Happy Tuesday everyone! I’m really very excited to share today’s post with y’all! In today’s post and this month’s interview, I’m sitting pretty with Emily Thomas of Southern Weddings Magazine. Southern Weddings is one of my go-to reads, both in print and online. I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret… I bought the Southern Weddings Collection the day after I got engaged to Edwin, ha! Emily’s ‘Sitting Pretty With’ interview is one of my favorites to date because she talks so passionately about two things I love: the South and weddings. She also speaks candidly about the joys of marriage and what really makes a wedding special. I honestly felt 100 times more excited about planning my wedding after reading her responses because she reassured me that, in the world of Pinterest, you can still plan a special and unique wedding. Reading about Emily’s job at Southern Weddings will no doubt give you job envy but I’m truly blown away by what an amazing job she does of balancing her job and motherhood. In case y’all couldn’t tell, I loved this interview and I think Emily is just about as sweet as can be! Enjoy!
Sitting Pretty With Emily Thomas of Southern Weddings
Name: Emily Thomas
Let’s talk business…
How did you land your job as Creative Director at Southern Weddings?
I was the right person in the right place at the right time, but I believe that was only the case because I worked for years to be that person when the time was right! You can read the whole story here [http://laracasey.com/2009/12/26/emily-ayer-the-comment-that-started-it-all/] – it involves my college internship at The Knot, a blog comment, a handwritten thank you note, some screen printed journals, and many phone calls!
Why is working for a publication dedicated to weddings important to you?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved weddings. Through my job, I’m able to share all that I’ve learned – all the tips, tricks, and advice that make wedding planning easier, less expensive, and more meaningful – so that our readers can have joyful weddings and really start their marriages off on the right foot. My wedding day was the best day of my life because it was the beginning of my best adventure, and I want to help as many people as possible say the same thing!
Describe your job in 3 sentences or less.
I create and curate the content for the Southern Weddings daily blog, our annual heirloom print publication, and our social following of over 800k. I review all wedding submissions, I write, and I spearhead our editorials from idea generation through to the shoot day.
What is a typical day in the life of Emily?
I wake up at 7:15 and hustle to get ready before my baby girl wakes up at 7:30. Once she’s up, I feed her, then finish getting ready while my husband changes her and gets her dressed. After breakfast and playtime, I drop her off at school at 8:45, then am back at my house to open my computer and start my day at 9. (I work from home three days a week and am in the office two days!) Throughout the day, I review submissions; send lots of emails; prep blog posts; collaborate on marketing projects; and write for our social accounts, for upcoming blog features, and (right now, since we are close to sending the issue to print) for magazine features. Some days I’m traveling for a shoot or to speak at a workshop, and some days I’m working on a longer form project, like the Southern Weddings Planner [http://www.southernweddingshop.com/collections/the-southern-weddings-planner], but those days are more rare!
At 4pm I shut down my computer and drive the five minutes to my girl’s school to pick her up – hooray! My next few hours are focused exclusively on her, and my husband once he gets home around 5:30 – playing on the floor, going for walks, hanging out on the porch, etc. June is in bed at 7:30, and then my husband and I will make and eat dinner. From 8:30 to 10:30, I work on blog posts for Em for Marvelous, work on orders from my Etsy shop [https://www.etsy.com/shop/peachandpearl], catch up on personal email, read, work on a project, do a household task, or watch TV, almost always alongside my husband. At 10:30 I try to shut things down so I can get ready for bed and feed my girl one last time (dream feed!) before turning off the lights at 11 or 11:15.
What keeps you inspired at work day-in and day-out?
We view weddings as so much more than just pretty dresses and delicious cake (though trust me, I LOVE those things!!). Hearing from a reader that we’ve inspired her to focus on her upcoming marriage as much as her wedding, or that we’ve made her wedding planning less stressful, is huge encouragement to keep going. Also, I love that the South, with its beautiful vistas, storied history, amazing food, and rich traditions, is an endless well of inspiration!
Working as a Creative Director sounds so intriguing! What exactly are you creating for Southern Weddings?
My biggest project every year is the editorials [http://southernweddings.com/editorial/] for our magazine. I also create the content schedule for our online platforms, as well as products for the Southern Weddings Shop [http://www.southernweddingshop.com/], like our marriage certificate [http://www.southernweddingshop.com/products/marriage-certificate-gold] and our Wedding Day journal [http://www.southernweddingshop.com/products/the-wedding-day-journal].
Let’s Talk Weddings…
What advice would you give to newly engaged brides-to-be?
I say this with not a hint of guilt or sheepishness: buy the Southern Weddings Planner [http://www.southernweddingshop.com/collections/the-southern-weddings-planner]!! We wrote every word as if it was for our sisters and our best friends, and it is the absolute best advice you will find anywhere – and trust me, I’ve looked at every planner on the market.
Aside from that, one of the best decisions I made when I was wedding planning was to prioritize time and talent in my photography package over products. We hired the best photographer we could for the most number of hours, knowing that we could always buy an album a few years later from a different pocket of money.
