Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Singles' Guide to Surviving Christmas + New Year

I am so sorry that I've been quiet on all accounts lately. My computer was on overload, and the great people at the Genius Bar helped me to fix it. But then when it was time for me to do my part....I crashed it. It actually says the word 'PANIC' a few times on the start-up screen. So there's that. Genius Bar appointments are hard to come by this time of year, so hopefully after 6:30p tonight, I'll know the outcome for Maxine. 


Thanksgiving passed with only one family member asking about my dating life (thanks Uncle G), and mainly because I was teasing his kids about theirs. But now we're into Christmas parties + New Year's Eve plans, right? It's that time of year when you realize, even more so than on Feb 14th, how single you really are. So what's our response? 

It all goes back to attitude + outlook. 

I remember one year I really didn't want to go home to Christmas Carol because everyone was bringing their boyfriend/fiance. I had never missed Christmas Caroling (this year will be 24th year + I am so sad to have missed it this year!) before + Mom thought I was being a bit dramatic, which I probably was, but I didn't care at the time. I decided to go home to carol + guess what. Not one boyfriend/fiance was able to come that year. What? That was the Lord being super gracious to my lonely heart because He knows me so well! Sorry to all my friends whose loved one couldn't make it that year..oops! 

Here's just a few steps to enjoy the holidays as a single gal..or guy

1. Spend time in prayer, opening your heart + desires to the Lord. He knows you better than anyone + wants to know what's on your heart this season. 
2. Recognize the events that might make you feel sad or lonely + get a mani/pedi before!

3. Start a new tradition with just the girls - cookie swap, pajama / movie party, look at Christmas lights, shop for a needy family (the list could go on). 

4. Embrace the fact that you don't have to add in one more office party, one more family gathering into your holiday plans. :-)

I hope these help! It will always be a tricky time of year for us singles, and don't get me started on Valentine's Day! (jk, that's my birthday - so that's my excuse to celebrate!)

Any special Christmas traditions? Share below!
Have you taken the #SGGReaderSurvey? I'd sure appreciate the feedback :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ways to Give Back This Season

Last week I wrote about  being Thankful while our world is going through so much. Today I'm sharing a few different organizations that you can donate to and can give you some ideas for other types of ways to get involved.

1. Operation Christmas Child 
This is a pretty traditional Christmas opportunity, but it is so much fun to do! I love imagining the faces of the little kids when they get all the boxes. How fun would it be to actually go and deliver them?! Maybe that should be a 2016 Goal? You can also volunteer at one of the centers to make sure all the boxes are packed properly. Check out their whole website for videos and stories.

2. Sole Hope
I hear about this one through a podcast recently (although I think it was recorded earlier this year).  This is a company (and family) based in Uganda that helps put shoes on the feet of the community. They also help rid the people of these little annoying bugs called jiggers. The community didn't realize how easy it was to rid their feet of these bugs, but now they do! Here's how you can get involved - have a shoe cutting party! They will send you patterns, and you and your family or group of girlfriends can help cut fabric for the shoes these people will wear. You can even do it while watching your favorite TV shows, or Hallmark Christmas movie marathons :-)

3. City of Refuge (Atlanta)
This is a really cool place in Atlanta that offers so many different services to those in need. Click here to see all the programs they offer at their facilities. I've volunteered with them before and they can always use the help, so if you can't donate money, donate your time. If you're not in Atlanta, look for places similar in your area where you can donate your time.

4. The A21 Campaign
This one is a bit more on the somber side. The A21 Campaign is led by Christine Caine and their purpose is to rescue women from sex trafficking. They are also currently on the front lines of the Refugee Crisis and are offering hope to those who are forced to flee their homeland. There are several ways you can get involved with this organization. I might even start one of their fundraiser campaigns for SGG readers. Would you want to be a part of it? (email > alliedanae@southerngritsandgraces.com)

Here are some other simple things you can do to bring cheer this Christmas.
1. Get a group together and go Christmas Caroling around your city, or to a children's or nursing home.
2. Buy Starbucks (or any drive-through) for the people behind you.
3. Pass out candy-canes to the people in the drive through or those working the registers at your favorite grocery/department stores (My mom does this and they love it!) Customers can get a bit rude this time of year, so its fun to make them smile.
4. Babysit for couples you know to give them time to Christmas shop without the kids.

