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Our name is Southern Weddings, and the biggest portion of our heart will always be for seeing you down the aisle with grace, style, joy, and love. But over the last few years, it’s been such a pleasure to pull the curtain back a bit and learn from just-married couples in our Southern Newlywed column. In Southern Weddings V9, we brought Southern Newlywed to print and shared five different spaces shared by sweet married couples. They’re each unique, and our goal was to show you that even if your current abode doesn’t match the dream farmhouse in your mind, it can still be a beautiful place to start your life together.

We’ll be sharing extended tours of all five throughout the next few months, but in the meantime, we wanted to give you a sneak peek! If you just can’t wait, go pick up your copy on newsstands or in the Southern Weddings Shop now :)

Emily and Tim’s Kentucky home made for hosting, with family, friends, and Airbnb guests (photo by Whitney Neal)

Jillian and Hayden’s Texas apartment abode (photo by Kimberly Chau with styling by Jennifer Laura Design)

Sarah and JB’s traditional Florida home (photo by Shannon Kirsten)

Whitney and Michael’s Kentucky fixer upper (photo by Whitney Neal)

And finally, Anna and Daniel’s home on the road (photo by Anna Shackleford)

P.S. Need more Southern Newlywed? See all our home tours here!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Mary Kay reply

    I love your Southern Newlywed column and am so happy to see it in print!

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Boy howdy, do I have a treat for y’all today. Not only did our friend and newlywed Hope Houser send over photos of the beautiful home she shares with her husband, Michael, but we have the “before” photos to share, too! The home these two have created is cozy, inviting, cohesive, and filled with sentimental pieces, from the painting of their first look to the cactus art in honor of Michael’s home state. Add in an enviable man cave, a facade-flip worthy of Joanna Gaines, and an interview filled with sweet wisdom, and my (and probably your) Friday is complete! Please enjoy, friends!

Thanks to Sophie Brendle for the beautiful after photos of Hope and Michael’s home!

P.S. You may recognize Hope as Lysa TerKeurst’s daughter. Read more of her mama’s advice for mothers-of-the-bride here!

The couple: Hope (22) and Michael (21) Houser
Years married: 8 months
Where you live: Charlotte, NC
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Michael: I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Although I miss the dry heat at times, Charlotte has become my home. I have an older brother and sister as well as four younger siblings. I loved growing up in a big family and I hope to start my own with Hope in the next few years! Until then I am pursing a double major in business as well as working towards my career goal to become a Chick-fil-a operator/owner. Hope: My parents have lived in the same house my entire life in Charlotte, North Carolina. My dad has owned his Chick-fil-A for 25 years. My mom is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has written 19 books and speaks all over the world! I have two older brothers and two younger sisters.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. 20 questions while driving up a mountain top was the best way for us to get to know each other – I love to ask questions, and hearing Michael’s answers made me fall in love.
What is your favorite part of being married? Hope: Watching Michael cook the yummiest dinner, jazz music playing in the background, favorite candle lit, and not having to say goodnight after :) Michael: My favorite part of being married is being able to start my day and end my day with my best friend. I can’t put into words how awesome it is to be in love with your best friend.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? Michael: The most surprising thing about marriage is that I never stop learning more about my wife. Marriage is a constant work in progress, and I mean that in a good way.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We recently bought a little starter home. We would love to be here for the next five-ish years, and then move into our forever home. We are open to either building or buying a fixer-upper and gutting it! (Hope wants the fixer-upper :))

Tell us about the process of moving in together. Michael has given me such freedom to bring all my crazy ideas to life with our home. Some have totally failed, but it’s nothing a little patch-up work or paint won’t fix! The best advice we have would be to give yourself the freedom to experiment. Either you learn a lesson of what not to do next time, or it turns out great! It’s a win/win.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Hope: Our living room — we love hosting our friends and family there! Michael: My man cave. It’s the best napping or movie room!
What most makes your house feel like home? Our wedding presents. Some of our favorite things weren’t on our registry, but they all have such sentimental meaning! Those are what we find ourselves talking about most in our home. (Examples: the painting of us during our first look, the cacti art in our kitchen representing where Michael grew up, our kitchen table that Hope grew up sitting at, etc.)

