Life is weird sometimes, you know? It’s like one minute you meet a random stranger in a train station in Japan, and 2 years later you’re at his bachelor party in Nashville because he asked you to be a groomswoman in his wedding. Yup, that’s right. AJ and I spent this weekend in Nashville (his first time visiting and…not my first time) celebrating my friend Matt and his lovely bride-to-be, Amanda’s, joint bachelor/bachelorette bash.

Shortly after meeting Matt (on the right, between me and Lauren) and his friends, we let them take us to 7-11 to purchase very strong Japanese malt liquor. This is not recommended as a travel safety tip.

Matt and I really did meet 2 years ago in a train station in Japan. Lauren and I were trying to make our way back to Nagano after visiting the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park (possibly the best day of my life). In the mass confusion engulfing the train station, we heard 5 guys speaking English with American accents and never felt so relieved in our entire lives. It turned out to be Matt and his fellow officers from the Navy, who were also visiting the snow monkey park. It didn’t take long before we all became fast friends, and Matt and I have been close friends ever since. As you can imagine, I was both honored and amused when he asked me to be in his wedding because this is really the most random friendship origin story ever.

I was literally about 18 inches behind the snow monkeys and they were like “meh”

So obviously, I was not going to miss his bachelor party in Nashville and I’ll be heading to his wedding out in California next month! In the end, a lot of Matt’s side of the wedding party couldn’t come because they are mostly military and are randomly stationed all over the world, but his best friend from high school and I were there to represent, and we appointed AJ as an honorary delegate.

The first night had a plaid theme. More of this to come.

If you’ve never been to Nashville before (well, the crazy downtown part where all the bars are), then I would describe it to you a bit like this. Imagine the craziest bar you went to in college – the one that was always completely packed and full of extremely drunk people behaving in ridiculous ways – and now add cowboy boots and hats, more bachelorette parties than you can count, and some of the best live country music you’ll ever hear. That’s pretty much Nashville. We hadn’t even gotten to the first bar yet before a very drunk man started following us and yelling at Matt about his “m-fing Toys-R-Us cowboy hat.” He seemed to want to go to the bar with us though, so there was a very mixed message going on.

A girl from this season of American Idol – Skylar McKenzie – was singing! And yeah, this is how many people were at every bar, but to be fair, we went out pretty late.

Now, I don’t stay up super late anymore. I’m not as young as I used to be. But man, we were out late both nights this weekend – it’s hard not to be when the music is that good! Of course, it didn’t hurt that we had some great company and a delicious meal before we headed out.

There’s just so much plaid happening.

When Lauren and I visited Matt and Colin on our road trip out to Oklahoma, we had a pretty crazy night in Nashville before we saw them in St. Louis. As such, we were beyond hung over when we saw them and in absolutely no shape to go out and have another crazy night (like we had originally promised and possibly bragged about). Ever since then, Matt’s been saying I owe him a shot (or a lot of shots) of Fireball, which was my nemesis on the last trip. Let me just say that I almost never do shots of anything anymore and I certainly never do shots of Fireball, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do at a bachelor party, you know?

AJ was less than thrilled…again

The next morning, we woke up bright and early after about 4 hours of sleep (AJ was less than thrilled) and headed out on a tour of Nashville. Although I’ve been to the city before, I hadn’t done any of the touristy stuff besides the bars. The tour featured admission to the Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame, plus took us to a bunch of sites around the city. One thing is for sure – country music is in the blood of this place and there’s really no escaping it. If you didn’t like country music before, you will by the time you leave!

At the famous Ryman Auditorium, which has been completely restored to what it originally looked like and still hosts regular concerts! It used to be the home of the Grand Ole Opry.

I’ve been listening to country music since I was about 12, so the tours were really fun for me. Have I ever told you the story of how I came to listen to country music? Let’s just say it was not the cool thing to do when I was growing up in South Florida. Well, when I was 12, my family moved to a new house that had a few acres of property on it and a barn. I had been riding horses for a few years by that point and was in negotiations with my parents to get a horse of my very own. I reasoned, obviously, that people who live on property that had a barn listened to country music, and people who had horses definitely did, so I turned on CMT and forced myself to watch it until I knew all the songs. I’ve been listening to it ever since.

I’m excellent at negotiating (and my parents are very nice people) so I did get a horse of my very own for my 13th birthday. His name was Monty and I had him for almost 12 years until he passed away a few years ago.

Anyway, as a result of my long (if initially forced) love of country music, I truly enjoyed visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. AJ was aghast at all of the rhinestone outfits, but my favorite thing was Taylor Swift’s original sparkle guitar. I saw her in concert right around the time her very first single came out and, if I remember correctly, she was playing this guitar. The laptop next to it is where she worked on some of her early songs!

#fangirl #sorrynotsorry #taylorforever

AJ and I headed out for dinner separately on the second night and met up with the rest of the group later, which turned out to be a pretty awesome decision. Why? Oh, you know, I got to meet Amy, a reader and follower on Instagram who recognized AJ when we were all at the same restaurant! He’s getting a very big head about these things because this is not the first time this has happened. Actually, I think his exact words were “Well, it’s not hard to recognize me since I’m the tallest person in most rooms” but yeah, he’s really becoming an egomanic. Anyway, Amy and I got to chat for a few minutes and it was so lovely to meet her!

Yay for internet friends becoming real life friends!

Before meeting up with the gang for the rest of the night, I took AJ to what was my favorite bar last time I was in Nashville – Paradise Park. It is themed like a trailer park and is exactly as you hope it would be – full of astroturf, drinks are served in solo cups, and my wine came in a pre-filled disposable cup that had a plastic seal that the bartender just peeled back and handed to me. So yeah, it’s everything I want in a bar.

At least this bar was slightly less crowded. I can’t imagine why.

We got home late Sunday afternoon exhausted but thankful for an awesome weekend celebrating Matt and Amanda. Now it’s less than 4 weeks to go until the big day! Yes, sometimes life is weird, but I’m so grateful for the random circumstances that have brought me great new friends over the years. As if I needed another reason to travel!

Failed attempt at making the Japanese picture heart, but oh well <3

LEAVE A COMMENT: Ever been to a bachelor/bachelorette party for the opposite gender? What’d you do this weekend?

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