Austin Brides and Grooms Say ‘I Do’ in Series of Vegas-Style Wedding Ceremonies

Little White Chapel Popup provides a stylish, affordable and safe way for couples to marry during the coronavirus pandemic

By Vanessa Blankenship
Photographs by Cory Ryan Photography
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The bride wore pink and the groom wore a cowboy hat.

Amber Garza and Brian McAnulty exchanged vows and sealed it with a kiss at Mercury Hall on July 5, as an Elvis Presley impersonator officiated an intimate, classic country-themed wedding.

Channeling Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, McAnulty and Garza – who reside in Manor – tied the knot as part of the Little White Chapel Popup wedding series that took place over the weekend in Austin.

Dating since 2013, the couple describe themselves as “a Tinder success” after meeting on the dating app. “We laugh because we would have never met in real life,” Garza says. “And we’ve been together ever since we met at Central Market on South Lamar as our first date, over a turkey sandwich.”

In mid-January, Brian proposed to Amber in Terlingua, Texas, but the pair soon realized any plans for a large wedding would have to be postponed as coronavirus infections swept across the country, making people everywhere ill and bringing hardships to Austin’s economy.

Despite Travis County shelter-in-place orders and social distancing measures, Amber, a Southwest flight attendant, and her fiancé were determined to be legally married in 2020.

“For us … it’s now or never. We didn’t want to keep putting it off any longer because we’ve already put it off for seven years now,” Garza says. “This is the present. We’re just going to go for it and see what happens.”

The couple was toying with the idea of eloping when they heard about the Little White Chapel Popup, a temporary Vegas-style wedding venue for couples and small groups presented by Contigo Catering and Bird Dog Wedding.

With prices starting at $1500, the catering company and event planning team organized five ceremonies on July 5 and July 6, creating a fun, fast and stylish wedding experience for all participants.

Partnering with top vendors like Remi + Gold, Premiere Event Rentals, Pop & Drop and Vogue Vignette, the pop-up wedding series brought thoughtful and curated touches to each ceremony.

“In all these crazy, hard times, it’s still sweet that people really want to connect and commit to each other,” says Bird Dog Wedding’s lead planner and logistics Monica Rheingold.

But social gatherings are a major concern as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the state of Texas. In response, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide order last week requiring Texans to wear a mask in counties with more than 20 coronavirus cases.

Monitoring the pandemic was a top priority for Contigo Catering, Bird Dog Wedding and all the vendors, who implemented safety measures to protect newlyweds and their guests.

“Everyone wants to make this experience safe and fun for the couples,” Rheingold says. “We’ve got everyone wearing masks and intensely sanitizing in between every section. And everyone has signed off on a COVID waiver.”

Garza and McAnulty’s guests wore masks to comply with protocol — and bandanas over them to fit their western theme.

Another couple, Taylor Waltmon and Andy Pokorny, initially planned to have a large and more traditional ceremony at Mercury Hall early next year. But with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the pair kept having to push their wedding to a later date. 

After reading about the Little White Chapel Popup series on Mercury Hall’s Instagram page, they decided to move forward with a small wedding and keep the later date as a big reception.

“People have learned that we shouldn’t be waiting,” Waltmon says. “Let’s just do it and have fun with it and invite only our closest family.”

The newlyweds pledged their love for each other on Monday, July 6, in front of 16 members of their family. “The icing on top” of the experience for the couple was a livestream included in the wedding package. Hereafter Films, an Austin-based husband and wife team specializing in wedding videography, provided the tech solution that allowed many more loved ones to tune in and witness the nuptials.

Pokorny’s grandmother could not attend the in-person ceremony, but the groom wanted to make sure she would be able to witness the special day from the comfort and safety of home.

“I really wanted a live streaming of it,” explains Pokorny. “It allows all the grandparents and friends watch the ceremony as well since we can’t all be together.”

The intimate and personal celebration is a dream come true for the duo, and they are thankful to share these memories with their 16-month-old daughter Drew.

During these unimaginable circumstances in the time of the coronavirus, Waltmon now has a deeper appreciation for her loved ones and encourages couples to stay connected. “Embrace the time that you have together, and just be mindful that this is probably the only time that we’ll get to spend every waking moment together,” she says.

The organizers of the Little White Chapel Popup will be doing another wedding series this fall. Visit the website for more information.


Read More From the Summer 2020 Issue


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