“Buying a home can be very emotional and exciting.  It is where your future begins and we love being a part of that.”  With the support of devoted family and their faith placed firmly in God, Amanda and John Polles began Polles Properties, LLC, on February 1, 2014.  Set up on a blind date and married less than two years later, the delightful couple is truly changing the real estate industry.

Polles Properties, LLC can support you with any real estate need!  They specialize not only in residential properties, but also recreational and commercial properties.  They even provide excellent property management services. 
With over eight years of experience as a real estate agent, Amanda has a true passion for helping people with the biggest investment of their lives.  John’s background in product development helped shaped his career-driven mind and his desire for working with people.  Amanda says, “Our strengths and weaknesses are combined to make a unique power team that is concentrated on getting the job done.  Whether it is selling your house and maximizing profit for your hard earned equity, or buying a house and making a great decision that is comfortable for your fixed income, we are there to make the process as easy and personable as possible.”  Amanda and John believe that preparation, knowledge and communication are key.  Amanda smiles, “It is the memories, the losses and the milestones that come with selling a home that we are prepared to understand.  Our clients are top priority and they are truly part of our family.” 

Polles Properties’ Advice for Purchasing Your First Home:
1.     Get approved for a mortgage!  Find and meet a great mortgage lender specialist.  He or she can prepare a budget based on your needs and help navigate you through understanding the numbers. 

2.     Narrow your search by area.  Research what is important to you!  Whether you prefer being in close proximity to work, excellent schools or family, or simply desire to live in a neighborhood you love, doing your research is critical to making sure you are happy with your choice long term.

3.     Talk to Polles Properties, LLC.  We are your one-stop shop to know and learn the house buying process.  We work hand-in-hand to make sure you are aware of each stage of the process including writing an offer, negotiating the contract, and setting a date to close the transaction.  We are here to help through inspections and repairs, and prepare you for the next step.

“We love people.  Our family is here to help you and we are always available to serve you!” 

Thank you, Amanda and John, for sharing your invaluable tips!  For more information on Polles Properties, LLC, please visit their website here.

A special thanks to Mary Moment Photography for the lovely photograph!  Click here to visit the beautiful Mary Moment Photography website!
Are you looking to buy a home? We are proud to host an incredibly insightful event with Metropolitan Bank on Tuesday, April 28!  Whether you are becoming a homeowner for the first time or you are a repeat buyer, buying a home requires thoughtful planning and decision making. Working with an experienced team is your most important step!

Join us TOMORROW - April 28, 2015, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for a complimentary event at beautiful Metropolitan Bank, located at 1069 Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland. The smart, experienced Realtors behind Polles Properties, LLC will join forces with the accomplished mortgage lending team of Metropolitan Bank to guide you through 10 Steps to Buying a Home.  We guarantee their tips will be invaluable.

Impressive Catering and spirits will be served by Georgia Blue Catering - Mississippi's favorite laid-back restaurant, famous for their sophisticated fare!

Click here to register for this exciting event!
Double Decker Arts Festival is one of Mississippi’s most treasured weekend events.  On Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25, the charming square in Oxford will be bustling with tourists and shoppers enjoying live music and booths full of incredible art.   This year Double Decker will celebrate its 20th anniversary!
Mary Allyn Hedges, Director of Visit Oxford, says, “The festival was started by a group of community members who wanted to celebrate all Oxford has become known for: arts, food and music. The name comes from the double decker bus.  The City of Oxford imported two buses from England, in honor of Oxford’s namesake.”

We are always blown away by the talented musicians and artists involved in Double Decker.  But how does it all come together?  We reached out to the brains behind the event, as well as one of the participating artists to find out what makes Double Decker so spectacular. 
Mary Allyn Hedges and her team at Visit Oxford get to work around 4am on Saturday to ensure the square is perfectly prepared for over 55,000 visitors.  We spoke with Mary Allyn to see how she seamlessly pulls this event together each and every April:

