Britney went to Broadway (TN)

Holy cow.  My closest group of friends and I traveled to Nashville this past weekend for some shenanigans before I say “I do.”   (Less than two months?!?!  I still have to get the dress altered, figure out flowers, do my make-up and hair trials, and get presents for the parents!)  Bonnie – one of my oldest friends and recent bride – handled the planning, and she rocked it!  Here is a not-so-brief outline of how our trip went.

Thursday

Some of us flew and some of us drove.  And some of us **cough, Hillary, cough** slept.  But we all ended up getting to Nashville just in time for dinner and some fun at the house.  We ate dinner at The Pharmacy Burger and Beer Garden.  The burgers were amazing and they had a delicious selection of beer available.  After we ate our weight in meat and tater tots, we took a quick stroll to the nearby Kroger for some last minute supplies.  Apparently, according to our Uber driver, this particular Kroger is affectionately referred to as “the murder Kroger” by locals.  He admitted that he had never picked up a bachelorette party from “the murder Kroger” before.  I’m not sure if that is because most women know well enough not to go there or because they have fallen subject to nickname.  Either way, now we know.

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My two favorite pharmacists, Bonnie and Rachel!

We ended up playing Cards About Matrimony and drinking at the house until almost midnight.  If you know me, you know I only stay up late if I’m really enjoying myself.  Some of my favorite memories with these women seem to always take place in a comfy living room with everyone in pajamas and a refrigerator full of beer.  This trip was no exception.

Friday

We did an aerial silks class at Studio Goddess on Friday morning and it was hysterical/fun/scary/mildly painful at times!!  I enjoyed laughing at myself, laughing at my friends, and trying to play it cool even when I was freaking out on the inside.  Some women may envision that such a class instills grace and fluidity.  We used our time to make impressions of mermaids and tacos.  It was such a fun way to spend an hour and something I can now mark off my bucket list.  I’m glad my friends are up for a little adventure and don’t mind making fools out of themselves.  Life is much more fun when you don’t care how you look.

A few pictures from our aerial adventures!  I love that we had a chance to be silly and try something new!

After we burned a few calories, we made mimosas for the road and got in line for Biscuit Love.  The line was literally out the door and almost wrapped around the corner.  Despite how long it was, the wait wasn’t awful and the food made it worth it.  I had a massive helping of the “Nasty Princess” which consisted of Tennessee hot chicken on an open faced biscuit and smothered in gravy.  I topped mine off with a fried egg and could only finish half of it before dreams of a food coma set in.  And the donuts!  I could have eaten a dozen of those delicious bites by myself.  My only warning is you better like your Bloody Mary on the spicy side.  Otherwise, bring your stretchy pants and don’t plan on doing any heavy lifting afterward.

Seriously, don’t let the long line intimidate you – worth every second!

With such a massive lunch settling in our guts, the only logical thing to do next was some light window shopping before returning to the house for naps.  Thank goodness for easy going women that understand the importance of rest and relaxation.  As Cherie puts it, “all ladies of leisure enjoy an afternoon nap.”  After resting up, we all began the process of getting glammed up for a night out in downtown!  In black dresses with bright lips, my entourage was tough to beat.  

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We clean up pretty good!  It’s amazing what a nap and a shower can do for a woman!

We had a fantastic dinner at Silo (I highly recommend ordering a few small plates and splitting them – and order the Ginnifer Swipe Right for a delicious beverage!).  I even met a fellow bride-to-be at the restaurant who shares the same wedding day.  After dinner, we set out for downtown.  Our first stop was the obligatory visit to Tootsies before we hopped around from place to place.  I was yearning for some honky tonk action.  Not cheesy cover bands that play pop-country songs.  Authentic honky tonk with original music and a beat you could stomp your boots to.  Bradley recommended we check out Robert’s Western World, and I’m so glad they let me stumble thru the door.  Not only did I get my live music with a good beat, I got asked to dance by the oldest gentleman in the bar.  I figured he was being sweet and didn’t think much about it.  I was in for quite the surprise when he took the lead and started spinning me around the dance floor.  He is probably one of the best dancers I’ve ever had the pleasure of dancing with!!  (Sorry, Bradley – while I adore your Kesha dance moves, this man knew how to work a hardwood floor.)  He was such a good dancer that he led me around perfectly despite the fact that I had no clue what I was doing.  Honestly, we could have gone home right then, and I would have been happy.  But in true bachelorette fashion we stayed up too late, ate sidewalk hot dogs, got the hiccups in the car on the way home (that was just me), and had adventures that are best left kept to ourselves.  I can’t imagine having any more fun that I did.  

Saturday

A good Friday night makes for one hell of a hurting on Saturday.  We managed to get ourselves out of bed and dolled up just in time for brunch at Suzy Wong’s House of Yum. This delightful hole in the wall is home to a delicious brunch that is hosted by a beautiful drag queen on the weekends.  Even a pounding head could not distract me from the dance moves and sheer costumes of our wonderful hostess.  I doubt I’ll ever have another brunch quite like this one.

