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We had the privilege of meeting Alison almost a year ago when she and a group of the Proverbs 31 Ministries ladies came to visit the SW office. We were so impressed by how kind and intentional these ladies are, and truly cherished our time chatting about life and business with them! When we spotted a few photos of Alison and her husband’s house in Charlotte, we had no doubt that along with beautiful photos of the place they call home, we could count on Alison for an insightful, thoughtful interview here on Southern Newlywed. Sure enough, I loved getting a peek at Alison and Luke’s space, but even more so, I love what they shared about making their house a home, quality time together, and so much more. Enjoy!

Thanks so much to Maggie Colletta for these lovely photos!

The couple: Alison (27) and Luke (25) Fargason
Years married: Four
Where they live: Charlotte, North Carolina
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Luke and I both from sweet home Alabama. I grew up playing with art supplies and Luke grew up playing sports and hunting and fishing with his dad. We both attended Auburn University (War Eagle!), which is where we met and fell in love. This was special to us because both of our parents met at Auburn as well! We now live in Charlotte, North Carolina and we absolutely love it! Luke is a financial aAdvisor with Thrivent Financial and I am the Design Director at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Do you rent or own? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Tell us a little bit about where you live. We bought our first house in May 2014 in Charlotte. It is located on a quiet street with lots of amenities close by. Some of our favorites things to do are evening neighborhood walks with our golden retriever, Ellie, and drinking coffee on our front porch in the mornings before work. Our house is a 1980’s red brick ranch that needed lots of TLC when we first moved in. Seeing our house transform from an outdated home into the perfect space for us has been so much fun. We still have a long list of updates we’d like to make, but for now, we are learning to enjoy the process of seeing it transform, little by little. We love hosting parties and having guests over. Our hope is that people always sense God’s peace and joy in our home.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? I would say our moving in together process was relatively easy. Luke trusts me with designing our house and lets me run free with my ideas. His only two cents was that it “needs to comfortable–it can’t JUST look good.” And I agree! Charlotte has tons of amazing antique shops that we enjoy going to on the weekends. Luke grew up hunting with his dad, so you will find several deer heads and antlers throughout our house. When I recently hung the deer head in our den, Luke looked at me and said “On earth as it is in heaven.”

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I would have to say our main den. When we began renovating our home, this is where we put our attention first, and it’s where we spend most of our time together. Lots of our favorite furniture pieces are in there so that we are able to enjoy them the most!
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? Thankfully, the majority of our furniture was given to us by our parents or grandparents, so we have not had to splurge on many things for our home. And honestly, we’ve found some things off the side of the road (so fun!). In some cases, I see something I like online or in a magazine, and if it is expensive, we will wait to buy it, and search Craig’s List for a pre-owned option. Favorite sources for home things? Goodness, where do I begin? First off, I love antique malls. Charlotte has a plethora of awesome, amazing places to visit (and with great prices too). The Depot and Gibson Mill and White Owl, both in Concord, North Carolina, are favorites. And who doesn’t love Home Goods?

Who cooks dinner? I do, but Luke has mastered the grill and makes a mean omelet!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Our weeknight go-to is BBQ Chicken Apple Pizza. It is a super easy and quick dinner! We usually eat out on the weekends, and our go-to is anything Mexican!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I would have registered for more unique pieces that you can’t buy at Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Target. Don’t get me wrong, I love those practical things, but it’s not really stuff that you can pass down to your children and grandchildren one day. I’d go for more heirloom pieces.

How does your family handle finances? Do you use a set budget? Considering Luke is a financial planner, we definitely set a budget. He is really great about leading us in this area and I am SO thankful. Although he has more of a knack for numbers, our goal is to always handle our finances jointly. We always want to be in agreement about decisions and plans for our future.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities (work, personal time, extended family, etc.)? Communication. Luke and I always try to over-communicate our plans and expectations. At the beginning of each week, we usually go through our work schedules and any plans we have. This allows us to know what is ahead for the week and helps us to adjust our needs and to dos accordingly.

What is your favorite part of being married? Always having the opportunity to be together. Quality time is the #1 love language for both of us, so obviously, we LOVE spending time together, even if it is just sitting in the same room or going to a coffee shop. I remember when we came home from our honeymoon, it was so much fun moving in together. It was like having a sleepover every night with our best friend!
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? Honestly, I have been surprised by how selfish I can be. I did not realize this until my imperfections were bumping up so closely to someone else’s. Living with someone and being so vulnerable can reveal some of the selfish things we tend to hold on to. All and all, I am thankful for this. Daily, I hope to grow into a better, unselfish, and loving spouse.