When does planning begin for each Double Decker?
“We begin working on Double Decker in October when we send out art vendor applications. Raising sponsorship funds also begins at this time, so planning for the festival happens about 9 months out of the year.”
How are the vendors chosen?
“Art Vendor process: The art vendor selection process is done through a jury that is composed of local artists that the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council selects. The jury then ranks the artists. This year, we have 155 art vendor participating with many new art vendors as well as several that have participated in the festival all 20 years! As for music, we work with a production company who helps with our talent buying.”
How is Double Decker growing and changing?
“The festival has grown, particularly in the last 5 years with the expansion of the festival going to a day two-event.  Friday evening kicks off the festival weekend with a special edition of Thacker Mountain Radio on the Double Decker stage (check out our website, www.doubledeckerfestival.com for specific times and bands). Saturday features an entire day of art vendors, local food vendors and music throughout the day. Plus, the children’s Square Fair area and the Oxford-Lafayette County Humane Society Best Dress Pet Contest. The Chamber of Commerce also puts on the Double Decker Spring Run with a 10K, 5K and 1 mile kids fun run (www.doubledeckerspringrun.com).”
Britton Yerger, a talented young artist living in Oxford, will be selling her work for the second year in a row at Double Decker.  She is a Mississippi artist working as a graphic designer and painter.  Today, we are excited to share more about Britton, her beautiful pieces, and what makes Double Decker such a special place for an artist:

Tell us about your childhood in Madison.  Have you always had an artistic spirit?
“Henry David Thoreau said, "Live the life you have imagined." And since a very young age, I have imagined myself living the life of an artist and illustrator. In fact, my very first career aspiration in preschool was to be an artist for children's books. And even though I’m not doing my preschool dream job, I am living the life I imagined and getting to do what I dreamed of.”
Tell me about the work you are doing now - specifically with the painting and computer images together.  So fascinating!
“I am a graphic designer by day but would not be completely happy if my hands weren’t covered in paint (so I guess I’m a painter by night…and on the weekends!). My watercolor work is a blend of hand-painted and computer-enhanced designs with bright colors. This makes a perfect combination of both of my passions: a marriage of fine art and computer enhanced imagery. It allows me to express myself both creatively and artistically while providing the foundation for a commercial approach in the field of graphic design.”
Also tell us about your pet oil paintings!
“My pet paintings are when I get to experience that passion and magic of creating life on a canvas.  I love expressing each animal’s heart and personality in oils.  Dogs’ eyes are so expressive, and it is my joy to capture and convey the soul of each pet with my paintings.”
How was your first experience as a vendor at Double Decker last year? 
“Last year was my first Double Decker experience as a vendor and it was overwhelmingly amazing. I have always loved going to Double Decker and here I was doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do and only one year out of college! I was surprisingly successful even though I had never been a salesman for my own work. My fondest memory was seeing my family and friends at such a fun event and seeing how happy they were to get to share in the excitement of my first Double Decker.”
Why do you want to return to Double Decker this year?
“Double Decker was a major accomplishment for me last year because it was my first time to be a vendor, and now I am doing 2 more festivals this spring. I grew so much as an artist and enjoyed meeting other artists and vendors. I also really enjoyed meeting fellow members of the Oxford community that were excited about my art because they share the same love for our special town.”
What can patrons expect to find at your booth (107) this year?
“All of the University of Mississippi’s sorority houses as prints and pillows.  Also I have watercolor prints of Oxford and Ole Miss landmarks.  I now have all of Mississippi State’s sorority houses, which, surprisingly, was a big request at Double Decker last year. And will have giclees (canvas prints) of my pet portraits and the option to have your pet portrait commissioned.”

Thank you, Mary Allyn and Britton!  For more information on Double Decker, please click here.  To view Britton's website, click here!

The 20th annual Double Decker is sure to be extraordinary.  Mary-Kathryn Herrington, a past Director of Visit Oxford, nails it when she describes what makes Double Decker so special.  “I think the atmosphere of Double Decker is hard to beat. The Courthouse Square in Oxford is a pretty incredible place, and on a spring day seeing it filled with artists, families and the sound of music is really hard to beat!”
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Bride}  Jessica Lauren Robertson
{Groom} Michael Cole Bishop (Cole)
{Hometowns} Clinton, MS
{Wedding Site} (name and location) Old Capitol Inn 226 North State Street Jackson, MS 39201
{Reception Site} (name and location) Old Capitol Inn 226 North State Street Jackson, MS 39201
{Bride’s Bouquet} Designed by Dede Dotson from the Olive Branch
{Bridesmaid Bouquets} Designed by Dede Dotson from the Olive Branch

{How did the two of you meet?} We met through my sister 5 years ago.

{What is your proposal story?} He proposed to me on the back of his truck at the place where we always go fishing.

