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More Green Acres


ImageDear Friends,

Many of you have followed us as we embraced, for quite a few years now, a local, sustainable culture at The Hermitage Hotel by sourcing our food and products and other amenities either from Nashville, Tennessee, or regional vendors.  We incorporated Hatch Show Print into website and décor in parts of the hotel, we sourced local artisans such as Vincent Peach and Linda Twist to highlight in Rachel’s Boutique, and we even went so far as to start our own garden at the Land Trust for Tennessee’s Farm at Glen Leven.  Next year, we will be changing out all of the mattresses in the hotel to beds that are made right here in Nashville.

Today, we are thrilled to announce the purchase of a 245 acre farm in Dickson Co, TN.  Double H Farms, as it will be known, is part of a bigger plan to expand our focus on preservation and sustainability.  The farm will be used to create a sustainable brand of beef that is distributed beyond the Capitol Grille.  It will also grow corn for a future grist mill and will eventually help expand the gardening program.

“The goal is to focus the future of The Hermitage Hotel and Capitol Grille by helping to preserve land, continue sustainable farming practices, and make our product more available to the community,” said Greg Sligh, managing director of The Hermitage Hotel and now also president of Double H Farms, LLC.

Farm operations will be overseen by Greg Sligh in cooperation with Executive Chef Tyler Brown and the rest of The Hermitage Hotel and Capitol Grille team.  Mr. Sligh has a strong family history in farming.  For more than a century his family owned a 600 acre farm in Missouri.  Mr. Sligh spent his summers and school breaks playing and, when old enough, working on the farm with his grandparents.  Today, he and his relatives still own and manage the original farm where he vacations with his wife and sons.

The purchase of the farm has been a long time goal born out of the experimenting with raising cattle at the Land Trust for Tennessee’s Farm at Glen Leven in partnership with farmer Blair Myers.  That project was spearheaded by Executive Chef and Head Farmer, Tyler Brown who will be actively involved, working with Greg to develop an ideal plan for the new venture.  The initial goal for this farm is to develop and increase the herd of grass-fed cattle.  Diners at the Capitol Grille have also been enjoying some of the beef which has been grazing in the sunny pastures at the Farm at Glen Leven.  However, with the increasing demands of the restaurant the larger amount of acreage allows for the herd to be increased significantly.  We also plan to sell the Double H Farms brand of beef to other interested restaurants in Nashville and elsewhere.

“For the past few years we have embraced the culture of locally sourced and sustainably grown food with the Capitol Grille and locally produced items throughout The Hermitage Hotel, with more to come.  This move will enable us to impact a much larger number of people,” said Executive Chef Tyler Brown

Nestled in the hills of White Bluff, Tennessee and bordering Montgomery Bell State Park, Double H Farms is an ideal setting with creeks that are fed by natural springs from the park.  This setting will allow for the rotation of cattle from one pasture to another to allow them to graze on the sweet grasses in the fields through a relatively simple process because of the infrastructure that already exists on the land.  The Farm is protected with a conservation easement and will always be a continuation of the Duke family’s home and farm, founded in the 1930’s.

Visit our Facebook page at The Hermitage Hotel – Nashville for more photos and updates on the farm.



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Hotel Gift Shops Are More Than Just Tylenol & Magazines

On a recent trip to South Beach, I stayed in a boutique hotel on Ocean Drive.  As soon as I walked in, I noticed a dress on a mannequin just beside the elevator.  The attentive bellman noticed me noticing the dress and quickly came to help direct me to the gift shop. 

Well, for what must have been an historic moment in my life, I was not interested in shopping at that time. I was much more interested in getting down to the serious business of lying by the pool.  But I had to admit that another reason kept me out of the gift shop that day: Even though I was at one time counted as a top customer of Rachel’s Gifts at The Hermitage Hotel’s gift shop – because they carry so many cute clothes – I still harbored a bit of a stigma toward gift shops at other hotels.  I mean, these are the places that are tucked away in small rooms because the hotel could not think of anything else to do with the space, right?  They sell Rolaids, toothpaste, and stuffed animals for frazzled business travelers to take home to the kids.  (The stuffed animals, not the Rolaids and toothpaste).  Needless to say, I was not very sold.

That said, the next day, after soaking up all of the sun I could take, I wandered to the hotel gift shop – where my mind was changed about hotel gift shops! I was thrilled to find not just one dress, but two entire walls South Beach dining and club scene worthy clothes.  A couple hours later, I emerged from this shop with the dress I wanted, plus shoes and jewelry to complement the outfit. 

If I had been watching closely during the tours of The Hermitage Hotel I give regularly, I would have realized that gift shops in luxury hotels hold great appeal to many people.  So many times, my tour of our hotel is ultimately delayed by a “peak” in Rachel’s Gifts. 

As downtown residents and employees have come to love The Hermitage Hotel, so have they found a love for Rachel’s Gifts.  Our clothing can add a fun, flirty look to any wardrobe.  The jewelry comes from local boutiques and it often accessorizes wonderfully with something already in your wardrobe.  We also offer the luxurious products that guests enjoy in our rooms, such as Molton Brown beauty products, high thread count bedding and even our extremely popular makeup and shaving mirror.  Also, no need to “help” our luxurious Frette bath sheets escape from the hotel. We have plenty available in Rachel’s Gifts.

Finally, for our guests in August,  in honor of shopping and refreshing your wardrobe, we are offering all of our in-house guests a 15% discount on all clothing, home items, and jewelry select items from Rachel’s Gifts. Basically, this discount applies to anything but the sundries, such as Tylenol, Rolaids, toothpaste, etc.

