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Little did Nashville native Karen Chaffin know that when she met South Georgia-born Tyler Pinson at Kung Fu in Midtown three years ago, she was staring into the eyes of her future husband. Tyler, a government contractor and Auburn alumni, was smitten from the get-go and didn’t waste any time asking Karen, a nurse practitioner at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, out on their first official date. Dinner at Tavern sealed the deal.

After a family vacation last June, Tyler surprised Karen when he asked her to go ring shopping. “I was so excited I couldn’t focus,” the bride recalls. But then Tyler began acting strangely and suddenly changed his tune, telling Karen he didn’t think ring shopping was a good idea. Perhaps they were rushing into it, he told her. “I just gasped,” says the bride. “I was like, are you kidding me?” But Tyler was merely giving his future wife a hard time. Seconds later, he got down on one knee in the kitchen and pulled out the ring he’d already purchased in advance. Karen, of course, said “yes.”

Black and white photo of bride and groom during first looks

Karen Chaffin and Tyler Pinson tied the knot in a traditional ceremony on February 15, 2020.

Neither Karen nor Tyler wanted a long engagement, so the couple didn’t waste any time getting the ball rolling. They reached out to a wedding planner but opted to use her for day-of coordination. Karen’s mom, Margot Chaffin, jumped in to help plan the rest. “My mom was the one who ran with it all,” Karen says. “We were able to reach out to the coordinator for questions and everything like that, but my mom was the one in communication with all of our vendors. The two of us pretty much planned it all ourselves.” The first step in their planning process was securing the venues. They immediately decided on the Catholic church in which Karen had grown up for the ceremony. With dreams of an evening ceremony, they snagged the first available date that lined up for the church and their reception venue of choice, Belle Meade Country Club. “I wanted it to be as fast as possible, maybe even a December wedding, and Tyler wanted to wait until the next year just to get everything in line,” says the bride. “Saturday, February 15, was the first date in 2020 that the church and venue lined up.”

Invitation suite for traditional Nashville wedding

Karen and Tyler went with a classic invitation suite from You’re Invited. The design aesthetic was a natural choice, thanks to Karen’s mom, Margot Chaffin, who has saved each invitation from every wedding she has attended. Her mom kept them in a box that they opened up together and sifted through until they landed on the perfect combination.

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floral bouquets for bride and bridesmaids

Karen and Tyler checked out a few different florists, ultimately choosing Lauren Atkinson of LMA Designs to handle the gorgeous arrangements on their special day. Gushing over Lauren’s work, the bride says, “She knew her business, and she knew my vision. I didn’t necessarily come in with specific flowers that I wanted, and she was able just to say, ‘I think this would look great.’ Sure enough, it looked perfect.”

Searching for the right dress was next on the list, and Karen says that the process took significantly longer than she’d hoped. “I started making appointments and trying on dresses, and I just didn’t find one that I loved,” she tells us.

Her luck changed when she scheduled her final dress appointment at Arzelle’s Bridal Chic. “I saw the dress when I walked in,” recalls the bride. “They were telling me that I could just go around and pick out what I wanted to try on, but I told them there was no point. I knew that was the one.” She was particularly intrigued by the touch of lace at the top, which was just the feminine, pretty element she was hoping for. It was also an excellent match for her “something old,” a veil worn by her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother on their wedding days. “I was the fourth generation,” she explains. “It was ivory to start with, but it has kind of faded through the years. I always took the veil with me to try on with the dresses for the full effect, and I felt like it was a perfect fit.” For shoes, the bride went solely for comfort, opting for the same shoes as her maid of honor. The bride also incorporated family heirlooms into her day-of attire, wearing a set of pearls given to her grandmother by her grandfather on their wedding day, and tucking a sixpence into her left shoe that was passed down through Tyler’s family.

bridal gown and traditional veil at Nashville wedding

With her veil serving as “something old,” and her dress as “something new,” Karen turned to her sister-in-law for “something borrowed.” “I borrowed my sister-in-law’s hairpiece,” she says. “When I took off the veil, instead of just having my hair in the hairdo, it gave me a little pearl pendant to go in the hair.” As for “something blue,” the bride admits she was sporting blue underwear beneath her wedding gown!

Bride with her mom, getting ready

“I tried on so many dresses,” says the bride. “Originally, I was going to bring my sisters-in-law and a friend with me to go dress shopping, and then I stopped and just brought my mom only.” Here, Margot Chaffin helps Karen get ready for the big day.

black and white photo of bride in her gown, with her back turned

The bride looks stunning as she prepares to walk down the aisle.

When the big day arrived, 226 guests piled into the Cathedral of the Incarnation on West End at 7 p.m. to witness Tyler and Karen exchange their traditional vows. Before walking down the grand aisle, however, the couple shared first looks, which turned out to be one of their favorite moments of the day. “I didn’t want any of my family there, just in case it was emotional,” Karen tells us. “Tyler was out first, with his back turned. I hadn’t seen him all day, so I was a little nervous, but it was one of my favorite parts of the entire day. I felt like when he turned, it was just the two of us.”

bride in her gown with bouquet during first looks of traditional Nashville wedding

Karen was drawn to A-line dresses from the get-go and finally found her perfect gown at Arzelle’s Bridal Chic.

Groom at traditional Nashville wedding

Looking dapper in his tuxedo, Tyler awaits his first glimpse of Karen in her wedding gown.

bride with her bridesmaids in purple gowns

The bride sought a subtle color for the bridesmaids’ dresses. “I didn’t use any colors,” she tells us. “I was actually going with gray on my bridesmaids, but when they went to pick up their dresses, it was almost like a purple.” Despite a slight alteration in her intended color scheme, Karen felt it turned out exactly as it should have.

