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Sunday, October 14, 2018
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

The Couple

About Us: Elinor Benami & Shaddi Hasan

Our own history began in Mr. McWhirter's world history class, joining forces to name the countries of Asia on a blank map in a group pop quiz. Elinor covered the South and Southeast, Shaddi Central Asia, and together we completed the Middle East, where hearts from both our families beat.

Sometimes together and sometimes apart, over time, we've filled in the spaces on these world maps, filling in contours of the borders we once traced out.

We have much shared history: knowledge of life near the Smoky mountains and California's coasts, letters exchanged, music played, roadtrips undertaken, treehouses climbed, political and personal quandaries surmounted, crags summited, extensive punnery explored, among other more nerdly pursuits. Yet even more important than our parallel pasts is the sense of shared dreams for the future.

Among these shared hopes includes welcoming friends, family, and friends-we-have-yet-to-meet into the places we call home. Also, maintaining a commitment to ask questions, pursue answers, and offer a sense of stability, but also energy, to each other and our broader communities.

After some cosmic reflection on our life’s paths and directions, we've decided to finally hold hands and jump out of this airplane together. To both support and push each other to be better, and with the confidence that the sum of our parts is greater than either of us alone, together we offer our hands, hearts, and minds in partnership.

We don't know where we will write the next chapters of our history, or quite where we'll land. Yet, we do know that we will map out those journeys together.

Please come join us this fall in the town where we first met: to celebrate, to participate, to enjoy the changing of the leaves, and to dance!

Some of the places we've called home

These stylized timelines feature a few places that we've called home throughout our lives: New York, Tennessee, Germany, North Carolina, California, and Brazil. We look forward to welcoming some of our favorite folks from all these different parts of our lives together this fall!

Our timeline

Wedding Events

In Knoxville early on Saturday? We have ideas!

Welcome Dinner

Candoro Arts & Heritage Center
4450 Candora Ave
Knoxville, TN 37920


6:00PM - 8:00PM
Saturday October 13, 2018

Casual Attire: come as you are

Join us for a light dinner, lawn games, and toast-making.


Knoxville Botanical Garden
2743 Wimpole Ave
Knoxville, TN 37914


4:00PM - 9:00PM
Sunday October 14, 2018

Attire: Fancy garden festive!

The big day! Reception, photos, dinner, and dancing to follow.

Farewell Brunch

Holston River Park
3300 Holston Hills Rd
Knoxville, TN 37914


10:00AM - 12:00PM
Monday October 15, 2018

Casual Attire: come as you are

Drop by for light brunch, lawn games, & chill time.

Lodging and Transportation

Where to stay

We have reserved a block of rooms at the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Knoxville. You can book by calling (865) 522-2600 and requesting the in-house reservations department (open M-F, 8:30am-5:30pm). Our group code is HBW, and should have a rate of $125/night. We will be offering a shuttle service from the this hotel to the wedding venue and back Sunday, October 14th (check back as the date approaches for further details!).

There are also a number of other great hotel options around downtown as well, including the Oliver Hotel and Hyatt. In general, the closer you can be to Market Square the better, but there are also many other lodging options in other parts of town.

If AirBnb, tripAdvisor, or VRBO rentals are more your style, we recommend you look for places in Old North Knoxville, Parkridge, and the Fourth and Gill neighborhoods. This area has lots of great housing options and can be pretty close to downtown and the wedding venue. Check for places that have good reviews.

Please note that while we love the mountains dearly and there are a number of great places to stay up there, the towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Townsend are all at least 45min-1hr drive away from where events will take place.

Want to share a space with other guests? If you're still looking for a place to stay and want to share a spot (house, loft, hotel room, etc.) with other wedding guests, we now have a spreadsheet up for folks to self-organize travel with other guests (link: http://bit.ly/esw_house_ride_share). Whether you're looking for or offering a space, feel free to add your name to the sheet and/or contact folks on it to split costs and share memories.

This map provides a visual overview of the areas we recommend for housing (described above) and the wedding venues.

