Like so many young girls, Shannon dreamed of having a wonderful wedding. “It doesn’t have to be big and fancy,” she would say, “But it will be in a place of great beauty.”
Shannon became a lovely woman, never forsaking her simple dream wedding in a place of great beauty. With her sense of confidence, adventure, and mission, Shannon joined the Army. There she met Dave, a fellow soldier, and the man of her dreams. Before long, he expressed his love for her with an engagement ring.
Yet, no sooner had they started wedding plans than Shannon received orders for deployment overseas. There was no time for a dream wedding with family and friends. Only time for a quick civil ceremony at the courthouse.
While he kissed Shannon goodbye, Dave had an idea, though he wouldn’t tell his new bride just yet.
As a boy from the south, Dave knew of a small, romantic Tennessee town called Gatlinburg, nestled on the grand slopes of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He decided to check out the town, which is known as the “Wedding Capital of the South,” with more than 20 chapels and more I do’s than any city other than Las Vegas.
After a couple of phone calls, Dave discovered that folks in Gatlinburg had plenty of experience accommodating couples who wanted to get married, renew their vows, or marry again. In fact, to renew their vows, Dave found that he and Shannon could easily rent everything they would need, from tuxedoes to a cozy cabin. Perfect.
Knowing that local vendors could help him with all the arrangements, Dave decided it was time to share his idea of a special ceremony in Gatlinburg when Shannon returned. He called. She loved the idea, delighted by his sense of romance.
They had talked about a chapel ceremony. Instead, with their shared love of nature, they made arrangements with Chapel at the Park for an outdoor ceremony. Just as they wished, it would be held at a nearby wooded grove along a sparkling stream. They knew it would be special and would help make up for their long separation.
With bubbling excitement, Shannon returned home, and the couple headed for Gatlinburg a couple of days before their ceremony, just to play. They strolled along the Riverwalk, often saying nothing to each other, but rather simply reveling in the astonishing beauty around them that only nature can provide: towering Smoky Mountain peaks, stately trees that seemed to soar into the heavens, and dazzling blue skies.
Experiencing the fun
Another way to view this remarkable, ever-changing scenery is the Gatlinburg SkyLift. Dave and Shannon couldn’t resist giving it a try. The cable car SkyLift carried them 800 feet to the top of Crockett Mountain. Breathtaking. Along the way, they had a souvenir photo taken of themselves with silly grins on their faces. At the top, they sipped a couple of frozen drinks as they browsed the gift shop.
There were so many things in and around Gatlinburg for them to do. Horseback riding? White water rafting? Dave is a car buff. So the Hollywood Star Cars Museum was their next stop. They saw the squad car from Mayberry, the jalopy from The Beverly Hillbillies, the DRAG-U-LA from The Munsters, and The Batmobile. Dave especially got a kick out of the General Lee, the ’69 bright orange Dodge Charger that was driven with wild abandon in the Dukes of Hazzard.
With hugs and kisses and a lot of giggles, Dave and Shannon were enjoying every minute in Gatlinburg, and they welcomed each guest as they arrived in town for their renewal of vows. They had a wonderful time knocking around town. The next day would certainly be one for the books.
Bright and early, Shannon began by stopping by Sheer-Envy Hair & Nails salon for some extra special poofing and polishing. She loved the pampering and the staff. Everyone was excited for Shannon, and the staff enjoyed hearing about the story she and Dave were creating in Gatlinburg. In the meantime, Dave was getting spruced up too. Finally, it was time for their vows. All were on hand at the appointed time for their ceremony.
Relishing the moment
Shannon began her walk down the aisle, lovingly holding onto her father’s arm. Amid warm breezes and rustling leaves, she looked ahead to the simple outdoor altar where Dave waited patiently. And her unyielding smile grew larger as she looked at friends and family who came to help make her dream come true in this place of great beauty.
Gatlinburg had truly embraced Shannon and Dave. For them, it became the perfect blend of natural wonders, energizing activities, and characteristic Appalachian hospitality. What they discovered here would be fond and everlasting memories.