Pardi Time! Jon Pardi Marries Summer Duncan in Intimate Tennessee Wedding: 'We're Thankful'
"There's never a right time in 2020 to get married, so after all the planning and replanning we're happy we got to do it," the couple tells PEOPLE
Jon Pardi and Summer Duncan's wedding didn't turn out exactly how they initially envisioned, but it was just as special.
The "Ain't Always the Cowboy" singer, 35, and the hairstylist, 31, tied the knot at Saddle Woods Farm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Saturday evening, after canceling their plans for a Memorial Day weekend wedding due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Originally we were getting married in Montana in May, which was going to be unreal," Duncan told PEOPLE. "We had an entire lodge rented out for three days for a wedding weekend extravaganza with events daily, a spa, chefs ... But then COVID hit, and that all went away. With the sudden postponement — and Jon still having a full tour schedule — we were very limited with available dates."
"We had a friend who was married at Saddle Woods last year, and when we walked into their wedding, Jon was like, 'This is the most amazing wedding and venue ever,'" she continued. "So when we had to cancel our destination wedding, they were naturally the first venue we called when we knew we had to keep things closer to home. There's never a right time in 2020 to get married, so after all the planning and replanning we were just happy we got to do it."
In 2021, or whenever things get back to normal, Duncan and Pardi are going to celebrate just as big as they originally planned.
"With so much of our families being in California we had to make the tough decision to downsize (drastically) twice, and we ended up with a small group of just our immediate family and closest friends in town," Duncan, who worked with Habitat Events to plan the wedding, said. "We hope to eventually have a 'wedding tour' as Jon calls it and celebrate with all our family and friends in California, Nashville and Texas."
Keeping cautious amid the pandemic, the couple had all of their guests tested prior to the wedding. They also swapped the original buffet for a sit-down dinner at spaced-apart tables and had sanitation stations and custom "PardiTime" masks available for guests. The majority of the ceremony and reception was held in a flex indoor/outdoor space with heaters to maximize the air ventilation between the venue and the outside.
For the wedding party, Pardi enlisted his dad and tour manager, Trey Wilson, as his groomsman, and Duncan had her two best friends from California and Nashville as her bridesmaids.
"We really just wanted our friends to be able to relax, have fun and wear what they wanted, so we only had two on each side," the couple said. "Both girls got to pick their own amazing dresses [by Johnathan Kayne], and the guys had custom suits made by Aaron McGill with hats from American Hat Co. and boots by Lucchese."
Pardi's longtime friend and stylist, John Murphy, married the couple.
"He knows us so well," Duncan said. "With it being such a special moment, we wanted someone who knows us inside and out and who we feel a connection with."
Ahead of the wedding, Duncan said she was unsure if she and Pardi would end up writing their own vows. (They did, however, end up dancing at the top of the aisle.)
"I am such an emotional person — I think I might cry too much if I write my own, and I don't want to make the guests sit through that," she said. "Jon, however, is a natural so we'll see what he surprises us with!"
Duncan noted, though, that there's a "100,000 percent" chance they'll both cry.
"We both cried when we picked out my song to walk down the aisle to, [although] cocktails may have been involved," she joked.
A small mishap during the ring exchange led to laughs, as Pardi held out his right hand instead of his left for Duncan to place his wedding band. "Other hand!" the bride told the groom as he shouted, "First-timer!"
For the ceremony, Duncan created a custom gown inspired by a combination of two different designer dresses which she describes as "very classic, sleek and timeless — but with a flair." She also designed a jumpsuit for the reception with Nashville-based designer Johnathan Kayne.
"He is an absolute dream," Duncan said. "I had a vision of what I wanted, and I literally sat there with him and my stylist and said what I had in my mind and he sketched it out. I was blown away. Then the three of us fine-tuned it, and it was such a fun and magical experience through all my fittings."
At the reception, which was decorated in neutral colors and lots of candles, Duncan and Pardi chose his yet-to-be-released song "Look at You" for their first dance as a married couple. Pardi wrote the tune for Duncan this past June in California and recorded it earlier this month.
For dinner, guests enjoyed arugula Caesar salad with tomato bisque and a chicken and steak entrée with Boursin mashed potatoes and veggies. For dessert, the couple served mini churros, since neither Duncan nor Pardi "are big on cake."
"Originally we were going to slice a pizza in Montana and have late-night wood-fired pizza, but now we are thinking Taco Bell," the couple said.
The couple, who describe themselves as "dancing machines," then planned to party the night away.
Pardi and Duncan got engaged in October 2019, after dating for two-and-a-half years. They first met in May 2017, when Duncan's client set them up.
"I have been a hairstylist for 13 years, and with that you become family with your clients, so they know all the good, bad and ugly of your life," Duncan said. "My client Ellen Moxley has been lifelong friends with Jon's mom, and after a few of my failed attempts at dating, she called one day to tell me about a guy she knew very well from California (I was NEVER going to move), who had a great family and was tall. She never mentioned him being an artist, which I was honestly not thrilled about once I learned."
"Long story short, Jon's mom sent him my number," she continued. "He was performing in my hometown, and he called me and invited me to the show. I was in Las Vegas so I said, 'Maybe next time you’re in town.' Obviously, I wasn't aware of how tour life worked so he came back with, 'How about I fly you to Denver next week?' My girlfriends all convinced me I had nothing to lose so I flew out there with a girlfriend, just in case it went south. Within the first five minutes of meeting Jon, it was game over for me. I texted my mom, 'Sell my house, sell my car, send my dog.'"
Pardi, it turned out, was just as smitten.
"Summer was love at first sight for the first time ever in my life," Pardi said. "She was the first girl I've ever dated where I felt like she had my back and that we really are a team. Summer is stunningly beautiful to look at, but that doesn't compare with her heart and how caring she is. We have the most fun together — in any situation — and we laugh constantly."
The night they met, Duncan invited Pardi out to brunch the next morning.
"He replied with, 'I have a busy day with interviews and stuff,'" she said. "So the next morning, I woke up and texted him about brunch again just in case his plans had changed. He said, 'I'll meet you in the lobby in 10,' and that was that. I basically traveled one week on, one week off to meet him on the road until I eventually moved to Nashville six months later."
When it comes to keeping their relationship strong, Duncan said "communication" is key.
"It's the biggest thing," she said. "Also keeping it fun and being confident independently and as a couple. We don't go a long time without seeing each other. We love being together, and we get along so well."
As to what they're most looking forward to about marriage, Duncan said it's "finally finishing what we started in October 2019."
"[We went] through the worst year possible for a relationship, one where Jon's career came to a halt and we spent more time together than we ever have," Duncan said. "We're thankful for all that time we got to spend together because it was a confirmation that we are a great team, we get along, we appreciate each other, we respect each other and we love each other."
Asked how he felt following the ceremony, Pardi — who was recently nominated for both ACM and CMA awards — said, "I feel like I married the right person."
Before forever, though, comes the honeymoon, which the couple said is "a moving target depending on what happens."
For more from the Duncan-Pardi wedding, pick up the upcoming issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Dec. 4.
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