So, stay with us in August for a last trip before Summer ends and enjoy a discount that allows you to take the memories of your trip home with you.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Warm Regards,

Janet Kurtz

Director of Sales & Marketing

P.S. Attention Facebook Fans, remember, by making your reservation on our Facebook Page you receive an additional 15% off of our rates*.  So book today for August and take advantage of this extra special through Rachel’s Gifts. 

*(Restrictions apply)

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Winner of the Dog and Cat Days of Summer Contest

Once again, we were blown away by the great stories of our Facebook fans! After the close of our most recent Facebook contest, the Dog and Cat Days of Summer, we had the privilege of reading some amazing pet stories. Some stories were hilarious and others were heart-warming, but all the stories were outstanding. It was very difficult to choose a winner.

After much consideration, we are proud to announce that Cathy Cole Wright (Facebook post #21) is the winner of the Pet Pampering Package!

To read all the contest entries, including Cathy’s winning story, visit http://tinyurl.com/lzqqzl.

If you are the winner, please claim your prize by e-mailing me at jkurtz@thehermitagehotel.com within the next five days.

Warm Regards,
Janet Kurtz
Director of Sales & Marketing
The Hermitage Hotel

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Hermitage Hotel Named Among AAA’s Top Historic Hotels

AAA has ranked The Hermitage Hotel, the only Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond hotel in Tennessee, among its top 10 historic hotels in North America. The list, which was created by polling AAA’s lodging inspectors for their favorites, includes a total of 41 hotels. The Hermitage is the only AAA Five-Diamond hotel to make the top 10.

“AAA inspectors rate more than 31,000 hotels a year, which means that a hotel has to really make a great impression to be remembered in a survey such as this one,” said Greg Sligh, general manager of The Hermitage Hotel. “It is an honor to be included among AAA’s top 10 historic hotels. We are very proud of this accomplishment.”

AAA’s top ten historical hotels include:
• The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, Tenn., AAA Five-Diamond
• Boston Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston, Mass., AAA Three-Diamond
• Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Denver, Colo., AAA Four-Diamond
• Casa Marina Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection, Key West, Fla., AAA Four-Diamond
• The Dearborn Inn, A Marriott Hotel, Dearborn, Mich., AAA Four-Diamond
• Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Mich., AAA Four-Diamond
• The Settlers Inn at Bingham Park, Hawley, Pa., AAA Four-Diamond
• Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco, Calif., AAA Three-Diamond
• West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs, Ind., AAA Four-Diamond
• The Wort Hotel, Jackson, Wyo., AAA Four-Diamond

For more details about these hotels and to view the full 41-hotel list, visit CLICK HERE.

AAA’s 65 full-time, professionally-trained inspectors visit and rate more than 31,000 lodgings in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean per year. In order to be classified as historic, a property is typically more than 75 years of age and exhibits features of a historic nature with respect to architecture, design, furnishings, public record or acclaim. For more information, visit http://www.aaa.com.AAA

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Dog and Cat Days of Summer Contest – Win a FREE Pet Pampering Package

DogWhen Gene Autry checked into The Hermitage Hotel in 1941, it was a huge honor. Mr. Autry was one of the top celebrities of his day, but what made his visit even more special was that his horse, Champion, stayed right by his side – and even slept in a separate room in The Hermitage Hotel.

The Hermitage was Nashville’s first pet friendly hotel and it is still one of the few hotels that allows pets today. Do you want to pamper your pet? Tell us your favorite Fido or Fifi story and you could win you a free Pet Pampering Package, which includes a deluxe room, breakfast for two (humans), a special pet bed and pet amenity (specific to dogs or cats) and an item from our pet in-room dining menu.

To enter the contest, visit our Facebook page discussion board under the “Boxes” tab and select the topic, “Dog and Cat Days of Summer Contest.” (Here’s a direct link: http://tinyurl.com/lzqqzl ) Post your best pet story and you are automatically entered to win a Pet Pampering Package. Stories about all kinds of pets will be considered.

Want to really catch our eye? Include a link to a photo of your pet in your post!

Entries must be received by July 24. The winners will be announced July 28.

Warm Regards,
Janet Kurtz
Director of Sales & Marketing
The Hermitage Hotel

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What It Takes To Earn Five Diamonds

Bathroom - 1It was less than nine months after the completion of our $17 million renovation that the Hermitage Hotel received the prestigious AAA Five-Diamond rating. Since 2003, The Hermitage has been among the very few hotels – just .27 percent of the 60,000 AAA-rated lodgings in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean – to proudly bear the highest honor a hotel in North America can achieve.

From time to time, guests ask me what it takes for a hotel to earn the five-diamond rating. The short answer is this, “It takes a hotel experience like none other.” But since you have a moment, I’ll give you the longer answer.

After a hotel meets AAA requirements for comfort, cleanliness and hospitality, it is rated on a scale of one to five diamonds, describing the level of complexity in service, décor and amenities — from simple to luxurious. Lodgings receive their annual ratings from one of AAA’s 65 full-time, highly trained evaluators. All evaluations are unannounced to ensure that AAA professionals experience a hotel just as a consumer would.

AAA’s evaluation criteria are rigorous to say the least. The main categories of inspection are the hotel’s exterior, public areas (including breakfast area, restaurant and dining facilities, recreational facilities, shops and lobby), guestrooms, guestroom amenities and bathrooms. Within each category are many sub-categories of inspection with corresponding requirements for each diamond rating.

