Ahhhhh Fall! Cooler temperatures, changing leaves, pumpkins and mums on porches, firepit gatherings, s’mores, cozy sweaters, leather jackets and boots. All of these things make me extremely happy. I want our home to be a place that is warm and welcoming; however, Fall is also my busiest season, so I don’t have time for much fuss. I try to take what I already have and fill in with mums I purchase from our high school cheerleaders’ fundraising project and pumpkins from the little market down the street. I always lean towards minimal styling and non-traditional, greyed down colors. And, there always has to be shades of blue/green in my world…even for my pumpkins! Years and years ago, my hand tinting instructor told me “Always add a little blue to your image. It gives the eye a place to rest.” This is so true for me! Blues are peaceful.
Bright orange, black and purple for Halloween isn’t my jam, and red and green at Christmas is just a little too expected for me. Have you noticed the “other orange” pumpkins? They are a bit more subtle and go beautifully with the autumn colored mums that aren’t exactly yellow or orange, but have a hint of both. I plan to purchase a few rectangular lanterns like these, to add some flicker at night and a different shape to go with all of the round pumpkins.
Here are few vignette shots of my front porch and foyer table. Minimal. Nothing fussy, overdone, or even expensive. There’s nothing difficult about throwing mini white pumpkins in a unique bowl. If I had found where I put my pheasant feathers, I would have mixed those in with the pussy willow branches. Pheasant feathers are one of my favorite things to use in the fall because the colors and texture are amazing. My husband brought back real feathers from a hunt in North Dakota, but you can also purchase them online. I’ve included a link at the end of this post. Ostrich feathers and raw cotton branches are beautiful too!
I love to eat pumpkin spice and cinnamon flavors, but do not like for my house to smell like it, unless it’s the real bread or cake coming out of the oven. Sweet smelling candles give me a headache, so I go for more masculine and earthy scents in the fall like the Le Labo Santal candle shown here, cedarwood, tobacco and leather, etc. Locally, I purchase my candles at Two Old Hippies and White’s Mercantile, two of my favorite Nashville shops.
What about you? What do you do to keep your fall decor simple, yet interesting? What is your go-to color palette? Leave a comment here or on my Instagram! I want to hear from you! Happy Fall Y’all!
I’m so excited to share with you the first issue in my new Ask the Pro editorial series, where experts in their field share inside tips and how to’s with HDP so I can share them with you! I’ve been very selective about my partners in this series because I want you to hear from the very best in the business! Most of these partners are based in Nashville and Birmingham, the cities where I’ve lived and worked the most. However, their reach extends much further.
First up…Brownell Travel. I’m thrilled for you to get acquainted with this company (if you aren’t already), the leading upscale travel firm in the Southeast since 1887. Brownell is a member of Virtuoso, the world’s oldest and most prestigious leisure travel association. Less than 1% of America’s agencies are accepted for membership in Virtuoso. These select agencies must be able to offer clients extensive knowledge and wide-ranging experience on travel throughout the world. Virtuoso travel consultants create experiences, not just trips or vacations.
Brownell Travel is based in Birmingham, AL, but has experienced advisors all over the world. So, no matter where you call home, they have knowledgeable pros to help plan your perfect honeymoon, destination wedding, vacation or trip to just celebrate life!
“Travel, it leaves you speechless
and then turns you into a storyteller.”
— lbn Batutta
Haisley Smith, CTA is the Vice President of Marketing and Development for Brownell Travel. Haisley joined Brownell in 2005 as the Director of Marketing and now serves as the Vice President of Marketing & Development. She set her sights on a career in the travel industry after studying anthropology abroad at the University of Innsbruck in 1998. Through her position at Brownell, Haisley is able to combine two passions – seeing the world and promoting the amazing travel experiences Brownell can offer.
Haisley promotes Brownell by highlighting travel advisors’ expertise, access to authentic experiences, legendary personalized itineraries, and travel perks that come from Brownell’s strong reputation and relationships with other Virtuoso travel providers. In short – “Travel Beyond Your Expectations.”
Haisley and I have known each other since 2000, where we worked together at a magazine publishing company. We’ve stayed in touch ever since, working together on various projects for Brownell over the years. I’ve even photographed her two beautiful daughters and watched them grow up through my lens. Brownell has also planned amazing trips for me, including Paris and Mexico. Next up on my list is Italy! Haisley has never met a stranger, is passionate about her job and is truly an exceptional person. Here’s what she had to say in response to our honeymoon planning questions.
