With all of our focus on how to make your wedding special, we thought it was time to highlight some ways to make your marriage awesome, too. Introducing “Snapshot of a Marriage,” a new series from contributor Emily Westbrooks, who interviews couples on some of their secrets for a strong and successful marriage. 

When Mandi and Phil got married, everyone was shocked that Mandi didn’t plan to take Phil’s last name: “My whole family was saying, Of course you change your name,” but Mandi had a different view of the situation. “I felt I was bringing me to the table,” and she felt it was important to keep her name as part of her identity. Phil said the decision made complete sense to him: “I wasn’t prepared to lose my identity, so I could understand why she felt that way.”

Twelve years later, Phil says they’ve found their “identities have grown together.” Mandi echoes this, explaining that since she was only 22 when they married, “We needed time to find out who we were, both together and separately.”

And while they both have always felt it was important to preserve their independence in marriage, they’ve become a team that works to protect that independence. Mandi said the best piece of marriage advice they received is not to volunteer your partner for anything. “I don’t volunteer Phil to give someone a lift home just as he doesn’t invite guests home and volunteer me to cook.” While they both might be willing, they try to check with each other first.

Teamwork is just as important as independence for Mandi and Phil. Their small businesses often overlap, his as a graphic designer and hers as an illustrator, and they work together to raise their two small kids, trading duties when one has a big deadline looming. Their trick for getting through busy schedules with two small children? Mandi says, “Everyone likes to look forward to something, so we try to plan something we can look forward to every month, as a family or just the two of us.”

SNAPSHOT SUBMISSIONS  Do you know a married couple whose relationship you admire? Or maybe you’re married and want to share your words of wisdom! We’re now accepting submissions from couples who have been married for ten years or longer. Email Emily at emily@fromchinavillage.com with your first names, how long you’ve been married, and a few sentences about why you’d like to be interviewed for our Snapshot of a Marriage series.
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Mood: sophisticated rustic
Palette: persimmon orange, shades of gray, porcelain

A palette of mostly gray and cream, with pops of persimmon orange, feels so perfect for this time of year when the weather is colder, the skies are gray, and we warm up our homes with family and friends and delicious food. Equal parts rustic (pumpkins and persimmons) and elegant (Vera Wang and Frances Palmer pottery), this palette would work for late autumn or throughout the winter. I’d also add lots and lots of candlelight.

Row 1: gray and cream bouquet by Saipua / gray pumpkin centerpiece by Nikole Herriott via Oh Joy! / gray and orange letterpress invitation by Dauphine Press / blazer with three bows by A Alicia  //  Row 2: vintage silverware with orange ribbon, photo by Mike Larson via Style Unveiled / Lady Baltimore wedding cake from Martha Stewart Weddings / persimmons via Roost  //  Row 3: linen napkins with orange wreath print by Linea Carta / acorn squash soup via Tartelette / cake stands by Frances Palmer / gray wedding dress with pink sash by Vera Wang
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Aubrey and Tim’s September wedding in the beautiful hills of Virginia is full of fall wedding inspiration! I just love all of the rustic apple details…

Aubrey arranged all of the flowers herself. “I buy from Wollam Gardens year round at the farmers market,” says the bride. “Their flowers are grown locally, and I purchased them flowers in bulk and arranged them a day before the wedding in the various vases I collected.”

The day before the wedding, the bride and groom picked all of the apples for the tables at Marker-Miller Orchards. Says Aubrey, “It was a fun and stress-free activity before the wedding.” Apple cider doughnut favors were also from Marker-Miller Orchards.

Aubrey and her mother spent hours at consignment shops collecting all of the vintage china and table decor. Says Aubrey, “The candleholders were all vintage cut glass, and they added just the right amount of elegance to the moss colored burlap runners. The tablecloths were actually drop clothes found at the hardware store. They are perfect for events because you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined!”

The rustic wedding cake included three flavors: Caramel Cake, Classic Carrot Cake, and (appropriately) Apple Butter Cake.

A beautiful old rug acted as a dance floor – such a unique vintage touch for an intimate 65-person reception.

Aubrey added some details about the day…

What inspired you when you were planning your wedding?  Much of my inspiration came from all of the antique stores I visited. I love when weddings look timeless so that was the overall goal whenever I made a purchase. I was also inspired by the show Downton Abbey but made sure to keep the overall look down to earth.

What advice do you have for other brides?  Find items that are local and seasonal to make the day special and unique. I love the fact that you can find so many wonderful handmade items for weddings on Etsy.

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Don’t get caught up in the list of things you “should” have at the wedding. I decided against having boutonnieres for the wedding party and not one person missed them.


See the full gallery here.

Photography: Sarah Jane Winter / Venue: private home in Millwood, Virginia / Bride’s Dress: Maggie Sottero / Shoes: Toms / Hair Comb: Everything Bride / Groom’s Suit: John Varvatos / Baseball Cufflinks: Bottom of the 9th / Stationery: Love vs. Design / Floral Designer: Wollam Gardens / Rentals: Grand Central Rental / Ceremony Music: Piemonte Strings / Cocktail Hour Music: Laissez Foure / Caterer: Rocklands BBQ and Grilling Company / Cake: Bayou Bakery / Apples: Marker-Miller Orchards / Custom Beer: O’Hara Pale Ale from Customized Kegs

Love vs. Design is a sponsor of Snippet & Ink.

  • Apple Themed Wedding in Virginia

    14 November 2012
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    The newest issue of Southern Weddings hits stands today, and at over 300 pages, it’s their biggest issue yet! Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at their Honey & Pecan story – doesn’t it feel just perfect for this time of year?

    I love this cake – it’s the perfect cross between rustic and elegant! See even more from this story (like a moonshine bar and honey tasting station) in the 5th issue of Southern Weddings. You can find copies at Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, Walgreens, and other grocery stores and pharmacies throughout the Southeast, as well as in their online shop.

    Cover Photo: Ryan Ray / Story Photography: Melissa Schollaert / Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab / Planning and Coordination: TOAST / Venue: Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club / Florist: Amy Osaba / Table: Settee / Chairs, Glassware, Flatware, and China: We Rent Atlanta / Table Runner, Cake Table Linens, and Napkins: I Do Linens / Hair and Makeup: Scoobie West / Cake and Cake Stand: Sweet Sensations / Stationery and Paper Goods: Erica Loesing / Letterpress: Alee & Press / Cake Backdrop: Michelle Edgemont / Pecan Pies: Tabora Family Bakery / Bridesmaid Dresses: Coren MooreMonique LhuillierLula Kate, all from Bella Bridesmaid Atlanta / Groom’s Suit: Jim’s Formal Wear
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