Southern Weddings

Tag: art director

The gals and I joked that my Day in the Life post would just be a “Gone Fishin’” sign. While Emily and Lisa are busy as bees from June through August, my busiest time of year starts in August and runs through October. Right now, we’re waist-deep in layout for our next print edition, developing a bunch of exciting shop products, and have some pretty fun partnerships and projects happening at the same time.

Photo by Faith Teasley

8:53am I’m always the first in the office, which I love (it means I get first dibs on fridge space for my lunch bag and get to open the mail!). I go upstairs to our office bungalow and settle into my chair. My to-do list today is titled, “hustle,” which has become our unofficial motto for this time of the year.

8:58am I open up my internet browser and three tabs at once: my inbox, the Southern Weddings blog and the Southern Weddings Shop dashboard. I make sure everything on the blog is displaying correctly and then take a look at how many V7 preorders we’ve gotten overnight. Whew! It’s a lot!

9:00am The rest of the gals trickle into the office and Lisa and Emily are reliably in matching outfits. I get started with my emails. Marissa forwarded over a bunch of gorgeous V7 ads that need approval (done!) and some that need ads made. Like Emily, I also try to work on a one-touch email system, so I always download and copy over materials to a design document as soon as I read the email. Next in my line of emails come wireframe designs for an web project and a long message from one of our shop product manufacturers — our email chains are ridiculously long as we both try to get all of the specs and files perfect and print-ready.

I love my monogrammed chair! When we’re in the thick of layout, I like to make a cup of tea and sink into it with an orange blanket. There’s now a giant iMac on my desk, too, for laying out the magazine. Photos by Faith Teasley.

9:30am I make a list of all the decisions still waiting to be made in my inbox. Many of them require the input of the rest of the gals and I always wait to go over everything at once with them so I don’t keep them from their own tasks. As I wait for their time to free up, I get started with some product designing. A new line of 2015 items and holiday gifts are on our list to complete, so Morgan and I huddle for a few minutes to make sure we’re on the same page and to distribute the tasks.

10:00am Lara’s ready to go through proofs for new products and talk about our schedule for the day. Since so much of the design work is a combination of ideas and collaborations from the two of us, she’s often at my desk going over projects with me. I give her a quick update on all of our projects and then have her look over a mockup of designs that Morgan and I have been working on. I’m particularly nervous about these since they’ll be sent off to a partner we’re really excited to work with. Lara reassures me that we’re moving in the right direction. This is such a big relief for me and is just another reminder of how grateful I am to work with women whose opinions I trust and who are always supportive.

10:30am I get a call from our magazine printer who wants to make sure we place our order with them in time to acquire the paper needed for all tens of thousands of copies. Our circulation has increased this year, but we haven’t received a final order from retailers yet. I send out a slew of emails to make confirm our retailer orders and check in with competing bids.

A big part of my day is spent making new products for the Southern Weddings Shop and the Lara Casey Shop. We just finished a new design of PowerSheets and are working on something special for Southern Weddings that we’re almost ready to announce!

11:00am I see a bunch of DropBox folders and gallery links come into my inbox and they’re all full of gorgeous print images that we haven’t seen yet! I open them right away to give them some time to download. Then, I email the artists and calligraphers we’re working with for this issue. I’ve pulled some examples from our calligrapher’s website that I really love and send them to her to make sure we’re on the same page. We’ve got 17 real weddings in print this year, so I want to make sure she has enough time to hand-letter all of them and that the style matches our taste and direction.

11:15am We design a handful of ads for our print sponsors each year, so I get started on one for a bakery. (It’s not great timing — all of their dessert photos are making me hungry and it’s not even lunch time!) I’m quite familiar with this company, but I always take some time to reacquaint myself with their website and all of their social media accounts. In part, this is to make sure the ad we’re creating for them has the same voice and style as their web outlets, but I’m also looking for photos of their desserts and buffets that really stand out to me and that I think will make a great impression, in addition to the ones they sent over. I usually create three to five different versions of an ad for a sponsor to choose from. It’s always fun and insightful hearing which ones they like best and why!

12:00pm Emily sends over a bunch of V7 text pieces that she and Lisa have been working on. One of them needs a little experimentation with layout, so I quickly put the text on the page and style it to see how much room we have and what the possibilities could be.

