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Moments after I finished the real wedding interview for the blog, I sent Mrs. Emily Thomas an email with a flurry of excitement and a million exclamation points. The process of filling out the questions brought me right back to my wedding day, and I immediately knew that I would treasure having these answers forever. I also knew that we needed to figure out how to give this gift of memory capturing to ALL our brides. While we can’t feature every reader’s wedding on Southern Weddings (gah, I wish we could), we want to give everyone the opportunity to remember and record this special season of life. Our solution? Meet: Memories of Us: A Prompted Wedding Journal

This sweet prompted journal covers everything from your engagement to the emotional whirlwind of your wedding day, to your honeymoon, to the sweet early days of newlywed life. We know all these memories are precious and we don’t want you to forget a thing! The prompts are inspired by the real wedding interview from the SW blog and print magazine and encourage you to capture all the moments (both big and small) of your marriage journey. We hope that your journal becomes a keepsake for years to come!

Every single one of my girlfriends who gets engaged gets a Memories of Us journal as a gift from KPW and me. Why? Because as someone who self-identifies as an “anti-journaler’ I love this little memory keeper so very much!! The prompts make it feel less like a ‘journal’ (important for someone who is anxious at the thought of free-writing) and more like answering the best and most personal questionnaire. (There are also extra blank pages to capture your feelings and other details if you are a journal kind of gal.)

After getting engaged, I was bombarded with people who told me “good luck, you won’t remember a single thing about your wedding day.” As a gal who had been looking forward to getting married since the ripe old age of four, this was less than encouraging. I knew our wedding season would be a whirlwind, but I was determined to remember as many moments as possible, and I want the same for all my best friends and for all of you. We have a limited number of journals available right here so snag one for yourself or a best friend who recently got a new left-hand sparkler!

I’m grateful that the Memories of Us: A Prompted Wedding Journal is one of my Southern Weddings claims to fame. And even more grateful that our future kids and grandkids will be able to flip back through our wedding memory journal and giggle over the missing candle incident and understand why the first few chords of Strawberry Wine always make me burst into tears.

Happy memory capturing, belles!

PS: Want a peek inside the pages of the journal? Don’t miss the fun video at the bottom of this page: Memories of Us: A Prompted Wedding Journal

kristin Written with love by Kristin
  1. avatar Tu Nguyen reply

    Many people would do a blog but I still love a good old journal <3

  2. avatar Bella Vita Montreal Wedding Photography reply

    love this!!

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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Have you heard? It’s Engagement Celebration Week! Whether you’ve been engaged for two days or twelve months, we invite you to join the party and celebrate like you said yes yesterday. Upload a proposal or ring shot to our hashtag, enter to win giveaways all week on Instagram, or take 20% off our wedding planner with code JOYFULLYENGAGED. We can’t wait to cheer you on!!

After getting engaged, Courtney and Jeffrey originally planned to get married just five short months later. But, being a creative heart, Courtney wasn’t enjoying the planning process with such a time crunch, so they chose to push their wedding date out a bit. Extending their engagement allowed them to refocus in such a positive way. Courtney said, “We decided we weren’t going to stress over every detail, and that what was most important was what came after the wedding.” Their engagement then became a time to come together to plan a memorable wedding weekend, and to start building a home and a life together. I can’t think of anything else I’d wish for all engaged couples. Well, that, and maybe some amazing views like these at Lonesome Valley to celebrate their wedding in front of!

Thanks to Cheyenne Shultz for sharing these dreamy photos!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! I borrowed my grandmother’s blue garter, the same one she wore at her wedding. I carried my other grandmother’s vintage handkerchief, on which she had embroidered a blue flower. And my dress, purse, and shoes were all new!

I am not someone who had ever given much thought to the type of wedding or wedding dress that I wanted, so I was overwhelmed when I first started looking and none of the dresses I saw seemed like me. I love fashion design, so I started designing my own dress. I really enjoyed the design process, but we began to run into some issues with having the dress made. My mom and I decided to take a day to go try on dresses as a fun experience and to get some ideas. The first dress I saw that morning ended up being the dress I chose, but only after agonizing for several days about whether or not to forgo my own dress design. No regrets. Trying on my dress was the first time I truly felt like a bride, and I still get sad thinking that I will never get to wear it again!

