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Archive for Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lawrence woman helps make dream weddings a reality on low budget

January 27, 2013

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Mattie Neely, of Lawrence, has a passion for making people happy through helping brides and decorating weddings on a budget. Neely spends countless hours putting together flowers, beads, bows and other wedding decor.

Mattie Neely, of Lawrence, has a passion for making people happy through helping brides and decorating weddings on a budget. Neely spends countless hours putting together flowers, beads, bows and other wedding decor.

Mattie Neely has been decorating weddings and helping brides for more than 10 years and has accumulated many reusable wedding items along the way.

Mattie Neely has been decorating weddings and helping brides for more than 10 years and has accumulated many reusable wedding items along the way.

Lucille Stewart, of Lawrence, said she felt like royalty on her wedding day — despite spending only $1,000.

Stewart’s purple-, forest green- and cream-colored wedding looked a lot more expensive than it was thanks to Mattie Neely, a Lawrence resident whose hobby is decorating and helping brides who are on a limited budget.

“She takes this tiny, little, nothing building and turns it into a princess land,” said Jean Ann Pike, the store manager at the Social Service League in Lawrence, where Neely is a volunteer. “It is beautiful: incredible amounts of lace, flowers and ribbons. It just looks like every little girl’s dream come true.”

For Stewart, it was a dream come true and more. Her wedding was held at the Praise Temple Church of God, 315 E. Seventh St., in 2010. The Rev. Paul Winn married the Stewarts, while his wife, Elaine Winn, helped Neely decorate the wedding.

“Mattie and the pastor’s wife explained to me what a wedding was and what to expect,” Stewart said. “They helped me pick out a nice-looking dress and took care of the girly side of it, because I didn’t grow up with a mom. My mom passed when I was 8, and they stepped in and acted like a mom to me.”

Some of the brides Neely has helped, including Stewart, were members of the Praise Temple Church and did not have to pay for the church or the minister. Brides who aren’t members of the church are required to make donations to the church.

Neely has been decorating weddings and helping brides for more than 10 years and has accumulated many reusable wedding items along the way. She keeps everything in her attic, which is full of colorful ribbons, artificial flowers, vases, hats, bouquets and dresses in many sizes. She rearranges these items to create something new for each wedding. Many of the items were donated or bought by Neely at a low cost from thrift stores, garage sales and craft stores.

“I’ve always liked to create things,” Neely said. “I just do it for fun. There’s no pay in it. I’m blessed by it, just by watching the happiness people get.”

With an eye for design, Neely has the ability to turn an old wedding dress into a beautiful altar cover, candle holder, table runner or flower basket.

“Mattie has a special gift of wedding decorating and floral design,” Elaine Winn said.

And the people she helps with her gift certainly appreciate it.

“It made me feel great,” Stewart said. “It made me feel special. They were very helpful in all kinds of ways.”

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

This all sounds wonderful in that brides with limited means will be able to make their special day be just what they want, a fantastic one to remember. I hope that Ms. Mattie Neely is with us to enjoy her hobby for many decades to come. But I think that usually the grooms don't care that much, they just want to make their brides happy.

I used to have a hobby of computing the cost of a wedding per month of marriage. That is, if $12,000 had been spent on the wedding, and the divorce was one year later, the wedding had cost $1,000 per month. I thought that was ridiculous, and I got it in my head that I didn't want a wedding at all, I wanted a marriage. But, I never did find and complete the task with a woman that shared that goal.

The solution is an elopement at the courthouse, and hopefully the weather will be nice so that it can be done on the front steps, that's the best place. Don't tell anybody until afterwards, just show up with your identification, tell the judge what you want to do, summon the county clerk, and have a couple of the secretaries step away from their desks to be witnesses. They'll want to see this, for sure, everyone wants to go to a wedding, especially if it's an elopement.

That's what I wanted to do, but C. was on and off about whether she was willing or not. And then, about the time we really needed to do that right now, things went all to hell, and the rest is history.

I should never have been so stubborn. There's a lot of fish in the sea, and she was not nearly as good of a catch as she thought she was.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow, you sure make that courthouse steps wedding sound good!

I had a fantasy of a 50 year wedding anniversary, and hearing someone say, "And they got married on the courthouse steps!" But, that was not to be.

Actually, when I was 19, in 1974, I had a girlfriend, M., that might have done it, if I had gotten really pushy about it. I sure wish I had tried. And you know what? I'm sure her parents would have approved, I fit right into the family. I've thought about her so many times.

http://www.worldsoffun.org/review.asp?ParkID=1&ID=1265&ParentID=28

Rae Hudspeth 1 year, 10 months ago

You folks sure have a way of making lovely articles into nasty trashed out junk with your comments, all for thinking that you are being funny and in reality, quite narcissistic.

I, for one, am happy to see that someone in this little world of ours makes dreams come true for those who thought they'd never see it.

