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Author: Emily

Can I tell you a secret? For a long time, I was a bit vague about just how engagement ring shopping went down in my relationship. I told those who asked that we looked at rings together, and then… (crickets – I let them fill in the blanks themselves :)). The truth? John and I looked at rings together, and then we chose the exact setting and diamond that he later purchased. You can read a bit more about our story below, as well as the ring journeys of a few of the other Southern Weddings ladies, but I want to encourage you that whether you chose your engagement ring yourself or if you had nothing to do with it, your ring is both special and romantic!

Speaking of special and romantic… today we’re also sharing a few of our favorite engagement rings and wedding bands from Simon G. Jewelry, a family company whose exquisite pieces are destined to be beloved for a lifetime, no matter who picked them out.

Clockwise from top left: MR2679 | LP2361 | MR1577 | MR1577 | LP2361 | MR2827-A | MR2679 | GR204

From humble beginnings, when Simon himself designed all of the jewelry soon after arriving in America, to today, when designers from around the world collaborate to make these special pieces, Simon G.’s rings offer inspired individuality and a ceaseless passion for detail. They go above and beyond to make sure their jewelry surpasses your expectations, by adopting practices such as four-prong settings, using only conflict-free diamonds, and alloying their platinum with iridium to prevent it from developing a gunmetal color over time.

First row: LP1846-D | MR2088 | TR128
Second row: MR1676-D | MR2088 | MR2567-A
Third row: DR351 | DR352 | MR2088

Curious to hear about the engagement ring stories of the Southern Weddings ladies? Here you go:

Emily: Though I am an extreme lover of weddings, I will freely admit I’m not a connoisseur of engagement rings. There was never one particular style or shape I loved or hated, so I knew I wanted to try on a few different options before settling on the final pick. John and I went on a “looking” trip a few months before we got engaged, and ended up selecting the exact setting and diamond he later purchased. Though part of me wishes my ring was something he picked out all by himself, most of me is so glad to have had a say in something I’ll wear for the rest of my life, and that my ring is something I absolutely, completely, and totally adore.

Marissa: I have always wanted an estate engagement ring full of history and timeless style. But without one in his family, Brandon’s sweet mama offered up the diamond in her engagement ring to start our very own tradition to be passed on for generations to come. So, gratefully, off to Brandon’s family jeweler we went! They were able to make me a completely custom ring influenced by a design I had loved for years. Though there is a lot of allure around one’s boyfriend choosing the ring, I am NOT one for surprises, so it was in both of our best interests that I was brought into such a permanent decision :)

Amber: I always knew my engagement ring would be timeless and traditional. We tried on rings maybe once or twice, but I honestly was very excited about the surprise element in what Brandon would select of his own choosing.  My direction to Brandon was that it would be a princess cut in white gold. The rest was up to him! Of course, I was delighted by the style he selected. Years later, the setting on the ring had become worn, and we risked losing the main diamond. Our jeweler recommended we start with a new setting from scratch. This time around, I led in deciding the replacement. I originally had intended to stay close to the original ring’s design, but instead fell in love with a much more sparkly option — very different than my direction before! Knowing that we included the original diamond in the new ring eased any sadness I had about replacing the original.

Kristin: At some point before getting engaged, I dragged one of my best friends to the jewelry store to browse around and try a few things on for ‘fun’. While everything I tried on was gorgeous (umm, all the sparkly diamonds), I was drawn to classic and timeless solitaire settings. We never went and looked at rings together and I provided KPW with no direction, short of having a pretty clear personal style. Fast-forward a few months and KPW picked out my ring all by himself, although he did reach out to my best friend for final, final confirmation. There was a last-minute discussion on the shape of the diamond. She recommended round, but KPW was adamant that I wanted square, and proceeded to pick out a nearly perfect princess cut diamond. I smile every morning when I put on my rings because KPW was so confident and proud of his selection.

First row: MR1676-D | MR2701 | GR204
Second row: MR2827-A | MR2701 | TR128
Third row: MR2567-A | MR2701 | MR2567-A

Ready to start shopping (or daydreaming :))? Head to the Simon G. website to browse their beautiful styles and find a jeweler near you.

This post is brought to you by Simon G. Jewelry–thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Sometimes people email me about possibly, maybe, some day kind of doing a home tour on SW, but they’re not really sure whether we’ll like their home, and it’s totally fine if we don’t… and then I see the photos and I am like YES, PLEASE, RIGHT NOW, RIGHT AWAY SO CUTE!

