Dawn Riley and Lee Bains met in high school, bonded over a shared love of punk rock, broke up due to the growing pains of college and the stress of a long distance relationship, then found their way back to Birmingham and back to each other. And just a few short years later, the couple hosted the loveliest summer-camp-themed wedding tucked among the lush mountains of Mentone, Alabama.

Lee and Dawn wanted their wedding to be more than just a hectic day that wouldn't allow for much quality time with their guests — so they carefully crafted an entire celebratory summer camp-themed wedding weekend in Mentone, Alabama, removed from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life.

Lee and Dawn wanted their wedding to be more than just a hectic day that wouldn’t allow for much quality time with their guests — so they carefully crafted an entire celebratory summer camp-themed wedding weekend in Mentone, Alabama, removed from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life.

Dawn and her mother-in-law worked with Mary Baugh at Mariée Ami to create the ultimate invitation suite with a variety of clever coordinating touches. From the invitations to the “camper registration,” the drink picks to the commemorative patches, every detail was absolutely perfect.

Dawn and her mother-in-law worked with Mary Baugh at Mariée Ami to create the ultimate invitation suite with a variety of clever coordinating touches. From the invitations to the “camper registration,” the drink picks to the commemorative patches, every detail was absolutely perfect.

Dawn, an architect, and Lee, lead vocalist and guitarist behind Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, knew early on in the wedding planning process that their top priority was to maximize time spent with their large party of family and friends. “We wanted our guests to feel somewhat removed from the everyday and immersed in the natural beauty of their surroundings,” Dawn says. “We also wanted to spend as much time as possible with all of the friends and family that would be coming. It really seemed like a destination summer-camp wedding weekend fit our personalities and families.” So the pair turned their attention to Mentone, Alabama, the charming, remote mountain town they each visited regularly as children, a place linked to their fondest memories. “With its beautiful scenery, rich Alabama history and ties to both of our families, it seemed like the perfect place to get away and celebrate with everyone,” Dawn says. But, sadly, Dawn’s original vision for her wedding day included the historic Mentone Springs Hotel, which had recently been lost to a fire. With their hearts still set on Mentone, the couple got creative and turned to Camp Skyline to accommodate their ideal wedding — a relaxed, nostalgic, vintage and playful weekend with friends and family.

As a naturally detail-oriented person, Dawn worried over the details until she arrived at the camp, but once she set foot on the grounds, she was able to let all of her worries fade away. “Once we arrived, I really made an effort to let it all go and be present in the moment,” Dawn says. “I knew it would all pass too quickly. Therefore, we made it a priority to plan a wedding that helped us relax and take it all in.” Guests began gathering on Lookout Mountain the Friday of Labor Day weekend to attend the rehearsal dinner preceding the Sunday wedding, and were immediately transported back in time to the nostalgia of summer camp, complete with s’mores, fire pits and water slides.

RELATED: Mentone: A Mountain Getaway Where Time Stands Still 

Lee and Dawn’s wedding day was filled with thoughtful touches and was enchanting in every way, starting with Dawn’s heirloom wedding gown, which had previously been worn by all six of the daughters in her mother’s family, as well as three cousins. “Each one would look around at other dresses, but would eventually end up falling in love with ‘The Dress,’ which is what we call it in our family,” Dawn says. “I was the 10th bride to wear ‘The Dress’ on my wedding day. It’s a really special family tradition that I feel so lucky to be a part of.” The heirloom gown served as Dawn’s something old, which she paired with new shoes, a borrowed lace veil made by Dawn’s cousin from the original train of “The Dress,” and her grandmother’s signature aquamarine ring.

Dawn’s wedding gown is a family heirloom. She was the tenth bride in her family to wear “The Dress,” a sweet tradition dating back to 1969!

Dawn’s wedding gown is a family heirloom. She was the 10th bride in her family to wear “The Dress,” a sweet tradition dating back to 1969!

This pair is brimming with joy and romance. Lee asked Dawn to marry him in their beloved New Orleans, a city whose history, beauty and rich culture had enchanted them both since college.

The bride is brimming with joy and romance.

“New Orleans has always been really special to both of us, and that’s why Lee decided to propose there,” Dawn says. “He proposed in front of Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. It was fairly late at night and we mostly had the Square to ourselves.”

“New Orleans has always been really special to both of us, and that’s why Lee decided to propose there,” Dawn says. “He proposed in front of Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. It was fairly late at night and we mostly had the Square to ourselves.”

