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Our heart of hearts is serving you, sweet ladies, as you plan your weddings – providing both the practical and the pretty throughout your engagements. But because we believe so strongly that as you plan for your wedding you are preparing for your marriage, one of our favorite posts every week is our Southern Newlywed column. More than just pretty interiors photos (though those are helpful, of course!), we hope you learn something from each couple we feature, whether they’ve been married five months or five years. I know I do.

Here’s a round-up of our favorite Newlywed posts from the past year, including all 14 home tours – be sure to click through each for more!

Best before and after: Jessica and Mark’s Montgomery home (photo by Holland Williams)

Best cozy style: Alison and Luke’s Charlotte home (photo by Maggie Colletta)

Best backyard: Emily and Tim’s Louisville home (photo by Whitney Neal)

Best collections: Cary and Ryan Ray (photo by Ryan Ray)

Best apartment: Catherine and Will’s D.C. home (photo by Abby Grace)

Best blending of masculine and feminine style: Kristin and Kyle’s Orlando home (photo by Kt Crabb)

Best exterior: Rachel and Luke’s Waco home (photo by Rachel Whyte)

Best farmhouse style (plus bonus category: best hardwood floors!): Meredith and Nic’s Brentwood home (photo by Meredith Teasley)

Best bedroom: Meredith and Beau’s Rosemary Beach home (photo by Dear Wesleyann)

Dreamiest bathroom: Bonnie and Armon’s Waco home (photo by Rachel Whyte)

Prettiest gallery wall: Callie and Jamie’s Raleigh home (photo by Nancy Ray)

Best front porch: Jessi and Braden’s Greenville home (photo by Jessi Nichols)

Best use of neutrals: Hope and Michael’s Charlotte home (photo by Sophie Brendle)

Best paint color: Astleigh and Pete’s Virginia home (photo by Rachel Wells)

Ready for more? Check out our Southern Newlywed Most Memorable 2015 here. We also rounded up a few of our other favorite Southern Newlywed content from this year, in case you’re looking for some light reading over the holidays!

Newlywed life:
The magic of walking and talking
Planning anniversary photos
How to change your name post-wedding
Books to read to prepare for marriage (or as a newlywed!)
Preserving and displaying wedding mementos in your home

Recipes:
Tailgate favorites
Apple cider
Sweet tea five ways
Zucchini bread
Lisa’s ten favorite recipes

Date night ideas:
Tossing the football + more
A drive with the top down + more
A year of date nights challenge
AAA baseball game + more
At-home Mexican cooking + more
Weekly marriage group + more
Tech-free date ideas
Game night + more

Holidays:
Ways to celebrate Valentine’s day
Hosting Easter brunch
When you’re spending Christmas or Thanksgiving away from your family
Sending out your first married Christmas card

Whitney Neal, Kt Crabb, Meredith Teasley, Dear Wesleyann, and Nancy Ray are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
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A few weeks ago, the SW gals gathered for a favorite Southern Weddings’ tradition–our annual Gingerbread Barn Building Competition. This was the sixth year inviting our friends to join us for a night of barn-building and hot cocoa-drinking at the Carolina Inn!

Big thanks to Ally and Bobby for spending the evening with us and capturing these wonderful images you see below!

If you can’t tell from above, Christmas at the Carolina Inn is simply magical! So magical, in fact, that our very own Kristin couldn’t miss out on a second Gingerbread Barn Building event in a row! She surprised us with her lovely face and ooh and ahh at the Christmas decor alongside us!

We are grateful for our dear friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor, Randi of Sugar Euphoria, for providing the icing everyone used on their barns! This stuff was barn building gold, and it made for some of the tallest and most structurally-sound barns we’ve seen yet (three story structures!)

Each team dove right in when the competition began, and you could feel the excitement in the room as we strolled around to see plans, blueprints and designs begin to unfold! I must say, being a judge certainly takes some of the pressure off!

I wouldn’t be a true UNC alum if I didn’t mention the lovely replica of the UNC bell tower. Between KNW and myself, we must’ve taken three dozen photos to send to our beaus who are fellow UNC grads. If you look closely enough, there was even a Ramses made out of marshmallows. Be still my heart!