I hope you'll consider one of these organizations this Christmas, or some that are closer to your heart and home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grace Tip #6: Being Thankful

Is anyone else amazed at how fast this year has gone? Maybe it was that last year had so many changes + times of waiting that it seemed slower. But I just can't believe its almost 2016.  Next week, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions + recipes! But this week I want to talk about Thankfulness + what's going on in our world. My community group leader reminded us last night that many times we struggle answering "what are you thankful for this year?" because we don't often think about what we are actually thankful for. Being thankful has become a chore and not a natural habit. 

We are in the middle of the thanksgiving season, heading hard + fast towards Christmas, a season often overshadowed by "gimme, gimme, gimme." So how do we handle these two seasons together? How do we sit in our warm homes + make lots of yummy food, making Christmas lists, while there is so much heartache going on in the world? I don't know the best answer, but I'll be posting a blog full of companies and organizations that center on helping those less fortunate. 

I'm not sitting here telling you not to have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal or to not create a Christmas wish list, but to just encourage you to be more aware this season of the goodness you already have + appreciate the time you have with friends + family. 

There are so many ways to give back during this time of the year + I'm excited to share those with you next week! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Glamping Baby Shower

I first need to apologize for the formatting - I'm typing this on my iPad due to horrible wifi. So right now this will be a lot of photos!! 

I can't believe my nephew is almost one! Where has time gone? Originally we thought he was going to be a girl & my ideas for a shower ran wild. But then we found out he was actually a he so I had to change plans....a little. My sister is super outdoorsy and active + I love the idea of glamping which gave me this idea! For food my momma suggested fondue since it has the feel of "roasting" without needing a fire - my mom has the best ideas!! She also helped make my doodles a reality as far as decorations & then dad did all the manual labor #familyteamwork 



Mom bought these great burlap table cloths! 

Thanks Dad for setting this up!

I absolutely loved how this turned out!! Several cousins came to help + I couldn't have done it without them - thanks Courtney, Mel, + Palmer!!

This Saturday my sister is throwing Lyle a camping party + it's going to be so cute! Haha no more glamping for us! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Being Southern + Being Single

Let me start out saying I don't have this all figured out. But here's what I do know: being single is a huge part of my life +  although  we all handle / deal / struggle with it in our own ways, I think we can help each other out.  If my struggles + victories can help you in any way, then I want to share them with you here. This may get a little long, but stick with me :)

You + I may be in completely different stages of life, and that's okay. Its a little creepy, but I know the demographics of those who read my blog + know that most of you are between the ages of 20-35. This means that you are either getting married, have lots of friends getting married, or both. I'm in the middle category. In 2015 alone, I will have gone to 8 weddings as a single person. EIGHT. That's not including the two I helped work nor the two I will have missed. I'm going to do a post just on how to deal with being single at weddings...so stay tuned!

Being single at 25 in today's society is portrayed as normal. And it is.  Think about TV shows like FRIENDS, How I Met Your Mother + The Big Bang Theory. Most of the cast are in their late 20s, right? I do enjoy my life as it is right now. I get to do whatever I want, when I want to. I don't really have to plan around anyone else's schedule {what if he also received 10 wedding invitations this year too?!}. If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see a lot of fashion photos, but you'll also see tons of photos of me going + doing things I love with people I love.

What you won't see on Instagram are the nights when I cry a little before bed or the conversations with other single friends about our frustrations. And why not? It probably has a lot to do with wanting to put a my best 'filter' forward. Southern women are known for our strong-will + determination. Scarlett O'Hara was as feminine as they come, but when needed, her Southern Grit came out + she got things done. We know how to host the best dinner party, while masking what is really going on inside.

I'll be honest. There are times that it hurts a little when people ask me if I am seeing anyone + I have to reply with no. The whole "oh don't wish away your singleness, because you have so much freedom that you'll never have again" thing can also irk me to no end. They don't mean to hurt my feelings, but it just happens.

So what's a southern single girl to do? What is the right response to being single?