How to get to Knoxville

Air Knoxville’s airport is McGee Tyson (TYS), located about 30min south of town, and is served by United, Delta, American, and Frontier. While sometimes expensive, this is the closest airport to the city. Other airports in driving distance include Chattanooga (CHA, ~1.5hrs), Nashville (BNA, 2.5hrs) and Atlanta (ATL, ~3.5hrs).

Car and Carpool Knoxville is within a day’s drive of 50% of the US population through I-75 and I-40. In addition, there are a few groups of guests coming in from Atlanta, Washington D.C., and the Chapel Hill area, as well as all the regional airports! If carpooling is of interest, we have a spreadsheet (link: http://bit.ly/esw_house_ride_share) where folks can self-organize rides with other wedding guests.

Bus (expert mode). Greyhound bus service offers 13 rides a day to/from Knoxville. When we were in college we had a few friends from North Carolina come to visit us in town this way and had no problems, though online reviews appear polarizing, so caveat emptor. Megabus stopped serving Knoxville in January 2018.

Train There are, sadly, no passenger trains to Knoxville. :( Maybe one day.

How to get around Knoxville

Sunday Wedding Shuttle: For the wedding events on Sunday, we have organized a shuttle service from the Crowne Plaza hotel to the wedding venue and back. A shuttle will run about three times between 1.30-3.30 and run again during after the reception, dinner, and dancing from around 7.30-9.30pm (check signs at venue to confirm).

Rideshare and Taxi: Lyft and Uber work great for getting around in Knoxville. We highly recommend you set up one or both of these apps on your phone before you arrive. There are also cab companies available, such as All Right Taxi, that can be reached at 865-384-2443 (we’ve never used them, but they get four stars — seems legit).

Driving, car rental, and car pooling: Driving is the most common way folks tend to get around Knoxville. If you do decide to drive, parking is easy to find basically everywhere (including at our wedding venue). If you would like to rent a car, you can do so from any of the major rental companies at the airport or in the city (Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, etc). Note that if it's of interest to you, several other wedding guests have indicated they'd like to split a rental -- just browse and add your info to the carpooling spreadsheet for wedding guests (link forthcoming).

Free downtown trolley (Monday - Saturday): KAT also offers three free trolley lines that run through downtown, the University of Tennessee, and the Old City from M-TR 7am - 8pm, F 7am - 10pm and Sat 9am - 10pm (no service Sunday). Note the green line trolley runs every 10 minutes right by the Crowne Plaza and into the Old City as well as downtown (view the route here). The orange line runs every 15 minutes through the University of Tennessee campus, the World's Fair Park, and downtown Knoxville; and the blue line (every 7 min M-F, every 15 on Saturday) will take you from Market Square, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Tennessee River waterfront, and out to the Knoxville Transit Center. You can check out a pdf of all the free trolley routes here.

Regular Bus Service: Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) has over 1,500 bus stops that are within half a mile of 80% of the city's residents. Fares are $1.50 per ride ($4 per day pass).

Fancy Garden Festive Attire

What does fancy garden festive mean?

We're aiming for a "Fancy Garden Festive" vibe for the ceremony and reception. Here are some visual aides for what we were thinking -- though of course feel free to riff off this! In general, we're angling towards festive, comfortable, and chic while leaning towards semi-formal, i.e., coat jacket/suit and tie type of thing. Yet, we also subscribe to the idea that "if you feel good, you look good," so feel free to pick out what helps you feel festive and comfortable while celebrating at the Gardens.

Unless it rains, we'll have the ceremony outside in a grassy meadow. You are welcome to wear heels, just know they might sink into the grass a bit around the ceremony (flats and wedges can be fun, too, and are certainly welcomed!) Then, we'll decamp to the enclosed event center on the premises for the reception, dinner, and dancing. In Knoxville, the average high temperature in October is 70°F (21°C), and the average low is 49°F (10°C). Given this variance, we recommend bringing layers to manage whatever comes.


Your presence in our lives is a gift in and of itself, and presents are not expected. However, a registry has been set up here for those who have expressed an interest in offering a gift to mark the occasion.

