Time slows down in the Carolina foothills. With its verdant, rolling landscape and bucolic scenery, you simply aren’t left with much choice but to relax, breathe deeply and take it all in. Late last summer, Mary Austill Lott and John Flournoy’s closest friends and family members stole away for a long weekend at this serene locale, miles removed from the pressure of a big society wedding and the stress of everyday life, to celebrate the bride and groom and the start of their new life together.
Mary Austill didn’t dream about her wedding day. She simply never saw much merit in fretting over the perfect flowers or dress or cake, and she didn’t eagerly anticipate being the center of attention or envision hundreds of heads turning to watch her walk down the aisle. But, with the help of her mother and sister and the expert hand of Neillie Butler at Birmingham’s Mariée Ami, this fuss-free bride was able to pull off a day that perfectly captured her family-focused, relaxed attitude with touches of personality and organic, elegant style.
Mary Austill and John were brought together through Preston, a friend of John’s from college who married Kristin, one of Mary Austill’s cousins. Four years of well-intentioned pestering by the matchmakers paid off when the bride and groom finally agreed to meet and were immediately smitten. Two years later they were engaged, and their wedding date was set for the following July.
The bride and groom ruled out their notoriously hot and humid hometowns of Mobile, AL, and Houston, TX, as locations for the July wedding and ultimately settled on enchanting Cashiers, North Carolina, for their destination. Mary Austill’s family has a home in the foothills, so selecting this beautiful Lonesome Valley venue, with its stunning views and nostalgic appeal was a no-brainer for this outdoorsy couple.
Mary Austill entrusted Neillie with creating a day that perfectly captured her and John. “Neillie got to know me a little bit, and then she created a vision for me — and she was spot on,” Mary Austill says. The day embodied natural elegance with neutral linens and pared-down centerpieces featuring lush, gathered floral arrangements spilling with greenery and simple glass votives. The beauty of the venue itself didn’t require much additional adornment, and each detail thoughtfully enhanced the surroundings without overpowering with them.
On the day of the wedding, clouds hung low over Lonesome Valley, sprinkling the venue with rain as guests gathered for the evening ceremony. A last-minute shift relocated the ceremony indoors, where about 150 guests gathered around a fireplace-turned-altar to bear witness to Mary Austill and John’s marriage. “In hindsight, the rain was the best thing that could have happened,” Mary Austill says. “It was an extremely intimate, extremely personal ceremony, and moving it indoors really enhanced that feeling.” And Preston, one-half of the scheming couple who first introduced Mary Austill and John, actually officiated the wedding. “Having Preston do the ceremony, and his father-in-law John Denson — who was my grandfather’s first cousin, soulmate and lifelong best friend — do our vows, well, it couldn’t have been more perfect and meaningful for us,” Mary Austill says. “When it was over, I can tell you not one person there would disagree.”
The rain clouds cleared just in time for the reception, as guests moved toward the outdoor tent to enjoy cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres while the bride and groom stole a few quiet moments together to relax and snack on their own charcuterie plate.
The menu served at the reception was simply incredible — a top priority for Mary Austill and John when first considering their day. They didn’t want to serve their guests typical wedding food, opting instead for a personalized menu prepared by Chef Adam Hayes and the talented Canyon Kitchen team. A farmers’ market salad station featured an exquisite selection of local produce, and for their main course, guests had a choice of ahi tuna, Texas-style beef brisket and lamb chops with perfectly complementary sides. In addition to wedding cake, guests enjoyed chocolate soufflé cake with raspberry dust and torched sabayon sauce, raspberry macarons with Chambord anglaise, and vanilla ice cream with vodka and Frangelico hazelnut liqueur. A food truck arrived later in the evening as guests were starting to get peckish and served banh mi sandwiches, tacos and chips and dip to keep the partygoers fueled well into the night.
After an evening of dancing, dining and enjoying quality time with all of their guests, the bride and groom were sent off with a sparkler-flanked exit before they hopped on a golf cart and were whisked off into the night as the new Mr. and Mrs. Flournoy.
Here’s to many happy years together, Mary Austill and John!
Photography: Clark Brewer
Wedding planner: Neillie Butler, Mariée Ami
Wedding dress: Naeem Khan from Joan Pillow Bridal Salon
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Lela Rose
Cake: Cakes by Anne Sineath of SugarVeil
Flowers: Floressence Flowers
Venue: Lonesome Valley, Canyon Kitchen
Catering: Canyon Kitchen, Chef Adam Hayes
Band: Mr. Potato Head
Merchandise/stationery design: Caroline Borders, Mariée Ami
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