The bride and groom steal a few quiet moments together before the ceremony.

The bride and groom steal a few quiet moments together before the ceremony.

Dawn asked her bridesmaids to choose their own dresses in shades of soft blush and dressed her darling flower girls in casual white frocks. We love the relaxed yet elegant look this gorgeous group of ladies so effortlessly exudes!

Dawn asked her bridesmaids to choose their own dresses in shades of soft blush and dressed her darling flower girls in casual white frocks. We love the relaxed yet elegant look this gorgeous group of ladies so effortlessly exudes!

At 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, 250 beloved friends and family members gathered for the outdoor ceremony. A romantic cascading floral installation served as the altar backdrop as Lee and Dawn pledged their love in an intimate, emotional ceremony that was one of the clear highlights of the day. “I will treasure those moments forever,” Dawn says. “I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude when I looked around during the ceremony and saw the faces of all of our friends and family.”

Following the ceremony, guests moved toward the al fresco reception venue, which was transformed with breathtaking florals and strings of lights. Maintaining the venue’s nostalgic summer camp charm was a priority for Dawn who drew her inspiration for the florals and decor from Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. Holly Carlisle of Rosegolden Flowers immediately understood Dawn’s vision and carefully crafted the look with soft, textured blooms in shades of peach and blush paired beautifully with swaths of seeded eucalyptus and other lush greenery. Soft candlelight, long tables and artful touches by the team at Mariée Ami, including perfectly styled paper goods all the way down to the stirring sticks in the drinks, completed Dawn’s vision.

With the sun low in the sky above Lookout Mountain, Lee and Dawn exchanged vows before 250 of their family members and close friends.

With the sun low in the sky above Lookout Mountain, Lee and Dawn exchanged vows before 250 of their family members and close friends.

There’s nothing quite like those unfettered post-ceremony grins.

There’s nothing quite like those unfettered post-ceremony grins.

After the ceremony, Dawn changed into a sparkly reception dress perfectly suited for dancing the night away. “I knew I wanted something different from my ceremony dress, and I have always had a thing for Art Deco design,” Dawn says. “I also thought that something a little flashier would be fun for the reception. In the bridal boutique, I walked directly to it, and said ‘I think this is it.’ I tried on 20 others, but that one won out.”

After the ceremony, Dawn changed into a sparkly reception dress perfectly suited for dancing the night away. “I knew I wanted something different from my ceremony dress, and I have always had a thing for Art Deco design,” Dawn says. “I also thought that something a little flashier would be fun for the reception. In the bridal boutique, I walked directly to it, and said ‘I think this is it.’ I tried on 20 others, but that one won out.”

Dawn’s sister, the matron of honor, and her brother-in-law added their own skilled touches to the wedding, handcrafting the romantic floral backdrop at the altar, the doors that served as the entrance to the ceremony, and this stunning chandelier that hung above the reception space. The handmade chandelier, elegantly dressed tables, and strings of sparkling lights dressed up the open-air reception space, but still paid proper homage to its summer camp roots.

Dawn’s sister, the matron of honor, and her brother-in-law added their own skilled touches to the wedding, handcrafting the romantic floral backdrop at the altar, the doors that served as the entrance to the ceremony, and this stunning chandelier that hung above the reception space. The handmade chandelier, elegantly dressed tables and strings of sparkling lights dressed up the open-air reception space, but still paid proper homage to its summer camp roots.

Dawn had unique inspiration when envisioning the florals for her unique summer camp wedding day, and says that Holly Carlisle immediately understood her vision. “I told her I wanted the florals and decor to be inspired by the Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom,” Dawn says. “I knew I had the right person when she didn’t stare at me blankly, but said, ‘Totally. I love that movie.’ I gave her a few choice flowers I wanted to use and she did the rest.”

Dawn had unique inspiration when envisioning the florals for her unique summer camp wedding day, and says that Holly Carlisle of Rosegolden Flowers immediately understood her vision. “I told her I wanted the florals and decor to be inspired by the Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom,” Dawn says. “I knew I had the right person when she didn’t stare at me blankly, but said, ‘Totally. I love that movie.’ I gave her a few choice flowers I wanted to use and she did the rest.”

RELATED: A Beautiful, Southern Midsummer Night’s Dream Wedding

Dawn wanted to serve a delicious and fairly simple wedding cake to her guests, and Barb at Barb’s Cakes delivered with this four-tiered buttercream beauty, complete with delicious strawberry filling. The red velvet groom’s cake was made by family friend Ethel Steele, and also left guests raving!