A giant inspiration board above my desk helps me focus on things that make me happy when I need a break. Candy and tea are always within reach, too. Photos by Faith Teasley.

1:00pm I trade desks with Lara for the next hour or two so she can pick her favorites among the hundreds of images we just got in. We systematically label them in Adobe Bridge. When I start laying out those features, I can quickly look at and place only the images we think are best for print. Thank goodness for technology!

2:00pm I join Lara back at my desk so we can review the features that I’ve already laid out. I always design features and photographs so they’ll tell a story and show our readers place, context, detail and love story. However, getting Lara’s eye and opinion is so helpful in making the story even clearer, and bouncing ideas off each other always results in a better end-product.

3:30pm With the final layout of most of our features approved, I go back and make sure that all of the images are aligned correctly, that they all have the proper color-mode and that they’re all large enough to print at high quality. I record all of our final image choices and send those in to the respective photographers to see if they want to make any final edits, making sure to point out certain images that are running full page.

3:55pm I go back into our layout for Volume 7 and begin working on the features Lara have just chosen photos for. Some stories are told easily and come together intuitively. Some require a lot of experimentation. After playing around with many variations, I think I might have gotten one of our weddings to read just as elegantly as the images.

Lara and I trade notes on selects for the next issue. We get a ton of flash drives and DVDs of images that come with the prettiest packaging!

5:00pm Usually around 5, we’d all be wrapping up our projects for the day and heading home. Lately, everyone stays late to accommodate the workload. I take a break from layout so I don’t go cross-eyed staring at the same page. I move on and try to separate myself from the project a bit by picking up on product design. I wish I could tell y’all more, but all I can say right now is that we’re working on a really fun new collection for SW and a ton of updated and brand new items for the Lara Casey Shop! I made headway on some projects and also wrap up the first design round on others. I send a PDF of the designs out to the rest of the girls to get their opinions and make sure we’re all happy with it.

5:45pm With some fresher eyes, I take a look at the V7 layout again and make some changes to what I did just an hour before. It’s amazing how much clearer a vision gets once we give yourself a little room to breathe!

6:45pm I check my email again, make a to do list for tomorrow and get any little things off my plate while I’m still in the office.

7:00pm I’m usually the last one out of the office, especially during layout season. I pack up all of my things, turn off my computer, turn off all of the office lights and head downstairs. Sometimes Lara and Grace have an overflow of veggies from the garden to give me, which just makes my evening. I drive home and then usually whip up dinner using one of their home-grown tomatoes or carrots.

Next week, get a peek into a day in the life of our Ad Director, Marissa!

Catch up with Emily’s day here and Morgan’s day here.

Faith Teasley is a member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
8 Comments
  1. avatar Morgan Moore reply

    I’m so thankful that I get to work beside you everyday, Nicole. I also love that your happy inspiration board is in my line of vision!

  2. avatar Mary reply

    I just love these posts! They not only remind me of the incredible work y’all do at SW but also the talent that goes into it!

  3. avatar Mandy Volpe reply

    Love these behind the scenes look at the SW team. Can’t wait to see the layout you are putting together Nicole!!

  4. avatar Jessica Frere reply

    So fun hearing about your work day, Nicole! It’s so nice to read about such a refreshing and collaborative environment!

  5. avatar Sharon @ Red Poppy | Pink Peony reply

    Great post! I love your desk area and monogrammed chair~ the orange is so fresh! And yes, candy is a must.

  6. avatar Sandra | Simply Peachy reply

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve always wondered what everyone gets up to in their day!

  7. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    I really look up to you Nicole and the work that you do with the SW family! Thank you for sharing your day with us. This is the kind of work I dream of doing in the future and this post really inspires me to keep working towards my goals :)

  8. avatar A Day in the Life of the Southern Weddings' Marketing Director – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Catch up with the rest of the gals and get a glimpse at how they spend their days: Emily, Nicole, Lisa, Marissa and […]

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Y’all have seen us dream up weddings and bridal showers for each other, but our life together in the Southern Weddings office consists of more than just the pretties we present to you on the blog! (We’ve been known to indulge in an office party now and then.) Sit a spell with me as I walk you through a typically day for Southern Weddings’ Art Director.

