Alumni couple looks to grow Nashville Nest after unique TV wedding

Alyssa and Justin

(Feb. 14, 2017) A pair of Kennesaw State University alumni – married couple Justin Goldfarb-Shepherd ’10 and Alyssa Tench ’09 – recently attended an event held in Tennessee hosted by the KSU Office of Alumni Relations. The couple enjoyed the Nashville Alumni Nest Event on Tuesday, Feb. 7, which took place at UP, a rooftop lounge located in the Gulch community between Nashville’s music row and downtown.

“It was great,” said Tench, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) in management and is currently enrolled in the MBA program at Kennesaw State. “We really enjoyed it and everyone was really nice.” 

Goldfarb-Shepherd, who received his B.B.A. in marketing from KSU, echoed his wife’s thoughts on the evening. “The staff, like Ama (Economy) and the others, were pretty awesome,” he said. “They were very outgoing and made us feel very welcome. It was a really fun and great event.”

Kennesaw State has already established alumni nests in New York City and Washington, D.C., and now – with the assistance of Goldfarb-Shepherd and Tench – is looking to grow its group of graduates in the Nashville area.

“We’re looking to expand our alumni nests to different parts of the country,” said Economy, KSU’s associate director of alumni engagement. “It was so nice meeting Justin and Alyssa and hearing their story at our first Nashville alumni event. I’m really looking forward to them helping us grow the Nashville Nest.”

“I was talking that I can go home and put a Facebook page together tonight; I already run pages for other things that I’m interested in,” Goldfarb-Shepherd said about establishing a nest in the capital of Tennessee. “We also talked about doing a meet-up group, which I’ve not done yet because I wanted to see more people on the page first.

“From our perspective, it’s very hard to try to grow and promote that on our own because we don’t have the resources that KSU does, but I think with the alumni association’s help we should hopefully be able to make it a success.”  

As students at Kennesaw State, the couple met in 2006 after Goldfarb-Shepherd transferred from Georgia Southern University.

“We met in the dorms; at the time I lived in University Place (now called Austin Residence Complex),” Tench said. “Justin was friends with a guy across the hall and he thought we (Justin and I) might hit it off, and then he brought him over one afternoon. I had just gotten back from the KSU gym and somebody knocked on the door, and it was Phil and Justin.”

That day, Tench was asked to go to a movie and accepted the invitation. “Everything just progressed from there, I guess,” she said about her relationship with her now husband.

Following their graduation from Kennesaw State, the couple moved to San Antonio, Texas, in April 2010 for jobs with the United Services Automobile Association (USAA). The two were engaged soon after and looking for low-cost ways to get married.

“I looked for like ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and things like that,” Tench said. “I was like OK, let’s try to be on a silly TV show to see if we can get some of these costs covered.”

In May 2011, after receiving a telephone call from a casting agent and told that “Say Yes to the Dress” was not filming in their area, the couple was offered a spot on a new show called “Swanderosa” that was nearby.

The series, which aired on Country Music Television (CMT), was about the Swan family hosting a wedding and event-planning business at their 18-acre estate near San Antonio. The estate, called the Swanderosa, was tragically destroyed by a fire in early April 2013.

Originally scheduled to get married in October 2011, the couple’s wedding was moved up to June 18 because of the show’s taping. The ceremony was televised on CMT during the pilot episode of “Swanderosa” on Jan. 20, 2012.

“They said that they would be more than happy to have us on the show but we have to get married in June,” Tench said. “So, we had about a month to plan a wedding in a new city where we didn’t know anybody.”

Goldfarb-Shepherd and Tench, both Georgia natives, saved lots of money by having their wedding on television and have many unique memories from their big day.

“At first, the cameras are a little awkward but you forget that they’re there,” Goldfarb-Shepherd said. “Watching it, I thought that they put way too much makeup on me and I feel like I was a vampire.”

“I would agree with that,” his wife chimed in. “If I could change one thing, that would be it, to not put makeup on him.”

“Swanderosa” was short-lived in 2012, but Goldfarb-Shepherd and Tench enjoyed the cost-saving yet stressful experience.

“There’s all the stress of your wedding and then there’s the added stress of trying to make it interesting,” Tench said. “Watching the premiere, I think the show was edited poorly because it wasn’t very interesting and there was no drama. There was real-life drama and I guess we’re lucky they didn’t put any of that on the air, but had they had I’m sure the show would have done much better.”

On very short notice, immediate family and others totaling about 150 people attended the wedding.

“It was hard because it was less than a month by the time we got to invite them out and it was summer with so many people having vacations planned and things that they had already booked,” Tench said. “It was actually a lot less family than we would have liked to have had.

“There were so many people running around, because you had the production crew and all the wedding people, that you didn’t really know who was who.”

Presently, Tench is still with USAA, serving as a life insurance underwriter.

“I would say my education at Kennesaw really helped prepare me for my current role,” Tench said. “It doesn’t sound very glamorous, but it does take a lot strategic thinking and decision-making, and I got a lot of those skills from my KSU education.”

Goldfarb-Shepherd, a salesman, had been working as a territory manager for Medtronic, the world's largest standalone medical technology development company.

“I started out in their diabetes division and then was promoted to a territory for basically Nashville and east Tennessee,” he said.

Goldfarb-Shepherd, like his wife, also learned valuable skills through Kennesaw State’s Michael J. Coles College of Business.

“While working in medical sales in my most recent role, and even in some of my past roles, I have taken those skills I learned, as far as marketing goes, and applied them to different ways to think strategically and outside the box in order to further my career and build my territory,” Goldfarb-Shepherd said. “I would definitely say that a lot of those skills come from teaching and training at KSU.”

Kennesaw State is very important to both Goldfarb-Shepherd and Tench, and the KSU Office of Alumni Relations looks forward to seeing how they will stay involved with the university in Tennessee while building the Nashville Nest.

“KSU is so special to us because that’s where we met,” Tench concluded. “At that age, you don’t think that the boy that you meet from the dorm next door is going to be your future husband. It’s just amazing that every single person you meet, especially in that college setting, can have some sort of major impact in your life. You know, it just took one person introducing us to change the course of our entire life.”