I don't know what the right response for you is, but here's what I'm learning:
1. It's okay to cry.
You know when a little baby cries because she skinned her knee, and her momma/daddy just holds her + says "just cry it out, its okay, just cry it out." Well, that's how I feel like God handles me sometimes. The parents' know that skinned knee won't hurt for too much longer, but the kid doesn't know that. God knows what He has in store for me, but right now, when I need to cry it out, He's there holding me + listening to me. This is also what my momma still tells me when I'm upset. Thanks Momma! King David had a moment too, when he cried out with tears.

Psalm 56:8 (NIV) "Record my lament, list my tears on your scroll, are they not in your record?"

2. Sometimes its about an attitude adjustment.
After I have myself a nice little cry, I MUST remember that He is in control. He knows what breaks my heart + what makes me the happiest. Psalm 139 tells us just how well He knows us individually. When people make comments or ask me if I'm dating, it is my response to them that concerns Him. I can either go on the defensive, which makes me feel even worse about myself, OR I can truly be grateful for this part of my story.

Ladies, it's not always easy. Okay, a lot of the time it isn't easy. Being vulnerable with those around you + letting them know what you are struggling with, is a great place to start. That can be hard for us Southern ladies to do, but sharing from a perspective of asking for support instead of venting out your frustrations, will allow your friendships to be sweeter + more genuine.

So many things are expected of women in any culture, not just the South, but let's all try to overcome those + be who He created us to be.

Go have a good cry, but when you're finished, remember that this is YOUR story + no one else's. He's put this part in your story to draw you closer to Him - just enjoy the dance :-)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Matt & Abbey - The Wedding Day

I apologize for posting this a week late - accidentally took a hiatus last week. 

Sharing their story over the past few weeks has been so sweet. I wanted to share their story because of what Abbey posted on Facebook a while back + you'll get to read it at the end. Abbey, along with friends + family, DIY'd her wedding. Just by looking at the photos, I think you'll agree, it was simply gorgeous! 

1} The Wedding Date

We got married on January 3, 2015 in Cartersville, Georgia, my home town!

2} The Venues

Our ceremony was at Tabernacle Baptist Church, and the reception was at the Clarence Brown Conference Center.

3} Did you have any morning jitters?

I didn't have any real morning jitters; I was more or less just nervous about everything going as planned! When you do so much of a wedding DIY, it can be a little nervewracking to be the bride and be unable to help make things run smoothly! Fortunately, one of my greatest friends, Codie Haddon, helped to plan and coordinate our wedding, and he did an incredible, incredible job. Everything happened so smoothly, and I really don't remember any major hiccups!

{Codie, Megan, Abbey, Matt + Patrick, the best of friends}

4} What was your favorite part about your wedding day?

I really loved our ceremony. We worked the hardest on preparing for the ceremony, and it came together so beautifully. I really couldn't have asked for anything more. We wanted all of the music in the ceremony to be both songs that are meaningful to us and songs that point to Christ. We used "He's Always Been Faithful", "I Love to Tell the Story", "Blessed be the Tie", "Echoes of Heaven/By Faith", "Revelation Song", "We Vow to One Another" and "Come Thou Fount". These were sung by some of our favorite people who have such gifts in music. One of the best moments was hearing the entire congregation (almost 600 people) singing "Revelation Song" together. It felt like a glimpse of what heaven will be like, when all of creation cries out "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come!" I especially loved that "I Love to Tell the Story" was sung by children's choir, most of whom were in a choir I taught at TBC and that "We Vow to One Another" was sung by an adult choir comprised of church and community friends who love music. It was incredibly beautiful and completed my vision of having a choir like at Maria von Trapp's wedding in The Sound of Music! We also worked really hard to select Scripture to be read that pointed to God's creation of the marriage covenant and His desire for marriage to be a display of the Gospel. To do so, we had several friends and mentors who read Ephesians 2:20-22, Ephesians 5:22-33, and Revelation 19:6-9. We also had selections from Psalm 112 and Proverbs 31 read to examine our individual roles as husband and wife. I was really grateful that three pastors who have played significant roles in our lives were able to be a part of the ceremony, as well - the worship pastor from my home church, the senior pastor from Matt's home church, and my host dad from my Junior Miss/DYW days in Mobile. It has been really special to have these three great men of God pouring into us throughout our relationship and especially on our wedding day. We closed the ceremony with the signing of a marriage covenant, which has our vows and covenant to one another beautifully calligraphed for us to hang in our home as a reminder of our covenant to God and to one another.

