Couple marry after meeting at Carter Fold

Holly Viers • Jan 26, 2020 at 12:00 PM

On June 10, 2017, Kingsport native Sam Gilliam was about a week away from moving to Texas to earn his master’s degree. But before he left, he wanted to enjoy one last hurrah at the Carter Fold, a place he’d visited often growing up.

Little did he know that decision would change his life forever.

It was there that Sam met his future wife, Megan, who was performing with her old-time string band, Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootenanny. The two developed a long-distance relationship that grew over time. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“That’s the real reason we met, truly,” Sam said of the band’s performance at the Fold. “That band is the reason that we’re together.”

A chance encounter

Before that chance meeting at the Fold, Sam had lived in Alabama for a year before deciding to continue his studies and take a job at Texas Christian University. Meanwhile, Megan was in her native Unionville, Tennessee, where she teaches high school English at her alma mater.

Megan and her band traveled to Hiltons in June 2017 to play at the Fold, a place where they’ve performed several times over the years. But this time, as she soon found out, would be a little different.

“I just remember seeing him out in the crowd while we were performing,” Megan said, “and I was like, ‘Oh, he’s pretty cute. I’m going to try to get him later.’ ”

The experience was quite the same for Sam, who visited the Fold that night with his friend, Houston. Both were eyeing Megan and her sister as they were performing, and when it came time for Megan to lead a square dance, Sam made sure he was by her side.

“I pretty much shoved my buddy Houston out of the way; he was trying to beat me down there, and it got a little violent,” Sam joked. “But we danced for a while and had a good time. We really didn’t talk a whole lot. We just danced and kind of threw eyes at each other.”

Though he and Megan didn’t get a chance to talk in person after the show, Sam chatted with the band’s manager, who he mistakenly thought was Megan’s mother, in hopes of making a good impression. His efforts proved successful, as he came home to find a Facebook friend request and a “nice to meet you” message from Megan.

“About a week after that, I moved to Texas, and we had been talking and texting each other. On the way to Texas, I called her and asked her, ‘Hey, can I take you out to lunch? I’ll be passing through Nashville on my way to Fort Worth,’ and she said yes,” Sam said. “So with a U-Haul on the back of my Jeep, I stopped in Franklin, and we went to Puckett’s Grocery Store … and got some coffee after that and stayed together for about two and a half, three hours. I had dinner plans that night, and I was way late for that.”

Going the distance

Sam and Megan stayed in touch, but living 10 hours away from each other caused them to drift apart. They would check in with each other every couple of months, but it wasn’t until the late fall of 2018 that they decided to meet again in person.

“I flew up to visit her in December of 2018, and then the rest is history,” Sam said. “We made a lot of plane trips. I would come visit her; she’d come visit me. We’d go to each other’s churches, and we’d hang out with each other’s families. It was long distance until about June (of last year).”

Sam decided to make the move to Nashville to be closer to Megan, and just a few months later, he knew it was time to get down on one knee. Though he originally wanted to make a grand gesture, he decided instead to pop the question on Nov. 13 in the living room of his apartment, feeling he couldn’t wait a second longer.

“He got down on one knee, and I kind of blacked out a little bit,” Megan said. “I don’t remember all that he said, but it was so sweet, and it was just about how much he loved me and how much he wanted to spend his life with me. … I cried, he cried. He couldn’t wait one more minute.”

Knowing they didn’t want anything large or extravagant, the two planned their wedding in just four days, booking Allandale Mansion as the venue, the Mustard Seed as the caterer and Chasing Lux Photo as the photographer. They tied the knot on Dec. 20 in a Christmas-themed wedding, in front of a small assembly of friends and family.

Building a life

Sam and Megan now reside in Franklin, Tennessee, where Megan continues to teach at her old high school and Sam works in athletics at Vanderbilt University.

While they aren’t sure whether they’ll stay in Franklin forever, the two are looking forward to whatever the future holds.

“We’re both in pretty good setups right now as far as our career goes,” Megan said. “I could see us maybe moving off for a little while before we have children just to have a nice little adventure together, but I don’t know. For right now, we’re pretty happy.”