In their first month of college at the University of Colorado Boulder, Mandy Lyne and Matthew Whalen met at a potluck among friends — and a spark was lit. “We dated for a bit freshman year but I was too footloose and fancy-free to settle down yet,” says Mandy. The two remained touchstones for each other throughout college, remaining friends then getting back together in their senior year and moving to Austin, Texas, together after graduation.
The couple, who have a soft spot for West Texas, headed to Hill Country last November to recharge. “One day during that trip, we drove out for a hike in Fort Davis,” says Mandy. “He shocked me when he proposed with a Georgian ring I had lost out on from one of my favorite antique jewelry dealers in England. Turns out he was the one who outbid me!”
A jewelry antiques dealer at Uncommon Objects, Mandy has a knack for seeing the beauty in the subtle, the different, the uncommon — and that aesthetic is apparent in her one-of-a-kind wedding. When it came time to plan for the wedding, Mandy and Matthew knew that their beloved Texas Hill Country was the ideal setting, not only for the special place it held in their hearts but also for its sparse, rugged beauty. “The light out in Hill Country has a warmth that I love. It really feels like the light is gold,” says Mandy, who wanted the wedding to exude the natural, wild, other-worldly elegance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “As soon as we walked into Prospect House, we fell in love. They built the most beautiful blank canvas for weddings. We went pretty minimal with our decorations, with the exception of the floral-decorated mobile in the reception hall.”
True to Mandy’s down-to-earth sensibility and fun-loving spirit, her dream dress had one requirement. “My number one priority was to have a dress I could dance in and feel comfortable in, all day. I really wanted a gold dress but I couldn’t find any that felt quite right for the occasion. Since I couldn’t find a gold dress, my bridesmaids all got to sparkle instead,” says Mandy. “I found a photo of the Nicole Miller dress I wanted online but it was from a few seasons ago and no longer available. Then, somehow, as if on cue, one popped up on eBay in my size — and I jumped on it!”
Mandy’s bridesmaids, or her “golden girls” as she refers to them, each chose sparkling garments of gold that reflected their style and personalities. The end result was a stunning picture that framed the bride, as if she were the diamond in a band of gold. It also helps when your friends make you glow with laughter and smiles, no matter the setting. “I don’t think we’ve got enough time to even scratch the surface of what all those beautiful ladies mean to me,” says Mandy. “It was such a dream to have them all by my side throughout the wedding process. I’m a lucky lady to be surrounded by such strong, fun, wonderful women.”
Matthew and Mandy decided to embrace the simple, striking beauty of the cube frame at Prospect House’s altar, keeping it bare. This also worked out because it was threatening to rain all day, and any floral installation would have been seriously compromised. But the churning blue-gray clouds and Texas breezes created a romantic backdrop as Matthew and Mandy stood under the stark white square. The couple wrote their vows together, incorporating covenants from all different faiths and elements that resonated with them.
But for all of their heartfelt words, the couple managed to keep smiles on everyone’s faces. “I made some pretty funny mistakes up on the altar, including starting my vows, ‘I, Matthew,’ and then we had to start over,” says Mandy. “Also, I put his ring on the wrong hand — and we had to call a do-over on that, too. Both of those moments made everyone laugh, including us, which helped me get through the vows without crying.”
The ceremony adjourned with a cocktail hour under a gorgeous floral installation in the interior hall. Contigo Catering created a signature cucumber-lime tequila cocktail — perfect for a hot Texas afternoon — along with some fabulously creative appetizers, followed by a family-style dinner with a succulent summery menu. The only thing to savor more than the food were the sweet words uttered in the speeches. “They were unbelievable. My parents, my sisters and Matthew’s brother spoke, and all of them made me smile and cry. Their words were so genuine and full of love that they filled the room with happiness,” says Mandy.
The newlyweds combined the father-daughter dance and the first dance, so they could get everyone out on the dance floor. “I started dancing with my dad, and Matthew started with his mom and, halfway through, Matthew cut in and we got to gallop around together,” says Mandy. “We went with Bob Dylan’s ‘On A Night Like This,’ because we wanted something upbeat. It was a very silly and fun first dance.” They even skipped the cake-cutting ceremony and opted for tiny — and very popular — pies to ensure the happy crowd could keep celebrating on the dance floor.
“My mama had told me beforehand that it all feels like a dream — and she was so right. Getting to see people from all different parts of my life dancing and celebrating together was such a dream,” says Mandy. “It’s hard to explain but it really felt like magic.”
Mandy’s Midsummer Night’s Dream seems not only to have captured the look of Shakespeare’s magical world, but also the feel of a place “where the wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine,” as the bard himself describes, adding at the play’s resolution, “Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth — Joy, gentle friends! Joy and fresh days of love accompany your hearts!”
In the bard’s words, may many “fresh days of love accompany your hearts,” Matt and Mandy!
Venue: Prospect House
Photography: Rick Cortez Photography
Bride’s gown: Nicole Miller
Bridesmaids’ dresses: whatever gold garment their hearts desired
Hair: SALON by milk + honey
Makeup: Jourdan Dudgeon
Groom’s & groomsmen’s formalwear: J.Crew
Invitations, programs & menu cards: Minted
Flowers: Bouquets by Animal Farm Permaculture Center; Mobile by Events with Heart
Wedding coordinator: Stephanie Henry of Events with Heart
Catering: Contigo Catering
Music: William Sterling Steffen put together an amazing band with members of Sometimes a Legend and Mother Falcon
Cake: Tiny Pies
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