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? I like to have at least one statement piece in every room, and those are normally the splurge items: our chairs in our living room, our cowhide rugs, the House Of Belonging sign above our bed.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Hope: Our band was seriously amazing. We danced under lights in this huge glass ceiling atrium. It truly was the most magical winter wedding. Michael: My favorite memory was watching Hope walk down the aisle. I know it’s, cliche but it truly is a breathtaking moment. Along with that, I love that I’ll always be able to reminisce about the best day of my life with friends and family who were there.

How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have lots of wedding pictures all throughout the house, the Bible we had our guests sign is on our coffee table in the living room, our wedding painting is hanging in the living room, and we have an album of guest photos from our photo booth!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Wait a few weeks until you start spending the gift cards from either presents or reimbursements. We could have used them for so many practical items that we didn’t realize we needed until a few weeks living together in our home.

Who cooks dinner? Michael. Always. (Ha!)
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Crockpot salsa chicken, sweet potato fries, spinach salad, and avocados. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve had this meal. And then of course Chick-fil-A is a weekly/daily thing ;)
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I watched the movie “Chef” a few weeks back and ever since I’ve been on a food truck kick. I’ll look for food truck recipes online and work them into our menu for the upcoming week. Try homemaderecipes.com!

How does your family handle finances? We both love growing our savings and giving. Don’t get me wrong, spending is fun, but we want to establish good patterns early on. We’ve had to just decide what things are necessary, and what we can wait on. I would recommend using a budget sheet – once you use it for a few weeks consistently, it will become a really wonderful habit!

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Saying no to some things has been so beneficial for us. We’d recommend allowing yourself to sometimes turn down stuff so that you can use your newlywed time to grow closer together. We’re all about that “quality time” love language! This has been an area where lots of communication is needed and we sometimes fail, but we love to learn!

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite night would be cooking dinner at home, eating at our farm table, then venturing upstairs with a glass of wine to watch whatever show we;re hooked on at the moment. Currently, it’s “Parenthood.” So good.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Hope: I LOVE walking into a clean house. I travel a lot with my job, so Michael is always serving me by cleaning the house before I get home from a trip. Michael: I love when Hope sends me encouraging messages, phone calls, or notes throughout my week about stuff I forgot I told her about, like a big exam coming up, a presentation for work, or a new workout routine. It could be anything, but her intentionality always makes for a better day.

Do you have children? Both of us grew up with big families, so we would love to have a big family, too! We want to wait 3-5 years to have kids. Adoption is something we both have had our hearts set on for a while!

Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… My mom always tell us this: “When you wish for someone else’s good, you have to be able to handle the not-so-good that comes with it. It always comes as a package deal.” We knew this before we were married, but it’s something we are constantly reminding ourselves of. Comparison is so dangerous in a marriage!

This year, our family is most excited about… going to Israel together in a few months. I have been, but Michael hasn’t, and we are SO excited to experience it together as newlyweds.

Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Hope and Michael!

A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also 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
3 Comments
  1. avatar Christina Morales reply

    What color are the kitchen cabinets?
    What is the quote over the bed?

  2. avatar Caroline reply

    Where did you get the bedding with the brown comforter? I love it!

  3. avatar Best Ways to Decorate Home with Cotton Stems – Botanical Deer reply

    […] it all started with paint, 12th + white, design sponge, daily dream decor, southern weddings […]

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Jessi and Braden’s home is adorable, absolutely — but what I love most about it is that it is also so abundantly welcoming and approachable! These two have mixed affordable finds (Walmart gallery frames!) with treasured pieces for a cozy and warm look throughout their Greenville, SC Tudor. I wasn’t surprised at all when Jessi revealed “hosting is our love language” in her interview, below — from their kind hearts to their comfy decor choices, these two are clearly in their element in their home, surrounded by loved ones. I’m taking notes, and I’m sure y’all will want to, as well!

Fun fact: Jessi and Braden were reader models in last year’s Fore the Love shoot, so I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them in person!