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Wide legged and upside down…just a casual Saturday morning.

If Friday required a nap, Saturday outright demanded one.  After brunch, we scuttled back home and took to pajamas before a few cat naps turned into settling around the couch for more games.  Seriously, those are the moments that I cherish the most.  I love hearing everyone chattering and laughing together – we get to catch up on life, goof off a bit, and spend time together.  As we get older and life gets crazier, the moments where we can all be together get harder and harder to schedule.  Maybe the rarity of it is what makes it so appealing.

After refueling ourselves, we made our way to the Grand Ole Opry for one of the best concerts I have ever been to.  Some of the people I had never heard of, but I promptly looked up their music once I got home.  Whispering Bill Anderson was one of the most precious people on that stage and Jeannie Seely sang “Who Needs You” as a tribute to all of the women that have looked at a man and thought that exact same thing.  Sundance Head made his debut on the Opry stage and, despite his obvious nerves, he belted out with a voice that is sure to go big time.  Brandi Carlile was a delightful surprise with not only a terrific voice but a strong message about love and acceptance.  Carrie Underwood was the headliner and made her 100th appearance that night.  It was truly a one of a kind experience.  If you go to Nashville, you simply have to go to the Grand Ole Opry.  Even if you don’t know half of the names on the list, you’ll leave there with a greater appreciation for country music as it was and as it is.

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We were all exhausted after the show so we made our way to the Mexican restaurant down the road, indulged in delicious cuisine and margaritas, and made our way back home for some final rest before the next day’s long travels.

Sunday

I spent 11 hours in the car driving through the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia to get back home.  Nothing really notable.  

***

Overall, I had one of the most fun weekends of my life.  It felt odd at times to be the center of attention, the reason for the celebrating.  But it also felt wonderful to feel supported – even if through silly bachelorette traditions – by the wonderful women in my life.  One of the most nerve wracking parts of dating is introducing your partner to your friends for the first time.  Will they like him?  Will they have anything in common?  My gal pals have always embraced Bradley for exactly who he is.  The bandannas don’t cause a second glance anymore and the terrible jokes still bring a laugh or two.  As I told Katrina, “I am so happy.  I’m stupid happy.”  And it’s the truth.

Bonnie:  Thank you for planning the most incredible weekend ever!  The decorations were gorgeous, the pink hat was amazing, and you coordinated our rowdy group with perfection.  I know this had to have been stressful at times – thank you for never complaining and for making me feel like the most special cowgirl in Nashville.

Bubba:  You are basically my younger sister.  Thank you for being my buddy (Buddy!!) on the trip and for helping me with my makeup.  In true Merrell fashion, I’m sure you also helped Bonnie with some of the planning so thank you for that, too.  When it’s your turn, I hope you will let this ole gal tag along.

Rachel:  Beautiful, beautiful Rachel.  I simply don’t get to see you enough.  We have got to set up a standing Face Time date (since you hate the phone), because I definitely realized how much I miss having you around.  Thank you for having a heart of gold but also being blunt and honest at all the perfect times.  Also, did you take any naps???  If not, how???

Sarah:  You are definitely the most ladylike of our bunch!!  Thank you for always being calm and even keel, even when things feel hectic.  You have a constant smile on your face and it is infectious.  I’m looking forward to many more years of celebrations with you!

Katrina:  Kit Kat.  Our dutiful nutritionist.  Thank you for trying to save Hillary from raw cookie dough at “the murder Kroger” (even if the attempt was failed) and for being on time the entire weekend!  I’m sorry that I took you away from other girlfriend duties, but I’m also selfish enough to admit that it wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Betsy:  You are my favorite unsociable social worker.  You are always up for a cold drink and a good time.  Thank you for entering into a house full of women you didn’t know and embracing every second of it.  And thank you for taking care of me on Friday night – I hear that doormat almost got the best of me.

Cherie:  Darlin’, you took Nashville by storm in a whirlwind of sequins and bouncy curls.  Thank you for befriending the Canadian rugby team for the sake of helping me mark a few items off my bachelorette “to do” list.  I have never seen one woman drink so much and still maintain a sunny disposition.  You are truly one of a kind, Cherie.  I’m thankful for sketchy craigslist ads and naive women that respond to them anyway.

Hillary:  Thank you for ordering pizza while we were still at the bar.  Eating cold pizza in bed the next morning probably saved my life.  You also deserve an award for having the foresight not to let me handle a ketchup and mustard covered hot dog in a white dress. I loved waking up to your beautiful face each morning and being able to cuddle in bed with you like old times.  We were an unlikely pair when we first met, but we make damn good friends.  

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