Scotland is beautiful, and has so far, been the oldest place I have ever stepped foot on. I am 7 days into my adventures and I can both proudly and ashamedly admit how much I've been drinking. Did you know that they sell liquor drinks by the pitcher? Sign me up! Scotland has also been the first place in years.. Maybe ever where I have worn a coat, a scarf, PANTS, and closed toed Sneakers at the same time. Such a feat has never Occurred and many of my friends would not recognize me if I was standing right next to them. If 12/21/12 hadn't already happened, this would surely be a signal of the apocalypse.

When we arrived in Glasgow, we checked into our room and headed out to explore the nightlife. Oddly enough, we found ourselves in a Irish Bar where the live band was playing Scottish versions of Johnny Cash and Willy Nelson. The locals were enthralled with the Gaelic versions of our dearest American Country Songs. Irony at its best.

Also, this bar had the strongest drinks I have ever had (minus my own concoctions). Instead of a 2 drink minimum for some giggles, I was literally one and done. I managed to get through another double rum and coke before I knew trouble was about to start. So Lauren and I hightailed it out of there for some drunk munches and found ourselves at the apparent worldwide 24 hour standby... McDonalds. It really does taste the same everywhere you go. Bravo McDs for consistency.

The next day we did a city tour, and tried our best to be sheltered from the freezing rain. We scooted by The University of Glasgow; which the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and founded in 1451.

Next, the Glasgow Cathedral. The dark, imposing interior conjures up medieval might and can send a shiver down the spine. It's a shining example of Gothic architecture, and the only mainland Scottish cathedral to have survived the Reformation. Most of the current building dates from the 15th century.

Behind the cathedral, the necropolis stretches picturesquely up and over a green hill. Its elaborate Victorian tombs of the city's wealthy industrialists make for an intriguing stroll, great views and a vague Gothic thrill.

The city is very similar to Atlanta, in the way that they have repurposed old buildings and left only the tops of the original structure before turning it into a modern business. It makes me sad that more of the city wasn't accessible and visually arresting like Edinburgh. The weather probably had a lot to do with it, 33 degrees doesn't do anybody favors.

Whiskey + Castles

I thought I was on vacation, and yet I got up at 3am to ride to Scotland!

Edinburgh is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, draped across a series of rocky hills overlooking the sea. It's a town intimately entwined with its landscape, with buildings and monuments perched atop crags and overshadowed by cliffs - and it's the coldest I've ever been in my life. First visit was to Edinburgh Castle, a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, so it's pretty old and impressive! We spent our first day touring the Royal Mile, sampling whiskey, and just taking in all of the sights. FYI, they make drinks incredibly strong here.

On our 2nd day we took an amazing 12 hour tour of the Scottish Highlands. 12 hours seems like a long time, and we travelled over 400 miles!

Departing from Edinburgh we passed the imposing Stirling Castle, before making our first stop at Kilmahog. We traveled on through Rob Roy Country of Clans MacGregor and Campbell then over the desolate landscape of Rannoch Moor and the Black Mount to Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most famous glens, site of the 1692 massacre of the Clan MacDonald. This Glen was also seen in Monty Python's Holy Grail, Harry Potter, Braveheart, Rob Roy, War Eagle, and many others. Also, the Scottish despise the movie Braveheart. Like, a lot.

Continuing via Loch Linnhe, we stopped in the Fort William area for lunch then continue into the natural beauty of the Great Glen as we passed beneath Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Travelling on, we admire the Caledonian Canal before arriving Urquhart Castle. Urquhart Castle is the oldest ruined castle in Scotland, dating back to the 13th century. The true majesty of all of these places cannot be captured in my iPhone camera. These places are simply incredible.

Loch Ness, 24 miles long and over 700 feet deep, is more famous for its sightings of the Loch Ness monster, affectionately known as “Nessie”. I didn't see the monster, but I was searching the pitch black water intently.

At Inverness, Capital of the Highlands, we started our return trip to Edinburgh, crossing the Grampian Mountains and the woodland scenery of Perthshire, including the Forest of Atholl, with an evening stop at the Victorian resort town of Pitlochry. Again, I was freezing cold.

In short, no one wears kilts, Mel Gibson is the enemy, whiskey flows like rain, and I am bad at reading maps.

In Flight Meal + Boxing Day

Happy Holidays from England! While everyone was tucked in their beds and dreaming of sugar plum fairies, I was whirling 4,209 miles across the ocean to London, England. I was lucky enough to be upgraded to business class, and it was amaaaaazing. I was greeted with a glass of bubbly and had my "order" taken for my in flight meal. Amenities included a 3 course meal, a fully reclining bed, and a personal tv stocked with a full library of movies and tv shows. They even had my favorite movie ever.. UP. I skipped the free cocktails ( say whaaat) but I wished I had gotten a glass of wine because it perhaps would have helped me sleep better. I managed to sneak in a couple winks but felt too excited and odd sleeping in a room full of strangers. So this is how the other half lives..

I also managed to fend off jet lag long enough to spend Christmas with my cousin and several of her friends! This morning, I was feeling adventurous enough to head out on the town. Today also happened to be Boxing Day which is the European Version of Black Friday. It was insane, and entertaining to watch everyone clamor over the last $5 pair of shoes. I guess women are the same all over the world, we can't resist a sale.

I skipped around Bury St Edmunds, a small town about 60 miles from London. Since everyone was shopping, I was fortunate to be able to have a very private afternoon exploring the Abbey Ruins, which was founded in 633 A.D. The local pigeons found me very entertaining, three birds became my entourage for most of the outdoor exploration. Even other people asked me if they belonged to me. The whole town is incredibly ancient, and sprang up around this abbey. The town is associated with Magna Carta. In 1214 the barons of England are believed to have met in the Abbey Church and sworn to force King John to accept the Charter of Liberties, the document which influenced the creation of the Magna Carta.

I spent a significant part of my afternoon here in the Abbey Gardens, ruins, and St. Edmunds Cathedral, later attending the 3:30 worship. Since I have never been overly religious, I was struck by how much I enjoyed the service. Maybe it was the experience of being inside this beautiful cathedral, or the power of the priest's voice, but I was taken by all of it. My day ended at The Nutshell, The self proclaimed "smallest pub in England". It holds a whopping total of 9 people.

So stateside we complain that in the winter the sun sets too early... Well here it rises around 9am and sets at 3pm! Today was the first official day of my vacation, and I couldn't have spent it a better way. Meandering around this beautiful little town was the most peaceful thing I've done in quite a while. As promised to many people, I didn't speak a word to anyone.

Southern Bridal Designers

 As a stylist, it is incredibly rewarding to see your visions come together in beautiful images. I love to work with brides and help their wedding day dreams come true, but I love doing photo shoots what show another side of my creativity. I was able to work with an incredible team to showcase the newest looks from LulaKate bridal line.  I was blown away by these gowns ~ they are so timelessly beautiful and elegant, they would really suit any style of wedding or venue. And of course they looked fabulous accented by some incredible headpieces from Treats for Tresses, an outstanding mother-daughter team.  Their pieces are breathtaking!

Special thanks to our  amazingly talented photographer, Justina Bilodeau of Leone D'oro Photography, makeup artist, Mariah Hennet, wardrobe stylist Rich G and of course to our four superb models; in order of appearance.

- Ashley Brannon