{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?} I have worked at the Olive Branch for the past 7 years and have helped with many receptions there and loved the place.

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?} The florist. I just let Mrs. Dede (the owner of The Olive Branch) do what she thought was best.

{How did you pick “the dress?”} My sister (Brittany Furlow) actually picked the dress out and I tried it on and I fell in love with it.

{What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?} My husband’s family gave me a pearl necklace which I wore the day of the wedding. The pearl actually was from his grandmother. It made me feel so special when it was given to me.  It truly made me feel a part of their family.

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?} Going and seeing the different places to have the wedding and the wedding reception.  

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?} ?} Seeing Cole for the first time. All day I had wanted to see him and talk to him and when I finally did it was magical. Definitely worth the wait!

{Your favorite picture from the big day?} I love them all! But the picture of us looking at each other in the courtyard with my bouquet down by my side is by far my favorite.

{The picture that represents the two of you best?}  The pictures with us leaving with the band. We were so happy and had such a great time with all the people we love. I think our faces say it all!

Photographer: Barrett Photography 
  Event Planner: Rochelle Bishop
Dress: Imaginations in Brookhaven, MS
Bride’s Jewelry: My hair piece was my something borrowed from my sister (Brittany Furlow), my pearl necklace was my something old, and my engagement ring was my something new.
Hair: Cynthia Blackwell with Tangles
Make-up: Daphne Landrum
Bridesmaid Dresses: Imagination in Brookhaven, MS
Tuxes: Men’s Warehouse
Videographer: Steve Craven
Venue: Old Capitol Inn
Lighting: Old Capitol Inn
Rentals: Old Capitol Inn
Florist: The Olive Branch
Catering: Old Capitol Inn
Bar: Old Capitol Inn
Band: Al Paris and the Heartbreakers
Bride’s Cake: Lisa Hill
Groom’s Cake: We actually had an ice cream bar that Old Capitol Inn provided.
Print Material: Arrow Printers
Car Service: none
The Barn at Bridlewood is my DREAM.   This is something that I have dreamed of and have worked very hard to create.  I have tried to add all the things that I was looking for to make my own special day exceptional!” Tori Banks, owner of The Barn at Bridlewood

Tori Banks and her husband, Nathan, were engaged and searching for the perfect wedding venue for their vows.  Unfortunately, Tori realized she was unable to find anything in Hattiesburg that offered everything she had envisioned.  Disappointment turned to opportunity, and Tori had a brilliant idea: she would create a beautiful barn venue.  She says, “We wanted to create something that was timeless, unique and completely different from anything else around!  After many considerations, we purchased a barn out of Cooperstown, New York, that was originally built in 1851.”

Using the beautiful timber frame from 1851, construction of The Barn at Bridlewood began in Hattiesburg.  “We wanted the barn to have a history and a lot of character!” says Tori.  It became a true labor of love.  She and Nathan hand-picked and pressure-washed the reclaimed wood they used for the vaulted ceiling, and adorned the barn with glittering chandeliers, scored concrete floors and lovely light fixtures. 

The Barn at Bridlewood became an extraordinary wedding venue for couples in 2014.  The gorgeous property boasts a pretty Bed & Breakfast, the perfect spot for a bride and her bridesmaids to spend the night before the wedding.  They are also working on a loft above the stables for honeymooners or a groomsmen getaway!

Most brides choose to say their vows outside, beneath impressive, glowing oak trees.  Chandeliers and church pews help create an intimate, romantic setting.  If rain threatens, many brides marry in The Barn, which also promises to be spectacular.   

Brides who have married at the Barn at Bridlewood have had completely magical experiences.  Bride Kathryn White Abell says, “The Barn at Bridlewood is breathtaking. It is nothing like any venue my husband and I looked into before the wedding, the space and accommodations are unparalleled.”  It is even a dream venue for photographers.  Laken E. Photography says the venue is “a bride (and photographer's) dream aesthetically! Everyone is friendly; it's VERY well run.”

Tori perfectly sums up her beloved Barn.  “The atmosphere is relaxed yet elegant, and is the perfect choice for couples looking for a venue as unique as they are. At The Barn at Bridlewood, we can assure every bride, her special day and every wedding detail will be treated with all the care and attention that it deserves.”