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? We love to go out to eat at our favorite local restaurants, but I think one of our most favorite things to do is go on family walks with our golden, Ellie. There are several restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance of our house, and we love treating ourselves to iced americanos after a long walk!
Do you have children? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Not yet, but we are excited to have kids soon!
This year, our family is most excited about… taking a bucket list trip to Israel!

Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Alison and Luke! Follow along with them on Alison’s website and Instagram and Luke’s Instagram.

P.S. Just as a reminder: we’d love to hear from you, too! If you’re interested, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Donna reply

    Loved your article Lisa…..thank you for sharing a glimpse into the life of Luke & Alison and photos of their beautiful home built on the love❤️

  2. avatar Paula reply

    I love the decor!! So well done!! Beautiful!!

    http://www.livingpaula.com

  3. avatar tammy reply

    Loved this. So encouraging!! Thank you for sharing with us.

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If you’ve flipped through V8, you’ve surely already “met” Victoria and Ben Strader–these real-life Texas sweethearts modeled as the bride and groom in our Texas Sweethearts editorial! Victoria is a longtime friend of SW, and we’ve loved getting to know her heart for marriage and her passion for Southern hospitality over the years. She and Ben took on a small town fixer upper for their newlywed home, and with a little bit of elbow grease and a whole lot of love, they’ve created a truly special place for their growing family. We couldn’t wait to see it all decked out for the holidays, and were so excited when the Straders agreed to give us a tour and share all of the details with us!

Thank you so much to Dyan Kethley for capturing Victoria and Ben’s home for this holiday tour!

The couple: Victoria (24) and Ben (25) Strader
Years married: Three this month!
Where they live: A small town north of Fort Worth, Texas
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Ben was born and raised in the same sweet small town where we live now. Both of his parents have lived here all of their lives, too, and we love having the majority of our extended family in a radius of a few miles. I was born in Paris, France, where my British parents lived for a few years before moving to the US shortly before my first birthday. I feel it was my destiny to become a Southern belle. :) Ben teaches and coaches middle school and is in the process of starting a business with his two brothers. We’re both licensed realtors and I’m excited to spend more time at home next year as our family grows.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. A high school crush between close friends turned into being college sweethearts!

Do you rent or own? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Tell us a little bit about where you live. We bought our first home just a few months before getting married. It was built in the early 1960’s by a newlywed couple who didn’t change a thing about it until they passed, and we bought the house from their grandson. A solid month of renovations, plus a kitchen and bathroom project since we’ve lived here have turned an old, smelly house into the perfect place for the beginning of our marriage. Ben’s parents own farmland a few miles outside of town, and it has been a family dream for everyone to eventually reside on the property if it’s where God leads. We’re both constantly talking about things we desire in our dream home…it’s fun to look forward to!
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? Honestly, this was a really easy process for us. Ben’s only remark was that things could be “slightly feminine but not girly.” Having just finished college when we got married, we started from scratch on most things.

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? When we first bought our home, everything was a “save” item! :) But over time, we’ve enjoyed investing in the long term, timeless items that need to be great quality to withstand normal life. We love our Restoration Hardware dining room table, our fancy Pottery Barn chandelier, and our new West Elm curtains. The quality difference in nice curtains is out of control! Decorative accents that will probably be replaced over time are some of our steals, as well as rugs that will inevitably be spilled on. I think this probably goes without saying for most, but we’ve found that Target is our go-to for so many items at a reasonable price point.

Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? All of our everyday kitchen goodies: plates from Anthropologie, glasses from Pottery Barn, KitchenAid pots and pans.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I don’t think we fully realized what a sweet, one-time opportunity we had to fill our kitchen. Through the process of registering and receiving wedding gifts, we were so blown away by how generous everyone was. People were so happy to be giving us sacrificial gifts, something we’ve taken note of and tried to consistently apply in our daily lives. If we had a second shot at this, I think we would register for more serve ware. We love entertaining and are constantly hosting large gatherings. I think it’s really important to consider your lifestyle when registering, not just choosing things from a department store checklist. I will also note that we’re team china; we are so grateful for pieces that will serve as heirlooms.

