2016 Top Nine: A Year in Review with Stressless Weddings

2016 Year in Review

I have seen #2016bestnine floating around social media lately, so I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what I am thankful for this year. A year in review is always good! One of the words I strive to meditate on in 2016 is ‘thankfulness’. I have incorporated it into my everyday speech, meditate on it more, and focus on thanking God more throughout the day. My happiest seasons of life have been when I lived with a thankful heart.

Also, in an effort to better remember the events that led to thankfulness, our family is going to start a “Thankful Jar” (or gratitude jar) on January 1st. My husband and I will each write something we are thankful for every day and then next New Year’s Eve we will read all the events that have occurred that we can be grateful for. I have done something similar to this in the past and having a thankful jar is SO helpful on those days you feel crummy. You can reach into the jar and pull out multiple memories that will make you smile. I am looking forward to doing this project as a family. I’m sure I will be posting about it throughout the year. If you would like to see a link about a Gratitude jar, click here.

I am not sure that I have nine (or maybe I have more than nine) but I want to list all the things I am thankful for this year. I needed a little help remembering what all happened this year, good thing I have 15,000 pictures on my cell phone and can look back over this year’s photos.

Without further ado, let’s begin thankfulness 2016: A year in Review.

As I look at photos from 2016, I am overwhelmed with emotions and thankfulness. This year, maybe more than ever, I realized how blessed I am to have wonderful friends and in-laws that love me deeply and richly. On New Year’s Eve last year I was with my sweet niece and nephew (who are the CUTEST by the way) and I received a picture from my honorary niece, Joan. I could talk about Joan FOR-E-VER. She is SO sassy like her aunt Megan and every time I have to leave her and her family I sob (like not cute cry, I just sob.) Most of the time I wait until I am in the car, but the last time I saw them, I broke down as I was cleaning up a wedding in Atlanta. We met Joan and her family when we were ministers in Atlanta and they will forever hold a special place in our hearts, they are family now! Look how cute she is, can you tell she is rotten (in the BEST way?)


On January 31st of this year, I took the leap and launched a website for my new career in the wedding industry. I had been working out the kinks of the business and with much encouragement from my biggest fan, Ryan, and our families, I took the leap and launched the website and my new business, Stressless Weddings. My company is brand new, but if you ask my mom and my childhood best friend, I’ve been planning events since I could talk!

Also in January of this year, something not so exciting happened, our puppy had a HUGE health scare. We came home to find him limp in his cage with his eyes open. We rushed him to an animal hospital and they were able to stabilize him. He had been having health problems and that was the final straw that showed us he really needed the serious liver shunt surgery. We are thankful for that scare, so we could get his surgery before it was too late. So my husband and I decided our precious boy would have the surgery in February. He had to stay in the hospital 3 days, he was scared, we were scared, but we visited him every day and the team at UT Small Animal Hospital was absolutely incredible. They even gave him this cute coat because he was shivering.


Some moments you can’t capture with words, just a photo. This is one of those moments.


In March, I had a few weddings on the books, but was wondering what I would do in my spare time. Then I got a call out of the blue from one of the campus ministers from our Alma Mater. He asked me to chaperone (they call it being the ‘adult sponsor’) a mission trip to New Orleans. I was so excited, I drove 5 girls I didn’t know in a glammed out suburban to New Orleans. I can not accurately describe the love I have for these girls and the way the Lord used this trip as medicine for my soul! If you are looking for an awesome program to financially donate to, check out, SPOTS. Ryan was once in charge of helping plan these trips that help students see the world and give back to humankind.


These are the awesome group of girls! I am so thankful for each of them and what they bring to the world.

In April, I got to return to the city that forever changed me—Atlanta!! We went back for a conference our seminary put on and while in town we were able to reconnect with our dear friends.

This is our best friend from seminary, Rebecca, who we lived with for a bit. And I ask her monthly if she will just come and live with us again! She says no! lol


As I am looking at the pictures from April, we were really busy! Ryan and I were the couple featured in a styled shoot.

