I am finally catching up from the excitement that was the 2019 North Carolina Azalea Festival! If you follow along on Instagram, you may have seen that Stephen and I were escorts to Miss North Carolina throughout the week. I was often asked what that meant, so keep reading to get all the details!

It's safe to say that I've had my share of involvement in the festival. It started back in 2008, when I was an Azalea Belle (you can check out more details about that here). The next year, I was lucky to serve as the 2009 North Carolina Azalea Festival Princess! The princess serves as the year-round representative to the festival, traveling the state and sharing all about what the NC Azalea Festival truly is. Then, in 2011 and 2013, I was honored to serve on the Queen's Court. The Queen's Court is chosen from local titleholders that will be competing in the Miss North Carolina Organization that following June. Each role has been filled with its own share of excitement, but I enjoyed this one as we get to have a more behind-the-scenes look at what truly goes into the festival.

So what is the North Carolina Azalea Festival? It is an incredible revenue producer for the city of Wilmington, creating an estimated $51 million dollars in economic stimulus, which is incredible. The organization is filled with volunteers, co-chairs, board members, etc that pull off a 5 day event that includes concerts, a parade, a street festival, of course beautiful azalea garden tours, and more. Patrons and sponsors of the festival are also invited to other events that include luncheons and a fun Saturday night party. 

This year's special guests included Azalea Festival Queen Briana Venskus who is an actress and producer in Hollywood, the Queen's Court, the NC Azalea Festival Princess Claire-Emma Britt, WNBA Veteran Tamera Young, the National Cherry Festival Queen Grace Boyles, Miss North Carolina Laura Matrazzo, Lt. Colonel Allen T. Lamb, Actor Manley Pope, Navy Staff Director Steffanie Easter, Major General James Everette Livingston, and Festival Artist Bergen DeLeeuw. 

This entourage, along with the Executive Board, volunteers, and escorts, travels to each event throughout the festival in the motorcade (every year I'm a part of it, I try to take a video, but the video just doesn't do the experience justice). Thanks to the Wilmington Police Department, we are escorted from event to event (without having to stop at stoplights, which is pretty neat, might I add). 

Stephen and I were asked to be escorts to Miss North Carolina which worked out wonderfully due to my involvement in the Miss NC Organization and also that fact that I had previously met Laura. She and her official chaperone Lindsay McVety (you can check out Lindsay's blog here) came into Wilmington pre-festival, which is where are duties began. Steve and I served as drivers, photo takers, time management enforcers (that was mostly me - haha), festival liaisons, friends, and more. It's a busy week but certainly an incredible one! We also connected with some other amazing people who were serving as escorts. Caroline and Eric Lytle were escorts to this year's festival artist, and I know Caroline through her business High Strung! You should check out her incredible jewelry and here's a throwback to one of her necklaces featured here on Southern Style

The above doesn't even begin to encompass everything that goes into the festival. The Executive Board and Director along with countless volunteers put in more hours than imaginable to make sure that our city experiences an incredible festival. And it's safe to say that's just what we experienced.

The Itinerary:

This is a general idea of the itinerary we followed! There are other things to see and do throughout the event but this was the schedule for the special guests, which of course is what we did as well!

Day 1:

  • Lunch at the Hotel Ballast 
  • Queen's Coronation at Greenfield Lake
  • Past President's Party at Bluewater

Day 2:

  • Celebrity Reception at Cape Fear Country Club
  • New Hanover Regional Medical Center Hospital Visit
  • Brigade Boys and Girls Club Visit
  • Quick dinner at hotel
  • Tyler Farr concert in Downtown Wilmington

Day 3:

  • Ribbon Cutting
  • Garden Party at Airlie Gardens
  •  Dinner at hotel
  • Hank Williams, Jr. Concert

Day 4:

  • Azalea Festival Parade
  • Lunch at hotel
  • Patron's Party at Cape Fear Country Club

Day 5: Depart

Photo Diary

Day 1

For our first day, we were blessed with beautiful weather! We headed to the Queen's Coronation and I chose a Draper James floral wrap dress from last summer. I also used this travel wrap from Target almost every day and I'm so glad I had it!
I dressed things up that evening with this fun midi dress by Hutch from the shop! 

Day 2

Day 2 offered another great weather day, which we were all thankful for. The luncheon was a blast, as we heard from each celebrity guest (and my mom and sister went to this event as well!). For daytime activities on Day 2, I wore this adorable jumpsuit by a brand we carry at ZIA Boutique - Julie Brown NYC. For the evening's Tyler Farr concert, I opted for black jeans, a fun top, and denim jacket. It was a little chilly as we were near the riverfront, so I was glad to have layers!

Day 3

We didn't luck out with the weather on Friday for everyone's favorite Garden Party, but we still had a great time. We first went to a gorgeous home here in Wilmington for the ribbon cutting, as Wilmington offers beautiful garden tours. We then took the motorcade over to Airlie Gardens, which even in the rain was stunning. For this rainy day, I opted for a maxi I've had for a few years by Hutch (and tied it up because the bottom had already been soaked one time at the ribbon cutting and then dried in the car) and paired it with nude Sam Edelman wedges which stood the test of major rain. 

The rain continued into the evening on Friday for the Hank Williams, Jr. concert but we made it work anyway! For that event, I again opted for black jeans and a denim jacket, but switched up my top and wedges. 
dress (sold out, love this one and this one), shoes
leopard tee (sold out, similar), wedges

Day 4

On our last day of festival activities, we were up early for the parade! We sent Miss North Carolina off to her parade vehicle while Stephen and I were taken to the reviewing stand. For these events, I opted for a pair of wide leg pants from the shop and my go-to Loft button tank (and of course that trusty travel wrap because it was a little chilly). 

