“My love of photography and Mississippi moved me to put these little Instagrams into a book form.  It is my way of telling stories through captured images, design and the familiar subject of the land I call home,” says Malcolm White. 

Malcolm is sharing his personal and unique Mississippi photos in his enchanting new book, LITTLE STORIES.  He says, “’Mississippi is a strange and beguiling place,’ to quote my friend, Willie Morris.  But it’s what I know, where I’m from and the place where I have spent the majority of my life – by choice.”
Malcolm currently serves as the Visit Mississippi Director, previously acted as Executive Director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, opened Jackson’s beloved restaurant and music venue Hal & Mal’s with his brother, Hal, and founded Jackson’s infamous Mal’sSt. Paddy’s Day Parade.  To say he is devoted to Mississippi is an understatement. 
The cover of LITTLE STORIES is a hauntingly beautiful and mysterious photograph of a storm in Philadelphia, inviting readers to explore Mississippi’s history through Malcolm’s eyes.  “Here I share what I know — and in this case it is a geography known as Mississippi, a place of phantasmagorical change and historic resistance to change; a place beloved and a place despised and detested — a place of paradox, home.”
Malcolm captured over 5,000 images on his smart phone over a number of years as he traveled throughout the state.  During that time, Malcolm attended several Barefoot Workshops on film and photography, taught by Chandler Griffin, a Jackson native.  Chandler encouraged Malcolm to continue exploring his interest in storytelling and ultimately, Chandler helped Malcolm bring LITTLE STORIES to life.  Chandler is Malcolm’s editor and partner for LITTLE STORIES, and he curated 300 of Malcolm’s photos, carefully designing their layout and placement in the book. 
Chandler says, “The book is designed based on light, color fields, sacred spaces and architecture.”  He adds, “Each image's selection and placement reflects Malcolm’s vision and is designed as a bit of a dance.  Every image is intentional and has purpose.” 
LITTLE STORIES is a 1st Edition, self-published book, and is limited to 1,000 copies.  LITTLE STORIES can be purchased through their website, www.littlestoriesms.com.  Malcolm is generously donating any profits from this endeavor to the Mississippi Book Festival.   Malcolm hopes to tour Mississippi and visit all of our state’s incredible independent bookstores to celebrate this extraordinary collection.  Malcolm reveals, “I hope anyone who looks at this collection will rethink Mississippi, and be open to how ordinary objects can become extraordinary compositions when viewed as art.”
Thank you, Malcolm, for sharing your intimate collection of photos with all of us!  To purchase your copy of LITTLE STORIES, please click here
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Bride}  Carter Thomas Griffin 
{Groom} Flynt Houston Griffin
{Hometowns} Bride: Greenwood, MS, Groom: Knoxville, TN
{Wedding Site} Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Greenwood, MS
{Reception Site} Childhood Home of the Bride, Greenwood, MS
{Bride’s Bouquet} White Phaleonopsis Orchids
{Bridesmaid Bouquets} Hydrangeas, garden roses, tulips, ranunculus, and regular roses

{How did the two of you meet?} We met through mutual friends in Edwards, CO.  I was living and working out in Colorado as a ski instructor and he was out skiing.  I was skiing with a little girl, and her Dad had given Flynt his first job out of law school.  I went to dinner with them at the end of their ski trip, and Flynt was there.  This was back in 2011.  He contacted me a couple of times over the next year and when I returned home for graduate school, he contacted me and came for a visit.  We have been together ever since, and that was March 2012!

{What is your proposal story?}
Flynt and I went to San Francisco to go see one of our favorite musicians, Van Morrison.  He planned an amazing trip from San Francisco to Carmel, Pebble Beach and back to San Francisco.  As I boarded my plane in Memphis, TN, and he in Miami, FL, he sent a typed itinerary to me.  I was in graduate school at the time in Oxford, MS, and he was living and working in Miami.  He wouldn’t let me know any details about our trip until he boarded his plane!  I was SO excited about all of the fun things he had planned.  He had organized the trip down to every second: hiking, restaurants, tours, etc.  Our first day was a LOT of fun, exploring around the city and seeing friends.  The second day he planned some hikes, because he knows I love the outdoors.  We went on one hike that ended at the ocean looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was awesome and beautiful to see the bridge from that perspective.  The next hike was in the Muir Woods.  We went down a trail called The Steep Ravine Trail.  It was dense, lush and filled with Redwoods.  I was in heaven, to say the least.  We were hiking towards the ocean.  After about 45 minutes on our hike, a stream of light seemed to burst through the dense forest. I remember telling Flynt how beautiful it was.  At the next moment, on a beautiful trail, with no one around, he said, “You know the only thing that would make this more beautiful, is if you would marry me.”  I said, “What?”  As I turned around, Flynt was holding a brown box with a BEAUTIFUL ring inside.  He then told me how much he loved me, how he wanted to take care of me for the rest of his life, and all of the other sweet things that I cannot remember – Ha!  He laughs and says that I didn’t say anything for a couple of minutes, but eventually I said, “Yes!!”  A couple appeared out of nowhere, so we actually got to take pictures in the exact spot that we got engaged.  We continued the hike and then finally turned around because I was dying to call Mom and tell her the exciting news.  We went to Van Morrison that night.  Needless to say, I wasn’t that into the concert J

{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?}  I was born and raised in the quaint Delta town of Greenwood.  It has always been a special place to my family and me.  I used to talk to my Dad about having a reception in our back yard. I wanted to get married in the back yard as well, but he had said he wanted me to get married in a church.  Honestly, it was an easy choice.  My father passed away shortly after my freshman year of college.  The event was tragic, but when choosing where to have the wedding and reception, it was clear as to where it would take place: the church I was raised in and the house where I was raised.  It was special to me in so many ways: allowing the presence of my father to be there, as well as the friends and families that have meant so much to me.

