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Southern Weddings Magazine

Author: Emily

It’s really a joy to get to introduce y’all to a new set of Blue Ribbon Vendors each month, because I just know any one of them would be a joy to you if you choose to work together! This time around, we’re introducing you to a few of them through their answers to some of our favorite BRV interview questions. Click through to their listings to find out more about them!

Name: Vista West Ranch
Where you call home: Dripping Springs, Texas
Favorite part of a wedding day? For me, it’s when the couple checks in — going over all of the activities, making sure that everything is in order, and being able to talk with them as they arrive at VWR. Seeing all of the excitement that is building up before the festivities start is my favorite part.

Name: Two Sweets Bake Shop
Where you call home: Winter Garden, Florida
Best piece of advice for brides and grooms? When considering your dessert options, give some thought to offering a variety of desserts to your guests. Just about every dessert can be created in small portions, allowing guests to select from several offerings. They’ll love you for it!

Name: Tucker Images
Where you call home: Crandall, Texas
How I got into weddings: Since I was young I knew that I wanted to make people happy for a living. I didn’t have a clue how I was going to do that but my junior year in college when I was hired to work with a wedding photographer I quickly started to realize that shooting weddings embodied everything I love: big moments, joyful people, and pretties!

Name: Tres Beau Weddings
Where you call home: Hoover, Alabama
How I got into weddings: I think it started with my sixth birthday party: a “Here Comes the Bride”-themed party! Then, I joke that I just never got over planning my own wedding in 2001. I also went to culinary school and learned about event management while working at Saks Fifth Avenue’s corporate headquarters!

Name: Tracy Melton Artistry
Where you call home: Dallas, Texas
Favorite part of a wedding day? Well the ‘getting ready’ part, of course! :) I love getting to spend that precious time with brides and their best ladies. It’s always such a fun time filled with laughter, love, hairspray, and lipstick – which just so happen to be a few of my favorite things!!

Name: The Southern Barn
Where you call home: Fort Lonesome, Florida
How I got into weddings: The Southern Barn at Lonesome G Ranch began when our son was married on the ranch. This was the beginning of many weddings for our family and friends. When the word about our passion to create beautiful unique Southern vintage style weddings spread, The Southern Barn name was created.

Name: The Reason
Where you call home: Atlanta, Georgia
How we got into weddings: Our love for marriage got us into weddings. We want to give our clients something that no matter how far in the future, they can always look back and remember why. We’re best friends and married. We get to work together; it’s simply the best thing ever.

Name: The Chef Next Door
Where you call home: Huntsville, Alabama
Favorite part of a wedding day? It’s a tie: either seeing the bride’s face as she sees her reception for the first time… hopefully, her dream come true! Or the hug from the bride and groom at the end of the night. I’m sweaty, my hair is in a dirty bun, and I smell like food, but it’s that hug that makes my job worth doing and solidifies that I am where I am meant to be in the world.

Name: Swanky I Do’s
Where you call home: Orlando, Florida
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? I love the emphasis on details and hospitality, and that venues range from barns to waterfront properties.

Name: Suite Paper
Where you call home: Cameron, North Carolina
Favorite part of a wedding day? I’m a sucker for the kiss!

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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As the Southern Weddings team has grown (from three ladies in 2009 to seven ladies in 2014!), we’ve realized the importance of carving out intentional time to be and think and dream together. Our team is small but mighty, and when we’re all on the same wavelength we are better for each other and, most importantly, better for y’all. So this year, we extended Marissa and Kristin’s “team photo visit” by a few days and spent the time dreaming, strategizing, and, yes, having a whole heap of fun together at Fearrington Village.

Lara did a masterful job packing our three days together full of eye-opening sessions, insightful discussion, and straight-up fun. A few of the highlights:

Before the retreat, we were each asked to choose an “item of note” to share, and then we discussed them to open one of our sessions. To give you a few examples, Lisa chose a UT commencement address, I chose this TED talk, and Lara chose this podcast by Andy Stanley. This was a great way to get everyone engaged even before we got started.