The couple: Jessi and Braden Nichols, both 25
Years married: Three
Where they live: Greenville, South Carolina
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. I attended the University of South Carolina my freshman year and transferred to our rival school, Clemson University, at the start of sophomore year. The Sadie Hawkins shag was coming up, and since I was new to Clemson, I didn’t know many people, so I asked a friend whom I should ask. She mentioned Braden. With a little hesitation and fear, I asked him that week at a bonfire, and I am so glad I did! Sadie Hawkins marks our first “date,” if you will, and the rest is history! We dated for the remainder of our time at Clemson and got engaged the winter of our senior year. We had an eight-month engagement, which was a super tough season for us, and got married on August 24, 2013. We lived in a cute little townhouse in Mauldin, SC for our first year of marriage, and in August 2014, we purchased our first home in the heart of downtown Greenville. I am now a full-time wedding photographer and Braden is an industrial engineer at Michelin!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. By the grace and faithfulness of Jesus, we have been blessed with this life that we are so undeserving to live.
What is your favorite part of being married? While dating in college, it was difficult to balance school, friendships, and relationships. Some days would pass when we wouldn’t have a chance to see one another at all. My favorite part of being married is knowing that we can have quality time every day–our time together still has to be intentional, but we no longer have to fight for it like we used to. Now I know we will have time together every day, even if it’s just a simple dinner at our kitchen nook or watching Netflix together before going to bed.

Tell us a little bit about where you live. We are proud owners of our home. When looking to buy our first home, we truly wanted to be able to see ourselves there for at least 5-10 years, and we hoped to plant roots in downtown. We have big dreams to create a master suite out of my office space and our guest bedroom. We also have dreams of building a garage with a studio apartment above it, allowing us to host guests and to provide a home away from home for our family and friends.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Once we got married, Braden and I moved into a town home in a small city about 20 minutes outside of Greenville. We transitioned into living together gracefully; we knew that it would be an adjustment and a learning experience, so we offered grace and understanding to one another. We were blessed with furniture from family members, so our town home was mostly furnished with hand-me-downs. Luckily, we were also able to use many items from our actual wedding to decorate. Braden and I have similar style when it comes to home décor; we both enjoy a warm space that feels cozy and inviting. My best advice to blending two styles is to truly narrow in on what makes home feel like home for each of you, whether that’s a certain type of furniture, lamp lighting, lots of cozy blankets, etc.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our living room is my favorite room in our home. Many people have walked through our arched front door and have spent time in this cozy space. Hosting is one of our love languages, and this space has offered so many opportunities to love others in that way. Our living room gets so much beautiful light–morning light pours in and it gets softer as the day goes on. I fell in love with the lattice windows on the front of the house; they offer some history and so much charm, something that can’t be replicated.
What most makes your house feel like home? It’s a cliché, but honestly, who I do life with in this house is what makes it feel like home. Sharing this space with Braden is one of the sweetest gifts. Around every corner is a little piece of what makes us us. The warm paint colors and cozy blankets, the constant smell of candles burning, our dog Sampson napping on the living room rug… it is all so us.

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? My best advice comes from someone else! She told me to take my time and be patient, to wait for that perfect piece that I love. Simple advice, but it really made me slow down and think about what I envisioned for every little nook and corner in our home. It is a process to make a room feel complete, so my best advise is to save on the smaller décor items. I love to cut flowers or greenery from our yard to decorate our mantel and dining room table; I also love Trader Joe’s bouquets and eucalyptus to fill vases. I have found that I splurge on the bigger items, like our dining room table or the piece under the living room television. These bigger items stick around longer–not only are you investing your money, but you’re also investing in multiple years of use!

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? If I had to choose, I would say the moment I got to see a blindfolded Braden right before our ceremony. We chose to read letters from one another, and planned to do this around a doorway so we didn’t see one another. When I walked out of the bridal suite, though, there he was, my handsome groom, standing right in front of me with a blindfold over his eyes. I couldn’t help but laugh because I was so surprised to see him standing there! Seeing him helped to ease my nervousness, without having to compromise him seeing me for the first time as I walked down the aisle.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? As a wedding photographer, I am a firm believer in printing your photos and having them as little reminders throughout your home. We have wedding photos hung in our hallway, so each day, I pass them right by them. We also have our wedding album and our annual yearbooks on our coffee table. I look at them more than I would like to admit, but they are such sweet reminders of my favorite memories. I also have dried flowers from my bouquet and my bridesmaids’ bouquet, which can be found in vases all over our home.