I’ll spare your time by not listing the strict requirements of each sub-category that a hotel must meet to receive the five-diamond rating. (However, if you would like to know the specifics, CLICK HERE.) But I can sum up the five-diamond level by saying it requires going beyond the highly elite, narrowly defined requirements of the four-diamond rating to a level that can often only be defined as stunning, of unique design or of outstanding elegance.

While AAA describes its five-diamond rating as, “North America’s most coveted symbol of excellence in the hospitality industry,” it is our norm that we strive to deliver and exceed for our guests day after day.

Since the best is our standard, we need a new challenge. If only there was a six-diamond rating…

Greg Sligh, Managing Director of The Hermitage Hotel

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Best Wedding Proposal Contest Stories (Part 5)

After being divorced for some time I was asked out on a date by Charlie. Charlie and I had met earlier on a professional basis. I agreed to a Dutch treat ballgame. We decided to go out again but take things slow and casual we both had children we were busy taking care of. Things were going along fine when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Charlie said life was too short and asked me to marry him. I said no. I have seen what cancer can do and was not going to drag him and all our kids through that. I did not want to be the step mom throwing her guts up on the sofa. I thought Charlie might see how rough it was going to be and leave. Instead Charlie was with me for every treatment, in person or by phone. Charlie would leave me the most wonderful messages to hear after each treatment. On the day of my last treatment Charlie said,” you made it this far and things are going well. I am asking you again, will you marry me?” I said yes. Our kids and family said it was about time. We were married on June 9th, 2005. Charlie still leaves me beautiful messages to hear each day. – Lynne St Charles

This is Chris. My wife sent me the link to the contest and as such, I am using my wife’s facebook page to throw our hat in to the ring. The interesting sidebar is that I actually proposed to my wife at the Hermitage Hotel! My wife and I dated long distance for three years prior to our engagement and marriage. She was in Tennessee and I was in Alabama. I eventually moved back to the Nashville area with a ring in my pocket and the knowledge that I wanted to propose to my future bride. Living around Nashville I had always found the Hermitage Hotel (this is not a cheesy attempt to suck-up to the voters) to be a beautiful and romantic representation of old Nashville. My wife and I had talked about one day staying at the Hermitage so I thought it would be the perfect place. With the help of my sister and brother-in-law, my wife and I met at their home under the guise of eating a nice dinner and staying with them in Nashville for the weekend (at the time my wife was living in Shelbyville, TN and I was in Dickson, TN). We arrived at my sister’s house, unpacked and sat down for drinks before our dinner reservation. My sister ran interference distracting my future wife, while my brother-in-law and I re-packed our bags, curling iron, shoes etc. and put them in the back of my car without my wife’s knowledge. That done, I took the love of my life to our favorite romantic dinner spot, The Midtown Cafe, and enjoyed a wonderful meal. After dinner I convinced my wife that we needed to go out on the town in Nashville. However, instead, I drove up to the Hermitage, pulled up to the valet and got out of the car. My wife was confused until she saw our bags being carted inside. With the help of the Hermitage staff I had flowers and champagne delivered to our room prior to check-in. We were whisked up the room and as I was dropping to one knee with the ring in hand, the bellhop knocked on the door with our luggage. I quickly feigned a shoe tying spell and my wife went to freshen up. With the room to ourselves, she came out of the powder room to see the flowers, champagne and me on one knee. That night she made me the happiest man alive. – Cristin Murray Roark

I am writing this for my son and daughter-in-law. Keith and Summer have known each other since they were 5 years old. They celebrated birthdays, graduated in the same class and of course “hung out” all through high school. Summer went to Alabama to college and Keith stayed here in Franklin but they never lost touch with each other. They both dated other people but always found their way back to each other. Everyone knew they were meant to be together. It just took Keith a little longer to figure that out. Ha! Keith bought the ring and planned to propose on an upcoming trip to Las Vegas in January of 2008 but he just couldn’t wait. He had another plan. Summer always kicks off her shoes (as most women do after wearing heels all day) when she gets home and puts on her horseshoes. He put the ring in the toe of those shoes. As luck would have it that particular day she didn’t put her horseshoes on. Keith had to practically “force” her to put them on. I could hear her screaming at my house, which just happens to be across the street. At first she thought it was a joke so Keith had to convince her that the ring was indeed a “real diamond.” Of course Summer started calling her family and all her girlfriends (of which there are many). One by one they stopped by to congratulate the happy couple. They were all surprised that Keith had FINALLY popped the question. The wedding date was set for October 11, 2008 and the preparations began. The church and reception location were booked and the invitations were “in the works.” But unfortunately fate intervened. Summer’s mom, Connie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just four months after Keith’s proposal. The wedding date was moved up to July 26th and everything was put in fast forward. Thankfully the church and reception location were both available for the July date. Connie was receiving chemotherapy and was tolerating it really well. She was so glad she didn’t lose her hair. Summer and Connie were so busy planning for the big day and believe me when I say that is what those two girls do best. What a wedding it was! The day was hot but beautiful. Keith and Summer said their vows before more than 400 friends and family. What a joyous day!!!! The next day Summer and Keith left for a wonderful honeymoon in Key West, Florida. We all knew there were going to be rough days ahead for this beautiful couple. We all prayed for them. The end of February this year Connie took a turn for the worse and she lost her battle with cancer on March 20. I think this wonderful weekend of romance would be just awesome for these two “kids.” I truly believe that they deserve it. Thank you for your consideration. – Pam Sheldon

The Island Proposal

As a girl, you always wonder what your proposal for marriage will be like. My husband Aaron blew any expectations I ever had out of the water. Our dating relationship was a cross-country long distance adventure. We started dating at MTSU where we fell madly in love. After college, we were apart for 2 1/2 years because my husband works for the military and had to do training in Hawaii and Washington.

