Favorite Small Business Holiday Shops

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In this upcoming season of giving (and giving thanks!) and spending, I would be remiss to not share more about favorite small businesses that you can support during the holiday season – many of them with special, beautiful holiday collections and heirloom or personalized gifts! I wanted to share more about several favorite small businesses who would love, love, love your support, and many of them are owned and run by dear friends of mine in the creative industry. I know JUST how much your support and purchases would mean to them, this year more than ever! At the bottom of this post, I also share a myriad of (free or inexpensive!) ways that you can support small businesses both now and in the future. I cannot stress just how important it is to support small businesses, the talented, brave, hard working, incredible people who own and/or run them, and the missions and hearts behind these businesses!

There are so many incredible small businesses that I adore, and I think it’s so vital to support them — both in how you steward and spend your money and in so many other ways, too. Supporting and encouraging fellow creatives, women-empowered businesses, local makers and doers, and smaller shops is so important, and I know many of these ladies and gents firsthand… which means I know the heart, hustle, attention, and love that is poured into each and every customer, sale, and item that is created. As a fellow small business owner, I know exactly how exhilarating, rewarding, and encouraging it is when someone chooses to invest in me — and I hope we can all do the same, especially this year!

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Here are a few of my favorite shops that have some amazing holiday collections and truly beautiful gifts, and be sure to check them out as you do some holiday shopping!

Lindsay Letters (holiday collection launches 10/29)

Ivy + Linen Design (holiday collection and Christmas cards launched)

Mason Dixon Designs (holiday collection launches 11/1)

Cultivate What Matters

Emily Ley

Simply Jessica Marie (holiday collection launched)

Oatmeal Lace (holiday collection and personalized ornaments & stockings launched)

The Tiny Tassel

All She Wrote Notes (holiday collection launched)

RB Soap Co.

Marigold and Grey

Happy Tines

Emily Jeffords

Meredith Mejerle

Carolina Dandy

Em Paper Co. (holiday collection launches 10/29)

Saltwater Collection

Longest Time Design (holiday collection closes 11/2)

Estelle Colored Glass

Le Papier Studio

Jordan Emmitt (ornaments launched)

And, as always, there are so many equally important and vital ways to support small businesses (and friends who own or work for small businesses) without having to spend a penny! I repeat, all of these are free (!) and most can be done without having to move from the couch!

  • tell your friend or a small business owner that you are proud of them and that they’re doing a great job
  • like or follow their business pages
  • comment on their posts
  • share their posts (social media or blog)
  • save their posts
  • refer or share the business with a friend (or a dozen!) who think they made love those products or services (personal referrals are far and away the most common way for me to book weddings, and it absolutely means the world!)
  • if you’ve bought a product or used their services, write a review on as many platforms as you can
  • tag friends in a post or forward it to them
  • give them a shout out or compliment them
  • ask them how their business is going or if there is anything you might be able to do for them

Simple, right?! I cannot stress just how much it means to myself and to each and every business owner I know when our businesses are supported! I’m pretty darn positive every one of us does a happy dance every.single.time someone books with us or purchases something of ours. It truly means everything to see our businesses, our work and creativity, our livelihood, and our dreams supported! A million heartfelt thanks in advance, and happy (almost!) holiday season!

Bride Spotlight: Dani

JMP-DaniBradley-89Hooray! Happy, happy (first!) wedding week to Dani and Bradley!! I am ecstatic that Dani and Bradley are getting married this week and that their families will be there to celebrate them as they are wed at The Merrimon Wynne House!

With the utmost concern for all of their loved ones traveling, especially since Dani and Bradley also live out of state, they made the hard decision to postpone their large wedding celebration til almost exactly one year later. On their original wedding date this week, Dani and Bradley will be married and not wait to make it official any longer! They will celebrate on their original wedding date with a ceremony and dinner surrounded by their immediate families. It’s going to be the most special, meaningful, intimate, and celebratory day as Dani and Bradley are wed and celebrated by their nearest and dearest.

I don’t want to give away too much, but this weekend’s intimate celebration includes their ceremony followed by dinner on the lawn… think a gorgeous autumnal color palette, lush flowers from one of my favorite florists, a long dinner table with their immediate families, romantic candlelight and market lights overhead, velvet linens, bespoke paper goods and details, an exceptionally delicious and innovative (surprise!) menu, a beautiful wedding cake, personal cheese and charcuterie boards, and the most intimate, personalized, sweet ceremony. Though it’s not what any of us ever imagined when we started planning a year ago, it’s going to be an incredibly joyful, meaningful, and truly memorable first wedding day for them as Dani and Bradley officially are married!

