Meet Your Neighbors: Mario & Emily Medina

Our love story began like many modern romances: on a dating app. Mario and I were individually living the dream in sunny Southern California with great careers, fun social circles and supportive families—his family local to Los Angeles and mine here in The Grove. Online dating was an extracurricular activity neither of us loved wholeheartedly, but we were both openminded. Fortunately, Mario and I hit it off instantly and I invited him to visit my family and hometown here in Tennessee one year into our relationship. After dinner at the Manor House at The Grove with my parents one crisp October evening in 2018, Mario and I stood on the patio overlooking the pond on the 18th hole. My dad joined us and suggested that The Grove would be a beautiful place for our wedding someday.

I thought it was a bit presumptuous of my dad to bring up, but little did I know that Mario had already asked my dad for my hand in marriage two months beforehand. Following our trip to Tennessee, Mario and I began dreaming of making the Nashville area our home. After spending eight years as a pediatric occupational therapist in Southern California, it was the anticipation of the birth of my first nephew that drew me home. Mario, an attorney, is adventurous and a dreamer like my dad so he too was up for a change of scenery.

Fast forward to January 25, 2019, when Mario picked me up for what I thought was just a regular date night at one of our favorite places, Terranea—a coastal resort on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Within five minutes of our arrival to Terranea, Mario led me to a beautiful cliff overlooking the ocean at sunset, knelt down on one knee, pulled out the most stunning engagement ring I’ve ever seen, and asked me to marry him. Before the shock wore off, Mario had whisked me away to nearby Trump National Country Club for an engagement dinner he arranged with both of our sets of parents present.

During our engagement dinner, my dad hilariously announced that he had already taken the liberty of booking our wedding for November 2 at The Manor House at the Grove because availability was limited and he wanted to ensure I had the fall wedding I desired. While I initially felt concerned that my dad was going to become a “father-of-the-bride-zilla,” his preparedness actually worked out great, as wedding planning was a little difficult alongside a career change and a cross-country move.

The following weekend I flew home to Nashville to meet my newborn nephew and yes, to scope out the Manor House as our wedding venue. Luckily for me, my sister Elaina is an interior designer and she has also planned several weddings for her design clients.

She arranged for me to meet with the Grove event team, including Chef Thomas, so we could begin to plan our wedding day. One thing I knew for sure was that our wedding had to be a party to remember for my guests. I dreamt of waking up and getting ready at my parents’ home (the 2016 Southern Living Showcase home), having our wedding portraits taken in the breathtaking scenery around the Grove, saying our vows in an outdoor ceremony overlooking the pond behind the Manor House, enjoying a delicious southern-inspired dinner, and finally a magical dance floor on the outdoor tented patio with seating areas for my guests who were not as keen on dancing the night away but still wanted to enjoy the occasion.

The Grove event team was just as eager as I was to see our vision for the Manor House, outdoor patio and lawn come to fruition! With the help of Chef Thomas and the Grove event team, my sister Elaina as my wedding planner, our wedding coordinator Brandy Lester, and incredible vendors throughout Nashville, we created an elegant and romantic event to celebrate the best and most memorable weekend of our lives.

Aside from God orchestrating my ideal weather for the occasion and colorful leaves, the beauty of the landscape and the exquisite architecture around the Grove provided the perfect backdrop for our celebration. Mario and I both woke up at my parents’ home on our wedding day, and while the two of us stayed one floor apart until our first look, it was meaningful to spend time with our respective wedding parties and families while we got ready and dressed for the wedding. My hair and makeup team came to us to provide the ultimate relaxing experience for all of the ladies, and the guys enjoyed my dad’s whiskey collection, billiards, and home theater.

Our ceremony, although short and sweet, took place on the lawn overlooking the 18th hole behind the Manor House. We provided our guests with hot apple cider and pashmina wraps in order to take the edge off of the chill in the air. The College Grove String Quartet provided the most beautiful soundtrack for our nuptials.

Following the ceremony, our guests were invited to a cocktail hour on the patio of the Manor House, where they were served our “his and hers” signature cocktails, which included an “Old Fashioned Romance” and “The Medina Mule,” as well as passed appetizers.

Mario and I were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Medina to our guests under the grand tent over the patio, which was lined in sheer blush draping and adorned with several crystal chandeliers to create a romantic look. We had our first dance to Kacey Musgrave’s “Butterflies” before welcoming our guests into the Manor House for dinner, seating them at long, farmhouse tables for that family dinner feeling, complete with blush, white, and gold details.

Not only did Chef Thomas prepare a delicious Italian feast for our rehearsal dinner the night before, he also curated an elevated Southern comfort food menu for our wedding reception dinner that our guests still talk about one year later! Highlights from our menu included the “Fall in Love” salad, applewood bourbon brisket, Tennessee honey salmon, southern macaroni and cheese, marbled potato au gratin, roasted root vegetables, and green beans with bacon.

Following dinner, we welcomed our guests to the dance floor on the outdoor tented patio where DJ Chaise Crosslin led us in the dance party of our dreams, complete with favors including glow sticks, light-up glasses, and inflatable electric guitars. Given Mario’s Latin heritage and the fact that we both grew up in the great musical genres of the ’80s and ’90s, our dance floor was the absolute highlight of our wedding...for us, at least!

Opting for a dessert bar instead of traditional wedding cake, Chef Thomas and Pastry Chef Katie concocted miniature pumpkin pies, banana cream pies, and chocolate mousse cups. Because we knew our guests would be dancing for nearly three hours, we also had a late-night buffet, complete with pizza, a French fry bar, and hot chicken sliders.

Overall, choosing the Grove as our wedding venue was extraordinarily meaningful and the Grove event team did a phenomenal job in executing our ideas and plans. Mario and I feel fortunate to include so many members of the Grove staff in our memories from such a special day in our lives. We are especially grateful to my parents Bill and Robin Siren for their generosity and access to the Grove as our wedding venue.