Who cooks dinner? My instinct is to say mostly me, but it’s often an even trade-off.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We’re never ones to shy away from simple, healthy grilled chicken with veggies. Super boring, but easy to throw together and we feel good about it afterwards. For more fun weeknight meals, we love Skinny Taste Shrimp and Grits, and any kind of Mexican casserole.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? We are huge fans of The Pioneer Woman and Skinny Taste. Two opposite ends of the health spectrum that we love!

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our living room. We’ve made so many sweet memories with friends and family gathered there for laughs, tears, sharpening confrontation, and intentional conversation. I love that our home has become such a safe place for all of our loved ones–that has been our prayer from the beginning of marriage.
What most makes your house feel like home? This is such a silly, first world answer…but being able to curl up on our couch in our own space and watch a TV show together with a candle lit.

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Walking through our magical sparkler exit, hopping in the car, and immediately being blown away by how loved we felt by everyone in our lives who came together to give us the sweetest wedding day.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? (Pictures, mementos, etc.) We are really into beautiful photography, and have loads of sweet photos from our wedding and engagement displayed in our home. The ruffled curtains that formed the altar on our wedding day actually now hang in our office/sitting room. It’s a sweet little reminder, and it was a great way for us to double dip on wedding budget and new home budget!

What is your approach to decorating your home for the holidays? We love having decor peppered throughout our home, but it’s also important to us for it to be able to be cleaned up relatively quickly. Our tree is in two pre-lit parts that you snap together easily. Our collection of decor has grown each year of marriage, but it’s important to us to make our home extra cozy for the holidays and not have things just for the sake of it. A beautiful nativity scene is still on my Christmas decor wish list!
What is a favorite holiday tradition your family has created post-wedding? Each year since we’ve been married, I’ve baked a load of Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls for our close friends and family members. We eat ours on Christmas morning by our tree, and read Luke 2. We have a bunch of family Christmas gatherings, but our short little one for just the two of us is by far our favorite.

How do you navigate the holidays with your extended families? We are so blessed to have the majority of our family live in the area, with the exception of my extended family in England. We have a big brunch with Ben’s mom’s side of the family on Christmas Eve morning, go to church and dinner with Ben’s parents and siblings, spend early Christmas morning just the two of us, followed by visits to my dad’s house, my mom’s house, and then a final Mexican feast with Ben’s dad’s side of the family. It’s kind of a marathon, but we’re grateful to have everyone so close, allowing us to see everyone over the holidays. I just think it’s vital to make all family members feel loved and valued by you and your spouse, regardless of if you’ll be able to see them or not.

What is your favorite part of being married? Marriage turned us into each other’s family. There is so much beauty and legacy in that statement, and we are constantly so grateful for how the Lord wove our lives together.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? I remember when we were dating, people would talk about how “dating is nothing compared to marriage” and that you will “love each other so much more than on your wedding day.” At the time, that was discouraging to me, but it really has proven true. In marriage, we’ve gotten to know and love each other on such a deeper, more intimate level. I wish there was a better way to communicate this that sounds more encouraging and doesn’t minimize the value of sweet time while dating.

Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… That you don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to become a “super wife” overnight. Household chores can be balanced between you both. :)
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? I’ll brag on Benjamin Luke for a minute…this morning, I realized my card had moved, and that he had filled my tank up with gas. Something so simple was so helpful and made me feel so loved!
Do you have children? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? We are overjoyed to be expecting a sweet babe next May. We are so grateful to the Lord for providing this precious life for whom we have prayed!

Big hugs to Victoria and Ben for sharing their hearts and home with us this holiday season! Follow along with them on Victoria’s darling blog and Instagram.

P.S. Just as a reminder: we’d love to hear from you, too! If you’re interested, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Victoria Strader reply

    Thank you so much for featuring us! We are truly so grateful for y’all and all that you do! Big, big hugs from Texas today!

  2. avatar Lauren reply

    I love these features! They are such a lovely glimpse into “after the wedding” and it’s always fun to see how other people decorate as well as gain some inspiration for my own home!

  3. avatar Kristina reply

    Victoria, you have a beautiful home! I love the way you decorate for the holidays. Merry Christmas :)

  4. avatar Abby Nyquist reply

    Everything is adorable! Thanks for inspiring my Christmas decorating this weekend! :)

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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