While the first part of the year saw events tentatively begin to come back, the last half of 2022 more than made up for the initial trickle. Athleisure was traded in for ball gowns, and tuxedos were taken out of storage and dusted off; events came back bigger than ever. Guests RSVP’d to every invitation and, once in the room, donated generously. As in years past, we have reached out in the last month to the experts on the social scene — you, dear readers — asking for your favorite parties, events and moments of 2022. Now, we are honored to reveal what you loved in the last year.

Best Event of 2022: River Swing, Harpeth Conservancy

With the mission to “monitor, restore and protect the State Scenic Harpeth River and its tributaries,” Harpeth Conservancy has taken on the mantle of stewardship of a beautiful natural resource. This year, guests returned in droves to Christian Currey’s River Circle Farm for the 19th Annual River Swing. With the combination of incredible food and cocktails as well as the A-list lineup of entertainment including Keb’ Mo’ and a surprise performance at the late party by The Sweet Lillies, it is easy to see why this was voted Best Event of 2022. River Swing also raised a record amount of funds for the organization to continue their work to preserve Tennessee’s waterways.

     Second Place: l’Eté du Vin, Nashville Wine Auction

     Runner-Up: Broadway Brunch, Nashville Repertory Theatre

Best Arts: Broadway Brunch, Nashville Repertory Theatre

It’s no wonder why Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Broadway Brunch continues to hit the high notes and wow attendees year after year. With local artists front and center, the event brings terrific energy while reminding guests that the money raised supports community theater and important outreach programs. Co-chairs Jeanette Barker and Janet Kurtz moved this year’s location to the Wild Horse Saloon for roomier digs and a phenomenal performance space, and Nashville Rep honored Tony Award winner and American Theater Hall of Fame inductee Donna McKechnie with the Ovation Award for her lifetime of achievements in theater.

     Second Place: Ballet Ball, Nashville Ballet

     Runner-Up: Frist Gala, Frist Art Museum

Best Animal-Centric Event: Sunset Safari, Nashville Zoo

Supporters of the Nashville Zoo were delighted when they arrived for the Sunset Safari 2022, as the weather was perfect for an evening stroll around the Zoo. The animal ambassadors were all on hand as usual to greet guests and give partygoers an up-close look at animals they would typically see from behind glass. While walking the grounds, guests could also try small bites from some of Nashville’s top restaurants and caterers.

     Second Place: Cause for Paws, Nashville Humane Association

     Runner-Up: Unleashed, Nashville Humane Association

Best Children’s & Family Event: Fall for Cheekwood

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens is no doubt the quintessential location for what our readers chose as the Best Children’s & Family Event of 2022. On an unseasonably temperate day in September, the ninth annual Fall for Cheekwood fundraiser was held to raise crucial funds that enable children and families from Middle Tennessee — who might not otherwise have the opportunity — to experience the wonders of Cheekwood. Parents and their children happily explored the grounds of the botanical garden, enjoying hayrides, pumpkin carvings, music, a barbecue dinner and — most of all — each other’s nonstop laughter.

     Second Place: Boo at the Zoo

     Runner-Up: Music City Chorus Christmas Celebration

Best Auction Items: Nashville Wine Auction’s “Five Guys, Five Daughters and 1.5 Liters of Piper Heidsieck”

As experienced Nashville Wine Auction attendees know, the weekend of l’Eté du Vin is one to carb up for. It is a marathon of great wines and a great cause. For years, the tradition of a mid-auction snack has been a welcome addition to the high-action bidding in the room, and this year was no different with the lot of “Five Guys, Five Daughters and 1.5 Liters of Piper Heidsieck.” Elizabeth Waller won this offering and shared with her entire table and other lucky friends in the room. That generosity was probably for the best, as the lot included a perfectly chilled magnum of Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Rare 1998, two dozen cheeseburgers from Five Guys and 24 cronuts from Five Daughters Bakery.

