This weekend promises to be beautiful, cool and sunny - the perfect weather for exploring Mississippi's great outdoors!  We rounded up twenty amazing spots around the state that deserve to be explored.  
 
 
Alex and Madison met during their freshman year of college at Ole Miss.  Madison smiles,"Mutual friends from St. Louis introduced us, and it turned out we lived five minutes away from each other our entire lives, but never crossed paths until we met at Ole Miss." 

Blake Belcher Photography beautifully captured their recent proposal in The Grove, and we asked Madison to share more details from this extraordinary day!  She says, "Our proposal was perfect! A little back story... my grandfather, Dr. Ronald Borne, was a professor at the University. He tailgated in the same spot in the circle for 38 years before he unexpectedly passed away in October. That spot means so much to me and my family. I grew up in that spot and it quickly became Alex's spot as well. My grandfather also loved Alex!"

She adds, "About a week before the proposal my family told me that we were going to take a picture in that spot to put on our Christmas card (that's how he got me to dress up) since it holds such a special place in each of our hearts. As we arrived, Alex decided to park extremely far away because 'he wanted to walk through campus.'  It had been a while since we had been back to campus so I didn't think much of it. Turns out he was just stalling. As we walked up holding hands, he began to squeeze my hand really tight. Blake, our photographer had told him to walk to a certain spot to capture the perfect picture. As we got to that spot Alex turned and dropped down on one knee and asked me to be his wife! I kind of blacked out at that moment and don't really remember what he said, but I said yes! He then surprised me with an engagement party with all of our family and friends who traveled from all over to celebrate with us. He really outdid himself!" 

We are thrilled to share the gorgeous photographs with you today.  Madison smiles, "Blake captured the moment perfectly and we are so thankful to have our pictures to forever remind us of that amazing moment. I cannot wait to marry my best friend!"
Best wishes, Madison and Alex!  For more information on Blake Belcher Photography, please visit his website here! 
 
 

A background in classical ballet led Erik Kegler to become one of the country's most beloved designers.   Kegler, a wildly talented New York native, worked as a professional dancer with several ballet companies before earning an interior design degree.  After working in Palm Beach under renowned designer Jack Phillips, he arrived in Jackson, Mississippi.  That was over seventeen years ago.

Since then, Kegler has been creating gorgeous spaces and events with his partner, Brennan Hovell.  When Kegler and Hovell were introduced, their chemistry was instantaneous. Hovell, the son of a custom home builder, had worked for a number of years in the interior design industry, and always approached jobs with the unique perspective of coming from a construction background.  With Kegler's artistic past, they were a perfect pair.

"We are the people who encourage others to go out and be inspired," says Kegler.   "Brennan and I have a really good marriage of how we work on things.  We are both very aware of the fact that there are certain houses or events that one of us might feel a strong attachment.  The other acts as a really good editor.  We balance each other well, and we work as a great team."  Hovell adds, "One of the best things about working together is that we have the opportunity to build on each other's creative ideas!"

When designing homes or spaces, they approach interiors with a unique perspective.  "A room is permanent.  Everything we do is inspired by the people we work for!  Our goal is for a client's room to look like them.  Not like we designed it.  It should reflect who they are as human beings, their dreams and their wishes," smiles Kegler.

Kegler's background in the arts has truly inspired his career as an event designer.  He says,"Events are like a little theater me.  I see them as a production.  You really kind of lose yourself in it; nothing is ever the same," he says.  "Each event is unique, which keeps us fresh and creative.  It is an incredible opportunity, getting to know interesting people and their bringing their dreams to life instead of ours."

About five years ago, Kegler and Hovell opened their event design and rental company, Eventful.  After planning parties for various clients, Kegler was unable to find the unique rental pieces and accessories he was looking for.  "We wanted a company with lots of pretty things and beautiful linens," reflects Kegler.  Eventful was born, and events around the country have never been so exceptional. 

"When we are working outside of Mississippi, we do take our Mississippi roots and aesthetic with us.  A little southern touch of warmth," says Hovell.  "We also love to bring back a bit of a modern edge to Mississippi and mix the two styles together."

Today, Kegler continues teaching ballet at the Metropolitan Dance Academy in Jackson."Teaching children helps relax a part of my creativity.  It rejuvenates another aspect of my life  I have to let each of my interests rest and be inspired by the other." 

Lucky for us, this wildly warm, creative and kind pair plans to remain in Mississippi.  "It is such a great state.  People always ask if we would love and the answer is no," reflects Kegler. "I have lived many other places but I truly enjoy running a business and living in Mississippi."

For more information on Erik Kegler Events, Erik Kegler Linens or Eventful, please visit their website here.  You can also visit their Facebook page here! Eventful recently opened a gorgeous retail location in Jackson; We look forward featuring photographs of their beautiful space with Inspiration Mississippi soon!  
 
