Austin Wedding Mall
Click to return to Real Texas Weddings listing

< Back to Real Weddings

Amy Sonnen & Dr. Tim Vachris
June 27, 2010

written by
Katie Chancellor
photography by
Carlea J. Photography

Of all the wedding disasters that a bride fears, the complete destruction of her chosen venue is probably on a list of frightening but highly inconceivable concerns. A mere two weeks from Amy Sonnen's planned marriage to Dr. Timothy Vachris, the staff at the highly acclaimed Barr Mansion was sadly forced to contact the engaged couple with the devastating news that the Artisan Ballroom had burned to the ground after being struck by lightning.

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Amy's initial reaction to the news about the fire was one of shock. "I felt my heart sink. I was just devastated. Every detail I fell in love with was now gone," she said. All that remained was a hope that the mansion's staff could take a simple outdoor tent and recreate as similar an atmosphere as possible.

Despite the turn of events, Amy and her fiancé Tim stayed resilient through the last-minute changes and refused to let the disaster take away the happiness of their special day. Instead they accepted the new situation and kept a light-hearted attitude that the worst had already happened. Their dream of an elegant, fun, and unique wedding at the Barr Mansion would simply be tweaked a bit.

With a positive mindset, they worked closely with the Mansion's event coordinator Abby Daigle to maintain the integrity of their original vision for their wedding. "She was all about making sure our wedding was everything we hoped for," said Amy.

The staff worked tirelessly to transform the tent structure to a stunning substitute for the ballroom. Daigle described the work of adding "tons of curly willow and twinkle lights draped over the beams, professional lighting to add spotlights on the tables, and uplights around the perimeter of the room, fresh plants inside to bring the gardens in, outdoor lighting in the gardens so you can see plants and flowers in the evening from inside through the clear siding, a hard floor, air-conditioning, a stone pathway leading to the entrance." The original Artisan Ballroom might have been lost, but Amy and Tim's wedding would be as beautiful as they had imagined.
Before the Sunday ceremony at the mansion, the couple treated their wedding party, which consisted of their closest friends and family, to a pre-wedding celebration that began with a fun boat ride on Lake Travis and ended later that night at the relaxing Lakeway Resort. The event took the place of a formal rehearsal dinner that was unnecessary as Amy and Tim had chosen to forego the traditional formality of attendants. Instead they decided to make the wedding party just that: a party.
The following day, the ceremony took place on the grounds at the Barr Mansion in the shade of a large pecan tree equipped with ceiling fans to combat the summer heat. Before taking their seats for the evening event, guests enjoyed green apple martinis and wrote well-wishes to the couple on pre-cut squares of fabric, which would later become a keepsake quilt for Amy and Tim to treasure.

The informally appointed wedding attendants wore corsages and boutonnieres but stayed seated with the other guests. In another twist on tradition, Amy made her entrance alone and met Tim at the back of the aisle. The two of them walked hand in hand to the front to present themselves for marriage, and a friend and former colleague of Tim's led the couple in their exchange of vows.

After the evening ceremony, the newlyweds made their way inside the outdoor pavilion for the first time that day. Any hesitations they initially had with a tent reception immediately disappeared. "I was blown away!" Amy described of her reaction to seeing the decorated tent for the first time. Her groom joined her in excitement with the setting. "We walked through the side doors and were absolutely amazed. The quaint tent had been transformed into a beautiful ballroom," said Tim.

Wedding photographer Carlea Wilson of Carlea J Photography was similarly impressed by the replacement. "The same earthy, natural elements that Barr Mansion is known for were perfectly incorporated into the tent decor, from the curly willow flanking the entire ceiling to the living chandelier wreath of roses and tea lights…It was all so elegant and timeless," she described.

Instead of a sit-down dinner, the couple treated their guests to a delicious dessert and cocktail reception full of goodies such as a vanilla bean cake with buttercream icing, apple cupcakes with brown sugar icing, an ice cream bar with various toppings, and a candy buffet with endless options in addition to frozen margaritas and more green apple martinis. The night full of dancing, dining on sweets, and even having pictures taken at a photo booth created the celebratory atmosphere that Amy and Tim had wanted all along.

Though only weeks before, the two of them were dealing with the stress of planning the event all over again, the end result was everything they asked for and more. Perhaps Abby Daigle put it best when describing how their initial sadness "quickly turned into confidence and ultimately profound happiness with their wedding day."

The staff at the Barr Mansion is currently in the process of rebuilding the Artisan Ballroom with a few minor improvements yet all of the exquisite details of the original structure. The happy newlyweds reside in Austin where Tim is a family and sports medicine physician and Amy works as a labor and delivery nurse.

Ceremony and Reception Location:
Barr Mansion

Dr. Bobby Huggins

Carlea J Wilson

Wedding Consultant:
Abby Daigle

Barr mansion & Amy's ice cream
(512) 480-0673‎

Abby Daigle

Wedding Cake:
Barr Mansion

Gown Designer:
Sottero & Midgley

Gown & Veil Purchased At:
Ventura's Bridal Salon

Hair & Makeup:
Lakeway resort & spa
(512) 261-6600

Men's Formal Wear:
Men's Warehouse
‎(512) 459-4355

Ceremony Music:
Greenbelt DJ- Joel

Reception Music:
Greenbelt DJ- Joel

Guest Accomodation:
Lakeway resort & spa, driskill hotel
‎(800) 252-9367

Maui, Hawaii

FunPix Photobooth

< Back to Real Weddings