Are you ready for this? In 2010, I traveled to Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles (7 times), Minneapolis (3 times), Chicago, Atlanta (33 times), New York (4 times), Nashville (2 times), Las Vegas, Denver, Irvine, Pensacola (7 times), Indianapolis, Grand Cayman, Miami (thrice), Washington DC, Boston, Salt Lake City, West Palm Beach, St Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco, Maui, and I’m about to head to Vail with my family. Phew! I earned my SkyMiles this year.
In preparing this post, I read my 2009 Year in Review and almost fell out of my chair. So much has changed. But, what struck me the most is what I wrote as my goal for 2010: My wish for 2010: to listen more –in the largest sense of the word– and to take ultimate care of myself –even when I don’t feel like it– so I can be my absolute best for others. I wish to know Christ deeply this year and that His love would live in me and shine brightly. I wish for a year of connection and giving as much of myself as humanly possible. Inscribed in my wedding ring is a verse that I am adopting as my mantra for 2010: “I can do all things through Christ.” – Philippians 4:13 I started going to church again early this year and worked at developing a stronger relationship with God and, in turn, myself. As the days passed this year – no matter how busy I got or what came my way – I started to find real lasting happiness. Photo by Brett Arthur.
The year began with an unforgettable journey: The Making Things Happen tour. It tour kicked off in Dallas and took us to Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Chicago.
Dallas. [photo :: poser]
Los Angeles [photo :: Jasmine *]
We met so many incredible new friends. I will never forget those days. They were also full of a lot of personal growth for me as I did the MTH work myself and faced a lot of fears.
A highlight of the year was Katharine‘s engagement! Three days after last Christmas 2009, her beau placed a ring on her finger that would soon after take us to New York to go dress shopping. With an entourage of 13, we packed into Kleinfeld to search for The One. I was really grateful to be a part of that day. So special!
I think I was only back home in Chapel Hill for about 5 days before I had to head back to Atlanta to speak at The Simple Plan workshop. This was my very first PowerPoint presentation (I went to school for music, theatre and design, ok!?) and the day I met some incredible friends. Thank you Ben Vigil for this photograph below.
I made a last-minute pitstop in Nashville right after that which turned into quite the fiasco. Let’s just say Jeremy Cowart and I had a hugemongous meeting with a potential client and losing my luggage on a 6 seater hopper plane in the snow caused me to buy a whole new Walmart wardrobe. Ah, memories. Sidenote: this year, I have been incredibly inspired by this man. I’m so grateful for his friendship.
Amidst all of this travel and work, I was gearing up for WPPI and throwing the Airhorns and Lasers party with great friends. Yes, we’re throwing the party again this year, but much much different. Announcing: Airplanes and Blazers.
I really enjoyed speaking at Fred and Jory’s workshop on editorial work.
Loved seeing old friends and meeting new people, as always! Jory Cordy and I below.
And I particularly loved speaking on a panel of editors at Garret Nudd’s workshop on how to get published. It was at that moment that I saw a great need for more of this education.
After WPPI, I boarded a plane directly to Denver to do MTH there and then caught the first flight to Los Angeles to see my grandmother in the hospital. That was a really tough time in my year. I was exhausted from so much travel and WPPI and seeing grandma made me realize I needed to slow down.
I remember laying in her hospital bed with her, showing her all the family photos I had on my iPhone. She said it was the first thing that made her happy in a long while. Thankfully, she recovered and I started to make plans to cool my travel jets in 2011. But, first… off to NY again and DC for MTH.
I visited my childhood home while I was in DC. I’m sure many people feel this way, but it all seemed to much smaller! I loved seeing my playhouse still intact in the backyard.
Back in the office in NC, we celebrated our Two Year Blogaversary and set out to plan V3 (Volume 3 of Southern Weddings). Lots of brainstorming, a bajillion submissions and several big risks later, we set out with a very exciting plan.