     Second Place: Art by Exonerees, Inspired by Innocence

     Runner-Up: 16-ct Ruby Necklace, Ruby Gala

Best Co-Chairs: Shaun Inman & Sheila Shields

Kudos to Shaun Inman and Sheila Shields, co-chairs of the 38th annual Symphony Ball, for creating a night to remember. Having taken a pause from the full ball for two years, this popular and powerful pair managed to return the event in regal glory to a full house of supporters. Event planner extraordinaire Amos Gott transformed the imposing Schermerhorn Symphony Center into a blue, white, silver and crystal winter wonderland. The Nashville Symphony opened for the sumptuous seated dinner by Kristin Winston, and country music trio Lady A was presented the Harmony Award before guests danced the night away. 

     Second Place: Brooke Trusley, Joanne Sowell, co-chairs of Ballet Ball

     Runner-Up: Erica Jacobs, Gretchen Goldstein, co-chairs of Red Door Bash

Best Decorations: “Bubbles & Burgundy” at l’Eté du Vin

The decor for Nashville Wine Auction’s l’Eté du Vin was a stunning nod to their honored guests, winemakers from Burgundy and Champagne. Upon entering the ballroom at the JW Marriott, guests were greeted by vibrant, sunny arrangements of sunflowers — reminiscent of Provence’s champs de tournesol. The still-grander main bar was embellished with a hot-air balloon basket filled with beautiful sunflowers, while whimsical light displays graced the walls and evoked dreamy thoughts of hot-air ballooning over the vineyards of France.

     Second Place: Conservancy Gala

     Runner-Up: Swan Ball

Best Host/Hostess: Mary Trapnell

Lifestyle author Kathy Bertone said, “A great host is like a great cocktail: Shaken or stirred, both will come out fine, but only if quality ingredients are in the mix.” This great hostess — undoubtedly made of the finest ingredients — is a master planner, a welcoming smile, a cool-under-pressure diplomat and an excellent communicator. These qualities are similar to those of a great CEO, so, for Best Hostess, our readers honor Mary Trapnell, Founder and Executive Director of Nashville Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition. And if you know her, you totally agree.

     Second Place: Ellen Martin

     Runner-Up: Gordon & Shaun Inman

Best Dressed Party Guest: Amos Glass

For those in the theater, being well-dressed or well-costumed is just part of the role; if the saying “you’re never fully dressed without a smile” is true, then Amos Glass wins for both Best Dressed and Most Fully Dressed. Amos, who has seemingly never met a stranger, is the Director of Audience Development for Nashville Rep and can always be found in a cornucopia of hues at any festive gathering. His smile lights up a room and puts the finishing touch on any attire he sports.

     Second Place: Sheila Shields

     Runner-Up: Terrance Hurd

Best Luncheon: Sunday in the Park, Friends of Warner Parks

Sunday in the Park is, hands down, the most popular luncheon of the social season, and this year was no exception; co-chairs Grace Clayton, Hugh Howser and Rebecca Rutledge created an exquisite afternoon on Ridge Field in Edwin Warner Park. Johnny Haffner Catering prepared a luxurious meal, and uplifting songs were performed by Nashville-based Echelon Choir. Setting this year apart, however, was the tribute video of the late Clare Armistead professing her love of Warner Parks followed by Becca Stevens’ eloquent toast to our beloved Clare. For a reverential moment, even in this overflowing crowd, one could have heard a pin drop.

     Second Place: Spring Outing, Andrew Jackson Foundation

     Runner-Up: Annual Benefit Luncheon, The Next Door, Inc.

Best Menu: Ballet Ball, Kristen Winston Catering

On March 12, arts advocates Joanne Sowell and Brooke Trusley beautifully returned the beloved Ballet Ball to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center amid rave reviews. Inspired by the golden age of dance in America, the theme was an evening of mid-century elegance. The luxurious and comforting meal by Kristen Winston Catering reflected that era. The classic elegance of the Waldorf salad was followed by a richly braised short rib. The culinary finale, like the evening’s dancing, was a dessert pas de deux: a decadent chocolate truffle torte alongside a billowy, berry Pavlova, fittingly named for ballerina Anna Pavlova.