Thank you, Tori, for creating such an incredibly special place.  We highly recommend a tour of the beautiful Barn and surrounding grounds for all brides-to-be.  Contact Tori at 601.270.1121 or visit www.thebarnatbridlewood.com
{Photography by Sully Clemmer with Sully Clemmer Photography}
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Less than two years ago, Katy Barham was fresh out of Mississippi State University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising, and she set her sights on Nashville.  One day, she was happily working at Nordstrom as a personal stylist when her phone rang.  It was her father and he had a brilliant idea.  As the owner of Fine Eyes Eyewear in Ridgeland, Cleve Barham noticed that the adjacent store, Bella Bridesmaids, was for sale.  He urged Katy to move home and run the business. 
Katy laughs, “My dad found out the owner of Bella Bridesmaids was selling her business.  He went home and told my mom that we should buy the store, and she thought he was crazy!”  She adds, “I was completely thrown off and a little freaked out.  I have always known that I would one day own a store, but I wasn’t sure when or where.  I have always had a passion for fashion design and wanted a store filled with beautiful and unique clothing.” 

Katy visited the Bella Bridesmaids in Nashville and quickly fell in love with the idea.  A few days later, she had formed an LLC, moved home and was on a plane to Chicago for Bella Bridesmaids training.
Bella Bridesmaids is the only store in the United States to exclusively sell bridesmaid dresses.  There are 47 Bella Bridesmaids stores throughout the country, and each location is locally owned.  Katy says, “Bella Bridesmaids is a franchise, but it is run like a local business.  Our branding, logo, look and feel are the same, but when you go into each showroom, you are going to see the owner.”  She adds, “We have 47 locations that can conveniently be used for fittings.  Not all bridesmaids live in the same town as their bride.  Bridesmaids can visit their local Bella Bridesmaids for fittings, appointments, etc.”
Bella Bridesmaids carries unique designers, and boasts several designers that are only sold in Bella Bridesmaids stores.  They also carry precious flower girl dresses, and pretty dresses and gowns for your Rehearsal Dinner or engagement party. 

Cleve's idea sounded far-fetched at the time, but he must have known Katy was the perfect owner of the Jackson Bella Bridesmaids.  She has successfully grown the business in a short amount of time, and recently expanded her elegant showroom from 778 to an impressive 1555 square feet. 
With spring and summer brides feverishly planning their weddings, we asked Katy to share her tips for perfectly dressing your beloved bridal party:

Color – Whether you choose to dress your bridesmaids in the same color or opt for dresses in complementary shades, always choose a hue that will enhance the girls’ skin tones and hair colors.  As an added bonus, consider a color that your friends will wear again, long after the wedding!

Fabric – Consider mixing fabrics in the same hue to create interest.  The result of this textured look is beautifully subtle.  

Style – You want your bridesmaids to look lovely on your big day!  It is perfectly acceptable to choose different styles to flatter each bridesmaid’s figure!
Thank you, Katy, for these wonderful tips, and congratulations on your stunning showroom!  Bella Bridesmaids is by appointment only.  To reach Katy, simply choose one of the following:

Bella Bridesmaids
118 W. Jackson Street
Suite B
Ridgeland, MS 39157
Phone: 601-898-0303
Fax: 601-898-0304
Email: Jackson@BellaBridesmaid.com
Website: www.bellabridesmaids.com
By Appointment Only: Tuesday-Saturday
Closed: Sunday & Monday
Courtesy Fittings By Appointment: Tuesday-Friday
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Bride} Claiborne Steele Bryant
{Groom} Kurt David Cooksey
{Hometowns} Both from Vicksburg, Mississippi
{Wedding Site} Bride’s grandparent’s home, Loosa Yokena Plantation in Yokena, MS
{Bride’s Bouquet}  Tommy Simrall, family friend and retired floral designer
{Bridesmaid Bouquets} Tommy Simrall, family friend and retired floral designer

{How did the two of you meet?}
We are both from Vicksburg, but it wasn’t until 5th or 6th grade that we actually acknowledged one another. We became better friends during high school through mutual friendships, and began dating our Junior year. The rest is history!

{What is your proposal story?}
Ahh the proposal! It happened last April when we ran the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennesse. He had plans to propose after the race, and made sure that family and friends were there! It was the second best day of my life. He made sure someone was there to take pictures (that I’ve cherished!) and we also have the best shaky iPhone video of the whole thing.

