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If you’ve been reading Southern Weddings for awhile, chances are, you’ve fallen in love with a Katelyn James Photography wedding or two! Katelyn and Michael are a husband and wife photography team, and as well as shooting pretty weddings (see a few of our favorites here, here, and here!), they also love decorating their home in Richmond, Virginia, where they live with their ridiculously adorable bichpoo, Bokeh. Their passion for opening up their home and gathering family and friends together is the driving force behind the design and decor in their house, and we have a feeling y’all are going to love this peek inside as much as we do!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. After dating for eight years, I married my high school sweetheart, best friend, and greatest gift from God… life couldn’t be any sweeter!
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? I think we’re constantly going through different changes in our marriage. The most recent change in our life is that we are now a full-time husband and wife photography team! I’ve been so surprised with what we are capable of accomplishing as a team. We’re so much better together than we are apart!

Do you rent or own? We actually do both. We bought a very small Cape Cod when we first got married in 2010, and we recently built more of a family-sized home in our area! We currently rent our first home out to friends from church.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? Michael and I grew up together, went on family vacations together, and have known each other since we were toddlers, so there were very few things that shocked us after moving in together. I am learning not to have unrealistic expectations about how tidy our house should be. Messes stress me out… Michael doesn’t seem to mind them :) However, over the last three years, Michael has learned that I’m in a much better mood when the house is somewhat put together, so he makes that a priority, and I love him for it!

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? We splurge on big ticket items that need to last forever. For example, when we moved into the new house, we knew that we wanted to invest in a couch that we could use for 10+ years. However, we bought more affordable end tables and a coffee table, because those can easily be replaced. Our accent pieces and guest bedroom sets are mostly from IKEA–we love the Liatorp Collection! We don’t splurge on lamps or small decor pieces, simply because there are awesome options at HomeGoods and Target. Why spend $250 on one lamp when you can decorate a whole room with that money?
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? We love our vacuum and our luggage! Those were two big items on our registry that we’re SO thankful for.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Why did I get fine china?! Our everyday dishes are white ceramic sets from Crate and Barrel and they are beautiful. We registered for a full set of fine china and only received about 1/3 of what we registered for. The sad part is that Crate and Barrel discontinued that pattern before we saved up to complete the collection, so now we’re stuck with a few pieces of fine china that we never use! I wish we had saved that money and invested in some more awesome serving dishes instead, since we like to entertain.

Who cooks dinner? Michael cooks, thank goodness! I’m a horrible chef.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? When we don’t know what to make, we have pasta! It’s easy and always readily available. We also grill chicken quite often and save the leftovers for my salads during the week. Our weekends are normally our “date nights,” so we usually eat out.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? Our moms! Michael is constantly getting recipes from our moms. Whether we’re having a Southwest stew or some type of casserole, chances are, the recipe probably came from home.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I would that say that we both love our living room the most! It’s where we spend most of our time relaxing at home. When we have friends over or events at the house, everyone gathers in that space. Great memories are made in that room!
What most makes your house feel like home? People. I love to decorate, but even the prettiest decor can’t make a house feel like a home. Our house feels most like a home when both of our families are here visiting with us!

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? This is going to sound like such a small thing, but Michael and I serve each other by taking the dog out to use the bathroom. He takes Bokeh out when I’m entrenched in emails, and I take him out it in the middle of the night when Michael is asleep.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? We have learned that we’ll never have time off if we don’t schedule it. I try to mark off at least 2-3 “stay at home” days per week, two to three months in advance.
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… to not have expectations for my own marriage based on other people’s marriages.

How does your family handle finances? Do you use a set budget? Our financial life has changed quite a bit in the last three years since we got married. Now that we’re self-employed and are running a photography business, we have sporadic annual income–no month is the same. We have found that designating 1/4 for business savings, 1/4 for business checking, 1/4 for personal savings and 1/4 to live on works well for us. However, we have just changed the business to an “S-Corp,” so we’ll be receiving payroll for the first time, and we plan on starting a budget based off of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace curriculum!
Do you have children? No children quite yet, but we hope to have several in the future! Michael loves kids and I’m so excited to see him as a dad one day! We are really enjoying life as a married couple without kids right now, but we’re excited for that season whenever it comes.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Michael and I love going on car rides in the evenings and looking at large, historic Richmond homes. It’s cheap and it never gets old! We recently bought an old convertible that we have coined our “fun car.” It’s the perfect ride for these outings downtown!