Places we love around Knoxville

While you're in town, we encourage you to explore the "Scruffy Little City." Some of the gems we love include:


  • The Tomato Head is a Knoxville institution and offers tons of scrumptious sandwiches, soups, salads, and pizzas. It's one of our standby places to meet up with friends while we're back in Knoxville. They have two locations -- one on Market Square, and the other one off Kingston Pike. Shaddi's favorite sandwich is the Kepner Melt with blue corn chips.
  • Tupelo Honey Cafe got its start in Asheville, North Carolina, and fortunately expanded out west to Knoxville a few years later after resounding success with their revival southern style food. They've got seasonal, tasty twists on southern fare, including fried okra and fried green tomatoes, a variety of green salads, cauliflower steak (!), and more for both meat and veggie lovers.
  • The Sunspot has two entry doors: one for tie-dye, the other for neckties. They serve up dishes that mix in Southwestern, Caribbean and Latin American styles. We once saw the mayor of Knoxville (who then became governor) dining next to us here.
  • OliBea in the Old City has menu full of traditional brunch offerings, but with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients that make their dishes pop. Hip, modern, delicious.

Points of Interest

  • Ijams Nature Center offers over 300 acres of trails, nature, and wildlife habitat. It also happens to be one of the places we had one of our first dates. For the climbers among you, note there is now a small climbing crag to enjoy there!
  • Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates art from East Tennessee and beyond. Fun fact -- Shaddi volunteered here during high school!
  • Market Square serves host to the "center of events, shopping, entertainment, and food in Knoxville since the 1850's." A small, open air pedestrian-only patch in downtown Knoxville that hosts our farmers markets, outdoor concerns, and plays. We also used to have some of our first dates at Sundown in the City --- a former open air concert series that was hosted here.
  • The Sunsphere at the World's Fair Park is a quintessential part of the downtown Knoxville skyline. It was created for the 1982 world's fair hosted in our little old Knox Patch. You may also recognize the Sunsphere from an episode of the Simpson's (season 20, episode 7). Despite the series, we do *not* have reason to believe it is a wig repository.
  • The Highlander Research and Education Center (formerly, Highlander Folk School) rests 30 minutes east of downtown Knoxville. From its founding in 1932 by the "Radical Hillbilly" Myles Falls Horton, the leadership school and cultural training center has attracted labor and civil rights campaigners from across the country, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, James Bevel, Ralph Abernathy, and current Georgia Congressman John Lewis. The Center continues to serve as a training ground for grassroots organizing in Appalachia and the South, focused on creating and supporting strong, democratic organizations to catalyze social, economic, and restorative environmental change. If you're interested in visiting, note they book up quickly!
  • Museum of Appalachia is a "pioneer mountain farm-village that lends voice to the people of Southern Appalachia through the artifacts and stories they left behind." This beautiful living history museum showcases gems of Appalachian culture and music, and is now a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum. Note that East Tennesseeans tend to pronounce `Appalachia' like one would throw an "Apple Atcha."
  • The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is about an hour's drive from Knoxville, and offers lush forests, streams, and stunning vistas of rolling hills year-round. With some luck, mid-October gives us the highest likelihood of catching a glimpse of the gorgeous scarlet, amber, magenta and more leaves that cover the hills. Trees with the most stunning fall foliage color changes include: Sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and the hickories.

Frequently Asked Questions

We'll post up responses to any frequently asked questions here as the date approaches. In the meanwhile, here are a few starters.

  1. We have more questions! How do we get in touch?

    Before the wedding weekend, you can reach us via WhatsApp, FB messenger, e-mail, phone, or text. Our phones are +1 (865) 771-4202 (Elinor) and +1 (865) 719-4461 (Shaddi). If for some reason we don't get back to your messages within 48-72 hours, please ping us again, and/or try another medium! We appreciate reminders.

    During the wedding weekend:

    1. We have started up a group chat for all wedding guests on WhatsApp here: https://chat.whatsapp.com/5e420Waoirj71nObe0FpvA . Feel free to use the group to coordinate with other wedding guests, share updates, photos, stories, etc. We will post any late-breaking announcements there first.

