Well, the title of this post is something I never thought I would type. First, y’all know my story with the SouthernWeddings.com domain. Today we launched our new brand and site on that very web address! We are happy as pups with two tails!
There is more exciting news, though — the second part of that title above. Pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea (or hot tea, depending on where you are right now!) and let me tell you a fun story…
Back in early May, I got an email from a gentleman at Time, Inc. I didn’t know who he was at first as I skimmed the email. I thought it was a Time press release or just normal correspondence. But, as I read, my heart started to pound. The email was from someone at Southern Living (owned by Time, Inc.). I think at this point, I squealed and started reading the email out loud to the whole office. Then I got to this sentence…
We would like to meet you.
I just sat there speechless, not knowing why or what or any details. I didn’t know if this was a good thing or a really bad thing, whether this was an initial step in squashing us or not. And then I thought, “Wait, maybe they don’t know we aren’t based in New York.”
I wrote him back to clarify.
He said he and the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher would be flying to meet me in three weeks. They knew. Whoa.
Enter mild to medium panic mixed with massive excitement from the entire SW team. We still had no idea why they wanted to meet us, we just knew they wanted to meet us. And they were flying here. To Chapel Hill. I just couldn’t get this fact to fully sink in. And then there was the golden question…
What in the world were we going to serve them to eat?!
You see, my mom and grandma and pretty much every woman close to the SW family has read Southern Living since they were tots. Each recipe and garden how-to has been knit into the fabric of who we are today. No matter the outcome of this mysterious meeting, simply having these gentlemen over for breakfast was a life event. Something to clean your windowsills for (which I did).
Not fully up to snuff with my biscuit-making skills, we begged our dear friend Chef Bedford, of the Fearrington House, to come cook a Southern breakfast of breakfasts for us. He happily obliged and prepared a feast of pastries, fresh smoothies, Southern delicacies and the best Eggs Benedict we have ever had. More on the Eggs Benedict in a moment. With Chef Bedford before our guests arrived…
Ron, Greg and Lindsay, I hope this gives you a good laugh when you read this, but we practiced greeting y’all. Kristin knocked on the door and, like practicing a first date “hello” in a mirror, Emily and I rehearsed shaking hands and taking coats. This was Southern royalty stepping into my living room!
I have butterflies even typing this, remembering that day. We all coordinated outfits. I think I cleaned the house eight times. It was pouring rain when their red rental car pulled up. Lindsay had gotten stuck in Birmingham with the weather, but Ron King and Greg Schumann dashed to my front door and we may have opened it even before they could even knock!
Dressed in their finest business attire, our greetings went off as rehearsed! Phew! And then, the moment came. The “why” that we were all wondering about was revealed as Greg, in his wonderful, warm voice said, “We love what you are doing and we want to be a part of it.”
Now I’m crying at my desk.
Because, you see, I wasn’t expecting any of this. It was like a surprise proposal. With the most lovely words that followed. Lovely and sincere and just perfect. I started this magazine on my little 13 inch PC six years ago and to have my dad proud of me was more than enough. But, now, to have Southern Living loving us, too… well… I just don’t have words. After Greg’s glowing speech to us, I think I mumbled something like, “Wow, thank you. Would you like to sit down and have a smoothie?” It was all I could muster.
The meeting that followed is forever etched in our hearts. Ron and Greg mirrored back to us all we have worked so hard for: our mission to inspire couples to create a meaningful beginning to married life, our heart we have for the magical place we call home and our passion for creating timeless content that helps brides celebrate what matters most to them. They saw all of this. And they wanted to help us get more people to see it, too. Our mission comes to life in this brand new film we created with Twenty-One Films — enjoy!
Aside from a hilarious moment when Ron, trying to cut into the Eggs Benedict on his lap, spilled yellow egg yolk all over his pants, the meeting was wonderful. We still joke with Ron about the egg incident today and have promised him never to serve it again at future meetings.
Speaking of future meetings, remember that time Emily Thomas and I flew to Birmingham and didn’t tell y’all why? Here I am below at the entrance to the Southern Progress Corporation building, home to Southern Living, Coastal Living and several others.