I twittered… Who wants to shoot our next cover? After a overwhelming response, we decided to open this opportunity up. I wrote this post asking for photographers and designers to submit proposals for our next cover. Well, little did I know that my inbox (and mailbox … wow, y’all are creative!) would completely explode shortly after. More on the cover in a bit. The cover inspiration…
Y’all are going to think I’m nuts. This year really was nuts! I got way overloaded and have since completely cut out a lot of work. While speaking, traveling and making a magazine, we also had several large weddings on the books with my event planning company. I said I’d give it up last year, but we couldn’t resist these wonderful families.
Becky and Scottie have a beautiful story. Their wedding really made me think about my own marriage and pray for it to be stronger. It was a perfect breezy beach day in Florida for their I Do’s and a gorgeous ballroom reception.
I spent a few days in Florida with my parents and even biked in a 30 mile race with my dad! This man runs … or er… bikes circles around me. I was so happy to share that experience with him.
From Florida to Indianapolis to speak at Eventology. I was exciting to have Katharine and Emily join me for this.
I spoke on Building Your Team. Being a “boss” is something I have had to work really really hard at. I am very happy to say that this year I put a lot of my focus into integrity and changing my business structure to allow that. The results continue to make us all very happy busy bees. Above all other things in my business, I am most grateful for Katharine and Emily. I could be shoveling snow for a living and be extremely happy if I had these two by my side.
It was great to speak along side such sharp women at Eventology: Sasha Souza, Katasha Butler, Terrica Skaggs and Harmony Walton.
Vacation! Ari and I flew to Hawaii for his best friend’s wedding on Kona. This trip was a turning point in our marriage. Something about getting out of our environment and enjoying some sun and sand was just what we needed.
I spent 10 days in Hawaii and had some major travel problems on the way home. So, Katharine and Emily had to run the show at our big editorial shoots with Jose Villa, who flew in just for us. I made it back in time for the Fearrington shoot with Jose, Joel Serrato and the incredible Joy Thigpen. I am so proud of KTW and EAA for making these shoots come to life! The results in V3 are just awesome.
Ah yes, back to wedding season. This is where our tightly-packed schedule started to worry me. So, I went into overdrive. I was the organization QUEEN, my friends. I think I even had my Luna Bars in alphabetical flavor order. We had our last two weddings – both gigantic – back to back. First up, a stunning Indian wedding at Duke. The whole office (and our beaus) came out to make Nameeta and Jacob’s wedding go off without a hitch! Emily’s John is particularly good at chair ties.
The next week: Sara and Tyler’s southern soiree in Salisbury, NC. I love these two more than I can express. Hi Sara!
These photos from Nancy Ray make my heart so happy. Katharine and Kyle cut a rug and made us all fall in love all over again. So sweet…
Engage was, as per usual, packed with so much great education, great friends and wonderful surprises!
A week later, I flew from NC to Florida again for a milestone in my family. My dad had two children long before us: Kathy and Chris. Over the years, they all lost touch. I hadn’t seen Kathy since I was 8. After 22 years, they all flew in for Father’s Day. I think it was the happiest day of my dad’s life. Paul and Mecheal Johnson were gracious enough to be there with us to capture these moments. You can see the whole day here.
I found a new bff in my sister, Kathy, and a new spark in my dad’s smile.
We all had so much fun on the beach getting to know each other all over again!
Ari and I spent the fourth of July at the UNC Football stadium with friends. The fireworks were awesome! I started to love living in NC right around that time. I don’t want to be there forever, but I’m grateful to be in such an exciting atmosphere right now.
A HUGE part of my growing happiness has been this lady right here. Marissa Kloess does a lot for me, including encourage me through every step we take as a company. I love you, M, and could not have weathered this year without you.
Rosalind with Two Bright Lights came to North Carolina and I was so honored to be asked to speak at her meeting. It was a joy to meet these NC photo friends!
Summer in Chapel Hill was magical. My Camp Lara post give you all the details. The photograph below was taken at Duke Gardens by my dear friend, Brett Arthur, who just got married this year and wore our Sid Mashburn suit from V2!
I buckled down for six long weeks of magazine layout. Yes, we lay this thing out ourselves. I did not go to school for this. I learned InDesign by playing around with it all till I figured it out – aka I learned the hard way. More on my story with the magazine here.
Emily was an enormous help this year with layout! We worked as a team to make this beauty come to life. Emily below during a shoot and simultaneous filming. Footage coming very soon!
