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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!

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
  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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Hi friends! While most of our readers are brides, we are incredibly thankful that many mothers of the bride and groom join us here on Southern Weddings as well. Our dear friend, Lysa TerKeurst, has three children who are getting married in 2016, and she graciously agreed to share her experience in a few guests posts for our Southern mama readers, as well as plenty of encouragement for brides! We hope y’all love them as much as we do! – Lisa

I never thought or dreamed in a million years that three of my kids would get married in the same year.

Our oldest daughter, Hope, will wed in February with an elegant, formal, uptown wedding complete with the unexpected twist of playing corn hole in our formal gowns.

Ashley, our middle daughter, will get married in the Alabama countryside with market lights, vintage furniture, a pizza and hamburger reception, and her favorite popsicles and donuts instead of a cake.

And our son, Jackson, will say “I do” this fall in a lovely garden ceremony in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Three kids. Three completely unique weddings. Three different states. All in one year. Hello 2016, you are amazing.

Ashley + David, photo by Cathrine Taylor

So, needless to say, we are knee deep in all things wedding over here at the TerKeurst home. Our sticky farm table that just yesterday was full of coloring books, Candyland game pieces, and Legos is now full of white invitations, pictures of possibility for every celebration detail, and a glue gun that might have burned off one of my fingerprints last night during a wedding craft situation.

But more than helping to plan the weddings, I want to prepare my kids for their marriages.

I’m especially wanting to prepare them for day one of their marriage. And I’m quickly learning that weddings are perfect for teaching young couples a crucial lesson:

The most happy couples are the ones who are most able to embrace imperfections.

Honestly, I’m still learning this lesson myself.

Jackson + Amanda, photo by W. June Photography

Whether you are the mother, the bride herself, or a hopeful soon-to-be-bride, can I take your hand and whisper a truth we all need?

No wedding is perfect.

The more we resist this reality, the less we’ll enjoy this most special day. But even more tragic for brides, the less you’ll enjoy your marriage.

There’s a little known secret about imperfections. What makes things most beautiful, most memorable, and most notable are the unexpected gifts wrapped in imperfections.

Hope + Michael, photo by Brian Schindler

Do you want to know one of my favorite memories of my entire wedding? It’s the only detail brought up time and again at family gatherings. My youngest sister, who was only two years old at the time of my wedding, belted out the Happy Birthday song during the lighting of the unity candle. It was obviously unplanned, but became a completely delightful gift of imperfection.

Of course, some wedding day imperfections aren’t nearly as cute and way more distracting than a two-year-old’s song. I get it. But I can’t change it. Not for my kids’ weddings and not for yours. The unexpected will happen.

But here’s the great news. Imperfections help others uncross their arms, relax, and giggle. People will love you even more when they see you display grace in a tough place.

So embrace the unexpected.

Smile at the crazy.

Laugh at the unplanned.

And relax.

If you bring the happy, your day will be beautiful.

Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. You can connect with her at or follow along with more fun wedding details on Instagram.

Written with love by admin
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    oh i love this advice!

  2. avatar Mattye reply

    I love this and couldn’t agree more! When I look back at our wedding, I’m so thankful for all the things I planned that turned out beautifully; but what I treasure even more are the unexpected, unplanned moments that made our wedding not just an event, but truly ours.

  3. avatar Dawn Opie reply

    I so agree, Lysa! My husband and I didn’t “pre-light” our unity candles. They were up on this high pedestal, and we didn’t think of doing it. When the time came to light them, my husband and I stood there with our arms raised as high as we could. To make things even more exciting, my husband is legally blind, so I kind of whispered to him which direction to point the tip of the candle. Well, of course, one of them went out. Thus, I ended up placing that one back and we were both left grabbing on to the one candle, lifting it as high as possible, until it eventually lit after much maneuvering and many tears on my part. My husband and I returned to the front of the alter where our pastor prayed for us as I quietly sobbed. Thankfully, the song was long enough (“Flesh of my Flesh”) to last during this drama. However, I’ll never forget the teamwork we put in and the prayers our pastor prayed over us. I am eternally grateful for our “imperfect” wedding.

  4. avatar Rebecca Lewis reply

    One of the best, unplanned moments of our wedding happened right after our recessional walk. I hugged my new husband and turned around to see all four of our kids, my two daughters and his two sons, running to embrace us too. One of the most precious moments of the day and completely unplanned.

  5. avatar Samantha Livingston reply

    After reading this I thought, Wow I’m behind! Next: What an exciting time in the life of your family, Lysa! So beautifully put too.

  6. avatar Stephanie reply

    This totally happened in my wedding three years ago. The DJ was a friend of ours who didn’t come to the rehearsal and only showed up minutes before the wedding. I had to quickly run through what song to play for parents, processional, and recessional and wrote it down for him. And wouldn’t ya know it, he started playing the recessional song during the processional? My bridesmaid yelled out (it was an outdoor wedding and we weren’t too far away), “That’s the wrong song!!!!” Everyone laughed and relaxed and the atmosphere seemed to become enjoyable and relaxed instantly. It all turned out well and of course the DJ felt horrible and apologized to which I said, “Are you kidding? That was the best part! We all had a great laugh!” I think it definitely helps when a bride can just role with the punches and keep a smile on!

  7. avatar Fridays are for Favorites #26 reply

    […] of the best wedding advice I’ve read by Lysa […]

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