Story by Laurette M. Veres
Memphis is booming. New construction is everywhere and historic buildings are being rehabilitated.
Built in 1914 by the Illinois Central Railroad, the old train depot is now a 123- room boutique hotel featuring mid-century architecture, Memphis influenced music, expansive event areas and dynamic downhome dining. At one time 26 train tracks converged here; some of the original signage is still in tact. Don’t be surprised to hear a train whistle, the “City of New Orleans” still stops here on its way to Chicago. You know you’re in Memphis when you enter your room. The Central Station’s daily playlist greets you on custom designed, EgglestonWorks speakers and the photos on the walls are scenes taken along train route.
The central meeting area is the bar, 8 & Sand. The house DJ spins records in a booth creatively designed from an old church organ. He selects songs from his 200K album collection and broadcasts them throughout the bar and lobby. If you don’t like the bar scene, the acoustically constructed Listening Lounge plays curated music and podcasts on specific Memphis music styles. The speakers are so good, it’s as though you are hearing the music live.
Tourists have been flocking to the birthplace of rock-n-roll for years, eager to taste world-class BBQ and immerse themselves in civil rights history. Now brides and grooms go to get hitched at the train depot. Yes, the old train station in downtown Memphis has been born again. The Central Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, has taken everything cool about an old train station, added music and art, and set Memphis’ South Main District on fire.
Get married here! With picturesque views of the Mississippi River and downtown Memphis, your guests will love staying in the heartbeat of downtown. The Central Station offers 8,000 square feet of event and meeting space, including a 6,500 square foot Grand Hall ballroom that occupies the transportation hub’s former waiting room. You can literally close your eyes and imagine waiting to catch your train. Or simply dance the night away with family and friends. The Grand Hall features the original train marquee, soaring 33-foot ceilings and light fixtures inspired by train lanterns.
Award-winning chefs, Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer, head up Bishop, a bold Southern French brasserie showcasing locally sourced menu items; perfect for rehearsal dinners and wedding catering.
While your guests are in Memphis, they’ll want to explore. Stax Museum displays Memphis’ music history; proceeds support the music school. Visit Sun Studios (where Elvis was discovered) and sing Love Me Tender into the same microphone as the King, then visit his home, Graceland. Step back in time at the National Civil Rights Museum.
Memphis’ famed Beal Street is several blocks of lively bars featuring live music and libations. If you meet up with any locals, they’ll expect you to know what makes their BBQ so special. Hint meat here is slow smoked with a dry rub. Slaw is served on the sandwich, never on the side. What a perfect way to kick off your wedding festivities.