Loving Lately

A roundup of what I’ve been up to and what I’ve been loving lately: summertime edition!

We visited the sunflower fields out in southeast Raleigh off the Neuse River Trail when they were in magnificent peak bloom! It was a fun evening date night after work and such a refreshing change of pace from our normal. I love driving in the country, and pulling up to the fields of bright sunflowers was glorious! We took a little walk, cpatured some pictures, and enjoyed the sunshine, birds chirping, and countryside views. (I even ran into a few girls who read my blog – so fun!) It was such a wonderful date night exploring a part of Raleigh we’d never seen before, as well as catching these happy flowers at peak bloom!

I finally had a free Saturday the other weekend, and we met up with one of my best friends (and bridesmaids!) and her adorable family at Cloer Family Vineyards, which I have found to be one of the very best vineyards in the area. It’s down in Apex, and it’s one of the few vineyards in the area. We all know how much I LOVE vineyards and wine tastings, and I definitely appreciated the wines throughout Virginia and Charlottesville for many years. I’ve found the Triangle to be sadly lacking in wineries, especially ones who don’t serve just muscadine wine (no thank you). But we discovered Cloer Family Vineyards a few months ago, and it’s become a favorite! Their staff is so friendly and helpful, we really enjoy their wine tastings, they have some great wines, and the ambiance and outdoor space is top notch. We met up with our friends for a wine tasting and then took glasses of wine and our own picnic outside. It was a glorious (and very hot!) day doing many of the things I love most: quality time and conversation with my husband and our friends, adorable kiddos, great wine, and all the picnic food. Definitely check it out if you’re local!

One of our favorite places to visit in Raleigh is the North Carolina Museum of Art. I love strolling through the extensive art museum, and during the summertime, we love going to outdoor movies here for only $6. Two weeks ago, we saw the newest Star Wars movie, and this weekend, we’re going to see La La Land – hooray! It’s one of the best summer activities; we bring plenty of blankets, bring desserts and homemade popcorn, and corral all of our friends to join us. Highly recommend!

We have a new favorite summer cocktail: the peach bourbon smash! We discovered it at Seasons 52 (more on that exciting experience soon!), were able to talk to the head chef and lead bartender, and learned how to make our own at home. I wouldn’t say either of us are huge bourbon drinkers, but we do have a Bulleit Bourbon on our bar cart, and we’ve put it to good use this summer. Simply shake peach nectar with bourbon and then top with a peach slice and mint. It’s unbelievably good and refreshing – and not too sweet!

I took home two mint julep cups of flowers + my white vase of hydrangeas from the wedding I did this past weekend, and these happy flowers sure are brightening our home this week! I put some of the flowers on my desk, where I spend a vast majority of my work day. They perk me up every time I look at them! And the hydrangeas have also lasted quite some time and are gracing our dining room table. There’s not much better than fresh flowers; that’s for sure.

We’ve had a couple fun pool afternoons lately! I’ve got some pretty fabulous friends with seriously adorable babies. I love, love, love that we have a pool, and we try to take advantage of it often. Sometimes we’ll grill dinner at the pool, sometimes we’ll have friends over for sangria and dessert, and sometimes a good dip is all we need. With this extreme heat we’ve had lately, pool time is a must and feels so refreshing!

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We finally found another couple to play mixed doubles with! Despite the summertime heat, we are loving our bi-weekly tennis date with some friends. I’ve played tennis my whole life (started when I was 5), and it’s been so, so fun getting back into the habit of playing regularly, as we tend to do every summer. I can’t believe I get to be married to a guy who plays even better than I do, which is a great thing! Rob and I are also headed to the US Open in NYC in just over a month with my sister and brother-in-law… we’re so, so excited!

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We cook more than I ever have (that’s for sure!), but we’ve had some fun dinner dates downtown this summer. Whiskey Kitchen has such a great atmosphere, fun al fresco dining, and a great drink menu. We’re thinking we may head here after church this Sunday, too! I’ve been working on a roundup of lots of our favorite local spots, and you can be sure Whiskey Kitchen graces the list. More on that soon!

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We hosted a fairly impromptu dinner party two weekends ago with two other couples, and it was one of those perfect evenings with friends. We were supposed to do to jazz in the park and pack a picnic dinner, but a storm came through and we decided to have everyone over instead. One of our friends picked up steaks, the guys went out to grill, the girls drank wine and chatted, and then we sat down to a solid four hour long dinner. It was a night with effortless, interesting conversation, getting to know one another better (the two couples had never met before!), and really just one of those evenings that you look back upon and smile. We are so grateful to share life with such amazing people, and we love having friends over for lingering dinners!

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My friend Emily and I started our Articles Club almost two years ago (crazy!), and you can read all about how to host articles club + what articles we’ve read over the years on Em’s blog. I love, love, love this monthly get together, and the group of ladies is fantastic. It’s been a very consistent group for the duration of the two years, and it’s been such a treat seeing everyone each month, catching up on life, and discussing the articles we’ve chosen. This week, Emily hosted us in her backyard, and we had a classic summer cookout: burgers and hot dogs, all the Southern cookout sides, homemade cookies, peach cobbler, and lemonade. We talk for a couple hours about life and about the articles, and it’s such a refreshing, enlightening, and fun evening!