{how adorable are these children!}

Ephesians 2:20-22 "Built on the foundation of the apostles + prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together + rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit."

{LOVE all of the greenery and candles}

Ephesians 5:22-23 "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior."

Revelation 19:6-9 "The I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: 'Halledlujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fin linen, bright and clean, was given to her to wear.'  (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"' and he added, 'these are the true words of God'."

5} Someone gave you great honeymoon advice, do you mind sharing?

Choosing a location was a little difficult at first, but we had some good guidance that helped lead us to the PERFECT place. Matt really wanted to go to the beach (like the Caribbean), but first off, January is their peak season so it's very expensive, and second off, I don't exactly love bathing suits! A friend of mine had really encouraged me that it would be important that I feel very comfortable wherever we went on our honeymoon, as so many changes were taking place at once! She also mentioned that wherever we went, we might want to try to get back home by Friday, so that we'd have two days to get our home settled before returning to work on Monday. She was right on both accounts! After a good bit of research on some wedding websites and the Southern Living Hotel Collection, we settled on the Inn at Palmetto Bluff in South Carolina. It was absolute perfection! Palmetto Bluff is a small community with a few homes, cottages, restaurants, shops, beautiful waterfront, and trails. It was beautiful in every possible way and had the best food. Even though it was January, it was in the mid 50's and 60's every day, so it was great weather to go ride bikes, take walks, or go canoeing. We also really enjoyed taking advantage of the spa! I would highly recommend it!

Just like with Alex + Brooke, Matt + Abbey gave a wedding CD called "Hymns and Hers" {how adorable!} as a favor. We are working on getting that together for y'all!! Don't y'all just love these sweet brides?!

I mentioned earlier that Abbey has a precious story to tell about her wedding day...
The Story of the Letters

On July 28, 2005, I began writing a series of letters to "My Future Husband"; letters that would contain little bits of my heart over the course of almost 10 years. For a long time, the letters lived in an old hollowed out book, but I'd always wanted a box with a key. My mom mentioned to Matt during the first year we were dating that an old box with a key would be a really great gift for me. I'm sure he thought it was strange, but he and his mom went to work scouring antique stores and found the perfect box. He gave it to me that year on my birthday, and though I really could hardly contain my excitement, I kept it really cool so he wouldn't get any ideas! For the next 3 years, I spent time filling the box with more letters and anxiously awaited the day when I would finally give the box of letters and the key to my heart to the man I loved. On the morning of January 3, 2015, I sat down and prepared to write him "the last letter". Somehow, on that morning, I realized for the first time that the first letter I wrote was written exactly 6 years to the day before our very first date (July 28, 2011). Of course - the tears began to flow! It was such a beautiful reminder that the Lord is ever present; even in the little things. Giving Matt the box was such a special memory from our wedding day and is a gift I know he really treasures. Fairytales happen when God writes your love story!

I absolutely love this! I have a journal that I write in occasionally for my future husband. There's a huge chance that my husband will be someone I don't know yet, someone who didn't know me in high school or college, so my journal has some prayers for us, as well as little things from those years that he won't know. Seeing this picture of how much Matt appreciates this special gift from Abbey makes me excited to keep up my journal + gift it one day. 

Here are some other photos from Matt + Abbey's reception, because they just need to be shared! 

{I can't stop looking at this cake set-up}

{now, this is just adorable!}

{their invitations fit their wedding perfectly}

Photos by: Anchor & Eden (link contains full wedding album)
Invitations by: Codie Haddon

Friday, October 2, 2015

His Story, My Story, Our Story

For a while now, I've been debating writing a post on singleness + how I'm dealing with it. I had been leaning more towards not writing one because there are just so many out there, and doesn't it always seem that the ones writing it get into a relationship shortly after? What if that was me + you thought "well there goes that"? or what if that wasn't me, and I made it seem that singleness was super cool + blissful when I never felt that way? I didn't want to be seen as someone who portrays singleness as something easy, when in a reality, it is something I struggle with every. single. day. 