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our engagement was a time for us to focus on our relationship, to come together as partners to plan a memorable wedding weekend, and to start building a home and a life together. We used the planning process as an opportunity to improve our communication skills, to learn more about one another and how we deal with stress, and to become better at compromising. By making all of the major wedding decisions together (and most of the small ones too), we were learning how to turn “I” into “we,” a skill we will need for the rest of our lives together.

Music played a huge theme throughout our wedding because we share a love for music and got to know each other while dating by listening to music and going to live shows together. The ceremony songs were all songs that are special to us and include lyrics that express how we feel for each other. Our musicians were spectacular and even learned several new songs for us. We had a guitarist/vocalist and a cellist for the ceremony. While guests arrived and found their seats, they played: “In My Life” by the Beatles, “Follow You Follow Me” by Genesis, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins, “Into Your Arms” by The Lemonheads, “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison, “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits, “True Companion” by Marc Cohn, and “Something in the Way She Moves” by James Taylor. My dad and I walked down the aisle to “Begin Again” by the Piano Guys, and we and our guests left the ceremony to “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates.Our first dance was to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis. At the end of the night as our guests were lining up to send us off with sparklers, we went outside and danced alone to a song by one of our favorite bands, The National. In our guests’ welcome bags, we included CDs that we had made that included some of our favorite songs from shows we went to while dating. Instead of a guest book, we had a print that a graphic artist friend designed for us, which included the concert posters from the shows. Our guests signed this print at the wedding and we will now frame it. Instead of table numbers, the dinner tables were labeled with the artists and venues of the shows we saw while dating.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did. I wrote a letter to Jeff the morning of our first date, before we had met and over two years before the wedding, and I had not shared this letter with him or anyone else. The letter talked about my excitement about meeting him, how I had been praying for him and praying that God would make me ready for someone like him; how I could not ignore the events that had led to our first date and how the specialness of it had led me to write it all down; and how grateful I was for the hope it had given me. I started my vows by reading that letter to him. Jeff quoted Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