 
It is no secret that an extraordinary number of talented athletes are from our great state.  Today we are thrilled to share our Mississippi Sports Trail from Inspiration Mississippi Magazine, featuring some of the world's greatest athletes and their hometowns!
 
 
Jordan Claire Smith and Graham Patrick Smith first met in the youth group at First Baptist Church of Jackson.  Years later, Graham proposed in the church’s chapel, and the two wed in the very same special spot.  An incredible reception followed at the Old Capitol Inn, with hues of cranberry and peach woven throughout the florals and décor.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith danced the night away with friends and family, making it a downtown Jackson affair to remember!
VENDORS:

Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church 
Photography:  Chao Photography
Florals: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral
Reception Venue & Catering: Old Capitol Inn
Cakes:  The Cake Diva
DJ/Lighting: DJ Cuzy Cuzy
Videographer:  Ken Sims
Makeup:  Ashley Richardson
Dress:  Imaginations Bridal
Hair:  Tangles Salon
Tuxes:  Tuxes Too
 
 
Today we honor and celebrate the brave, eloquent and heroic Martin Luther King Jr.  King was a champion for peaceful activism during the Civil Rights Movement, and we continue to learn from his wise words today.  

As we reflect and learn from the tragedies of the past and hope for a brighter future, Mississippi will be opening two incredible museums this year:  the Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History.  Today, we are pleased to share an article from the 2017 issue of Inspiration Mississippi Magazine, outlining these two extraordinary museums.
Mississippi became the twentieth state on December 10, 1817.  In celebration of our bicentennial, two innovative, adjoining museums will open their doors in downtown Jackson on December 9, 2017.

The Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History celebrate the joys of our past, honestly depict our devastating stories, and offer a wealth of healing and hope for Mississippi’s future.  Lucy Allen, Museum Division Director for the Department of Archives and History, smiles, “These museums are really two parts of the whole story.  They work beautifully together.”

The mission of these extraordinary museums is Education. Allen says, “Our goal is to have every child, from Kindergarten through the twelfth grade, have the opportunity to visit these museums.  This is so important to us.”

Together, the museums boast over 40,000 square feet of permanent exhibits and 8,000 square feet of temporary exhibits.  The Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi is the first state supported and state operated Civil Rights Museum in the nation.  The exhibits are cleverly incorporated into the building’s striking architecture and design.    

The Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi concentrates on what occurred in Mississippi and the nation between 1945 and 1976.  Allen says, “We have very difficult stories to tell.  But we are very honest.  The community expects that and we expect it of ourselves.” 

At the heart of the Civil Rights Museum lies This Little Light of Mine, a lovely place of reflection and peace.  Visitors will stand in awe of a stunning sculpture, producing soft light and music.  Stephanie Morrisey, Director for Outreach and Communication, says, “On the exterior, the museum’s large windows and rooftop oculus allow a beacon of line to shine out from the sculpture inside. This illumination symbolizes individual and community light that shines on the heroic struggles of the Movement.”  The beam of flight will glow over the capital at dusk, accentuating the building.  Allen adds, “This Little Light of Mine is the theme of the museum.  Everyone has a light to shine; it is a reminder to treat everyone with respect.”

One of the last galleries focuses on where we are now and where we go from here.  Allen smiles, “We hope this will promote and foster racial recognition and hopefully healing.”

Visitors to The Museum of Mississippi History will embark on a journey from prehistoric times to modern day.  Museum Visitors will first enter a round theater, gather around a campfire and hear about the powerful stories awaiting them.  With a resonating theme of One Mississippi:  Many Stories, Allen says, “This is a starting point to tell visitors that Mississippi is very diverse.  We have different cultural groups, but we are one Mississippi with many stories that make up what our state is about.”

The museum will feature three Breakout areas.  The first tells the story of American Indians through their own voices.  The second concentrates on various wars, from the War of 1812 through the modern conflict in the Middle East.  The final Breakout is the soul of the state, highlighting our music, written word and performing arts.  A Mississippi juke joint will charm guests with live music and incredible artifacts.  

What magnificent additions to the state of Mississippi; each museum will also be a gateway for visitors to learn about other museums, historic sites and cultural experiences across the state.   “When these museums open, many eyes will be upon us,” smiles Allen.  “We will be ready to share our stories with the world.”

For more information on the Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History, please email info@2mississippimuseums.com or visit www.mdah.ms.gov/2MM/

 
 
“We have a massive love of color,” admits Erik Kegler, the talented owner of Erik Kegler Interiors, Erik Kegler Linens and Eventful.  Kegler and Brennan Hovell recently purchased and completely renovated a gorgeous Jackson home, and we fell madly in love with their warm and inviting living room.