But then it just seemed that Lord kept putting things in my life that encouraged me to share with y'all.

The first time I started writing it, I was listening to a podcast on how to be authentic online while journaling about my personal struggles with being single. {I know, why do I keep telling love stories each month?? Because I love telling them!} I found myself about a week ago, asking my mom + sister for specific prayer on singleness. My sister reminded me that yes, wanting a relationship/husband is a good thing + that I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting it, nor should I “give the devil that opportunity to ruin this journey [I am] on with God.” Mom’s guidance was that I “have a choice as to how the desires controls [me].” How grateful I am for my Mom + big sister! They know how to speak truth into my life in the best way possible.

Then this week at community group we talked about being vulnerable IN our weaknesses, not after we’ve come out to the other side. Y’ALL. How true is that? We struggle on our own, only to present a perfect picture once we’ve overcome our struggle. How much better would it be if we shared throughout the journey instead of at the end? I told my group, that He's written this story of singleness at 25 just for me + maybe it is time to share my struggles a little more vocally, because you never know who it could help. 

The other "sign" He's been giving me has been through the First5App. I've been following along with the First5App for a while and are now going through Genesis.  Here are a few quotes regarding the Biblical accounts of life of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Esau + Jacob that really encouraged me to share with y'all. I could go on + on about how these messages have affected my life this week, and maybe that will be in the second post, but here's a quick reference.

They talked about how Sarah tried to solve something she saw as a problem in her own way, but it didn't go over so well + she immediately regretted the decision. 
{how often do I try to work situations to my benefit?}

Then God asked Abraham to sacrifice what he loved, growing his faith during hard times. 
{but what if it never happens...?}

This was the devotion the night after my Community Group. It really hit home because I had just told the girls that He's written this story just for me. 
{at this point, I knew I had to write the post. This is His Story for me, My Story, Our Story}

Today's devotion was on how Esau gave up the end goal for a quick fix.
{Ladies, we can't do this with our relationships}

My next post will be more on how I'm actually dealing with singleness, but I wanted y'all to see where I was coming from first. Ladies, its not easy + I struggle all the time. I mentioned authenticity + social media at the beginning; I've read blogs + watched webinars on how to have the perfect instagram. But what about a real instagram? I want to show what my life is really about. It may included a filtered photo of food, or a fun photo with my girls or my family, but I never want you to think my life is perfect or that everything is easy. So as I start + finish my singleness story I'll let you in on a little secret. 

I'm sitting at home alone on a Friday night, eating dinner with a glass of wine, while catching up on my tv shows... 

...wearing socks with my lime green slippers. 

Although not glamorous, it feels pretty good. 
Oh, one of my roommates is home!! YAY, people!!!!


If you are struggling in this area or with anything, please feel free to reach out to me! I'd love to chat with you - alliedanae@southerngritsandgraces.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Matt + Abbey - The Planning Process

Abbey took a year to plan her wedding which allowed her to make sure everything was just perfect for their wedding day. Today, she's sharing the hardest, easiest + best parts of planning! Missed how Matt + Abbey met or how he proposed? Catch up here

{what a gorgeous Fall shoot!}

1} Did you have your dream wedding already planned?

I have a two fold answer on this one. No, I'm not one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding her entire life. I didn't decide on a color scheme when I was four and keep making slight tweaks to it until engagement hit! However, since I knew after our first date that Matt and I would be getting married, I started taking advantage of Pinterest a few years ago to try to figure out what a wedding might look like. As time went along, I started being more intentional about planning, saving and purchasing a little bit along the way to try to be as wise as possible with decisions I made for the wedding. I ended up choosing a neutral color theme for the wedding, which paved the way to use a lot of greenery, wood, lanterns and family antiques in our decor.

{I love this because in Abbey's first post she mentions one of her favorite dates!}

2} What was the hardest choice you made while planning?

Clothing for the bridesmaids and groomsmen was probably the toughest choice! I decided to go with the neutral color palette for the wedding (Matt calls me the color killer, jokingly of course!?) because I thought it would be easy to just mix things in. Turns out, making neutrals match is harder than it looks! It was also important to me to find a bridesmaids dress that both fit the color scheme and looked great on all of my girls. My poor, sweet friends tried on dress after dress, and I'm so happy with what we ended up with! I think it ended up being a great dress that was flattering on everyone

3} What was the easiest?