Describe your dream wedding in 3 sentences or less.
Mine!! A first look on the Connecticut shore, a wedding in the Coast Guard Academy Chapel with our beloved pastor, and a black tie reception under a Sperry tent on a lawn that sloped to the sea to the tunes of a swing band.
In your opinion, what makes weddings in the South so special?
This might sound like an obvious answer, but their Southern-ness! There are so many rich and unique details that are only found at weddings in the South, from groom’s cakes to hummingbird cake, burying the bourbon to second lines, gardenias to magnolias. As someone born in New England, it’s all still incredibly interesting and intoxicating to me!
What are your favorite wedding trends that you’re seeing right now?
I will always love a classic wedding, so I love that so many couples are opting for black tie affairs these days.
In the world of Pinterest, do you have any suggestions for how brides can personalize their big day?
Yes! If you look to your own story to inspire your details, it won’t matter what’s on Pinterest or how many other brides have done something similar. Let your favorite sip from your dating days inspire your signature drink, your tailgating tradition inspire the food at your cocktail hour, or the bloom your Mamaw grew inspire your bouquet. No matter how popular any of your ideas get, you’ll still be glad you chose them, because they’ll be meaningful to you!
What is your favorite part of being married?
My favorite thing about being married is being known so intimately. There is no one else on this earth who knows me as well as John, and in fact, there are pieces of me that he has seen that no one else has ever seen. What a beautiful and precious trust that is! I am never afraid to be my whole self with him–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and in turn, I learn more every day about who my true self really is, and how to make that true self better.
Let’s talk Fashion…
Describe your style in three adjectives.
Classic with a twist 🙂
What are your wardrobe staples?
If I peaked into your closet, what color would be the most prominent?
What fashion piece would you splurge on tomorrow if you could?
Brown leather riding boots. I also have long wanted a pair of Hunter wellies!
Let’s talk Beauty…
What are your beauty must-haves?
What color nail polish are you currently wearing?
Essie Really Red on my toes – nothing on my fingernails!
Let’s talk Décor…
Describe your decorating style in three adjectives.
Colorful, clean, and cozy.
If your mother taught you one trick about interior decorating, what would it be?
My mom will freely admit that I teach her more about interior decorating than she’s taught me (ha!), but one thing I’ve carried with me from my childhood is to value real life over aesthetics. Would a white couch photograph better than our tan one? Yes. Would it require way more cleaning and make me nervous whenever anyone sat on it? Yes. A home that is welcoming and comfortable is way more important than one that just looks good – although of course, I aim for both!
What is your favorite piece of art or furniture you own?
My dining room table was my college graduation present, and I don’t think I’ll ever part with it. It’s whitewashed solid mahogany, can expand to seat ten people, and seven years later, I still think it’s SO beautiful.
Do you have any must-have coffee table books?
Magazines replace books on my coffee table! Favorites include Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Garden & Gun, and Our State.
Let’s talk Travel…
Beach or Mountains?
Hardest question!!! Both 🙂
East Coast or West Coast?
East Coast born and bred, though I absolutely loved our road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway two years ago!
What is your favorite destination?
Are you planning any upcoming trips?
Yes! Next year our big trip is to the Southwest – the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and more. I’ve never been and am very excited!
Who is your favorite travel buddy?
My husband! He is an AMAZING trip planner and never leads me astray. I never get tired of spending time with him, especially when we’re exploring new places!
Go-to cocktail when you’re traveling?
Pimms Cup or a bellini
What is your top bucket list destination?
The next international destination I have my sights on is the United Kingdom – hopefully in 2018!
What is your favorite place to visit in the South?
Road trips throughout the South are my absolute favorite! There are so many good destinations, but I’d have to say Charleston is tops, with Beaufort, SC, and Asheville close behind. Greenville, SC, is in fourth 🙂
Let’s talk the Triangle…
What does living in the South mean to you?
It’s exciting! Having so much progress and change mixed with so much rich tradition is really unique, I think.
What’s your favorite part of living in the Triangle?
I love that between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, I have three amazing cities at my fingertips. They each have their own character, and the food scene cannot be beat – in fact, Durham was named Southern Living’s best foodie town a few years ago! I also love that the Triangle is the perfect launching pad for weekend road trips – we’re within a few hours of countless amazing destinations.
Fill in the blank: On the weekend, you’ll find me…
Hunting treasures at the flea market, trying a new restaurant, walking in my neighborhood, playing with my baby girl, going to church, and hanging with my husband.
Best date night restaurant?
Best brunch restaurant?
Guglhupf in Durham
Best southern food restaurant?
I know BLTs are beloved around the world, but the South is particularly fond of them, and Merritt’s in Chapel Hill makes the best version I’ve ever tasted. An absolute can’t-miss.
Best boutique(s) or shop/shopping?
Furbish in Raleigh
Hiking at Eno River State Park, summer bluegrass concerts at the American Tobacco Campus, and the State Fair in October
***If you loved this interview (as much as I did!) then read more of my ‘Sitting Pretty With’ interviews here.