We’re Engaged! Month #6



It blows my mind that Tony and I have already been engaged for 6 months, and that in less than 6 months we will be married. We have shared so much, grown so much, and done so much in the past 6 months, and I can’t wait to see how that continues in the 6 months to come…and for the rest of our lives! I love hearing from those of you who are following our journey through my monthly “We’re Engaged” blog posts, and your support and excitement mean so much to us as we prepare for our wedding and our life together. If you want to catch up on any of the posts, you can click on the links to find them:

Month #1: HERE
Month #2: HERE
Month #3: HERE
Month #4: HERE
Month #5: HERE

During Month #6 of being engaged, we have….

–Celebrated my mom’s birthday with a trip to their mountain house and dinner (again!) at our current favorite restaurant, Frog’s Leap Public House in Waynesville NC. You may recognize these birthday candles from Tony’s birthday in September. Hard to believe he and mom are the same age. 😉


–Celebrated our first big holiday together as a couple and figured out how to “rotate” time between our families! We want to stay on the same schedule as Tony’s sister, Rusty, and Landon, so we had Thanksgiving Day lunch and hanging out at Tony’s dad and Celeste’s house, Sunday dinner hosted at our house with Tony’s mom and Steve and grandparents, and Asian stir-fry the next week with my parents. (What? They didn’t serve pad thai at the first Thanksgiving??)

Me and Tony on Thanksgiving Day


Tony at the kids’ table at our house; all the ladies–Me, Tony’s Gram, Jennie (Tony’s sis), and Mom B


–Went to Cirque du Soleil at the BiLo Center. Cirque completely amazes me–I love it!

–I wore Gamecocks attire for the first time, as we watched the USC-Clemson game at home over my homemade chili. To all my Clemson friends, you may want to scroll quickly past the next photo. 😉


–Confirmed our reservation for our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner….a laid-back Pig Pickin’ on the porch of Apple Hill Farms, where the reception will be the next day. We are excited that all of our wedding guests will be invited to attend all of our functions throughout the Wedding Weekend…welcome reception at my parents’ mountain house, tubing down the Tuckaseegee River, the Pig Pickin’, the wedding, and brunch the morning after. We really want our Wedding Weekend to be a time to relax, have fun and celebrate with our closest friends and family!

–Picked out lots of my Grandmother’s crystal pieces to use at the wedding. She had quite the collection of unique pieces, and she used them at almost every meal…even if it was just to serve sliced tomatoes or pickles, they were presented with some sparkle.


–Picked out my bridesmaids’ dresses!! I had a fun afternoon shopping for bridesmaids dresses with my friend Robyn and future Sister-in-Law Jennie. Jennie was our model, and she must’ve tried on 25 dresses–what a trooper! It was fun hanging out with these girls doing “wedding stuff.”

None of these is the actual dress, but the color on the right IS the real dress color!


–Went to the Greer Christmas Parade with our friends (and match-makers, and bridesmaid/groomsman/flower girl package) The Lees. This is our 2nd year watching the parade with them, and it’s pretty funny to think how “new” our relationship was last year when we went! The Greer parade is the perfect small-town Christmas parade….tons of beauty queens, tractors, high school marching bands and PeeWee football teams, and this year the added bonus of a Waffle House employee smoking a cigarette on the back of their float. Awesome.



–Picked out Ella Jane’s flower girl dress! It is SO CUTE, and her constant comment is that “it comes down all the way to my toes!”

–Celebrated Christmas early at The Lees’ annual Christmas extravaganza and Tony’s work party. (But we still haven’t decorated the house. Ugh!)

–Started our Wedding Registry! It was really fun choosing our plates, silverware, cookware, and all those goodies! Since food and entertaining are super important to both of us, this was something that we both enjoyed. As much as Tony loved finding the perfect KitchenAid Mixer, however, there is no doubt that using the electronic scanner was his favorite part! Check us out at Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond if you want to see the goodies!

Tony scanning…


Our Kate Spade flatware (chosen largely because the knife stands up on the blade!), and my grandmother’s china, which will be our “fine china.”


–Picked out my mom’s Mother of the Bride dress! Her childhood BFF Wanda came with us, and WE knew her dress was “the one” when mom teared up and refused to take the dress off…even if Miss Indecision weighed out all of her options until she was positive. She looks beautiful and so happy in it!

So many options! One of these is her dress…


Me, mom, and Wanda after the big decision was made!


