Sarah Berkman and Phillip Dinner were standing in a stairwell in New York when they bonded over Nashville. A little over a year later, they began living together in Nashville … with her parents.
Phillip Michael Dinner first caught Sarah Tedi Berkman’s eye at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York on Feb. 6, 2019. He was heading in, and she was heading out. He was wearing a hat that read “NASH” when they met at the bottom of the stairs.
“I recognized the Nashville brand,” Ms. Berkman said of the local apparel store.
A Nashville native herself, she asked if he was, too. He was not, but was moving there in two weeks. They chatted, mostly about hockey. He was in a hockey camp with Colton Sissons, who now plays with the Nashville Predators, when they were both in high school. She had always been a huge fan of the N.H.L. team.
As she left, she jokingly told him to say hello to Mr. Sissons and gave Mr. Dinner her Instagram handle.
He didn’t have his phone on him, “so I didn’t think much of it until a few days later when I got a DM,” Ms. Berkman said. “I told Colton you said hello,” it read. Mr. Dinner had not actually contacted the athlete, but “she was beautiful and had the best personality in our short conversation, so I wanted to flirt with her,” he said.
After that, the two began texting. Two months later, when Ms. Berkman was back in Nashville for her sister’s wedding on April 13, she went by Mr. Dinner’s apartment for a drink afterward. “I was still wearing a full-length bridesmaid’s dress,” Ms. Berkman said. “Turns out I didn’t have much energy because I fell asleep on his couch within 10 minutes.”
Mr. Dinner woke her up and said, “You should probably go back to your hotel.”
They got another shot at love the next morning when they met for coffee and chicken biscuits, “the perfect hangover cure,” Ms. Berkman said.
Later that day, Ms. Berkman’s flight back to New York was canceled, so she returned to his apartment to watch the season premiere of “Game of Thrones,” a show they both love.
They spent most of 2019 getting to know each other from a distance while dating other people. But “every time I was home in Nashville, we would meet up,” Ms. Berkman said.
During a visit in mid-December, they went to Lockeland Table, a popular Nashville restaurant, for dinner. “We discussed what we were doing from a relationship standpoint,” she said. “That really felt like a defining moment for us.”
After that conversation, Mr. Dinner texted his father that he was going to marry Ms. Berkman one day. By January, they were officially a couple.
In March 2020, when Ms. Berkman was visiting Mr. Dinner in Nashville, she introduced her parents to Mr. Dinner for the first time over dinner at 5th & Taylor, a restaurant. That “was supposed to be the extent of their time together,” Ms. Berkman said. But the Covid-19 pandemic changed all that.
When the lockdown began that month, Ms. Berkman did not return to New York and instead moved in with her parents. And because her parents, both doctors, were not comfortable with the couple traveling between homes, Mr. Dinner joined them.
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At the end of May, once his home in a new development was ready, the couple moved into it. In January 2022, they moved to an apartment in the Rose Hill neighborhood of Manhattan, where they still live.
Ms. Berkman, 30, grew up in Nashville and is the manager of influencer and partnerships at the clothing company American Eagle. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in psychology and community action social change.
Mr. Dinner, 30, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Simsbury, Conn., is a senior associate at AllianceBernstein, an asset management firm based in Nashville. He holds a bachelor’s in finance from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y.
On Nov. 20, 2021, Mr. Dinner rented out L.A. Jackson, a bar and restaurant on the rooftop of the hotel Thompson Nashville, for a private proposal. Afterward, he surprised Ms. Berkman with an engagement party with her closest friends and family at the Virgin Hotels Nashville.
“He had my friend invite me to a fake event in Nashville, an invitation I initially turned down until my other friends, and my sister, convinced me I should go,” Ms. Berkman said.
As the elevator doors opened to the rooftop, “I hear Harry Styles’s ‘Adore You’ playing,” Ms. Berkman recalled. “Then, I see the hallway is filled with flower petals and candles.”
The two were wed on May 27 in the backyard of her parents’ home. “It’s where our story developed,” Ms. Berkman said. “There’s something really nostalgic and sweet about getting married there.”
Shana Goldstein Mackler, Ms. Berkman’s childhood rabbi from the Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom in Nashville, officiated. About 140 guests attended, and a reception followed at the restaurant 5th & Taylor.
The best moment of the night, Mr. Dinner said, was when Ms. Berkman read her vows to him: “She finally admitted I’m funny.”