Left: A view of the bulletin board above my desk, which usually holds memories from office parties and photo shoots, paper inspiration and little reminders; Right: My favorite orange desk tray corrals my to-do lists, meeting agenda and the adorable “How to Tie a Bow Tie” chipboard from Launderette.

9:00 I walk into the office, drop my lunch into the fridge and, on the days that she’s up, I say good morning to Miss Gracie. Then I head upstairs to Southern Weddings headquarters where I’m often met by a pile of mailings. This week, it’s some gorgeous invitation samples from Smock and a giant box of goodies for a Making Brands Happen client!

9:10 After I sort through everything, I sit down at my desk and take my shoes off (I’m not sure if this increases productivity, but I’m a proponent of it). I log in to the blog to make sure everything’s posted correctly and the site is running properly and then I check my email. I answer the ones in my inbox and then send out a bunch to vendors we’re working with for another V5 feature to make sure we’re all on the same page.

9:30 Team Meeting time! Since Emily’s working from Connecticut this week, Lara and I Skype her into the office and then put Marissa on speakerphone. We’re total pros at the whole mobile office thing, except we still can’t figure out group Skype.

Left: Our virtual team meeting with Emily on Skype and Marissa on the phone; Right: my desk on the days I work from home. This week, I opened up Photoshop and Illustrator to put together our Summer in the South barbecue post!

10:30 The team meeting is over and everyone’s been updated on V5 features and then some. (Poor Marissa broke her toe!) Lara and I sit down and start building the InDesign document that will become our next issue! Emily sends over our story budget and now we start to see how the magazine will flow. (Hint: SO MUCH AMAZING.)

11:00 There’s only so much we can do before we pick selects from photo shoots and Real Weddings so Lara and I pull up the images we’ve gotten in so far and begin to narrow down the ones we want to place in the magazine.

12:00 We have an absolute squealing fit over a Jonathan Canlas wedding we took for this issue. Seriously, y’all will die. I wish I could tell you more, but you’ll just have to trust me – it’ll make you happier than a pup with two tails.

12:30 I start worrying because there’s no way we can narrow down the images from this wedding. I don’t think y’all would mind if we made this issue bigger than the last, would you?

Left: Rough sketches of a graphic for a blog side project; Right: Flipping through old issues to see what styles we want to update for V5. Yes, that’s my mason jar of water on the side! (I promise it’s not moonshine!)

1:00 We break for lunch, so I grab my food from the kitchen and then head back to my desk and start editing interviews for Real Weddings that are going up in the next two weeks. I almost tear up reading one of our brides’ vows to her new hubby – a constant job hazard, but oh-so-sweet! It’s pretty quiet in the office this week since Em’s in Connecticut and our intern, Emily Alice is on vacation, so I put on some music. I’ve been trying to create the perfect country music station on Pandora, but their new Country BBQ summer station is perfect! Plus, it reminds me of this post.

1:30 I spend the rest of the day working on blog graphics and prepping posts like this one. (Which means I’m wandering around the office taking photos of the paper messes I’ve made so far.) Emily’s got some Real Wedding submissions that she’s torn about, so I look through the photos with her. Sometimes we squeal over super-cute details and gush over gorgeous florals. (Hint: Farm animals are a big plus. Don’t tell Lara that’s how I make my decisions.)

3:00 We’re cooking up some awesome new features on the blog and there are still some graphics that need tweaking. I hop into Illustrator and mock up some options for the team to look at.

4:00 I get an email from Emily telling me how sad she is that she’s missing out on the chocolate tasting we’re doing for Taste TV. (Lucky for me, that means I get to take her place!)

5:00 It’s time to head home! I jot down a list of things that I need to take care of the next morning and then pack up my things. Usually, Emily and I say goodbye to Lara and Grace and carpool home. This week, I head out by myself and stop by the grocery store for some Sweet Tea ice cream, my new obsession.

And that’s my day, y’all! In just a few weeks, I’ll be living in the computer glow of V5 layout (and dying over the gorgeousness). Candy, sweet tea and puppies are welcome during this time.