In the summer of 2005, I planned a trip to visit Aaron in Seattle, Washington. However, he was planning much more than a visit. We ended up taking a weekend ferry trip to a group of islands called the San Juan Islands off the Seattle coast. I was thinking we were just celebrating getting to see each other again, but he had been planning this trip for months. Aaron took us out our first night to a beautiful and quaint cafe right on the water. The view from the restaurant was amazing; we were surrounded by mountains and a spectacular sunset. We ate a nice dinner and then Aaron was insistent on my ordering dessert. At first, I said, “I’m way too full, honey”, but he insisted. So, he tells me to order our favorite dessert, which is white chocolate cheesecake. The dessert arrives and it is a small white box garnished with berries and leaves. Suddenly, I realized it was a ring!!! I gasped and opened up a small self-lit box that had a beautiful diamond ring inside. Aaron was laughing and crying while he got down on one knee as the restaurant gave us a standing ovation. It turns out Aaron had very meticulously arranged this whole event days in advance with the restaurant staff! I was so blown away. We got to spend the rest of our time as a newly engaged couple on this beautiful and romantic island together!

We got married on June 17th, 2006 at the Scarritt Bennett Chapel. We ended up spending our first night at the Hermitage Hotel. The Hermitage holds a lot of special memories for us. We are getting ready to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary in June! – Jessica Goodman

Bob and I had dated two years. He had been the most romantic courtier a girl could ever ask for. Love notes, flowers, poems, sweet, thoughtful gifts AND my children loved him. What more could a girl ask for?

My birthday was coming up and I was anxiously awaiting the next surprise. Every occasion was one more opportunity to devise a zany or touching show of affection. I mean, this is the man who had water pistols in every pantry, drawer and closet just so he could fire at any kid who happened to walk by.

The week before my birthday I could tell that my daughters were conspiring about something. That happened often and usually someone would tattle. Before too long the youngest couldn’t contain herself and she came to me and whispered conspiratorially, “Mommy, Bob has a big birthday party planned for you!” I told her I thought she might need to keep the secret. “Oh, Mommy! You need to know so you can wear a pretty party dress. I am very worried about that.”

That did get my attention. So, with a little bit of coaxing, my youngest told me that Grandma was going to babysit and that Bob was planning to take me to the Hermitage to dinner and to a play.

Oh! That sounds NICE!!! Maybe I needed a new dress!

So, that Saturday there was a lot of action at my house and Bob arrived early. We did go to the Capitol Grille for dinner and when we walked out of there he called for the car. I couldn’t help but ask about the play and he said that he hadn’t gotten tickets for a play at the TPAC… sorry.

Boy, I was soooooo disappointed.

We got in the car and drove for a long silent ride… until I noticed that we WERE NOT headed home. We were headed towards the airport… where we got on a plane… and went to New York. Yes, New York.

The next night we went to the Majestic Theatre to see the Phantom of the Opera. And when Raoul sings to Christine “Then say you’ll share with me one love, one lifetime…” My Bob put an engagement ring on my finger and whispered, “Will you marry me?”

Someday I will have to see the rest of that play. Because I have spent the last ten years with my one love! Our ten-year anniversary is this May 29! – Carolyn Cossey Pitchford

My husband is never really the romantic type, except for our proposal. It was a Sunday morning and he was going to pick me up for church, but he called and said he was sick and couldn’t go to church that morning but he wanted me to go without him. One of my friends, who was in on it, went with me. Our church is on an old dirt road. When I got to that old dirt road there was a big sign that said ” WILL” and it had a big bow on it, we drove a little down the road and there was another sign that said ” YOU” and another sign later that said ” Marry” and another said “ME” and another said ” LOVE” and another said “DAVID” and when I got to the church he was on bended knee with the whole church on their knee also. It was the best proposal I could have asked for. – Mindy Dickens

John and I used to go to a local park in Knoxville while attending UT all the time in the beginning stages of our relationship- between classes, after dates… whenever. John wanted to incorporate that sentimental location somehow into the proposal; so on the night he was going to ask (April 11, 2008), he took me to a cliff (about 200 feet straight up) overlooking the Tennessee River and the aforementioned park. John brought glow sticks with him to the cliff; under the pretense of just throwing them off the cliff and watching them float in the river. I thought it was just him being a silly guy, so I suspected nothing about it. I had no idea that at the park, John had 8 friends awaiting his signal to illuminate a HUGE 7’x25’ sign that read, “Marry me.”

Back at the cliff, we chatted for a bit about old times while taking in the beautiful vista of the city and the park. Nonchalantly, John pulled out the glow sticks and suggested we toss them over the cliff. I obliged, not knowing that the glow sticks were the predetermined visual cue for John’s friends to light up the banner. When the lights shone on the banner across the river in the park, I turned around, confused and crying happy tears. John was on his knee, saying a lot of nice things that concluded with the proposal. Through my tears I said “yes!”