    2. Starting mid-afternoon on Saturday, October 13th until the morning of Monday, October 15th --- please reach out first to the WhatsApp group, and then to our marvelous planner, Marvyl, at +1 (865) 227-2618 or [email protected] We won’t always be reachable, but she’s a genie and will be able to answer any questions you have.

  2. What's up on Saturday morning?

    There is a ton going on in Knoxville this weekend. We have also organized two short activities on Saturday morning that we thought y’all might enjoy.

    • Nature walk at Ijams Nature Center (9:45am - 11am). A short leisurely stroll with local biologist Tom Howe through one of our favorite nature parks and one of the places we took our first dates — just minutes outside downtown Knoxville. Learn about local history and biology while enjoying the good outdoors. Meet at 9.45am at the Main Visitor Center for Ijams (linked above).
    • Fort Loudoun and Tellico Dam Tour (1pm - 2pm). Shaddi’s dad Husein is a dam safety engineer at the Tennessee Valley Authority, and will lead a brief tour of the dam, the lock, and its history. Please RSVP by email to Shaddi by Tuesday, Oct 9 if you would like to join, as we need to submit a count to TVA in advance.
    • Knoxville International Food Festival (11am - 5pm). A big food festival at the site of the 1982 World’s Fair. Admission is $5. You can also visit the world-famous Sunsphere while you’re there!
    • Knoxville Old City Oktoberfest (2pm - 8pm). Oktoberfest, Knoxville style! First 1000 people get a stein. Admission is $10. (But remember, our welcome dinner starts at 6pm at Candoro Marble!)
    • East Tennessee History Center Across from the Tennessee Theatre, the Musuem of East Tennessee History offers a lens into Knoxville's past. Free admission on Sundays! Open from 1-5 on Sundays (though remember, our ceremony at the Botanical Garden starts at 4pm!)
    • WDVX Blue Plate Special (12pm - 1pm). A free bluegrass concert hosted by Shaddi’s favorite radio station, East Tennessee’s Own WDVX.

  3. Do you have a #WeddingHashtag?

    In short, yes, and it's "#aBZZinTheGarden."

    In long, we're nerds, please humor us! We hashed a bunch of combinations of words relating to our wedding to generate (effectively) random letter sequences. Next, we sifted through the list and selected one that seemed most, well, human readable. The hash we generated was aBZZ (formed from `elinor shaddi october 14 tn 2018 knoxville wedding'), which inspired "#aBZZinTheGarden."

    If you have more hashtag suggestions, please let us know!

  4. Will you have a Wedding Snapchat filter?

    Yes! It'll be active from 3-9pm on the grounds of the Knoxville Botanical Garden, i.e. where the ceremony and the reception will take place. (Thanks, Matt and Kaila, for the tip!)

  5. Are pictures or videos allowed during the ceremony?

    Please, no. While we fully encourage everyone to bring their phones and cameras to document the rest of the weekend's festivities (including your awesome outfits and fabulous dance moves), we kindly request that all devices be turned off during the ceremony. We have a professional photographer covering the ceremony, and everyone will have access to the images afterwards!

  6. Does Shaddi really share a birthday with Bilbo Baggins?

    Yes, and Frodo, too.

  7. What are you two up to these days?

    Getting ready for the wedding! Elinor just wrapped up her PhD (so now she’s Dr. Elinor) in the program in Environment and Resources at Stanford (in her words, something between Agricultural Economics and Geography) and will be starting a postdoc in the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California in Davis this November. Shaddi’s still traveling to remote places, meeting interesting people, and fixing their Internet connections. We’ve been living in the (extended) San Francisco Bay Area for the last eight years (!) now and love to host visitors, so let us know if you’re coming through.

  8. Where are you going for your honeymoon?

    The land of hobbits (!), volcanoes, kiwis, and glaciers awaits us. We'll be heading out to New Zealand (yay!) for a short spell before our Elinor starts her new job in November.