After an afternoon break, we dressed things up! The Patron's Party is such a special event - attendees include the entire official party, sponsors, and patrons of the festival. It was held at Cape Fear Country Club and was complete with all the details to make it a perfect event. For this event, I opted for gown. We carry the brand Likely at the shop, so I special ordered the Maxson gown in coral for the occasion. It's a very fitted brand so I was a little hesitant but I did love how this gown turned out. 
pants via ZIA Boutique (message to order), wedges, top
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I know I'm not the only one out there that loves Wayfair - and it's safe to say that half of our house has been stocked with items from the online company. I love that there are so many options to choose from & anything that has 2-day shipping is a favorite for me as well.

My house isn't the only thing I've used Wayfair for - it has become a very good resource for the shop as well. I most recently purchased these geometric bookshelves for the shop to display shoes but before that, I've ordered rugs, an ottoman, chandeliers and more. And it's all delivered right to the shop's front door.
Here are a few of my in-house and shop favorites:
  • Living Room Rug - I get the most questions about this rug! It's one of my favorite things in our home and considering the size, it's such a steal!
  • Media Console Table - A large media console was a must for me and though we have now mounted our TV, I still love the look of this one underneath.
  • Outdoor Furniture Set - while our exact outdoor set is sold out, we did purchase it from Wayfair. This one is almost identical and it was this time last year that we got our backyard all set up.
  • Outdoor Rug - a great option! Every so often we just spray it off and it is as good as new.
  • Gold Drum Chandelier - We have two of these hanging in the store and I'm constantly receiving questions on them. I loved these so much that I was tempted to hang them in my house as well but decided that might be one too many.
While these are just a few favorites, I've also rounded up all the things that we have from Wayfair both at our house and in the store (plus a few things I may have my eye on). 

Wayfair at Home:

Other Favorites:

Anyone else seeing the cutest one-pieces out there?! I always tend to opt for a two-piece swimsuit because I'm not a huge fan of having tan lines but that being said - I can't get enough of some of the adorable options for a fun little one-piece.

I snagged this one for a crazy steal (under $20!) and I love how it pairs with denim shorts and a little kimono. This one comes in several cute colors, but I'm partial to this pretty green this season! I also always love the selection that Nordstrom and Revolve have to offer for cute one-pieces! Shop a few of my favorites below.

P.S. I've battled with trying to get the perfect smile since I was in my pre-teens. If you're in the Raleigh area and are looking for an orthondist for braces, check out Gladwell Orthodontics.

Last week, I decided to snag a few easy and inexpensive pieces that are perfect for spring! It's been awhile since I've done some online shopping in this capacity (picking out multiple pieces without a specific place to wear them) since I have the store, but it was fun to find some fun new pieces. All of the items below are under $50, aside from my jean shorts!
Wearing size US 4

Size M

Size M

Size 27

Size Small

Size Small

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With spring in the air, I can't get enough of fun wide-leg pants! We've had a few arrive into the shop and everyone is loving the sophisticated but comfy vibe they give. I snagged this little two-piece set from Forever21 when I went in their store for the first time in months (if not more than a year!). The pants are so fun and while I love it with this top, it would also look cute with a little white crop!

Want to give the trend a try? Shop some of my favorite options below!

P.S. When I lived in the Cary area, I was always looking for a good family dentist - be sure to check out Lane & Associates Cary - Green Level West!
We had a spring tease over the weekend and I'm fully ready for warm weather to be here to stay! I spent most of Sunday outside and it's amazing what a little Vitamin D and the longer days will do for the soul! That being said, I've got some favorites that are either recent purchases or that I've had in my closet for awhile that I want to share!
  1. Calpak Bookbag - If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen this bag make an appearance! It has been the best work bag. I purchased it in advance of our trip to New York for market and it was perfect for the plane ride, traveling through the city, and is now my day-to-day work bag. 
  2. Slides - I have lived in slides all fall and winter (looking at you, leopard slides). Now, these are my go-to for spring! Seriously the best!
  3. Cozy Joggers - If you are looking for a new cozy piece to add to your closet, snag this ASAP! They are so incredibly comforatble!
  4. Crossbody - I don't have this exact crossbody but the one I have from a few seasons ago is still in great shape! It's nice to have a pretty little leather bag for those days shopping or nights out. 
  5. TooFaced Sweetie Pie - If you are someone who likes a simplified makeup routine, this may be the product for you! It's a blush/bronzer combo and while I do still use both blush and bronzer, this is the finishing touch before I apply my highlight.
  6. B(air) Denim - This fabrication from 7 for all Mankind is amazing! We sell 7FAM at the shop so I've got my fair share of experience with their denim and the B(air) is my favorite (and my mom's!). 
  7. Espadrille Wedge - I purchased these last summer and they've got them back! They are a great shoe and perfect to pair with both shorts and a pretty sundress. 
  8. Panama Hat - The older I get, the more I try to protect my face in the sun. My white panama hat has seen better days at this point because I've worn it so much! 
  9. Lace Bralette - This little piece has been all over Instagram and for good reason! It is amazingly comfortable and pretty as well. 
  10. Diamond Studs - I purchased mine via my favorite local jewelry store, Perry's Emporium, but if you're not from Wilmington, Nordstrom has a great selection. These earrings are my go-to and I always feel put together when I have them on. 
  11. Palm Zip Tote - How adorable is this bag? We carry Barrington Gifts at ZIA, so of course I snag myself a piece every now and again. 
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