Guest Post

Marriage Matters | Brittany + Ryan

We are so thrilled to have Brittany & Ryan of Reel Special Productions be our next guest bloggers for our Marriage Matters series. These two exude joy and we love the way they love each other and the people around them. Enjoy reading about their love story & why they believe wholeheartedly that marriage truly does matter.

Tell us a little about yourself & your spouse.

Ryan is originally from Toledo, Ohio and moved to Kentucky to attend Asbury College (now Asbury University). He has worked for an insurance company for the last fourteen years and handles their corporate communications. Ryan also started two businesses in 2004: Reel Special Productions (wedding videos) and That One Company (creative design and consulting). He is SUPER creative and blows my mind with his talents and abilities.

I was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee and also attended Asbury (but not at the same time as Ryan). I've been an elementary teacher for the past eight years and for the last couple of years also taught for Asbury University. I fell in love with teaching higher education and decided to pursue my doctorate so I could be a professor. Little did I know my dream would happen so quickly; I start teaching full-time at Asbury this fall! I love cupcakes, especially if it’s a Sprinkles cupcake, and I’m a sucker for a good piece of wedding cake.

So, how'd Ryan and I meet? Well, it’s a pretty fun story! Ryan was filming a wedding back in 2008 when I just so happened to catch the bride's bouquet. He was too nervous to speak to me at the that wedding reception, but by the grace of God our paths intersected a few months later and the bride who threw that bouquet set us up on a double-date (we went to a University of Kentucky basketball game!).

We sealed the deal and said "I do!" in 2010. I joined in with Reel Special Productions after we tied the knot and since then we've been blessed to continue producing wedding videos together while also pursuing our full-time careers. We absolutely LOVE filming together and are honored to help capture the best day ever for our couples!

What's your favorite memory from your wedding? 

Ryan and I both agree on this one that it was the moment I walked down the aisle. My most favorite part of any wedding is the groom's face as his bride walks down the aisle. There's something absolutely so special about that moment and Ryan's reaction to me as I walked towards him was absolutely perfect. We shared a first look prior to the ceremony, but it didn't compare to that moment we first saw one another as the ceremony began. I get all teary-eyed just thinking about it!

What has been the greatest joy and the hardest challenge you've experienced as husband and wife? 

We love, love, love building relationships with young married couples in helping them to grow in their relationship with one another and with Christ. Our first year of marriage was incredibly challenging. We both struggled to realize things about ourselves that were less than attractive, and we had to face those things head on. But my goodness, did we grow closer than we could have ever realized at the time. Ryan and I help facilitate life groups for young married couples at Southland Christian Church and we also do pre-marriage counseling with engaged couples. To date, serving other couples has been one of our greatest joys since we've been married.

What surprised you most about marriage? 

The two words that come to mind first are “companionship” and “FUN!” Being married brings about a bond that you never could have imagined. Ryan is my very best friend; he knows me inside and out. Yes, you have your best friends, but the bond you share between husband and wife is like none other. Don't get me wrong, it's not always heart-eye emojis and butterflies. We do annoy each other at times and marriage really is hard work, but every part of it is completely and totally worth it. 1000%.

And the fun part? Wow! Ryan convinced me to jump out of a freaking plane at 10,000 feet while on vacation in Aruba and that is something I can say with certainty I would have NEVER done on my own. I am a very Type-A, organized and by-the-book kind of person, but Ryan has brought so much spontaneity into my life. Whether we go on dates around town or travel halfway across the world, we have SOOO much fun together!

What has been the best source of support and encouragement for you all? 

Godly community has been the key for us. We get our cups filled every time we are with life groups. It's a time to be vulnerable, to grow, to listen, and to just be real. I love knowing that we have a community of friends that love us, support us, pray for us and cheer us on. That’s exactly why we pour our hearts into connecting with other couples because we believe everyone needs that type of community.

Are there any books or other resources you would recommend to other couples? 

We bought a book a year or so after we married called The Five Love Languages Devotional for Couples. We wanted something we could read together each night before going to bed. It's a short daily devotional that talks about a wide variety of "real" stuff and always ends with a prayer. We also love The Marriage App, Love and Respect, The Five Love Languages and of course, The Bible

What are some hopes or dreams you have for your family's future? 

Ryan and I would love to start a family. I’m just going to be totally open and vulnerable here: We've been trying for a while now and it's not going how we thought it would. I have some medical issues that we're trying to get worked out and we're trying to seek the right doctors to help make this dream become a reality. Through all of this we know it's in God's hands. We trust Him and know when He's ready for us to be parents, it will happen. In the meantime, we would really LOVE and value your prayers in this journey.

