Flowers at the NC Museum of Art

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The glorious flower fields are in bloom at the NC Museum of Art! The NCMA is one of our very favorite spots in all of Raleigh, and though the museum itself is still closed, the spacious parks, greenways, and fields are wide open for use. We go to the NCMA all the time, and in more normal times, we love visiting the art museum, taking visitors from out of town here, and enjoying movies in the park on summertime weekends. Thankfully, we can still enjoy the copious amounts of outdoor space, and the NCMA was our very first destination in mid-July when we finally left our neighborhood.

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Last summer, the NCMA planted thousands of sunflowers, and it was the perfect spot to enjoy the bright blooming sunflowers away from too many crowds (as opposed to Dorothea Dix Park, which I adore but was so much more crowded!). It felt like our own secret sunflower field when we went a couple times last summer!

This summer, we’ve enjoyed a few long walks around the greenways and paths, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting any blooms in the flower fields. I was so, so pleased to see that the NCMA planted not only sunflowers but zinnias and cosmos, as well! The colorful, towering flower fields are a sight to behold and such a beautiful burst of color. I adore sunflowers in the summertime (and has been hoping we’d get to see some this summer), and cosmos are a lofelong favorite flower, as they always remind me of my grandpa, since he had an abundance of cosmos in their garden every summer. Seeing the vibrant cosmos and zinnias juxtaposed with the yellow, orange, and red sunflowers just takes your breath away and is even more impressive in person!

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We have gone a couple times already over the past two weeks, and I can’t recommend a trip enough! It feels so good to get some fresh air, admire such simple and sweet beauty, go for a walk, and bonus: it has been so, so quiet and empty when we’ve gone! When we went for the first time, there was one other person in the entire field, and he was still at least a hundred yards away. Butterflies were flitting around everywhere, which makes it even more magical. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the spacious park, put on your running shoes, take your dog for a walk, and enjoy some time in beautiful nature… just minutes from downtown Raleigh!

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You can easily find the flowering fields when you arrive to the NC Museum of Art. Basically, find the main walking paths that lead down the big hill by the open fields. There are the three towering terracotta-colored rings (we jokingly call them onion rings), and the flowering fields are just past the three massive rings down to the right. You can’t really miss it!

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Five Years in Raleigh

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Five years ago, I moved back home to North Carolina, but this time, to a new city: Raleigh! I grew up mostly in Charlotte, North Carolina, lived in Chapel Hill for four years during college at UNC Chapel Hill (go Heels!), and then left North Carolina to live in Washington, DC for six years after college. When I took Stephanie Shaul Events full time a little over five years ago, I simultaneously moved back down south to the land of the pines with a new city to make my home and to build and expand my business. And what a wonderful, fulfilling, happy five years it has been!

I’ve now celebrated 6.5 total years in business and 5 years full time with Stephanie Shaul Events. I’ve done countless styled and editorial shoots, had every one of them published in national or regional publications, helped others through many mentoring and coaching sessions, spoke at several conferences and workshops, met countless inspiring, talented vendors and industry friends, built a lot of community, and planned so many beautiful, meaningful, joyful weddings for the most incredible and inspiring couples. I adore my job as a wedding planner and designer, and I love seeing how much my work has evolved and grown since launching my business at the beginning of 2014. I now take on just 10 full planning and design clients each year so that I can focus on them with so much heart and attention, and I work with these couples to create, plan, design, and produce intentional, magical, personalized, and stunning weddings that reflect them as a couple. I am incredibly proud of the work that I have done and how my business has evolved. As long as I can bring more beauty, joy, and love to the world and serve my couples well, I know I’m doing my job right.

In March of 2016, I finally tried online dating and ended up meeting the love of my life, my husband Rob, on my very first day! We fell in love so quickly and knew so instantly that we were meant to be. I’ve shared much about our relationship and our love throughout the years, and it truly has been the greatest gift in the world. Rob and I got engaged six months later on October 1, 2016, one of the happiest days of our lives! I loved blogging about our wedding planning process on Southern Weddings, and I also loved the process of planning and designing every bit of our wedding. We easily decided that Raleigh was the perfect location for our wedding, as it’s home for both of us and where we wanted to welcome our families and friends. The Merrimon Wynne House in downtown Raleigh was the only venue we considered, and the rest is history. Our wedding day was the single happiest day of my life thus far: marrying Rob, beginning our marriage, getting to celebrate with all of our family and friends, the gorgeous weather, the beautiful details, and the abundance of love and joy on that day were spectacular.