Thank you, Rebecca, Mattie, and Jean Ann. And thank you, Lucille for sharing your story with us. Don't let these party-poopers rain on your lovely parade.

kernal 1 year, 10 months ago

I only see one comment that could remotely be considered "nasty", but maybe that's because there's so much truth in it. I don't think it detracts from the story but that it enhances why Maggie has a better solution for brides.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

"This all sounds wonderful in that brides with limited means will be able to make their special day be just what they want, a fantastic one to remember. I hope that Ms. Mattie Neely is with us to enjoy her hobby for many decades to come."

Ending with: "I should never have been so stubborn."

So that's "nasty trashed out junk," in your opinion. OK, I suppose everyone has an opinion.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

And then to follow it with the nostalgia of a long lost first love, even. You're right, that is for sure "nasty trashed out junk."

Jean1183 1 year, 10 months ago

Mattie is one of the sweetest, kindest people that I have ever met! Thanks for sharing this story about her.

Bobbi Reid 1 year, 10 months ago

Mattie is such a sweet lady, she taught my oldest daughter in Head Start. I'm glad to see a story on her! She deserves it.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

Weddings have classically been a FAMILY event. And in my family still are.
My daughter just got married last September. Her wedding was over a year in the making and, either financially or practically, ever member of her family and many, many friends had something to do with it. I got her dress. Her dad did the rentals of chairs and such. Her aunt provided the cake. Her husband's parents provided the food. Her own husband and his friends did a lot of the crafty things with the bows and decorations. Her cousin's wife did her hair and make up. We all chipped in on the cost of the venue (the Vinland Fair grounds. And it was BEAUTIFUL.)
I have no idea how much it cost in the end. There was no "budget" as such. If there was a need, someone provided for it. There were over 100 people at that wedding and, in one way or another, almost every one of them contributed to it. Everyone of us had a little stamp of pride in what we provided and there was no criticism of the dress (which was beautifully hand made with love in every stitch), the food, (which was made in her future mother in law's kitchen), the flowers or the decorations.
We watched them get married (and cried), we ate, we drank, we made much merriment and we celebrated the beginning of marriage for two very loved young people. It was a far better gift than a toaster or a coffee pot. (Which they got anyway. :) )
.If the only reason that people do weddings is to compete with other brides or make a social statement, they're doing it wrong.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

That sounds so wonderful, and is certainly something for everyone to remember forever!

What I hate are the big expensive glitzy weddings that you hear or read about, especially the celebrity weddings, where the cost is announced for everyone to know all about. That's how I was able to do my "wedding cost per month of marriage calculation." I've noticed that in weddings like that, the marriage often does not last very long.

There's a Jewish, and possibly from other cultures as well, tradition that I like a lot: Every bride is beautiful on her wedding day.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

I really wish more cultures had something like the hora. I've always loved it as a perfect symbol of what weddings are really all about. I once attended a wedding where the couple getting married had German ancestry and the first dance at the reception was something similar; a march with the couple at the head of it.
I also think it's very sad that, these days, people disdain the "do-it-yourself" wedding. They have to have a wedding planner and a fancy hotel venue and a dress costing thousands of dollars. Then you have a cast of spoiled little "bridezillas" and bankrupt parents. So much gets lost in that sort of thing.

Ron Holzwarth 1 year, 10 months ago

I was a guest at a rather wealthy woman's wedding in 1980 or so, and it was so beautiful, and wonderfully catered. It was held at the Hotel Savoy in Kansas City, which was built in the 1930s or maybe before, and totally restored since. Of course the bride was too tasteful to ever mention the price of what that had cost, and the price to feed the something like 80 guests. The food was fantastic! But we all had to pay for our own hotel rooms though, she didn't pay for that.

In any case, the wedding was obviously very expensive, and the marriage lasted about four years. So yes cait48, a lot got lost in that sort of thing!

evilpenguin 1 year, 10 months ago

I was always raised to be conscious of living within my means.

My best friend spent $17,000 on her wedding, and I know that, 5 years later, they are still paying off the debt.

When my husband and I got married, we went to the courthouse and had the judge do it. Our witnesses were my in laws. We went to dinner afterward, then went to see a movie and got a hotel room for the night.

A year later, we had a proper bash for all the family and friends that could not attend the actual ceremony.

We had a nice meal for our close family (which my parents covered)

We had a blessing in a church (for a donation)

We hired the hall at the bar my husband worked in (free)

We made a playlist of our favorite celebration music and played it through my dad's PA system for the reception/ party (free)

We made all the food for the rest of the guests ourselves (cost of ingredients)

I bought a simple white dress ($100)

My husband hired an outfit ($60)

I bought a small bouquet for myself and my maid of honor ($60)

We designed, printed and cut our own invitations (way less expensive)

We're not super cheap - we just really wanted our wedding to be small and fun and a celebration of our time together. I've never regretted not having a giant ridiculous wedding, it just isn't that important. Though I know that I am in the minority on this one....

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