We got to room together! We intentionally paired up with someone besides our usual partner in crime (usual partners in crime = Marissa + Kristin, Lisa + Emily, and Morgan + Nicole). Instead, Kristin and I roomed together, Lisa and Nicole were together, and Lara and Morgan were together. (We gave Marissa and Emerson their own room!) This was an invaluable way to carry the conversation out of the boardroom and ensure some deep bonding.

One of our first sessions was about thinking big. What would make Southern Weddings a successful company in each of our eyes in five years? 25 years? Why would we each continue to work here over the long term?

We interspersed huge questions like those with more practical sessions, like swapping tips on great phone, email, and conversational skills; how to efficiently handle email; tips for better instagram photos; and how best to approach a subjective disagreement (something that happens often, and that you must be comfortable with, when working in an office of seven opinionated and design-minded individuals!).

Invigorating business and mission sessions were broken up by pure fun, including Irish dancing lessons from yours truly, tea time, conversation starters, and a bouquet competition! It was so fun to see y’all guess whose bouquet was whose on instagram. Can you guess below?

For our final session, we split up into groups of two or three (Emily + Lara, Nicole + Lisa, and Marissa, Krisin, and Morgan) and had a deep + brief brainstorm about the three ideas sparked during the retreat that we felt MOST needed to be implemented. Let me just say, the excitement was high in the room when we came back together to present to each other!

In fact, I think we’re still riding a bit of a high from the experience – but one that’s cooled into a ferocious desire to do what we do better, smarter, and with even greater love. We can’t WAIT to share what’s coming down the pipeline with y’all over the next few weeks and months, starting with Volume 7 of the magazine!!! (In case you haven’t done so yet, be sure to place your pre-order today!) And as always, we are so grateful to y’all for encouraging us, believing in us, and being excited right alongside us. Big SW hugs all around!

P.S. Our amazing stay at Fearrington deserves its own post – more details and photos coming soon!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    It sounds like y’all had such a productive, fun, and refreshing time together! I love that you keep the heart and mission of SW at the center of all that you do :)

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Obviously, beautiful photographs are near and dear to our collective Southern Weddings heart… photos of our own families, and of our families-in-the-making, and of the hundreds of couples who share their most precious moments with us every year! The desire to document life beautifully doesn’t end with a wedding, which is why we’re always eager to hear how others keep up with preserving photos and memories in the digital age. We’re happy to welcome our friend Jenny Collier today to learn more about how she records the life of her growing family! – Emily

I began journaling my family shortly after my husband and I were married. Living in California at the time, I started a blog to keep my family back home informed of what was going on in our lives. At the end of my first year I used a website called Blurb to turn my blog into a book, and from there, my fascination with memory keeping began.

When I received the book in the mail I absolutely poured over it — it contained all of our precious memories in one little package. From then on, I made it my mission to continue to write the story of our lives; eight years later I am still journaling and turning those memories into books. They are my most treasured items, because they tell our stories: of moving back home, building our family business, my pregnancies, and our children’s lives – their milestones, funny words, and so much more.

I teach a photography class for moms and often bring these books along with me to share. So many of my students have started this tradition for their own families, but every single one of them wishes they had started it sooner. I hope hearing about my process at this point in your journey might be helpful for y’all!

There are so many really beautiful ways to preserve your memories these days in book form – I know the Southern Weddings team adores Artifact Uprising, and I do, too! Shutterfly and MPix also have great book options. Today, I wanted to explain my process, which starts out with a blog. I use Blogger, a free blogging platform, to record my memories. My blog is set to author-only (so no one can see it but me) and is solely used to create the end product, which are my beloved coffee table memory books. Once a month, I sit down and compile our photos and memories into posts. Each event gets its own post; I also share our Instagram photos for each week in separate posts.

I also create a monthly post for each child with the things they said and did that month. Since these have essentially become my children’s baby books, I rely on these pages to jog my memory of when they hit certain milestones!