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?}  I wanted neutral colors: elegant and simple, with a bohemian and relaxed flair.

{How did you pick “the dress?”}  The dress I wore was actually my mom’s wedding dress.  I had the top of the dress remade by Dawn’s Couture in Memphis.  It was so special to wear my Mom’s dress. It was also special because I had worn the dress as a maid my senior year of high school.  There is a picture of me wearing the dress, and my Dad is wearing a tuxedo, walking me down the aisle. To me, there are so many symbols in the photo.  I wanted to wear the dress again, but I added my twist to it.  The ladies at Dawn’s Couture specialize in remaking dresses.  They truly did a wonderful job bringing my vision to life. 

{What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?}  The wedding band that Flynt gave me when we said our vows was the ring that my Dad gave my Mom when they were married July 1, 1978.  I don’t know if a ring is considered an accessory, but I think it is unique.  Flynt’s gift from me was a pair of Tiffany cuff links that were my Dad’s.  I feel that all of the ways that I was able to include my Dad in the ceremony were my favorite things J It also is so special to have married a man that I know my father would have loved and respected.

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?}  That my mother took control haha!  Pryor Lott of Pryor Engagements and my mom, Jane, really helped me get through the planning process.  I was in the middle of graduate school, I had just moved to Miami, and I don’t handle stress well.  Honestly, all I wanted was the band to be great and for everyone to have a wonderful time.  I think we all worked together to achieve that.

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?}  Besides the marriage itself and marrying Flynt, my favorite moment of the wedding day would have to be my brother/sister dance.  I have this thing with “Mustang Sally.”  It was the song that my Dad and I always danced to.  After his death, I appointed my brother as my “Mustang Sally” dancing partner.  As I know it was annoying for him at time, he did help me celebrate my Dad and how much I have loved and appreciated him taking over that role.  He is a wonderful, compassionate brother and it was very special to have him dance with me and for us to have such a fun, instead of sad, moment to kick off the night.

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?}  Everything was perfect.  Honestly, I guess my favorite moment was when I went inside to change out of my wedding dress.  My sister-in-law and my best childhood friend were with me, and I looked outside of my bedroom window overlooking the backyard, and there was a party going on!  People were drinking, dancing, eating and enjoying themselves, as well as being there to support my journey and commitment of marriage to Flynt.  It was a surreal moment.

{Your favorite picture from the big day?}  Although the picture didn’t turn out great, one of my favorite pictures was everyone on the front porch of the house. The other pictures that are special to me: I took a picture with my brother and his closest friends.  It was a picture of the men in my life that I had always known as “Uncle ….” - the men that have always been a part of my Dad’s life, my life, and my family’s life.  They stepped in and they have never left. I also love the one of Flynt and me at the “leave car.” 

{The picture that represents the two of you best?} There’s a picture of the two of us looking at each other on the back porch.  It’s not a great picture, but I like it.  I also like one of the ones where we are on the dance floor.  We love to have fun and dance!
Photographer:  Miki McCurdy Photography, Greenwood, MS; Kim Houpt Photography, Madison, MS; and Amy Clayton Stevens, Charleston, SC (Aunt of the Groom)
Photo booth: Amurica Photo Booth
Event Planner: Pryor Lott, A Pryor Engagement
Dress: Dawn’s Couturiere Custom Bridal, design/alterations
Bride’s Jewelry: grandmother’s cluster, diamond earrings, bracelet of mother’s, ring of mother’s, band from Flynt as wedding gift, engagement ring from Flynt
Hair: Bride: Lanier Clark, Jackson, MS; Bridesmaids: Brii Alicea, Grenada, MS
Make-up: Bride: Lanier Clark, Jackson, MS; Bridesmaids: Brii Alicea, Grenada, MS
Tuxes: Phil’s Squire Shop
Videographer: Johnny Jennings Photography
Venue: Home of the Bride
Lighting: CWP Productions, Owner: Chris Pritchard, Little Rock, AR
Rentals: Mahaffey Tent and Party Rentals for tables, headed up by Mark Huels, flooring, tents, plates, dinner/glassware
Florist: Oxford Floral
Catering: Elizabeth Heiskell, Woodson Ridge Farms, Oxford, MS
Bar: The liquor was purchased from Jacks Package Store, Greenwood, MS
Band: Super T Revue, Nashville, TN, and Piano: Holly Peel, Greenwood, MS
Bride’s Cake: Karyn Belk Burrus
Groom’s Cake: Karyn Belk Burrus
Print Material: Save the Dates and Invitations by Nest Paper Studio in Oxford, MS; Calligraphy for invitations, Susan Beckham, Greenwood, MS; Church/Wedding Programs, Greenwood Info Sheet, and Map for out of town guest bags, designed by Shawn Hodges at Rooster Crow, Greenwood, MS and printed by Lawrence Printing in Greenwood, MS.
Car Service: Shotgun Shuttle, Greenwood, MS; Alluvian Shuttle, The Alluvian in Greenwood, MS
Memorial Day is dedicated to remembering the heroes who bravely lost their lives fighting for our country.  Many men and women throughout the state of Mississippi serve and protect the United States of America every single day.  We had the privilege of speaking with Andy Thaggard, MAJ, LG, MSARNG and Command Historian of the Mississippi National Guard. Today, he reflects on his services in the National Guard, and on what makes Memorial Day such a significant holiday:  