–Booked a surprise for our Cocktail Hour at the wedding. I can’t wait to reveal the surprise…it’s going to be perfect for our location and the feel of our wedding!!

–Tony catered a 5-course private dinner at a home on Caesar’s Head mountain. I helped (mostly by washing dishes…although I did serve a few plates LOL), and it was amazing to watch him plan his menu, prepare for everything, and finally wow the guests on the night of the event. He is so talented!!

–Tony somehow decided to grow out his beard. He claims it will grow until May, and then he’ll cut it back to normal before the wedding. This thing has gotten huge; I don’t know if The Big Beard (as I have named it) will fit through a door by May! We spend much time talking about handlebar mustaches, mountain-man beards, hiding squirrels and my chapstick inside, and “fluffing” it out. I don’t have a photo of him with The Big Beard, but this is who he looks like: (I’m such a lucky girl!)


As we enter Month #7, we are excited to celebrate our “Engaged Christmas” and New Year’s. We love you all! Thank you for being a part of our lives and our journey. We wish you holidays filled with laughter and love.

Amy + Tony

We’re Engaged! Month #5….and 6 Months to Go!


OK, so I am waaaaaaay late on our monthly engagement update. To accurately celebrate our “engagement anniversary” I am supposed to blog on the 16th of the month. Where the heck does the time go?? Instead, I’m updating today on the 27th…..exactly SIX MONTHS until our wedding day!! I can’t believe that 6 months from now I will be Mrs. Keely….and I know that the time will fly between then and now. Time to catch you up on wedding plans and fun happenings during Month #5!


–We got three gorgeous and creative proofs from our invitation designer, Kara with Izzy Designs. She is AWESOME and has done a fantastic job with our samples thus far. Highly, highly recommend her!! I can’t wait to send these out….assuming we can EVER finalize our guest list. Ugh.

–I got to try on my wedding dress again! I invited my mom, Tony’s mom and step-mom, and Tony’s sister to come see The Dress and have lunch together. It was special to be with all of the ladies in my family and my “new” family. And of course, I love any excuse to wear The Dress!!

–WE HAD OUR ENGAGEMENT PORTRAITS DONE!!!!! It was so much fun and a little sentimental to take a whole afternoon to just be “us”….cozy and giggly and sassy and maybe even a little bit sexy. 🙂 One of the things I enjoy seeing when I am on the “photographer” side of the lens is how a portrait session forces a couple or a family to just focus on themselves and their relationships. It was really neat to be on the other side of the lens and feel how true this is. We are so, so happy with our images, and I cannot thank our dear friends Craig and Lindsey enough for capturing all of the things that make us “us.” I want to do a whole blog post with just our portraits, but here are a few favorites.




–We celebrated Tony’s dad’s 60th birthday (twice!). It was fun to be with his family and also to include my family in the celebrating. It is pretty cool to see that our parents are becoming friends!

(Tony with two of his sweet Grandmas, and who knows what my parents and his parents are cooking up in the bottom photos. 🙂 )

–Tony finally got his chance to dress as a pirate (since I refuse to let him do that for the wedding)….Halloween! We had a fun night listening to bands and dancing at Gottrocks.

Not sure why I look so happy, considering how intent Pirate Tony looks on slitting my throat…



–I shot a million fall portrait sessions (YAY!!!), and Tony actually helped me 2nd Shoot for two of them. He’s got a great eye, and it’s been fun to teach him about lighting, camera settings, and such. I love learning from him about food and football, and it’s pretty cool that he enjoys picking up the camera and learning my craft too!

–We are enjoying a few simple little traditions…me cooking dinner on Wednesdays when Tony gets home early from class (thank you Pinterest for all the recipes!) and Top Chef Texas afterwards, dinner and The Next Iron Chef Allstars on Sundays, and Chopped and House Hunters pretty much every time they are on!

–We spent a couple of days up in the mountains just hanging out and having fun! We went on a Zipline tour of the Nantahala Forest (got an awesome deal on Groupon), I took Tony to see the Western Carolina campus for the first time (Go Catamounts!!!), we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, Frog’s Leap Public House, we toured Biltmore House, and we just puttered around Asheville, shopping and eating. (We tried veal brains at Table. Definitely the most adventurous thing I’ve ever eaten.) We have such a good time being together, and it is just SO EASY. Nice.


Ziplining was so much fun!!


I *heart* Western Carolina!!


