You know the feeling when you meet someone, and within five minutes of chatting with them, you feel like you’ve been friends with them forever? That’s how I felt the first time I met Shalyn in Austin a few years ago, and after reading the interview that she and her husband, Drew, filled out for today’s post, I’m sure y’all will feel that way too! This sweet couple has such an inspiring marriage–they always look like they’re having the best time together, and they are totally open about how crazy about each other they are. It is the cutest thing…followed closely by the giggle-inducing crew of Nelson pets (Need a laugh? Look up #HattietheHedgehog on Instagram!).
P.S. Shalyn is also giving away a print from her watercolor print shop to a lucky SW reader–details below!
The couple: Shalyn (29) and Drew (29)
Years married: 6 this March!
Where you live: Austin, Texas
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Hi y’all! We are Shalyn and Drew, also known as the Nelsons! Shalyn is a fine art wedding and editorial photographer, runs a personal lifestyle blog at So Shay, and owns a small watercolor print shop. Drew serves alongside Shalyn as a wedding photographer/second shooter/assistant on the weekends, but also travels a lot and works full-time during the week as a Manager of Field Operations for a land surveying company. Together, we own and run our wedding photography business, Love, The Nelsons. We are just a couple of goobers, living, loving, and dancing around Austin, Texas together, along with our two pomeranians and two hedgehogs. We love each other, we love weddings, and we LOVE the meaning of marriage.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. Girl falls for cute boy with a big smile and hot pants when he used the cheesy pick up line, “You look really familiar? Do I know you from somewhere?”, and then boy woos her by taking her to see Nacho Libre, treats her to a snow cone afterwards, and when he points and says, “What’s that?” and she looks and then turns around to ask, “What’s what?” he quickly kisses her on the lips and both boy and girl start laughing. Run-on sentence for the win! P.S. Girl and cute boy got married, haven’t stopped laughing together since that date, and the cute boy with the hot pants continues to steal kisses from her every single day.
What is your favorite part of being married? From Drew: My favorite part is that marriage feels like you’re at a permanent sleepover with your best friend, but better, because there are no curfews, you make the rules together, there’s always great conversation, good food, killer dance parties, and all the cuddles, and I never have to dread my Mom picking me up the next day. :) I also find complete joy and extreme gratitude knowing that she vowed to do this life with ME, and gave her heart to ME–out of every guy in the world. It is the greatest honor.
Who cooks dinner? Drew does the majority of the time! I call him “Chef Drew Drew Hot Pants” and he hates it. :) But I do cook the sides (veggies), while he cooks/grills the meat! I like to eat and he likes to cook. We make a great team!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? If our schedules are busy, we keep it simple and go with taco salad or any type of pasta! If we have time, we love grilling chicken and fresh veggies. Dessert is a must in this house too–I love baking cupcakes and all those delicious things that your thighs hate, but your sweet tooth LOVES!
Tell us about the process of moving in together. When we moved in together, I had a lot of cheap furniture from college and Drew only had a Texas A&M flag, clothes, and a baseball card collection. Over the years, we haven’t quite been able to decide what our style is together. We don’t really have a certain vibe, but our home is a happy combination of our personalities. It’s random, fun, traditional, modern, and contemporary. There are some random vintage finds thrown in and a few touches of masculinity. Our style and taste may come off as a little confused, but it’s slowly maturing, growing, and evolving, just like our marriage. My biggest advice is to select your (expensive) big items in your home very carefully, especially if you’re a lot like me and your taste in décor is anything like Texas weather–it changes in the blink of an eye! It’s a lot easier (and more affordable) to change hot pink pillows on a gray couch than it is to change gray pillows on a hot pink couch. However, if you KNOW your style through and through and know it won’t change, I say do what you want and rock the mess out of it!