At the end of the year, I use Blurb’s blog-to-book option to create my keepsake. Just an hour or two of work for me per month is so worth it when I receive that book in the mail – especially when my little ones can now pour over our memories from the year themselves!

Thank you so much, Jenny!! In honor of memory keeping everywhere, the kind folks at Artifact Uprising have offered up a $100 gift certificate to their site. We adore Artifact’s clean design and flexible software – PERFECT for timeless wedding albums that will start you down the road of documenting your family’s life! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tell us: How do you preserve your family’s memories? Did you order an album from your photographer? From somewhere else? As your family grows, do you or do you plan to print out photos every year, or make an album for, say, every five years? We’d love to hear!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kristy reply

    This is genius! I never knew there was an option like this out there. Thanks so much for this, Jenny! I now have a new project.

  2. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up + Happy Birthday, Morgan! – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] blue in a Southern summer–gorgeous! We’re giving away $100 to Artifact Uprising! Enter here. Nicole shared a day in her life–this gal has hustle! We rounded up our favorite ACC-inspired […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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My husband is a summer baby through and through – he’d rather we just skipped right on over winter and moved straight back into the warmer months. Luckily for him, in the South, it does seem like our summer months stretch on and on, filled with bright blue skies, days at the beach, and sudden thunderstorms that send us running for cover. Sarah McKenzie and the ladies of Two Be Wed designed this wedding inspiration around the gorgeous blue tones of a Southern summer – just the thing to tide us over now that Labor Day has come and gone!

From Sarah McKenzie: Ashley of Two Be Wed and I collaborated with some amazing vendors for our Summer Blues inspired shoot for the Develop Retreat for Photographers. Summer Blues was inspired by the many shades of blue found in a Southern summer, from the ocean to the rain, from a bright sunny day to a dark moody thunderstorm. No color has quite the range of expression, from vibrant cobalt to deep indigo. We wanted to show its range by using different shades, patterns, and textures. Korie of the Weekend Type created it perfectly in the invitation suite and escort cards with a watercolor blue ombre. The palette provided a soothing ground for the warm floral tones to pop right off of – clean and classic whites with pops of orange mastered by Maxit Floral Design. Continuing the mixing of colors to our tablescape, a patterned napkin and individual ranunculus created a cozy and comforting invitation to the table. Our cake was minimal but soft and elegant, just like our bride and bridesmaids. An effortless Oscar De La Renta reminded us of soft cloud floating in a sky of jewel tones. This shoot captures the essence of an elegant Southern Summer Wedding.

Photographer: Sarah McKenzie | Style & Design: Ashley of Two Be Wed | Florals: Maxit Flower Design | Hair & Makeup: Adorne Artistry | Cake: Buttercup Bakery Houston | Stationary: The Weekend Type | Linens: Over The Top Linen | Bridal Gown: Oscar De La Renta from Casa De Novia | Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN | Vintage Rentals: Recollection Vintage Rentals

Sarah McKenzie and Two Be Wed are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Sarah McKenzie reply

    Ekkkkkk!! Thank you so much for the feature!

  2. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    The deep blues are lovely and I like that the ruffles and lace soften it. The lace on the bride’s dress is gorgeous.

  3. avatar Charmaine (Rustic Folk Weddings) reply

    Loving that Oscar De La Renta gown!

  4. avatar Mikkel reply

    Love the blue and orange combination. Especially love the white calligraphy on blue watercolor, the sheet backdrop for the ceremony and that super sweet photo of the bride with her bridesmaid! Well done!!

  5. avatar slate blue and gray wedding inspiration reply

    […] Cake from Sarah McKenzie via Southern Weddings | Wedding Favors via Martha Stewart Weddings | Bridesmaids via Belle Bridesmaid | Bridal Gown from […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Those who know my husband and me know that personal finance is kind of our thing. We maintain a ridiculous (to anyone but us) budget spreadsheet, like to talk really energetically about our savings goals, and will try to convince anyone who will listen to open an IRA. So when Jessica wrote in with the story of how she and her husband Jeremy came to own a beach house in addition to their full-time home at the ripe old age of twenty-something, my ears perked up. And when I saw the colorful and preppy home they’ve created, I knew they’d be perfect for a Southern Newlywed feature. Friends, please enjoy meeting the Hortons!