Out of hundreds of submissions and 15 finalists, we finally chose a cover. Layout madness continued…
Through much encouragement from Emily and Katharine and many others, I committed to finding a way to blog daily with shorter posts. I was starting to be known for consistent mega-posts, like this one. When I discovered the ease of Tumblr – that I could do it on the StairMaster – I was hooked! I’ve been Tumbling on my personal Tumblr and the Making Things Happen Tumblr ever since. It has been a challenge, at times, to put myself out there and commit to this, but so worth it in the end. I’m grateful for the gift of writing.
I blocked off Blue Angel Weekend on my calendar almost a year prior. Every July, the Blues fly right over my parent’s house for their air show. It is quite the experience… especially when they make their low pass from behind you out of nowhere! Ari came with me and we had a blast with my family on the beach.
Just two days later, Katharine, Emily and I drove to Wilmington, NC, for a fabulous shoot with Millie Holloman and crew. This was so much fun! Multiple sets created just for us, gorgeous styling, and the happiest team around, oh my! I also had fun doing everyone’s makeup. Office bonding to the max. Many laughs were had.
KTW + EAA celebrated their one year anniversary working with me shortly after. We reflected on a great year together and, as per usual, had some cupcakes… and candy for Katharine.
So, my husband is a radiology resident at UNC. As a 3rd year, all radiology residents across the US have to attend a training month at Walter Reed in DC. Coincidentally, this is also where my parents met. So, Ari shipped off to DC for an entire month. We survived 7 long months of deployment when he was in Iraq. Somehow this was harder.
After intense layout days during the week, I decided to trek up there and visit him every weekend. I grew up in DC and my parents even flew in one weekend for a big dinner with old friends. It was a really special night for all of us!
Ari and I went to all the museums that month (including the butterfly house where a little friend below landed on my hat), Mount Vernon, Annapolis (loved it there!), a slew of fun restaurants, all the monuments and anything else you can think of that is touristy. It was a wonderful summer, despite the distance.
At the end of August, right when Ari got back, we had our last week of magazine layout madness and I flew to Florida to deliver the files to the printer. After such long hours and crazy work, it was a gift to sit and just watch the sunset with my parents when I got there.
I made the 5am drive to Panama City to start two days of color proofing and text edits. This is a job for several, not for one. I don’t know why I didn’t learn this the first times. But, seeing the proofs was a great reward! My story of being a self-publisher.
I came back to NC for 24 very short hours then boarded a plane for Boston for Katharine’s big day! I spent that night assembling all the centerpieces for the wedding and – in my magazine proofing delirium – made a few too many. It all worked out in the end and looked beautiful, but I felt pretty silly about my over-eager centerpiece making. Sidenote: Boston and the Harvard Club were a dream! So beautiful.
And Katharine was so beautiful it was hard not to stare at her. Seriously… Grace Kelly beautiful. She and Kyle and their families made my heart sing. The wedding was most definitely the best wedding I have ever been to. I felt so blessed to witness it.
Days later, I headed to Salt Lake City to do the Making Things Happen intensive and speak at WedSmith. I loved Salt Lake and met so many great friends there!
The magazine pages had printed and they were just about to put the covers on when this happened.
I wrote my favorite Tumblr post this year.
The files were off to the printer, but that’s just where our work began. Self-publishing is a beast. We prepped pre-orders, dozens of blog posts, contributor mailings, thank you gifts and cards galore as we got ready to unleash V3 to the masses!
So, here’s something you don’t know. These are the things I’m not supposed to blog, but I’m going to anyway. My #1 goal with V3, besides great content, was perfect color. I was really disappointed in some of the color in V2, so this was my mission. I took those proofs out in the sunlight, proof light, fluorescent light, any light I could see them in to quadruple check everything. The proofs I signed off on were perfect (cover at left). Seriously, perfect. I didn’t leave until they were. If you wonder why I didn’t immediately tweet about how excited I was to get copies of V3 in the mail, it’s because of this…. The printed, bound covers were so off color. To the normal eye, it’s unnoticeable unless you compare the two. To me, it was what I imagine a bad hair dye job to be like: devastating. Long story short, I panicked. I called the printer. Even though this was completely their error, there was no way to redo everything by our newsstand date. I suddenly got very unexcited about V3. This is why I didn’t blog this till now. Again, an untrained I wouldn’t see it. But, I sure did. It killed me. The one thing I wanted was perfect color. That’s what I approved. Thankfully, brides didn’t care one bit and the inside pages were divine…
Off to Engage!10 :: Breakers in Palm Beach with Emily to learn, connect and debut V3.