Tony with me at the WCU Alumni Belltower


–We met with another potential caterer and received a custom sample menu from them. We’re making some progress!!

–We had a ridiculously delicious Italian feast with about 16 of our friends, who are all amazing cooks. Tony (and I) prepared a Timpano, which is a 40-pound pot of deliciousness. We prepped for about 4 hours, cooked it for 2, and ate it for days. 🙂 Tony made the fresh pasta sheets, which line the pot and hold everything in, and we filled it up with homemade meatballs, cooked penne, pasta sauce, olives, salami and onions, and two cheeses. It was so good, and I’m craving it again after putting together the photos below!



–We enjoyed our own little “Snow Day.” I took a day off from working, shooting, editing, and Tony skipped class. We had been so busy that we just needed a rainy day to sleep super late, bum around, fix dinner, and destress. It was nice, and just like a real Snow Day it was tough to go back to real life the next day!

I say it every month, but we truly love and appreciate each of you for following our journey and for being a part of our journey. Thank you!!


We’re Engaged! Month #4 (and 2 days)


Here we are, Tony and I have already been engaged for 4 months (and 2 days)! Month 1 was full of excited emotion, Month 2 was busy busy busy, Month 3 was lots of wedding planning, and Month 4 was lots of fun! And lots of photos!

In our fourth month of being engaged, Tony and I have….

–Visited Lake Junaluska and Apple Hill Farms with all of our parents—first time that Tony’s family has seen our wedding sites! (They approved.)


–I SAID YES TO THE DRESS!!!!!! I went wedding dress shopping with my mom, my lifelong friend (and bridesmaid/matchmaker) Robyn, and my sweet work friends Kim and Erica. The Dress was the first one I tried on! It was also one of the photos that I brought with me from my magazine and online searches, AND it was hanging on a mannequin when my mom and Robyn got to Dimitra Designs, and Robyn said “I love that dress—it looks like Amy!” Meant to be?? Finding The Dress was everything I dreamed it would be, except quicker. 🙂 We had champagne and snacks and girl talk, we picked out tons of gowns for me to try, and everyone cried when we realized this was “the one.” It was perfect! (Of course I freaked out a week later wondering if Tony would like The Dress, if it was timeless enough, if it was blah blah blah, but Robyn reassured me that Tony will have the same reaction that they all had when they saw me in it. *Breathe.*) Spoiler alert: There’s a pic below of me in The Dress….


(Come on, you didn’t think I’d actually show it to you, did you? To be fair, however, I AM actually wearing The Dress in the bottom left picture…not that you can see it. 😉 )

–We celebrated Tony’s birthday! (Last one in his 30s!) My mom is super excited that she can re-use these candles every year on HER birthday 😉 . I also had the honor of being entrusted with the Traditional Gairns-Keely-Sokol Birthday Breakfast. Tony’s mom passed down their family recipe for Moravian Sugar Cake (which ironically, I also grew up eating!), and I prepared it for Tony’s birthday breakfast, er, brunch. Mighty tasty, if I do say so myself!


–Tony and I spent 5 days just relaxing and being together at Litchfield Beach. It was so nice to get away from work, appointments, To Do Lists, and technology for a few days and just hang out, just us. We snacked on cheese, bruschetta, wine and prosecco on the balcony; played bocce ball on the beach every day; found out what happens when you throw seagulls an entire piece of bread (it.is.awesome. and good for at least an hour’s entertainment); watched the sunset from the Skywheel in Myrtle Beach (one and only time…Mr. K doesn’t like heights); and ate lots of brunches and lot of crab legs. Loved every minute of it!






–We had dinner with Tony’s family to celebrate his and his brother’s birthdays. We had homemade onion rings, birthday cake, and laughed til we had tears in our eyes. 😉

–We met with ANOTHER florist and an invitation designer. BOTH of them randomly had ideas about burlap + lace, which I had just pinned on Pinterest (major new addiction). It is crazy how things work out….

–We moved our traditional Saturday Afternoon Date in the Park to the Carolina Alehouse. It is football season, after all.

–We picnicked with The Cliftons (my dad’s family) at Landsford Canal State Park. A fun fall day with my sweet and crazy family. In the pics below, from top to bottom: 1) While I was taking a picture of my parents, they said “Tony, come on and get in this picture with us!” Uh, hello, what about me?? My mom also cooks this lemon cake that Tony likes (in the bday picture above), and she doesn’t usually cook anything for anybody. I guess he’s the favorite now! 😉 2) My dad’s siblings. 3) Me and two of my cousins—and bridesmaids!