Dawn wanted to serve a delicious and fairly simple wedding cake to her guests, and Barb at Barb’s Cakes delivered with this four-tiered buttercream beauty, complete with delicious strawberry filling. The red velvet groom’s cake was made by family friend Ethel Steele, and also left guests raving!

Lee and Dawn shared their first dance as husband and wife to “Bring it on Home” by Sam Cooke, and then enjoyed the ultimate wedding rock show and dance party with all of their guests. A delicious menu prepared by Shindigs Catering fueled the party, including sauerkraut and Slovenian sausage — a family favorite, crab fritters, cornmeal crusted okra, spaghetti and meatballs and late-night grilled cheese sandwiches.

Given that punk rock was what first brought the bride and groom together and that Lee is a musician deeply involved in the Birmingham music scene, it was crucial that the music at the reception be outstanding — and dear friends Heath Green and The Makeshifters delivered. “They don’t usually play weddings, but were kind enough to learn a bunch of covers for us, and let a rotating cast of our musically inclined wedding guests sit in with them,” Dawn says. “Toward the end of the night, it was pretty much musical mayhem.” The Glory Fires didn’t play the reception in their formal configuration, but Dawn remembers all members of the band, including her husband, taking the stage at some point throughout the night. One of her fondest memories from the day was stepping back and seeing her guests enjoying the music as much as she did.

Camp Skyline was the perfect non-traditional venue for this unique couple. Guests were able to relax, mingle and spill out onto the campgrounds during the reception.

Camp Skyline was the perfect non-traditional venue for this unique couple. Guests were able to relax, mingle and spill out onto the campgrounds during the reception.

Kids were truly in their element at the Riley-Bains wedding. How many weddings come complete with tire-swing entertainment?

Kids were truly in their element at the Riley-Bains wedding. How many weddings come complete with tire-swing entertainment?

Dawn’s advice to brides is to prioritize carefully while wedding planning. “Decide early what aspects of the planning you care most about, focus on those, and then, if you are fortunate enough to have help, pass off the other duties,” Dawn says. “This will also help you later on if things aren't quite working out. If it's one of the things you really care about, then it's worth the effort to make it work. If it's not, you can let it go. Focus your efforts on what will matter most to you.”

Dawn’s advice to brides is to prioritize carefully while wedding planning. “Decide early what aspects of the planning you care most about, focus on those, and then, if you are fortunate enough to have help, pass off the other duties,” Dawn says. “This will also help you later on if things aren’t quite working out. If it’s one of the things you really care about, then it’s worth the effort to make it work. If it’s not, you can let it go. Focus your efforts on what will matter most to you.”

Fueled by grilled cheese and good music, Lee and Dawn’s guests danced the night away atop Lookout Mountain.

Fueled by grilled cheese and good music, Lee and Dawn’s guests danced the night away atop Lookout Mountain.

Though Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires didn’t formally play at the reception, Dawn says that all members of the band took the stage to accompany their friends Heath Green & the Makeshifters at some point, including her husband!

Though Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires didn’t formally play at the reception, Dawn says that all members of the band took the stage to accompany their friends Heath Green & The Makeshifters at some point, including her husband!

Cheers to the Mr. & Mrs.!

Cheers to the Mr. & Mrs.!

“Watching all the kids on stage rocking out was really great,” Dawn says. “I think for some of the younger ones, this might have been their first rock show, which makes me proud.”

We can’t think of anything more fitting for this rockstar couple. Cheers to you, Lee and Dawn!

RESOURCES:

Photography: Dixie Pixel Photography
Wedding planner: Mariée Ami
Reception dress: Maggie Sottero from Diane’s Formal Affair
Wedding cake: Barb’s Cakes
Groom’s cake: Ethel Steele, available at 205-222-1941
Flowers: Rosegolden Flowers
Ceremony & reception: Camp Skyline
Catering: Shindigs Catering
Band: Heath Green and The Makeshifters
Hair & makeup: Abby Moorer
Merchandise & stationery design: Collaboration between the bride and Mary Baugh at Mariée Ami; printing by Patrick Masterson Letterpress.
Guest accommodations: Camp Skyline

red heart

Want the best of everything local? Download our SB App. It’s FREE!

Share with your friends!