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VOL. 46 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 18, 2022

Party downtown, shop in Green Hills

Neighborhood becomes regional destination for brides seeking the perfect wedding

By Nicki Pendleton Wood

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If Lower Broad is the Bourbon Street of Nashville, and Nolensville Road is its United Nations, then Green Hills has looked into the eyes of the beloved and said “I do.” Nashville has ascended to the nation’s No. 2 location for destination weddings behind Las Vegas. And many brides-to-be choose Green Hills for bridal registry and shopping, the perfect dress and guest housing for the big day.

The west side neighborhood is just 6 miles from rowdy Lower Broad but a world apart. Best known for quiet streets and competitive schools, Green Hills is also richly populated with fine shopping and personal services – an absolute magnet for the engaged young woman of style.

Wedding-oriented businesses such as Richter’s, Rebecka’s Lingerie, The Bride Room, Green Hills Seamstress, Village Bridal, Olia Zavozina and Diamond Brokers have served brides and grooms for decades.

What’s new is the volume of brides, brides-to-be and bridal parties coming to town to shop, dine, get engaged and get married. Nashville is now considered a destination for wedding parties.

Seamstress Edith Cox works on a bridal fitting.

-- Photo By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

So, Green Hills is seeing a “bridal wave” as the marrying ladies love the convenience, venues and shopping. The marrying kind want fine shopping and quiet comforts away from Lower Broad.How it started

The “Nashville” television series (2012-2018) is often credited with touching off the astonishing growth in tourism, both in downtown Nashville and in Green Hills.

Green Hills long-timers say the arrival of hotels in their quiet suburb was a real surprise. Brides and bridal parties were really happy, though.

Green Hills hotel rooms met the need for nice lodging convenient to shopping and dining, obviously, and to weddings at popular west side venues Belle Meade Mansion (70 weddings in 2021) and Cheekwood (138 weddings in 2021) and Hillwood, Richland and Belle Meade country clubs.

The Green Hills Hilton on Cleghorn is big on bridal groups.

Rachel Apple, owner of The Bride Room in Green Hills, poses with a Monique Lhuillier dress.

-- Photos By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

“We have (bridal parties) every weekend,” says Green Hills Hilton marketing manager Kristin McBryde. Yes, that’s her real name.

“That is my bread and butter for sure,” says Hilton sales associate Brittany Freeman.

The Hilton offers very desirable “bride blocks” for wedding parties, which they say other hotels don’t. “Bride blocks” are considered risky. At the Hilton, as many as 15 rooms can be reserved, though only five to 12 of those rooms are usually booked by the wedding party, McBryde points out. The other 3-10 rooms might remain unoccupied. Hoteliers don’t love empty rooms.

In fact, the city’s downtown hotels don’t bother offering risky “bride blocks.”

Party services for the Hilton’s matrimonial guests can compensate for unrented rooms: Welcome reception or farewell fete, Sunday brunch and even the occasionally rehearsal dinner at the hotel.

Bouquets line the store front window, enticing wedding shoppers into The Bride Room.

-- Photos By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

Civilized celebrations with no downtown honky tonk drama are very on-brand for Green Hills.

Out of towners

Shopping is part of the important preparation for The Big Day, and Green Hills is the place for shopping.

The Bride Room on Bandywood has been flattering brides with beautiful dresses in its present location for 16 years. Owner Rachel Apple, who acquired the shop six years ago, says her customer base during that span has shifted from nearly all local brides.

“Ninety percent of our business was people who lived here, and that’s probably 60% now,” she says.

Wherever they travel from, the shoppers almost always have a Nashville connection, Apple adds. “Maybe they grew up here, but the wedding is in D.C. Last month we had a couple of brides that don’t even live in the U.S.”

Lisa Shacklett, left, owner of The Wedding Plate, speaks with clients Barbara Starling of Kentucky, center, and her daughter, Susanna Starling of Ohio, about table settings for her upcoming wedding.

-- Photos By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

Nashville native Thobie Holzman has visited eight or 10 stores in a dress quest for her Oct. 1 wedding. She’s registered at Restoration Hardware and Williams Sonoma, both in Green Hills.

Wedding dress seamstress Delia Webber says 2021 was a record-breaking year for Green Hills Seamstress, with growth occurring despite COVID. It’s possible 2022 might exceed that.

“COVID did not stop love,” says Webber, who now operates Bridal Alterations from home with referrals from Green Hills Seamstress. While venues and restaurants might have been hurt because of COVID, brides still want to wear their wedding gown, even if it’s a smaller party or intimate event. I’m still in business because of that.”

Wedding style carries on, COVID or no COVID. Webber says her most popular dresses are A-line and fit-and-flares. Comfort is the trend that’s dominated COVID weddings.

Some of the glassware offered for rent through The Wedding Plate.

-- Photos By Michelle Morrow |The Ledger

“I can count on one hand how many brides wore stilettos or high heels,” she says. “Others wore flats, Converse or cowboy boots. Some wore Spanx but most did not. Comfort was just huge for brides.’’

After saying yes to the dress

Wedding clothes call for new undergarments. Rebecka’s Lingerie has been a Green Hills merchant for 43 years. Adrienne Francis took over the store from her great aunt.

The shop has definitely been discovered by a clientele beyond its traditional buyer of plus-size luxury undergarments. Now Rebecka’s sells all sorts of pricy, specialized and custom garments and services.

And not just for the bride these days – all the ladies in the bridal party. “We have brides, bridesmaids, and both the bride’s and groom’s mothers come in,” Francis explains.

“They come for shapewear, longline bras, backless, strapless. Sometimes we have to tape them into bras, with these low, low back wedding gowns,” Francis says.

Newly in demand: Wedding night lingerie. Francis notes it was sudden and unprecedented.

“We’d always had a few pieces, but no one ever asked for it. Since COVID we have seen a big-time rise in the more risqué lingerie, like peekaboo stuff, crotchless, butt out. That really took off for bridal. And really just for every day.”

Lisa Shacklett supplies mix-and-match china to bridal events from The Wedding Plate, her Green Hills business. She loves mismatched china, and as her personal collection grew, someone suggested renting it out for events.

Now Shacklett has 20,000 pieces of china and can supply several events at once. She doesn’t miss her old job, and being part of people’s happy occasions is a great perk of her work.

“Life is full of hard days. And weddings are happy days in the life of a family,” Shacklett says.

At Corzine & Co., long a destination shop for fiancees shopping for tableware, Samantha Richter says traffic is good for traditional wedding gifts.

“For all our brides, but especially the younger ones, the appeal of our store in the digital age is to hold flatware, feel the weight of it. Online silver, china and gift shopping isn’t just overwhelming – it’s really not sufficient for a momentous decision. You won’t be able to hold and handle 80 different flatware patterns online,” Richter explains.

Bridal parties patronize many other Green Hills businesses, including restaurants and bars, day spas, wedding planners, jewelers, and home ware stores like Restoration Hardware.

“We had a shopping group from Kentucky in December. They were here for three days just to shop and nothing else,” says Freeman, of the Hilton Green Hills.

Outfitting a married life is a way of life in Green Hills.

And after a day of shopping, if the matrimonial group decides to carouse downtown, it’s just a Lyft away. Dinner, a show, a little bar-hopping before returning to no-drama Green Hills, where undisturbed beauty sleep is assured.

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