{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?}
I’ve always wanted to get married in my grandmother’s yard, and we chose her “White Garden” specifically because that is where my mom and dad were married. It has always been a special place to me, causing emotions every time I am there. A morning wedding in her garden has always been on my mind.

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?}
I’m obsessed with greens and neutrals so that’s where I naturally looked when picking bridesmaids dresses and flowers. I knew that I wanted the arrangements and bouquets to be natural and not perfectly shaped. Having a garden wedding, we left most of the decorations to nature, with a lot of help from my grandmother, Dee Hyland, and uncle, Reverend Rusty Keen. I wanted the bouquets to look like they were just snatched from the side of Highway 61; big and natural. A dear family friend and retired floral designer, Tommy Simrall, chose flowers and greenery from my grandmother’s yard, Yokena Presbyterian Church (the church that I grew up in), and off of the side of the highway. As far as theme for the wedding, Kurt and I just wanted everything to be relaxed and comfortable. A morning wedding with a brunch reception was perfect.

{How did you pick “the dress?”}
My mom, grandmother, sister and I traveled to Lowe’s in Brinkley, Arkansas to find the dress. They were so wonderful! I went in with an idea of what I wanted, and the second try was “the dress!” We all knew, but I felt nervous feeling so sure, so I tried on about 4 more. We left with dress number two!

{Whats your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?}
My Grandmother let me borrow her cameo that has been passed down through several generations. It belonged to my Aunt Pattie, the woman that built the house where we were married. I wore the cameo on my sash. It was so special! I am also so in love with my green emerald and diamond engagement ring that my dad made for my mom when they were engaged. Kurt and Mama sneakily traveled to Atlanta, GA to have small changes and alterations made to it. It was a family affair!

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?}
It’s hard to pick a favorite part! I loved all of it. Loved spending so much time with family and close friends, discussing all of the little details. We had many get togethers planning the big day!

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?}
Finally being able to talk to Kurt afterwards! I hadn’t seen him all morning, so finally being able to squeal and laugh and say that we were married was bliss - It felt so right and crazy at the same time. The whole bridal party flowed inside behind us and surrounded us, high fiving, hugging and smiling. I seriously could not stop smiling!

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?}
Well, walking up the sidewalk when I first arrived that morning, hearing my cousins preparing the music, and seeing my mom for the first time, just made me so thankful and emotional that the day was finally here. Another favorite moment was right before the wedding, once everyone was ready, the bridesmaids and I gathered in the parlor room (to hide from Kurt mostly), and peeked out of the windows, watching guests arrive. We opened the door to the garden so that we could hear the soloists and hymns. Right before it was time to walk down the aisle, we all gathered in a circle and prayed. When the bridesmaids left, I was able to hug my mom one last time, and thankfully got to sit and talk with my dad for a second before it was our turn to walk. It was such a special part of the morning!

{Your favorite picture from the big day?}
I have so many favorites. Love all of the shots of our family because family is such a big part of our life, and I’m so blown away by the detail shots of the yard with the morning light coming through the trees. But, I believe our favorite picture is the big group picture of the whole bridal party after the wedding. I’m squinting and smiling so big, Kurt’s laughing, and the whole group is just genuinely happy!! Will cherish these people and their friendships forever.

 {The picture that represents the two of you best?}
The picture of us in the garden, laughing at something in the distance. We have no idea what was so funny, but we were smiling the whole day. I feel like it definitely represents our personalities best!

Danny K Photography
Oxford, Mississippi

Lowe’s Brinkley, Arkansas
Sottero and Midgley dress by Maggie Sottero.

Brides Jewelry:
Wedding Band
Newton’s Jewelers
Flowood, Mississippi

Hair & Make up:
Lori Thompson with The Body Shop
Vicksburg, Mississippi

Bridesmaid Dresses:
Imaginations Bridal
Brookhaven, Mississippi

King of Hearts
Vicksburg, Mississippi

Revival House
Jackson, Mississippi

Loosa Yokena Plantation
(Grandparent’s home)

Top It Off Events
Jackson, Mississippi

Tommy Simrall
(Retired floral designer)
Rusty Keen
(Bride’s Uncle)

Sasha Monty with Alexander Pretti & Co.
Clarksdale, Mississippi
Tarsha Neal
Vicksburg, Mississippi

Ceremony Painter
Anna Callaway (friend of the bride)

Reception Musician:
David Stinson (local saxophone player)

Brides & Grooms Cakes:
Mary Ann Artz (local cake artist)

Print Material:

Claiborne Design and Illustration
Starkville, Mississippi
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Molly Gee Designs is widely known for beautiful, hand-made wedding and special occasion accessories.  Her bridal veils, brooches, dress sashes and headbands are intricately designed with delicate pearls, lace, feathers and silks. 