Q&A with Brownell Travel:
What makes Brownell Travel the best option for all my honeymoon planning
Connections and Experience. We’ve been in business for more than 130 years and we’ve worked with hundreds of resorts since they opened their doors and that opens (otherwise closed) doors for our clients.
What is the best advice you could give newlyweds on finding their perfect honeymoon destination?
Your honeymoon should be as thoughtfully planned and as personal as your wedding. You wouldn’t duplicate your friend’s wedding, why would you duplicate their honeymoon? The perfect destination and honeymoon is uniquely yours. Use an expert to help you uncover what that is.
What are ten things you need to know before planning your honeymoon?
1. If you didn’t want a cookie-cutter wedding, a cookie-cutter honeymoon from the Internet is going to disappoint you.
2. Prices for the same room at the same resort can fluctuate by several hundred dollars per night depending on the time of year.
3. The day after the wedding is not always the best time to depart for your honeymoon. Delayed honeymoons can be even better because you have the luxury of anticipating the trip instead of worrying about wedding details.
4. All-inclusive resorts are not always a great value, but many fantastic resorts have all-inclusive packages they don’t promote to the public.
5. Domestic honeymoons are often overlooked but can be magical with the added bonus that they are easy to return to for anniversaries.
6. Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures on the Internet. If sugar-white beaches and turquoise water are important to you, work with an expert who knows what the destinations actually look like, season by season.
7. Talk through your expectations of what you want to experience on your honeymoon with your fiancé. You may picture yourselves on a beach under an umbrella all day, but he may be expecting rock climbing and kayaking!
8. Be wary of travel advice from well-meaning friends and family. Their ideal is probably not yours, even if they are great spokespeople for their favorite destinations and resorts.
9. Agree on a budget and be transparent with your travel advisor. A professional travel advisor will not try to “upsell” you and will be very candid about what kind of experience you can expect with your budget.
10. Even though you may be excited to use your new name, don’t book your airline ticket in your married name!
What are the top places to honeymoon in Europe?
The hot destinations for honeymoons in Europe now are Greece, Portugal and Spain. Italy and France are always popular and always a good idea.
What are the top places to honeymoon in the US?
Napa/Sonoma Valley, San Francisco, South Florida, Oregon, and New England are great honeymoon destinations.
How would you suggest making the most out of your honeymoon when you only have a few days of vacation?
Choose a destination with a short flight or short drive. No need to waste valuable relaxing time in an airport, on a plane or on the road. Don’t overschedule or over-plan and DEFINITELY don’t over pack. Maximize your time by having a plan and not scrambling for restaurant or activity reservations on site.
What are the top three places to honeymoon in the Caribbean?
It changes every year. My personal favorites are St Lucia, Turks & Caicos and the BVI.
Do all-inclusive resorts actually save you money in the end?
I’m personally not a fan of all-inclusive resorts for honeymoons because the experience can be very cookie-cutter and you become one honeymoon couple among hundreds. The “brand-name” all-inclusives give many of the special, independent all-inclusives a bad name with poor service, poor food, and watered-down drinks. There are some gems out there, but in the end, you can’t put a price on disappointment.
“Wedding season” is May-August which is hurricane month for most of the Caribbean…what are other easily accessible tropical destinations?
There are lots of destinations in the south Pacific, South America and even in the Caribbean that very rarely (if ever) are affected by hurricanes. They are each very different with very different price points.
“We are wanting an adventurous honeymoon in the US”…what are the top places we should consider?
The American West – we love Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona
“I want to surprise my bride with our honeymoon”…How can Brownell help me make sure I include everything she would want?
Brownell has a really powerful tool – think of it as Netflix for travel that helps couples rank and rate their travel styles and wish-lists.
Is there a secret trick to getting upgrades?
Yes, a well-connected travel advisor has access to exclusive preferred partner programs with hotels and resorts that give their clients special amenities, perks and put them top of the list for upgrades – some at the time of booking!