What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Honestly, I wish we had registered for more “fun” items, which sounds so silly. We thought practically, aiming to register for anything and everything we could possibly need to live comfortably. We had everything covered for the kitchen and bathroom, but did not add many items for our bedroom or living room. We didn’t focus on décor items or items that make a cozy home, such as blankets, frames, trays, etc., and I really wish we would have!
Who cooks dinner? I’m a meal prepper (pretty sure I just made up a word!), so I cook dinner for us most nights!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We are both CrossFit athletes who love a good workout, and it has inspired healthy eating in our household. Most nights, you can find a dinner of fish, roasted vegetables, and sweet potatoes in our kitchen. Recently, we have loved zoodle (zucchini noodle) dishes, such as healthy chicken Parmesan or basil pesto shrimp over zoodles. On the weekends, we love a good burger, brick oven pizza, or a full plate of sushi!

What’s your favorite place to find recipes? For a while, we loved making recipes from the Against All Grain cookbook. I still visit this book on occasion, but I have recently been loving getting simple ideas from The Traders Table on Instagram. Each post includes all the ingredients you need from Trader Joe’s, plus instructions on how to prepare the meal! So easy and takes out any guesswork–plus, Trader Joe’s is my favorite grocery store!
How does your family handle finances? Do you use a set budget? With Braden being an engineer, he loves a good spreadsheet! When we first got married, we attempted to budget by using spreadsheets and Mint, both of which worked well. We were advised to live on just Braden’s salary, which we do mostly, and to use the income from my business as a means of savings. With different seasons of life, this looks different. For instance, this year, we have traveled a lot, so my business income has covered most of those expenses. We check with one another before making big investments, keep tabs on how much we are eating out, and try to be mindful of how much we are spending, but do not keep a written budget.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? Honestly, I was most surprised by how much marriage reveals my sin and selfishness. As a firm believer in Jesus, I knew that I was sinful and selfish, but those things were amplified through marriage, which is super humbling. Every day, we have to extend grace and love to one another, and through this, we have grown in our faith exponentially.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? We have learned to balance everything by communicating our expectations. Our families live in different parts of the state, so we have to be intentional and talk through how we are going to split time with each family over the holidays. With the flexibility of my schedule, I try to work similar hours to Braden’s. That way, we finish up around the same time in the afternoons. We also prioritize at least one date night a week if possible to ensure that we are having quality time, and giving ourselves the opportunity to be intentional with one another.

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? We enjoy a simple Greenville date night each week. We love to take a short drive downtown to Tako Sushi, a super laid back sushi-meets-Mexican restaurant. We always sit at the bar and order 2-4 rolls (I’m craving a Greenville roll as I write this), and then we make our way to Marble Slab a few blocks down for some ice cream! Super simple, but it’s always fun.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Recently, small acts of service have been my way of loving and serving Braden. My work schedule has been a little slower this season, which has given me more time at home, so I try and serve him through doing household tasks like laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and meal prepping.

Do you have children? We currently do not have children, but it is definitely a dream to have them in the future! Since getting married, we have agreed that we would love to have 4-5 years of doing life just the two of us. We want to build a solid foundation for our family, and we truly believe that is built through our marriage. We are so excited to be parents one day, but currently, we have a two-year-old golden retriever who is just fine with being an only child for the time being!

This year, our family is most excited about… all of our travels. We have been blessed with a year full of jet-setting around the world. In March, Braden traveled to France for work, then in May, we traveled to Antigua to shoot my first destination wedding. A few months later, we traveled to Italy with some of our best friends, and then I went on a girls trip to the Dominican Republic. Wow, what a whirlwind! Our next trip will be to Jamaica in October to shoot another destination wedding and we are so excited!

You can follow along with Jessi at her website, blog, and Instagram, as well as the hashtag for their home, #thenicholscottage! Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Jessi and Braden!

A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also 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
3 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I love their style so much, but love their hearts even more!

  2. avatar Amy reply

    This house is so beautiful! I’m curious where the dining room chandelier and chairs are from!

  3. avatar Chelsi reply

    Hello! I absolutely love your home! Do you happen to remember where your brown porch swing is from?! Thank you!

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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