What most makes your house feel like home? Shalyn: Having LOTS of pillows (I love pillows!), my little family, and of course, lots of photos and personal mementos spread all around the walls and shelves of our home. They remind us daily of the memories we have shared and the life we are building together as one! Drew: My wife.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. When we first got married, we lived in a nice, updated apartment with all the bells and whistles. When the house bug bit us, we realized that we qualified for the first-time home buyer situation that was being offered at that time, but we had only a little over a month before the deadline. My brother convinced us that it would be a good investment, and since we were just married, just out of college, and still eating Top Ramen for days, we just took a deep breath, went with it, and made a very quick decision on a fixer upper home that was built in 1986. We chose to renovate room by room, little by little, as finances allowed. The process was realllllly slow in the beginning, but we had a lot of fun making mistakes, and Drew loved building his “manly tool collection,” as he calls it. Two years into renovating, we started to notice cracks in our walls and doors that wouldn’t shut, and later found out that our house had major foundation and plumbing problems. We continued to live in our home with these problems until we could save some money–until one day when we realized that you could SEE the outside from the inside under all the doors and trim. We packed up out of our home, put everything in storage, lived with my sweetheart of a brother for three months, and got our foundation and plumbing fixed. All of the renovations we had done over the past two years? Ruined. So, we started over. Drew laid every single tile, every wood plank, every trim board, every backsplash, you name it. I painted and cleaned like a champ and offered my big guns when needed. There were days we wanted to throw in the towel, but we powered through. Needless to say, we were both emotionally and physically exhausted. The photos in this post are the first photos we have taken of our house since we’ve renovated. Looking at them brought a few tears to my eyes because if you saw our house before, you just wouldn’t believe it. It has come so far!
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Shalyn: I loved when we were saying our vows, and our pastor said to Drew, “Now repeat after me…In the name of God…” and Drew just stood there in silence, not realizing that he needed to say, “In the name of God.” He got so embarrassed and we all started laughing. It just reminded me right then and there that I was going to be laughing with him like that for the rest of my life. Drew: When my wife said “I do.” She was officially locked in and I let out a little sigh of relief ;)
How do you remember your wedding in your home? Shalyn: I think one of my favorite reminders from our day is this huge engagement photo we printed poster-sized and had our guests write around on our wedding day. It’s right by my office, so I see their sweet messages every day and it always makes me smile. Drew: This isn’t from our wedding, but one day, I came home from work and Shay had the three roses that I proposed to her with in a shadow box. She had carefully positioned them on a wall in our bedroom, so when she looks at my side of the bed, they are displayed right above my head. I get that I’m a guy and need to be cool about these things, but that was one of the sweetest things she’s done to make our house feel like a home. It meant a lot to me.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Our best tip is to create really healthy boundaries and to STICK to them. Our current work situation is a little different than most, and we have learned to adjust and are making it work. Now that Drew works out of town a lot during the week and we photograph/work most weekends, our time together is really, really limited. We had to sit down and figure out where and how to make time for one another, so I created business hours for myself to accommodate our work schedules. At the end of the day, life is short, and your marriage matters the MOST. We declare Friday our day off together, and on the few weekends we don’t photograph weddings, we make plans to see our families and friends! Balancing everything is never easy and we’re not perfect at it, but we do the best we can and really value the time we have with one another.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? We will both nod our heads here and say our down comforter, our everyday plates, and our mixer!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Be smart with your selections, even though some items may seem boring to choose. Remember that what you currently use the most often probably won’t change much after marriage. I remember getting excited to just click the button because we were REGISTERING FOR OUR WEDDING!!! And now, we probably only use about 50 percent of what we selected. Think everyday, think useful, think practical, think smart! But that said, definitely add a few fun and fancy things, too! :)
Do you have children? We have our fur children and our spike children/babies currently, but we definitely want to start a a family with real HUMAN babies in the next few years!
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Shalyn: Drew works out of town a lot, so I always try to sneak notes into his bags or his truck so he will find them throughout the week. I just remind him how much I love him and thank him for working so hard to provide for us. I also try to have our house cleaned and dinner ready for him when he gets home from traveling. He loves this, and I admit, there’s nothing better than coming home to that! Drew: I bring her flowers all the time at random because I know how much she loves them, and I love seeing the smile on her face when I do. I also help with home projects because I know how much having a nice home means to her.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite date night is building a fort in our living room that has lights all around it. We rent Redbox movies and eat tons of snacks! We always see who can stay up the latest, and whoever loses has to clean up the fort the next day!
This year, our family is most excited about… taking a trip, just the two of us, to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. We haven’t been on a trip alone together (that hasn’t been work-related) since our honeymoon six years ago, so needless to say, we are PUMPED! We are also super excited for our passion project (#lovethenelsonsproject) endeavor that will be announced next week!
Thank you SO much to the Nelsons for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with their photography business, Love, the Nelsons, Shalyn’s blog, and Instagrams (@ShalynNelson and @DDHP).
Shalyn has generously offered to give away a print (of the winner’s choice!) from her watercolor print shop to a lucky SW reader! To enter, check out her shop here and leave a comment below with the print you would choose. A winner will be randomly selected and emailed on Monday!
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!