If you could change anything about your all's story, would you? 

This isn't pretty to admit, but Ryan and I have both acted and said things to each other that were incredibly hurtful. I hate thinking about it actually, and yes, working through those things did make us stronger, but those are things that didn't have to happen. Think before you act. Don't ever do anything or say anything that you'd regret. Saying something out of hurt is not an excuse to say it. 

What's the best advice you've ever been given about marriage? 

Ryan would say the best advice he's heard is to always look for ways to “out-serve” your spouse and speak their love language. I echo this, but also want to add some advice I heard early on about learning how to fight fairly. Ryan’s parents and mine handled conflict very differently, and little did we know that as kids that would later influence how we deal with conflicts in our marriage. I tend to process conflict with an emotional heart (go figure!) but Ryan approaches it with a logical mind. In the heat of a disagreement, it is often difficult to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and think about how they are feeling, but we’re getting better at this and it has made a world of difference in our marriage. In fact, I’m writing this after a few hours of us working through an argument. Sometimes my insecurities can get the best of me, and they sure were fighting hard against me this weekend. Praise the Lord for new days and forgiveness. Can I get an amen?

Why does marriage matter? 

Marriage matters because it creates a bond intended to last a lifetime. Couples get married to fulfill a deeper sense of purpose in their relationship, and we believe this type of "covenant" is a reflection of how God loves us...for better or worse. Ryan completes me in ways where I fall short, and I am able to do the same for him (and find joy and purpose in the process!).

In the words of Jack Johnson, “It’s always better when we’re together.”

They're pretty amazing, right?! I love their honest hearts and the way that invites people into the rawest form of love. Britt & Ryan, thank you for sharing your story with all of us! I have no doubt that you have encouraged the hearts of many through your heartfelt words & vulnerability. We love you guys! XOXO

Twirl Bride Tuesdays: Shopping for THE DRESS

Hey there, y’all!  This is Mary Stallard again discussing my wedding planning process with the Twirl community!  This month the Twirl Girls asked me to share my wedding dress shopping experience which obviously took place at THE cutest bridal shop this side of the Mississippi, Twirl Bridal Boutique! 

I will start off by saying that I really did not know what to expect going into looking for my wedding dress.  My head was swirling with thoughts like, “this is the most important article of clothing I am ever going to purchase, how do I choose?” and “What if I don’t find anything that I look or feel pretty in?”  Luckily, for me, I did not have any problems when it came to either of these thoughts in my head and although I was still anxious about narrowing down my selections and choosing JUST ONE dress, I was put at peace as soon as I stepped foot into the doors of Twirl.  The atmosphere at Twirl is so hospitable and welcoming that everyone who finds their path leading them there, whether they are a bridesmaid, mother of the bride, mother of the groom, or the bride herself, they all feel at home.  I cannot recommend this place more for brides-to-be!          

There were a few things that I knew I wanted in this wedding dress experience:

1. I wanted to have an environment that my friends, mother, mother-in-law and myself felt comfortable in.  There are no words to explain how perfectly the girls at Twirl pulled this off!  The space at Twirl is so wonderful and private and that is exactly what I wanted when trying on dresses for my closest girlfriends. We had a private room with couches and champagne that was filled to the brim with the most beautiful dresses I had ever seen!  I was so nervous to start trying them on but as soon as we were in the room, I was automatically at peace and knew that I was in the best hands at Twirl!

2. The second thing I wanted during this experience was to be able to share it with my best gals and Twirl’s space is so accommodating for this!  I love my friends so deeply and I wanted them to be a part of this wedding planning process as they can be.  I also know that my bridesmaids will tell me the truth about what looks good on and what doesn’t look good on me, so I knew that I needed my girls with me to make such a big decision!   

3. Lastly, I knew that I wanted to go to Twirl as my first (and hopefully last) dress stop. I wanted to go not only because my bestie, Liz, works there but because of how many success stories of Twirl brides I have heard about.  The selection of dresses that Twirl has is unbelievable.  They are seriously some of the most unique and beautiful dresses that I have ever seen and knowing that Ty and Liz handpicked them to be sold at their little shop is the most precious detail of all!  Those two girls put so much work and love into their business that I was just so excited to support a local business in Lexington!

I was so fortunate to have all of my wedding dress dreams come true all thanks to Twirl!  Without going into much detail about my dress selection, I will say that I tried on a vast variety of dresses before I started narrowing down to the dress of my dreams.  It helped me a lot having already booked our venue before dress shopping. Our reception is in a barn so I didn’t want to purchase a dress that was too formal and looked out of place for that venue.  After narrowing down to a few dresses I grazed through the rack of dresses one last time and pulled one off and asked Liz if I could try it on.  Before I had even gotten the dress fully on, I said to Liz, “This is my wedding dress!”  And… IT WAS!  I can’t explain why I knew it was my dress; it was one of those moments in life where I just knew it! 