The mission had been code-named “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” because John had planted two candles at the cliff site, and the great test of the successfulness of the mission would be how many candles John lit after the question was asked (a “one if by land, two if by sea” sort of thing). If his friends at the park saw one candle, they’d know the mission had failed, but if they saw two, they’d understand the mission to have succeeded, at which point they would touch off some grade-A fireworks. John and I are pleased to report that the proposal went exactly as planned, both candles were lit, and the fireworks display was phenomenal. – Molly Burns O’Connor

Our engagement story began about 7 months before we actually got engaged. Dan was giving a speech at the Association of Fraternity Advisors Annual Meeting in December 2003 and while at the podium announced that he would propose within the next year. There was not a dry eye in the 300+ person audience!

Fast forward to July 2004… we had a busy weekend planned with our realtor to go house hunting for the first time. There were about a million neighborhoods that I wanted to look at, so I was a little disappointed when she told me she had a family obligation Saturday afternoon and would have to cut our time short. Little did I know Dan had asked her to say this! Dan also had one of our friends in Illinois ask me to pick up some wine from Oliver Winery (http://www.oliverwinery.com) for an upcoming family gathering (which turned out to be fake). Oliver is special because the first time we went there was also the first day that we said, “I love you” to each other. We also just love to go there. Since the realtor cancelled our afternoon, we decided to head down to Oliver (about an hour away from Indianapolis).

I was completely unaware that Dan had plotted this entire day out – he had even met with the Oliver events staff to coordinate the whole proposal. Since I didn’t know we were supposed to be there at a certain time I was taking my time without even realizing how anxious and worried Dan was getting. I found out later he called the Oliver staff person from a gas station bathroom to tell her how slow I was being! When we finally got to Oliver, we did a wine tasting and bought some wine just like we normally do. Usually, however, we try to sit on the lawn by the lake to drink our wine and eat our picnic but this time Dan really wanted to sit on the patio. As soon as we sat down, some of our favorite romantic songs began playing. I thought this was strange, very different than their usual music, but I still didn’t catch on… I also didn’t notice the dozens of people inside pressed against the windows watching us. Apparently they had made an announcement inside so we had quite a large audience! Then Dan admitted everything he had done to coordinate the day and then he got on one knee and popped the question! The entire crowd cheered and toasted us. – Amanda Bureau

I burned a hole in the dining room carpet. Pacing…pacing…pacing…waiting for Katie to arrive.

You see, my soon-to-be fiancée did not know I was waiting for her at her parent’s house on Good Friday, 2005. The previous night, I told her I would be hanging out with a friend that day. But, instead, I made the four-hour trek up to Nashville, spent the night with her parents, and waited for her to arrive on Friday afternoon.

After I paced around the house for a couple of hours, listening to her complain on the phone to her mom that she had “no idea where Robert is,” she finally arrived. I eased into the courtyard behind her parent’s house and waited.

When she walked out the back door, I stood with a dozen roses in my hand and a ring in my pocket. Though I was confident, my hands sweated, my heart pounded, and my mouth lost all form of moisture.

At first glance, Katie thought my presence was simply a nice surprise. But when she walked closer and I began to speak, she realized that this was the moment.

The demeanor on her face changed from one of pleasant surprise to one of sheer elation and overwhelming emotion. She began crying. I simply got on one knee and told her about all my feelings for her, the feelings I wrote down on paper in her parent’s house the night before.

She said yes.

That was over four years ago, and I know it was the absolute best decision I’ve ever made–not only marrying Katie, but also the manner in which I proposed. No fireworks. No over-the-top grandeur. Just a simple surprise and an honest talk.

Best of all, though, I finally stopped pacing. – Robert Bruce

Her Story:

I decided to go home to Honolulu, from Seattle and visit my grandpa. I told Kraig I was going and he dutifully took me to the airport the morning of Saturday April 12. I got on a flight to Honolulu at 8:00 am and was off. I arrived in Honolulu at about 11:30 am and my dad picked me up. I was hungry for Hawaiian Plate lunch but my dad said that he had to stop in at work and then that we had to go to the Waikiki Yacht Club because he had to check on his stepfather’s boat (who had recently passed). So I was relegated to eating some surprisingly good ahi for lunch at the Club. I was sitting in a chair in the sun reading up on Portugal and drinking a Bud Light when the club bartender came up to me with a plastic bag that had a lei and a card in it. I asked whom it was from and he just shrugged and walked back to the bar. I looked around suspiciously and looked at the card, which read, “1. Stand Up; 2. Put this on; 3. Close your eyes.”
I did the first two but no way was I going to close my eyes, I thought it was kind of weird so I looked around again. I turned away for a moment and when I turned back there was Kraig running up to me and getting on his knee. He had the most beautiful ring. I couldn’t piece together what was happening quickly enough so I slinked away into the corner and sat on my butt. I was just shocked. I rose to my knees to meet him on his and hugged him and then came the waterworks. Of course I said yes.