Groom with his groomsmen

“We each had seven people,” Karen says of their bridal party. “Tyler’s father, Tim, was his best man, and then he had his brother, Brooke, my two brothers, his brother-in-law, and his two cousins.”

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and the bride and groom relished an opportunity to see the church pews filled with all of their loved ones. “It was fun to see everybody that had shown up for the wedding,” Karen says of their walk back up the aisle as the new Mr. and Mrs.Tyler Pinson. “On the altar, I was just focused on Tyler. That was the first time to really turn around and see everybody that came out to support us. It was a great feeling.” That celebration continued as Karen, Tyler and their bridal party headed to the reception in style — in trolleys!

bride and groom kissing at The Cathedral of the Incarnation

The couple shared a kiss just before strolling back down the aisle.

The newlyweds exiting the church

Guests cheer as Tyler and Karen are declared husband and wife.

Crisp white linens and lush green and white florals adorned the reception tables, with gold accents and candles in classic glass pillars rounding out the decor. The cocktail hour turned out to be Karen’s second favorite wedding memory, allowing her and Tyler to share some quiet time alone as husband and wife. At the same time, guests enjoyed the open bar and feasted on tasty country ham biscuits and cheese puff croissants.

table set up at traditional Nashville wedding reception

Tall floral arrangements allowed guests to enjoy gorgeous bouquets and conversation simultaneously.

biscuits with country ham on serving tray

Mini biscuits with Benton’s country ham added a touch of Southern charm to the cocktail hour.

beer koozies at Chaffin-Pinson wedding

A fun and thoughtful touch, reception drinks were served in cups that boasted the letter “P” for “Pinson,” while beer bottles were served in personalized koozies.

Their seated dinner was equally delicious, with a Faucon salad starter, and a filet mignon entrée accompanied by asparagus and fingerling potatoes. Not to be ignored, the impressive, five-tiered cake from Nashville Sweets was a sight to behold. “We did a couple of different layers,” explains Karen. “We did just your traditional white with buttercream on one layer, and then Tyler wanted a strawberry layer, so we did strawberry with a strawberry cream filling. Then, we did an almond layer with chocolate on the inside.” The couple opted against a cake topper, instead enlisting the help of their florist, who added a few fresh blooms and greenery sprigs to bring in an element of their design. Then, it was time for the dancing to begin. After the newlyweds shared their first dance to “The Way You Look Tonight,” the bride and her father, Robert Chaffin, danced to “Brown Eyed Girl.” The groom and his mother, Lynn Pinson, chose “Georgia On My Mind,” the ideal song to reflect their Georgia roots.

5-tiered wedding cake by Nashville Sweets

Karen and Tyler saved the top tier of their five-tiered cake so they can enjoy it on their first anniversary. “It’s in my freezer right now. We’re going to have it on our anniversary, but I think that’ll be something I’ll have to force,” Karen laughs. “Tyler is not a big leftover guy.”

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Bride and groom drinking from family heirloom cups

One of the many traditions the bride and groom celebrated was the use of their family “loving cups.” Karen says, “The cup I was drinking from was a gift to my grandparents on their wedding day — September 8, 1949. My aunts and uncles on my mom’s side have all used the loving cup on their wedding days, as have a few of my cousins. Tyler’s loving cup has been used by all of his cousins who have been married on his mother’s side. It is monogrammed with each bride and groom’s initials and their wedding dates.”

bride dancing with her father

Karen and her father, Robert Chaffin, were all smiles as they danced to “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison.

From that point on, the dance floor was packed, with the Atlanta Allstars leading an evening of fun that included the Limbo. “I went through first because I didn’t want to have to bend too much in my dress,” laughs the bride. “My husband went through right behind me, and then they started lowering it and lowering it. He has a great uncle who’s probably in his 80s, and he went under it as well, which was so fun to see!”

Once the festivities wrapped up, the bride and groom departed the reception amidst rose petals, hopping into an old car that Tyler had booked, and heading to the Hermitage Hotel to end their big day. Karen encourages other brides to soak up the day because it’s a whirlwind of an experience. “It goes by so quickly,” she says. “You don’t even have time to think about it. So, take time for yourself, and dance. Definitely dance!”

Bride and groom exiting reception to rose petals

The newlyweds exited their Belle Meade Country Club reception to a fanfare of rose petals and festive music.

Bride and groom in getaway car, leaving traditional Nashville wedding

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Pinson!

Thank you for sharing your wedding story, Karen and Tyler, and thanks to Mary Rosenbaum for the photography.

RESOURCES

Ceremony and reception venues: Cathedral of the Incarnation and Belle Meade Country Club
Photography: Mary Rosenbaum
Wedding planner:  Fran Grote at Fran Grote Events
Bride’s hair: Michele Clark at Clark & Co.
Bride’s make-up: Val Cole for Daniel Cole
Florals: LMA Designs
Cake: Nashville Sweets
Stationery: You’re Invited
Calligraphy: Eileen Kesner
Bride’s gown: La Sposa by St. Patrick, found at Arzelle’s Bridal Chic
Bride’s shoes: Steve Madden
Jewelry: family heirlooms
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Bella Bridesmaid
Groom’s tux and shoes: Men’s Warehouse
Caterer: Belle Meade Country Club
Ceremony music: Organ: Rebecca Horton; trumpet: Patrick McGuffey; vocals: Mary Corby; Violin: Amy Helman
Cocktail hour and reception band:  The Atlanta Allstars
Trolley: Hello Trolley
Getaway car: Matchless Transportation
Rentals: Please Be Seated

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