The building itself is a marvel and a Southern gem. We were greeted by Ron and the amazing “Mrs. Nellah.” Nellah is like the SL mama, right-hand-gal to Lindsay and wearer of many hats. She had the first copy of Southern Living in her hands to show us and proceeded to give us the grand tour.
Friends, Emily and I were like two kids in a photo-studio-magazine-paradise-filled candy shop! We visited the famed SL Test Kitchens (where they were prepping the Thanksgiving issue), the prop room (oh my!), and video studio where they were filming a segment for the holidays. It was just incredible. Warm greetings met us everywhere and we truly felt like we were at home. The warmth was just like our office, only on a much bigger scale.
We met Lindsay for the first time in a classic boardroom, like you see in movies when people have really big important meetings. Only, this room was a little different, as there were individual picnic trays with beautiful sandwiches and flowers waiting for us when we arrived. We picnicked in the board room as we talked with their editorial team about how we work, our vision and our heart for this work. They shared the same. We felt like kindred spirits.
Dinner that evening at Bottega with Lindsay, Ron and Greg was magical. Admittedly, I still felt nervous, dining with gents who know great food and business. I still felt like the teenager tagging along with her parents on a fancy dinner. But, they were so gracious and insisted we indulge in dessert, too — Chilton County peach ice cream.
After a lovely “getting-to-know-you” day, the following day was set as our “business” day. It was time to talk about what this potential partnership — or whatever it was — would look like. I’m not sure how to explain this day, except to say it was something I’ve never experienced. There were lots of logistics and terms I’d never heard and phone calls and so many people we met with. It was all business. No concrete plans were made, so we decided to go home to talk all of the options over with everyone and meet virtually again soon.
After more prayer than anything I’ve ever prayed about in business and many more emails and advice given and phone calls and meetings, I’m so grateful to let you know what all of this produced. It’s actually quite simple and feels just like a comfy sweater.
We are simply sharing content. We have no formal ties to SL and nothing is changing on our end except sharing what we already do with more people : ) We are still just six ladies here in my house (see our recent office tour here!), making a magazine and running a small shop and shipping orders from my garage. For all of this, I am so grateful.
The details on SL + SW:
Today, we posted our first blog post on the Daily South. Going forward, you’ll see us post there a few times a month. Have y’all read the Grumpy Gardener’s column on the Daily South? He is hilarious, and has helped me so much with my garden!
We have a special weddings page on the SL site here with lots of goodies.
We also have a joint Pinterest board where you can find even more great Southern wedding content.
Now, the most exciting part of this partnership: three times in 2014, we are providing 18 pages of Southern Weddings content for a special weddings section in Southern Living – so exciting! We’ve already sent our first one to print. We couldn’t say anything at the time, but we were designing TWO magazines at once this season. This was me trying to learn the SL style guide and do layout for our section in October…
You won’t be able to find the insert on newsstands, but it will go out with their January issue to about 400,000 subscribers who have been earmarked as being in the marrying (or mother of the bride!) stage of life. If you aren’t a subscriber, there will still be a way to view it digitally. Details coming soon!
And that’s it! : ) We haven’t been bought by them, and have no plans to do that. We are still producing our own gorgeous magazine once a year. We aren’t changing a thing. We just have new friends who believe in us, and want to help us spread the word about the beautiful, meaningful celebrations that are happening here in our neck of the woods. For us, that is the most exciting part of all of this — we consider it a huge opportunity (and honor!) to spread our heart for strong marriages and meaningful weddings farther and faster. THAT is something to celebrate!
So you can get a glimpse of why I am so grateful for the SL family, here are the words from Lindsay himself on what he loves most about weddings:
“I’m a hopeless romantic—I get choked up over the sacred exchange of vows every time.”
Oh my soul, I am so grateful for your heart, Lindsay Bierman. To the entire SL family, we’re so grateful to have you as a part of ours now : )
Friends, we invite you to celebrate with us today. We’re giving away a gold foil “South” print in our first post on the Daily South and would love for you to help us spread the word about all of this great news! HOORAY!!!