I have absolutely loved getting to know Dani and Bradley more and more throughout the wedding planning process over the last year. They are such vivacious, thoughtful, generous, genuine, fun, and loving people, and they clearly bring out the very best in one another and are the perfect balance for each other. Their families are incredibly sweet and wonderful, too! At the end of the day, even with some changes and updates (and plenty of safety precautions, of course!), it’s going to be the sweetest, most extraordinary, most beautiful day as Dani and Bradley are married! It’s such a joyful occasion to celebrate with their beloved family and to kick off married life for Dani and Bradley in such a lovely, romantic, memorable, and meaningful way.

Dani and Bradley, your wedding week is finally here, and I hope you feel nothing but an abundance of love, excitement, and joy as you two are married and are celebrated with such profound joy and excitement!! You were clearly made for one another, and your love is so inspiring.

I’m so excited to share Dani’s bride spotlight with you today, where you can learn more about the two of them, their love story, and what they’re most excited about on their wedding day, covid-edition! I asked Dani to focus more on this intimate celebration and what it’s like pivoting wedding plans during 2020… and next year, we’ll share plenty more about their bigger celebration! I also love that they chose to start their engagement session at their wedding venue (especially since it’s so picturesque). Their love simply radiates in their engagement session by the amazing Jordan Maunder Photography!!

1.Tell us about you and your fiancé, Bradley, and more about your love story.

Bradley moved to Raleigh when he was young, so his family calls the Raleigh area home. I am originally from Colorado and that’s where all of my family still resides. We live in New York City and have been there for the last 7 years.

We met our junior year at Vanderbilt, while I was the manager of the women’s basketball team and he was a practice player. One day after practice, some of us were watching a game together and we realized that we had a few mutual friends in common and from there our friendship grew.

Despite a few date parties and hangouts throughout the next year and a half, it wasn’t until after our senior year that we started dating. Though we knew that we were going to be in separate cities (New York for Bradley and D.C. for me), we couldn’t stop texting each and decided to give long distance dating a shot just to see how things went – and the rest is history.

2. How have your wedding plans changed due to the pandemic and what did you and Bradley decide to do? How has it been for you?

Like many other couples, we have decided to postpone our larger celebration to next year and still have an intimate ceremony this year. Bradley and I have been together for over 7 years and we are ready to begin this next chapter of life as husband and wife, so it was really important to us to still have the wedding ceremony this year.

At first, it was a really daunting decision to postpone because we weren’t sure of what a ceremony would still look like this year or how a celebration would feel next year. As we got a few months away from our original date it became obvious we needed to postpone in order to keep our loved ones safe. Once we made the decision it was like a weight was lifted off of our shoulders. There weren’t many dates left for next year, but October 31st was open which will be one day after our ceremony this year, so we thought it was meant to be. Plus, we get to have 2 completely different, yet entirely special days to celebrate our union – how cool is that?!

Rolling with all of the changes has not been easy, but Bradley and I said that we can’t control the circumstances but we can control our attitudes, so we have tried to keep a positive outlook on it all.

3. What are you most excited about your wedding day in October? Do you have a moment that you’re most anticipating?

We are so excited about our ceremony and intimate dinner this year!! Bradley and I are not doing a first look, so I am probably most anxious for the moment when we see each other as I walk down the aisle.

We are big foodies so I am also PUMPED about our dinner menu. We also wanted to have some fun and have some little surprises for our guests that we are really looking forward to sharing with them.

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4. What are you most excited about next fall?

I am looking forward to (hopefully!!) being able to celebrate with all of my friends and family. It has been hard not getting to see so many of our friends and family this year and miss out on special moments, so I am very much looking forward to getting everyone I love in one place. Plus, my sister will not be able to attend my ceremony this year as she is pregnant and will be too far into her third trimester to travel, so we are lucky that she will get to come next year and stand by my side.

5. What was your biggest inspiration for your intimate ceremony and dinner design?

Though they will be different events, we still wanted there to be cohesion between the ceremony this year and the celebration next year so a lot of the little design elements are the same. We really took inspiration from what we thought a cozy, family dinner should be. So think of candles, flowers, soft textures, and all of our favorite foods!

6. What advice do you have for 2020 brides and for planning a wedding during a pandemic?

I would encourage brides to be flexible and to keep the focus on the one thing that really matters – your union and marriage to your partner. That’s what the celebration is about after all!

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7. What is something you’re passionate about? What are some things you and Bradley love to do together?
Bradley and I are big foodies and we love cooking and making cocktails for each other and our friends. I would definitely say we are known for our hosting abilities! We also love to explore new places and to compete in any type of game or sport.

8. What has been the biggest surprise in the wedding planning process?

The biggest surprise in the wedding planning process has been not knowing all of the little details and items that go into making a wedding come together. It’s been tremendously helpful having Stephanie on our team and have her help in navigating through this process.