But did you know that Molly is also a wildly talented hair stylist?  Molly recently traveled to New York City for a Braids and Balayage class, and we were eager to speak with her and get all of the details!
Tell us about your recent trip to NYC!  How did you hear about the Braids and Balayage class?
“I first met Jenny Strebe of Confessions of a Hairstylist a few years ago since we share the same graphic designer. On a few occasions, I mailed my hair accessory designs for her to style in her YouTube videos. She quickly became a mentor of mine during cosmetology school through her blog and tutorials. Last October, Jenny traveled to Mississippi to teach her updo styling class which was extremely informative and helpful. So when she teamed up with Jay Olsen of Bespoke salon in Scottsdale, AZ, for a Braids and Balayage class, I definitely wanted to attend! Out of all the class locations, New York was the best choice since I had friends to stay with."
How was your trip?  Any memorable moments?
“I had a blast!  It was a quick trip but I was able to catch up with great friends and walk around my old neighborhood, Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, enjoying my favorite spots. “

What is Balayage?
“Balayage is a French word meaning to sweep or to paint. It allows for a sun-kissed natural looking hair color - similar to what nature gives us as children - with softer, less noticeable regrowth lines. The principal idea being less is more when creating soft, natural looks.”
How do you plan to incorporate what you learned into styling your clients?
“More and more clients are asking for this highlighting technique as well as braids incorporated into their updo styles. I am such a perfectionist so even though I've practiced these technique numerous times, I wanted to shadow two specialized stylists in the hair industry. “

Will these new styles be easy to adorn with your hairpieces?
“Absolutely! Both Balayage and braiding give a hairstyle a lot of dimension and attract the eye, which will further enhance my hairpieces!”
Thank you, Molly, for sharing these gorgeous photos of your Balayage and braids designs!  To learn more about Molly Gee Designs, please click here.  For more information on the Braids and Balayage class, please visit their website here
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
April is National Poetry Month, and Mississippi is home to one of the most talented poets in the country.  Patricia Neely-Dorsey’s prose is spectacular, and she beautifully weaves the story of our state in every poem she writes. 

Patricia says, “There are so many negative connotations associated with Mississippi and the South in general.  Through my poems, I attempt to give a more positive glimpse into the southern way of life.  All of my poems are inspired by my love of Mississippi and the southern way of life.”

Patricia’s poetry is getting noticed.  She was recently honored with a resolution from the House of Representatives, and Governor Phil Bryant declared her an Official Goodwill Ambassador for Mississippi.  Her lovely poem, Meet My Mississippi, will soon be up for consideration as the official state poem.  We had the opportunity to talk with Patricia, and hear what sparks her passion for writing and our state!
Tell me about your childhood in Mississippi! Did you always have a deep passion for Tupelo and the state?
“I always loved the experience of growing up in Mississippi, in the South and in the country, but I gained a much deeper appreciation for it when I went away to college and was away from it all for long periods of time.”

How did you end up in Boston for college?
“My mother always wanted my brother and I to attend school out of Mississippi, so that we could have a broader experience of life.  My brother, who is three years older, was already at Boston University.  He had very high praises of the school, so I soon followed."
After 20 years in Memphis, what led you back to Tupelo?
“My parents were aging and there were things that I needed to come home to help them with.  Also, I wanted my son, who was about to enter the third grade at the time of our move, to grow up in a slower paced, less hectic environment than what Memphis offered.”

How did you start writing poetry?
“It's really still very amazing to me how it all came about.  I have loved poetry, since I was a very young child.  My father would recite poetry to me while he was shaving and getting ready for work.  But, I never really thought of writing my own poetry.

On February 14, (Valentine's Day) 2007, I woke up with a poem swirling around in my head.  I got up and quickly scribbled it down.  After that, the poems just started to flow and flow.  Within a few months, I had hundreds of poems."

Tell us about your books!  What inspired each and where can people find them?
"My first book, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems, was published February 2008.

