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The holiday are in full swing and Christmas is just days away. This time of year can be filled with joy and excitement (biggest congratulations to our newly engaged gals) and it can also be bursting with activities, events and a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Whether you’re all-the-hearts over your new diamond or trying to knock out wedding to-dos in-between wrapping presents and sealing envelopes, it’s easy to get caught up in the busy and forget to carve out time to focus on what matters most. So let’s all agree to put down the to-do lists, throw those last presents in gift bags and take some time to embrace the holidays.

Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Justin Demutiis for all these festive photos!

Here are a few personally tested ways to embrace the holidays and add a little extra festive love into your most important relationships:

1. Two words: Hot chocolate. Whether you’re a devout coffee drinker or an extra whip cream kind of gal (yes, please), the thought of taking time to actually sit and enjoy a hot holiday beverage for even a few minute without trying to cross off another to-do sounds dreamy. This doesn’t have to be an all day affair. Sneak away from your family for a half hour and drive to Starbucks or duck out after dinner one night or for any early-morning breakfast date. The important thing is not when but making an effort to carve out some intention time to be still.

2. Take advantage of any planned travel to enjoy a little extra holiday-inspired quality time. The SW gals are all professional road trippers: check out our expert tips. For travel over the holidays, take things up a notch and pack some gingerbread cookies, make a holiday playlist or prep holiday-themed “20-questions” (think: favorite childhood toy, best memory, worst holiday outfit, etc.).

3. Recreate a childhood holiday tradition. For me, it’s new pajamas on Christmas Eve and watching the Santa Clause (my most favorite holiday movie). Doing this with KPW puts me in the holiday spirit and force me to reset, so we’ve been known to do this on nights other than Christmas Eve utilizing last year’s festive jams.

4. Take listening to holiday music to a new level with your own version of Christmas Karaoke. While I’m a strict ‘no-holiday music’ until after I’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner gal, all bets are off once the turkey leftovers are put away until the confetti falls on NYE. Pull out your parent’s old holiday records or blast the (retro?) N’Sync Christmas album. Don’t just play the music in the background–channel your inner Mariah Carey and belt out the songs! Dancing along is recommended and participation by all parties is highly encouraged. Let your hair down and turn the music up.

5. Go hunt holiday lights! Wedding bouquets are to weddings as Christmas lights are to Christmas. Twinkly lights might be around more than just during December, but there’s something extra special about the holiday lights when you add candles in the windows and wreaths on the doors (bonus points for holiday inflatables). Put on your cozy clothes and pile into the car or throw on your tennis shoes and a scarf (assuming you don’t live in FL) and go on a search for Christmas lights around your neighborhood or city (hand holding encouraged). I’m betting just getting away for a few minutes will clear your head and have you humming a Christmas song in no time.

It’s amazing what a little intentional holiday reset will do for my spirits and how (with just a little effort) it will refocus me on what ultimately matters. Remember, there’s nothing magical about December 25, so bring on the Christmas pajamas and hot chocolate as long at the tree’s still up and you’re still humming a little “12 Days of Christmas”. Merry Christmas, y’all!

PS: I’m sure y’all are bursting with other great ways to embrace the holidays. Share them below!! xo.

kristin Written with love by Kristin
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh I love these posts! Wonderful ideas to reset, be still, and enjoy these last few days before Christmas. :)

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Twelve years ago this coming Saturday, I went on my first “official” date with my now-husband. Our date planned for the previous week was canceled thanks to a dreadful case of strep throat on my part, which derailed our plans to go to the State Fair for ham biscuits, cotton candy, and a ride on the Ferris wheel. Little did I know that dinner at Chili’s and trip to a haunted house would lead to our forever. I wouldn’t change a thing, but before that first date, there is something I wish I had known…

Photo by Gina Zeidler

Actually, I’m fairly confident I could list out 100 different things, maybe more. But one immediately rises to the top of my list: I wish I had known that our love story would become a one-of-a-kind work of art. Not a Rembrandt or a da Vinci, but an impressionistic finger painting – one that doesn’t look like much until you take a few giant steps back so that you can see the whole picture. Each twist, turn, joy, sorrow, and celebration was just one more glob of paint necessary to create our love story masterpiece.

It’s no secret that life is messy and doesn’t always go as planned, and Kyle and I have had our fair share of “messy” over the last twelve years. Yet I’m still a hopeless romantic and a sucker for a cheesy rom-com flick, and it’s easy for me to fall victim to the belief that ‘good things’ follow a specific formula, and therefore should fall into place like a connect-the-dots game. I also think it’s easy to wish for or even actively try to create a picture that looks an awful lot like someone else’s (which is never a good idea).