As perfect as April 1, 2017 was, marriage is that much sweeter. Being married to Rob is the best of the best, and we’ve celebrated almost 3.5 years of marriage now! As cheesy as it sounds, I fall more and more in love with him every day, and marriage is such a blessing and a gift. We’ve had so many adventures together, shared in so many traditions, traveled near and far, and so much more.

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When I moved to Raleigh in 2015, I had my own apartment and even had it published on The Everygirl and in a coffee table book! A year after Rob and I got married, we bought our first house in June 2018 and have spent the last two years making our house a home (home tour coming very, very soon!). We’ve hosted countless dinner parties, many holiday events, lots of Friendsgivings, a whole lot of articles club/book club/game nights/girls nights/guys nights, and even had my sister’s family live with us for a few months during the pandemic. Buying our own house even spurred Rob into taking real estate classes and becoming a full-time real estate broker! He’s so good at what he does and serves his clients so, so well.

In these past five years in Raleigh, a friend and I started a monthly articles club (we’re just about to celebrate five years together!), some friends and I started a book club, Rob started a fantasy football podcast with his best friends, we joined our wonderful church, Vintage Church, as members while we were engaged, we serve (when allowed to meet in person, of course) on the greeting and communion team, we help lead our weekly community group, and I volunteered for several years with pre-schoolers at the Raleigh Rescue Mission downtown. I feel so fortunate and grateful for all of the community that has been built, the friendships that have been made, and the places we call home and where we spend many of our days! We have made many lifelong friends here, for sure. Raleigh has no shortage of wonderful people, places, organizations, things to do, places to eat, and communities to invest in, and it definitely feels like home for us. We have our favorite coffee shops, our favorite breakfast spots, our beloved date night spots, favorite parks, favorite day trip locations, favorite neighborhood to go for a walk, favorite bar to watch NFL football, both of our college campuses within thirty minutes, and so much more. I’m sure I’m forgetting a ton with this quick recap of these past five years, but suffice it to say, Raleigh definitely feels like home!

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It’s been a full five years, and I have endless things I’m deeply thankful for. I can’t wait to see what the next five years have in store for us! Raleigh, I sure do love you, and it feels so good to know I’m doing the work the Lord has called me to do in the city that He’s purposefully placed me. Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe it!

If you’d like, you can take a peek at some blast-from-the-past blog posts about taking my business full time, my move to Raleigh, our engagement, and our wedding!

An exciting announcement

On the road to full-time, part one

On the road to full-time, part two

Why Raleigh?

The Everygirl

We’re engaged!

Our wedding!

professional photos of us by the wonderful Kyla Shattuck

Ali + Trent’s Merrimon Wynne Wedding

View More: http://kelseynelson.pass.us/falkner-highlights

Endless congratulations to Ali and Trent on their wedding day – and more importantly, on their new marriage! Ali and Trent were married at the Merrimon Wynne House in downtown Raleigh this summer on a beautiful, warm day as their loved ones gathered from near and far to celebrate these two! Celebrating Ali and Trent is easy – they are such a fun, lovable, laid-back couple, and you can tell just how loved they are by the sheer excitement and happiness that overflowed on their wedding day. I loved getting to know these two and their wonderful family and friends, and it was an honor to be a part of their wedding and to bring it all to life for them!

From the incredibly sentimental moments throughout the day (getting ready with the girls, Ali’s first look with her precious dad, the ceremony, the first dances, and the toasts!) to having their sweet pup Tank there to the stunning color palette (dusty blue, navy, blush, and rose gold perfection!) to the beautiful umbrellas on the lawn to their uber fun wedding party to their ice cream truck… it was the most magical, fun day for a truly remarkable, sweet couple!

View More: http://kelseynelson.pass.us/falkner-wedding

View More: http://kelseynelson.pass.us/falkner-highlights

View More: http://kelseynelson.pass.us/falkner-highlights

View More: https://kelseynelson.pass.us/falkner-wedding

View More: http://kelseynelson.pass.us/falkner-highlights

Thank you so much for entrusting your wedding day to me, Ali and Trent! I loved getting to know you two so much, and wishing y’all a lifetime of love, laughter, and joy!! A million congratulations to the wonderful newlyweds.

As always, it takes a village to bring such a seamless, stunning, joyful wedding day to life, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work alongside some of my very favorite industry partners!

Photography Kelsey Nelson Photography
Planning + styling Stephanie Shaul Events
Venue Merrimon Wynne
Florals Bowerbird Flowers
Catering + cake Catering Works
DJ Bunn DJ Co.
Rentals CE Rental
String quartet Arioso Strings
Ice cream truck Two Roosters
Hair Makeup by Ashley Mooney
Makeup Kayla from Ivey Artistry
Invitations Minted

all stunning photos by the amazing Kelsey Nelson