Why is Memorial Day so important to you?
“Everything this country has accomplished, or has the potential to
accomplish, is founded in the sacrifice of her Veterans. Everything that ‘We
The People’ decide to tell our government ‘Of the People, By the People, and
For the People’ to do is rooted to grave sites of American Veterans around
the world.  We forget that the United States of America was born through
blood spilled by her own people, and that freedom maintained by the blood of
their sons and daughters.  So on Memorial Day, we remember and honor the
Veterans who died in service to this country, as well as their families.”
Tell us about your history with the National Guard.  What drove you to
want to serve your country?

“With parents that met and married in the Marine Corps, it came quite
naturally. It was never a matter of 'if,' it was a matter of 'how' to
serve...and I believe that one person can make a difference. Mississippi
National Guard is the best job I've ever had.”
How many Mississippians' lives have been lost serving our
country in the National Guard?  

“24 killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Mississippi Army
National Guard. 2 killed in service to the state during the MSNG emergency
response to Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.”

For more information on our fallen Mississippi soldiers, please visit the Mississippi National Guard Hall of Heroes here.  
Any words of wisdom for Mississippians reflecting on loved ones this
Memorial Day?

“This is the hardest question...I believe that only those that have lost a
Service Member during war have wisdom to share with another grieving family.
The rest of us can only show respect and gratitude, knowing that their pain
is rooted in their Service Member's love of this country.”
Anything else you want to add?
“The greatest civic obligation of an American is also one of their greatest
rights: the right to vote. To have their will expressed through the ballot
box...not just in the national elections but where it matters most, at home.
We honor those who paved the way by participating in the process they fought
to preserve.  So I say to go vote, in every election. Your voice counts, and
you honor their service.”
Thank you so much, Andy.  For more information on the Mississippi National Guard, please visit their Facebook page here.  All photos courtesy of the Mississippi National Guard Facebook Page.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our brave soldiers and their incredibly strong families this Memorial Day.  
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Memorial Day Weekend officially rings in the Mississippi summer.  After the rainy, grey week we have had, a sunny Saturday at the lake sounds like the perfect way to usher in the season.  Each year, the historic city of Vicksburg boasts impressive events throughout Memorial Day weekend.  This Saturday, May 23, from 11am until 5pm, the community of Eagle Lake will host its annual fundraiser, Lake Fest. 

Lake Fest is a wonderful family-friendly event featuring live music from The Chill, a silent auction, delicious food, fun and games for kids, raffles, flea market vendors and more!  There will be a Kids’ Fest featuring a 22 ft. Rockin’ Rapids Slide, Bounce Houses, games and face painting.  This event is free to attend and there will be activities for all ages to enjoy. 

Kelly MacNealy, Past President of Eagle Lake Matters and Lake Fest Chairman, says, “The event being on Memorial Day is twofold.  It provides us the opportunity to reflect and honor the brave men and women who have died while serving in our armed forces.  It is also the unofficial start to summer and has become one of the busiest weekends are the lake!  Many families have friends and guests, and Lake Fest gives them a great event to attend!”
Lake Fest is also the annual fundraiser for the beautiful Eagle Lake community.  Kelly says they have used funds from Lake Fest "to improve the Lake for everyone. Our projects over the last two years included security cameras in public areas, 5 miles of Adopt a Highway where we pay local youth to assist us, and we average picking up 80 bags of trash per quarter.”  Eagle Lake also sponsors a Mardi Gras Parade, a July 4 Boat Parade and other fun neighborhood gatherings.    

With their mission, “To preserve the unique history of the Eagle Lake area, further the safety, welfare, pleasure and quality of life within the Eagle Lake Community by all means possible,” we have no doubt Lake Fest will be a terrific event in a beautiful setting. 

For more information on Lake Fest, please visit www.eaglelakematters.com
If you are near the Vicksburg area, we encourage you to visit the city and all of the wonderful events taking place over Memorial Day Weekend!  Here is a list of incredible events in and around Vicksburg that should not be missed:

May 22: Memorial Day Preparation of the Vicksburg National Military Park. The preparation will begin at 7:30 am at The Cairo Museum inside The Vicksburg National Military Park, 3201 Clay Street. Volunteers will help place flags on the graves in the National Cemetery. For more information on this event call 601-636-0583.

