English Taylor’s future husband, John Cowgill, won her over after he nervously spilled his glass of water during their first date. Twice. Nashville-native English met Kentucky-born John when a mutual friend set them up six years ago in Chicago, but there’s more to the tale than just a quirky first date. English, who was in grad school at Northwestern, had entirely sworn off men after a bad breakup. She was also skeptical of dating a younger man and insisted she had no interest in pursuing a date with John. But thanks to fate and her friend’s persistence, English finally agreed to one dinner, which is when the water debacle left her thoroughly charmed. The Southern transplants, who now call San Francisco home, spent the remainder of their date bonding over the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. “We talked about nerdy personality tests,” English says of their first meeting, “and we’ve been together ever since.”
Despite the somewhat rocky start, English and John’s first date ultimately led to an engagement in none other than the City of Love: Paris, France. “I love reflecting on the proposal,” English relays. “It was so romantic, and it was both of our first times in Paris.” John secretly asked her parents for her hand in marriage, and their feigned ignorance helped him pull off the surprise of a lifetime. In fact, he cleverly disguised the trip as English’s 30th birthday celebration. “My parents straight up lied to me and said, ‘We’re so sorry. He hasn’t said anything to us, so we don’t think a proposal is going to happen,'” English tells us of the conversation she and her parents had just before the trip. But it all sunk in when John got down on one knee on the famous Pont Alexandre III bridge overlooking the picturesque Seine River. After English said “yes” to the man who had captured her heart, the newly engaged couple hopped on a boat to celebrate with dinner, champagne and a tour of the Parisian landscape.
When John and English returned from their European excursion, the wedding planning ensued. English knew she wanted to get married in her hometown of Nashville, and enlisted the help of planner Amos Gott, of Amos Events, to fulfill her dreams of an autumn wedding. “I can’t really explain why, but I always knew I wanted a late fall or winter wedding,” English tells us. “I’m just in love with that season. I love the colors, and I think there’s something really special about getting married close to the holidays.”
Securing the venue was first on their list, an easy decision thanks to a childhood field trip that left English in awe. “I remember going to the Union Station Hotel for the first time when I was in elementary school,” she explains fondly. “I loved the beautiful dome ceilings, the art deco feel, and the fact that it used to be a train station.” When she and John considered potential venue options, she fell in love with it all over again. The hotel’s romantic history sealed the deal. “We were in the lobby, and Amos told us this story about how they used to conduct wedding ceremonies in front of the lobby fireplace before a groom would hop on the train to be shipped off to World War II,” she tells us. “That’s actually part of the reason we got married in front of the fireplace — to honor that tradition.”
Another early and easy decision was choosing a wedding cake. “After picking the venue, we went straight for the cake,” says English, who was set on having a Leland Riggan cake for her special day, having always swooned over the Classic Caramel Cake from Dessert Designs. “My mom asked me if I wanted to have a traditional cake with white icing and I was like, ‘Nope, I want the full-on caramel cake with caramel-colored icing.'” The cake tasting offered additional proof that the caramel cake was the right choice, as John devoured his share of samples and then some. “I think John ate the equivalent of 10 pieces of cake,” laughs English. “He’s a really big chocolate lover, so we got the Hallelujah Cake, too. If we could have cut the cake before dinner, I would’ve done it!”
For their wedding aesthetic, the bride and groom opted for an autumnal color palette, with Amos Events incorporating fruit such as pomegranates, pears and grapes into the floral arrangements for texture and a burst of seasonal color. “I think the fall theme really came across in the flowers and bridesmaids’ dresses,” says English, who chose velvet gowns in a deep berry shade for her side of the wedding party. Her own dress was by designer Sarah Seven, and it was the first one she tried on. “I love my dress so much,” she says of the lace stunner she found at North Nashville’s The Dress Theory while shopping with her mom and sister. “I was expecting to try on 20 plus dresses,” she tells us, “but I loved it from the get-go.” The bride wanted to wear something unique that still maintained a sense of timelessness and elegance. She found the perfect combination in the “Goodwin” dress. “I fell in love with the fact that the lace is modern, but the silhouette and cut are classic and relatively simple,” she explains. A veil with edging to echo the silk trim of the dress sleeves tied it all together. “I tried on maybe four or five other dresses after that,” English recalls, “but immediately came back to that one.” With her dress in place, the couple looked to Ink Nashville for inspiration, choosing a more formal invitation suite with a modern twist — copper ink to accentuate the fall color scheme and add an unexpected touch.
November 16, 2019, brought things full circle when English and John said “I do” in front of approximately 180 guests in the lobby of the Union Station Hotel. First looks on the beautiful veranda preceded an evening ceremony that included one of English’s favorite moments of the day. “I was walking down the aisle with my dad, and we made it about halfway when I felt myself being pulled backward. It turns out someone actually stepped on my veil!” she tells us. Though an unfortunate mishap, English feels it set the perfect tone. “Having that little snafu and a moment of laughter kind of shifted the energy,” she explains. “I feel like it gave everyone ‘permission’ to loosen up a little bit, and that carried over into the entire night.”
Though the wintery air thwarted initial plans of an outdoor cocktail hour, it couldn’t spoil the fun. A side room off the lobby became the new location, and guests remained inside to enjoy the open bar and celebrate the newlyweds. Passed hors d’oeuvres made their rounds, such as the crowd-pleasing bacon-wrapped dates, while mini grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup shooters offered the perfect dose of nostalgia. Meanwhile, event planner Amos Gott was working his magic, conducting an impressive makeover of the lobby. Serving as the ceremony space only moments before, the lobby was converted into the reception venue during the cocktail hour — complete with lounge chairs, high top tables, the cake and the buffet.
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Once the lobby transformation was complete, guests filtered in for dinner and dancing, with The Atlanta All-Stars band leading the way. After feasting on exquisite dishes like short ribs, salmon, sweet potato gratin and roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze, the dance floor filled up. Custom-made balloon hats added a whimsical element to the night, a huge hit even for the bride herself. And the fun didn’t end there. After hours of dancing and a round of late-night warm pretzels from Nashville Soft Pretzel Co., the crew headed over to the Flying Saucer for an after-party, with the band playing them out the door.
Reflecting on her big day, English gushes over their vendors and offers a bit of advice for future brides: “I think it’s so easy to want to control every single little detail, but when you’re working with such highly creative people, giving them space and freedom and permission to do their thing – that’s when the magic really happens.”
English and John, thank you for sharing your gorgeous wedding with us and Amelia Fletcher for photos.
Event planning: Amos Events
Photography: Amelia Fletcher
Florals: Amos Events
Ceremony and reception venue: Union Station Hotel
Stationery: Ink Nashville
Calligraphy: Pen and Pauper
Hair: Clark & Co.
Makeup: Woo Skincare + Cosmetics
Bride’s gown: Sarah Seven, found at The Dress Theory
Bride’s shoes: Loeffler Randall
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom’s attire: J. Crew
Catering: Union Station Hotel
Cakes: Dessert Designs by Leland
Late-night pretzels: Nashville Soft Pretzel Co.
Entertainment: The Atlanta Allstars
Ceremony music: Settles Connection
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