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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
RELATED: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Love Story
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!”
Thank you for sharing your wedding story, Karen and Tyler, and thanks to Mary Rosenbaum for the photography.
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
Explore more dreamy wedding inspiration in our archives HERE!