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More cute newborns! Can you tell that almost all of my friends have babies?! Good thing they’re all absolutely adorable and I love being around babies and toddlers! One of my very best friends (and bridesmaids!) came to town with her month-old daughter, so we were all able to get together and visit. I was able to travel to visit this family right after they had their baby girl, but it was so sweet to see them again just a couple weeks later. These girls are some of my best friends from college, and it’s hard to believe we’ve known each other for 12+ years now. They are the absolute greatest, and it’s such a joy to do life with each other. No matter what stage of life we’re in, they’re the biggest enouragement, role models, cheerleaders, and friends!

That was quick roundup of some snippets of life over the last couple weeks! I’ve been trying to soak up summertime and enjoy this season in between lots of weddings and work. August is a month free of weddings, which is a welcome little respite! I’m excited to continue savoring the season, making memories with my husband and our friends, and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

How has your summer been going, and have you had any fun adventures lately? Do you have any travels coming up soon? I’d love to hear what your favorite parts of summertime are!

Sneak Peek | Anna and Jeff’s Chapel Hill Wedding

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I’m so, so excited to be sharing a few sneak peeks from Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock’s wedding this past Saturday! I can’t say enough amazing things about these two lovebirds, their incredibly kind families and friends, and how beautiful, meaningful, and fun their wedding day was. I’ve been planning Anna and Jeff’s wedding for quite some time (Anna actually hired me before I ever even met Rob – that’s how long we’ve been planning!), and it’s truly been a dream bringing their wedding to life. Anna texted me the morning after their wedding with the kindest, most thoughtful words (I cried, as usual!), ending her text saying how she and Jeff were so grateful to have become friends with me. And ditto!! I’m so blessed to know and love my brides and grooms, and they truly become friends. It’s an honor to bring this monumental day to life, to witness the happiest moments, to see the nerves and excitement, and to ensure every last detail runs as smoothly and flawlessly as possible!

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Their head tables (for 40!) were one of my favorite elements of the day: camellia + magnolia leaf greenery runners, boxwood topiaries, and bud vases of garden roses set the scene for their classic black + white striped table numbers, calligraphed place cards, and menu cards. The escort cards were calligraphy on magnolia leaves, which was the most stunning touch! I love how we were able to tie in so many elements of who Jeff and Anna are and what they love into every little detail… it makes their wedding wholly “them!”

I’m pretty darn proud of this bouquet I had the complete honor of making for Anna! Magnolia leaves, garden roses, ranunculus, and a touch of greenery rounded out her bouquet (it smells so good!). It’s been a blast turning our home into a short-term floral shop + getting to bringing all of the florals to life for Anna + Jeff’s big day! Being a florist (in addition to wedding planning and styling on the day of the wedding!) is a lot of hard work, but when you’re surrounded by so much beauty, you know you’re in for a treat. All of the flowers were classic white (garden roses, ranunculus, roses, and hydrangea) with touches of greenery (boxwood, magnolia leaves, Italian ruscus, and garlands of camellia and magnolia leaf). And I’m a huge fan of the black and white stripes we incorporated throughout the day, from the ribbons on the bridesmaid bouquets and bouts to the table numbers to the large ribbons tied around the cocktail tables.

Classy, elegant, Southern perfection. These bridesmaids are the most kind-hearted, fun ladies ever, and they’re so beautiful complementing Anna so exquisitely! It was such a joy to talk with these sweet friends of Anna’s, and they took care of her so well throughout the day. I had a large wedding party, too, and I know just how fun it is to be surrounded by so many of your best friends as you get married! Their mix and match long black gowns were so gorgeous and elegant.

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This wedding was filled with excited friends, lots of laughter, classic elegance, Southern charm, the most memorable wedding ceremony (I’ll share more on that someday!), a bluegrass string band during cocktail hour, really meaningful details, surprise appearances by UNC + UGA’s mascot, a really fun band and packed dance floor, and a million happy and love-filled memories!

What a wedding!! Wishing you a lifetime of love, laughter, and joy, Anna and Jeff! Love you guys!!

I can’t wait to share a million more stunning photos from Blue Barn Photography in the near future, and I’ll definitely be sharing more stories and details with those images!

And it was such an honor and joy working alongside these incredibly talented vendors to bring this beautiful wedding to life – a million thanks to each of you!

Planning, design, styling Stephanie Shaul Events
Venue + catering Carolina Inn
Videographer Dogwood Media
Florist Stephanie Shaul Events
Band 10 Spot Band
Bluegrass band Counterclockwise String Band
Rentals CE Rental
Hair + makeup Teighla Norris
Cake Simply Cakes
Invitations, signage, calligraphy Haylily
Bridal gown La Belle Mariee Bridal

all photos iPhone photos