I was so so nervous to let V3 out. But, the feedback was INCREDIBLE. We are all – despite our now unsecret cover woes – SO proud of this issue. It really holds our hearts and embodies our mission to inspire authentic, approachable, meaningful wedding inspiration. I love our cover from Joey + Jessica!
At Engage!, I spoke on a panel of the best editors in weddings on one of my favorite topics: how to get published.
Rebecca and Kathryn never cease to amaze with every Engage! experience. This was my fifth Engage! conference and definitely the best yet.
With my dear friend Randy Fenoli and Anthony Luscia of Martha Stewart Weddings.
Emily working the pink carpet with Todd Fiscus, Randy, Jeff from The Breakers and I.
A highlight of my year has been my mom finally diving into her passion again. It took almost a decade of coercing for us to get her to leap, but my mom now has a regular food column with the paper and teaches French cooking. I have never seen her so happy! I got to experience one of her classes the other night and it was a dream come true! Go mom!
Needless to say, my dad is super happy to see her following her passion, too. He also likes the added taste-tester benefits.
The best part was reconnecting with great friends. Photo below from Britt Chudleigh.
Aaaaand…. going to the Martha Stewart market party, complete with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Martha offices from Darcy Miller. Amazing!
The Knot gala at the NY Public Library was spectacular! Read all of the market goodness here: Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight. Phew!
Days later, Ari and I flew to St Lucia for a big vacation. What started as the honeymoon we never had turned into the adventure of a lifetime.
It was there that we really reconnected with what brought us together in the first place: our passion for giving.
We experienced so many magical sights. Pictured below in front of the Pitons. So beautiful!
Best of all, we met a life-long friend, Chantal Antoine, and weathered a hurricane together. It was life-changing. Read my husband’s blog for all the details.
Thanks to Hurricane Tomas, I did not think I’d make it back for the MTH Tour. I seriously panicked, but God made a way. Just three days later, I miraculously (four countries and three trips through customs in one day!) made it to Houston to meet MTH alum Gina Zeidler and Emily Ley for what ended up being the best two weeks of my life.
We saddled up in Houston…
Felt the fear and did it anyway in Phoenix…
Woke up to this in San Fran…
And met Ari in Los Angeles (he’s from Encino)…
Highlight #1 of the Los Angeles stop was getting to see my siter, Kathy and her husband John. Ari, Kathy, John and I had a great dinner in Brentwood and I left with a very full heart. P.S. If you ever go to Bloomingdales in Century City, ask for Kathy Suto. She runs the place. Literally.
Highlight #2: spending the weekend with Em, Gina, Ari and Grandma Bunny.
This video, created by Gina, says it all:
Monday night, we caught a plane to Maui to meet Fred and Jory for MTH.
We shared two incredible days at the Four Seasons Maui with 32 amazing new friends. It was AWESOME! [in the true sense of the word]
Best of all, I left with a strong bond of friendship with Emily and Gina. Spending time with Emily and “Bman” (her beautiful baby that is due in February) also gave me a bit of baby fever.
Appropriately, Thanksgiving was the next week. I headed home to Gulf Breeze, FL, to spend time with my parents. Ari was on 24 hour call, but he still managed to inspire us and make us so grateful for our lives through his writing. It was the best Thanksgiving ever. My goal that day was to get to know my parents as people, not as my parents. God blessed that day. We enjoyed a wonderful meal together and…. my favorite!!!! … turned on the Christmas music and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Best. Movie. Ever.
