- Bride’s Gown: Enzoani, Posh Bridal
- Bridesmaids Dresses: Adrianna Papell
- Hair & Makeup: Josey Lee Baker
- Groom & Groomsmen Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse
- Invitations, Programs: You’re Invited
- Flowers: Supervised by Glenn Montgomery, Mark Webber
- Catering: Loveless Cafe
- Music: The Atlanta Allstars and Chris Sarris
- Cake: Billie Mochow
- Greek Desserts: It’s Greek to Me Cottage Kitchen
- Tents and rental: Music City Tents
- Linens: BBJ Linens