This group may have been some of the most creative builders we’ve seen yet! Herringbone pathways, pretzel chandeliers, and beautiful hand-letting covered in sprinkles–the ideas seem to get better each year!

We loved hearing the story behind our Honorable Mention Best Story winner’s barn below! Each tiny home was created by a different member of their team, and had a matching story to go with it!

Each creation we saw was not only beautifully executed, but had a darling story to match it! After much deliberation, we handed out the grand prize award to a sweet group of ladies who created the beautiful snow-covered creation you see below, complete with a sweater-wearing reindeer!

We also passed our four Honorable Mentions–Most Festive, Most Architecturally Creative, Most Creative Story, and Most Structurally Sound–to other builders! Y’all certainly didn’t make deliberations easy this year!

Thank you so much to all our friends who joined us at this year’s competition, and to The Carolina Inn for hosting us all–we can’t wait to see what y’all come up with next year! Happy holidays!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
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  1. avatar Bri A reply

    These are so beautiful! I think I need to up my gingerbread game. And the marshmallow Ramses — consider this UNC alum in love!

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The holiday are in full swing and Christmas is just days away. This time of year can be filled with joy and excitement (biggest congratulations to our newly engaged gals) and it can also be bursting with activities, events and a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Whether you’re all-the-hearts over your new diamond or trying to knock out wedding to-dos in-between wrapping presents and sealing envelopes, it’s easy to get caught up in the busy and forget to carve out time to focus on what matters most. So let’s all agree to put down the to-do lists, throw those last presents in gift bags and take some time to embrace the holidays.

Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Justin Demutiis for all these festive photos!

Here are a few personally tested ways to embrace the holidays and add a little extra festive love into your most important relationships:

1. Two words: Hot chocolate. Whether you’re a devout coffee drinker or an extra whip cream kind of gal (yes, please), the thought of taking time to actually sit and enjoy a hot holiday beverage for even a few minute without trying to cross off another to-do sounds dreamy. This doesn’t have to be an all day affair. Sneak away from your family for a half hour and drive to Starbucks or duck out after dinner one night or for any early-morning breakfast date. The important thing is not when but making an effort to carve out some intention time to be still.

2. Take advantage of any planned travel to enjoy a little extra holiday-inspired quality time. The SW gals are all professional road trippers: check out our expert tips. For travel over the holidays, take things up a notch and pack some gingerbread cookies, make a holiday playlist or prep holiday-themed “20-questions” (think: favorite childhood toy, best memory, worst holiday outfit, etc.).

3. Recreate a childhood holiday tradition. For me, it’s new pajamas on Christmas Eve and watching the Santa Clause (my most favorite holiday movie). Doing this with KPW puts me in the holiday spirit and force me to reset, so we’ve been known to do this on nights other than Christmas Eve utilizing last year’s festive jams.

4. Take listening to holiday music to a new level with your own version of Christmas Karaoke. While I’m a strict ‘no-holiday music’ until after I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner gal, all bets are off once the turkey leftovers are put away until the confetti falls on NYE. Pull out your parent’s old holiday records or blast the (retro?) N’Sync Christmas album. Don’t just play the music in the background–channel your inner Mariah Carey and belt out the songs! Dancing along is recommended and participation by all parties is highly encouraged. Let your hair down and turn the music up.

5. Go hunt holiday lights! Wedding bouquets are to weddings as Christmas lights are to Christmas. Twinkly lights might be around more than just during December, but there’s something extra special about the holiday lights when you add candles in the windows and wreaths on the doors (bonus points for holiday inflatables). Put on your cozy clothes and pile into the car or throw on your tennis shoes and a scarf (assuming you don’t live in FL) and go on a search for Christmas lights around your neighborhood or city (hand holding encouraged). I’m betting just getting away for a few minutes will clear your head and have you humming a Christmas song in no time.

It’s amazing what a little intentional holiday reset will do for my spirits and how (with just a little effort) it will refocus me on what ultimately matters. Remember, there’s nothing magical about December 25, so bring on the Christmas pajamas and hot chocolate as long at the tree’s still up and you’re still humming a little “12 Days of Christmas”. Merry Christmas, y’all!

PS: I’m sure y’all are bursting with other great ways to embrace the holidays. Share them below!! xo.

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh I love these posts! Wonderful ideas to reset, be still, and enjoy these last few days before Christmas. :)

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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