It was a few minutes before 9:30 a.m. on November 16, 2013, when these words from Van Morrison’s “Brand New Day” rolled across the room at Loveless Barn in Nashville, Tenn.
After selecting 30 minutes of Van Morrison as the warmup music for my wedding, I knew that was my cue to enter stage left for my grand debut. Joined by my brother, Warren Swann, and my uncle, Chuck Jones, we entered the room, front and center, to a crowd of our closest friends and family.
At this point, there were many emotions and thoughts running through my mind and body, but this is where we are going to pick up in a bit. Because the story goes back a few years – 2011 to be exact.
The Dating Years
I first met my future bride in Murfreesboro during 2011 through work and other civic organizations. While we did know each other briefly in passing, I feel we really didn’t truly meet each other until later that year.
After running into each other a few times at different events, I received a Facebook message one evening while I was online looking for new music. After an exchange of conversation for an hour or so, I went ahead and threw out my phone number and a simple invitation to hang out sometime. Of course, that’s what anyone should do in a matter such as this and seemed like proper protocol.
It worked because the next morning my phone was overflowing with text messages that needed a reply. And like any man should, I gave them the proper attention.
After having a few other activities going on that weekend, we didn’t formally have a date until the following week, but had the initial two-hour conversation that ignited the whole relationship over that weekend.
In brief, I’ve always been described with terms like “old soul” or “loner.” Sure I had my fair share of dating through my 20’s, but it didn’t take me too long to realize this person was different.
There was a point in this timeframe where I realized that sometimes you might not always need to go at it alone. Sometimes you need someone. And sometimes you realize that you can’t receive back what you never give away.
For me, it was difficult at first to understand the “love” word because it had always been tossed around, but it didn’t take long for me to understand this person truly loved me. Actually, I knew if I were to jot down the basics of what we wanted in a relationship, this match was going to work.
We saw eye-to-eye on what we thought mattered – religion, money, jobs and family. And we agreed that we were both individuals, and that was okay. For a long time, I wanted to believe that everyone had to like or do the same things that I did. But it finally hit me that there was a beauty in the difference in people and that is sometimes what makes it work.
From this point, everything seemed to just roll and the relationship took form and appeared very natural as a whole.
Most people who know me understand that I don’t really like to make a big “to do” about most happenings. I like to play it safe and keep silent until I need to speak.
For Kristen, I knew that she wanted to be married. And I knew she wanted to be married to me, which is naturally a good thing and what people strive to achieve.
In her mind, I always knew she would have liked the day to arrive a little faster than I had planned. But in true Travis form, I don’t like to get too far ahead of life. I like it to move at its own pace. It’s a lot easier when you can roll down the windows and view everything that’s happening than speed down life’s road and have much of it pass you by. And that’s just how I’ve always operated.
After recent trips to Savannah, Chicago and a night out for her birthday all within a year, she thought the day was never going to happen. Every time we went out, there was that anticipation of the engagement moment.
But little did she know, I had already purchased a ring in the spring of 2013 and had it tucked away under a couple of sweaters in my closet.
So all that was next was the big day and how to do it. I knew, in my mind, that it had to be around the summer. And anyone who knows me, understands the importance of my summer and that it revolves around one single weekend in June – Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. For those four days, time kind of stops and everything else takes a back seat.
But this year was different, with the addition of Paul McCartney, my ‘Roo crowd also had the addition of Kristen’s father Mike Hampton along with my mother Cindy Swann and uncle Chuck Jones.
I had known Kristen’s parents for a few years now, but after hanging with Mike over the weekend, I did feel a little closer and knew that I still wanted to keep tradition and ask her father for permission before the deal went down.
On Monday after the festival, I called Mike and told him of my engagement plans and he gave me the nod of approval and from there it was on.
A few days later, I told Kristen that I was planning a “special date night” to Cheekwood Botanical Garden for the Lights display. We had spoken of it months ago and had it on the radar so we were looking forward to the night. As for Kristen, she loves date night. It’s like you can go to dinner and a movie on any day of the week, but if you put “date night” in front of it the meaning automatically changes. So to my knowledge, I was thinking I was set.
I had arranged dinner plans for Patrick’s Bistreax in Nashville for the evening. It was a new spot that I saw on Facebook, and it was New Orleans based so I thought there was no way to go wrong.
Wanting to play it casual and make it like any other night was my plan all along. At the moment, I just wanted it to be a surprise during the midweek. You know, go out for dinner, and stroll through Cheekwood with her never thinking something is up.
During dinner, I had the ring in my pocket but I was noticing that Kristen seemed a little downbeat for some reason. After a few conversations, I could tell it was apparent she was down because we weren’t engaged yet.
So, I had to tell her just to wait and it will happen in my calming tone. And to have some patience too -the normal stuff you have to say to tuck another hour away until something actually happens.
After dinner, we went on to Cheekwood and I could tell the mood had not really lifted as much as I thought.
I was thinking, “Man Travis, should I do this or not. Should I wait for another time or will giving her the ring now make this situation a lot better?”
Then the thoughts were, “You have to do this now. Go, go ahead and give her the ring. This night is not getting any longer and you’re running out of time son!”
So after a stroll toward the mansion, I knew my time was running low for the night. Stopping her in her path, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the ring and said casually with a smile, “Do you want to get married?”
And of course, her response was “yes” and from there, the spirits were a little brighter and we called family and friends to tell them of the news.
And from here, the wedding plans began.