May 22-23: Dr. Who’s Blues & Mark Doyle. Live entertainment will begin at 6:00 pm at Walnut Hills, 1214 Adams Street. For more information please call 601-638-4910 or visit www.walnuthillsms.com.

DJ 2 Tall. DJ 2 Tall will perform beginning at 8:00 pm at the DiamondJacks Casino Stage, 3990 Washington Street. For more information call 601-636-5700 or visit www.diamondjacks.com.

Memphis All Stars. The concert will begin at 8:00 pm at the Ameristar Cabaret Lounge, 4116 South Washington Street. For more information call 601-638-1000 or visit www.ameristar.com/vicksburg.

Garry Burnside. Garry Burnside will be on stage from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am at the Ameristar Bottleneck Blues Bar, 4116 South Washington Street. Celebrating the Mississippi Blues Trail, Ameristar Casino and the Vicksburg Blues Society present the Heritage Music Series "Vicksburg's Got the Blues". For more information email shirleywaring@vicksburgheritage.com

May 23-24: Holt Collier Sacred Harp Singing. The 5th annual Holt Collier Sacred Harp Singing is at 10:00 am in the courtroom of the Old Court House Museum, 1008 Cherry Street.  For more information contact George "Bubba" Bolm at 601- 636-0741 or societyhistorica@bellsouth.net.  

Outlets at Vicksburg’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. The celebration featuring gift cards, awesome prizes, food and refreshments, entertainment and a sidewalk sale is from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Outlets of Vicksburg. 
Symphony at Sunset.  The Four Seasons of the Arts and the Friends of the Vicksburg National Military Park will present the concert beginning at 7:00 pm at the Vicksburg National Military Park, 3201 Clay Street. The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra will perform with a full orchestra conducted by Crafton Beck. The public is invited to bring their lawn chairs and blankets. For more information on this event call 601-636-0583 or 601-831-6896.

May 24-25: Memorial Day Programs at the Vicksburg National Military Park. A Soldiers Through the Ages Program, military timelines honoring soldiers from the Revolutionary War to modern times will be featured at the Vicksburg National Military Park, 3201 Clay Street.  For more information on this event call 601-636-0583 or visit www.nps.gov/vick.

May 25: VNMP Memorial Day Programs. The Vicksburg National Military Park will commemorate the end of the Civil War and of the Sesquicentennial by doing two ceremonies with "echo taps" and wreath laying at both Vicksburg National Cemetery and Soldiers Rest in the morning. This will be followed that afternoon by a concert of Civil War patriotic music held at the Old Court House Museum from both the North and South by the Olde Towne Brass, of Huntsville, AL, using period instruments and arrangements. For more information on this event call 601-636-0583 or visit www.nps.gov/vick.

May 25: Memorial Day Parade and Activities.  The Memorial Day Parade of Veterans will travel north along Washington Street from Belmont to Jackson streets beginning at 10:00 am. The Memorial Service begins at 11:00 am at the Vicksburg City Auditorium, 901 Monroe Street. For more information contact Willie Glasper at 601-634-0163.

Memorial Day Sale.  The Memorial Day Sale will be at the Outlets at Vicksburg, 4000 South Frontage Road, all day Monday. During this sale you can enjoy special deals at participating retailers. For more information visit www.outletsatvicksburg.com  or call 601-636-7434.
We wish you all a safe and spectacular summer weekend!  A special thank you to Visit Vicksburg for this list of events!  Please visit their website here

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Bride}  Meghan Elizabeth West
{Groom} William Kirk Foley
{Hometowns} Bride: Pontotoc, MS; Groom: New Albany, MS
{Wedding Site} Oak Grove Chapel, New Albany, MS
{Reception Site} Huddleston Family Home, Ecru, MS
{Bride’s Bouquet} Designed by Tracy Proctor:  The bride carried a nosegay of hand wired flowers with pale tones of vendella and crème.  Della crème roses, cymbidium orchids, anemones, astrantia were used to create the rounded style bouquet.
{Bridesmaid Bouquets} Designed by Tracy Proctor:  The bridesmaids carried open style nosegays of fresh garden style flowers.  Ingredients included white hydrangea, black centered anemones, textured astrantia, with green alchemilla.

{How did the two of you meet?} Will and I met about a year before we were engaged.  My best friend and bridesmaid, Brandy, randomly mentioned one day that she wanted to set me up with this guy from New Albany who had recently purchased a house near my parents’ home in Pontotoc.  I was unsure, especially since it would be a blind date. About a week passed and I started getting text messages from Will. After a few more weeks of talking and texting he asked me out on our first date. I was so nervous on the night of the date and actually had my younger sister keep watch out the window for him to pull up in the driveway, and hopefully give me a quick preview of who would soon be knocking on our door.  The next thing I knew, she screamed, “He’s here! He’s here.” I finally opened the door and saw a wonderfully tall, handsome man, my future husband.

{What is your proposal story?}  March 14th is my birthday and Will is not usually one to make really big plans.  It was on a Thursday and we both had to work.  I received the most beautiful flowers that day and my heart skipped a beat thinking they were from Will (who never sends flowers, by the way). They were not from Will, but I had no idea how much more of a gift I was soon to receive. Will had planned for a small cookout at his house that night with our families.  After work I quickly changed clothes and rushed over to help him prepare the meal.  He was rushing around and I was sweeping the dining room floor when he asked if I wanted my present now or later. I said “Now, of course!”  He handed me an envelope containing a gift certificate for a manicure from a local spa.  This was no big surprise since he would always pick on me about keeping my fingernails properly kept.  After reading the sweetest card I looked up and he was down on one knee. He proposed and my world stood still.  I had known he was the one and I couldn’t say “Yes” quickly enough.  As to the manicure, he knew that I would want my fingernails to be perfect as I showed off the engagement ring to all our friends and family.  It was the perfect night.  It was low-key. It was us.

{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?}  I had always wanted a sweet, simple and intimate ceremony.  I had seen pictures of a beautiful white chapel near New Albany and thought it would be the perfect fit.  The chapel held 80 of our closest family and friends.  I dreamed of having our reception at my parents’ home in Ecru, MS, where I was raised.  My parents had since moved into Pontotoc but couldn’t bring themselves to sell our beautiful family home where we had shared so many memories.  It was the perfect setting and gave us yet another precious memory. 

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?}  I was unsure of what I wanted as my theme.  At the suggestion of my wonderful florist we decided on the words “Southern Elegance” as our inspiration for colors and flowers. I could not have described my vision any better, and Tracy made the vision come to life. He laughingly joked that I really was a “Spring bride.”

{How did you pick “the dress?”}  Like most brides-to-be, I spent hours digging through magazines and scouring the Internet, searching for pictures of my dream dress. As we began the search I was convinced that I knew exactly what we were looking for.  I tried on dress after dress but the moment I saw my dress I knew it was the one.  It was perfect, and fittingly not nearly what I had thought I had always wanted.  I loved it!  The dress was a fitted, ivory lace gown.  The strapless bodice had a sweetheart neckline with a deep V back neckline and crystal buttons at center back.  The silhouette was very fitted then flared dramatically, ending with a full chapel-length train.  Completing the ensemble was a fingertip-length veil of ivory illusion that had coordinating lace motifs at the center back.

{What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?}  My favorite unique accessory included in our big day was my cake topper.  It was my great grandmother’s.  Both my grandparents and parents had used it in their weddings also.  My grandmother passed away 4 years before the wedding but had given it to my father to save for my wedding day.  I had never seen the topper before until he brought it to me one day soon after our engagement and told me its special history.  I also loved the detailed pillow our ring bearer carried during the ceremony.  My mom and sister had traveled to Paris, France, the summer before our wedding and found a precious handkerchief pillow at a small local shop.  I knew it was perfect the moment I first saw it.

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?}  My favorite part of the wedding planning process was the search for the dress. It was so fun trying on all the different styles of dresses looking for that perfect fit.  The event planning process was quite the undertaking and there is absolutely no way it could have come together so perfectly without the help of our family friend and wedding planner, Teresa Chism.

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?}  My favorite moment was our “first look.”  The day was so exciting, but so rushed, and I couldn’t wait to see the look on Will’s face the first time he saw me in my dress.

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?}  I had no idea what my wedding cake was going to look like.  I had mentioned a few ideas to our cake decorator but ultimately left the design up to him. The cake was absolutely beautiful, and tasted even better.  The four-tiered wedding cake was composed of a combination of exaggerated and normal height tiers. The cake was a cream cheese pound cake with white chocolate amaretto Italian meringue buttercream covered in white chocolate fondant. The elegant decoration featured elancon lace piping and a fluted pleated pattern with champagne luster.  A large sugar peony graced the side of the cake and a family heirloom topper was featured on top. 

{Your favorite picture from the big day?}  My favorite picture of our wedding day was a picture taken of Will when he was getting ready and his father was tying his tie. He is smiling so big.  You can see the excitement on his face. It captures his spirit perfectly.  

{The picture that represents the two of you best?} We were both so happy on our special day.  A simple, black and white picture of Will and me relaxing and enjoying our time together is one of my favorites, because I can still feel the happiness and love that we shared on that perfect day.

Photographer: Stephanie Rhea    
Event Planner:  Teresa Chism
Dress: The White Room in Birmingham, AL 
Bride’s Jewelry: My necklace and earrings were my mom’s that she had wore in her wedding.
Hair:  Alison Russell at Cut Ups in Pontotoc, MS
Make-up:  MAC cosmetic counter Tupelo, MS    
Bridesmaid Dresses:  Kay’s Kreations Tupelo, MS    
Tuxes:  Kay’s Kreations Tupelo, MS     
Venue: Ceremony: Oak Grove Chapel    
Rentals:  Event Rental, Pontotoc, MS    
Florist: Tracy Proctor    
Catering: Special Occasions by Marie Clark    
Band:  Wishbone Tupelo, MS
Bride’s Cake: Steve Stockton
Groom’s Cake:  Special Occasions by Marie Clark
Print Material:  Trent’s Photography    
Thank you, Meghan and Will, for letting us share your incredibly beautiful wedding day in the first print issue of Inspiration Mississippi Magazine! 
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Imagine having incredibly talented photojournalists capturing your wedding:  one boasting a Professional Photographers of America New Faces award, and the other sharing a Pulitzer Prize with the Kansas City Star.  Their photographs have graced the cover of Mississippi Magazine’s Wedding Registry edition four times.  Michael and Dianne Barrett of Barrett Photography are not only award-winning journalists, but also a faithful married couple dedicated to their craft. 
Both Michael and Dianne have degrees in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi.  Michael says, “Dianne was the beautiful little Italian girl in photojournalism 341 class that sat on the second row!  We had an assignment to shoot 20 faces and I used it to take her portrait and talk to her.  A year into our marriage I learned she was not impressed with what I thought was my great introduction! We spent years sharing a passion for photography and photojournalism and developing a friendship before we realized it was more than that and were both hired as staff photographers at the Clarion Ledger fresh out of school.”
The two eventually moved to Atlanta and married, where Dianne worked as a staff photographer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Michael worked for various news outlets, including newspapers, magazines and corporations.  Dianne quit the paper when their son, Joseph, turned two, because she didn’t want to miss all of the precious moments with him.  Michael and Dianne decided to move home to Mississippi and start their own business, Barrett Photography. 
“As a photojournalist, you are not allowed to set up photos or influence them in any way unless you are shooting a portrait.  We had to walk into different situations everyday and cover assignments – many times battling other photographers – and get the story-telling picture.  There was no excuse!” says Dianne.  “We had to think on our feet and watch and anticipate moments so the transition to weddings was pretty easy! We have both covered presidents, world leaders, major spot news events, celebrities…so that same energy translates well into a wedding day. You can plan all you want and visit venues beforehand but no matter how many times you photograph in the same place, it will always be different – it could be the weather or the light or the subjects- so you have to react to what’s before you and make it work! That is my favorite kind of shooting!”
Barrett Photography is known for capturing extraordinary wedding photos, and they simply love each and every moment they shoot.  Michael says, “My favorite images are those that reflect the client’s faith, which is important to me.”   Dianne adds, “I love reaction shots and small, quiet moments.  Sometimes unless you know the story behind it, it may not look like such a great image, but it’s something that is important and meaningful to our clients. And that’s what is important to us.”
When choosing your wedding photographer, Michael and Dianne suggest that a bride and groom visit several photographers and choose the ones they like and whose work they love, then trust them to do what they do best!  Dianne says, “The best thing our clients can do is say we love your work and we trust you!  That is very freeing for any creative person and I guarantee you will then have someone do an extraordinary job for you.” 
Michael and Dianne are a team in every sense:  husband and wife, business owners and the parents of two children.  They continually inspire one another, and the results are breathtaking.

Dianne says, “I think having two professional photographers – and two that have worked together as long as we have – is a great benefit.  One of us did not teach the other how to shoot; photography is our mutual passion.”
Thank you, Michael and Dianne, for sharing your beautiful photographs and your story!  For more information on Barrett Photography, please visit their website here
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Saturday, April 4, welcomed an unconventional holiday – International Pillow Fight Day!  In lieu of fighting, Inspiration Mississippi partnered with Babalu Tacos & Tapas and The Salvation Army of Jackson to create an incredible annual event – Pillow Donation Day.  Janet Spears, Director of Development at The Salvation Army, says, “The Pillow Donation Event was a wonderful idea!” 

Throughout the day, patrons donated unused pillows for those in need, and the result was a successful event full of fun and delectable food. 

The Salvation Army helps people in miraculous ways, and we wanted to share more about this remarkable organization with you.  We spoke with Janet Spears to hear more about The Salvation Army, what they do, and how you can be involved:

Tell us about The Salvation Army of Jackson.  Its history in Jackson and what you do on a daily basis for Mississippians?
“The Salvation Army has been active in the Jackson Metro area since 1907.  We serve six counties - Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Copiah, Scott & Yazoo.  On a day-to-day basis, it is the mission of The Salvation Army to aid and assist people, young and old, who are in a crisis in their life.  We are noted as being one of the top most accountable non-profit organizations in the world and serve in 126 Countries.  With the poverty ratio being so high in our service area, it is a daunting task to help educate people out of a poverty mentality - but we ARE making great progress.  It is our mission to Break Cycles- Build Lives through education and compassion.  Our slogan "Doing the Most Good" is a statement to assure our donors and clients that we serve to do the most good with the gifts and resources that are entrusted to us.”

Are you in need of any specific items or help?
“The Salvation Army is ‘always’ in need of donations to keep the educational programs going - we need clothes, furniture, household items etc. - volunteers - mentors - and supporters.”

How can Mississippians give to the Salvation Army - their time, items or monetarily?
“Mississippians can and do give  - we just have to keep The Salvation Army in the Top of Mind Awareness so that people will see the change that we can make.”

Janet adds, “I would really like for anyone who is interested to take the time to see what The Salvation Army does for our area.  Everyone seems to have the same remark – ‘I Had No Idea!’”

To learn more about The Salvation Army, please visit their website here.

{Photo courtesy of Mary Moment Photography}

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}

{Name}  Jennifer Skipper
{Hometown} Madison
{Event Site} Performance Sports 360 Ridgeland, MS

{Tell us about the occasion for the event?}  The party was for Jack’s 7th birthday.

{What inspired your event location and theme?}  Jack is a fun-loving, active little boy. He loves to run and jump and play all sports. Having a wide open football field at Performance Sports and the ability to play any game his heart desired was a big draw for the location.  Jack plays a different sport every season and loves them all, so a sports-centered theme was perfect for him.

{What inspired your color scheme/flowers?} Jack’s favorite high school team is Jackson Academy and their colors are blue and white.  His favorite (at least for the moment) college team is Mississippi State University.  So with white as a tie in for both schools we used blue, maroon, and white for the color scheme. 

{What’s your favorite event detail? Is there a story behind it?} I love a good party, and I really like to give the kids something other than candy as a favor. I absolutely loved the kids’ jerseys.  Each one had the number 7 on it, and Jack’s had “Skipper” as well.  They got to run through the “Happy Birthday Jack” banner with their jerseys on and divide into teams to play their games.  I hope it will be a fun memento for the kids to remember Jack’s party.

{What was your favorite part of the event planning process?} Other than my wedding, I had never had help with planning any of my parties.  It was fun working with Kendall Poole Event Planning and letting go of all of the worry that comes with deciding all of the party details.  I have been traveling for work a great deal lately, and simply did not have the time to put together Jack’s party as I had envisioned.  Hiring Kendall Poole Event Planning and letting her do what she does best was the perfect solution. It gave me the time I needed to do other things in my life and gave Jack the perfect birthday party. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

{What was your favorite moment of the event day?} My favorite moment was when our family walked in and saw the entire set up. Kendall and I had talked and exchanged photos, and I “knew” what the party would look like.  But to walk in and see it all put together was great.  All the kids – we have three with Jack being in the middle – ran up to look at the cake and the tables and all the “goodies.”  It was like Christmas morning for us all!

Jack’s favorite moments would be his on-field activities.  The staff at Performance Sports allowed him to choose the activities, and he was not hesitant in his choices.  The kids played dodge ball, two-hand touch football, and kickball – all in an hour and a half party.  Running and playing with the wild abandon of a seven year old was his favorite moment.

{Your favorite picture from the event day?} My favorite photo is the one where Jack is running through his birthday football banner with his friends.  Jack’s face (dark hair on the right) is so full of joy and life. Childhood is made for these moments of pure fun.  I’m so glad I could add one more memory to Jack’s story.

Photographer: Jennifer Skipper
Event Planner: Kendall Poole Event Planning  
Venue: Performance Sports 360 
Cake: Cake Diva
Any Additional Vendors:  Fresh Cut Catering & Floral – nacho and hot dog bar  

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all my life.”  Abraham Lincoln

Being a mom is not for the faint of heart.  Motherhood is filled with challenges, tears, tempers, sleepless months, and bodily smells and functions you never thought were possible.  Moms bravely take on the roles of teacher, housekeeper, referee, and head chef every single day.  Being a mom is hard.  But everyday, a simple smile or sweet snuggle reminds us that it is the most beautiful, complicated and rewarding job in the world. 

Many families across our state are blessed to have four or five living generations of women.  We thought it would be fun to explore and share the relationships between a young mom, her newborn daughter, mother and beloved grandmother. 

Brittney Tinkham Thompson grew up in Terry and admits she has always been extremely close with her grandmother, Ann Townsend, whom she affectionately calls “Memaw.”  Memaw had three daughters, and Brittney and her family lived within walking distance of her grandparents, aunts and their families.  “I spent more weekends at my grandmothers than I can count,” Brittney laughs.  “Memaw is basically my second mom.”
Memaw’s daughter, Kim Townsend, concurs.  She says, “I'm amazed at how much influence my mom has on all her grandchildren.  Brittney once told me that anytime she thought about doing something, she always thought about what her Memaw would think.   None of them ever want to disappoint their Memaw.  I think that says a lot about the influence she has had on them and how much they admire her.  I'm so proud that we have a mother, grandmother and great grandmother like her to look up to.”

Kim inherited many of Memaw’s extraordinary traits.  Brittney says, “My mom is the sweetest person I have ever met.  She will do anything for me! She has always put my brothers and me first.”

Seven months ago, Brittney welcomed her first baby, a precious daughter named Carter McLaine.   Kim smiles, “I feel like we are so lucky to have 4 generations of women!  Everyone is not as fortunate as we are to have each other and to be as close as we all are.   To see my mom sitting in the waiting room all night long while my sweet baby girl was having her sweet baby girl was priceless!  But I knew she wouldn't have missed it for the world.”

Brittney is smitten with her new baby.  “I have an unconditional love for another human being that I never thought was possible, and I feel like she has an unconditional love for me.  The smile that lights up her face is the most precious thing I have ever seen.” 
There is no doubt that Memaw and Kim understand that miraculous type of love.  Brittney says, “I was so lucky growing up because I had the love and support of my mom and both of my grandmothers.  I was never lacking in the love department.  I know that grandmothers and great-grandmothers have a unique love for their grandchildren.  I am happy Carter McLaine will have the love and support of these wonderful women to help raise her and guide her through life.”