     Second Place: l’Eté du Vin, JW Marriott Executive Chef Simon Bowker

     Runner-Up: La Bella Notte, Catering By Johnny Haffner

Best Online Auction: Red Door Bash, Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee

Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee hosted its biggest fundraiser, the 2022 Red Door Bash, on Sept. 21. This annual event celebrates funding free cancer support for families in 15 Middle Tennessee counties, as well as honoring community leaders and volunteers. This year’s affair quickly sold out, raising legendary numbers, but the phenomenal success was attributed to fierce bidding at the sought-after silent auction. “After last year’s extravaganza, we set out to offer even more fabulous vacation homes, art, spirits, unique experiences and one-of-a-kind Nashville treats,” said co-chair Gretchen Goldstein. “We made sure we offered something amazing for everyone at every price point.”

     Second Place: Nashville Wine Auction

     Runner-Up (tie): Conservancy Gala & Heritage Ball

Best Outdoor Event: River Swing, Harpeth Conservancy

It’s appropriate the Best Outdoor Event goes to the wildly successful 19th annual River Swing, benefiting — well, the outdoors, via — the Harpeth Conservancy. Fun activities included dinner from Puckett’s, a silent auction and a whiskey bar, and the popular Brownlee Lounge offered seating with pastoral views. Music by Keb Mo’ and friends continued throughout the night. For the past six years, Christian Currey has hosted this soirée at River Circle Farm, and this year he dedicated and named a service road, River Swing Way, to the event site. We hope this is an indication of many more years to come.

     Second Place: TennGreen Land Conservancy’s Hike-a-Thon

     Runner-Up: Dinner by the Bridge, Greenways for Nashville

Best Re-Imagined Event: Broadway Brunch

After utilizing the skills and talents of the artistic community to create online experiences for audience members while theaters were dark during the pandemic, Nashville Repertory Theatre saw an opportunity to reinvent their annual fundraiser, Broadway Brunch. Co-chairs Jeanette Barker and Janet Kurtz looked for innovative ways to build on the solid foundation laid by past co-chairs and the incredible team at Nashville Rep. This year, the event moved to the Wild Horse Saloon on historic Second Avenue; with more space and a larger stage, Artistic Director Micah-Shane Brewer created an interactive spectacle as actors moved and sang through the audience.

     Second Place: Conservancy Gala

     Runner-Up: Chic Awearness

Best Photo Op/Backdrop: Red Door Bash, Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee

Gathering for the first time in two years was magical for attendees of the Red Door Bash benefiting Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee. Each year, the Red Door Bash Committee works to bring new elements to the event, and this year was no different. Utilizing the talents of Tausha Dickerson and Jerry Atnip, the photo areas featured soft seating, moody lighting, and a backdrop dramatic of drapes.

     Second Place: Nfocus Portrait Studio

     Runner-Up (tie): River Swing & Ruby Gala

Best Special Guest: Keb’ Mo’, River Swing

What could be a better way to spend an early fall evening with friends than relishing stunning natural surroundings, great food and phenomenal music? For guests of the Harpeth Conservancy’s River Swing, they enjoyed just that. After the silent auction and select whiskey bar, guests were treated to an evening of music. The headliner for the event, five-time GRAMMY-winner Keb’ Mo’, graciously spent an evening in September entertaining guests and helping support the mission of the Harpeth Conservancy.

     Second Place: Donna McKechnie, Broadway Brunch

     Runner-Up: R.A. Dickey, All for NAHT

Most Fashionable Event: Symphony Fashion Show

One of the most anticipated events of the spring was back to its full glory after the pandemic. The Symphony Fashion Show highlights the best of the fashion world, presents Nashville as a growing player in that world and raises crucial funds for the Nashville Symphony’s education programs. This year, co-chairs Mary Huddleston and Andrea Powell — with Amos Gott of AmosEvents — created a beautiful nod to the season with a pink, white and cream palette. The guest designer for this Symphony Fashion Show was Southern favorite Lela Rose, whose designs can be seen at any happening from kickoff parties to black-tie events.