“Inspired by early vintage Ralph Lauren, we decided to paint the walls a rich navy blue.  We added pops of color, pattern and texture, resulting in a traditional room with funky fabrics and accessories,” says Kegler.  Their mixture of fabrics is simply stunning.  Kegler and Hovell found a striking floral abstract fabric for their sofa and lined drapery with a hand-embroidered linen paisley.  Kegler smiles, “An interesting piece of fabric in the room comes from a vintage jaguar coat.  One of our dearest friends gave us her grandmother’s coat and we turned it into gorgeous authentic jaguar pillows.” 

A massive fireplace gives the room a gentle glow.  “It’s not the focal point, but you can’t help but honor it,” says Hovell.  “We really saturated the room in color, texture and wood.  One of my favorite things is our huge collection of blue and white pottery.  It is beautifully showcased, especially against the navy blue wall.”

The result is a cozy, welcoming space; the perfect spot to relax on a chilly Mississippi evening. 
 
 
Laken Lowery and Ford Ramey met in the fifth grade.  After losing touch for a number of years, the two reconnected and the rest is history!  “Ford and I both always said we wanted to get married at the Barn at Bridlewood.  It was the only venue we looked at because we knew it fit us perfectly and was exactly what we wanted,” smiles Laken. 

The barn was beautifully draped with romantic hydrangeas and roses, perfectly complementing the rustic setting.  Laken reflects, “My favorite moments were at the reception.  First dance as husband and wife, eating and celebrating with our closest friends and family made for an unforgettable night.” 
Inspiring Idea:  Invite loved ones to pray over your marriage during the ceremony.
VENDORS:
Ceremony & Reception Venue:  The Barn at Bridlewood
Photography:  Wendy Calhoun Photography
Florals: Blooms a Garden Shop
Event Planner:  Adrienne Hicks Garanich
Rentals:  Pretty Presentations Rentals
Lighting: Davaine Lighting
Catering: Pretty Presentations Catering
Band:  Travis Clark
Bride's Cake: The Pastry Garden
Groom's Cake:  Home Bake & Candy Shop
Dress: Imaginations Bridal
Hair: Natalie Collins with The Abbey Salon
Tuxes: Jos. A.Bank
Bridesmaid Dresses:  Imagination Bridal
Print Material:  Walnut Square Gift & Stationary
 
 
Tupelo is a fun, festive location for a wintry weekend away!  Jill Hiers, owner of Custom Travel Professionals, LLC, says, “Tupelo has fabulous attractions, like the birthplace of Elvis museum, Tupelo Automobile Museum and Tupelo National Battlefield.  And Tishomingo State Park is just steps away from Tupelo, right off of the Natchez Trace.  It is stunning and you won’t believe you are in Mississippi!”

STAY
· Hilton Garden Inn  - A short distance to the BancorpSouth Center and BancorpSouth Arena, and just minutes from Elvis Presley’s Birthplace and the Tupelo Auto Museum!
· Holiday Inn Express & Suites – 101 family-friendly rooms and suites in Tupelo.

EAT
· Neon Pig – This eatery won a national contest for best burger in the nation!
· Kermits Outlaw Kitchen (KOK) -  A fun, artistic environment!  The menu changes weekly based on fresh availability of local product.
· Forklift -  This brand new restaurant features award-winning chef David Leathers!
· Mt. Fugi Japanese Restaurant – Hiers says, “They have the BEST sushi anywhere.  There is nothing like sitting at the chef's table and having Jackie's unique creations.” 
· South Restaurant -  Beautiful restaurant with southern cuisine, great happy hour specials and blues music trickling from the speakers.
· Park Heights -   Upscale dining in a gorgeous setting.  The rooftop has incredible views of downtown Tupelo.
· Crave - “Dessert-only heaven,” laughs Hiers!  

EXPLORE

· FarmHouse - A gorgeous boutique store nestled in thriving downtown Tupelo.   Perfect for gifts, home décor, fine linens, art and jewelry.   
· Trove -  A lovely antique and design store. 
· J. Britt Lighting & Interiors -  Beautiful store!  The J. Britt Restoration Collection is a line of products that take old items and repurpose them into unique ones. 
· The Cotton Bolt -  Fantastic spot for beautiful fabrics!
· Reed's - Famous women's, men's, gifts, and bookstore!  
· Core Cycle & Outdoor -  A cool spot in a brand new location.  The store even features a climbing wall!

Tupelo.net is a comprehensive online guide to this fabulous town.  For more information on Custom Travel Professionals, LLC, please visit customtravelprofessionals.com 

Photograph courtesy of Tupelo.net