My second book, My Magnolia Memories and Musings - In Poems was published in February 2012.

I call both books 'a celebration of the south and things southern.'  Both books can be purchased online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  Of course, any bookstore will order them for you."
Do you have a favorite poem you have written?
"I call Southern Life the signature piece of my poetry, because it, basically, sums up the whole theme and feel of all of my poems. Southern Man and If Mississippi's In You are crowd favorites.  But, I think that my personal favorite is Let's because it reflects an appreciation for the simple things in life."

What is your favorite thing about living in Mississippi?
"There are SO many things that I love about living in Mississippi!
We have some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery that anyone can imagine.
I love all of the green, open spaces.

I love the warmth of the climate…and the people.

I love the values of home, faith and family that are deeply instilled 

The food is some of the best in the world and our music is legendary."

Thank you, Patricia, for turning the beauty of our state into words.  For more information on Patricia and her poetry, please visit her website here
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Bride}  Jesimine Vaughan
{Groom} Todd Vaughan
{Hometowns} Jackson, MS and Yazoo City, MS
{Wedding Site} Cathedral A.M.E.Z. Church  Jackson, MS
{Reception Site} Downtown Marriott  Jackson, MS
{Bride’s Bouquet} William Box Designs
{Bridesmaid Bouquets}  William Box Designs

{How did the two of you meet?} The Crowns of Joy was having a function at my church. I remember telling my family that I was not going to attend this time. However, I changed my mind later and I decided to attend anyway. The program was going well and I recall seeing this guy in a yellow jacket standing in the choir stand bopping his head. I remember laughing at how bright that jacket was.  After the program, I mixed and mingled with church members and, of course, The Crowns of Joy. My sister noticed this necklace that he was wearing. She asked me to come over and check it out. She was thinking of getting my nephew one.  I walked over and looked at the item. Then my sister and I walked off discussing the necklace. I eventually left the program and went home to enjoy a good night’s rest.

The very next day, my brother-in-law decided to play matchmaker. I value my brother-in-law’s opinion. He had so many wonderful things to say about this guy. He was trying to make me remember the guy. I asked him for a description of what the guy had on the previous night. Of course, it was the “banana jacket” guy. All I could do was chuckle within. To be honest, that jacket was the highlight of my night. I told him to have Todd give me a call. Todd called me later that day and the end result is where we are now, Happily In Love.

{What is your proposal story?} Todd and I were enjoying our vacation in Florida. On May 17, we spent the entire day celebrating his birthday. We were all over Orlando just having fun. At the resort, he wanted to share with me how much he enjoyed the entire day and was glad that we took the much needed vacation.  He kept stating that his birthday is not over yet. I was thinking to myself that it is time to prepare for a new day. Todd begin to tell me how much he loved me and how he appreciated me. There was "love talk" that will be kept between the two of us.  However, I was so clueless that this was the actual moment. Todd stated that he wanted to end his birthday right by asking me to be his wife. He got on one knee and asked would I marry him. I was so shocked and really thought he was playing. Then my love pulled out a ring and asked me again.  I was happy and surprised at the same time which made tears and a smile appear on my face. I kept asking, “Really?"  He patiently waited on his knee for me to give him an answer. He sweetly asked again, “Will you marry me?” Of course, while crying I said, "yes.” We called those closest to us to share the big news of the proposal. It blessed my heart that he is old fashioned and asked for my hand in marriage months ago. Everyone knew it was coming but Todd only knew the actual proposal day.

Early in the relationship, we both knew that God meant for us to share our lives together. He reminded us during our relationship that it is in "His time" and in "due season."  On May 17, 2013, God was ready for us to "walk into our season.”

 {What inspired your wedding and reception locations?} We decided on a traditional church ceremony for two reasons:
1.      We wanted the ceremony to be sacred.
2.      This was the place where we first met.

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?} Purple is one of my favorite colors. I love seeing it paired with touches of bright green. This inspired my shades of purple and touches of green throughout the ceremony.

{How did you pick “the dress?”} My family and I were at my bridal appointment at Imaginations in Brookhaven, MS. We made it a family field trip with breakfast that morning, bridal appointment and lunch afterwards. My mom, aunt, sister, niece (maid of honor), and my cousin (matron of honor) each picked dresses for me. I was on my sister’s pick and knew I would hate this dress. When I put her choice on, I fell in love with it. I felt like a sexy diva in it and I knew Todd would love me in it. Of course, my family loved the dress as well. My oldest sister in Colorado Springs, Colorado gave her stamp of approval via phone.

