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We’ve met so many new friends and had a wonderful time visiting with many of the remarkable vendors that have made our latest issue such a success. It has been a very inspiring week! I was happier as a pup with two tails to be invited to speak here and happy as a pup with three tails to share about how we do things ’round here at Southern Weddings.
Y’all know we do things a little differently. We’re small… and mighty… and Southern. We do all the layout, shipping, shoot creation, cleaning up after our messes and everything ourselves. We’re a tiny team with more passion than a hen has feathers. But, I didn’t talk about just us in my speech… I talked about YOU.
You are why we are here. You cheer us on and write us encouraging notes and share our magazine with dear friends and we sincerely wouldn’t be where we are without our very loyal readers. So, I wanted to just say a quick thank you. I wish I could jump through my screen to hug each of you, too. Thank you for believing in us and being our cheerleaders. Thank you, most of all though, for LOVING.
It’s because you love your fiancé’s and husbands and families and this magical place we call home so much that we are inspired every day to do what we do and we have so much goodness ahead! We love y’all! You sweeten our tea!
‘Round these parts, we look forward to a whole lot at Thanksgiving… fresh biscuits, mama’s pecan pie, grandma’s sweet potato pie (can you tell we love pie?), stuffin’, football, turkey, and most of all… family! We have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving and hope your holiday is filled to the brim with cranberries and a whole lotta LOVE!
MARISSA: Heavens, y’all! I don¹t even know where to start! 2012 has been a year full of amazing blessings and incredible challenges – and I’m so grateful for them all! I am so thankful for the talented women I am not only blessed to work with everyday, but am able to call my friends. L, E, E, N + K, thank you! For our sweet readers, and talented clients. For my loving family – especially my mama, who is always there for me no matter what. For my handsome husband, BDK: you are the definition of a Southern gentleman, and my dream come true. Lastly, for God’s incredible grace. Without that, I am nothing.
This year, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with the Kloess side of my family. Since I come from a small family, spending the holidays with this crowd is always a joy! Let’s just say we are one big ol’ Southern family – so big the dinner table has to be made of card tables and random chairs! Traditionally, my FIL deep fries a turkey in the backyard, and we celebrate with all the fixin’s, from homemade pecan pie to sweet potato casserole. I can’t wait! Even though I’ll miss my family and our traditions, I’m so thankful to have such wonderful in-laws to spend the holidays with.
NICOLE: This year, I am overwhelmed by how much there is to be thankful for! I’m so grateful for a loving family that gives me strength and some hilarious stories to tell and for terrific friends and a boyfriend who make me feel at home no matter where I am. I’m grateful for an amazing job that has filled my days with creativity and love and for a degree from the best University on the planet. Lastly, I’m grateful for my mom’s cooking, pug faces and Pantone. I’m heading to Charlotte today to bake pies and celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. Inevitably, there will be much debate over what to include in our Christmas lists and a lot of planning for my sister’s October 2013 wedding!
ALEXIA: I am thankful for my wonderful family, beautiful friends and unforgettable experiences at Southern Weddings this semester. I am also grateful for sweet tea, starry nights, cowboy boots and red velvet cupcakes. I am spending Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house surrounded by family, laughter and of course a little pumpkin pie :)
EMILY: As usual, my gratitude cup overflows, which is something I’m grateful for in and of itself! I am so very thankful to call John my husband (after seven years of having a boyfriend – ha!) and for the person he is; for my parents, my siblings, and my parents and siblings in law (or, my parents and siblings in love, as one of my friends likes to say); for a God who in ALL things works for the good of those who love Him and for a church family that reminds me of that; for my sweet kitties and our warm house; for the health of those I love; for the blessing of living in this beautiful, amazing country; and for my job that I love so very much, and the amazing ladies with whom I get to work. Also, chocolate chunk pecan cookies. Yep, definitely thankful for those.
This year John and I are hosting Thanksgiving in North Carolina for my parents and one of my sisters. We’ll be a small group with entirely too much food, but I don’t really consider that a problem :)
KRISTIN: Thanksgiving 2012 marks my first married Thanksgiving, and I am looking forward to celebrating with my favorite husband and our amazing families. It is a well-known fact that I love ALL holidays and love to celebrate in BIG ways. On Thursday we will be crisscrossing the state of NC to celebrate, and I am responsible for bringing official ‘dishes’ to both meals as a reward for getting married (my late Grandma Jewell’s green bean-corn casserole — serious deliciousness and a family tradition — for my family and a sweet potato casserole for KPW’s). Thanksgiving day is sure to be overflowing with family, laughter, all my favorite foods*, and a nap, along with countless chances to reflect on all my many blessings.
During this sweet season of Thanksgiving I am reminded of the never ending listing of things that I am thankful for including, but not limited to, continued daily grace, my husband and our freshly-made marriage, our family, health, the SW family, the sunshine, and being able to find joy in each day. Hope y’all have a blessed Thanksgiving. Bring on the mashed potatoes!! PS: *Seriously. The food. We served Thanksgiving dinner at our wedding reception because it is our absolute favorite meal. I can’t wait.
LARA: Thanksgiving is a double great day for us this year as today is Grace’s first birthday! It’s been a crazy and blessed year between motherhood, making a magazine and so much more. I am overwhelmingly grateful for you, sweet readers and friends. Thank you for making this holiday time so special for us with all the excitement and kind words about V5! The story of Southern Weddings makes my heart so FULL. I am grateful for my family, dear friends, the SW ladies, a job that I love and most of all for grace. Amazing grace. God is good, y’all! This year, I’ll be attempting to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner by myself, so wish me luck, y’all! Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite meal all year with the sweet potatoes and turnip puree topping my list of leftover highlights. Happy Thanksgiving!
