We’re Engaged! Month #9


The wedding is a short 10 weeks and 1 day away–holy moly!!


In our 9th month of being engaged, Tony and I have…

–picked out our wedding bands! Both rings have been ordered. Now, to decide what we want engraved inside.


–spent the weekend in Charleston for the Wine + Food Festival. It was the perfect weekend get-away: rainy days sampling wine and watching cooking demos in the Culinary Village; UNC basketball on tv; amazing food at Anson’s, FIG, and Blossom; brunch under the trees of Lowndes Grove Plantation, complete with an a cappella gospel choir; walking around one of the most beautiful cities in the South (maybe the world?); and wandering the barrier islands. We love our little get-aways together!


It POURED on our first day of the Festival, but we had fun sloshing through the rain and mud. Don’t judge my hair….you know you loved this episode of Friends when Monica’s hair got bigger and bigger and bigger! 😉


Cooking demo by Tony’s friend and former boss, Chef Tory McPhail, head chef at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.


Lowcountry Gospel Brunch at the historic Lowndes Grove Plantation. We LOVED this event!


Brunch was beautiful and tasty….and breezy and chilly!

–The Big Beard continued to grow. In the photo below, you will see Edgar Allen Poe, The Big Beard, Tony, and Yukon Cornelius all looking thoughtful (and hairy) on Sullivan’s Island…


–applied for my Passport. Yay! Ready to travel…

–went to Lake Junaluska and Apple Hill Farms to meet with our new planner and to show our florist, Adina at Frilly Bloomers, our wedding sites! It was a beautiful and peaceful 24 hours in the mountains.

–ordered Tony’s wedding gift. 🙂 (I think he ordered mine too.)

–got our “wedding wine.” It’s all in the basement just hanging out til May!

–got my cute little “Mrs. Keely” hanger for my wedding dress. Even though my dad says I’ll always be a Clifton, I’m excited to become Mrs. Keely too!


–had my final alterations fitting for my wedding dress. The next time I go to try it on, it comes home with me!! Wow!

–Alllllmost finished designing and deciding on our invitations, RSVP cards, and info cards. They are going to be super cute. Here’s a tiny little peek…


During Month #9 we also faced some scary news as a couple: both my mom and I have to undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks. Mine is Monday, hers is 2 1/2 weeks later. Even during this uncertain time, however, Tony and I are growing stronger as a couple, closer to our families and friends, and more dependent on God and prayer. I hate that we are already testing the “in sickness or in health” part of our vows, but it is an amazing feeling to know that Tony is by my side no matter what happens and to feel so loved by the people around us. I truly am a lucky girl.

Thank you all for your love and for being a part of our story.
–Amy + Tony


We’re Engaged! | Month #7 and #8


Whoa! Time is just tick tick ticking away….I completely missed my Month #7 post (sorry to all our Moms who looked for the update), I’m a week late for our Month #8 post, AND we are already less than 100 days out from the wedding!! 94, to be exact. (But who’s counting?) Go grab your popcorn, get comfy, and be prepared to hang out for a bit: Tony and I have been engaged for 8 months now, and we had a lot going on in Months #7 and #8! Get ready for tons of photos and engagement/wedding updates.


In Month #7 of being engaged, Tony and I….

–shared our first full Christmas together (although Tony DID come over to my parents’ house last year for dinner and the white Christmas). It was so special to spend time with each other and our families during the holiday season. This was our first time experiencing the “we need to see everyone” schedule that most couples face, but we made it work. (Thanks to a nap!) It went something like this: Christmas Eve church services at his dad’s church, Christmas Eve dinner at my parents’ house, including baking and fudge-making…Christmas morning stockings and brunch with my parents, visit Tony’s sister’s house to see his nephew’s 1st Christmas, his parents’ house for gifts and snacks, his grandma’s house, nap at my parents’, opening gifts with them, dinner at 10pm, and falling asleep on the couch watching Rudolph. Then the next morning, we got up to meet his grandparents and Mom and her husband for lunch in Greenville, stopped back by my parents’ house to see our sweet family friend Shirley, and back to our house to meet my BFF who had driven in from Alabama. I’m tired just remembering all of that!! 🙂


Christmas Eve church service…my parents, Tony’s parents, and his two brothers


Christmas Day with my parents….adorable stockings handmade by my mom (mine when I was a baby, Tony’s cute gingerbread chef this year)….our first “family picture” with Pearl the Cat


Christmas Day with Tony’s parents….this has been a big year for their family (a new baby and 2 engagements), so it required all new stockings!….Take 1 of the family photo…Take 2 is much better. *Sigh* 😉

–had a great visit with my BFF and Matron of Honor, Rebecca. Since she lives so far away, she hasn’t been able to be involved face-to-face with wedding plans. During her visit, we packed in tons of catching up, wedding planning, and dinner out. There’s just nothing like time spent with the people who know you the best and love you the most!



