A destination wedding gets diverted by Irma

A destination wedding gets diverted by Irma


Brandon Tomlin and Anna Stagner are going to be keeping their wedding close to home, as it turns out.

The couple, who got engaged late last year at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, were all set to have their wedding this December in the Bahamas, but Hurricane Irma and the threat of further hurricanes this season have changed their plans.

With a destination wedding no longer in the forecast, the couple have been scrambling the last day or so to find a place to get hitched in the Nashville area.

Thanks to some fortuitous scheduling, and un-scheduling, the pair found a place at Brentwood’s historic Ravenswood Mansion. The site had been booked solid on Saturdays for the next few months, but just recently there was a cancellation.

The couple’s new date is Oct. 21, five weeks from now. That’s not a lot of time for finding florists, photographers, caterers and all the other people that put a wedding together. Despite the stress of a tight schedule, though, Brandon is in good spirits. After all, he’s in love.

On Tuesday afternoon, Brandon, who is a second year law student at Belmont University, toured the mansion with his mother, Donna. Anna is an elementary school teacher at The Ensworth School and was unable to attend. Brandon planned to give her a full report afterward, and the couple will visit the mansion together in the next week or so.

City of Brentwood Event Venue Manager Abby Cox showed Brandon and Donna around the mansion’s restored interior with its hardwood floors, spiral staircase and scenic views of the surrounding greenery. She also explained how events booked within 30 days of the event date, get a 50 percent discount for use of the mansion, a potential perk of last-minute planning.

Brandon grew up in Brentwood and was familiar with the Ravenswood Mansion, but did not know it was a wedding venue. He was happy with what he saw and with the people at the city who have helped him so far.

“We’ve kind of decided here,” he said. “Ravenswood’s gone above and beyond to help us through this. The staff here are extremely courteous and very helpful with everything. This has all taken place in the past 24 hours, and they have helped us tremendously.”

City of Brentwood Event Venue Manager Abby Cox, Donna Tomlin and her son, Brandon, at the Ravenswood Mansion on Tuesday.

About 24 hours ago, Brandon and Anna made the decision to cancel their plans in the Bahamas.

“That was when everything started to settle and you could see the devastation in that area,” he said. “We didn’t want to take a risk on our most special day of our life being potentially destroyed.”

The resort they had booked for their wedding informed them the facilities were still fine, but Brandon said he was concerned about possible damage to the landscaping around what was going to be an outdoor wedding.

He estimates they have contacted five to seven different venues over the past 24 hours desperately searching for a place that could fit their schedules. All they found were dead ends until they got in touch with Ravenswood.

It turns out that the Oct. 21 opening works well for Brandon’s family. Donna is co-founder of Designs by Donnas, a clothing company that stays very busy in the fall with its custom designed collegiate offerings. Donna will be working or traveling most weekends this fall, but not the weekend of Oct. 21.

Finding Ravenswood was both a relief and, in a way, stressful. After all, a wedding just a few weeks away so close to home really changes the couple’s original plans.

Both Brandon and Anna come from fairly large families, so there will be a lot more guests at Ravenswood than in the Bahamas. There is also the fact that the resort in the Bahamas was going to handle most of the wedding logistics.

“It’s very hectic,” Brandon said. “Originally we were just planning on having a small, low-key wedding, just to keep it intimate and stress-free, and then you know a hurricane comes and kind of blows it away. So now we’re a little on the stress side trying to get a venue taken care of and everything else with flowers and food and all that stuff.”

With an entire wedding to plan just five weeks away, Brandon may be feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but luckily he has someone special to share the next, hectic few weeks with.

“It’s a stressful time, but being able to do it with Anna and you know walking through this time…it’s easy whenever you’re going through it with your best friend,” he said. 

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