We knew we wanted a destination wedding at a place where our guests felt like they were on vacation from the moment they arrived, without it being too difficult to get to. We love the outdoors and wanted our wedding to be outdoors in a beautiful setting, with one location for the ceremony and reception. We described the kind of rustic elegant wedding we wanted to my mom, and she and her best friend started searching. When we first saw the images of Lonesome Valley online, they took our breath away, and when we visited for the first time, we were enthralled. The location also held some significance because the first trip we took together was to Highlands, North Carolina, just 20 minutes away, and we actually discussed having a wedding in the area on that first trip. When we learned that Becca Knuth and Asheville Event Co. could help plan the wedding if we had it at Lonesome Valley, we were sold. Becca became a close family friend while planning my older sister’s wedding in 2010, and we knew that she would take care of everything and that the wedding would be fabulous with her behind it. And finally, we had such a good feeling when we met Sarah Jennings and everyone else at Lonesome Valley and Canyon Kitchen. They were completely other-centered, truly making the process and the wedding day about the bride and groom, parents, and guests.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Try to find a way to enjoy it! Once Jeff proposed, we considered having the wedding five months later. We decided we weren’t going to stress over every detail and that what was most important was what came after the wedding. However, I was hating the wedding planning process because as a creative person, I was frustrated by all the deadlines. There was no time for my creative juices to flow! When we pushed the wedding date out so that we had more than a year to plan, we started to enjoy the process and feel more creative. Additionally, we were purposeful in who we chose to work with during the planning process, knowing we would be spending a lot of time with them, either in person or via email or telephone. We loved ALL of our vendors and still keep in touch with many of them after the wedding. Although the planning can be overwhelming and stressful, you only get to do this once and you want to look back on it with fond memories, so try to find a way to make it fun and enjoyable.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We were set up by our friend, Ali. Ali and her now husband, Dan, had been close friends with Jeff for years. Ali gave Jeff my phone number and Jeff called to set up the first date, which fell on Easter Sunday 2014. It was an incredibly awkward first phone call since we’d never met each other (and since Jeff is verrryyyy quiet until he gets to know you). I remember having so much to talk about on our first date that the restaurant started turning the lights off on us!
Tell us all about the proposal! We went to Charleston for a long weekend, and Jeff proposed in one of the parks around midnight. I really didn’t want an engagement ring and had made this known to Jeff, so when he said he had a ring for me, I was going to try my best to act like I loved it. When he pulled out a giant blue plastic ring that flashed various colors, I didn’t need to feign delight because it was the best ring I could have imagined. We took months to design three wedding bands for me and one for him, which we exchanged on their wedding day. Jeff is still trying to understand how I went from not wanting a ring to wanting three.
When did y’all get married? June 4, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 115
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Canyon Kitchen is a fantastic restaurant, and we wanted to take advantage of having the reception there. We chose not to have a wedding cake, and instead had them make an assortment of scrumptious desserts including pecan pie, cobbler, red velvet cake, cookies, and lemon bars. And we had s’mores! Our guests could choose from an assortment of chocolates and roast Bailey’s-infused marshmallows around a fire pit.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose not to have a cake simply because Canyon Kitchen made such yummy desserts, but it saved us some money too! We also did not have a getaway car. We took the shuttle with our guests to the after party and were driven to our wedding cottage by the groom’s siblings! We also did not feel like we needed a lot of flowers because the setting was so gorgeous on its own.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we are loving navigating life together and having sleepovers with our best friend. We have a lot to look forward to, but I am trying to keep in mind Jeff’s last line of his vows and not move through life so fast that we miss it.

Photographer: Cheyenne Schultz Photography | Videographer: Magic Hour Creative | Planner: Becca Knuth and Sarah Kiomall of Asheville Event Co. | Ceremony Venue: Lonesome Valley | Reception Venue, Caterer, and Dessert Baker: Canyon Kitchen | Florist: Floressence Flowers | Rentals: Professional Party Rentals | Band: The Dickens | Paper Products: Fabulous Fancy Pants | Bride’s Gown: Alyne | Bride’s Accessories: Toni Federici | Hair and Makeup: Hair and Makeup by Heather Ellison | Groom’s Attire: Sid Mashburn | Officiant: Pastor Jim Knuth | Ceremony Musicians: Tim White and Sharon Gerber | Rings: Samantha Louise and Regal Collection Corp. | Invitation Printing: Brand Printing | Program Design: Devon Jeffers | Guest Book Print Design: Liam Strain | Transportation: The Trolley Company

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Cheyenne Schultz reply

    Y’all are the best! Thank you thank you for featuring Courtney and Jeff’s wedding…we are so grateful!

  2. avatar Lorin Fairweather reply

    SO stunning!! Cheyenne incredibly captured this couple’s lovely day!

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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Belles and beaus, it’s a joy to write to you today with some exciting news!

When I started Southern Weddings magazine ten years ago, I never imagined it would grow to what it is today. What a joy this decade has been! Many of you know that we are a very unique company, running two businesses under one roof with one small-but-mighty team. As my own family, our sister business Cultivate What Matters, and Southern Weddings have continued to grow, it has become clear that we need a few more hands around here! I stepped away from doing Southern Weddings work several years ago to focus on books and babies, and this truly incredible team of women you know so well has taken the reins.

Like I’ve learned in my garden, you can only grow so much with the space and time you’ve been given. I can’t lead two large businesses at once and nurture a growing family, so it was time for someone else to take the lead. This change happened a long time ago internally, but we decided it was high time to change things externally, too.

I’ve been working alongside Kristin Winchester for five years, and her passion for the Southern Weddings mission made her a natural fit. She’s already been doing the work of an Editor-in-Chief behind the scenes: cheering on our team, shepherding the big picture, and encouraging meaningful beginnings to married life. She is a pretty remarkable woman, and we are all SO excited for this new season!