After a whilrwind tour across the US with Gina and Em and a wonderful Thanksgiving, I headed back to NC for a few weeks to get down to business. When you find clarity in your life, you have no choice but to act on that clarity. I gutted our house, got a new office, wrote 77 goals and smashed about 80% of them so far, donated half of my clothes, resolved some intense old conflicts, signed up to teach Sunday School, committed myself to friendship and – among many other things – put together new Ikea furniture. This was a true testament to the growth of our marriage. We actually had FUN putting together Ikea furniture!
And… the big SW news! Amidst server crashes and lots of late night prep, we launched the NEW iloveswmag.com! The evolution of the Southern Weddings blog is pretty remarkable. I love love love our new site and am so proud of Emily and Katharine for working so hard on it. It makes me so happy!
December 16th, I met Gina and Em in Pensacola where we picked up Marissa and our new bff Natalie Norton for a weekend in Watercolor, Florida, with great friends.
It was an amazing time of deepening our friendships, celebrating 2010 and preparing for the new year.
It’s Christmas Eve and I am so grateful for where this year has taken us as a company and as people. Photo below of my whole team on Santa’s lap: Whitney, me, Sierra, Santa, Nicole, Emily and Katharine. Ho ho ho y’all! Want to know what we’re up to for Christmas? Read all the details here.
This is my Christmas suit. OK, it’s really a box of fabric with arm and foot holes. It also has my name on it (thanks, Dad, for this rad gift!). I wear it every Christmas Day and, since we’ll be in the airport tomorrow, I am tempted to wear it through airport secturity. My husband may disown me when he sees me in Atlanta. What do you think? To Christmas suit or not to Christmas suit?
The best parts of my 2010 were not captured in photographs and, as much as I packed into this post, this is just the half of it. There were so many remarkable little moments with Ari, big prayers, leaps of faith, tears and laughter… this year was so full. Emily Ley gave me the best gift this year from Paloma’s Nest that sums up our friendship and adventures perfectly:
The biggest highlight of 2010 is the very reason I even got to do all of this above in the first place: marriage. Marriage rocks. I’ll be celebrating my five year wedding anniversary in March, and I’ve never been more in love. Forget what you hear in the news – it is possible to grow in marriage and love each other more than when you first met. I’m living it. It was not at all easy to get here, but the work of marriage has been the best work I’ve ever done. 2010 Highlight = husband. [photo below :: Gina Zeidler]
In 2011, I’ll start the year traveling for a week on the MTH Tour and will be at WPPI in February, Engage! in June and some small things here and there. I have purposely made no travel plans otherwise. I’m ready to focus in and dedicate my life to my family, my team, my church and my friends. I have no idea what God has in store for me this year, but I secretly hope I lose my Delta Platinum status.
I will tell you that I plan to write a small book and teach Sunday school. I want to sing more and get in the best shape of my life by our five year wedding anniversary on March 18th. I want to make our brand solid and to really make our company growth take wing. I’m ready to get down to business in my office instead of out of it. I’ve titled 2011 as my year to serve and give it all. I don’t expect this to be easy, but truly nothing great ever is. And Drumroll… God willing, Ari and I are going to try to have a baby at some point in the next couple years. This is very scary to even type, but exciting to think about Ari and I growing in our love for each other. (cue happy dance from Katharine!)
I turn 31 two days after Christmas. I can’t wait to be on the slopes with my family in Vail in 24 hours to celebrate a miraculous year and the miracle of Christmas that made all of this possible. 30 was the year I reconnected, shed my skin, learned to forgive, let go and felt a lot of fear and did it anyway. I’m open. I’m as ready as I can be. I want the same thing as last year, but now it has a whole new meaning: to listen more –in the largest sense of the word– and to take ultimate care of myself so I can be my absolute best for others. I wish to know Christ deeply this year and that His love would live in me and shine brightly. I wish for a year of connection and giving as much of myself as humanly possible. Inscribed in my wedding ring is a verse that I am adopting as my mantra: “I can do all things through Christ.” – Philippians 4:13 Thank you, friends, for taking this journey with me and for encouraging me through so many challenges. I am so grateful.
To kick-start the new year, I’m giving away 9 of my favorite business books…
What was your highlight of 2010? Leave a comment here and three random winners will split the biz book loot. Happy New Year y’all!