When Melissa Shook ripped off the white drape to reveal the first edition of Southern Social, she knew the time dedicated to her field had paid off.

On July 23, Shook hosted a magazine launch party with vendors, models and some of the newlyweds featured in the magazine.

“I’m very emotional right now, and I’m a very sensitive person so to get out there — I look in that room and see how many people showed up. It’s wanted and needed here,” Shook expressed minutes after the reveal. “And so all of the love and support from family and friends that came and all of the other vendors out there means a lot. I’m ecstatic.”

With more than 10 years of experience as a wedding photographer, Shook immersed herself into the wedding world, referencing herself as a “wedding guru.” Though she found that vendors and resources south of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex were not as publicized as those to the north. Through her elaborate network, Shook established a wedding magazine focused on this region.

Shook moved to Midlothian from Mansfield about two years ago.

“Knowing Midlothian was 15 minutes down the road, I never shot anything down here. I think a lot of it was the money. I might have been too expensive, and so brides in the area weren’t spending the money,” she disclosed.

Shook conducted her research and discussed the matter with her peers. Her determination led her to establish a business to promote the idea. Gradually, she phased out of photography to have her weekends back, “and so I started Southern Wedding Professionals just as a networking thing for vendors to get together and showcase. It evolved into the magazine.”

In the process of working with the vendors in the magazine, she was able to help educate them with her experiences as well since she was well-seasoned in the modern wedding culture.

Melissa explained how her initial long-term goal was to open a wedding venue, however, after investing countless hours in the wedding field, she was inspired to go in a different direction.

With zero editorial or print experience, Shook had a final product in six months. She expressed it is the perfect size with 106 pages. “I want the people in there advertising and the shoots in there to be seen. I don’t want them to get lost. I wanted to keep it relatively small but with room for growth,” Shook explained.

Southern Social will publish twice a year and will coincide with the Southern Social Bridal Show. The magazines will be offered at the show and will be distributed to vendors south of the DFW Metroplex. The main cities highlighted are Waxahachie, Midlothian, Ennis, Italy, Red Oak, Forreston, Cleburne, Alvarado, Grandview, Burleson, Hillsboro, Whitney, Blum, Bluff Dale and more.

Southern Social highlights just about every aspect of a wedding. Inside, a reader can find venues, photographers, videographers, florists, hair and makeup artists, DJs, jewelry, stationery and dresses, and suites. Also, are written editorials from professionals can be found in the magazine. Nine real weddings are also featured with testimonies and ideas for others, as well as tips for planning a wedding and advice from the professionals on how to decide on which company to go with.

So what makes this wedding magazine different from others? “It’s a little more creative and personal. I didn’t want it to be so ‘advertisee.’ I want content in there that inspires brides,” Shook replied.

More information on the magazine and Shook can be found at southernweddingpros.com. The next bridal show will be held Jan. 20, 2019, at the Waxahachie Civic Center, which will be when the second edition is released.

Couples who said, “I do” at a venue south of DFW can also submit their wedding to be featured at www.southernweddingpros/get-featured.

The magazine launch party included several vendors south of the DFW Metroplex. All Things Elegant Entertainment provided the entertainment, the photographer was Flavia Watkins, and the videographer on site was Chad Osburn. The floral arrangement was provided by Peonies, and the vintage rentals were provided by Bleu Luxury Events Rentals. Stationary was featured by Brown Fox Creative. The sweets table displayed goodies from Uncle Willie’s Pies, Bittersweet, and Doolee’s Baking Co. And to cater the event was Ted E’s Catering.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450