Such was the case with Ashlee. Her classic, homey style instantly made me think of Erin, who is firmly ensconced in the Southern Newlywed Hall of Fame, so I was not surprised to spot in her interview that she’s a long-time reader of the Laurel Mercantile blog! That being said, Ashlee and Shaun’s space more than stands on its own, and I loved seeing it spruced up for the holidays. Her interview is also a gem. Please enjoy, friends!

P.S. Since moving in, these two have painted all the walls, stripped and stained the original hardwood floors, and renovated the kitchen (including all new cabinetry, counter tops, appliances, and lighting), bathroom, and bedrooms. Whew!!

Thanks so much to the talented Sarah Baker for these lovely photos!

The couple: Ashlee (32) and Shaun (33) Henderson
Years married: 3 years in April
Where they live: Tulsa, OK
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Shaun is in ETL Logistics at the Target in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He loves soccer, our OSU Cowboys, and making us the Griswolds of the neighborhood for both Halloween and Christmas. I am a Senior Graphic Designer at Fabricut, Inc., a textile company for the home furnishings industry. I love antiquing, art, old houses, Netflix and our OSU Cowboys. We have three fur babies who round out our family: Gatsby, Lulu, and Spookie.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. A last minute meeting in college turned into a long-distance friendship, then long-distance relationship, seven years of dating, a year of engagement, almost three years of marriage, and many fun experiences, trips, projects, and dance parties in between.
What is your favorite part of being married? I think my favorite part of being married is getting to share my life with my best friend. Everyday. The exciting stuff, the mundane stuff, the happy and the sad, the good and the bad; having a true partner and constant built-in support system makes everything better. There is no one I would rather come home to at the end of each day or see first thing in the morning. That’s what makes marriage so sweet.

Tell us a little bit about where you live. We own a little 1930 Tudor cottage in Tulsa’s historic Florence Park neighborhood, designed by renowned Tulsa architect Charles Stevens Dilbeck. It is perfectly situated in the central ‘Midtown’ part of Tulsa with great restaurants and shops close by, booming downtown Tulsa only five minutes down the road, and many beautiful historic neighborhoods surrounding us in every direction. Since moving in we have done almost head-to-toe renovations. Thankfully, much of the original 1930 character remained intact, like amazing leaded glass windows, original doors, hardware, and flooring, but it still needed a total kitchen and bathroom overhaul and we continue to have a laundry list of projects to this day. It has definitely been a labor of love, but it’s been a ton of fun.

Tell us about the process of moving in together. Shaun and I did what some would consider unconventional and bought our home together before we got engaged. This route may not be for everyone, but we knew it was the right choice for us and I am grateful that we decided to tackle such a large and difficult project before planning a wedding. We managed to get all of the big renovations out of the way before we even moved in, so that way we could focus on settling in and making our house a home. Then by the time the wedding rolled around, we only had that to focus on – it was perfect. As far as merging styles, Shaun would say that he just lets me do my thing when it comes to the house. He is the super easy-going one in the relationship, which means he perfectly balances out my perfectionist/attention-to-detail self. So when I wanted all white walls, he was very much “okay great!” and when I had ten different swatches to choose from he was “whatever you like best, except maybe not that one that looks pink.” I always run things like paint and finish choices past him, or big purchases like furniture and rugs, and I like that we have an open dialogue about what we each want. Usually things like patio furniture, grills, garage organization and beer fridges are more his priority than curtains and bed linens, and I’m just fine with that.

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We are definitely more savers when it comes to decorating our home. I would honestly say that 90% of our furnishings have come from discount stores, eBay, Craigslist, Etsy, antique stores, estate sales, and flea markets. I am a big believer that you can find interesting, special and longer lasting pieces by going this route. So many things that you see in catalogs today are reproductions of antique finds and they are often priced 10x higher. If you invest a little time digging, you can find some great, unique stuff and save some serious cash. With that said, if I found an amazing antique piece that I knew I would want to keep forever, then I would probably be willing to purchase it at a higher price tag. Lifelong, heirloom pieces are worth the cost, while less expensive items allow me to have a clean conscious when I decide I don’t like them anymore and want to swap for something else