     Second Place: Swan Ball

     Runner-Up: Conservancy Gala

Most Fun Party: River Swing, Harpeth Conservancy

What is the formula for a perfect evening? Readers voted, and the answer is relaxed attire, a gorgeous setting and top-notch music floating through the air. Add to that mix great food, cocktails, an elevated whiskey bar and hand-rolled cigars from Atomic Cigars, and this sets the stage for why the Harpeth Conservancy’s River Swing was voted Most Fun Party. A record number of guests turned out to support Harpeth Conservancy, an organization that works to restore and protect clean water and healthy ecosystems for rivers in Tennessee.

     Second Place: Broadway Brunch, Nashville Repertory Theatre

     Runner-Up: Music City Harvest Party, Nashville Wine Auction

Best Entertainment: Nashville Repertory Theatre, Broadway Brunch

With its army of local talent, it stands to reason that Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Broadway Brunch would win Best Entertainment. This year, Nashville Rep went a step further and brought out the big guns, honoring Tony Award winner and American Theater Hall of Fame inductee Donna McKechnie with the Ovation Award. Donna graced attendees with a performance of “Being Alive” from the hit Broadway show Company. Afterwards, led by Artistic Director Micah-Shane Brewer, Nashville Rep’s company brought down the house with the finale performance: “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray.

     Second Place: Nashville Ballet, Ballet Ball

     Runner-Up: Thom Schuyler & Company, Music in the Meadow

Best Event Planner: Amos Gott, AmosEvents

With 20 years of event design experience, Amos Gott has helped guide and develop his clients’ vision of their event from ideation to reality. Amos has designed the luxurious settings for so many of the nonprofit events throughout the year that he has become a familiar face at Nashville galas. Amos also spends his time giving back to the community by serving on numerous boards and leads the Nashville Chapter of the International Special Event Society as its president.

     Second Place: Evolution Event Solutions

     Runner-Up: Inspired Help

Best Caterer: Kristen Winston

The art of cuisine is never an easy feat. The skill required to make food that is not only delicious but also beautiful is difficult to come by; but for over two decades, that is exactly what Kristen Winston Catering has been doing. Kristen Winston and her team can be found at top galas, intimate affairs and everything in between. Her cuisine is both elevated and approachable, leaving diners to dream about specific dishes long after the plates are cleared. Anyone who was lucky enough to enjoy the herb-crusted Chilean sea bass with lemon-roasted fingerling potatoes at Symphony Ball Patrons Party knows what we mean.

     Second Place: Chef’s Market

     Runner-Up: 615 Catering

Best Event Production Company: Gary Musick Productions

When it comes to executing a vision, Gary Musick has been a leader in Nashville for decades. Gary Musick Productions was integral in keeping the lights on and parties going during the pandemic as many events pivoted to virtual platforms. In essence, Gary Musick Productions kept us connected at a time when in-person gatherings were not an option. The company is still going strong as one of the most sought-after production companies in the city.

     Second Place: Orange Thread

     Runner-Up: AmosEvents

Best Formalwear: The Showroom Nashville

Outfitting guests for events throughout the city, The Showroom Nashville has become a staple in ladies’ apparel. They even allow clients to rent a piece for just an evening! Carrying new designs from top labels, The Showroom Nashville offers one-of-a-kind looks for everything from kickoff parties to white-tie affairs, to late parties and anything in between.

     Second Place: Gus Mayer

     Runner-Up: Muna Couture

Best Hair/Makeup: MHD Beauty

Behind every great look is a great stylist. The team at MHD Beauty styles Nashville for galas, weddings, special events, pageants and commercial work. Their flexibility and artistry come from years of experience in the styling arena. Available for consultations and bookings, MHD Beauty ensures that everyone looks their best before the gown is zipped and ties are tied.

