Austin couple's Driftwood wedding transforms into bittersweet celebration of love and life
When Alysa Thornley moved to Austin, the first person she met was Matthew Reininger, her future husband. He was working at bars on the east side, which she frequented. After hanging out with their mutual friends at the Zilker Botanical Garden one day, Reininger asked Thornley on a lunch date to 888 for some pho.
The couple dated for nearly seven years before Reininger proposed during a vacation in Puerto Rico. After a wonderful day spent on the island of Culebra, Reininger took Thornley to a dock with stunning views and popped the question.
“He came up behind me, hugged me, and told me he loved me very much and didn’t want to do this with anyone else,” Thornley remembers. “I think we may have high-fived after.”
The couple were engaged for a year-and-a-half, and wed on October 29, 2017, at Pecan Grove at the Salt Lick, in a ceremony attended by a little over 200 guests.
Putting together the event was truly a group effort. Thornley says, “Our wedding party really went the extra mile to set up everything. We had such a rad team.”
Thornley and Reininger decided on an earthy, forest-inspired theme for their celebration. The groom’s mother brought a trailer full of tables, mirrors, glassware, and lamps, and handmade teepees and pillows to create a kids’ play space.
The couple designed their own photo booth in an old oak tree on the property, and built a pug corral for their friends’ pups in attendance. They also had yard games, including giant Jenga, horseshoes, and cornhole.
While Thornley loved her dress, she knew she wanted a stylish headpiece for the big day, and her florist, Antonio Bond of Transplants, created a memorable crown out of branches for her to wear.
The wedding was officiated by a close friend, the same friend, in fact, who convinced Thornley to go on a date with Reininger in the first place all those years ago.
One of the most memorable moments of the ceremony involved the drone Reininger’s father had recently purchased to take footage of the proceedings. Things didn’t quite go as planned, and as its batteries started to die during the vows, the drone slowly crashed into a tree, inciting laughter all around.
After the short ceremony, everyone moved indoors for a meal of brisket tacos, veggie tacos, and salad catered by Salt Lick BBQ. Then, the fun really began as the ceremony space outdoors was transformed into a dance floor, beautifully illuminated by lighting their friend had set up.
The couple shared their first dance to an original song written and performed by two of their friends, Jolie Musick and Jason Musick. In a tragic turn of events, Jason Musick passed away in a motorcycle accident that same evening upon leaving the reception.
“The next day, we had so many people stop by and bring us food, just loving on us. It was great to see our community come together and make sure we were doing okay,” Thornley says. “We’ve been trying to separate what happened. Despite everything, it made me feel so confident in our family and friends. It made us a lot closer.”
Rather than having a honeymoon, the couple spent a couple of nights at Hotel Saint Cecilia and jumped straight into opening their own business on the island of Vieques, off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.
Thornley says, “It’s been hard, but we’ve been having a lot of fun together.” One bonus? They get the opportunity to revisit their engagement spot whenever they like.