unlike many of my brides, i knew mandi first in a context completely removed from the wedding world. she’s on staff with the worship team at my church, the church at brook hills, and i can vividly remember the first time i ever heard her sing. that girl has one seriously incredible voice, i thought. little did i know, however, that she had an amazing songwriting talent to match. mandi’s music is soulful, deeply intimate, and saturated with real life and real hope, and throughout the years i’ve been encouraged, challenged, and moved to tears more times than i can count through her gift. so when i found out that mandi was planning to record a new EP, i did a back-handspring-of-joy (or maybe it was just a little happy dance) when she asked me to shoot the cover. and with the album’s september 28 release date soon approaching, i wanted to take a minute to introduce you to mandi and let her tell you a bit about “he and she” (perfectly titled based on one of the most beautiful love stories i’ve ever known).
1. when and where did you record your newest album?
I recorded the EP this summer at a studio called The Bomb Shelter in East Nashville. Andrija Tokic produced the record, and he was a joy to work with.
2. if you had to describe the album in one word, what would that word be?
I think the one word that describes this album best is “honest”. These songs are not the result of following any songwriting formula, but rather they are an overflow of my life. In the studio I actually played (guitar/piano/ukulele) on all but one of the songs, which is something I’ve never done before on a project. Andrija insisted I played my instruments on the project. He said we could hire all studio musicians to play for me, but that would come at the cost of losing the personality of the song.
3. give us an idea of the sound and feel of “he and she”.
The genre would probably be singer/songwriter, pop. A couple of the songs are even a bit jazzy; a nod to my New Orleans roots. Several instruments contribute to the playful, whimsical sound of the EP including a Farfisa, ukulele, B3, steel guitar and even a horn section.
4. tell us about the inspiration behind this collection of songs.
This EP tells the story of my husband and me. It’s a story of God saving two sinners and drawing an unlikely match to each other. This EP is, in a lot of ways, kind of like my journal. It peers into my hopes, affections, fears and all the heaps of emotions that come along with courtship, engagement and marriage. That’s how it came to be titled “he and she”.
thanks so much to mandi for sharing about her upcoming project. and before i wrap it up, i have to give a huge shoutout to a few people for making mandi’s album session such a fun and beautiful time. thanks to prophouse birmingham for the perfect whimsical woodland props, molly stilley of morgan ashley for gorgeous hair and makeup, and candice thomley for her amazing flower headpiece creation. love you all!
with tremendous thanks…
planner: bethany boles-hewitt (southern graces) | bride’s gown: morilee (bella’s bridal) | bride’s hair: sarah bates | groom’s suit: jos. a. bank | floral design, catering, and cakes: southern graces | gourmet pops: steel city pops | transportation: coats classic cars | videographer: j. whitt productions | photographer: allison lewis photography
ceremony: first presbyterian church (jackson, mississippi) | reception: fairview inn | invitation suite: fresh ink | bride’s gown: monique lhuillier bliss (ivory & white) | hair stylist: syd curry (smoak salon) | makeup artist: ashton mathis | caterer: fairview inn | floral design: bittersweet | cake artist: cakes by iris | entertainment: hunter gibson | videographer: john david smith | photographer: allison lewis photography | transportation: johnny morrow
with tremendous thanks…
wedding planner: jackie rowell (rowell events) | bride’s gown: liancarlo (ivory & white) | bride’s makeup: kate crotwell | bridesmaids’ makeup: ashley vines (joyce’s) | hair: ashleigh silas | tuxes: mr. burch formalwear | bridesmaids’ dresses: bella bridesmaids | invitation suite: fine paperwork | church avondale united methodist | reception venue: regions field | floral designer: hothouse design studio | caterer: parkview catering | bride’s cake and cheesecake bar: dreamcakes | entertainment: brother 2 brother | trolley: rare transportation | valet service: apex valet | getaway car: coats classic cars | photographer: allison lewis photography (with justin poland)
once upon a time there were two beautiful sisters whose family was friends with that of two handsome brothers. the oldest sister fell in love with the oldest brother and the four of them stood side by side last year as an amazing wedding took place that would forever unite the families. and as wonderful as the story would be if it stopped there, imagine how much more incredible it would be if there was more…
her eyes were the first thing that caught his attention but before long, he realized there was much more to love about her than just her sparkling beauty. so he made up his mind to ask her out. excited over his interest but knowing the truth, she broke the news to him that her parents wouldn’t let her date until she was 16. no big deal, he thought…her birthday’s only a month away. true, but the birthday she was about to celebrate was only her 15th which meant he’d be waiting more than a YEAR for that first date. but as the old saying goes, anything worth having is worth waiting for, and after eight long years of waiting, last weekend marked the day that she finally became his.
with tremendous thanks…
venue: stone bridge farms | bride’s gown: ivory and white | bride’s hair: cathy adams (salon m squared) | catering and floral design: stone bridge farms | cake artist: wedding cakes by jan | entertainment: act of congress | photographer: allison lewis photography (with anna wamsted)
the last time we did this whole wedding thing together, i was the one wearing the big white dress and she was the little beauty who stood beside me with baby’s breath in her hair. we’d spent the previous four years with our lives intimately intertwined: birthday parties, ballet recitals, and countless hours of time in her home. they weren’t just the family i babysat for; it was much deeper and more meaningful than that. they were my home away from home and the family through which i learned to be a wife and a mom.
tears filled my eyes over and over throughout catherine and paul’s wedding day. it was hard to believe that little girl whose hand i held on my own wedding day 14 years ago was standing before me with such radiance and joy; but even more than that, i cried with the peace of knowing how intentional and beautiful her life to paul would be because of how intentionally and beautifully their parents had prepared them for a lifetime of gospel-centered marriage. i PRAISE GOD for you, my sweet friends, and i eagerly wait to see how he will work in and through your lives in the years to come. i love you so dearly!
with tremendous thanks…
ceremony: briarwood presbyterian church | reception and catering: shoal creek club | bride’s gown: allure (bella couture) | hair and makeup: lynsey richardson, jordan harrison, and augusta cole | floral designer: cindy vetrano | cake artist: olexa’s | trolley: rare transportation | reception entertainment: daniel cason (pianist) and the park band | videography: justin fincher (main street productions) | photography: allison lewis photography (with justin poland)