The heartwarming stories behind country's most unforgettable weddings
Alan Jackson's voice had never been shakier. December 15, 1979, in Newnam, Ga., the future country star was just another fidgety groom. He cleared his throat, mustered up every bit of bravado he could, and sang "The Wedding Song" to his wife, Denise.
"I believe I was more nervous about singing that day than I have ever been on stage," Alan later commented. But he made it through with flying colors - and a touching rememberance for the ages.
Through the years, country weddings have always produced magical moments that touch our hearts. Take Vince Gill and Amy Grant's nuptials last years.
There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Vince and Amy were married in a lavish garden setting attended by hundreds of friends, with a teary-eyed Vince proclaiming his bride "the sweetest woman in the world." Adding to the sweetness, the two had penned their own vows.
Another superstar wedding - that of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill - traveled a less glamourous path. Tim and Faith were married in the midst of Louisiana swamp country with little fanfare and no advance hype.
"Tim has proposed to me about 50 times, in many different ways," recalls Faith with a gleam in her eye. After she finally gave Tim her 'yes,' Faith had one small request for the wedding: "I just wanted to be all natural and very comfortable." And the wedding definitely was that! Tim and Faith were married October 6, 1996, the day of Tim's annual Swampstock fundraiser, which included a softball game and concert. For the backyard ceremony at the home of one of Tim's aunts, Barbara Harper, several of Tim's friends wore their baseball uniforms. Faith donned a designer dress and went barefoot.
Fancy, formal attire was the order of the day for Trace Adkins and Rhonda Forlaw. The couple was married in a setting straight out of Gone With The Wind: Nashville's historic Belle Meade Mansion. The 6 ft., 6 in. Trace - whose hits include "Every Light In The House Is On" and "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing" - was decked out like an antebellum gentleman in a black opera coat and stylish black hat, while Rhonda dazzled in a floor-length gown made of Italian ivory satin. She even arrived in an authentic, 19th-century day carriage. Trace topped off the ceremony serenading Rhonda with a song he had written just for her, "The Rest Of Mine." Afterward, he beamed proudly that "Rhonda got to have the wedding of her dreams."
Kenny Rogers' wedding was saved from a nightmare - thanks to wife Wanda's intuition. Kenny and Wanda had planned a huge outdoor wedding for June 1, 1997, at Kenny's 100-acre Georgia spread.
But when Wanda awoke that morning, her instincts told her that rain was on the way, even though sunshine had been forecast. She told Kenny that the ceremony had to be moved indoors to the barn, and Kenny could not persuade her otherwise.
"I didn't care how it looked outside," Wanda later recalled. "I knew it would rain." And it did - in buckets. Thanks to Wanda's hunch, guests who would have been drenched stayed dry, and the bride and groom were hitched without a hitch.
While Kenny and Wanda had spared no expense for their wedding, comic Jeff Foxworthy had no expenses to spare for his wedding to wife Gregg in September of 1985. The still-struggling funnyman was playing small clubs in New York, and the two decided to wed on one of Jeff's rare days off.
"We found a minister that would marry us, but it would cost $150 for the chapel," says Jeff. "Which I didn't have."
So the minister agreed to perform the nuptials in New York's Central Park. The impromptu wedding was attended by two of Jeff's friends - and a park groundskeeper!
Barbara Mandrell and Charley Pride also had to get by on wing-and-a-prayer budgets. Charley had only five dollars to his name when he married wife Rozene on December 28, 1956.
Barbara recalls: "I had $300 to spend, and we just about made it." She lucked out by not having to shell out for tuxedos. Since husband Ken Dudney was a Navy pilot, his friends were allowed to wear their dress whites for the church service. Barbara and Ken said their vows May 28, 1967, in Oceanside, Calif.
George Strait said "I do" to Norma Voss twice. The first time was on the fly, as the two lovebirds ran off to Mexico shortly after George graduated from Pearsall (Texas) High School. But afterward, in December of 1971 - at the urging of their parents - George and Norma held a "proper" church wedding.
Last year, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and her husband, actor Adrian Pasdar, also tied two knots, the first time in Las Vegas and the second in front of family.
Natalie met her beau at the wedding of her Chicks partner, Emily Robison. Emily married singer Charlie Robison May 1, 1999, at a private ceremony on a Texas ranch, which featured a contribution from the third Chicks member, Emily's sister, Martie Seidel. Martie performed "Cowboy Take Me Away," a song she had written especially for the occasion. It was an emotional moment for Emily, who teared up during the service.
Sara Evans remembers her big day in a much lighter note. She laughs when recalling a humorous nugget from her wedding to Craig Schelske in Boonesboro, Mo.
"The preacher forgot to tell everybody to sit down during the ceremony," begins Sara. "I kept trying to get his attention but couldn't. Finally, he did motion for everyone to sit.
"And all you could hear from the congregation," she continues, "was this huge sigh of relief - in unison! Every time we watch the wedding video, it cracks us up."