     Second Place: Canvas + Coif

     Runner-Up: Megan Pruett Allgood, Shine Studio

Best Hotel Ballroom: The Hermitage Hotel

Built as Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel in 1910, The Hermitage Hotel stands to this day as a shining example of excellence in luxury. After undergoing an extensive refresh of the property over the past two years, The Hermitage Hotel is again welcoming guests and has been the backdrop for some of Music City’s most prominent weddings and events. The newly restored ballroom still boasts the walnut-paneled walls — now accented by a softer, more neutral palette — and simple window treatments act to aid, not compete with, the design of an event.

   Second Place: Noelle

   Runner-Up: JW Marriott

Best Venue for a Wedding: Cheekwood

As the original home of the Cheek family and current home of an art gallery and botanical gardens, it is easy to see why Cheekwood is a sought-after venue for Nashville’s brides. The grounds lend themselves beautifully to a stunning backdrop for al fresco nuptials, while numerous other picturesque structures like Massey Hall and the stunning historic mansion dot the property.

     Second Place: Noelle

     Runner-Up: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

Best Florist: Rose Hill Flowers

Whether for a special event or a simple pick-me-up for someone in your life, Rose Hill Flowers remains Nashville’s go-to florist. For over 35 years, Rose Hill Flowers has insisted on using only premium flowers in their artistic endeavors. The artisans work to create unique designs that will brighten up any room or premier event, and this year alone, they have supported the local community by elevating decor at events like Broadway Brunch and more.

     Second Place: Garden Delights

     Runner-Up: Rosemary & Finch

Best Photographer: Peyton Hoge

Though he began his career as a musician in the popular group The Lemonade Charade, Peyton Hoge soon found a calling in photography. Peyton can be found at all the top events in Nashville, capturing special moments through the lens of his camera. He loves the variety that his career brings, but his real passion is shooting music events for record labels and management companies. Throughout his prolific career, he has photographed for publications such as Nfocus, The Tennessean, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Town & Country, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, People and In Style.

     Second Place: Michael Scott Evans

     Runner-Up: Daniel Meigs

Best Favors: Tea Towel, Dinner by the Bridge

Greenways For Nashville’s Dinner by the Bridge is one of the most anticipated events of the fall season, featuring a beautiful setting and guests committed to the mission of creating more greenways throughout Davidson County. This year, the party favor was a beautiful white-and-green tea towel. The crisp white contrasted beautifully with the warm green for the perfect gift to remind guests of the important work done by this organization year-round.

     Second Place: Michael Aram Bowl, Symphony Gala Patrons Party

     Runner-Up: Books (Various), Authors in the Round

Best Party Band: Atlanta Allstars

Often the soundtrack to events throughout the city, the Atlanta Allstars is a talented ensemble of top entertainers. Bringing the beat of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, the group is a crowd-pleaser that will revive even the most tired of partygoers. Their range includes classic jazz, hip-hop, swing music and many other genres.

     Second Place: Downtown Band

     Runner-Up: Burning Las Vegas

Best Venue for a Fundraising Event: Schermerhorn Symphony Center

With its stately columns and classical design, the Schermerhorn stands out as one of the preeminent locations in the city for an event. The Schermerhorn has been the backdrop of the Nashville Symphony’s performances as well as major fundraisers like Symphony Fashion Show, Symphony Ball, Ballet Ball and more. The grand presence of this building reminds guests of the need to protect the nonprofit organizations of Nashville to ensure the growth and strength of the community.

     Second Place: Wild Horse Saloon

     Runner-Up: Country Music Hall of Fame

Best Rentals Company: Please Be Seated

Known for their chic and modern rentals, Please Be Seated has been helping design the sets of Nashville’s events for close to a decade. Co-founders Mary and Paul Huddleston keep a keen eye on current trends in the event design world and bring those elements to complement some of Nashville’s top events. As Nashville’s premier locally owned rental company, this dynamic duo and their team help keep the party going.

     Second Place: Southern Events

     Runner-Up: Curated Events