Photo by Michelle Lea Photographie 

We got to play dress up as bride and groom and be mushy all day! (I loved it! And so did Ryan because he is awesome & supports me in all I do.) To see more pictures from this shoot, check out my friend Michelle’s blog. I am grateful for the special time with Ryan, pictures to treasure, and being embraced by the wedding community. The wonderful photographer who took these photos was one of the first sweet people to welcome me into the wedding vendor community.

* BONUS, my first official wedding as ‘Stressless Weddings’ also occurred in April.


In May, I traveled to Nashville with my wonderful photographer friend Michelle. We attended a Wedding Wire exclusive vendor event (super swanky) and I tagged along on an engagement shoot session.

Look at this sweet couple, to see the real photos from this Green Door Gourmet engagement shoot click this HERE.

**Also in May, I officiated my first wedding for a couple I did premarital counseling for, I absolutely loved it! I will forever cherish that memory.


On June 1st, Ryan and I celebrated our third anniversary in style at the Carnegie Hotel. We had a wonderful anniversary complete with a couple’s massage and room service for every meal! I could totally get used to that life!

Throughout June & July, we traveled A LOT. We were in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky for weddings, birthdays, conferences, bridal shows, home repair, and more weddings. We also welcomed many wonderful visitors to our home during the summer months.

In August, I coordinated a wedding for a sweet bride who reminded me why I am in this business. And the day after her wedding, Ryan and I left for Disney World. (I really could devote a whole blog to Disney, who knows maybe one day I will.) Ryan surprised me with breakfast inside Cinderella’s castle with the princesses. That was one of the Top TEN moments of my life, not just of the year!!

We LOVE Disney!!

September was filled with multiple weddings and sweet brides and a visit from our Atlanta bestie!! And I agreed to a second term on Carson Newman’s Alumni Board of Directors.

We take all our visitors here!

September and October were full of sickness for Ryan. He was sicker than he has ever been. I am thankful for the time of rest he took and that we learned and grew in our love and care for each other during that rough time.

Also, while he was still feeling crummy, he went with me to my “Girl Boss” photo session that I won on instagram from a photographer that I admire. I absolutely loved these empowering pictures and I felt so grateful to win the contest for this photo shoot.

Check out more of this ladies gorgeous work here.


The end of October was filled with Framily (friends who are family) and a beautifully swanky wedding with the sweetest couple!


In November, we early voted and prayed. I coordinated a wedding that was catered by Chick-fil-a (it was epic!)

I also grew closer to a kind soul who welcomed me into the Knoxville wedding industry. Katie Sams, of Red Boat Photography, you are the sweetest! We worked together with the Bride Link  and other awesome vendors on a beautiful styled shoot. I can only show you one picture for now, but we will be published next week and I will show you the whole ABSOLUTELY STUNNING shoot and introduce you to the other vendors involved!

Photo by Red Boat Photography. Here is a sneak peak of the shoot. Check back in a few weeks for the whole shoot.

When I came home from a week of working on this shoot, my husband had built me the prettiest farmhouse table! He let me help stain it (I love to help!) and now we have a gorgeous table that photos just don’t do it justice.

P.S. if you are interested in a table or custom built wood piece, he will be building things in January and February of 2017. So send me a message and we will get a custom piece built and delivered to you!

At the end of November, we began what I semi-lovingly call our holiday marathon. It begins before Thanksgiving and we do not spend a full weekend at home until after Christmas. I love all the time spent with family and friends, but it is also exhausting. We made so many memories this year and are so very thankful for the sweet time spent with friends and family. We have spent this week re-cooping and I am so grateful for the rest.

Well, what began as highlighting the top 9 moments of 2016 turned into giving you the highlights from each month in 2016. Welcome to my life! If you have read this far, THANK YOU, that was a lot of words! I am thankful for the fun and trying times 2016 brought me. I have learned, even more this year, about being unapologetically me and to stand up against injustices. Often it’s hard becoming who we are truly meant to be, but I believe in the end, it will all be worth it.

May your 2017 be filled with love and thankfulness. And if you had a rough 2016, count your blessings, be grateful for the moments that have shaped you, and know that you are special, loved, and have the ability to be the BEST you! So get out there and rock 2017!

From our family to yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your year be full of grace and second chances!




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