For those of y’all out there in a new relationship that down the road might be a forever-kind-of love, I hope with all of my heart that you’ll grab a paint brush and get messy. Make your own priceless piece of art. All cheekiness aside, I wasted a lot less energy in the first years of our dating being overly concerned with creating a perfect picture instead of wiling embracing a messy (future) masterpiece. Four years into marriage, this concept still rings so true. [Insert lack of Pinterest-perfect home décor or holiday celebrations (God bless football games ON Thanksgiving).] Fighting for my very own masterpiece still, brown sofas included.

My number two thing I wish I had known would be that KPW is a bit of a thermostat monster (ha). I would have invested in a few more sweatshirts and perhaps a blanket for our car trips and evenings spent watching TV on the sofa ;)

I’d love to hear what ONE thing (although I know there are many) you wish you would have known before you went on your first date with your forever plus one? I’m sure we can all learn a lot from one another. Leave a comment below!

PS: This sweet little corner of the Southern Weddings blog is a place where I get to chat all things marriage. I would love to hear from y’all. What topics to you want to discuss? Any questions or things you would love a different perspective on?  Don’t be shy. Send me an email: [email protected]  or leave a comment below.

kristin Written with love by Kristin

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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Moving to a new city, no matter the circumstances, can be tough. When you pile moving on top of a newly established marriage and all the changes that come with it, life can quickly become overwhelming. While I was beyond excited to stop long-distance dating, for me, getting married meant packing up my life and moving it to a brand new city and state. Darling husband aside, I was exceedingly unprepared for how hard it would be to move away from the comforts of my life in NC. With three major moves under my belt in the first four years of our marriage, I feel like I’m becoming a bit of an expert on how to settle into a new city and make it feel like home, especially in the newlywed stage of life. Since you can’t rely on your partner for all your happiness, here are a few of my best tips for making that post-married transition a bit smoother!

1. Wear your “I’m New” nametag with pride. Step outside your comfort zone and strike up conversation with people you interact with in your new city, be it a server at a restaurant or the checkout gal at the grocery store. Fessing up to being new can lead to quick conversations where you learn about places to go and things to do. My go-to questions are “Do you have a pizza/sushi place?” and “Where’s your favorite brunch spot?”. Be brave – remember, many of these conversations will be random one-time interactions with little pressure, but can lead to new places to explore and new things to do to help you fall in love with your new zip code. And, who knows: I met my first new friend in Blacksburg while I was getting a manicure on a dreary February afternoon. A simple “I’m new to town” conversation led to a follow-up lunch date and a full-blown friendship.

2. Go on friend or double dates. We live in the digital age, so use it to your advantage! Spread the social media word that you’re in the market for new gal pals and couple friends in your new city. Ask your friends and family if they can connect you with anyone in your new landing spot. Say yes to invitations for coffee or lunch. Take it from a girl who loves to make friends but spent the first few months post-marriage fairly friendless and moderately homesick – not everyone you meet is going to become your next BFF, but it’s worth it to keep trying. I could tell you a lot of stories about failed connections. (I distinctly remember being in a spin class and commenting on the pearls the girl next to me was wearing. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.) I also met one of my dearest friends in Florida because I shared about our move on Instagram prior to moving and she invited me to brunch once I got relocated. This works for double-dates, too. Couple friends are valuable assets as you settle into married life. Perhaps your new husband has a colleague at work or a new acquaintance at the gym. Having a few new friends in a brand new city can make you feel a whole lot less lonely!

3. Get cozy. All friendliness aside, having a safe space to retreat to after a long, hard day in a new place is invaluable. I’m a big believer in settling into your space no matter how temporary. Ikea has very inexpensive drapes. Command Strips let you hang pictures without putting hole into the walls. Candles, framed pictures, a few blankets, and a plant can do wonders for making any room feel more homey. While I am a card carrying extrovert, I understand the importance of having a place to rest and recharge. I also think that living among piles of moving boxes for too long can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, so get to unpacking fast! Being able to make coffee and scramble some eggs a few days after moving in can do wonders for your well-being and outlook on your new city.