Oh, y’all! What an AMAZING evening we had last night celebrating five years of Southern Weddings goodness! So many dear friends, vendors and readers came from all over the country to toast with us and we are truly overwhelmed with gratitude. We have much more party goodness to come in our official recap, but had to say a quick THANK YOU to everyone who joined us at the Carolina Inn last night! Giant thanks to those of you who joined us virtually via Ustream, too! If you missed the party last night, you can watch the entire thing here. Our speeches are somewhere in the middle if you want to fast forward to that : ) You can also follow party pics on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #V5Launch. Oh, what a night!!! We love y’all!!!
With Emily off on her mini-moon (Congrats Mr. and Mrs. THOMAS!), what better time to give you a little mental vacation at your desk to start the week? Y’all know we’re in the thick of making a [gorgeous, stunning, amazing, phenomenal] fifth anniversary issue happen, right? And y’all know we work hard around these parts, right? I couldn’t have asked for better timing with my recent visit to The Umstead Hotel and Spa right here in our neck of the woods in Cary, NC! Oh, what a delightful overnight visit we enjoyed and such fabulous Southern hospitality!
The Umstead Hotel and Spa was conceived and built with the muses of Art and Nature. These inspirations paired with impeccable, sincere service make for an exquisite hideaway that will comfort and rejuvenate. Everything – from the naturally landscaped grounds to the central Chihuly glass sculpture, the locally sourced cuisine to the botanically infused Umstead Spa products – is designed to stir the senses and inspire. And inspire it did!
From the sweet peach tea that greeted us in the lobby to the friendly staff to the warm natural elegance of the décor, it was right up my alley. And they know how to treat every guest like family, y’all! When we walked into our gorgeous lake-view suite, we were overwhelmed with the size of the room (so perfect for the wedding party to get ready or just for a couple to relax in) and then I squealed when I saw what was waiting on the desk…
A box of hand-crafted artisan chocolates and a lavender eye pillow with a luxurious bath soak. They gift this to all of their brides as well. What a treat! But, the best part for me was the adorable little stuffed bird that accompanied the luxurious treats with a note to Grace. Oh my stars, how thoughtful! Naturally, it is now one of her favorite toys.
They had even set up an adorable crib for Grace in the room with the best view in house! This, plus many other touches during our stay, were sure signs of a property that truly embodies what it means to be gracious and giving. Being surrounded by those two qualities on your big day is truly priceless.
We had our sweet nanny Susan babysit Grace in the room (Susan said Grace’s smile was a mile wide when she saw the giant bath she’d be playing in that night) while we enjoyed a phenomenal six-course meal at The Umstead’s signature restaurant, Heron’s.
As a Florida girl who grew up on the water, the heron has long been one of my favorite birds. Tall and graceful, we’d sit out as a family and watch them careful wade in the water in search of the best fish to eat.
I could write a book about our meal, but to avoid making you all salivate on your keyboards, here are just a few highlights: heirloom tomatoes with parmesan ice cream (!!) and bacon (!!!)… OK, need I say more? The food was divine!
One of my favorite things about Heron’s is that they have a resident culinary farmer who cultivates and gathers produce from local farms for the chefs to use. I would love to meet her and follow her for a day. What a lovely job to have!
I now see why so many friends have enjoyed anniversaries and life celebrations here. There were at least three couples in the dining area with us that were there for anniversaries. The food is amazing, the service perfection and the atmosphere is ultra-romantic with warm golden lighting and old jazz standards cooing softly as people dine.
I could also see why people travel in to have weddings here. It’s truly a hidden gem. We were 15 minutes from my house and I felt like we were across an ocean at a secluded retreat. Ari and I will definitely be back next year to celebrate 7 years of marriage.
After an indulgent and delightful meal talking about our marriage and the blessings of the past year with Grace, we settled in to sleep in the plush bed. A+ for comfort, y’all! I felt like we were at home.
The next morning, after some fun time playing around with Gracie in her “fort” – i.e. the covers – we went to the gym (another A+ from the former personal trainer gym rat here!).
Post-gym, I had the pleasure of enjoying a massage at the spa. Let me rephrase that… the spaaaaaaaahhhhhh. Oh, it was so good! Ari and Grace headed off to the gorgeous pool for some daddy/daughter swim time while I drifted off into a state of spaaaahhh bliss.
I’ve had the pleasure of touring and enjoying a lot of spas over the years through the hospitality industry. (Yes, major job perk.) The Umstead is my new happy place. With natural stone and beautiful furnishings, streaming natural light in the gigantic showers and steam room area and dozens of treatment rooms, the spa is something out of a dream and quite huge. I had no idea something like this existed in the South, much less 15 minutes from my house. I sipped on hibiscus tea, munched on spa snacks and took some much-needed deep breaths. It was lovely. As a bride, I’d be on cloud nine to spend my pre-wedding hours here. In fact, I saw a bridal party getting a tour of the spa while I was there and they were positively giddy! Most definitely a recipe for zero wedding day stress!
After the spa, I reunited with the cutest 9-month-old on the planet in her little cute bathing suit and her handsome daddy and took a quick tour of the property. Besides the 12 acres of gorgeous wooded land and natural surroundings, including a beautiful ceremony lawn that overlooks the lake, the property boasts some of the most beautiful ballrooms I’ve ever seen! I’m such a fan of outdoor ceremonies, but I have to say I’d have a hard time choosing at The Umstead.
The ballrooms are beautifully decorated (even the carpet, y’all!) and the golden fabric-paneled walls had me swooning. The hallways are decked with local artwork and the ceilings are taller than oaks. Any combination of outdoor beauty and ballroom elegance would make for an unforgettable beginning to married life.