The groom! Haha, I guess that one's a given! The second easiest choice was probably where to have it. Thought I hadn't dreamed of my wedding my entire life, I always knew for sure that I would get married at my home church. I'm a pretty nostalgic person, so having it there was pretty special to me. While weddings are fun celebrations, they are also a place of serious commitment and reverence, so I never imagined getting married anywhere besides a church. It didn't hurt that they had recently redone my home church's sanctuary with a beautiful neutral theme! Score! This ended up being so beautiful in the long run, when we decorated the church with greenery, candles, lanterns and wood pieces. Everything about the ceremony turned out to be absolutely perfect!

4} What made planning so special to you?

You've heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, with our wedding, I would say that our "village" really stepped in and helped make things happen. I really loved all the time I got to spend with my mom working on things to prepare for the wedding. We had a lot of people at our wedding and a pretty strict budget, so it was important to make really wise decisions with anything from decor, to flowers, to accessories. We had a lot of fun Goodwill hunting and bargain shopping over the course of the year that Matt & I were engaged! My dad and brother were also such troopers throughout the wedding planning process; wedding decor literally took over our entire house for a whole year! There are also so many people who spent time with us doing a variety of different things, from helping us prepare for married life, to crafting with us, to directing choirs for the wedding, to helping us decorate, to coordinating the entire event. I am forever indebted to so many kind people who pitched in to make our wedding day so special. I could never say thank you enough to Codie Haddon, Charles Nelson, Kellie Paige, Tony Martin, Brian McCollum, Denise Cornett, Chris McMahon, my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, and so many more people who gave so graciously of their time, resources and energy. My heart swells with gratitude just thinking about it!

These photos by Callie Murray of Achor & Eden are so beautiful. Today I'm just linking to their main page, and next week I'll link to the wedding album! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tailgate Thursdays: Peanut Butter, Oreos + Pumpkin Spice!

I apologize for missing last weeks #SGGTailgateThursdays post. But this week I'm bringing you 3 delicious recipes.

Cake balls are still all the rage + I love it! I've been in the mood to bake this week + will be making several variations of these this weekend! These might be a little hard to transport to a football game, but if you can keep them in a cooler, then you're all set!

I remember having Buckeyes a few times as a kid + made them a few times in college. Y'all,  they're like Reese's - all peanut butter + chocolatey deliciousness! 

One of my roommates in college {Sydney!} was a pro at making Oreo truffles! After we graduated,  I was so happy that one of my co-workers {Jessica!} was great at making them as well. Here's to hoping mine turn out just as great! 
{you can coat these in semi-sweet or white chocolate, depending on the look that you want}

The last flavor that I'm going to attempt this weekend is Mix and Match Mama's Pumpkin Pie Cake Balls. I made these last year for a shower + then left them in the freezer way too long, so we didn't get to try them. I'm not the biggest pumpkin fan, but I think I can handle these little guys + besides, is it really Fall without a little pumpkin? Maybe mine will even look as cute :-)

Anyone want to come over + bake with me this weekend or just come to eat?

Don't forget to share your recipes today so you can be featured this season!

Last weekend, I got to go to the UGA USCarolina game with my brothers! Boy, I am so thankful my parents had an extra ticket, because it was a great game for us Dawgs! My big brother has pretty much taught me everything I know about sports, so it was fun to be there with both he + my younger brother + our cousins. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Matt + Abbey - The Engagement

This is another "grab the tissues" engagement story, because its just so SWEET!
Also, in case anyone was wondering, the answer is "yes", Abbey's hair always looks like perfection. 

1} When + where did Matt propose?