HIS Story

I tried a few times to get the opportune moment. I wanted it to be some kind of weekend event. Somewhere we’d not be distracted by our daily events. I tired a few weeks earlier to surprise her with a flight to Arizona for a preseason Mariners games sitting in the outfield and soaking up much needed sun. But that went awry when no plane tickets were available on account of spring break. So, when she said she decided to go see her grandpa, I jumped at the chance right then and booked a flight 30 minutes after hers. I spent the night before the flight, undoing everything she had lined up for herself, that was getting pushed on to my shoulders: Showing her old car to a prospective buyer, rescheduling Porter’s first day at Doggy daycare, and a bunch of other week end tasks, that I was glad to get out of. So the morning came, I dressed in multi layers of clothes so I could change on the fly, hide a bag in the trunk of her car, and drove her to the airport. She commented on my fashion but left it alone thinking I was just going to the airport and back. After we said our goodbyes, I drove over to the parking lot and sat for 30 min hoping she had enough time to get through security. I then left the car at the parking lot and went to the terminal. I tip toed around trying to look inconspicuous just incase she was still in security. Once I felt safe, I got in line. Then she called saying she was at the gate and getting ready to board. Meanwhile obnoxious announcements were blaring in the background telling people how to take off their shoes and place computers in separate trays keep playing over and over again. I tried to muffle my phone and got worried she could hear the background commotion and ask what’s going on. I made it through, got on the plane, and landed in Hawaii. Before I left, I asked Kiera to call me when she landed safely. She did and left a message that her dad picked her up and was on the way to the yacht club. Perfect, I could now roam the HI airport with out being seen. I didn’t know where she’d be after the airport. I called her Dad the night before and asked that he be sure and take her to the club, but Kiera told me if it’s cloudy she was going across the street to visit her brother at his job. If it was sunny, she was going to stay put and sit in the sun. The weather was partly sunny… or partly cloudy depending on how you view life. So I had to guess. At this point I still wasn’t sure what to do because my plan was in flux based on her location. But I decided to go to the club. On the way I stopped and bought her a lei… (Tuberoses, her favorite) I then bought a postcard and convinced the girl who sold it to me to write down 3 things, Stand up, Put this on, and Close your eyes. I then caught a cab to the club. When I got there, I called Cliff the bartender and told him I was coming in for a proposal. (We met a couple months prior over New Years and he remembered me. First thing out of his mouth was… “Does Wayne (Kiera’s dad) know about this? I convinced him he knew. But Wayne didn’t quite make the connection when I called him the night before.) Cliff said the place was really busy and she in the smoking lounge! Where the heck is that??? She said she want to lie out at the pool. I sneaked my head over fence and…. It’s a Kiddy B-day party. Balloons, cake, screaming kids, the whole nine yards. Great I thought, I’m not doing it there! So I kept sneaking around the place and found her at the only deserted place in the whole club. Luckily she was facing the other way when my head popped over the fence. Otherwise I’d been busted. So I called Cliff again, ushered my self in and hid around the corner. It’s a very open place, so if she moved a foot or two…. Busted. I gave Cliff the package and he took it to her. Just like I thought, she didn’t close her eyes. Cliff waived me in, she was turned away looking for owner of the card and lei, and so I ran up and got on a knee just as she turned back around. ‘What are you doing here!” she says, looked at what I was doing, put 2 and 2 together and ran away, while falling down and crying. I could have taken this response a couple different ways, but decided this was a good thing and walked over to giver her hug. I told her how much she meant to me and how much I wanted her in my life. She never stopped crying. I finally said. “I assume your crying means yes.” She said “YES” – Kiera Silva

My fiancé Chris & I met at Cumberland University almost 3 years ago when I was a cheerleader and he was a football player. We’ve been together since our first date! For months before our engagement I hoped every time we went out that he would propose. I assumed our engagement would happen at night. Little did I know my fiancé Chris had different plans! He wanted to surprise me, so he set up the cutest scavenger hunt/ breakfast proposal.
It was absolutely perfect!

When I woke up on Saturday morning on August 2, 2008, Chris had arranged for my Mom to hand me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers complete with a card. The card told me how much he loves me in a beautiful poem & at the end of the card he told me to go to Clayborns Bakery (Lebanon, TN) at half past 7am for some sweet treats.

When I got to Clayborns there was a box of doughnuts, a carnation & another card waiting for me! In the next card was another beautiful poem & a set of directions telling me to go to Cracker Barrel. It also said, “Do not see the host. Instead, go to the counter & pick up our French toast.”

My third clue came with our French toast & another carnation. This card had another beautiful poem and a message saying, “Now you’re probably wondering what’s going on. Alas, my love, I’m not leading you on. Our love began one glorious night in the fall. You shall find me waiting on the lawn in front of Memorial Hall.” So I knew to go to Cumberland University, where we met!

I arrived at Cumberland University in front of Memorial Hall to find Chris with a picnic setup & a beautiful rose. He asked me to open the cooler he had with him. Inside the cooler was some orange juice and champagne (for mimosas!) & another card!

Chris then handed me a final card that said “Thank you for loving me. I have but one question to ask…” and then he got down on one knee and asked me if I would marry him! Of course I said yes & we then enjoyed our lovely picnic breakfast complete with doughnuts, French toast & mimosas 🙂

We are now getting married July 25 at the Cathedral of Incarnation in downtown Nashville. I am so incredibly lucky to be able to spend the rest of my life with the most thoughtful, kind and romantic man I’ve ever met! – Erin Neal

In May of 2008 I left Birmingham, Al and moved back to Tennessee. With a long distance relationship came many phone conversations. The recent engagement of Chris’ sister Erin meant marriage was the new topic. He had mentioned several times he wanted a change of pace and would perhaps move to Tennessee. I knew once he moved to Tennessee we would be engaged.

One week in August, Chris came to Tennessee with the intention of job searching. He went to Nashville a few days and stayed with some of his friends to look for a job. That Friday, August 15th, Chris returned to McMinnville. I had planned for us to eat dinner at my favorite restaurant, The Fog Light in Rock Island. Before we left my mom was extremely quiet. I kept insisting that she eat dinner with us. She kept refusing, so we went without her.

