The ladies at Southern Weddings not only have one of the cutest offices around, but they have business savvy by the boatload and an eye for that sweet, southern style. Think monograms and pops of color. We caught up with Emily Thomas, the uber talented Creative Director of Southern Weddings whose offering up great advice plus a stockpile of fabulous tested and approved recipes to try. It’s a win – win.
SMP: Tell us a little about your business.
Southern Weddings Magazine is the South’s premier publication for the modern bride. Our mission is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love — celebrating their families, the culture of the South, and what matters most to them — and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life. There are seven gals on our team. In addition to our daily blog and annual print magazine, we have a bustling shop and a marquee product, our wedding planner. It was a labor of love and I’m so proud of it!!
SMP: Some words you live by?
Every day, learn something new, do something kind, and see something beautiful – advice from my great aunt.
SMP: Any guilty pleasures?
I don’t feel too guilty about either of them, but I’d say The Bachelor/Bachelorette (NOT Bachelor Pad) and donuts.
SMP: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would it be?
It’s not about you. Make your life about something larger than yourself, something that lasts longer than you, and you’ll find satisfaction and joy will come much more easily.
SMP: What is your favorite item in your office?
Our bulletin boards! It’s hard to feel stuck or frustrated when I can glance up and see so many of my favorite colors, ideas, and quotes.
SMP: What’s your best tip for balancing work and personal life?
This might not work for everyone, but I have two Instagram accounts – my public one with a larger following, and my personal, private one with about 20 followers (my family and closest friends). When I leave for the day, I sign out of my public account, which allows me to lay my phone aside and feel no compulsion to pick it up and scroll, because I know it will all be there in the morning. I use my personal account to share things with loved ones in real time, but since there’s no need to be chained to it to interact or answer questions, it doesn’t interrupt or take away from my “real life.”
SMP: What was the tipping point in your business that made you feel like it was going to thrive?
Our fifth issue was the first one where we were able to put into practice our crystallized mission of inspiring not just beautiful Southern weddings, but beautiful, strong, and growing marriages. The feedback from readers was enormous, and we knew we had struck a chord.
SMP: Your most memorable moment?
Walking down the aisle to marry my husband. We did a first look, which was joyful but not particularly emotional, so I didn’t expect the waterworks and the enormous swell of emotion that hit as soon as the chapel doors opened. We didn’t take our eyes off each other the whole time. I will never forget those moments.
SMP: What’s one thing you really want to do, but have never done?
Travel to Europe! Happily, I have a trip to France planned for June, and couldn’t be more excited!!
SMP: The best advice you’ve ever received?
From my 11th grade English teacher: Most people have one of two types of jobs. The first is one that they absolutely love, but may not pay that much. The second is one that they might like or dislike, but pays really well and/or allows them the flexibility to do what they’re passionate about outside of work. You can be very happy with either.
SMP: If you could buy yourself a single gift of any cost, what would it be?
A private plane and personal pilot. My family lives far away from me, and the greatest luxury would be getting to see them whenever I wanted! Also, my husband and I love to travel, but airplane tickets are often the limiting factor in how many trips we’re able to take.
SMP: Your secret to success?
You can’t control when you’ll get an opportunity, but you can control how prepared you are to seize that opportunity when it comes. Do the hard work to be ready.
SMP: One place everyone must visit in their lifetime?
My husband and I drove the California coast last year, with a short jaunt out to Yosemite, and we agree we’d repeat the exact trip every year if there weren’t so many other places to go! It was breathtakingly beautiful.
SMP: The best job you ever had?
This one! I love being part of a dynamic small business that has a mission no smaller than changing the world, one growing marriage at a time. It’s easy to love your job when you can see the difference you’re making.
SMP: Best moment of your career so far?
Probably seeing the first issue I worked on on newsstands. I made my husband (then boyfriend) take a photo of me with it, and have done the same for every issue since! It doesn’t get old.
SMP: Advice you’d give to your younger self?
I’m pretty proud of my younger self. She did just fine
SMP: Your favorite instagrammer?
I adore Ali Harper’s aesthetic and style and think she has one of the most beautiful feeds. @aliharper
SMP: Your go-to recipe?
My husband and I are always trying new things! I keep track of the recipes we’ve tried and loved on this Pinterest board – 100+ and counting!
SMP: What’s a typical work day for you like?
I get to the office around 9am, and spend some time scrolling through email that came in overnight (I never check it after work) and through Instagram (I also don’t check that overnight). I create a paper to do list from whatever didn’t get done the day before and anything that came in over email. From about 9:30-1:30 I get to work! This means lots of email (I try to work on a one-touch system); consulting with Lisa and the other ladies about upcoming shoots, magazine and blog features, shop products, and social media things we’re trying; formatting and writing blog posts; and calls with creative partners for upcoming shoots. I always try to eat lunch outside on our porch for a change of scenery, then it’s back to more of the same until about 5 or 5:30.
SMP: Do you have any secret talents?
I used to be an Irish step dancer! Yes, like Riverdance (kind of). I had the wig and everything.
SMP: Why do you think your business has done so well?
I think our audience (mostly Millenials) loves that we invite them to be a part of the Southern Weddings story and mission. They know who we are, why we do what we do, and what it means to us, which makes it easy for them to support us and become our brand evangelists. It’s a delight to do this work alongside the best readers in the world! Also, we work REALLY hard – I am constantly amazed by the efficiency, talent, creativity, and resourcefulness of the ladies I work alongside.
Photographer: Robyn Van Dyke Photography | Event Planning: Merren Events | All Desks And Shelving: Ikea | Chair Monogram Decals: Dixieland Monogram | Dotted Storage Boxes: Emily Ley | Gold Laser Cut Logo: Southern Fried Paper | Mason Jar Water Bottles: The Mason Bar Company | Office Chairs: Amazon | Side Arm Chairs: World Market | Southern Weddings Planner: Southern Weddings Shop