–We rented the movie “Bridesmaids” and nearly died of laughter during the dress shopping scene. Seriously, if you could die laughing I think it would’ve happened. We rewound that scene no less than 7 times.

–We hired our DJ! We’re excited that Blake from Jumping Jukebox is going to keep our reception rocking!

–We celebrated our 1-year dating anniversary by picking apples at Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock. Sky Top was one of our first dates last year! It is crazy to think that on October 8, 2010 we were just going about our business same as always, and then on October 9th I sent Tony a random text (“Are you going to be out tonight?”) that changed our lives forever. Who knew that closing down the bar at Smiley’s after Fall for Greenville would lead us to THIS?? I can guarantee you that we would’ve both called b-s if anyone had told us that night that a year from then we would be planning our wedding!

Back to Sky Top, you’ll see this bushel of apples again at our wedding! Tony worked hard climbing trees to pick the perfect mix of Galas and Granny Smiths, and then he worked even harder pulling that wagon waaaaaaaaaaaay up the hill!



–We went pumpkin pickin’ at Nivens Farms with our Matchmakers Robyn and Burton, and our too-stinkin-cute Flower Girl Ella Jane. We love this little girl!



–We spent our 4-months engagement anniversary at Fall for Greenville with friends…which was the occasion for us getting [back] together last October. Interestingly enough, when we met up last year, the last time I had seen Tony was Fall for Greenville the year before!

Whew, such a fun month! I am grateful every day for the love that Tony and I share and for just how right we are for one another. I’m a lucky girl! (And yes–he’s a lucky guy.) Hehe.

Love to you all,


We’re Engaged! Month #3


Wow–it’s already the 16th of the month again?? Here we are, 3 months of Amy + Tony, Engaged Couple. 🙂 This month has been filled with fun family times, more wedding planning, and “real-life”–this is my crazy-busy time at work, and I always flip out from August through mid-September. (Sorry babe. 🙁 ) To his credit, Tony has this calming, understanding presence that makes me feel ok even when I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job with the whole “balance” thing. One of the bazillion reasons I love him so much!

Here’s what we’ve been up to in Month 3…

–We celebrated Tony’s grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary with a weekend at Lake Keowee and family photos. We joked that if he’s gonna change his mind, he’d better do it before I’m included in the family pics. LOL! I am so fortunate to be getting a wonderful family of in-laws who love me like I’m theirs.



–We went river tubing twice, once just the two of us on a fun little float down the river, and once with several other couples + our coolers. 😉

–I updated my mom on wedding plans over a Mother-Daughter Pedicure Date.

–We spent the weekend in the mountains with my family to celebrate my dad’s birthday and do more wedding planning. We enjoyed a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway, a visit to Barber’s Orchards for apple fritters, and dinner at the awesome Frog’s Leap Public House in Waynesville, NC. Seriously amazing atmosphere and food–try it!!



–We met with another potential caterer and a couple of potential florists. Still making decisions!!

–We spent some lazy days at home, sleeping super-late, shopping for domestic things (new dishwasher, planning a kitchen renovation), and doing yardwork. If I’m being honest, Tony has been doing yardwork and I’ve been marveling at the growing pile of brush and limbs on our curb.

–We dreamed of a lake house, and looked at a few.

–We selected a “wedding cinematographer” for our wedding. We are excited to announce that Jeff Bradt Video will be documenting our wedding day! You can see some of his work HERE, but be warned that you may need a tissue! We love so many thing about Jeff’s work–the movie-like qualities, the details, the way he tells our story out of sequence but it still makes sense, how moving and real it is. We are SO excited to have this treasure from our wedding day!

–We had a lazy Sunday lunch at The Cafe’ at William’s Hardware in Travelers Rest, dozed on a blanket at Furman University, and used a giftcard from Tony’s cousin to buy a mix-and-match selection of Autumn beers for our own Oktoberfest beer tasting. (I loved the Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat.)

–I tried to learn about Fantasy Football. Really, I’m trying!

–I made an appointment to try on wedding dresses next week! Stay tuned for a report in Month #4!