Names: Jessica and Jeremy Horton
Years married: Almost five
Where you live: We live in Davidson, North Carolina, but our vacation home is in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met in high school, dated, broke up, got back together, and then were married nine years later!
What is your favorite part of being married? Having someone on your side all the time. “This is a ‘we’ thing” is our motto – it’s engraved on our wedding rings.

Do you rent or own? We own. We hope to move into something larger with more privacy and space than our current home offers soon. We would love to eventually have more rental properties to help assist our income.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. I bought our house in Davidson just before we got engaged. Jeremy’s lease was up on his apartment a few weeks before I closed, so it made sense (and cents!) for us to split a $600 mortgage instead of him having an $800+ rent payment (thankfully, we also felt ready for this in our relationship). My best advice is to work on your home together. As frustrating as it is to go to Lowe’s with him, or fabric shopping for curtains with me, we each get a say in nearly everything that goes into the house. In regard to our beach house, we designed it with an architect and then worked with a builder to tweak it the way we wanted it. There were many occasions when I wanted something very specific, and then had to hunt through Pinterest or magazines to show Jeremy what I meant. Once he saw it, he understood how it could work and trusted me. Make sure you each have some give and take. I couldn’t care less about a giant flat screen or surround sound, but he does. He couldn’t care less about pinch-pleat curtains and coordinating pillows, but he knows I do.

Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Plates! We got really nice white places from Crate and Barrel and we use them every day.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Register for more serving bowls and platters! We got one of each and it’s nowhere near enough. I wish we had three of each.
Who cooks dinner? We both do, but I cook often just because I get home first.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We eat a lot of tacos–beef, chicken, fish… we love them all! We also love to cook breakfast on the weekends. Our favorite is Neese’s Sage Sausage with some cheesy eggs and a great cup of coffee!
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? My best friend put together a book of recipes as a wedding gift. A lot of my late mother’s friends and our family contributed recipes that they were famous for. It’s so great to have them all in one spot!

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Our splurges were the carerra marble counter in the kitchen and the master bath. Another was upgraded insulation–we routinely have a power bill of well under $100 a month (for a 2300+ square foot house!). Spending the extra on the insulation is paying for itself each month in savings. We saved on all of our lighting. We were given a $3000 lighting budget in our contract, which sounds like a ton, but when that number needed to include can lights and under-house lights, it went fast. When we picked out everything from the lighting guy, we realized we had gone over budget by over $1000, and I didn’t even like anything. I wasn’t about to drop a grand on lighting I hated, so we cancelled all of it except the can lights, closet lights and under-the-house lights. Spending more out of pocket for lighting left me limited on my budget, but I found vanity lights for $50 that I could live with at Lowe’s (as opposed to $300 from the light guy) and a few special ones from other places like Urban Outfitters and Shades of Light. Spending a few hundred out of pocket freed up about $900 from lighting that we could use to upgrade the tile in the master bath.

What most makes your house feel like home? Nothing’s too nice. Our “rustic” (a.k.a. beat-up) coffee table is a $25 dining table from the Habitat ReStore that Jeremy cut down. No one cares if your glass sweats on it, or if your sandy feet kick up on it.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have our wedding album in our living room. I had our table runners at the reception monogrammed, and afterwards, I cut the monograms out and had them framed (one is in our bathroom and one in our living room). The candlesticks that were on the fireplace mantle in our reception are now on the TV cabinet.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Walking back down the aisle and into the hotel (Cheshire Hall) lobby and realizing that we had really done it! We were married!