4. Dig into your surroundings. Joining something is a great way to meet new people. Go to the gym – you can burn off some steam and meet people in a low-key environment. Find a church and investigate their activities calendar. Join a kickball league or look into volunteer opportunities. Research opportunities to take creative classes — these days you can find everything from hand lettering to cake decorating around the corner. Learning a new skill alongside someone who is also learning a new skill means everyone may be feeling little awkward! It’s really easy to hide away at home when you’re feeling lonely and homesick, but it’s also nearly impossible to make new friends that way. So, go out and pursue your interests, and be open to finding a new friend along the way.

5. Practice a “365 Days of Acclimation” mantra. A few months after moving to VA, I remember someone asking how long it had been since I’d moved to town. At the time, it had been a little more than five months, and while it was getting easier, I still didn’t feel ‘at home.’ She wisely said, “Give it a year – you won’t believe how different you’ll feel once you cross that 12-month line.” Remember, there’s a lot to figure out, from navigating the layout of your new grocery store to driving around your new city without using GPS 24/7, so show yourself some grace. Moving is hard. Give yourself 365 days to get settled and comfortable in your new location.

6. Make new friends, but keep the old. Just because you moved doesn’t mean you have to let go of all the great friendships and relationships you established in your former location. Schedule consistent phone calls, FaceTime dates, and Skype hangouts. Drop postcards in the mail. I averaged a weekly mini meltdown in the months following our wedding, so having regularly-planned times to connect with old friends was invaluable for resetting and regaining courage after a hard day.

My sweet grandma says, “Home is where you make it.” My granddaddy was in the Army and they lived all over the world for the first twenty years of their marriage, so I’m confident she is an expert on today’s topic.

Have other ideas for how to settle into a new city, especially after getting married? Please share them below!


P.S. I’ll never forget having coffee with someone right after I moved to Blacksburg, VA. She gave me a “Welcome to Blacksburg” booklet to share some of her personal hints and tips about my new town. It was a handful of half-sized pages, hole punched, tied with a ribbon in the corner and overflowing with information – everything from the best local car mechanics, to recommendations for new doctors and her favorite restaurants (including some of her favorite things to order). I can’t tell you how many times I referenced it in the first few months. If you’re the one who is settled in – here’s your chance to help out a new friend!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
  1. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    One of my biggest dreams is to move to the Raleigh area someday and I’ve wondered how that would work as newlyweds (as I’m not yet married!) but this post offers so much encouragement. Thank you Kristin! :)

  2. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh I love these tips! I need to make a welcome to Knoxville bag! I’ve been here long enough now I want to share my wealth of information.

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Yes! I love this idea, Kelly! I have a list of CH favorites I send when I meet new friends moving to the triangle (even though I don’t live there. ha.) !!!!

  3. avatar Abby reply

    All of this is so true! I moved to Chicago right after we got married a year and a half ago and now just moved Durham! It’s so hard getting settled and acclimated-especially as you were just getting used to the last “home”! So glad to have these reminders now that I’ve hit the 2 month mark in NC- still feels so new! That said, anyone that wants to hang out/double date in the Triangle- call me! Insta:abbyenyquist

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Abby! I wish I would reach through the computer and give you a big squeeze! Moving isn’t for the faint of heart, and I feel you with a two moves in 18 months. Keep holding on to that ‘365 mantra’!! And go grab a Sutton’s milkshake on Franklin Street or a Merritt’s BLT when you need a little comfort :)

  4. avatar Justin DeMutiis reply

    I hope the adjustment to FL is going well! Please let me know if I can offer any help/advice!!

  5. avatar Liz-Tampa, FL reply

    I have moved a few times and your tips are right on. However, I will say moving is really hard and when you don’t have kids, & work from home it is so hard to make connections that are more than acquaintances. Three years later I feel I am still struggling.

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Liz! I couldn’t’ agree more that working from home + no littles makes it even more complicated to make connections. I’m right there with you. Sending you a big hug!

  6. avatar Your Favorite Blog Posts From 2016 – Vend Raleigh reply

    […] Our friend Kristin Winchester, newlywed and newly announced editor of Southern Weddings, offered to share her most personal post this year. “Having moved 3 times in the last 4 years, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I remember crying at the dinner table once a week after moving to Blacksburg after getting married. I am a big believer in pretty and practical and this falls under the practical category. Sharing lessons learned and hoping to help someone else who might be going through a similar situation makes my heart swell.” Here’s Kristin’s pick for her favorite personal post from 2016: 6 Tips for Moving to a New City After Getting Married. […]

  7. avatar Gary Lun reply

    Great post! I really like the idea of making new friends as well as keeping the old. Especially when moving to a new city (or new country in my case) we need to reach out to new people!

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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