When Mary Kate and Eli Holbrook of Lebanon were dating, Eli would frequently tease Mary Kate about having their wedding catered by his favorite restaurant, Waffle House.
Mary Kate shrugged it off.
However on Sunday, the couple did just that. On Oct. 29, the couple traded in a typical wedding venue for the warm, comforting glow of a South Cumberland Street Waffle House (Lebanon, Tenn.), sipping on coffee and enjoying golden, heart-shaped hash browns.
Mary Kate and Eli met their sophomore year of high school during their Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. It was then that Eli developed a crush on Mary Kate. Although they were good friends, Mary Kate never suspected Eli’s true feelings.
Eli however always knew they would get married.
The pair drifted after high school. Eli joined the Marines but would enjoy Waffle House dinners with his family whenever he was home from deployment in Japan. As a child he and his family would frequent that same location. The diner held lots of memories and emotional significance for him.
The couple reconnected in October of 2021. After two years of dating, Eli popped the question.
A wedding with a side of hashbrowns
Throughout the wedding planning process, Mary Kate realized how much of the spotlight is placed on the bride and not so much on the groom.
“I am a little biased, but I think he’s pretty special,” said Mary Kate. “I wanted this day to be special for him and not just me.”
Additionally, the couple realized how expensive weddings could be. With dreams of building their dream home, the couple decided to take their wedding budget and put it toward their future home instead.
Following a private ceremony, the couple along with their immediate family headed to Waffle House for their reception.
The restaurant was able to block the entire lobby for two hours for the couple. Decorations were kept minimal, as they still wanted to keep that authentic Waffle House atmosphere.
“They made our vision come to life,” said Mary Kate. “We really didn’t want to take too much away from the authenticity of Waffle House.”
Eli’s father officiated the wedding.
The newlyweds are currently celebrating their honeymoon and Eli’s birthday in the mountains at Gatlinburg.
Diana Leyva covers trending news and service for The Tennessean. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, at @_leyvadiana