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Society nuptials done in Austin's relaxing style

Michael Barnes, Out & About

Staff Writer
Austin 360

In "Philadelphia Story," the indestructable 1940 comedy of manners starring Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant,a reporter and a photographer infiltrate a high society wedding.

Your social columnist has never stooped to that particular sort of subterfuge.

Holding no engraved invitation in hand, I left Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker well enough alone, did not pursue Richard Garriott and Laetitia Pichot de Cayeux to Paris, kept my distance from the Julie Blakeslee and John Spong nuptials, and didn't even know about Fox News Happening Now co-anchor Jenna Lee tying the knot with U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Commander Leif Babin at the Old Glory Ranch near Wimberley until after it was over and done.

Saturday, however, I was among the lucky guests invited to the charmed wedding of nonprofit consultant Victoria Neal and landscape designer Jeff Neal.

Miraculously, the heat did not melt the party of 200 that gathered under the leaning oaks at Mercury Hall on South First Street and Cardinal Lane. Except during the ceremony itself, folks shuffled between the lightly air-conditioned hall, a former church, and the tolerable cool of evening shade outside.

Among the couples in attendance were symphony conductor Peter Bay and singer Mela Sarajane Dailey; opera conductor Richard Buckley and real estate broker Molly Anderson; philanthropist Julie Blakeslee and magazine editor John Spong; financial whiz Lynn Yeldell and magazine publisher Alisa Weldon; publicist Kevin Smothers and environmental music designer Michael Pungello.

The bride wore a slim white sleeveless dress and the groom a chic truncated tuxedo top. The bride's son, Jack Corcoran, escorted his teary mother down the grassy aisle. Nondenominational Rev. Connie Holmea Larson read among the most beautiful and inspiring vows I've ever heard. (Did I cry? Of course. Why even ask?)

The party repaired to the hall for barbecue and dancing to the Gourds, the amazing alt country band that has energized Austin social events for more than a decade.

This might have counted as society wedding for Austin, but there wasn't a snooty Philadelphia Main Line note during the whole long, gorgeous evening.

mbarnes@statesman.com