Want more behind the scenes? Check out our “In the Office” posts here.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
3 Comments
  1. avatar Amanda reply

    I love this! Especially since you do exactly what I want to aspire to in the future. Love the sneek peak, keep them coming!

  2. avatar Kelly reply

    Love the play-by-play! Everything sounds dreamy — and I can’t wait to see the Jonathan Canlas wedding in V5!

    You just let me know the next time y’all decide you need another Jr. Assistant Art Director; put me on standby! ;)

  3. avatar Carolina reply

    OMG dream job! This is so inspiring and amazing!

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Hello, ladies + gents! Now that we have our super-fab team photos back from the amazing Millie Holloman, we thought we’d do some proper introductions! Some of us you’ve already met, some of us you may be meeting for the first time — but after this little Sit a Spell series, we hope you’ll feel like you know us even better! First we had Nicole, and now it’s Sierra’s turn! Her graphics skills are astounding, and her personality is even sweeter. I’m thrilled for you to meet Sierra! — Emily

Happy Friday, y’all! Having been at Southern Weddings for 10 months, I thought it was high time to introduce myself, seeing as I’m more often found behind the scenes! Curious about what I do all day? I’m the girl behind most of the SW imagery – from column headers, to sidebar buttons, to giveaway graphics. I’m also heading up layout and page design for our next issue, Southern Weddings V4. (I cannot WAIT to share what I’ve been working on all summer!) But let’s get started, shall we?

1. If I could do it again, I’d do it the same. Growing up, my family moved around multiple times, and strangely enough, it’s been in a pattern – North (MA), South (TN), North (or Midwest — OH), and South (NC). While I gave my parents a good amount of grief (sorry Mom and Dad!) about making me leave my friends and all that was familiar, looking back, I appreciate the change. If it wasn’t for moving, I would not have met all the people I know and love today. I would not be working on this amazing publication and, most importantly, I might never have broken out of my shell.

2. I was named after a mountain range. Can you say the same? Ever since I can remember, I haven’t really liked my name. I still don’t. I’ve heard of or met 5-10 girls named Sierra in my entire life. My parents, who both have ordinary names, wanted to name my brother and me something unique that had to do with the outdoors. No surprise, then, that I am part of a major Scouting family: my father and brother are both Eagle Scouts, my dad is a freelance photographer for the National Boy Scouts, and my brother is a ranger at Philmont Scout Ranch in NM (we’re actually visiting him next week!).

3. In a previous life I was a competitive figure skater. Yep, I had the nice skates, the velvet leotards and a spiffy rolling backpack. And until middle school, I spent many hours of my life at the rink. (I’m still a good skater when I go with friends about once a year.) My favorite routine was to the Mulan soundtrack!

4. I’m a country music fan. I like other genres of music (I really enjoy reggae), but – let me know if any of you feel the same – I like that country music ties me to my roots. It’s something that I’m proud of. Ever since I was in a stroller, my parents took me to see my grandparents when they were at Fan Fair (now the CMA Music Festival) or when they (my grandparents) were touring as part of the Camping Dancers, a square dancing group that traveled around in RVs and performed at different places. Really!

5. I can’t cook, but I love to eat. Although both of my grandmothers are known for being wonderful Southern cooks, somehow that trailed off with my mom and me. (For example, my mom said she is pretty good at boiling water.) What I’ve learned to cook so far? Strawberry drizzle cake, pecan pie, pumpkin cookies and deviled eggs. Like I said, though, I love to eat! My dad makes the best grits, and I don’t eat them without adding cheese, crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, butter and a touch of salt and pepper in there. My friends from Ohio make fun of grits (so did Emily at our office meeting!). Those Northerners just don’t understand!

6. I have worked in the frozen dessert industry for almost eight years. At age 15, I worked at a pizza place that served gelato. In middle and high school, I worked at TCBY (frozen yogurt). And in college, the jobs naturally led me to be the campus manager of Smitty’s Homemade Ice Cream. I even roped my boyfriend into the business! I recommend White Chocolate Mousse from TCBY or Carolina Blue Chip from Smitty’s.