What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I owned a home before Shaun and I bought one together, and when we merged households, we found we already had a pretty stocked setup. So when we got engaged and went to register, we focused more on quality than quantity of new items. We wanted to upgrade from our Ikea dishes and choose things that would potentially be lifetime investments. We also really tried to stick with classic choices that wouldn’t go out of style, which means lots of whites and neutrals. Choosing classic would definitely be my advice to newlyweds registering, at least for big items. Also, think about your new home together and storage space. It is so easy to get excited and a bit carried away with the scanner, but if you have nowhere to put things when you unpack it all, most will end up staying in boxes. Living in an old house, Shaun and I knew the size of our kitchen wasn’t suited for storing a lot of ‘stuff’. So we really honed in on whether or not we needed all those big fancy kitchen appliances that might get used once or twice a year. If it was something we knew we would use a lot, we considered it, but tried to find a smaller version. If we knew it wasn’t going to be used regularly it was ixnayed – and we haven’t regretted not buying one of those small appliances yet.

Who cooks dinner? I usually do, because I really enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. However, Shaun is almost always in the kitchen with me being the master sous chef and helping with chopping, dicing and other prep. He also does all the grilled cheese cooking in the house. I don’t even bother trying anymore because his are pure magic.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Our go-to weeknight meal would probably be roasted pork tenderloin with baby new potatoes and veggies, or the potpie recipe I stole from Erin Napier. It is so easy and uses a rotisserie chicken and puff pastry; it can be thrown together in under 30 minutes, which is my favorite kind of cooking. On the weekends, you’ll most likely find us at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants enjoying queso and margs.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? Family recipes never let you down. I always go back to our family cookbook or the recipes that were given to me as a bridal shower gift from friends, family, and coworkers. Any time I have a great dish at a party or gathering, I ask if the maker is willing to part with their recipe, which has led to having a nice assortment of great go-tos from many different people. And as an Oklahoma girl, if I didn’t say Pioneer Woman, I might be in trouble.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? After dating for almost seven years, there really weren’t a lot of surprises; I think we got most of those out of the way before tying the knot, ha! If I had to pick something, I would say it is even more fun than you think it will be. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard times, or trying times, but being married to each other is a first for both parties, so it’s fun discovering what that means and how that works – together. It’s also fun having the same last name for the first time. Being ‘The Hendersons’ has been really special.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? We would both say our living room. Our cottage is large on coziness, but not necessarily on square footage. The living room is a testament to this, but it has beautiful tall, tall, vaulted ceilings with original beams and it makes the space feel open and airy even though it isn’t large. It also opens to our screened-in porch, so when the weather is nice we can open the French doors and really use both spaces. It’s the best place to cuddle and watch movies, it sounds amazing when it rains, we always have the fireplace going once the evenings get cool and it is open to the dining room and the kitchen, which makes it a great place to congregate when friends and family are over.

What most makes your house feel like home? The memories on the walls, the mementos we have gathered from trips, the boxes of college tee-shirts, the closet full of DVDs and our favorite old blankets we use for movie nights; our fur kiddos, with toys and dog beds in all rooms of the house, old photos of our family members – just sharing our lives together in a place we’ve made together.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? I would say walking down the aisle with my Dad and seeing Shaun waiting for me, and then walking back down the aisle as husband and wife. We had a moment after the ceremony where we just held each other; we were so excited to finally be married.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have a large gallery wall in our living room that is full of silhouettes, dog sketches, drawings by Etsy artists of our favorite cities around the world, and photos from our wedding and engagement mixed in. I also have our wedding invitation that I designed on my bedside table, and photo books of our engagement, wedding and honeymoon at the ready when we feel like reliving those special moments.

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? It’s not always easy for Shaun and I, because our work schedules vary. A lot of times we feel like we are missing out on time together, but instead of focusing on the missing out, we try to make the most of the time that we do have together. Dinnertime together is something that we make a priority because there were times when it was a luxury. We are also big believers in the getaway – taking a few days to recharge ourselves and our relationship with no distractions.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Shaun is so good at this, I could brag on him forever. He knows all the little things that I love, so he is always surprising me with things like my favorite holiday candle, or cozy new slippers, just because. He also starts a hot bubble bath for me if I have had an extra hard day, and almost always picks up breakfast for us on Sundays. I love to leave him little notes to remind him how much I love him and surprise him with a favorite meal or treat. Food is definitely the way to my man’s heart.

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite holiday date night tradition is to watch Home Alone with a big cheese pizza and Pepsi in honor of Kevin McAllister. It’s one of the nights we look forward to most in December.