There are not enough nice things in the world to articulate how amazing of a business the girls at Twirl run.  They are rooted in what is most important: Christ’s love for us.  They are unashamed to proclaim that in an industry that is constantly changing in our society.  They create an atmosphere that is above reproach, hospitable, warm and straight up lovely!  I wish I could get engaged again just so I can become a Twirl bride all over again!

Twirl Bride Tuesdays: The Future Mrs. Rouse

Hi friends! Happy Tuesday!! We are so excited to start up a new series on our blog. For the next several months we will be featuring one of our Twirl Brides as a guest writer on our blog as she journeys through engagement & marriage. Our hope is that this series can be a place that brides-to-be can come & feel like they're not alone in this adventure. We are firm believers of the importance of pointing one another to the bigger picture of all this wedding stuff -- YOUR MARRIAGE. Your wedding is one day but your marriage is forever. We want to inspire you, encourage you, and cheer you on as you walk through the journey of becoming a Mrs. And for those of you who aren't a bride-to-be quite yet, this is still for you too! You may not be in this season yet but it's still so important to continually direct yourself into a healthy mindset of what being a wife truly means. So, without further adieu, please say hello to Miss Mary Stallard who is the soon to be Mrs. Daniel Rouse!! We adore this girl and are so honored that she is not only one of our brides but also agreed to let us into her life and share with us all in the up's, down's, in's & out's of becoming a wife. Enjoy!!

Hey y’all!  I am so excited to share with you this treasured season of my life.  When the lovely ladies at Twirl asked me to share about my life as an engaged, wedding planning, Kentucky gal, I jumped on the opportunity like Marcus Lee on a good night of rebounding that basketball! 

I guess for starters I should introduce myself. Hi, I’m Mary Stallard! By day, I am an Assistant Preschool Teacher/aspiring Etsy Shop Owner and I am engaged to the best man I’ve ever known, Daniel Matthew Rouse (he may kill me for including his middle name but I like it, so that’s that!)  Daniel is in his last year of Physical Therapy school at the University of Kentucky working his booty off to earn his Doctorate of Physical Therapy.  We call the beautiful city of Lexington, Kentucky home and cannot wait to sink our roots down deep into the bluegrass after we are married!  For fun, I can be found making pretty things by doodling words down on paper, watching Gilmore Girls, or playing with my goldendoodle, Blue. Daniel can be found running the streets of downtown Lexington, studying, reading, and my favorite, laughing (I think he’s really funny). 

We met at a bonfire that our church hosted for the “20-Somethings” within our congregation in October of 2014.  Fun fact: Liz Cox (Twirl’s manager) actually introduced us at this bonfire! Liz and Daniel had been good friends through YoungLife in high school and college and she and I had just met and instantly became best friends.  On our first date, Daniel took me to a local spot called Josie’s for dinner and afterwards we took his parents’ minivan filled with our friends to see the Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park (we both had grown up going to see the Southern Lights so it was fun to do this together and with people that we love!)  Eight months later, Daniel was down on one knee at the esteemed Henry Clay Estate asking me to be his wife with my best friends photographing and videoing the whole thing!  After the proposal Daniel had planned a surprise engagement party at our dear friend’s house complete with about 50 close family and friends and tacos. That day has gone down in my heart as one of the most special days of my life and luckily, it was all documented for us to enjoy for the rest of our lives!

Daniel and I are simple people.  We love tacos and watching Netflix on a Saturday night.  We also love people and incorporating them into our lives.  It has been so much fun being in a relationship with someone who loves people so much and so well.  You can find us drinking beer on a Friday while eating the impeccable tacos at Local Taco with friends (have I mentioned yet that I love tacos? Ha!) or cheering on the Kentucky Wildcats during football and (mainly) basketball season.  We love our state and the people in it!  We are so grateful and fortunate to be surrounded by such an extraordinary community.  I can’t wait to share more about this process of being engaged and planning a wedding with you all!  So far, I haven’t turned into a bridezilla (I think) and I haven’t been very stressed (yet)!  Here’s to hoping that continues for the next five months!

See why we love her?! She's a bundle of joy. We are so excited to continually have her share with y'all in the months to come. Thanks for letting us get to know you a little bit, Mary! We're looking forward to hearing what you have to share about your dress shopping experience next month. :) Stay tuned! XOXO

Photos + Video by Elizabeth Meriwether Photography