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It’s no secret that Christmas is one of my favorite holidays—my TV is perpetually set to the Hallmark channel, peppermint hot chocolate is my drink of choice, there have been attempts at making sugar cookies with royal icing, and the best of all, I get to spend time at my grandparents’ homes in Kentucky.

This year, we kicked off the holiday festivities with the seventh annual Southern Weddings Gingerbread Barn Building Competition at the magical Carolina Inn!

Builders worked quickly to make their creations come to life—each complete with a creative story that wowed each of the judges.

As you can see, the Carolina Inn at Christmas time is sure to spark your holiday spirit. What a joy it was to take in the holiday decor and toast with hot chocolate to a great year with many of our remote team members!

Guests brought out all the stops with elaborate construction—a Southern dream shown here complete with a gingerbread front porch designed with candy cane columns.

This year was extra special with the sweetest (and littlest) additions to the Southern Weddings family taking part in the fun.

Taking home the top award was “No Room at the Carolina Inn,” a mash-up of the nativity story and a holiday take on a favorite Carolina event, Fridays on the Front Porch!

Honorable mentions were awarded for gingerbread barns that were Most Structurally Sound, Most Festive, Most Architecturally Creative, and for the barn with the Most Creative Story—although the builders this year certainly made it hard to choose!

Thank you so much to all our friends who joined us at this year’s competition, and to The Carolina Inn for hosting the festivities! We cannot wait to see what creations you dream up next year!

Written with love by Kaylee Hobbs
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    Two brand new babies and all the horses in Georgia couldn’t keep me from hitting the pause button on maternity leave to recap the most magical night: our celebration for the launch of our special tenth-anniversary issue a few weeks ago. Of course, we did it in high style at the Carolina Inn, with 300+ of our favorite friends and family, lots of fancy dresses and tuxedos, and a menu that would make your grandmama beam with pride.

    The launch party is one of our favorite nights year after year, but we knew we wanted to pull out all the stops to make this tenth-anniversary celebration one for the record books. The night started with a signature cocktail for each guest and ended with a dance party that I’m confident we will be talking about for years, maybe decades, to come.

    Biggest hugs to our dear friends McLean Events for pulling together all the details and to Brent from Live View Studios for all of these amazing photos! Our friends at Reel Special captured video coverage of the whole evening (don’t miss it at the bottom of this post!), and the Bourbon Booth made sure everyone left with legendary photobooth memories.

    Our darling Marissa wasn’t able to celebrate in person since her little fella, BDK3, was only hours away from making his grand debut, so we had to improvise to ensure she didn’t miss out on all the fun (and photos). Speaking of babies, I know I’m a bit biased, but I think all the miniature party guests stole the show.

    Lara started Southern Weddings in her tiny apartment on a PC computer nearly 10 years ago, and here we are, all these years later, with 9 team members (did I mention that we all missed Marissa like crazy) and all our families for an iconic tenth-anniversary team photo to commemorate the evening. Interested in a little Southern Weddings trivia? The SW babies and kiddos now outnumber the SW ladies. I’d also be remiss to not give all the kudos to Lindsey Regan Thorne and her Be Pretty squad for their help beautifying the whole Southern Weddings team and doling out some serious curls and lashes.


    We’re big believers in good ol’ Southern hospitality, so we greeted guests by name thanks to All She Wrote Notes‘s gorgeous hand-calligraphed nametags, and offered everyone a place to rest their tired feet compliments of furniture from Cottage Luxe. And what’s more hospitable than lovely fresh florals? Our friends at Tre Bella made all our pink-floral-loving hearts swell with gorgeous arrangements sprinkled all over the room, and Jessica with Empress Stationery outdid herself with the party invitation.

    As we say in our Sweet Tea Manifesto, “we believe that beautiful things have value simply because they make the world a more lovely place”. It’s such a joy to see this proclamation come to life with beautiful linens from CE Rental and gorgeous ‘walk down memory lane’ chalk signs from the Chalk Shop.

    Getting to hug Anna and David Shackleford, our cover photographers, along with so many other friends, including many dear vendors who helped us bring our tenth-anniversary issue to life, was such a gift. We’ve said it over and over, but we could not do this work without the help and support of so many talented friends.

    So many hugs!

    I told y’all that the food would make any Southern grandmama proud. We love to use the issue for inspiration for the menu, and the Carolina Inn chefs pulled out extra tricks this year. The shrimp po’boys went fast, and I personally enjoyed five or six miniature soups and grilled cheeses as well as my fair share of treats from the biscuit bar (who can say no to pimento cheese). And it wouldn’t be a Southern Weddings party without plenty of Cheerwine, who, coincidentally, is celebrating a big anniversary this year too.

    We were treated to amazing live music in the early phases of the evening, thanks to Bounce from EastCoast Entertainment and then an unforgettable dance party thanks to Joe Bunn DJ later. Whitney Houston’s iconic “I wanna dance with somebody” will be an instant flashback memory. And of course, the toasts are always a highlight. It’s such an honor to stand on the stage and raise a glass of thanksgiving to all the friends who helped make our latest issue happen.

    It never fails that the photobooth is the most popular spot for the whole evening. The line was never-ending as friend after friend piled into the Bourbon Booth to capture a few memories. Looking back at my first launch party where we proudly piled all five Southern Weddings gals in for a picture, I might have to admit that one of the hidden SW team talents is cramming more and more of us into the photobooth each year.

    Before leaving, all our party guests grabbed their very own copy of Southern Weddings and some treats to help them relax the rest of the evening — pralines from Loose Sugar Bakery and a Milk Bath from Southern Traditions Home. Not a bad way to end a wonderful party.

    There’s something so special about having your memories captured on video, so thank you to Reel Special for allowing us to relive this sparkling evening over and over again.