What is your favorite part of being married? Never having to say good night and then part ways at the end of the day, and having a permanent companion by my side!
In 2014, our family is most excited about… traveling, crossing off some big bucket list items, and establishing even more of a work/life balance.
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? Michael and I have found that we are the best versions of ourselves when we’re making time for God in our day-to-day life and in our marriage. There is nothing more powerful than a couple that can pray together and allow God to lead their marriage. So often, we forget this and try to do life on our own and by our own strength. We truly believe that God has a very specific purpose for everyone and every marriage!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
16 Comments
  1. avatar Lindy reply

    LOVE this house!! And LOVE this new series… especially today’s! It’s so fun seeing newlyweds’ homes, and the interview questions are very interesting and really hit a lot of great topics- finances, cooking, love story, etc. Two thumbs up!

  2. avatar Lindsay Colvin reply

    LOVE this home tour! The colors in each room are amazing and although the house is spotless, it still resignates with me that it’s “lived in” and I love that. So beautiful!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    I love how y’all have two twin beds in the guest room – so cute! :)

  4. avatar Hannah reply

    Oh my goodness! It looks like a house from Pinterest! :) My favorite touch is the photography in the living room. Love, love, love.

  5. avatar Lisa reply

    I absolutely LOVE this post! What a beautiful, beautiful house! Fingers crossed our first home looks this amazing when the time comes! :)

  6. avatar While | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Katelyn James Photography reply

    […] post today, make sure that you pay the Southern Weddings gals a visit too!! You can see our feature HERE!  I think one of the main reasons I was so excited that they asked us to do this was because they […]

  7. avatar Laura Radniecki reply

    Such a fun, faith-filled couple! Their Bokeh boy was the inspiration for my husband and I adding our little Remy girl to our family! :)

  8. avatar Cynthia Price reply

    Please advise where to purchase the artwork above the sofa in the living room photo of the blue door and green windows. Thank you.

    • avatar Debbie Matthews reply

      Hi Cynthia,
      I would love to know where to buy the two large pieces of art work in the living room photo.
      Looks like someone ask the question previously but I am not seeing the reply????
      Thank You
      Debbie

  9. avatar Kristen D reply

    Looks like your beautiful living room furniture is from Bassett! Love their stuff! God Bless!

  10. avatar Mandi Mouw reply

    So beautiful! I would love to know where your large canvas pictures are from!

  11. avatar Debbie Matthews reply

    Could we have the names of your paint colors please??

  12. avatar Jessica reply

    Gorgeous colors! Please tell me what the name of the paint colors used in the living room, kitchen, & the room with the touch of orange?
    Thank You

  13. avatar Leslie Mc reply

    Can you tell us where you got your living room furniture? Esp the couch and chairs!

  14. avatar menajda mezini reply

    I would love to know where you purchased your living room couch and chairs! Stunning and exactly something I’m looking for! Thanks- Menajda

  15. avatar 20 Great Ways to Make Use Of The Space Behind Couch For Extra Storage And Visual Depth – Hative reply

    […] The space behind the sofa was used for decoration in this room, as a mix of cream colored floating shelves, canvases and other decorative elements bring the neutral wall to life. via southernweddings. […]

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We’ve gotten into the kitchen with Kristin and taken a tour of Emily Ley’s home, and now, we’re tickled pink to introduce y’all to another Southern Newlywed topic: date nights! Making time for each other and continuing to “date” your spouse is something we believe in fiercely, but we know it’s often easier said than done. Enter our own lovely Marissa and her baseball-playing beau, Brandon. Due to BDK’s profession, these two are on the road constantly, and especially now that they’ve welcomed their first little belle to the family, we’re so inspired by the way they cherish their time together and make dating each other a priority!

Jennifer Pharr

Names: Branch (Brandon) and Marissa Kloess
Years married: 5.6 years!
Children’s names and ages: Emerson Katherine, almost four months old
By day: Brandon is a semipro golfer, facial hair aficionado, Alabama born and raised professional baseball player for the San Diego Padres and Marissa is a professional car packer, monogramaholic, Florabama-raised Director of Advertising for Southern Weddings.
How they met: We met in our Multimedia Practicum class in college. Our desks faced each other, and it was love at first sight (especially when BDK brought the baby squirrel he rescued to class!).

A throwback to the class where M + B met! Awww!

Their wedding: We were married in the sweet little town of Mount Dora, Florida. Our incredible day started at a beautiful church downtown with stained glass windows, and continued with a horse-drawn carriage ride down the cobblestone streets past the park (decked out in Christmas lights!) to the historic Lakeside Inn for our reception. We ended the day dancing and celebrating with our family and closest friends. P.S. The Lakeside Inn even has lemonade and rocking chairs on their adorable wraparound porch!

Michelle March

Marissa and Brandon’s top five favorite date night ideas:

1. Movies in the park: One of my very favorite dates BDK and I have ever had (and his personal favorite) was when he surprised me and we drove three hours to watch the classic Marilyn Monroe movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (one of my all-time favorites!) on a big projector screen in the park. He even packed us a fried chicken picnic for dinner!
2. Be a kid again: While in college, BDK and I were lucky enough to live pretty close to Orlando, Florida. One of our most fun dates (and my personal favorite) was when we went to Universal Studios for the day. No adult roller coasters (we’re both scaredy cats!)–just plain ol’ kid fun. We ditched our cell phones and laughed until our bellies ached, all while surrounded by characters from our childhoods.
3. Singalong: BDK should really be in the music business–he knows all the best bands before they hit iTunes. We love going to small concert venues and seeing bands no one has ever heard of, all while singing our hearts out to songs barely anyone knows! Most small shows are inexpensive (except for the time our car got towed!), and you never know who the opening act will be–we’ve seen now-big-name bands back when they were selling their own t-shirts!
4. Explore the outdoors: While we all know I’m way more of an indoor kind of gal (no tents, and please pass the blowdryer!), one of the last dates we had before our baby girl arrived was a pitstop we made at the Grand Canyon while on the way back from a baseball road trip. It was so much fun to explore the sites and see such an iconic part of our great country.
5. Stay inside: One of our very favorite dates is more of an un-date! Budget-conscious, pajama-friendly, and makeup-free, we LOVE a complete day at home ordering takeout and watching movies. We’ve been known to binge-watch Netflix (House of Cards, anyone?) for hours. Since we travel so much, BDK and I are homebodies, and really enjoy spending time just relaxing and hanging out. These nights (or days) in are sometimes the best way to recharge our batteries and reconnect when everything is a bit hectic.

A little reminder We have great things in the works for this column, but we’d love your help! 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!

Jennifer Pharr and Michelle March are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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With her mantra of “grace not perfection,” it’s hard to think of anyone better to kick off the “At Home” portion of our Southern Newlywed column than Emily Ley. Many of y’all may know her as a great friend to Southern Weddings (she and Lara are BFFs through their work with Making Things Happen) or because you own one of her lovely and intentional products like the Simplified Planner.

Emily exemplifies what we’re hoping to communicate with these home tour/interviews – it’s not about having the “perfect” abode or having everything “done” before you can share it, it’s about finding joy and inspiration in what you have, where you live, and who you share it with. Though Emily shares often and openly about life with her family on instagram, we are so excited to share this first look into her happy Tampa home, courtesy of Shay Cochrane

Names: Emily and Bryan Ley
Years married: 6
Childrens’ names and ages: Brady, 3

Your love story in one sentence: A 16-year-old gal falls madly in love with the cute frat boy with the red jeep and dreams of how cute her married name would be…
Do you rent or own? We own our home in Tampa, Florida. Bryan lived here before we got married. We dream of one day building what we call our “forever home.” One of our favorite things to do is plan this space and mentally draw diagrams of rooms and closets and jack-and-jill bathrooms.

Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? Ha ha! We have two different answers on this. My answer is that we moved in together and my crisp, white, airy, slightly country taste meshed perfectly with Bryan’s masculine, rich leather, hardwood style. Bryan’s answer is that I moved in, filled 19 bags with “donations,” and let him keep his airplane propeller and our vintage ’74 Bronco. (Okay, it might have happened a little like that… but we both adore our space now! He has been very sweet letting me have the reigns on our interior decorating).
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? We live in our kitchen and family room. They’re very open to each other and you can find all three of us here at any given time. This space is very welcoming, full of natural light, and has been organized in a way that really works for our lifestyle. We remodeled this space a few years ago and made all the decisions (big and small) together. It was really fun to incorporate both our styles into one big room that truly feels like us and is still kid-friendly.

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? Early in our marriage, our house felt very empty because we hadn’t accumulated many mementos and souvenirs (or even photos!) from adventures together. I made the mistake of filling the “white space” with random things (vases, fake flowers, knick-knacks) that had no meaning to us – they simply filled a void (if that isn’t a great metaphor for life, I don’t know what is!). As the years have gone by, we’ve slowly replaced the meaningless stuff with really special things that have specific memories or people associated with them. This is probably my favorite part about our home. Most of our decor pieces come from One Kings Lane, HomeGoods, or Target. We decided early to splurge on furniture that is great quality and may even be passed down to our children.

Who cooks dinner? Well, neither of us love to cook, but we get it done. I’m typically a very healthy eater. Bryan loves pizza and chicken wings and mashed potatoes. We blend our tastes together. On the weekends, Bryan grills a lot – I bought him a Big Green Egg smoker for his first Father’s Day and he’s a champ on it! He makes the best chicken and pulled pork ever.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? I love soups and stews for the week. They’re filling and can be made really healthy (the boys don’t even have to know it!) without tasting like they’re missing something. On the weekend, we eat out on Saturdays and have a big family dinner on Sundays (much like my own mama does back home!).

Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Definitely the staple kitchen supplies – nice non-stick pots and pans.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I would have registered for great everyday dishes instead of our fancy china. We only use it once a year when we host Thanksgiving dinner!

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other priorities in life (work, personal time, extended family, etc.)? Date night. We try to have an adults only, screen-free date night at least once a month. No cell phones allowed. We typically go to our favorite local spot, Catch 23, and have some wine (we love trying new wines together) and a long dinner. It’s so nice to reconnect and talk over a good meal.

How does your family handle finances? Do you use a set budget? When we got married, Bryan and I decided to put our individual strengths to work financially. We decided that Bryan would be “CEO” and I would be the “Office Manager.” I handle the day-to-day needs (i.e. paying bills that come in the mail) and Bryan manages our long-term, big picture financial plan (i.e. investments, insurance, retirement, etc.). I take an active role in these things by understanding the terms, meeting with our financial advisor with Bryan, and helping to make important decisions, but ultimately, Bryan leads us in this. He’s great with our finances, so I feel really fortunate to have him by my side with these things.

Do you have children? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? We do! Brady Ley is our sweet little boy. He’s three years old. He’s fantastic. Being his Mom and Dad is the greatest thing on Earth. We’ve dealt with infertility for a long time and continue to struggle with Baby Ley #2, but our faith and our commitment to each other make room for lots of hope and gratitude.

In 2014, our family is most excited about… growing together more. Brady is learning new things each and every day. We are in a unique situation (purposely) in that I work part-time running a full-time business and am able to be home with Brady in the afternoons and on Fridays. The name of the game in 2014 is to soak up these precious moments as a family of three. Hopefully, that will be changing soon, so we’re relishing every second that we’re able to spend with just Brady. We have much to be grateful for.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? I am a big believer in love languages. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying hard to learn Bryan’s love language. When we were first married, I would leave little love notes for him around our house or a surprise bag of M&Ms (his favorite) in the driver’s seat of his car. Acts of kindness and surprises are definitely my love language, so surely, that would be his too, right? But it wasn’t! And it hit me, recently actually, that his love language is in our finances. Sounds super strange, I know. Bear with me and get to know my husband here: Bryan takes his role as “Ley Family CEO” and co-provider for our family very seriously. In the past (and gracious, I’m still not perfect at it), I’ve been careless sometimes with excessive random Target trips for things we don’t need or too many trips to Banana Republic (my weakness). These excessive expenditures made Bryan feel frustrated. When I stepped back and realized that my respect for our finances was what made him feel the most respected and loved, it hit me like a ton of bricks! So, I serve my husband by respecting our finances more.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? The most surprising thing about being married is that marriage takes work and effort. My parents are incredible role models for us after having been married 37 years. The amount of respect they have for each other is remarkable and inspires us to always take a step back and remember what really matters most when things aren’t easy. Bryan and I have grown so much over the past six years, facing infertility and a high risk pregnancy together, living eight hours from our hometown and my family, and raising a son, all while pursuing our own careers. We’ve become pretty good about telling each other when we need a hug, when we need some time to ourselves, or when we just need a good glass of wine, Netflix reruns, and a hand to hold on the couch.

What is your favorite part of being married? Living with my best friend. No one makes me laugh like Bryan does. And on that same note, no one can make me laugh at myself like Bryan does. He encourages me to not take life so seriously and to truly soak up the joy in our journey. His lightheartedness is what won me over when we were just kids working at a restaurant together. Well, that and his handsome, crooked smile. :)

Huge hugs to Emily for giving us this glimpse into her family’s life! Be sure to pay a visit to her site, blog, and instagram.

A little reminder before you go: We have great things in the works for this column, but we’d love your help! 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
15 Comments
  1. avatar Kat reply

    Oh, y’all!! I LOVE this new series!!! What a great way to talk about Newlyweds in the South!! Emily’s home is so beautiful… I can’t wait to see what other women you feature!!! xo!!

  2. avatar Friday Favorites: 4.25.14 | Elizabeth Robertson Williams reply

    […] a website called Southern Weddings?  I guess that shouldn’t surprise me.  I loved this glimpse into wife, mom, designer, and blogger Emily Ley’s home.  It seems so welcoming, simple, and […]

  3. avatar Bonnie reply

    What a sweet feature! I just love Emily and this new little spot on SW for newlyweds has my heart singing! It is so great to read about other young couples and discover what unique ways they pursue each other in their marriage. Emily’s home has me so inspired to find special ways to incorporate both my husband and my personalities more into our little home!

  4. avatar Lara reply

    Yay! So happy to have you on SW, Em!

  5. avatar Maureen reply

    So glad you featured Emily Ley! I’ve loved her for years!

  6. avatar Nicole reply

    Love!! And Love Emily’s insight into love languages.

  7. avatar Emily reply

    I have to agree with Miss Emily on the best part of being married! Living with your best friend is the best :)

  8. avatar Wanda reply

    I loved this interview and glimps into Emily Ley’s family. I feel very related with her when she spoke about honoring and showing that she loved her husband. My husband feels more love when I take care of our finances too. It does sounds weird, but it’s just the way they are. Thanks for sharing the Ley’s family, I enjoyed it a lot.

  9. avatar Kaya reply

    I love Emily Ley!!! And her home! Her office is inspiring me to update mine.

  10. avatar Lisa reply

    Love this so much! I’m definitely taking heed of her words about not accumulating stuff to “fill the void” in my own mostly-bare apartment–other than picture frames filled with amazing memories, the rest can come with time!

  11. avatar Home Tour, Part II + a giveaway from Kenroy Home! | Emily Ley reply

    […] week, Southern Weddings featured my little family and home as part of their new (awesome!) Southern Newlywed series! (Shay Cochrane took some amazing photos […]

  12. avatar Denise reply

    What a great idea to feature newlyweds! So much build up with the wedding that many forget the marriage!

  13. avatar Southern Newlywed: Date Night with Marissa and Brandon – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] gotten into the kitchen with Kristin and taken a tour of Emily Ley’s home, and now, we’re tickled pink to introduce y’all to another Southern Newlywed topic: […]

  14. avatar Allison reply

    Oh, I just love this! I can’t wait to read more!

  15. avatar Kitchen counter tops… – Best Home Decorating Ideas reply

    […] Source: southernweddings.com […]

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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