• Raina

Jaynee + Alex - Cheekwood Botanical Garden

​The massive and grand Cheekwood Estate, built from 1929-1932, is truly the house that love built. When Leslie Cheek first saw Mabel Wood on a train to Nashville from New York he bribed the porter with a box of cigars to just to learn the name of the beautiful young lady. Making his wife happy became a mission in life. Supporting and sharing all her passions such as travel, art, architecture, nature and history. Along with their children they adventured to China and Japan, much of North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. However, they were always happy to return to their estate, an oasis of beauty and tranquility.

Built during the American Country Place Era, this was a time following the success of the Industrial Revolution, which garnered great fortunes for many American entrepreneurs. The Cheeks made their fortune through several different avenues, but none so famous as the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company. They were the creators and brewers of Maxwell House Coffee and Tea. The specialty blend was named after and marketed by the best hotel in Nashville, the Maxwell House. The success that then followed the brand launched the local business into nationwide production. It is even rumored to have captured the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt, who exclaimed that it was “good to the last drop!”

The Cheek-Neal Company was created by Joel Cheek, the cousin of Leslie’s father who had also been an early investor. Leslie's father also bought a fair amount of stock as well. In 1928, the Postum Company, later renamed General Foods, purchased Cheek-Neal Coffee Company for $40 million dollars. As an investors the family fortune quickly expanded, also expanding plans for the Cheekwood Estate.

With their newly established wealth, Mabel & Leslie chose to build a vast estate in the country designed to express affluence in many different forms. The domestic structure is large and imposing. The formal gardens are grand as well as intricate, and the views from and of the property are untouched except for the splendors of nature. It is truly one of the most romantic locations for a wedding ceremony in all of Nashville.

Taking inspiration from European Beaux-Arts design styles, there can be found a return to symmetry and more formal geometries within the architecture and gardens which appealed to Alex and Jaynee greatly. As fans of Bryant Fleming, the architect of both the house and the surrounding landscape, they appreciated how he developed a symbiotic relationship between the views of the house from the grounds and the view from the grounds of the house. However, they were most taken by the incredible Ford Wisteria Arbor, where the Cheekwood landscape is framed as beautifully as a painting. This would be the location where they would take their vows to love, honor and cherish one another for the rest of their lives together.

In the days leading up to Alex and Jaynee's intimate Nashville elopement we would all be watching the skies. We knew there would still be a chill in the air, but we were hopeful that it would not rain. However, on their wedding day, their smiles provided their own sunshine. Not only were they so in love, but they also received the most precious gift one can receive on their wedding day.

Both Alex and Jaynee traveled to Nashville from their native Puerto Rico for medical school. Leaving friends and family behind on such a special day was difficult for them both as they are quite close to their parents. Little did they know that their Moms and Alex's Dad had different plans...

SURPRISE!! At the very last minute they were able to get flights to Nashville to be part of this very special moment. Thrilled they wouldn't be only sharing this day with family via FaceTime, their smiles grew even wider.

The only thing that could possible make you feel even more love between this wonderful couple was when they exchanged love letters to one another prior to their first look. This is one of our favorite modern traditions. Not only is is a beautiful way to express your innermost thoughts and deepest feelings, but if provides a moment of solace and quiet reflection prior to the hustle and bustle of a wedding day.

There are few moments that we love more than the anticipation just prior to the first time a couple sees one another on their wedding day. The love, the excitement, the hope and joy...and every single emotion as it passes over the groom's face as he awaits the arrival of his bride...

Alex certainly did not disappoint. Standing there standing anxiously, with a smile of sheer anticipation of this magical and especially intimate moment.

Of course, there were tears of love and joy. Both of them so filled with raw emotion, exchanging heartwarming embraces that make for the best moments of the wedding day as bride and groom share a few precious moments to let the reality of this momentous occasion sink in.

While we awaited the arrival of the happy couple, a light misting rain began to fall. Living in the south, spring rains can last for a month or so at a time. Many would think that this would have put a damper on the day, however, not in Jaynee and Alex's minds. They agreed with the old adage that rain on your wedding day is sign of good luck, symbolizing a cleansing and a new beginning.

It is also symbolic of fertility, and knowing that their parents are excitedly awaiting the chance to become grandparents, we took this as a good sign! This belief came about since rain ultimately waters the ground and lends to fertility, thus allowing growth of plants and vegetation. It is also symbolic of a cleansing. Rain on your wedding day is good luck because it signifies the cleansing of sadness in your past. Knowing that Jaynee recently lost her beloved father, we hope that this was a sign of only happiness and blue skies to come. And finally, rain on your wedding day signifies that your marriage will last. As you know, a knot that becomes wet is extremely hard to untie, therefore, when you “tie the knot” on a rainy day, your marriage is just as hard to unravel!

As we began, no one would ever be able to take Alex's eyes off his gorgeous bride as she walked down the aisle of Cheekwood's Wisteria Arbor. The love emanating from this very excited groom and his wonderful parents cannot be matched as they welcomed Jaynee and her mother to their family.

It was such a joyous moment having those they loved most in the world standing by their sides as they vowed faith and fidelity, declaring that they would choose one another over a hundred lifetimes, in any version of reality.

Prior to the exchange of rings, we shared a special moment as we remembered Jaynee's father Johnny. He was truly devoted to his daughter, giving freely his love, guidance and wisdom to both Alex and Jaynee. We know that he was with us in spirit as we all felt his love surrounding us as two hearts became one.

Now, in their excitement to be wed, Jaynee and Alex forgot to give their wedding rings to their parents prior to the start of the ceremony. Thankfully, our multi talented photographer Ardee, of Ardee Chua Photography is a master at multitasking. Taking a brief moment from capturing all the important memories of the day, he easily slipped into the role of ring bearer as he offered the bands to the bride's mother and the groom's parents.

Their parents presented the rings to the bride and groom as they were blessed prior to their exchange. Reminding them that while these beautiful bands can be removed, their vows and promises to one another cannot.

Vowing to wear their rings with love and joy and and declaring that as their rings have no end, their love for one another is also forever, there was not a dry eye amongst our intimate group witnessing the second time Alex and Jaynee vowed themselves to one another.

It was then, as they were declared husband and wife, that the rain began to fall like joyous tears from heaven. However, the rain did absolutely nothing to detract from this incredible moment between them. With love in their eyes and smiles generating a sunshine all their own, they simply could not look away.

The stunning flowers carried by the bride were created especially for her by T. Villager Designs. Not only did they create this gorgeous bouquet and beautiful boutonnière, but they also decorated the delicious red velvet cake from Dulce Desserts as well.

While everyone enjoyed cake as they relaxed under a awning covered over by wisteria vines, Alex and Jaynee made the most of their day wandering off into the beautiful gardens at Cheekwood to steal a few kisses as a newly minted Mr. and Mrs.

Rain or shine, there is simply not a single unphotogenic location at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. From the bamboo forest to the formal English gardens every place you look Mother Nature is putting on a show.

One of their favorite locations was overlooking the Reflecting Pool. It is a beautiful hidden expanse of the Boxwood Gardens along the western slope of the Cheekwood Mansion. It overlooks the nearby hills of Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. You can almost imagine being transported to another time as you wanted within this private garden accented with water features, stonework and a breathtaking view of the mansion and surrounding grounds.

And in a delightfully charming moment that took us all by surprise, even as the rain picked up, Jaynee grabbed Alex's hand and they went to dance in the rain! After all, anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's all about being hand in hand, dancing in the rain.

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