Here comes the bride and Tide as Tennessee football, wedding collide


Tennessee football game collides with fans wedding

Bonnie Hensley and Sadler Snyder got engaged in Seaside, Fla. over Labor Day weekend 2021. Their big day is set for “The Third Saturday in October.”

Knoxville News Sentinel

Bonnie Hensley’s top two priorities when she began planning her Knoxville wedding were a photographer and a venue.

She got her first choice for photographer, Amanda May. She also got a prime venue, Castleton Farms in Loudon.

That left her with a date of Oct. 15, 2022. Time: 5 p.m.

Feel free to scream, “Oh, no!”

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There was another oh-no moment leading up to Saturday’s exchange of vows between Bonnie and Sadler Snyder. When the SEC announced its kickoff times for Oct. 15, the Alabama-Tennessee game was slotted for 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

“We all were sort of anticipating the time and were at peace with it,” Bonnie said. “But when the kickoff time was announced, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you’re kidding me.’ ”

That means Bonnie’s father, Mike Hensley, will lead her down the aisle about an hour and a half after the Vols and Tide begin to add another chapter to the “Third Saturday of October,” whose significance is documented in a book by the same name.

But this isn’t just the renewal of a storied rivalry. It’s a matchup of unbeaten, top-10 teams between No. 1 Alabama and No. 8 Tennessee before a sellout crowd at Neyland Stadium.

“Who knew Tennessee would be this good?” said Bonnie, echoing the sentiments of so many other fans. “Every year, we’ve watched Alabama beat Tennessee.”

Most of the family and friends on either side of the wedding aisle know all about UT’s recent struggles and Alabama’s 15-game winning streak in the series. This is a marriage of football families and Tennessee fans.

  • Bonnie’s grandfather, Tommy Hensley, was an NFL referee for 21 years and played for Tennessee under General Robert Neyland in 1952 and 1953. Tommy roomed with NFL Hall of Famer Doug Atkins and later worked the Hall of Fame game when Atkins was inducted.
  • Tommy and Mike Hensley were football team captains at Central High School. And Mike’s wife, Lori, was a cheerleader there.
  • The Central High press box is named after Sadler’s grandfather, Hershel Snyder. He and Sadler played football at Central.
  • Sadler’s father, Tim, is a devout Tennessee and Colts fan. The Colts connection accounts for Sadler’s middle name.

“We were watching the Colts game when I was pregnant,” Lori Tidwell said. “My husband was wearing a Marshall Faulk jersey.”

She liked the name. So, her son became Sadler Faulk Snyder.

Given Tim’s passion for Tennessee football, it’s a wonder Sadler wasn’t named after a Vol. Tim and a group of friends attended every UT game – home and away – from 1992 through 2011. When the road trip was within driving range, they towed their trailer for tailgating purposes.

That might seem extreme to a Big Orange outsiders but not to the families of the bride and groom. They have a long history together since Bonnie and Sadler first met in middle school and later began dating in high school.

The Snyder and Hensley families were in Seaside, Florida, when Sadler proposed to Bonnie on Labor Day weekend last year. But Bonnie wasn’t aware of the family gathering until after the fact.

So, when Sadler took a knee on the beach, Bonnie was caught off guard by the proposal.

“I knew he would want our families there for that,” she said. “But when we went back to the beach house, my entire family and his entire family were there. They had been staying at different places.”

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Once the engagement was official, Bonnie began making wedding plans.

“It seems like everybody was getting married after COVID,” she said. “We were limited in certain venues.”

The families can now laugh at the outcome.

“Tennessee’s biggest game since 1998,” Mike said with a chuckle.

Lori Hensley joked that she almost had heart failure when she realized the wedding-game conflict.

“I was questioning my parenting,” Lori Tidwell said. “Doesn’t ever parent raise their children that you just don’t pick the third Saturday in October for any event?”

She also wanted to get married in mid-October when she and Tim became engaged. Her preferred date: Oct. 15, 1994, when Alabama would play Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Tim balked at the suggestion.

They were married about seven weeks earlier on Aug. 27.

No one has pressured Bonnie and Sadler to change the date. After all, they got the right photographer and venue. Two out of three isn’t bad.

Mike said they sent out 232 invitations, and 200 invitees had confirmed they would attend. None of the nine groomsmen Sadler selected to match Bonnie’s nine bridesmaids have backed out. That’s another good sign.

And if their team responds as well as their friends, there could be two celebrations Saturday evening at Castleton Farms.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or Follow him at: