This Tuesday, December 1, is World AIDS Day.  A day to bring awareness to the disease and an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV.  One of the world's leading pediatric HIV specialists practices right here in Mississippi, and we are thrilled to share her extraordinary story today!

In March 2013, an international media explosion swirled around a tiny baby girl and an extremely destructive virus.  Born to an HIV-positive mother in a rural hospital, the infected infant was rushed to University of Mississippi Medical Center for immediate care.  Upon her arrival, at a mere 30 hours old, a doctor began treating her with three aggressive drugs.  Twenty-three months later, it appeared the child, dubbed the “Mississippi baby,” had been functionally cured of HIV.  The world took notice. 

At the heart of the storm was Dr. Hannah Gay, a brilliant pediatric HIV specialist at UMMC.  Hannah was recognized as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, and she gracefully waded through the spotlight.  Beneath the image of a world-renowned physician is a shy woman who can send a wave of calm over you in a simple conversation.  Hannah says softly, “My faith defines who I am.  It influences everything I do and every decision that I make.” Not originally trained in HIV or infectious diseases, Hannah’s devotion to God and her family have led her down a fascinating career path to success.

Faith pulled Hannah, her husband Paul and their two small children to the famine-stricken country of Ethiopia in 1987.  She helped orchestrate major feeding projects, provided clean water supplies, and happily offered healthcare for mission employees and their families.   But mostly, Hannah loved staying home and caring for her children. “When we arrived in Ethiopia, we had two children.  When we left in 1993, we had four,” Hannah laughs.  Her pastor, Steve Street of Trace Ridge Baptist Church in Ridgeland, says, “The Gays are an extremely close family.  I know Hannah and Paul had mixed emotions about leaving the mission calling, but they returned to Jackson for the sake of their children.”

Back home in Jackson, Hannah was longing to get back into American medicine, but only part-time.  She could not bear missing out on quality time with her children.  Hannah’s daughter, Ruth Gay Thomas, says, “Never was there a time when my mom didn’t make a piano recital or a school play. Her family has always been her first priority, and her kids at work are also a huge priority.   She has always had the perfect balance.”

Hannah approached the Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at UMMC and he offered her a part-time position as a disease specialist in the HIV clinic.  “I told him that I had no training whatsoever in HIV or infectious diseases.  I was just a general pediatrician,” says Hannah.  “He looked at me and said, ‘that’s okay.  You will learn.’”

Two months later, she inherited the HIV program, at a time when the knowledge base of HIV was spreading as quickly as wildfire.  “We discovered we could prevent transmission from a mother to an infant, which was so exciting!  We also began developing new and better drugs for infected children.  It has been very rewarding to see the transformation of a disease thought to be a universally fatal illness into a chronic, treatable illness.”  Hannah also laughs,” I have been stuck in the HIV program for twenty years now!” 

Daphne Sigler, RN Case Manager with the Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UMMC, works closely with Hannah’s patients and their families.  “The babies are our priority.  Being infected with HIV is overwhelming, and our role is to make this process as comfortable and easy as possible.”  She adds, “Hannah is wonderful.  She is reassuring with our families and patients; we cry with them and we celebrate with them.  Hannah is kind and generous, and has such a calming effect to her.  She is an excellent doctor and a wonderful resource for the entire state of Mississippi.”
Across the country, the HIV transmission rate from mother to infant is now less than one percent.  However, some mothers are not properly treated during pregnancy, and their child can become exposed during labor and delivery.  The “Mississippi baby” was one such case.  While the media called Hannah’s treatment “bold, gutsy and revolutionary,” Hannah simply states, “I was among those around the world treating babies with high-risk exposures.  That was standard therapy for me.”

The child’s virus was controlled, and she continued seeing Hannah regularly until around 12 months, when she began missing appointments.  Hannah and her staff suspected that she was not receiving her medication.  Suddenly, she stopped coming. 

With help from the Department of Human Services, the child was found at 23-months-old and her mother admitted she had not given her any medicine since her 18-month visit.  Shockingly, when tests were run, the virus was undetectable in her body.  “I was totally confused.  Bumfuzzled,” admits Hannah.  State-of-the-art labs could not find any replication of the virus in her blood.  “Usually the HIV virus shows up in the blood within two weeks of not taking medication. For this child to have gone 6 months and have tests come back negative was so highly unusual, it was unique.  There had never been a baby reported like this before.” 

News outlets flooded Hannah with attention.  Her daughter, Ruth, reflects, “Never in a million years would you expect this quiet, shy woman who hates attention to be in the thick of the spotlight!”  Even with the glare of the world blindingly focused on her, Hannah directed the glory to God.  “I was not specifically thinking about my life and I didn’t pray over the decision to treat the child that day.  I was just practicing the best medicine I knew how to practice,” says Hannah.  “I did not dream in my wildest dreams that this particular baby would be anything special.  I was trying to prevent her from being infected.  I failed – it was God who did the miracles, and I just happened to be standing close by at the time.”

Steve Street adds with awe, “Even with the media storm around her, she quietly came into church, enjoyed singing in the choir, and lovingly cared for children in the nursery.  Those were her preferred places. We have a deep respect for her in our church as a servant.  A humble servant.”

The “Mississippi baby’s” virus remained undetected until her 27-month birthday, when disappointing news struck.  Her tests came back positive in July 2014.   Thankfully, she is on medication and responding well.  Hannah smiles and says, “In Science, it is common that we learn as much or more from our failures as from our successes.  It opened up a new line of research and we are still hoping this case will be a big contributor to a cure.”  With God lighting her path, Hannah is taking significant strides in fighting this complex disease.
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Thanksgiving is a joyful time of year.  Cool weather, family reunions, full bellies and football games all make for great memories each holiday. 

Thanksgiving is also a wonderful time to serve.  Shockingly, Mississippi has the worst hunger problem in America.  The Mississippi Food Network says that almost 1 in 4 Mississippians do not have enough to eat; that is a staggering statistic. 

After your family eats this Thanksgiving, consider serving Thanksgiving dinner to others in your community!  Many organizations throughout the state are looking for volunteers not only on Thanksgiving, but also throughout the holiday season.  Here are a few we wanted to highlight today:

Salvation Army Homeless Shelters in Tupelo:
The Salvation Army in Tupelo is hosting a community meal on Thanksgiving day.  Volunteers are needed and do not have to sign up.  “You can simply show up!” they say.  Volunteers can arrive anytime after 7:00am, and can stay as late as 2:00pm.  The Salvation Army says, “Not only will be serve a Thanksgiving dinner, we will also pack Christmas food boxes, accept food donations and add canned food items to our pantry on Thanksgiving day.”  What a wonderful way to serve in Tupelo.  For more information, call the shelter at 662.680.2754.

We Will Go Ministries in Jackson:
Based in downtown Jackson, We Will Go Ministries will be serving a Thanksgiving meal in their pavilion at 799 N Congress Street this Thursday from 10:00am until 2:00pm.  Everyone is welcome!  We Will Go Ministries says, “Volunteering is about more than just community service.  It is about building relationships…Our goal is to provide a time where people can hear from the Lord and live out the Great Commission by loving others.”  You can learn more about We Will Go Ministries through their latest newsletter here!

Mississippi Food Network:
This incredible organization is holding a Holiday Fund Drive to END HUNGER NOW.  They say, “Your support of the Holiday Fund Drive will help end hunger now for local children and families who do not have enough food. Every $1 you share will provide 7 meals for neighbors in need. Imagine all the joy you can bring this holiday season!”  What an incredible gift.  For more information, please visit their website here

A special thank you to Caitlyn Sullivan for providing the beautiful photographs featured in the blog today.  Members of the Inspiration Mississippi staff joined HIS Heart Ministries on Monday to deliver turkeys to families throughout the Jackson area.  HIS Heart Ministries delivers over 100 turkeys in the communities around their church to the families of those involved in their ministry and long time friends (many of which are elderly) from the neighborhood. Volunteers delivered turkeys on Monday, November 23rd at 4:00 pm and many faithful volunteers helped deliver.  Paula Stodghill, Executive Director, says,  “As we enter the homes with joyful hearts, we are careful to ask for prayer needs and pray with each family. Blessing our families is something we do enjoy all year, but it's a very special time at Thanksgiving. The families are so grateful for our small gift of love. Come rain or shine, we will deliver 100 turkeys to the families we hold dear to our hearts and serve weekly.”

We hope you and your family have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Are you craving smooth, glowing skin for the holiday season?  SKIN the Spa at the Runnels Center recently unveiled an amazing new service, the SKINPEN II.  This revolutionary resurfacing tool promises to improve fine lines, wrinkles, rosacea, pores, stretch marks, hyper pigmentation, tone and texture! 

Mary Helen Thomas of SKIN the Spa at the Runnels Center says, “The SKINPEN II involves skin resurfacing with absolutely no downtime!”  The SKINPEN II can be used on any part of the body, and is safe for all skin types.  With the stroke of this miraculous pen, you can look up to ten years younger! 

The SKINPEN II sounds like the perfect way to enhance your natural beauty, just in time for the holidays!   For more information on SKIN the Spa at the Runnels Center, please visit their website here! You can also call the Spa directly at 601.939.2457.

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
“We are truly farm-to-table,” says Bridget Engle of Farmer’s Table in Livingston Cooking School. “With the movement that's going on with everyone trying to eat healthier and experience the true meaning of eating something straight from the garden, we are providing that at Farmer’s Table in Livingston.”

In the heart of Livingston’s charming town square, Farmer’s Table is changing the way Mississippians grow, prepare and cook food.  Using eggs from a farm in Bentonia, honey from Mississippi bees in Flora, and vegetables from a local organic farmer, Farmer’s Table offers cooking classes and events using fresh, local ingredients.

“We hired an organic farmer, Taylor Yowell, of The Farmacy.  We have five gardens on three acres of land, and we offer classes around what is coming from the garden,” smiles Bridget.  “Taylor will come and deliver fresh veggies straight from the garden the morning of the classes.   We absolutely love the passion of working with a local farmer.”

Farmer’s Table is thrilled to be a part of the story of the town of Livingston.  “The long term plan is phenomenal and it is really cool to be a part of Livingston,” says Bridget.  Farmer’s Table is not only hosting cooking classes, but is a wonderful venue for weddings, receptions, gifts, birthday parties for children and adults, and even bachelorette parties!  The room can be changed around to fit any type of special event.  Bridget says, “We recently had a bride get married on the town square, then she walked down and had the reception at Farmer’s Table.  Another bride married and we did the catering for 250 people in the town square.  Celebrating under the 100-year-old cedar trees was simply magical.” 

Bridget runs Farmer’s Table, and Matthew Sheeter teaches the cooking classes.  They are both delightful, and worked together many years ago at the Viking Cooking School in Ridgeland.  The cooking school also offers an incredible retail store up front, with wonderful gifts, cooking utensils, and a Bridal Registry! 

“We are so fortunate to be in Livingston.  This town boasts live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and brunch on Sundays.  It's really cool to be a part of something so special that is just starting out.  We are in a perfect spot.”

For more information on Farmer’s Table in Livingston Cooking School, please visit their website here!  You can also views photos of their fabulous events on their Facebook page here.

A special thank you to Adam + Alli Photography for capturing this wonderfully spirited group cooking fresh foods at Farmer’s Table in Livingston Cooking School! Visit Adam & Alli Photography here to see more of their gorgeous photographs.
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Today, we are thrilled to share beautiful and romantic photos from an engagement shoot!  Photographed by the talented Jeff Chao of Chao Photography, Jenna Bush and her fiance, Matthew Hughes, were perfectly captured on Veteran's Day. 

We are delighted to tell Jenna and Matthew's story, and share her plans for their upcoming spring wedding!

Jenna Bush & Matthew Hughes
Hometown:  Clinton, MS
Event Site:  The Ivy in Flowood, MS

“Our April 16 wedding is being held at The Ivy in Flowood, MS.  We chose this location because of the grounds surrounded by trees, and the lights already in place for the perfect evening wedding outside. There is also a carriage house that will serve as a back-up venue in case the weather does not cooperate.  We really did not focus on a theme for the wedding, but instead wanted to incorporate several key elements that are special to my fiancé, Matt, and me. A wishing tree, that will be similar to the one in old town Clinton, where Matt proposed to me, is the main focal point of the night, with origami birds made by my grandmother and an invitation to everyone to place their wishes on the tree, just like Matt and I used to do when we were dating.

The color scheme for the wedding is gold and white, with accents of blush pink.  The wedding party will be wearing blush pink gowns, with groomsmen dressed in black suits and bow ties that will compliment Matt's Army Dress Blues.  The reception will have more of a shabby chic feel to it, with a mix of old and new.

My favorite event detail of the wedding is our tribute to the military and our way of honoring Matt's service to his country.  He volunteered for a tour of duty in Afghanistan during the first year of our dating.  We have known each other since grade school and were best friends growing up.  This time apart after committing to a dating relationship made us both realize we never wanted to be apart from each other again.  Our wedding favors of homemade cookies inside a box bearing the name of a wounded warrior and requesting prayer for he and his family will be reminders of how much our military means to us.  Along with the cookies, we will have boxes designated for care packages available for our guests to take if they wish to share our love with soldiers currently serving overseas.

My favorite part of planning my wedding has been picking out my wedding dress.  What girl doesn't like shopping and feeling like Cinderella at the same time?  My mother, sister, aunt and cousin traveled to Low's in Arkansas to help me find my perfect dress.  When arriving at our hotel, we found a bottle of wine, wine glasses and a very sweet note from my cousin's boyfriend who lives in nearby Memphis, wishing us a perfect day to find the perfect dress!  We ended our trip with great success and celebrated in Memphis that evening with dinner, drinks and a breathtaking view of Memphis and the Mississippi River.” 

Photographer:  Jeff Chao    
Event Planner:  Dori Bush, Mother of the Bride
Venue:  The Ivy    
Florist:  BJ May
Cake:  Donna Vinson
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
“My inspiration comes from so many things all rolled into one.  I am inspired by art and design, old architecture, and any glimpse of an idea I may see,” says Nick Bradshaw, owner of Iron Point Construction in Madison.  “A person's house is usually (and this is pretty safe to say) the most expensive thing they will ever purchase in their entire life.  It is also where we spend the majority of our day-to-day time.  It is the place we raise our kids.  It is an investment.  Therefore, it is imperative that it is built with all of these facets in mind.  Each house should be as unique as the people having it built.”

Nick comes from a long line of great builders.  His father built homes and performed real estate development, and his grandfather and great-grandfather built churches across the southeast.  Nick graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering and spent several years in the corporate world working for Civil design firms, gaining knowledge in budgeting, design, structural design, management and site design.  He also obtained his Professional Engineering license.  He reflects, “For some reason, this just never felt like it was hitting my buttons.”

His professional life soon changed course.  Several years ago, Nick and his wife, Rachel, began dreaming about building a home.  Nick drew the plans and built a gorgeous home.  He laughs, “Friends, workers and UPS men would come by and always comment on the home saying how unique and pretty it was.  Over time it hit me.  I thought, ‘I might have something here.  If I can come up with timeless and unique designs, I believe there is a market for people wanting that, and I can fill that void.’”  Things progressed quickly, and Nick started his incredible company, Iron Point Construction.

Nick is smart, kind and confident, and genuinely cares about his clients.  He says, “I care about them, their home, and their experience during the process.  I am not out to try and make a lot of money.  I often tell people that I left a stable and modest-paying job to dive into the wild world of real estate!” 

Iron Point Construction promises a level of professionalism that is rarely seen in the construction industry.  He offers a turn-key package, which can include everything from initial lot purchase to house design and layout, construction, paint colors and interior design.  “I believe clients can expect a smooth process.  I jump in and take the bull by the horns to make things happen, all while working hand-in-hand with my clients to make certain they are instrumental in the process.”  He adds, “A small and fun thing some clients might enjoy is a live-feed camera onsite!  They can check in at anytime, see progress on their home and even create a cool time-lapse video of their house being built!”

Though Nick works solely as the operator of Iron Point Construction, he says, “I rely heavily on my wife’s opinions on the layouts and interior design elements of a house.  She has a great eye for that!  I have worked with several architects in the Jackson area and consider them an integral part of the team.  Another key component to the building process is the bank. I have strong relationships with several lenders in the area and understand that money is always a hot topic when building a house.  Being able to sit and speak with a reliable and trustworthy lender is something I can discuss and set up for any client.”

Finally, Integrity is at the core of Iron Point Construction.  “Without it, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night,” Nick says.  “We are called by God to be honest and forthright and I do not take that lightly.”

Iron Point Construction is the perfect partner if you are looking to build a beautiful home.  Working with Nick is a dream, as is the final product.  “I believe the most satisfying moment is at the end of all the hustle and bustle of construction, standing at the front of a client's dream home with them, cutting the red ribbon to signify the completion, and seeing the excitement and joy on their faces.”  

For more information on Iron Point Construction, please visit their website here.  We will leave you today with one of Nick’s favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt.  Nick believes it can truly be applied to many facets of our lives…

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Bride}  Caroline Carr Temple  (Present Caroline Temple Smith)
{Groom} Charles Griffin Smith (goes by Griffin)
{Hometowns} BRIDE- Jackson, MS, GROOM Atlanta, GA
{Wedding Site} (Galloway United Methodist Church, Jackson, MS)
{Reception Site} (Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS)
{Bride’s Bouquet} White Hydrangea, Juliet Garden Roses, Patience Garden Roses and Ranunculus
{Bridesmaid Bouquets} Chablis Roses, Lisianthus, Silver Brunia, Ranunculus, Dusty Miller, White Majolica Spray Roses and Seeded Eucalyptus.

{How did the two of you meet?} Griffin and I met in Oxford our freshman year in the spring of 2007.  It was around the time the KA’s, Griffin’s fraternity, went to New Orleans for their Spring Formal.  My friend, Tory McGuire, set us up on a blind date and we immediately hit it off in the bayou.  We made our relationship official in the fall of 2008, our junior year, before we headed down to Baton Rouge to watch Ole Miss beat LSU.  We are so blessed to have met while in school at Ole Miss and share so many mutual friends and memories together.   We now live in Atlanta together, after living in Jackson, WY and Charleston, SC.

{What is your proposal story?}
Griffin proposed to me in the summer of 2013 on a beach trip with his immediate family, including his mom, dad, older sister, brother in law, little sister and 6-month-old nephew in Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina.  Griffin took me on a beautiful sunset stroll down the beach, got down on one knee and popped the question.  We then saw his mom and adorable two sisters hiding in the sea grass who captured it all on camera.  When we returned to the house, the rest of the boys were waiting on the porch that overlooked the bay with champagne to celebrate.  My sweet soon-to-be father-in-law handed me a beautiful red rose and told me how he couldn’t wait for me to be his only ever daughter-in-law.  It was the most wonderful surprise and it meant so much for us to be able to celebrate with family.

{What inspired your wedding and reception locations?}
We wanted to celebrate our wedding by making it personable while entwining the traditional south, with a few modern, elegant aspects and overall fun! Therefore we knew it, our wedding was definitely “mint to be” in Mississippi!  We both felt strongly about marring in the Church.  We chose my home Church, Galloway United Methodist Church.  My Galloway family really holds a special place in my heart and the church itself is gorgeous.  It is a historical church in downtown Jackson across the street from the old capital.  It has a beautiful garden, enormous antebellum columns and stain glass windows.  I had my heart set on the Mississippi Museum of Art because I loved the modern artsy feel.  I wanted out of town guests to get a great first impression of Mississippi.  The MS Museum of Art would show off MS’s creative side.  There was actually an Oxford festival being held the day we visited, which sold Griffin! We fell in love with the beautiful backdrop mural of green and snow topped mountains with wildlife in the middle of our dance floor that reminded of us Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  We also saw a lot of potential in the enormous, relaxing patio.  So there you have it! The MS Museum of Art was “mint to be” our reception location!

{What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers?}
I wanted a breath of fresh air from winter and bring spring colors early for our late February wedding.  Finding the bridesmaids dresses was first on my list.  Griffin’s favorite color is green and I love pastel looking colors.  My mom and sisters shopped at Bella Bridesmaids in ATL and found the perfect color dress.  It was a mint green; hence where the play on words came from for our “mint to be” wedding and our planning started getting really creative and fun! We had “mint to be” mints to pass out to guests, “mint to be” sparkle sneakers for under my wedding dress, “mint to be” earrings handmade for the bridesmaids, “mint to be” love birds on the wedding cake, and our lighting for the reception was even “mint to be.”  For flowers we used colors of whites, greys, a little greenery, pale pinks, and a pop of bright peach, which complimented the bridesmaids’ mint dresses beautifully.  The groomsmen wore dark grey tuxes.

{How did you pick “the dress”?}
I did not step one foot into a bridal shop.  My mom found her wedding dress up in the attic and it was not in the best condition.  It was from 1978.  The dress was beautifully laced with long sleeves and high neck and had a silky flow at the bottom.  My mom helped me zip it up and it really just fit perfectly.  I knew this was “the dress.”  It needed to be restored and I wanted to change it up a little to have a hint of my personality in it.  We found Sandra Ashford who had restored my mothers’ veil for my sister’s wedding and she made it look brand new again.  We took the high neck off and made it scallop off the shoulders.  It was stunning.  It was so special to me to be able to wear my mothers’ dress, because she is a huge role model for me and has been happily married to my dad for 36 years. 

{What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it?}
My mom and I were driving back home from church and spotted the “mint to be” Antique Ford pickup truck parked on the side of the rode.  We instantly thought that would be awesome for photos for the wedding!  After we left a note on the truck the driver came out from choir practice.  Of course, only in the South he knew some of our cousins and the truck was ours!

I loved my “mint to be” Sparkle Sneakers.  They fit my personality so well.  My feet never felt so good all day and night.  I recommend it to any Bride to be!

Molly Gee Designs:
Mississippi artist who hand makes stunning hairpieces and others.  I have known Molly Gee around Jackson.  My mom and I stopped by her tent at Mistletoe and it was “mint to be.”  I fell in love with this hairpiece.  It has a beautiful combination of silver rhinestones with shades of pink and white pearls.  It’s stunning!

{What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process?}
Helping design the Groom’s Cake because it was a surprise.  I loved watching Griffin’s face light up when he saw all his tickets he had collected throughout his life transformed on his pistachio flavored cake.  He collected tickets of all kinds, such as Oxford concerts at The Lyric and Proud Larry’s, Ole Miss and Braves sporting events, traveling in Europe, his favorite band Widespread Panic and many more.  It represented his love for music, sports, travel and our love story.   It was so colorful and propped on top of an antique suitcase with an edible record that sat on top with our wedding song “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

{Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day?}
Both of our families gathered in the small Chapel while guests were filling the sanctuary.  We all held hands while our preacher, Reverend Joey Shelton, led us in prayer. It was amazing and comforting feeling God’s presence.  It was well needed to take a pause and pray together after lots of prepping for the wedding and before walking down the aisle.

My Dad walking me down the aisle was a pretty awesome feeling.  When I was a little girl I loved watching “Father of the Bride” with my Dad. I knew it would be a cherished moment when it was my turn to walk down the aisle with him. I felt very blessed and love him so very much. 

My sister singing our prayer song while playing the guitar was so special.  We knelt down on our prayer quilt that included our new initials and scripture readings.  We made a pillow of the quilt after the wedding and it is now on our bed.  It is such a great reminder of our special day.

I got a little choked up saying my vows, but as soon as I looked into Griffin’s big brown eyes my nerves seemed to disappear.  I knew at that moment that we were becoming one before God, surrounded by all of our family and friends, which meant the world to me.  It was the most wonderful moment that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

{What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?}
Walking into our reception was breath taking.  All of our planning came to reality, all thanks to our wonderful wedding planner, Kendall Poole Ellis of Kendall Poole Event Planning, family, friends and my mom!

Followell Fotography

Event Planner:
Kendall Poole Event Planning
She is awesome!! I was so relaxed and could really enjoy my big day because of her!! She blew my socks off!! She is so talented! 

Sandra Ashford Designer
The Ashford Collection

Bride’s Jewelry: 
Hair Piece
Molly Gee Designs

Bride and Bridesmaids Earrings
Alexandra Long

Hair and Make-Up:
Kristina Myers

Bridesmaid Dresses:
Bella Bridesmaids of Atlanta

Joanna August, Chiffon, Dani-long, Color-I Want Candy

Tuxes Too

MS Museum of Art

Lighting:  Davaine Lighting

Great Southern Events

Au Courant Floral

MS Museum of Art

MS Museum of Art

The Compozitionz / Jackson, MS

Bride’s Cake:
Cakes by Iris 
It was Italian whipped and part of my lace on the bottom with two “mint to be” lovebirds on top from Spirit House Glass.

Groom’s Cake:
Cakes by Iris

Print Material:
Designs at KPEP

Car Service:
Phoenix Limo
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Today we are delighted to celebrate two incredible years of Inspiration Mississippi!  With each passing day, we have become more enamored with our state.  The kind and creative people, extraordinary events and gorgeous places throughout Mississippi are stories meant to be told.

The 2016 Inspiration Mississippi Magazine will be out very soon!  Today, we are thrilled to share a sneak peek of our upcoming print issue!  This video offers a lovely glimpse of the beauty you will find within the pages of Inspiration Mississippi:
Thank you, Brock Gomez of BGP Wedding Films, for capturing these behind-the-scenes moments of our photo shoot so beautifully.  For more information on BGP Weddings Films, please visit his website here.

We also want to say thank you to our wonderfully talented advertisers and contributors; and of course, we love and adore all of our readers.  You inspire us daily.  Cheers to two memorable years, and here's to many, many more!
Five unique and exceptionally delicious restaurants are drawing crowds to the Jackson area. Sprinkled throughout the capital city, Amerigo, CHAR, Sombra, Anjou and Saltine each promise delightful fare for every palate.

"Each of our five concepts is vastly different from one another, allowing us to truly offer something for everyone," says Anne Marie Smith, Senior Sales Manager for Amerigo, CHAR, Sombra, Anjou and Saltine. "From fresh hand-cut steaks to oysters from New Zealand…from escargot to jumbo meatballs – our goal is to provide excellent food and service to every single guest. We hope that we have accomplished that in our past 28 years in business."

These five favorites are now offering full service catering!  Anne Marie says, "We are able to offer the food that Jacksonians love (and grew up on!) at their weddings and celebrations.  Being able to bring the restaurant to the guest is a unique privilege we are proud to have!"  They have beautifully catered every type of event:  cocktail parties, weddings, corporate events and even Mistletoe Marketplace!

We had the pleasure of speaking with Anne Marie, and we are thrilled to share more about these incredible restaurants with you today!

~ Amerigo | CHAR | Sombra | Anjou | Saltine - Can you describe each of these restaurants (their style, atmosphere and menu), and tell us the inspiration behind each?
"Amerigo is the original restaurant of our group and it opened its doors in 1987. Since then, it has remained a neighborhood favorite for Jackson residents. For the most part, the menu has remained the same over the years, featuring guest favorites like Cheese Fritters, Chicken Margarite and Tiramisu. Our regular afternoon crowd fills our bustling bar daily, while the quaint dining room has been home to three generations of guests we have served over the years."
"CHAR is full of Southern charm - from the gorgeous woodwork to the touch of crimson accents throughout the restaurant. Black & white photos enhance the walls with a bit of Mississippi history, as well as a few special visitors from over the years. Our menu exclusively features Allen Brothers Steaks from Chicago, offering guests the highest quality USDA beef. Chef Derek George has been paramount in keeping classic Char dishes on the menu while adding new flavors, like Short Ribs and Fried Simmons Catfish."
"Sombra’s atmosphere is fun and rustic with 99+ bottles of tequila on the wall and swanky Southwestern music filling the air.  We use fresh-squeezed lime juice and organic agave nectar in our margaritas and prepare our tortillas from scratch daily – just two of the ways Sombra focuses on the freshest ingredients that are at the core of our authentic Mexican cuisine."
"Anjou is our classic French bistro led by father-daughter duo Christian Amelot and Anne Amelot-Holmes. A graduate of Savoie Leman culinary school, Christian brings over 40 years of French culinary expertise to the kitchen. Also born and trained in Le Ferte-Bernard, France, Anne is the proprietor/general manager of Anjou. The two work hand-in-hand to merge authentic, Old World flavors with Southern favorites for a deliciously crafted menu."
"Located in the historic Duling Hall, Saltine is a fresh, modern take on an oyster bar driven by our Chef/Partner Jesse Houston. Both the décor and cooking style is playful and creative, using garden-fresh produce, locally sourced beef and poultry, and seafood and oysters from around the world. Saltine was recently named one of Bon Appetit’s 2015 50 best new restaurants in America – something we are very proud of here at the restaurant!"
~ Some of these restaurants are Jackson staples and have been favorites for years.  Tell us why these have are loved so much in Jackson!
"Amerigo & CHAR have become such a part of the fabric of Jackson, that when people go there, they go to a place where they have established memories throughout the years. We love to hear the stories of someone who grew up eating at Amerigo as a child, then got engaged there, and now come regularly with their family as an adult."

~ Each of these restaurants are in the Jackson area.  Why was it so important to have 5 great and different restaurants in the community?
"For each location that has become available to us over the years, we have created a restaurant that fit the need of that area and works best for our potential guests. We love the Township at Colony Park and we were fortunate to have CHAR become such a fixture in Highland Village.  Since Fondren is such an artistic and forward-thinking district, it made perfect sense to pair with Saltine, a modern oyster bar."

~ Who owns these restaurants and how do they actively support the community?
"Our owners are Ben Brock, David Conn, Doug Hogrefe & Paul Schramkowski. Combined, the four have over 100 years of restaurant experience, and Brock, Conn & Hogrefe have all known and worked with one another for more than 20 years.

All of our restaurants are philanthropic by nature, and are readily active in community events, fundraisers and charity operations. It is rare to go to a local charity’s event and not see a presence from one of our restaurants. Giving back to the community is one of the most important things we do as a business."

~ Does Mississippi inspire the menus?
"Yes, Mississippi inspires all of our menus. Being active in the community gives us a chance to hear from our loyal guests and to know what they are hungry for, things they would like to see. Most importantly, the level of friendliness and community that we have all grown to love gives us the inspiration to do what we do, and that flows through our dedication to both our servers and our guests."

Thank you, Anne Marie, for sharing delicious details about these beloved Jackson eateries! 

If you are planning a wedding, cocktail party, or special event, we highly recommend their incredible catering services.  Each restaurant will work with you to create the perfect menu for your special occasion.

For more information, please click on the restaurant name below, and you will be sent directly to each website!  Bon Appétit!

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
“I have known I had a gift for color and a very sharp sensibility for fashion since I was three-years-old,” reflects Amy Head.  “It wasn’t until I began modeling that I really started studying natural makeup.  Through the trial and error of self-study and my husband’s camera, I developed the techniques and concepts that are used today at Amy Head Cosmetics.”

In September of 1987, the first Amy Head Studio opened its doors, welcoming clients into a beautiful, cozy space with the perfect hint of glamour.  At the time, Amy offered complete image consultations, including tips on hairstyles, makeup and clothing.  Amy’s husband, Harold, had a thriving commercial photographer business, and observed something special happening between Amy and her clients.  Amy says, “Customers were looking for a way to look natural and feel good about themselves.  I discovered I had the talent to do just that and teach others to do the same!”

Amy Head Cosmetics was born.  “All of the products in the Amy Head line are about the customer,” says Amy.  She defines natural makeup as makeup that looks like it belongs.  Instead of using trendy marketing phrases that most cosmetic lines throw at consumers, Amy aims to bring simplicity to all of the confusing noise in the industry.  “I want to stop all of the noise and provide clarity!  I want to teach women how to use makeup and enjoy it,” she smiles.  “My makeup belongs on the skin it is applied to; the colors adapt beautifully.  It is not like painting a wall.”

Today, Amy Head continues ushering clients into a friendly and warm environment.  “Harold and I want it to be a place that energizes you. I want it to be beautiful, feel good and be a little bit glamorous, but not to the point where it is intimidating.   Amy Head studios have great music, warm people, and a color way that hits your brain in the loveliest way.”

Even after 28 years in the cosmetics industry, Amy is still enamored with her business.  She smiles, “This is not about me.  I’m just not happy if I’m not doing what is authentic to my personal journey.  I do love what makeup does.  It still amazes me.” 

Amy firmly believes that the perfect palette for makeup is healthy, supple skin.  She recommends a moisturizing routine, and adores the Bonnie Holmes line she sells in her studios and online.  Amy says with awe, “Her moisturizers are great support to other lines.  If you don’t have something to put into your skin, you can end up making your skin a little weaker.” 

With cooler temperatures approaching, how can you achieve gorgeous, glowing skin?  Today, Amy shares three products to help you achieve a naturally beautiful complexion:
~ Mineral Base Foundation – “One of the biggest achievements with beautiful makeup that I think people need help with the most is foundation.  You want the complexion to look amazing – not heavy.  You cannot get beautiful eye makeup if your complexion is not prepared well! My mineral base foundation is absolutely gorgeous on.  It does not dry your skin like most mineral formulas, and it paints onto your face like a dream.”

~ Flawless Finish Foundation – “I like a little more coverage than just the mineral base foundation gives.  Flawless Finish comes in a pump and is truly a rockstar formula.  It is featherweight, but works magically.  It feels so good down deep to have foundations that people enjoy.”

~ Mineral Glaze – “This product gives you a sense of luminosity.  When you brush over it and put it on the skin, it has a beautiful rose tint to it.  It makes the skin along the top of the cheekbone and orbital bone luminescent and pearlized.  It is gorgeous even when you are not wearing any other makeup!”

Amy adds,  “The shadow side of the south certainly affected me as a child, with its strict  ‘Bible Belt’ values on how things ‘appear’ as well as our cultural over-identification with beauty, which inadvertently has said,  ‘a woman is more valuable if she is pretty.’  This has had a difficult, but good driving force for me to understand the healthy aspects of image and the desire for beauty.  Then on the other hand, our cherished love and deep appreciation for beauty that is pre-Civil War says that it’s not superficial in us.  That river runs deep and I honor it daily.  The fact still remains that beauty is important to southerners where it’s not so much in other regions.  I will always be about the differentiation between the idolatry of beauty and a healthy desire for it.”

Beautifully said.  Thank you, Amy, for sharing your talents and incredible cosmetic line with us since 1987.  We simply love your beauty philosophy and are thankful to have such an extraordinary line right here in Mississippi.  For more information on Amy Head Cosmetics, please visit their beautiful website here

Thank you to Amy’s talented husband, Harold Head, for providing the lovely photographs!
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}