{What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?} I loved the items that were given to me by my dear friends out of love. Especially the jewelry, it was a sweet gesture from of the sweetest people I know.

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?} I enjoyed bonding with my family during this process. This wedding just made our bond even stronger.

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?}  When my husband met me at the altar, he whispered something sweet in my ear. It was just a reminder of why I love him so much.

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?} We were excited to finally see our vision unfold. For example, the florist went above and beyond with everything.

{Your favorite picture from the big day?} The pictures of our first dance.

{The picture that represents the two of you best?}  All the pictures of us (Engagement and Wedding) reflect our love and slight goofiness. We love having fun with each other and there is never a dull moment.

Photographer: Carlyn Photography
Wedding Coordinator: Andrea Hopkins with Perfection Wedding Coordinating Company, LLC
Dress: Imaginations
Hair: Scott Tennon
Make-up: Leondra Taplin
Bridesmaid Dresses: Imaginations
Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse
Videographer: Timothy Toney
Lighting/Rentals: Premier Event Rentals
Florist: William Box Designs
Catering: Marriott
DJ: Ron Moore “Ron Tha DJ”
Bride’s Cake: That Special Touch
Groom’s Cake: Tayari Jones
Print Material: J. Ward Designs
Flower Girl TuTu Dress:
Little Dreamers Tutus (www.littledreamerstutus.com)
Cake: That Special Touch
Groom's Cake: Tayari Jones
Flowers and Decor: William Box Designs - Special Occasion Flowers
Lighting and Rentals: Premier Events
Reception Venue: Jackson Marriott
Programs: J Ward Design Studio
Make-up Artist: Leondra Taplin
Wedding Coordinator: Andrea Tricie Oscar-Hopkins (http://www.perfectionwed.com/)
Dusti Bongé (1903-1993), The Balcony, 1943. oil on canvas. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of The Dusti Bongé Foundation, Inc. 1999.015.
Marie Hull (1890-1980), The Pink Lady, 1967. oil on canvas. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of the artist. 1978.005.
Jason Bouldin (born 1965), Portrait of Captain Jimmy Allgood, Lafayette County Fire Department, 2002. oil on canvas. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of Dr. Alicia Bouldin. 2007.041
Alex O’Neal (born 1957), Leon Koury’s Backyard Messiahs, 2000. acrylic on canvas. Collection of Mississippi Museum of Art. Gift of the artist. 2005.096.
The Mississippi Museum of Art is hosting a dreamy black-tie gala this Friday evening that should not be missed.  For the first time ever, the museum will present the magical “Night at the Museum: Artworks Come Alive” spring gala.
Julian Rankin, Marketing Director, says, “We are not unlike other museums in that we have fundraisers, galas, and other benefits, but this time around, we wanted to do something different than we’d done in years past; something exciting to celebrate the greatest asset of the institution – the art on the walls.”

As guests arrive at the museum, they will be treated with complementary valet parking before being whisked away into an unforgettable evening. 

Guests will be served an impressive three-course dinner at 7:30pm, as Civil War soldiers battle around the room.  Special visitors will also dazzle guests throughout the evening.  Julian says, “Some of the surprises are just that – you never know what artworks will come to life when the museum closes – but a few of the ones we can disclose are works like The Pink Lady by celebrated Mississippi artist Marie Hull, a fire chief as painted by Jason Bouldin, as well as Elvis and William Faulkner. Plus, a few longtime Museum employees whose portraits hang in the Museum will ‘emerge’ from those paintings to bartend. There are also a number of abstract artworks that will come to life, as well.”

After dinner, dancing under the stars will commence as guests mingle with figures fresh from the canvases in the museum.  “Raphael Semmes & Friends with special guest Jewell Bass will be the headlining evening act, playing outside on the C Spire Stage after dinner and into the night. Guests and artworks alike will be moved to dance under the open skies – living artworks love music, I’m told,” laughs Julian.

What an enchanting gala!  Proceeds from the event will directly benefit our wonderful Mississippi Museum of Art, supporting educational programs, exhibitions, and local and statewide opportunities. 

Each ticket costs $175 per person.  For more information, please visit the Mississippi Museum of Art Website here
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}