Chris had never been to Rock Island and I wanted to show him everything. I took him to the park, I showed him the mini castle, and he saw the river. I was the perfect tour guide, but my tourist was not pleased. He finally asked if we could eat right away.

When we arrived I warned Chris about the time we would spend at the restaurant. The staff at The Fog Light is in no rush and neither should their guests be. As I predicted, we were there a long time. He was getting impatient. Finally we had our wonderful dinner and left.

Chris had mentioned he wanted to look around the castle again. I thought this was odd since it was dark outside, but I drove us there. When we arrived, the park rangers had closed the gate to the parking lot. Chris then insisted on going for a walk at the sand bar, which was down by the river. I was a bit disappointed that he wanted to look around when it was dark, instead of earlier when I was playing tour guide. We headed towards the water but did not get far because the sand was wet. I finally asked if we could sit on the steps because I was cold. We sat down for a minute, and talked. All of a sudden Chris stood up, pulled me up, then got down on his knee and proposed! I was so shocked I covered my face! I could not believe he was proposing. I always thought I would know when I was getting engaged because my mom would let it slip. I suddenly understood why she was quite and refused to eat dinner with us. I also realized why Chris was in a hurry to eat…he was ready to propose!!! was so ecstatic I started screaming! The whole thing was perfect! – Brooke Taylor

This story is one not to be reckoned with.

Eight months into our relationship we went to Gatlinburg with a few friends. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the trip- we went to a concert the first night there, shopping the next day, then went back to our hotel to rest that afternoon after lunch, but when we arrived back at the room, he turned and said “Hey, let’s go see if we can’t find a place to bungee jump!” This wasn’t as big of a deal as you might think, considering we’d already been skydiving together, so I happily obliged- I mean, I’d always wanted to try it at least once.

He told me he had these tickets he’d bought a few years before- supposedly once you buy them at this park they never expire. “Cool,” I thought, “Free park tickets.” But when we got there he insisted he check with the manager to make sure they were still good. I understood- after all, he seemed to know what he was talking about- so I stood and watched some kids race go- karts while he chatted it up with the park manager.

About ten minutes later he came out, his face was un-hinting of anything out of the ordinary. “Let’s gear up,” he told me, and so we did. He’d brought a camcorder, which I didn’t find suspicious because I knew he liked to film things like this. “You go first,” I insisted, and he just laughed and went ahead of me. He got to the top, got harnessed in, and jumped. “And he’s alive!” I cheered as he got off the mat and unharnessed, “Your turn!” He said, taking the camcorder away from me.

I began climbing the enormous flight of stairs alone. I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant as I went, and saw the ground getting further and further away, but as I reached the top the park employee met me with a smile and said “You ready to do this?” “I was born ready!” I replied smoothly, stepping forward to let her harness me in.

“Now,” She started as she fixed my harness, “We have a policy here that you have to read before you jump.” “Oh,” I replied, “Kind of like a last-minute ‘try to scare me out of it’ sort of thing?” She laughed, “Something like that, we just need to make sure you’re ready to jump.” “Sure.” She finished strapping me in and led me to the railing before the ledge, “Now here, stand here and read this.”

She handed me a well-laminated, very official looking sign. I knew something was odd about it the moment I saw a picture of a diamond ring on it. It read “WARNING: Bungee jumping is dangerous and may result in serious injury and/or death. Even worse…In some rare cases thrill-seekers have received offers of expensive jewelry from over-imaginative boyfriends waiting below. Proceed at your own risk- in other words: Catelyn Marie Fultz, will you marry me? …Jump!”

I stared at the sign. I read it again. Then I had the biggest blonde moment in the history of my life.

“…How did you guys know my name?”

The worker started laughing, and I just stared. If you watch the video now, you can see when the light bulb goes off. My eyebrows shot up, I read the sign again, and looked down over the railing at him. “Are you freaking KIDDING me?!” Everyone was laughing…at least, it looked like it. I was too far up to hear anyone besides myself and the two employees on the walkway. “You have to jump!” The worker said. “Wow,” I replied, “This is REALLY going to suck if this cable breaks.” They laughed again, and I stood at the edge, looked down at the man I married almost six months later, and jumped. – Catey ‘Fultz’ Henderson

My husband and I met online in Aug. of 06. In Aug. of 07, the two of us, our mothers and two friends went on a cruise to Alaska. I knew that I would be getting my ring on the trip because we had picked it out on Friday during our trip but I wasn’t sure how he would go about proposing. Later that evening we went to dinner and had “formal pictures” made. We then went outside to take pictures of the sun setting. It was getting too cool to stay out so we went in to listen to music. He excused himself to go to the restroom and I took a few more pictures. As I walked in I saw him at the main desk talking to one of the courtesy people. I walked over and he walked up and said there was some “problems” and he was telling them about it so I went on to listen to the music. After what seemed way too long to be gone to the restroom I felt this “presence” next to me. The next thing I knew someone in a “bear costume” had walked up to me and started to talk but kept laughing instead. Meanwhile, the ship photographer was snapping pictures. The next thing I knew, the bear was proposing to me and I realized it was my Chris inside the bear suit. He asked me to marry him and between laughing and crying I said yes. I learned later, after he took the suit back, that he had wanted to do something unique and different and he did. He was going to ask one of the cruise employees who dresses up in the various costumes at each port to do it but they said why don’t you do it! He said okay and the rest was history. We married in March of 08 and only got to stay for two nights nearby in Tulsa, OK because we both teach and we had to be back to work, me in Nashville and him in Wichita, KS area where he lived at the time. We married at that time to marry when his parents renewed their vows for their 50th anniversary. His dad is sick and cannot travel so we wanted to marry there so he could be a part of it. We both live in Nashville now! Not many can say they were proposed to by a bear just outside of Ketchikan, Alaska on a cruise ship!!! – Joyce Bedingfield Cosby

My name is Holly Blackwell and I live in Hendersonville, TN. I was born July 1, 1984. I am 24 years old, and I am engaged to the love of my life, Justin Smith. Justin was born on October 30, 1983, now 25.