7. My car has 365,000 miles on it. When I say my car, I actually mean my family’s car — a ’91 Jeep Cherokee that we’ve all driven at some point (Emily can relate). Though I love the Jeep, it’s had its incidents. For example, in high school, the driver’s door fell off one day before school started. I just put it back on, locked it and went to class before the late bell! It’s been around so long that it’s like a member of our family!

8. You won’t find me without a cardigan. No matter what season it is, you will probably find me wearing one (like now as I’m writing this post in the middle of the summer). I don’t know how I acquired such a collection –- probably from visiting J.Crew outlets — but the only colors I am missing are red, black, navy, orange and off white. When my hair is in a low bun (called my “wedding bun” by friends), add a pair of glasses, and you might mistake me for your grandma.

9. I started as the mail girl here at Southern Weddings. One fateful day, Lara emailed me and asked if I would forward a posting to UNC students about a month-long position, starting that week, to help get V3 orders out the door. Before sending it to 400+ people, I emailed back offering to do it myself! I started the next day, mailed hundreds of magazines and wrote personal notes until my hand fell off, but 10 months later, I’m still here! (And taking care of much more than the mail.) My recent tasks have even included modeling!

10. In ten years, I want to be happily married and in the process of starting a family. I also hope to own my own business. (I just need to determine what type of business that would be!) For now though, I continue falling more in love with the wedding industry each and every day. I am lucky to be able to interact with such talented vendors, such stunning and personable brides and such energetic and loyal readers. Y’all make me smile!

Read more about me here!

Do we have something in common? Introduce yourself in the comments below!

Written with love by Sierra
18 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Thanks to you, my dear, I am now also a country music fan!

  2. avatar Brittany reply

    Great to meet you, Sierra! I’m a Tennessean, born and raised, AND I love grits! I truly have a hard time thinking that everyone doesn’t love them.

    • avatar Sierra reply

      Yes, Tennessee is a wonderful state! I’ve lived in Nashville, Brentwood and Murfreesboro. Have a great weekend, Brittany!

  3. avatar Lara reply

    I love this! You are so incredible, Sierra! I’m so happy to see your face every day!

  4. avatar Whitney reply

    Sierra, we simply must go ice skating together! I took lessons until I was 13. You’ll have to wear that velvet leotard.

  5. avatar Lisa reply

    You are so beautiful! And I’m in the alternating between North and South club too, haha… New York to Virginia to Ohio to Texas to Pennsylvania and back to Texas! There’s no place like home in the South, that’s for sure! :)

    • avatar Sierra reply

      Thank you for the sweet comment, Lisa! I knew someone would be able to relate to moving all over the place. And yes, I’m always happier in the South with warmer weather and sweet tea. Have a fabulous weekend!

  6. avatar Lydia reply

    What’s not to love about cardigans?? I don’t have quite the collection you do, but I’m on my way! :-)

  7. avatar Morgan Maples reply

    As your best friend, I loved reading your “Sit a Spell!” Although I already knew most of that about you, as I am the one who calls it “the wedding bun”, it was still so fun to see how much you love your job. The website always looks beautiful–keep up the good work!

  8. avatar Kristina reply

    Sierra,
    I totally identify with the can’t-cook-loves-to-eat bit! Whenever I tell my husband I will cook that night he asks if I’m sure lol, but he always eats it anyway like a trooper. For the most part, he cooks and I bake. And I loooove to bake. Sounds like you are quite the baker if you are venturing into cakes and pies!

  9. avatar Kelly reply

    ohmyGOODNESS! let me just tell you a little something about our similarities… 1. girl, grits are my favorite!!!! i totally empathize with you about the backlash grits get from Yankees. i plan on having a grits bar at my tennessee wedding next year. and you KNOW cheese and bacon will be involved. 2. TCBY white chocolate mousse has been my frozen delight of choice since i was five!!!! yes ma’am. 3. cardigans are the best! my favorite is from a banana republic outlet, pale blue-green cashmere… heaven. lovely reading about you!!!

    • avatar Sierra reply

      A grits bar! Oh my! That is very exciting about your upcoming wedding. You’re at the right place for some Southern wedding planning and inspiration. Be sure to check out our print issue in September. It’s packed with Southern goodness that won’t disappoint. Glad we have so many things in common, Kelly!

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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