–My mom, Tony, and I went to the Greenville Wedding Festivals!! (Dad met us later for dinner.) As a photographer, I’ve worked these shows several times as a vendor, but it was really exciting and a bit of a rite of passage to go as a bride! I got to have my “I’m the BRIDE!” sticker, and my mom was proud of her “Mother of the Bride” sticker. Tony was such a trooper and came to the festival on his only night off work, and I think he was super-stoked to have his “GROOM” tuxedo sticker. 😉 I’m a lucky girl that he will do things like this with me and that he is so involved in our wedding planning. So far, he has been to every single wedding meeting with me and shares his opinions on wedding ideas. I love that our wedding is really going to be about US…it isn’t just my day, it is OUR day, and that makes me smile.

(No, we did not intend to match. 🙂 )

We ran into Tony’s brother and his fiancee’, who just got engaged 3 weeks ago! This is a big year for their family! (Photobooth pics compliments of SocialLight.) Not sure why I didn’t get into the nautical theme here, but I do think I get the prize for most props!

We owe a huge THANK YOU to all of our family and friends who give us so much support and encouragement. I know it’s cliche’, but you have all helped us become the people we are…people who aren’t perfect but who are perfect for each other. Thank you for all of the sweet comments on our blog posts and for sharing our excitement. We love you!
–Amy + Tony


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We’re Engaged! Month #2 (and 2 Days)


Mine and Tony’s wedding is a little over 9 months away, and we’re staying busy planning the wedding, loving each other, and living our lives. If you missed the happenings of Month 1, you can read it HERE. Now, Month 2…


Whoa, Month 2 of our engagement was buuuuuuuuuuusy! So busy, in fact, that I missed getting to blog on the correct date, August 16. So here we are, Tony + Amy engaged for two months and 2 days. Here’s what we’ve been up to in Month 2:

~Attended Tony’s baby nephew’s baptism

~Received a special heirloom gift that Tony’s Oma and Opa (great-grandparents) brought back from a Mediterranean cruise many, many years ago.

~Combined our homes! Now, if we can just unpack all of these boxes… 😉

~Had a huge yardsale to start our “Honeymoon Fund.” I got a little addicted to it…..the cleaning out, the bargaining, the people who showed up in their Bud Light pajamas.

~Went on our first plane flight together and our first big trip together. We were happy–but not surprised–to find that we travel great together. We ate and ate and ate our way through Washington DC. We’re both huge fans of “small plates” and shared food, and we ate LOTS of it at some amazing restaurants. (One tapas place suggested that we order 4-5 small plates to share. I think we had 11.) I tried the Best.Sangria.Ever. at Jaleo.


~Tony assisted me on two photo sessions! He’s an awesome helper, and I loved that he wanted to see what I do.

~Celebrated 3 birthdays with Tony’s family, helped out my parents when my dad had outpatient surgery, and visited with my special aunt, uncle, and cousins in Charlotte. We are so blessed to love each other’s families and to have families who nurture our relationship.

~Relaxed with friends on an overnight mountain trip to Caesar’s Head. Rode Segways. (Harder than it looks!)


~Commented in a blog contest on Scarlett & Stephen’s website, and we won free Save the Date cards from Just Invite Me in Chicago! Woohoo!

~Talked and talked about Our Wedding. Got excited, all over again! Put together design boards and began to see a really clear vision for the look, feel, taste, and even the smell of our big day!

~Talked about preparing not only for our wedding, but also for our marriage. Googled “questions to ask before you get married.” Asked and answered lots of them. This site was our favorite.

~Changed our wedding colors. Three times. In one weekend.

~Met with Potential Caterer #1, who totally got our vision and excitedly brainstormed with us…..after seeing my “A + T Wedding Food” design board. Yay for visual aids!

~Met with Potential Florist #1, who gave us some great ideas (yay!) and who told me that basically none of the flowers I want will be available in late May (boo!).

~Confirmed that our wedding reception will be at Apple Hill Farms!! We are IN LOVE with this place and can’t wait to celebrate with our friends and family here! It is seriously so perfect for me and Tony and for the way we want our guests (and us!!) to feel on our wedding day.


~Scheduled our Engagement Portraits. Yay!!! Super excited to be on the other side of the camera with my sweet Mr. Keely!

~Became hooked on Swamp People. I’m not really sure why we like it, but we do.

Apparently, one thing we didn’t do much of in Month 2 was take pictures! Except for our DC trip, I don’t have many photos of the two of us. Here’s a couple more at the Gaylord National…one with the ultimate “photo bomb” in the background….



Thank you so much for all of your love and support! We have amazing friends and family, and I don’t know if we can ever express how much we appreciate you celebrating with us.
Amy + Tony