–ordered bridesmaids dresses!! They will be in mid-March, and I’m so excited to see them! I had a fun morning with Rebecca (MOH), Robyn (bridesmaid and match-maker), and Ella Jane (Flower Girl Extraordinaire) at the dress shop. EJ’s favorite part was dancing on the pedestals and hiding in the dress racks. 🙂



–worked on a Bridesmaids Craft Project, thanks to Pinterest! We are making these cool candles for the reception space….just glass jars, modge-podge, and lace. **I still need glass jars if you can donate any to the cause!**


–welcomed the New Year, also known as “The Year We’re Getting Married.” Tony had to work late, so I hung out with my parents for the countdown, and then he and I toasted at midnight on Mountain Time when he finally got home. We just pretended we were in Colorado. 🙂 The next day, we had lunch at the Waffle House and ate traditional porkchops, beans, and greens with my parents and played funny card games with them. It was a great way to spend the first day of our Wedding Year!

Happy New Year, 2012!


One of my favorite recent photos of us…so comfy.

–celebrated Christmas and Hanukah with more of Tony’s family, hosted at our house. It was fun to have them here with us!

–hung 4 humongous canvases from our engagement portraits!

3 of the 4 canvases!

–WE FINALLY FOUND OUR FLORIST!! We are so excited that Adina at Frilly Bloomer’s Florals will be prettying up our wedding and reception. She is super talented, and a complete riot!!

–we attended a wine tasting, and while we were there we decided on our honeymoon location!!


We are traveling to……….Italy!!


–I had my last visit with my one-of-a-kind Aunt Dot, who died just a couple of days after I spent a perfectly normal afternoon at her house. Tony and his parents all helped our family say goodbye to her.

–spent the weekend in The ATL with Rebecca and her husband Marshall. We have a blast with these two! We went to the World of Coke Museum (thumbs down, except for the all-you-can-drink tasting room), ate some great food, laughed a ton, and visited CNN (pretty cool, even though I don’t watch the news.)



This photo just cracks me up; it was too funny not to buy from our CNN Tour! I don’t know why we are wearing coats while reading the news. I told Tony that it looks like I am interviewing a homeless guy; thanks Big Beard!

During Month #8 of being engaged, Tony and I…

–visited with my awesome far-away bridesmaid Marilynn while she was in town for a couple of days. We have family and friends attending the wedding from SC, NC, Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, and Las Vegas, but Marilynn wins the prize: she and her hubby are coming all the way from Seattle for our big day!!

–received our first wedding gift from our registry! Tony’s grandparents sent us an amazing 1st Gift: our KitchenAid Mixer! We are so excited to begin using it….recipes are welcomed. 🙂


–had a quick and fun get-away in the mountains with our awesome friends and photographers, Craig and Lindsey. (3 photographers on a trip, and no photos…oh well!) Our engagement portraits were also featured on their blog–yay!

–WE FINALLY FOUND OUR CATERER!!! Food is such a big part of our lives, and we had a really difficult time finding the right caterer for our wedding. We are beyond excited that Brian from Tupelo Honey Cafe’ in Asheville is keeping our tummies full during cocktail hour and dinner. The menu he prepared is ridiculous. We could not be more excited about our wedding food!

–got our Save the Date cards!


–hosted our parents for the Superbowl. It is so awesome that our parents are friends through our relationship!! (They even get together, and don’t even invite us! 😉 )

–continued our weekly cooking nights when Tony gets home from school, and we also had an awesome Spanish dinner night, thanks to our inspiration from Chef Jose Andres’ cookbook and some authentic products from La Tienda in Virginia. Yummo.



On the menu: anchovy-stuffed olives, manchego cheese, braised chicken with stewed vegetables, and potatoes cooked with chorizo and paprika. Oh my. (And yes–we cook in our jammies.)

–picked out at least one song for our wedding ceremony, and we picked out our nephew’s Ring Bearer outfit. SO CUTE!

–started planning several showers and our Bachelor/Bachelorette party! Yay, let the celebrating begin! (or continue…I guess we’ve celebrating our engagement and marriage all along…)

–picked out the guys’ suits for the wedding, and Tony got measured for his! We also got ties for Tony, our dads, and all the groomsmen. My bridesmaids’ dresses are a color that’s difficult to match, so we are really excited that we found 3 different patterns of ties in the perfect color!


–celebrated our “engaged Valentine’s Day” with a 10 course tasting menu at Devereaux’s downtown. Dinner (and my date!) were amazing! I also got a beautiful necklace and earrings, and I gave Tony a wine book and a Pinterest-inspired homemade gift.



–continued to grow The Big Beard. TBB is sort of like a pet, or a houseguest, or an old friend. It is definitely an entity all its own. (It will also be gone before the wedding.)


The Big Beard on one of its bushier days; Tony, deep in thought, comparing beards with the inventor of Coke.

If you’ve continued reading this post all the way to the end–thanks for being so interested in me and Tony, our engagement, and our love! We love you and we’re excited that you are part of our journey. Leave us some love in the comments section to let us know you made it to the bitter end. 😉


Amy + Tony

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,