By Ashley Tiedt

Photos by Maddie Sullivan Photography

Ami À Vie means “a friend for life,” and that is the best way to describe the mentorship between Neillie Butler and Maggie Hightower. “Maggie was a Mariée Ami bride. That’s how we met her,” Neillie says. Neillie is the owner of Mariée Ami, which is a wedding planning company in Mountain Brook.

Neillie says it all started with a dream in 2009. In 2011, she recalls how Mariée Ami opened its doors and changed the Birmingham wedding industry. Mariée Ami means “friend of the bride,” and in the last 13 years, Neillie says she’s made friends all over the country. Her experience, style and ability to curate a wedding to each bride’s unique taste is the reason that so many dream of being a Mariée Ami bride.

According to Neillie, Ami À Vie is born out of her desire to help women with more than just their wedding day. She believes that while the wedding day is special, all the events leading up to that day and after are equally important. “Brides want everything to match,” she says. “They want it all curated and unique to them, but beyond that, they want the same for bachelorette parties, their wedding showers and other celebrations. This is what brought me to creating Ami À Vie.”

Many brides want to utilize Mariée Ami, but Neillie can only take on so many clients. Ami À Vie allows her to help women with all of life’s little celebrations. It starts with a “party in a box.” Women talk to Neillie about the party they are planning, and she helps with all of the cups, napkins and decorations needed to throw the perfect party, and of course, it all matches.

Everyone remembers how when COVID hit in March 2020, the wedding industry changed. Shortly after, it shut down, and Neillie says she had to pivot. She dove head first into Ami À Vie, helping to provide brides who were forced to push off their wedding day to plan other parties instead.

At the same time, Neillie says that Maggie Hightower was also starting her own company, Happyy Hats, which sells custom patches for hats. “I have brides purchasing these hats, but then they asked if I could help with cups, koozies and decorations for their parties. I saw an opportunity to take this small business to a new level,” Maggie explains.

Maggie says she approached Neillie to discuss expanding her business. “Neillie is so well respected in the wedding industry, and I knew she would be the best mentor for me in growing and expanding my company,” she notes.

Neillie recalls that Maggie’s idea sounded familiar. Because Neillie wasn’t able to give Ami À Vie the time and attention it deserved, she asked Maggie if she would like to purchase the business.

“I have so much love for Ami À Vie,” Neillie says. “There is no one I would rather take over this business than Maggie. She has impeccable style and an eye for detail. She will take Ami À Vie to new heights, and I’m so excited to see how she will grow this business. I have all the faith in the world in Maggie and her dream.”

It is truly a perfect pair. Maggie says she had once been a Mariée Ami bride, making Neillie a friend of the bride. Now that Maggie has taken over, she is considered to be Ami À Vie, a “friend for life.”

When Ami À Vie rebranded in June of this year, Maggie explains that it made a few changes as well. Ami À Vie is now solely a company to help a bride plan a bachelorette party; plus, it provides unique gifts for bridesmaids and shower hostesses. A friend for life is a friend on all occasions. As a bride, her friends for life are the people who stand next to her when she says, “I do.”

Ami À Vie will not only help a bride plan her bachelorette party, but it will also help her customize gifts for her “friends for life.”

“We can help the bride with special gifts in a swag bag for when they show up for the bachelorette party, and we can help with unique gifts that will remind the hostess of the bridal shower of the bride each time they use them,” Maggie says. “We want to help women celebrate other women in all seasons of life, and Ami À Vie is the way we do it.”

So what can a bride expect when she becomes an Ami À Vie client? Personalized service, tailored directly to her. Ami À Vie isn’t just helping the blushing bride. It’s also helping that “friend for life.”

When one is a maid or matron of honor, a lot of planning falls on her. Ami À Vie is here to help take some of that stress away. “We know these women have demanding jobs,” Maggie says. “They are out there killing it and need a little help making the bride’s bachelorette party that much more special. We are passionate about women helping women, and we are here to help anyone who needs help in the planning process.”

Ami À Vie is the perfect companion to the girl who needs a little extra help to plan a classic bachelorette trip. Don’t know where to take the bride? Call Maggie. Need help booking dinner reservations? Call Maggie. Want to book a mixology class, hire a private chef or any other activity? Call Maggie. She can help you with all the decorations, and of course, hats to wear out in the town. Maggie will even create a look book for the bride based on her taste, so she won’t even have to think about what she’s wearing to her party.

Ami À Vie believes that the bride isn’t the only person who should be celebrated. The women who surround and support the bride should feel celebrated as well. In the spirit of women helping women, Maggie partners with women-owned businesses in Birmingham and across the state to create custom gifts for the bride to give to the bridesmaids.

Whether the bride is looking for bachelorette party gifts or thank-you gifts for those standing next to her, Maggie and Ami À Vie will customize each gift to a bridesmaid.

“When I was looking for gifts to give my bridesmaids, I really struggled to find something that felt personal, something classic,” Maggie says. “I wanted to give my friends meaningful gifts that would last and that they could use as a reminder of how much I cared for them.”

Ami À Vie is all about elevating the experience and making the bride and her bridesmaids feel special. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a gift that she will cherish for years and years to come? Ami À Vie is a one-of-a-kind service with a touch of class, elegance, a goal of helping the bride celebrate and being her friend for life.