A special thank you to Brittney and Kim for sharing their thoughts, and to Mary Moment Photography for so beautifully capturing their family in these photographs. 

Inspiration Mississippi also reached out to some of our favorite moms and daughters, and asked them to share what they admire most about the women in their lives:

My mother inspires me in more ways than I can count but most of all her faith and determination.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer 5 years ago and was very ill during chemo and radiation.  During that difficult time she never gave up which allowed me to not have fear, but faith.  Today she is cancer free and still continues to inspire me everyday.” Katie Stafford of Mary Moment Photography

“My mom and grandmother have been such inspirations to me as a young mom!  My mom is a retired banker, and my grandmother is a retired schoolteacher.  Both were hard-working women - who balanced families and their careers while beautifully staying involved in their local communities.  We are so blessed that Holly has a wonderful relationship with her grandmother and great grandmother.  Through their faith in God and their positive outlook on life, they are truly helping us rear Holly to be such a loving and caring child!” Pam Ware of Metropolitan Bank
Pam Ware with her daughter, mother and grandmother. Photography by Merry Mason Photography
My children inspire me as a mother. Rearing babes is exhausting. Sometimes I feel like they will think their names are ‘No’ and ‘Stop that.’ But when I really pause and observe them, or really stop to enjoy them - it is magical. I love that quote, "People are people no matter how small," by Dr. Seuss. My little ones are not waiting to grow up to be relevant and have an impact - they are doing it right now. They have wisdom and faith, joy and sorrow, compassion and silliness. They are strong and loving - and although it is tiresome, it is the best work I will ever do.” Jessica Followell of Followell Fotography  
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
This evening, fireworks will explode across the sky while star-spangled music dances through the air at the Ross Barnett Reservoir.  Brown Bottling Group is sponsoring the 34th annual Pepsi Pops, a beloved, family-friendly event held in Jackson. 

Tonight’s event should not be missed.  Shelley Brown Floyd, Chief Marketing Officer at Brown Bottling Group, says, “As the title sponsor of Pepsi Pops, we provide the community with a family-friendly event under the stars where adults and children alike can be exposed to the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in a nontraditional setting at Old Trace Park on the Reservoir. It’s a no-stress night of fun for all as you can get off work, pick up the kids and come straight to the Reservoir and buy tickets at the gate. No need to worry about dinner because Burgers & Blues will be on site. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra to help with operating costs and educational programs for children.”

The title sponsor behind this enchanting evening is especially impressive.  Today, we are excited to explore the history behind the family-owned Brown Bottling Group, and share what makes them such a fantastic local business.
In 1947, Kenneth Brown hit the streets of Chicago, selling a 6.5 ounce bottle of Coke.  Ken, a WWII veteran, was a salesman for Coke of Chicago.  A few years later, Ken was hired by the Pepsi Cola Company and served as advertising manager for the central division.  Clever and ahead of his time, Ken used window displays to advertise Pepsi. 

In 1966, Ken and two friends purchased a struggling Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. in Wisconsin and the company flourished.  He turned his attention to the south, and in 1971 purchased the franchise for Pepsi, 7 Up and Dr Pepper, covering much of Mississippi.  At the time, the three brands were under separate ownership, so Ken and his partners merged them under a new company, named Southern Beverage Bottling Company.  

Over the years, Ken sold his company shares in Wisconsin and purchased his partners’ shares in Mississippi.   With dedication and hard work, the company began to grow.   Ken’s son, Bill Brown, joined the company in 1980.  In 1988, Bill became president of the company and changed the name to Brown Bottling Group.

Bill’s daughter, Shelley Brown Floyd, joined the company as Chief Marketing Officer, and this determined family and their loyal employees are continuing to write Brown Bottling Group's history as an outstanding and philanthropic Mississippi company.  Today, Shelley Brown Floyd shares more about Brown Bottling Group with us:
In a nutshell, what does Brown Bottling Group do?
“Although Brown Bottling Group is associated with brands such as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper and Gatorade, we are a locally-owned business employing more than 400 Mississippians who bottle and distribute these nationally-known beverages in our state. When a Mississippian purchases our products, the money goes back into Mississippi schools, parks and communities.”

Tell me about the importance of community AND community service to the company. 
“Because Brown Bottling Group is a local business, giving back to the community is a big deal to us. We sponsor Mistletoe Marketplace, Sanderson Farms Golf Tournament, Pepsi Pops, Atwood Music Festival, Hubfest, and Zippity Doo Dah Parade Weekend just to name a few. Our team always steps up to the plate when we sponsor these events. Employees in the beverage business start work early in the morning and work isn’t over until everything is done. At Hubfest in Hattiesburg, our sales reps, who routinely work long days during the week, come out as early as 4:30am to help set up for the all-day festival of which we are the presenting beverage sponsor.”

How does living in Mississippi inspire you and Brown Bottling Group?
“As Mississippi is known as the Hospitality State, we are inspired to serve our customers and our community with the same giving spirit for which people around the world know Mississippians.”

Thank you so much, Shelley!  To learn more about Brown Bottling Group, please visit their website here.  You can also visit the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra site here to read more about Pepsi Pops!  We hope everyone enjoys a beautiful evening tonight on the Reservoir!
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}