Tying the Knot: Mountaintop Wedding

September 11, 2014 in Fall 2014 Issue by Lookout Alabama

MOUNTAINTOPWED

photo by MOONbelle Photography

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Atlanta couple celebrate their new life together at a secluded, wooded venue that includes Preston House and the iconic Mentone Wedding Chapel.

by BRETT JAILLET

After Grace Ong and Lucas Moore got engaged, they began the hunt for just the right spot to say their vows. The Atlanta residents wanted a place driving distance from the city, but far away enough that it felt like a bit of a getaway. After they discovered Mentone, Ala., known for its artsy vibe, historic buildings and breathtaking views, they knew they’d found the right place.

“The waterfall is gorgeous,” says Ong, alluding to nearby DeSoto Falls, a part of DeSoto State Park, where the couple had their engagement photos taken.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]

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[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()]Next was the venue: They soon stumbled across Preston House. Teeming with quaint Southern elegance and complete with a wrap around porch, beamed ceilings and a stone fireplace, it was perfect for the simple-and-sweet affair they had in mind.

The Preston House sits on the same property as the Mentone Wedding Chapel (a bit small for Grace and Lucas’s event), which has become a visual icon in the area for it’s old-fashioned architecture and wooded surroundings. Both the chapel and Preston House are operated by husband-and-wife team Bill and Linda Patterson.

For the Pattersons, it all began with the chapel. When they came across an old church bell while antique shopping one day, Bill vowed he would build his wife a chapel to house the bell. It was something he had in his mind anyway, he says.
So in 1991, he built it. Patterson says it’s a replica of early Appalachian churches. “I built it from a childhood memory,” he says. “My ancestors were those circuit-riding ministers way up in the mountains. When I was a child, I would visit up there. They had these little chapels that were only used once a month when the minister would ride in on a
horse. That inspired it.”

The chapel is constructed from rough-sawn pine, and a tower with a cedar-shake roof contains the bell the two purchased. Light filters inside through stained-glass windows and doors. The focal point of the interior is a 50-candle candelabra, positioned to encircle the wedding party while they stand at the front of the chapel.

Twenty-three years later, the Mentone Wedding Chapel and Preston House average more than 100 weddings a year, drawing both locals and out-of-towners from as far away as Poland, Russia and the United Kingdom, Patterson says, because of the chapel’s unique structure and setting as well as the wedding packages and coordination offered.

Built as a reception house and for larger weddings (the chapel can house up to 50 guests), Preston House was a later addition, also constructed by Patterson.

While Bill is the brawn behind the venue, Linda operates it. She does everything from day-of coordination to photography, flower arrangements and catering – something Ong and Moore welcomed. Linda arranged their flowers and catered the reception.
“I wanted a simple and small wedding, but at the same time, I wanted it to have pretty details,” Ong says.
Linda coordinated it all, she says. “I barely had to do any planning.”

The couple were married in front of the fireplace with about 100 guests in attendance. Then the space was quickly converted into a reception area. Guests enjoyed a buffet of heavy hors d’oeuvres and dined outside on the porch. After the party was over, the newlyweds wandered to a nearby field for some wedding portraits.

Ong and Moore also took advantage of the property’s other accommodations, which Patterson built in the same style as Preston House.

They rented Alpine Place, which boasts three bedrooms and three bathrooms for wedding parties, conferences or private retreats. It also sits just along the wedge of DeSoto State Park that contains the waterfall Ong fell in love with. The Gate House, a farmhouse featuring three bedrooms and two bathrooms, also is available.

Ong would recommend any couple tie the knot at Preston House or Mentone Wedding Chapel, “as long as they are OK with someone else doing all the planning,” she laughs.

It’s that capacity to do it all for couples that Patterson credits with the venue’s success. “We provide super quality for a minimal expense, and Linda’s attention to detail and her personality draw people in,” he says.

For more information about Mentone Wedding Chapel, Preston House or retreat facilities, see mentoneweddingchapel.com[/s2If]