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9. What is your favorite part of your intimate wedding design?

The dinner table design is probably my favorite part of the wedding design for this year. It brings together all of the elements we are having at the wedding – from the linens, to the flowers, to the food, to our closest friends and family. Having a special place for everyone to gather and share a meal will be really meaningful to Bradley and me.

10. What is your favorite thing about Bradley?

All of him! Bradley is just the best. He is the most caring and loving individual I have ever met and I am so lucky to marry him.

Stayed tuned this weekend for lots of sneak peeks of their wedding on my Instagram! I already can’t wait to see it all come to life for Dani and Bradley as we celebrate this joyous, gorgeous day!

all photos by the fabulous Jordan Maunder Photography


As a note, this wedding is taking place in accordance with all current state and local government mandates and ordinates, CDC recommendations, and is well under the capacities for weddings in North Carolina. We are all taking countless health and safety precautions for both guests and vendors, staying well under the current maximum capacity for venues in NC, adhering to all required and recommended safety measures, including but not limited to: moving all of the wedding outdoors, practicing social distancing, requiring guests to wear masks when not seated, eliminating all dancing (minus their first dance!), spreading out all ceremony and dinner seating and seating families/households together, posting signage, providing additional hand sanitizer and masks, and so much more! I just had to add in this little caveat that this wedding very much legal and allowed in North Carolina and at their venue – and that the health and safety of their families, friends, and vendors are incredibly important concerns to all of us.

Sheila & Mike’s Raleigh Wedding

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Happy first anniversary to Sheila and Mike!! October 26, 2019 was an incredibly special and beautiful day for these two, and I have been having so much fun re-living it as I share these gorgeous images from Sheila and Mike’s wedding day! I’m a little delayed in blogging their wedding, but let me just say: this day was truly overflowing with JOY, excitement, sweet moments, love, and so much fun!! I simply adore Sheila and Mike, and their love story and their wedding day are both so unique and beautiful.

It was a perfect fall day a year ago as Sheila and Mike were married, and one of my favorite aspects of their wedding day was the Catholic-Persian fusion for these two. They had their Catholic mass at the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in downtown Raleigh followed by a Persian ceremony (a sofreh aghd) to kick off their wedding reception at the Park Alumni Center on NC State’s campus, where both of them graduated. There is nothing better or more meaningful than a personalized wedding day that tells a couple’s love story and brings together their families, cultures, traditions, and who they are as individuals and as a couple. Sheila and Mike’s wedding was so unique to the two of them and such a sweet celebration of love, their backgrounds, and who they are together. I absolutely loved learning so much about the Persian culture and the meaning and symbolism of their sofreh aghd, and Sheila’s mom did a phenomenal job of creating and making so many of the intricate details and items in their sofreh aghd.

From the lush, overflowing flowers in bold, juicy tones to the accents of dusty French blue to complement the burgundy and blush to the beautiful Catholic mass to their white wedding trolley to the NC State nods to the marvelous sofreh aghd to the Persian knife dance and everything in between, it was the most memorable, fun, love-filled, sweet celebration for Sheila and Mike! I loved Sheila’s tone-on-tone patterned bridal gown, the flowing ribbons on all of the gorgeous bouquets, private, emotional moments with Sheila’s family mere moments before she walked down the aisle, nonstop laughter and hugs with her amazing bridesmaids, the best vendor team, an timeless, organic, and all around stunning reception design, Persian desserts for the guests to enjoy, a wildly fun sparkler exit, and so much more. It was the most marvelous day celebrating Sheila, Mike, and their new marriage!! These two were an utter dream to work with from start to finish, and it’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since their magical wedding. It has been so fun re-living their wedding day, and these beautiful, beautiful images by Chelsea Allegra Photography perfectly captured their day!

Sheila and Mike’s wedding day was remarkable and amazing, and I am eternally grateful to have been a part of it. This wedding, and these people, hold a very special place in my heart, and I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we celebrated them and the start of their marriage!

Cheers to the new(ish) Schotzingers, and endless congrats, you two!! I adore you both — and wishing you a lifetime of joy and love as you continue your married life together!

A huge thank you to the most wonderful, talented vendor team:

Photography: Chelsea Allegra Photography

Videography: Muddy Trails Film Co.

Planning, design, styling: Stephanie Shaul Events

Ceremony venue: Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral

Reception venue & catering: Park Alumni Center

Florals: Daniels Florist

DJ: Bunn DJ Co.

Cake: Publix

Linens and rentals: CE Rental

Stage: Party Reflections

Hair and makeup: Wink Hair and Makeup

Wedding gown: Coastal Knot

Transportation: Great Raleigh Trolley

You can read Sheila’s bride spotlight here!

all photos by the wonderful Chelsea Allegra Photography