    I’m going to go on record and proclaim our tenth-anniversary celebration the best one yet. Thank you so much to everyone who celebrated with us, from near and far, for your love and support of the Southern Weddings mission and our special tenth-anniversary issue. We love y’all more than all the biscuits in the world.

    Venue and catering: The Carolina Inn | Planning and design: McLean Events | Photography: Live View Studios | Videography: Reel Special | Music: Bounce via East Coast Entertainment | DJ: Bunn DJ Company | Flowers: Tre Bella Florist | Linens: CE Rental | Lounge furniture: Cottage Luxe | Sweets: The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery | Chalkboard Art: Chalk Shop Events | Photo booth: Bourbon Booth | Signage: All She Wrote Notes | Invitations: Empress Stationery | Hair and makeup: Lindsey Regan Thorne | Pralines: Loose Sugar Bakery | Milk bath containers: Southern Traditions Home

    East Coast Entertainment, Bourbon Booth, McLean Events, Bunn DJ Company, Live View Studios, Reel Special, Chalk Shop, and Cottage Luxe are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory

    kristin Written with love by Kristin
    1 Comment
    1. avatar Ryan Worthen reply

      It was such an awesome celebration and we were SO honored that you asked us to film the launch party! Congratulations on 10 amazing years, and here’s to many more!

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    Farewell from Nicole

    by in In The Office, Main on

    My first desk in the Southern Weddings office was actually more like a nested side table situation in the corner by the closet. It had room for a computer and… that was it. Back then, we worked in Microsoft Publisher to create all of our graphics and real wedding posts. We hand wrote every single address for every single magazine that was ordered. Making Things Happen was on its first full year of touring, and Cultivate What Matters wasn’t even a phrase we said during our most eloquent of times. iPhones weren’t yet ubiquitous, y’all.

    (2010: My first photo booth with the team when I was an intern in, and our annual holiday photo with Santa!)

    A lot changes in seven years. My desk has prime office real estate now, we run two shops that have their own shipping team, Making Things Happen is now on its 53rd intensive, and our team has more than doubled (not counting all the babies that have been born!).

    (2011: My first team photos! Millie Holloman took these — look how long my hair is!)

    I’ve changed a lot over the past seven years, too. I started my internship at Southern Weddings as a college student with a long-distance boyfriend and heart eyes for weddings before heart-eyes were even a thing.

    As the company went through its transformations and growing pains, so did I. We outgrew our office and started honing in on the South and on marriage. I broke up with my boyfriend and learned that dating well doesn’t mean blind commitment and hopefulness, but hard work and the confidence to find a partner who will work just as fervently as you will (and make life more fun in the process).

    (2012: Shipping magazine orders out from our garage, and playing assistant at the first photo shoot I helped envision and organize.)

    In 2012, I graduated from college and met my now-boyfriend, Taylor. The same year, the Lara Casey Shop was born out of a single, powerful sentiment.

    (2013: I traveled to the National Stationery Show for the first time — a dream come true! Lara and I fed goats for our team photos the same year.)

    In 2016, the Lara Casey Shop was transformed into Cultivate What Matters, and we took a deep dive into living more purposefully, more joyfully, and with a stronger community. At home, Taylor and I started working on passion projects, we got a puppy, and we started setting goals that we could both work on together.

    We’ve been growing like really good, flowery weeds since then.

    (2014: We frolicked in fields with ball gowns. Taylor made his modeling debut at our team BBQ.)

    This year, as Cultivate and Southern Weddings learned to prioritize and focus on a long term vision, I did, too. Each conversation we had in the office, each magazine we made, and each iteration of the PowerSheets we created — those were all seeds that got planted in my personal life. They showed up when Taylor and I snuggled on the couch after a long day, when my friends were going through loss and change, when my sister got married, when my parents were sick. I found myself subconsciously weighing each decision I made: does this honor my value? Does this make other people feel empowered to live their best lives? Does this matter??

    (2015: It doesn’t matter how big our team grows — we WILL fit into the photo booth! We had a dreamy day with Katelyn James for our team photo shoot. Jess and I met for the first time when she volunteered to pack PowerSheets!)

    This company is a little seed that buries its roots in all parts of your brain and heart.
    It changes everything.

    (2016: The best squishy hug photo at the Gingerbread Barn Building Competition — favorite part of my legacy! We took the holidays pretty seriously with fruit-themed Halloween costumes. Amber, Jess and I became a terrific trio working on Cultivate What Matters.)

    It is with no small amount of humility and gratitude that I say farewell to the team and you all this week to leap into new adventures in 2018! I’ll be freelancing full time while occasionally popping in to cheer on the Southern Weddings and Cultivate businesses.

    (2017: Taylor’s and my first modeling debut inside the magazine! Silliness and laughs at our spring Team Summit.)

    I’m looking forward to diving into a new season of helping other small businesses grow their design and visuals, but this transition has been both scary and rewarding. I am floored with gratitude that my coworkers are now some of my biggest cheerleaders. I can’t wait to see what they do in the next seven years. Most of all, I can’t wait to see how your lives might change for the better just by letting us be a part of your blog feeds, social feeds, and inboxes. Seven years from now, I hope you’re as blown away by the transformation as I am.

    With love,
    Nicole

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

      Cheering you on Nicole in your future endeavors and celebrating all that you have accomplished with these two beautiful brands over the years! :)

    2. avatar Erin / Floret reply

      What a beautiful post and what a brave, exciting, inspiring next step. Our little team is rooting for you over here in Washington. Congrats Nicole!!!

      • avatar Nicole reply

        Erin — you guys are the best cheerleaders! Thank you so much for this sweet comment!

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