Mary McMullen & Charlie Welch
At First Sight
Charlie Welch knew there was something about Mary McMullen from the moment they met.
Text by Jessica Elliott & Photography by Stephanie Brazzle Photography
Social butterfly Charlie Welch could strike up a conversation with anyone—that’s until he met Mary McMullen. The Auburn University students shared a mutual friend and had convened at Mary’s house where she was “studying for a test, wearing no makeup, and looking grungy,” she says. Yet Charlie was at a loss for words. “I totally choked—I couldn’t even get my name out,” he says. “I was just making these noises, and she was like, ‘What?’” Subsequent run-ins around campus were much the same—Charlie couldn’t even say hello. Mary thought he was shy.
Months later, in January 2015, “I finally mustered up the courage to ask her out,” Charlie says. A friend advised him to skip a cliché date to a nice restaurant and take her to Walmart. “He said we were going to get produce,” Mary says, and laughs.
Nervous Charlie then took her to his place to make coffee from his newly acquired French press, thinking that might make an impression. “He made it absolutely wrong—there were grounds of coffee in the drink,” Mary says. “The whole date was a bust, but I had so much fun, I didn’t even care.” (She also didn’t mind when, on the second date, he asked for her help opening a bottle of wine—he had used a corkscrew on a screw-top.)
Mary McMullen Welch
“He’s so passionate about life, and I love being along for the ride.”
A year and a half later, Charlie proposed along a trail near his neighborhood home in Atlanta—a placed they loved. “I had a fraternity brother in a tree with a camera and told him not to breathe,” Charlie says. They celebrated afterward at a party he’d organized with family and friends.
Then it was Mary’s turn to plan. She’s good at decision-making and hosting elegant parties. (It’s one reason the Wichita Falls native is now the event coordinator for Bird Bakery.) Preparation came easy. She had long envisioned a wedding in “a big, white house with a tent in back,” befitting Father of the Bride, and found the ideal setting on her first scouting trip to Arlington Hall. She devised a palette of soft blues and neutral tones and met her planning match in Rebecca Marín Shepherd of The Wildflowers.
Rebecca helped Mary orchestrate a classic Southern spring wedding with an abundance of personal touches. Monogrammed Bird Bakery cookies were given as welcome gifts, escort cards were presented on family silver, and Mustang Donuts were served at the send-off. Charlie’s contributions included championing for the cocktail hour’s towering array of cheeses and jams and selecting the live band. And, he found black-velvet slippers to wear with his tux.
On April 8, 2017, in idyllic 70-degree temperatures, nearly 300 guests gathered for the couple’s wedding day. From the moment the ceremony began with a choir singing “Glory, Glory Hallelujah,” a nod to Mary’s volunteer trips to Africa, to picturesque vows under the greenery-wrapped gazebo and dinner and dancing under a sheer tent, “it was incredible,” Charlie says. Despite his jitters, the entire day went off without a hitch—much like their relationship. “He does really absurd things, but it works because I let him wave his crazy flag,” Mary says. “He’s so passionate about life, and I love being along for the ride.”