As soon as Tara and Mat met they hit it off and instantly bonded over their shared passion for all things American. "The attraction was instant, we talked the night away and had to be asked to leave the pub as it was closing," remembers Tara. As well as his love for the U.S., Mat was in a modern country band, loved to travel and sealed the deal by turning up for their first date with some American soda. "I'll take that over flowers any day," laughs Tara.
Fittingly, Mat proposed on their first holiday together in America in September 2016. "We'd started watching the show Nashville because Mat loves modern country music and his dream was to go there. I wasn't convinced, but as soon as we started following the TV series, I fell in love with the place and had to go," says Tara. She even bought a pair of cowboy boots to get into the swing of things. "We did all things Nashville – went to famous music venues the Grand Ole Opry, the Bluebird Cafe, the Ryman Auditorium and danced the night away in honky-tonk bars."
Mat chose the perfect location to pop the question; on the Shelby Bridge with views of the Nashville skyline where two of the TV show's main characters got engaged. "It was perfect in every way!" adds Tara. Although they considered getting married in Nashville, they were worried that all their friends and family might not be able to join them. So instead they tied the knot at Hampshire's Three Choirs Vineyards in Wickham on 29th March, 2019. Read on for Tara's account of their Nashville-themed celebration...
We fell in love with the venue as soon as we walked in. We could get married outside, it was rustic and the manager even watched the Nashville TV show. It was meant to be, so we booked it there and then!
I arrived at the vineyard with my bridesmaids in an American Mustang belonging to Mat's bandmate.
Mat wore a country-style suit, his best man had the same but in grey and my bridesmaids looked beautiful in their twist and wrap dresses.
My Stella York dress felt very country-chic and worked perfectly with our theme.
Mat had pheasant feathers in his buttonhole to match my bouquet and hair accessory.
Our flowergirls wore cowboy boots I bought them on our last trip to Nashville and scattered flower petals out of cowboy hats.
We gave our guests miniature bottles of Jack Daniel's as favours because we both love it and we visited the distillery when we were in Tennessee.
The centrepieces were Jack Daniel's Honey Liqueur bottles filled with flowers, surrounded by tea lights and jam jars on rustic wood slices, topped with an American flag and a sprinkling of cowboy-boot table confetti.
We gave the children and non-drinkers American sweetsin hessian bags.
We had a map of Nashville for the seating plan and eachtable was named after one of the city's famous locations. Itscreamed us and even featured Mat's American truckwhich was parked outside in the courtyard.
We had American-style canapés and a Nashville-themed barbecue; it was the best food ever!
I wanted an American country feel for the flowers;basically big and wild!
The table names were printed on vinyl records to match our invites.
We incorporated Mat's love of trucks into the cake design.
I changed into my cowboy boots for the party and Mat performed a 30-minute set with his band after our first dance.
"We both felt on cloud nine; it was like we'd brought Nashville to Hampshire for all our friends and family to enjoy!"