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We’re lucky to get to know many of y’all through the sweet engagement season, and some of our favorite office moments are when we then get to gush over your weddings and keep in touch through your newlywed life! Y’all may remember the darling Sarah Jane from when she was a Southern Bride of the Month back in 2013, or when her and Brad’s elegant seaside wedding was featured in V6. We’re grateful to have kept in touch with these two over the years, and their insight also graced the pages of V7. Thanks to the meaningful role college football has played in Sarah Jane and Brad’s love story, we weren’t surprised at all to learn that one of their favorite dates is tailgating, so we couldn’t resist asking them to share in time for Cozy Fall!

Thank you so much to The Malicotes for snapping these fun photos of Sarah Jane and Brad for us!

By day: Brad is a real estate agent and I’m in medical sales.
Where they live: We live in Lexington, Kentucky, the horse capital of the world!! The Bluegrass State really is the most idyllic place to live, surrounded by rolling green hills and crisp black fences. One of the things we love most about living here is how young and vibrant it is–there is always something fun going on, regardless of the season.

Their love story: Brad and I met by what seems like coincidence, but we know in our hearts that it was God’s perfect timing that brought us together. From the first weekend we were introduced, we were practically inseparable.

Their wedding: Brad wanted to say his vows with sand in his toes, and my heart’s desire was to have a small, intimate, and joyful celebration. Both of our wishes came true in gorgeous Carillon Beach just off 30A in the panhandle of Florida. We gathered with 50 of our dearest friends and family to mark that one perfect day and the start of our lives together. We wanted to get married somewhere close enough to our home that we could visit frequently, and also make a part of our family vacation plans for years to come. (P.S. Find their big day in V6 and online here!)

Sarah Jane and Brad’s five favorite date ideas:

1. Tailgating at UK Football Games: Brad and I are die-hard collegiate sports fans, so it’s no surprise that football games and tailgating are a huge part of our weekends in the fall. The planning process is nearly as much fun as game day–we spend a couple of days before the weekend putting our heads together about menu options and details. There’s something about the incredible energy at the stadium and the opportunity to connect with our friends and fellow football fans that make these weekends so special. I love being able to translate something we both enjoy into a tradition that will be part of our family for years to come!

2. Cooking For Friends: Probably our hands down favorite thing to do is entertain our friends at home. Nothing makes us happier or more content than to have the kitchen packed with our closest pals, sharing great food and catching up on what’s going on in their lives. Everyone gets in on the preparation, and it’s not uncommon to have multiple people sharing the cutting board and stove. Occasionally, we will try to recreate a favorite dish from a recent trip once we get back home, and invite everyone to share it with us as a way to include them in our adventures. For example, on our last visit back to 30A, we stopped at the local fish market on the way home and picked up all the fresh ingredients we needed to make the seafood stew from Stinky’s Fish Camp for everyone the next evening. It was a huge hit!

3. Keeneland: One of the perks of living in horse country is having access to the most beautiful race track in the industry (I may be a touch biased). Keeneland embodies some of the things we love most: a sense of history and tradition, field stone and ivy, and beautiful horses. There is nothing like an afternoon date at the track, roaming the paddock to select our favorite picks then rushing to find a place at the rail as they sweep by on the way to the finish line. Trust me, nothing gets your heart pounding like the flashing of those bright jockey silks and the sound of hoofbeats! A bit of friendly competition always erupts between us over who made the most successful wagers–I have to admit, it’s usually Brad. I swear those Kentucky boys have it in their blood!

4. Live Music: While we were dating, our go-to nights out revolved around live music and local bands. During the warmer months, Lexington hosts “Thursday Night Live,” which showcases local acts at an outdoor venue in the downtown area. For us, a live show always brings back that giddy feeling we had while first falling for each other.

5. Carillon Beach Walkover #7: We don’t get to do this one as often as we’d like, but on every trip to 30A, we make it a priority to spend one evening at the beach walkover where we had our wedding ceremony. I pack a bottle of bubbly and fancy champagne flutes (no plastic here, no sir!) and we cuddle up and watch the sun go down over the ocean. The surroundings take us right back to that one perfect day, and gives us a chance to reflect on all that has happened in our lives since. Part of the fun is not knowing who else will be there to share the sunset with us–last time, we met a couple who has been married nearly 50 years. It was truly inspiring to hear their story and imagine what our relationship will be like when we’ve spent that many years together!