We’re so grateful to Ashlee and Shaun for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with them, including Ashlee’s Instagram and Etsy store.

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!

P.P.S. More holiday home tours: Astleigh + Pete, Abby + Alex, and Christina + Blair

emily Written with love by Emily
5 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Baker reply

    Thanks for sharing this adorable couple and their home! I loved capturing them in their sweet home! Thanks for the post!

  2. avatar Denise reply

    Their home is beautiful but what I loved even more was their answers! They seem very real and sweet and fun. The Home Alone date night is such a fun idea!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    I LOVE her style! Right up my alley. She and her husband seem so kind, too. Thanks for sharing your beautiful home!

  4. avatar Bri A reply

    I always love these home tour posts, but this one was so special. You can FEEL their love for each other. Thanks so much for sharing your home, Ashlee!

  5. avatar Susan Henderson reply

    what beautiful pictures and a wonderful article ! I just love all of this – you captured the soul of the couple and the heart of the home!! You guys did a awesome job

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We love our food in the South, don’t we? (It’s easy to love when we’re known for so many delicious specialties!) If you’re like most couples, catering will take up a large chunk of your budget (and make a big impression on your guests), so it’s worth spending time to craft a menu that suits the two of you and pleases your loved ones. Chef Marc Therrien, the new Executive Chef of Keeneland Hospitality, is here today to share some tips for customizing and incorporating your personality into your wedding menu, while still serving a meal that accommodates all of your guests!

Vet your chef. If your venue has an on-site caterer, be sure to meet with him in the venue decision-making process. Tell him a bit about your vision and see whether he seems excited about it. “It’s not about his favorite dishes or what he wants to do,” says Chef Marc, “It’s about him creating something unique that reflects you as a couple.” Ask whether he or another chef will be on-site for your event.

Consider an in-house caterer. Working with an in-house caterer, like Chef Marc at Keeneland, has its advantages. He is familiar with the venue, and should have creative ideas about how to reinvent the space (either based on things he’s seen other couples try, or ideas for things he’s never seen anyone try!). He also has a “home field” advantage from working with the same staff for every event, which can lead to a more confident execution.

Schedule a tasting. Besides being delicious (hopefully!), this is your chance to reaffirm the direction of your meal, or make any necessary tweaks. It can also be one of the most fun parts of the planning process, as you imagine sitting down with your loved ones in the months to come!

Base your menu around your favorite foods. Creating a menu from scratch is not for the faint of heart, so to utilize your chef’s expertise while also incorporating your personality into the day, Chef Marc suggests couples brainstorm their ten favorite ingredients, then turn them over to their chef to create a menu incorporating as many as possible.

Another fun idea that will keep your guests talking: base each station around a story from your shared history: say, roasted oysters for your Charleston alma mater. “Come to your chef with ideas, but let your chef create,” encourages Chef Marc. “If you box someone into a corner, they can’t be creative for you. Find a good chef, then let him run with it.”

Always opt for local, seasonal, and sustainable. Chef Marc, like so many chefs these days, is passionate about local ingredients, believing they should ideally only change hands four times (farmer, farm hand, truck, his door!). Local ingredients tend to be more flavorful, healthy, and beautiful, so find a chef who is skilled at sourcing and cooking with them.

Make it memorable. There are so many (really fun!) ways to make a wedding meal exciting for guests, as well as delicious. Some of Chef Marc’s include:
— synchronized service, when every plate is set down at once
— presenting familiar food in creative ways (like the Caesar salad skewers he created for one Caesar-loving bride!)
— mixing up the presentation (like the time his team served a seated salad course then released guests to a variety of stations for their entrees)
— and preparing food directly in front of guests (no chafing dishes here, but he did recently torch salmon on Himalayan salt blocks while guests looked on).

Graciously accommodate dietary restrictions. Chef Marc recommends incorporating dietary preferences across your entire menu instead of singling individual guests out (for example, he says going gluten free is easier than ever these days). He also recommends that if alternatives (such as vegetarian or vegan dishes) are available, they be offered up to the entire table as part of the main meal, instead of something that guests have to ask for specifically.

Chef Marc is the new Executive Chef of Keeneland Hospitality, with 25 years of culinary experience under his belt. He believes in simple food with good technique while using locally sourced product. Learn more about him and all of Keeneland’s offerings here!

This post is brought to you by Keeneland. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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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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