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I probably love our loft the most, or maybe our master bath–it’s so hard to choose! I love the loft because of the built-in beds we installed in there. It’s very customized and cozy. I worked really hard to find all the linens on the beds in there, and we customized the sectional sofa to fit the space and be extra comfortable. This room has a lot of needs (a TV stand and sofa table!), but it’s a great space that both adults and kids love. I love our master bath because it feels a little spa-like. The vanity is one of my most proud accomplishments in the entire house–we hunted out a sideboard buffet to fit the spot and had it converted to house two sinks. We had a beautiful custom top made and found the wall-mount faucets online. We did it all for about $800. Above our clawfoot tub is a small TV–it’s a wonderful spot to hang out with a glass of wine and watch HGTV.
Do you have children? We have been trying since May 2013, and after no success, I went to the doctor only to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Just after I was diagnosed, we found out I was pregnant and possibly miscarrying on the same day (which I did). We hope to have several running around someday, biological or adopted.

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? I think we have a mutual understanding that work has its place, but when we are home together, we do what we can together. A big one for me as a business owner is to shut everything off by 7 P.M. After a demanding client a few years ago, I realized I don’t need to be accessible at all times, so I put my work and phone hours in my email signature. Now I don’t feel guilty for not returning emails or calls after dinner, and my clients don’t expect me to. Another biggie is that I don’t take weddings on holiday weekends. Having a normal “day job” means that those are my three-day weekends too, and I want to spend them at the beach! As far as extended family, we’re lucky that our parents live about 20 minutes apart, so we never have to split holidays!

How does your family handle finances? We have two checking accounts (one everyday and one for our beach house) and one savings account. I get paid once a month and I pay all the beach house bills as soon as I get paid. The remaining either goes toward a credit card payment or goes into beach house checking. Jeremy gets paid every two weeks, and his check pays our Davidson mortgage and all bills associated with that house, as well as groceries, gas, and daily spending. We do set a budget, but we are not always the best at sticking to it. Lunches out and gas for travel (I travel for work a lot) tends to eat up quite a bit. A shared Google calendar has made life so much easier. Jeremy put all our bills and their amounts on the calendar and then I go in and look at it every pay day to see what’s coming out of that check and how much is left for groceries, gas, and “extras.”
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Jeremy gets up before me for work, so a lot of times, he makes my lunch and starts my car when it’s cold out! Sometimes, when we are having marathon laundry day, I’ll set the ironing board up and iron everything of his. I also love to bake and try new recipes for him.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? How naturally it has come. Marriage has definitely been work, but in the best possible way. Our preacher told us at our counseling session that “life is a series of adjustments; it’s how you handle them that will make or break you.” Those words are so true, and we remind ourselves of them often!
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? You don’t need to be wealthy to own a vacation home. Three months after getting married, Jeremy was laid off from his job. We had a nice savings, so that helped us pay cash for the beach house lot we bought in 2010. We kept our spending to a minimum and worked really hard to save money (which was easier after Jeremy’s 14-month layoff ended!).

We’re so grateful to Jeremy and Jessica for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with them:
JJ Horton Photography
JJ Horton Facebook
Jessica’s Twitter

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kristin reply

    Ok. So I want to move into J+J’s beach house. It beams with love and light and it is at the beach – my happy place! (I am pretty sure that NAY needs that orange monogrammed shower curtain!!)

    And of course, I love the reiteration of the advice from their pastor – “life is a series of adjustments; it’s how you handle them that will make or break you.”! Amen. I believe that marriage is about showing up every day, so I especially love this perspective about how important it is to expect life to be unexpected. Thanks for sharing your home and your hearts, Jessica + Jeremy!

  2. avatar Abby reply

    I love these post and look forward to them every Friday!! Love getting a peek into the newlywed life that I’ll be entering in 5 months! :)

  3. avatar Lisa reply

    Their style is so classic, but so fun at the same time–I love it!

  4. avatar Jessica Horton reply

    Thank you guys so much for featuring our home!!! We’ve had so much positive feedback on the feature :-) I cannot wait to share more of how we met this goal (financially) on our blog next week!

  5. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    Their house is comfortably elegant. I love the beds with navy blankets lining the walls and the large glass globes in their kitchen!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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