Holy Barrel-mony.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
February 06, 2019

"I always said I would never date a coworker," Katrina Hales tells Southern Living.

"Cracker Barrel was my first job, right out of high school. I started out in the Wytheville, Virginia store, but upon acceptance to Radford University in the fall of 2013 I decided to transfer to the Christiansburg [also in Virginia] store. And I'm so glad I did. On my first day I was so nervous that I showed up to work 45 minutes early!" Katrina says. "I was sitting in my car, giving myself a pep talk and checking my hair and makeup, when Travis parked right beside me. I can still remember it perfectly, like a movie. I looked over at him and instantly felt butterflies. It sounds so cheesy to say it was love at first sight, but it really was. I checked my lipstick one last time and then got ready to go in. Travis was a few steps in front of me and I remember thinking to myself, 'That's the one. He's got to be yours one day.'" Wearing khakis and a white button-up shirt, Hales thought he was the most handsome man her eyes had ever fallen upon.

Things between Katrina and Travis, however, were not off to an auspicious start. The two didn't really interact and when Katrina was working in the window one day setting up guest trays, Travis noticed her from his spot in the kitchen grilling. "He may have thought I was a real brat," concedes Katrina, who didn't know that part of the story until they started dating.

But fate is fate and the duo somehow always wound up working the same hours ("I could never look him in the eye without blushing, and everyone noticed," gushes Katrina) and eventually they took to chatting in the parking lot after work. What started as ten-minute co-worker banter quickly grew into two hour conversations about life, relationships, and everything under the long set sun. "I will never forget those nights," Katrina says.

In September 2014, Katrina moved in with a co-worker (who later officiated their wedding) and Travis and Katrina's relationship blossomed over weekly Wednesday game nights after work, Friendsgiving for coworkers who couldn't go home for the day or spend time with their families, and yes, more hours spent toiling at their beloved Cracker Barrel #60 at 30 Hampton Blvd..

instagram.com/meguphotography

Two years later on October 18th, 2016, Travis popped the question. "He wanted to wait for my birthday (October 30) but the day he picked up the ring he just couldn't wait. I came home from school and he was waiting for me behind the front door. He blindfolded me, lead me into the bedroom, gave me a note and stood behind me. The bottom of the note said 'Turn around' and there he was down on one knee," recalls Katrina.

Soon it was time to call Meg Umberger, who Katrina met at — you guessed it — Cracker Barrel to request that she be the couple's wedding photographer. On October 31st, 2018, the couple tied the knot. "The wedding and reception took place in Travis's parents' backyard in Radford. We were nervous about having an outdoor wedding on Halloween because the weather is so unpredictable but I didn't want to book an alternative location," says Katrina. It wound up being a beautiful fall afternoon. If it were raining on their wedding day, Katrina and her managers had certainly joked that the dining room at their Cracker Barrel might be worth considering as a backup plan (the couple both still work there).

Of course, Katrina wasn't about to let her wedding whiz by her without paying homage to the place where the lovebirds met. "I pitched the idea of taking photos at Cracker Barrel to my photographer a couple of nights before the wedding. Travis thought it was silly, but he loved me enough to do it anyways," says Katrina. "Meg was so excited, like a kid in a candy store, she was so inspired by the look and feel of that 'home away from home' and they are some of my favorite pictures of the day. The guests in the restaurant thought we were in costume," she continues. Katrina never dreamed that the photos would make such a splash and make their way all the way up to Cracker Barrel's corporate office. But alas...

"I always said I would never date a coworker, and now I'm married to one," says Katrina. "And it's perfect."

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