Three years after meeting on a blind date in New York City, Alan "Reid" Terry and Alison Edell headed out for drinks to kick off her 30th birthday celebrations. "Reid told me his sister was in town from L.A., and wanted to take us out," Ali recalls. "But when we got out of our Uber, instead of heading to the bar, he led me into a nearby park, where he suddenly got down on one knee!" Through lots of happy tears, Ali realized that they were around the corner from where they had their first date in the fall of 2014.
"Reid told me he had one more surprise, and led me to the private room at restaurant where we'd had our first date," she adds. "Our families were there waiting to celebrate with us!"
Ali is from New Jersey and Reid is from Atlanta, but neither of their hometowns felt "quite right" for their September 29, 2018, wedding. "I did a ton of research online and finally found RT Lodge in Maryville, Tennessee," says the bride. "The grounds are stunning, the chef is world-class, and it's the perfect oasis for a weekend with our loved ones in the Smoky Mountains." She sent pictures to her mom—and within 48 hours, they had booked a trip for a site visit. "My mom and I fell in love with the idea of a Tennessee wedding the second we arrived," she says.
The couple let the lodge and grounds inspire every detail of their wedding weekend, from hiking and biking to late-night s'mores and the wedding's overall organic, elegant theme. "We bought out the entire property and filled the rooms with our nearly 200 guests, making it the perfect one-stop-shop for our celebration," says Ali. With help from Katie, the lodge's event manager, Ali's mom took charge of planning and helped keep everyone on track during the couple's nearly yearlong engagement. "Our vendors all know the lodge so well and work together often, so we gave them a bit of guidance and then really trusted them to do what they do best," says Ali.
"And it made our wedding day even more exciting to know there was an element of surprise in what they were creating for us!"
With the goal of an epic dance party and a weekend spent enjoying the party, Reid and Ali tied the knot in gorgeous, relaxed style. Keep scrolling to see the beautiful photos by Natalie Watson Photography, below.
"We wanted our invitation suite to stand out," says Ali, who wanted a super-custom design with handmade paper and lots of detail. "Stephanie of Share Studios worked with us to create custom colors and sizes of each piece, including handmade and hand-folded envelopes." The texture and variation of the blue-green suite was accented with curated vintage stamps and calligraphy by Marisa Made.
Ali and her mom first fell for a Flora Bridal dress on Instagram, so they made an appointment at the designer's trunk show at Gabriella New York so Ali could try it on. "It looked terrible on me!" the bride says with a laugh. "But before we left, I combed through the racks one more time and spotted this two-piece design by the same designer." Reid wore a light blue suit by Canali, along with a Submariner Rolex that Ali gave him at their rehearsal dinner.
The bride's mountain-inspired bouquet paired hellebores, honeysuckle, and clematis with bleached Japanese fern and spirea.
The couple's wedding palette was kept simple with tones of white, green, and gray, so Ali followed the same guidelines with her bridesmaids' dresses. "They all wore Joanna August dresses in Silver Bells," Ali says. "There are over 20 styles to choose from, so they could all pick a shape they loved."
Reid's groomsmen wore blue suits from the Black Tux. "They were dark enough that Reid's suit still popped, but not so dark that they were a traditional navy," Ali describes. The ring bearers also wore blue suits, while the couple's flower girl wore a white dress paired with her favorite sparkly sneakers and a secret accessory: Batman underwear! Says Ali, "She was a little nervous and loves Batman, so I got her special underwear to help her be brave."
The chuppah was decorated with oak leaves, ferns, and grasses alongside honeysuckle, roses, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and cobra lilies. Stumps on either side of the aisle held arrangements of coordinating blooms.
Ali's grandparents weren't well enough to travel to Tennessee, so she and Reid first headed to Florida to say "I do" a few months before the wedding. "My mom found a local rabbi to lead an interfaith ceremony, and we had my grandparents sign our ketubah as witnesses," says Ali. The couple then displayed the ketubah by the entrance to the ceremony on their wedding day.
"Because I am Jewish and Reid is Christian, we opted to have two of our closest friends officiate," says Ali. The couple gave their officiants free rein, and were surprised on their wedding day with a heartfelt, funny, and personalized ceremony.
Handmade paper escort cards were finished with soft calligraphy and displayed on split logs, tucked among moss, grass, and branches.
RT Lodge has a Sperry tent set up year-round, which made for the perfect setting for Reid and Ali's open-air reception. "The only thing we really stressed about was the weather," admits the bride. "We had our hearts set on being outside and enjoying the property, and, thankfully, Mother Nature cooperated!"
The couple's florist, Colby of Colby West Designs, hand-dyed all of the linens for the evening. "He used shades of gray and blue inspired by our handmade paper goods," says Ali. Tables were topped with lush centerpieces that Colby called "growing arrangements," made of butterfly ranunculus, hellebores, astilbe, parrot tulips, clematis, scabiosa, and white iris.
For a softer take on a traditional wedding table, each place setting paired matte gray plates with matte gold flatware, modern wine glasses, and white linen napkins. "We had hand-calligraphed menus on homemade paper at each seat," Ali adds.
With the goal of a non-stop party, Reid and Ali opted for dinner stations over a plated meal. "The food at RT Lodge is so incredible, and this allowed our guests to eat when they were hungry and taste a little bit of everything," says the bride. Dinner included grilled hanger steak, mushroom risotto, pasta Bolognese, and pan-roasted fish with farro. The couple also bucked tradition by skipping a wedding cake, instead offering an indulgent dessert display of homemade ice cream sandwiches, chocolate pot de crème, and bread pudding.
"Our band, the Downtown Band out of Nashville, was the only vendor we booked blindly," says Ali. "We'd never seen them live, but they have epic reviews online." Thankfully, the praise was well-deserved: Ali says the band blew people away, playing an upbeat set that had the dance floor rocking all night.
After exiting through a sea of sparklers, Ali and Reid joined their guests at an after-party to keep the celebration going. (A perk of Ali's two-piece dress was that she could swap her skirt and heels for jeans and sneakers with ease!)
Looking back on their remote destination wedding in the hills of Tennessee, Ali had this advice to share: "People will tell you to take time to enjoy your engagement before you start planning, but my mom gave us the opposite advice and encouraged us to research and book our top-choice vendors ASAP," she says. "She was spot on! We got our first picks for everything and got to put together a dream team, and then relaxed before it was time to take care of the details."
Venue & Coordinator: RT Lodge || Bride's Dress: Flora Bridal, from Gabriella New York || Bride's Veil: Sara Gabriel || Bride's Shoes: Stuart Weitzman || Bride's Jewelry: Jade Trau || Hair & Makeup: Claire Balest || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August || Groom's Attire: Canali || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Jade Trau || Floral Design: Colby West Design || Paper Products: Share Studios, Cherish the Moment, Marisa Made, Artisaire, TreasureFox || Ketubah: The Ketubah || Catering: RT Lodge || Music: The Downtown Band || Rentals: Please Be Seated, La Tavola Fine Linen || Draping: Luma Designs || Videography: Cardboard Films || Photography: Natalie Watson Photography