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Nancy Ray Photography

My title is now Founder and Grateful Wife, which fits me to a tee. I’ll still be here behind the scenes, loving on our team and you all, especially as you move into newlywed life. It is with joy that I re-introduce this familiar face to you, as the new Editor-in-Chief of Southern Weddings!

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Jake and Heather Photo

Friends, I can’t begin to express my gratitude. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined my first fateful interaction with Lara at the inaugural SW Gingerbread Barn Building event would one day lead me here. Stepping in as Editor-in-Chief to continue Lara’s legacy is an incredible honor, just as playing a small role in your wedding and marriage planning is a privilege.

I’m accepting Lara’s passing of the torch with grace and humility. Around the office, I’m teased about the way my energy and enthusiasm bubble over when I start talking about new ideas and my passion for this job. (Anyone who’s seen one of my giant-laugh-smiles would probably join in! ;)) It’s my heart for you, dear brides (and future brides), that produces these excited outbursts, though. To say I’m thrilled to nurture and continue spreading the Southern Weddings mission would be an understatement.

From the outside, not much is changing around here. We’ll continue to share the best wedding planning advice and Southern inspiration, the stuff we share with our sisters and best friends the moment they get engaged. And as Lara mentioned, she’ll still be around, weighing in on ideas in the background.

As for me? I’m looking forward to jumping into my new role and having the opportunity to support and cheer on the SW team (who are some of the smartest and savviest gals in Dixie) as we continue to grow. Here’s a little recap on where we are and what’s ahead!

2016 was a big year for Southern Weddings: we added two lovely ladies, three Southern babies, and launched our ninth issue. We also consumed an unknown quantity of biscuits and sent countless emoji- and GIF-filled messages back and forth as we celebrated milestone after milestone as a team.

In the new year, we’ve got big plans to continue to live out our mission and equip y’all with the resources and tools you’ll need to prepare for your wedding days and beyond. We’re busy dreaming up new ideas and bubbling over with anticipation, as we’re already knee-deep in planning for our TENTH (!!!) anniversary issue, due out in November. Stay tuned for V10 sneak peeks, fun celebration plans, and details on how you can join us in the pages of this VERY exciting anniversary issue.

We’ve also got fun newsletter updates coming soon to your inbox (sign up here) and plans for SW Meet-ups as we move into the new year. Safe to say, I have a great feeling about 2017!


P.S. Extra big hugs and thanks to Lara, Emily, Nicole, Marissa, Lisa, Amber and Jess. Each one of you encourages me to be my best self and motivates me to love bigger and laugh harder. It is a joy and privilege to do this work alongside y’all, and I know, without a doubt, that I wouldn’t be able to take on this new role without each one of you right by my side.

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Congrats Kristin on your new role! Crazy to think that this year will be a celebration of 10 years of Southern Weddings (and crazy to think that I’ve been a reader since V4!) Can’t wait to hear about the plans for the new year, I have a feeling it’s going to be the best one yet!

  2. avatar Erin McLean reply

    So excited for you all!! xoxo

  3. avatar Bri A reply

    Congratulations! I’m inspired by the grace this requires on both parts and am honored that you shared this so openly with us. I’m excited to see where SW goes and I’m so proud to see Chapel Hill being represented so well.

  4. avatar Ashley Landry reply

    Congrats Kirstin! And I’m so excited to see what evolves for SW in the new year! I always enjoy reading your helpful content and can’t wait to see what creative ideas lie ahead! Keep up the great work, ladies!

  5. avatar Theo reply

    Absolutely wonderful Kristin! Congratulations!!

  6. avatar Bumby reply

    Congratulations and this is all very excited!
    Kristin, when I read the first part of Lara’s message all I could think about was your story with how you met Lara and said “I am going to work with her someday” You are such an amazing person and your smile is infectious. Each time try to put a bow on Soybean I think of you telling me “the bigger the bow the better the mama” I am very excited for you and all the gals. Cannot wait to see what 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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