Today we welcome Neillie Butler of Mariée Ami wedding planning. Neillie started planning weddings out of her basement and has built the business to include six employees and a prestigious address on Petticoat Lane in Mountain Brook Village.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Birmingham. I have been going to the same gas station my whole life — sad but true. I love Birmingham.
Tell us about Mariée Ami.
Mariée Ami is a boutique, full-service wedding planning studio. We handle every aspect of the planning so our clients can enjoy every minute of their engagements. We love all things pretty and obsess over each and every wedding. Our clients become our friends, and there isn’t anything we won’t do to make their wedding days just as they dreamed.
How did you end up in the wedding planning business?
As crazy as it sounds, I always wanted to be a wedding planner; I went to my first bridal show when I was 15 years old. After working as a corporate event planner for seven years, I decided to try it in the wedding industry. I started planning weddings in the basement of my home. One wedding led to another, and by the end of my first year I had planned more than 20 weddings. Three years later I have a beautiful office in the heart of Mountain Brook Village, have 5 full-time people on my team and plan 70 weddings a year.
What does your dream wedding look like?
This is hard for me! I feel like I get to live out my dream on a weekly basis. My dream wedding would consist of white, gold and silver with a pop of brightness. It would have custom drapery, plush lounge furniture, beautiful custom table linens and big beautiful bars serving cocktails in mint julep cups. I love a slightly modern touch that screams sophistication and style.
If you could have lunch with any woman in the world, who would it be and what would you order?
It would have to be Tara Guérard. She is my role model. I love all of her weddings and everything she does. I used to sit and dream about having weddings as grand and as beautiful as she. I still pinch myself when Mariée Ami creates a wedding that I used to only dream about. Assuming we would end up at Gilchrist for lunch, like I do every day, I would stick with the hot beef and pimento cheese wrap and limeade.
What did your bedroom look like as a teenage girl?
Full-length mirror, twin beds and white wicker. My mom wouldn’t let me hang things on the wall, so my closet was my creative outlet. I would graffiti its walls for hours. This scares me to think about it, but at the time it was the coolest room ever.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be yourself, do what you do best and success will come.
What advice would you give to others?
Work every day to make things easier and enjoyable for others, and you will receive the same love and respect in return.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
After a long day of work, I love nothing more than meeting my husband out for a late dinner and glass of wine.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Weddings, of course! I work every Saturday night! When I have a rare Saturday night off, I like to head to the lake with my husband and little girls.
Favorite local restaurant?
I will eat just about anywhere as long as I do not have to prepare the meal. However, I have a foodie husband — which doesn’t hurt my love for fine food and nice wine. A bar stool at Highlands never disappoints. For a more casual night you will find me at El Barrio with a veggie quesadilla.
What are you listening to?
I have either Christian rock or Bruce Springsteen blaring in my car at all times — both tying me back to the days I battled cancer. Bruce is a huge supporter in sarcoma (soft-tissue cancer) research. I love music that warms my heart and gives me hope in all things!
What books are you reading?
What to Expect When You Are Expecting and a series of wedding blogs.
What celebrity’s closet would you most like to have?
I have no idea. Anyone with great-looking clothes that are organized by color, with an upholstered ottoman in the middle.
What is your must-have purchase for spring 2014?
Good looking earrings and handbags. I will be nine months pregnant this spring, and I am not foreseeing anything more than big shirts and leggings.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
I don’t think of it as a personality quirk but I know it drives some people crazy: I do not stop. Go, go, go. It is exactly what used to drive me crazy about my grandmother and mother, so I can honestly say I come by it naturally. I am happiest when keeping busy!
If your house was on fire, what’s the one nonliving thing you would grab?
Each of our brides has a signature blue binder that is the bible to their wedding. I take one home every night to go over. I would grab this without a blink of an eye and run!
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding friends, family and God).
My iPhone, mint gum and my black Tory Burch work bag.
Thanks for sharing, Neillie! To learn more about Neillie and her wedding planning studio, visit their website at www.marieeami.com.
Thanks to Bryan Johnson of A Bryan Photo for today’s photos.