Prior to our engagement, we worked through all of the difficulties, that all couple’s go through and dated six years. We had discussed several times; we wanted to get married when the time was right.

Justin paid his way through college and graduated from UT Knoxville in December of 2008. We realized, it would be at least 6 months before we could be engaged. It was Sunday night, the week of Dec 21, 2008, that our engagement story started to become a reality. We were on our annual family K-Mart Christmas shopping adventure. We all went our separate ways to shop for one another. Justin, found my Dad in the CD section and asked him for my hand in marriage. My dad, being thrilled to death, said yes. The next day, December 22, Justin called to see if I would go to Opryland Hotel and see the Christmas lights. He picked me up around 6:00 and we arrived at the Hotel around 6:30. Once inside the Hotel, we walked around holding hands, observing all the beautiful Christmas decorations. We walked into the Garden Conservatory, sit down beside the waterfall, and started talking about how romantic it was. All of a sudden, he pulled me underneath the waterfall, got down on one knee, and asked me if I would marry him. Of course, crying and covering my mouth, I said yes as he put the ring on my finger. There was also a couple making pictures in the conservatory. The woman caught our moment out of the corner of her eye, and took our picture. Not only, do we have the memories of our special day, but also a picture to show our perfect engagement. We will be married on October 17, 2009. – Gina Blackwell

My name is Lindsay Gebhart and I live in Hendersonville. My fiancé proposed to me around Christmas on December 23rd. Luke owns his own business and usually hosts a Christmas Party with his brother Andrew. Due to the economy Luke had told me weeks before that it was not going to be as big as it usually was. However, everyone had been talking about how fun this particular party was going to be. Suspecting nothing, I decided to bake some brownies and bring a hostess gift. As we pulled up to his brother’s house (the usual location) I looked around and saw a great deal of cars. Stupidly, I say “wow! Look how many people are coming to support the business.” We walk up to the house and I see this large black sign suspended from the roof of the house. I could not figure out what it was until the sign lit up! It said “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” Luke got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. He had made the sign, which took him 2 weeks to make. He drilled individual holes in some wood and wired LED lights through each hole. The best part was that all of my family, his family and our friends were at the party and got to witness our engagement. I also found out it was not a Christmas party at all it was a surprise engagement party. He had been planning this for months which is why everyone was so excited about the party. We got to celebrate the best day of our lives with all the people that mattered most to us! It was really sweet! – Lindsay Gebhart

My name is Leslie Gove. My husband and I just got married on April 26, 2009, and we live in Thompsons Station, TN. We became engaged on July 4, 2008. Becoming engaged was quite interesting. Mike, my husband, had asked me in February to become his wife. However, he wanted to ask my father for my hand, and he also wanted to pick out just the right ring. After my father gave his permission, we went ring shopping together. I had a few rings chosen shortly thereafter, and had no idea when he would “pop the question.” My birthday came, complete with a romantic dinner at the Melting Pot, with roses on the table and a photographer, but no proposal. Next was Mike’s birthday. We rented a beautiful cabin in Gatlinburg, and some friends stayed there with us for the weekend. Surely, I thought, he will propose. We had a wonderful weekend, but no proposal. I was completely thrown off course now.

July 4th wasn’t a special occasion for either of us for any particular reason. We didn’t have any plans, really, or anything special to do. However, on July 4th, I was awakened by Mike pulling on my left hand. I sleepily tried to pull it away, when I felt him slip something on my finger. My tired brain registered what was happening, and I opened my eyes. Mike kissed me, and asked me to be his wife. I quickly said yes, and hugged him. Then, when I became more awake, I had him ask again, so I could be more awake as I accepted. – Leslie Mayhall Anderson Gove

How lucky and true it is to wait for your soul mate! Keith and I met in 1986 (I was a performer in community theater and he was lights)

We did shows through 1992 and yet never met. He could see me (in the lights) but I never could see him!

Finally a year and a bit ago, he emailed me to say he “thinks he knows me” Jan. 23, 2008. We met for lunch and that was it!

In Nov., 2008 on a trip to Disney World with my parents, sister, 2 nieces and a nephew – Keith and I had a blast. My family showed their true colors, melt downs of 6 yr olds and all! I had a lot of time that I was unable to be with Keith and the family as I was training for my new job. The very last night we were in Orlando, the kids were tired and Keith let me know just he and I were going to Epcot. The moon was full, the sky was clear and the stars were enormous. We had dinner in “Germany” and then went to find a great place to see the fireworks. I was leaning over the water, when Keith asked me to step back a bit…when I turned around he was there, holding the ring and said “what do you think” Will you marry me! I didn’t even see the ring, I just dropped my soda that I was holding and cried yes! Yes! When the excitement lulled for a moment, Keith said, “Don’t you want to see the ring?” He had designed it – my favorite color is purple.the diamond is set in the middle of a line of purple sapphires – the “Lavendar” light that I was standing in on stage back in 1986!

It took us over 20 years to find our way to each other but it was well worth the wait! – Elizabeth A Pippin Carey

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