Matt proposed on January 3, 2014, at the House O' Dreams at Berry College in Rome, Ga. It was a special place, because my mom's parents had both gone to school at Berry. Both worked at Berry to pay their way through school; my grandmother cooked cleaned and served many Berry guests and my grandfather worked at the Berry College dairy. At that time, I was working at the old Berry College Dairy barns, but they were no longer a dairy! They had been turned into a retreat center by the Cathy family, and is now known as WinShape Retreat. The House O' Dreams is a house that was built for the school's founder, Martha Berry, by the students at the school to celebrate its 25th anniversary. It's located at the top of a mountain, and it's not the kind of place you can "just go to". You have to plan a time, reserve a key, and be back down the mountain by a certain time. A caretaker lives there to ensure things are taken care of, and it was always my grandparents dream to become the caretakers of the house after they retired. My grandmother passed away before that dream was realized, but she is buried at a point on the hill at Oak Knoll Cemetery where you can see the House O' Dreams. We had always talked about going to see the House O' Dreams as a family, but we had never done it.

2} Did you have any idea that it was coming?

I knew it would be coming soon because we had discussed that I wanted to be engaged for at least a year to be able to plan and save for the wedding. However, I was completely blindsided by the date/location that it actually happened. He had really thrown me off! On Christmas day, my grandfather told us all that he wanted to go up to the House O' Dreams before everyone went back to school that January. We all talked and settled on going January 3. The more we talked about it, the more excited I got. I even talked to my mom about getting a photographer to come up and do family pictures at the House, since it would be a special day for Granddaddy to get to show us around the house. When we got home that night, I called Matt to ask him about going with us that day. I explained why going to the House was so important to me and why he needed to be sure he could come. But he told me he was having band practice that day for a CD he was recording, and that it was the only day the whole group could get together before school started. He even mentioned that a close friend of ours, who was in the band, was having her boyfriend's family leave vacation early so she could be at the practice. To say I was upset would be an understatement! I spent about 20 minutes crying on the phone, and we ended the conversation on a pretty sour note. I just couldn't understand why he couldn't see how important this day was to me! Little did I know....! Matt would tell you that that night was incredibly hard for him because I was so upset. His mom, sister and my mom were having to repeatedly encourage him to stay strong and push on with the plan. I didn't make it easy for him!

3} I'm telling everyone to have the tissues ready, so tell us how he proposed!

On the day of January 3, I spent most of the day at work until my parents came to meet up with me around 3. It was a freezing cold day, but I was so excited to go to the House O' Dreams I didn't care! Once our whole family had arrived, we started taking some family pictures on the beautiful grounds around the house. From the House, you could look out and see the cemetery where Granny is buried, and that was really special. When we finished outside photos, we went inside to look around the house and to let Granddaddy tell us stories. My cousin Bailey and I went straight for the old books on the bookshelves, as it is a tradition for girls to leave notes behind for their future husbands in the books. After a short time, Granddaddy told us he wanted to show us around the house. My brother, Brock, came with us as we walked through the house, and Granddaddy showed us different things that Granny had done in the house when she worked there. As we headed up the stairs, he showed us rooms used to entertain guests, then, off to the right (and much to my surprise) was a little sun room of sorts and Matt was standing in it! He brought me to the room with him and Granddaddy & Brock disappeared. Stephanie, our photographer, had sneakily gone upstairs without me seeing and captured the whole thing. Matt also had video cameras setup to record the proposal. As we entered the room, he gave me a rose and had me sit down next to him. He pulled out his guitar and played a song for me he had written specifically for the proposal. It was such a beautiful song - probably one of my favorites he has written for me - and it walked through some of our story. After the song, he read me a letter he had written. it was perfect; it brought in elements and analogies from the Chronicles of Narnia and Pilgrim's Progress, which are both special to us. At the conclusion of the letter, Matt got down on one knee, opened a ring box and said those four magic words - "Will you marry me?" I was crying SO hard at this point that I could barely speak! He slipped the ring onto my finger and picked me up in a huge hug. Finally, I managed to say, "Of course!"

4} What was the first thing you did right after the engagement?

Right afterwards, we went downstairs to greet our family. I didn't know that Matt's mom & sister were there, too! After a few more pictures at Berry, we headed back to Cartersville. My mom encouraged us to stop by another set of my grandparents', Mama Gail and Pops, to show them the ring. Soon after we arrived, I realized that all of my family and several of my closest friends were there! It was such a fun night and so special to get to celebrate with everyone that night!

Matt, I doubt you're reading this, but ahhh how romantic!!! This just fit Abbey so well + that made it even more perfect. 

If you think the proposal photos are great, wait until you see engagement photos, next week!

All photos by Stephanie Anne Godfrey.