Thanks so much, Sarah Jane and Brad! P.S. If you can’t make it to your favorite team’s stadium for game day, don’t miss Kristin’s tips for an at-home tailgate here.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar jenn reply

    Go Big Blue!!! That is all. :) oh.. I need those cookies too… YUM!

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It’s no secret that football season is a pretty big deal in the Winchester household! While I love any chance we have to get back to Chapel Hill for a Saturday in the fall, our schedules are pretty full with other commitment (Go Knights!!), so we take advantage of long distance tailgating whenever we can. A few weeks ago, UNC actually played football on Thursday evening, so I took the opportunity to throw an “at-home tailgate.” I invited over a few friends, pulled out my favorite Carolina-themed dishes (some of my favorite wedding presents), and poof! We had our own little tailgate in the comfort of our living room.

Since we can’t all always cheer on our favorite teams in person, I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for hosting your own at-home tailgate. Lots of gratitude and hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Jacqui Cole for capturing our little party!

1. Opponent-Themed Menus: Mix things up from the usual burgers and hot dogs. Research your opponent and draft your menu from there! UNC was playing Pitt, so we had a sandwich fixing station, complete with fresh coleslaw and french fries, inspired by Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers staple. We also served Klondike bars, because they are native to Pittsburgh. Playing Kentucky? Hot browns would be great! Battling against UGA or GT? Don’t forget the pecan pie! I also asked my girlfriends to bring over a few sides to help complete the menu.

2. Game Time Menus: Early games are a great excuse for a breakfast menu. Make an egg casserole and have someone bring over some doughnuts. And don’t forget the mimosa bar! Mid-afternoon kicks are a good reason for a bits and bites menu, so stick to a few savory appetizers and some fun miniature desserts. By the time bowl season rolls around in late December, it’s normally chilly in most parts of the South (I’m looking at you, Florida). Have everyone bring over their favorite soup to share. Make sure you have mason jars on hand to divvy up the leftovers!

3. Festive Dishes: Since you’re at home, you don’t have to stick to disposable plates and plastic forks. I loved bringing out some of the serving pieces we got as wedding presents, especially some of our Carolina-themed dishes. Leave out some extra empty platters and dishes if you want to transfer the food your guests bring. And don’t forget that your tailgate gear can become potential decorations for the table (isn’t that UNC picnic basket the cutest?)–big hugs to my MIL for one of my favorite bridal shower gifts!

4. Team Spirit Décor: Chances are good that if you’ve tailgated at any point, you have some appropriately colored paper goods. If not, I am a big believer in stocking up on a few school color supplies that you can pull out for an impromptu game-watching party! We dug out our Carolina blue paper napkins and I snagged some fun re-inflatable letter balloons for some quick and easy decorations. We put out a giant ballon with fun Carolina blue and navy tassels on the porch to set the mood from the moment guest’s arrived, and once everyone was gathered, we brought it inside to add to the atmosphere. If you’re crafty, you can always make a team color garland with some tissue paper and twine. Or, pick up pre-made garland at your local craft store!

5. Stadium Snacks: Just because you’re not at the stadium for the game doesn’t mean you can’t serve concession foods, so pop some popcorn and bring out the peanuts! Serve the peanuts in the shells for an extra realistic experience (just make sure you have a empty bowl around to catch the shells). Get creative and think of ways you can bring the stadium experience to life in your home. How about Cracker Jacks or big pretzels for the second half?

6. Tailgate Games: Don’t let dust gather on your favorite set of corn hole boards or ladder golf just because you’re not at the stadium! Set them up on the yard and play during halftime or before the game starts. Part of the fun of going to a football game is the whole game day experience. Nothing is stopping you from a few games of corn hole between the first and second half!

Even if your party is just for you and your beau, cheering on your favorite team is always worth a little celebration. So pull out your favorite stadium blanket, pop some popcorn, and get cozy! Have fun and go team!!

P.S. Are you an expert tailgate-at-home party thrower? Have a great idea for how to cheer on your team from your sofa? Share your ideas below!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
  1. avatar Erin Phillips reply

    This is adorable and great inspiration! We’re doing the same thing next weekend to cheer on our Clemson Tigers from afar when friends come to town to visit.

  2. avatar Carol A. Osnes reply


    Love, love, LOVE your spirit and beauty!! You are so creative and such an incredible host. You give me inspiration for my next gathering of friends.

  3. avatar Christina L. Frederick reply

    I am in LOVE with that basket! Any chances your sweet MIL was willing to share her source? :)

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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