Whether you are a bride and groom planning a Destination Wedding or honeymoon, or Parents of the Bride and Groom needing a vacation after all the busy wedding planning, if this first issue of Ask the Pro doesn’t get you grabbing your passport and online shopping for new luggage, I’m not sure what will! Thank you to Brownell Travel and Haisley Smith for sharing your expertise with us!
I’ve known Melissa for years. We first met because of our mutual love of photography at a professional conference in Las Vegas. She is a sweet soul with the kindest heart and I’m thrilled she has found her soulmate in Taylor! She waited on the Lord and he gave her the desire of her heart.
Melissa and Taylor traveled from Birmingham to Franklin a few weeks ago for their Engagement Session and we had the best time catching up! I’m looking forward to their intimate wedding in Birmingham on December 1st.
It was “June Gloom” in La Jolla, CA, but we brought our own sunshine (hello flowy yellow dress) for Hannah & Dean’s session on the cliffs of Torrey Pines. What a stunning couple! [And, Hannah’s doppelganger is Kate Beckinsale, am I right?!] My bags are always packed for a shoot on the California coast.
The absolute best part of my job is the couples I meet. I’ve been blessed with the kindest brides, grooms, families and wedding parties who make the day so much fun.
Francie and Smylie met when they were 15 and 16 and have the sweetest story. They are both from Vestavia Hills (Birmingham AL), where my family lived for 10 years before moving to Nashville, so we have lots of mutual friends. Smylie grew up on Vestavia Hills Country Club golf course, learned how to play the game there and now plays on the PGA Tour. I’m always excited when I can photograph a couple where they have a connection to a place that holds so many memories, so I was thrilled we were able to do their First Look and portraits at VCC.
Francie worked with Mariée Ami to plan her wedding with an amazing vendor team (see complete list at the end of this post). She was such a pleasure to work with from day one; and when the wedding day weather forecast included a tornado warning and her portraits were interrupted by thunderstorms, she was calm and full of grace, without even one word of complaint. She radiated joy all day, from getting ready at her family’s home to their sendoff at The Club in a golf cart, of course.
Francie has a lifestyle blog and Instagram account @Fairwayfinds. Follow along as she shares travel adventures and healthy living finds while on the PGA Tour with Smylie. Francie signs off with each blog post “Always finding joy,”. Yes, she is, and her wedding day had so much of it!
Francie and Smylie, thank you for choosing me to be a small part of your beautiful wedding day! Best wishes for a lifetime of health, happiness and birdies!
You can also see their wedding published on Brides.com.
I love to travel and explore cities in the name of work. I haven’t been to Memphis since college, and I would be shooting on three different occasions in Memphis for Mary Lauren and Michael’s portraits and wedding, I decided to head over the day before their Engagement Session to get reacquainted with this cool southern city and Home of the Blues.
Mary Lauren and Michael are both from Memphis, so it was important to them that I capture some of the iconic locations in their Engagement Session like the pyramid, M Bridge, Peabody Hotel and Beale Street Landing. We also strolled the beautiful gardens at Memphis Botanic.
The thing I love most about an Engagement Session is the opportunity for me to get to know the couple better before their wedding day. I can’t wait to go back for Mary Lauren’s bridals at her family’s home in June and their wedding day in July. For now, let’s go walking in Memphis with this fun couple…
I get so excited for opportunities to shoot personal projects, and this one that has been spinning around in my head ever since moving to Nashville. As soon as I mentioned it to my talented friends Kerri Bunn and Mary Beth Wetzel, they were on board. As creatives, we are usually busy with client work and don’t have time to shoot what inspires us personally, but when we do find a morsel of time, we jump on it.
After moving to Nashville from Birmingham, I realized very quickly that people who aren’t from here do not have an accurate idea of what locals wear to music events. Their perception is that everyone in Nashville wears stonewashed denim, western bedazzled shirts, cowboy boots and cowboy hats to everything. So, to address that misconception our team pulled together a shoot from high-end Nashville boutiques to tell the story of fashion for music events from a local’s perspective.
I’m thrilled to finally share this shoot inspired by music and photographed at a Nashville indie recording studio. Side note: I have an old RUN DMC t-shirt just like the new one used in our shoot…I bought mine years ago…it’s faded and old and I love it…and sometimes I get to wear it if my daughter isn’t already wearing it herself. It’s tricky.
Many thanks to these amazing Nashville and Franklin boutiques who partnered with us on this shoot.