Mary McVearry and Chris Austin

Married October 4, 2014

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Photo by Christine Kennedy

The couple: Mary McVearry, 35, grew up in Bethesda and graduated from Little Flower School and Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School. She is a physical therapist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Chris Austin, 36, grew up in Missouri and moved to the Washington area in 2006. He is deputy director of congressional affairs for the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. They live in Friendship Heights and are expecting their first baby in May.

How they met: In 2012, a friend of Mary’s met Chris at a fundraiser and thought he’d be a good match for her. She was planning a trip to do volunteer work in Africa and Chris had spent time there in the Peace Corps, so the friend thought they’d have a lot to talk about. He set the two up on a blind date.
The first date: Chris, who lived in an apartment at Upstairs at Bethesda Row at the time, invited Mary to the nearby Redwood Restaurant & Bar for appetizers and drinks. “I showed up with my itinerary and calendar and talked business for half an hour,” Mary says. They quickly realized they had more in common than traveling to Africa—and ended up talking for three more hours.

The proposal: A year after they started dating, the couple headed to Cumberland, Maryland, where Mary and her sister were competing in a triathlon in Rocky Gap State Park. Mary suspected Chris might be up to something when they were packing and he didn’t want to share a suitcase. After Mary crossed the finish line, Chris suggested they go hiking. “They have a lot of pretty trails right where the race finished,” Mary says. “He kept pushing for us to go for a hike.” Mary, exhausted from the race, agreed to a short walk. At one of the overlooks, he proposed. “I was surprised, yet I kind of knew,” Mary says. “We had talked about getting married, but I actually thought [the proposal] was going to be a couple months from then.”

The wedding: Mary and Chris were married on Oct. 4, 2014, in an outdoor ceremony at the Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington, North Carolina. Mary’s parents own a house in Wilmington and the couple visit often and love it there. “We wanted somewhere that most people could drive yet wasn’t here in D.C.,” Mary says.


Photo by Christine Kennedy

Number of guests: 165

What made the event special: “I learned from going to several weddings that I actually like when they’re remote because you get to spend more time with all the guests and get to know people from different groups,” Mary says. “We had more opportunities to spend individual time with people.”

Favorite moment: On the day of the wedding, Mary was more emotional and nervous than she’d expected. Her favorite moment was when they said “I do” and then walked down the aisle. “Not the anticipation leading up to that!” she says. She also says a toast Chris gave for her was “genuine and heartfelt.”

Favorite detail: The couple incorporated starfish into several elements, including the invitations, programs and table arrangements. “We picked it because it was beachy, but then when I looked up the meaning of the starfish, it means ‘Mary, Queen of the Sea,’ ” Mary says. They also liked what it stood for. “The symbolism of it is basically regenerating love because starfish keep regenerating,” she says. “Love through trying times.”

The music and moves: Mary and Chris took pre-wedding dance lessons at Chevy Chase Ballroom, and enjoyed dancing at their wedding. “We had the band learn a Bruce Springsteen song, ‘Mary’s Place,’ ” Mary says. “My dad loves Bruce Springsteen.”


Photo by Christine Kennedy

Cost-cutting tips: “We went with all local vendors because the cost there is so much lower,” Mary says. Mary’s mom acted as wedding planner. The couple considered hiring a pro since the wedding was out of town. “By the time we priced it out we had already done half the stuff anyway,” Mary says.

Time to relax: “I didn’t want people to feel overscheduled,” Mary says. Wedding guests were invited to a casual beachside barbecue the night before at a family friend’s house on Wrightsville Beach. On the wedding day, guests had time to play golf or tennis or hang out on the beach before the 5 p.m. ceremony.

The gown: Mary purchased her gown—a one-shoulder silk sheath by designer Amy Kuschel—at a sample sale at Hitched in Georgetown.


Photos by Christine Kennedy

The honeymoon: The couple chose Corsica, a Mediterranean island that is part of France, after listening to an audiobook by Daniel Silva that is set there. “We thought it sounded interesting, so we looked it up,” Mary says. They split their vacation between the north and south parts of the island, exploring historical sites and relaxing on the beach. One day, when the couple left the beach to get lunch, they returned to find wild boars had ransacked their beach chairs and belongings, getting mud on everything.

The photos: North Carolina photographer Christine Kennedy documented the day.

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