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Part I: How to host a wedding at your home…(and other special events)

Part I: How to host a wedding at your home…(and other special events)


She said yes!









Welcome to a brand new year in which we hope with all our heart that only the best will happen. One thing to remember, regardless of geo-political events or pandemics that are going viral, “Love overcomes a lot of things”, even COVID-19. Last spring, my son William Morrow was planning his proposal to Ashley Walker, his girlfriend. I have never been more proud of my son than I was last year…starting with his choice of his wife, someone we all loved and who shares his same convictions and beliefs about life, and secondly with his ability to roll with all of the changes that were to come. Last year, 2020 basically required everyone to be or become adaptable, and those who were the most adaptable seemed to handle the obstacles the best. That the bride-to-be and groom-to-be were both being optimists certainly did help as William and Ashley made and readjusted their plans for their engagement, their parties, the wedding weekend and even their honeymoon. Their smiles said it all, they were in love and nothing was going to get in their way to have a happy engagement and wedding. Our friends who hosted their engagement party wisely agreed that it might turn out to be their only party and rolled out the literal red carpet as only Daltonians do. The engagement party became a couples shower, and took place at a friend’s stunning open air barn, with live entertainment and a large fire. It was the perfect place to celebrate their engagement!

The cutest un-invitations




Their smiles said it all!





Almost all mothers of the grooms can agree that it’s a little different when it’s your son who’s getting married and you’re not in control of the event, but Ashley and her mother were the epitome of graciousness throughout it all. As we watched and waited from mid-May to September, it became abundantly clear that the state of Georgia restrictions were not going to be lifted for public events such as weddings to allow beyond 50 persons within a banquet space. The beautiful blush-colored wedding invitations that Ashley and William had mailed out were now requiring another new genre of invitations, an un-invitation. The first step for the two love birds was to go back and painstakingly narrowing down the guests to the immediate family and their wedding party, and then send out “un-invitations”. Ashley and I found some cute “un-invitations” on and within an hour they were designed and ready to order.



We wanted to have a cross for our home and one of my happiest days was when Don and I made this one ourselves!



Our back porch is one of our family’s most favorite places. While having to stay home during the shutdown of 2020, we named our porch “Nature’s Sanctuary”…and why not? We attended “online church” and watched the birds, deer, fox, and all the other kinds of wildlife go right by us as we sip our coffee or have dinner al fresco together. Also on the back porch is Donatella the Truffle dog who reigns as queen of the porch and entire back yard. It should come as no surprise that our family was sitting on our porch after dinner one evening when William said he and Ashley said they thought it might be kind of cool to have the wedding right there in our back yard around the pool. The Covid-19 restrictions were severely limiting their wedding venue options and they were not wanting to change their original wedding date of November 7th. We got really excited about the idea of having such a special moment in our lives right there in our “nature’s sanctuary” and I drafted a short list of to-do’s (a list that grew and grew). Personally speaking, my biggest priority was to elevate our back yard to the event, rather than have the wedding feel like a “back yard barbecue”. Although we love back yard barbecues, this sweet little bride simply wanted the wedding to feel like a wedding, and we didn’t blame her one bit. That meant getting a few things spruced up. Do you know what happens when you start to fix one little thing? It turns into something bigger you didn’t expect and this was no exception.


Trees and shrubbery had to be severely pruned to make way for an outdoor pathway to the back yard, in an effort to keep everyone outdoors. Pathway lighting had been installed last year thankfully, and so we only needed to add mesh and orb lights for effect.

























Have I mentioned we love our back porch? Being southern and living in the south like we do, we spend a large part of our lives on the porch. When the coronavirus swept across the nation and our constant traveling came to a screeching halt, we gleefully parked ourselves on the back porch, loaded up the bird feeders with seed and quarantined ourselves while watching the birds and the bees. From time to time, I’d casually mention seeing these little “winged things” take flight from our back porch and asked my husband what they were, then we’d see a pretty bird fly by and forget all about them. Fast forward to September 5th when we discovered that they were something that no one wants to see, carpenter ants! Our house siding is made of hardy-board *except for the soffit and facia which now it appears needs to be urgently replaced, which requires also new gutters and painting it all back to match. Hmmm okay, the house was built in the early 2000’s and I had been waiting for just the right time to paint it in a new color palette. It’s worth noting that my family is in the commercial construction business…they do not do residential construction, they do not do renovations BUT I called the cavalry and they showed up with their best help and sub-contractors! My family is beyond special in how we show up for each other in times of need, and this was certainly a time of urgent need. Project “Fixer Upper” for the wedding started on our back porch. We became tuned in to the subtle nuances of the men, their various coffee preferences and watched with awe at how quickly they could eradicate our home of carpenter ants, replace the gutters and paint it ~ almost as if it never happened but better. *Paint colors provided upon request. For their skill, strength, and determination to get us ready for William and Ashley’s wedding I will always be grateful.

This is mid-way through repainting, it’s already looking so different as a white house instead of a gray house.














The most important considerations for a pandemic wedding are to keep yourself and your guests “safe” which meant having masks, hand sanitizer and praying for the weather to be perfect so that everyone could be outside. We had grandparents to consider and wanted to be sure while they were included in the wedding plans while not exposing them to the virus. God is so good and a strange thing happened, my son “the groom” and his groomsmen (almost all 13) contracted the coronavirus on their bacherlor’s golf weekend and brought it home to their significant others which included the bride to be…we began checking calendars at this moment while everyone is sending text messages that they’d tested positive, I noted that we had a little over two weeks for everyone to quarantine, get well (and pray that no one else got it). We ordered the cutest masks for the special day, also at, which coordinated with the custom designed dinner napkins, the fall foliage and crimson florals in the bridal bouquet ~ details matter ~ even masks. We ordered enough masks for the rehearsal dinner AND the wedding. We weren’t taking any chances with contagiousness.


Masks can be cute and customized for events like a rehearsal dinner or a wedding. We love the ones we ordered from

All of these photos are our own, but you’ll see more to come from the wedding photographer Mackenzie Alexa photography in the next blog post. I can’t wait to share the next chapter of getting ready for the wedding when I can share some of the stunning videography of Kyle Delk. Some of his footage brought tears to my eyes of reliving the weekend one more time in “slow motion”. Here’s a sneak preview so you’ll know what I mean when I say “stunning”!

Stay tuned for Part II “How to host a wedding at home”.








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The sunrises and sunsets in Kenya and Tanzania were beyond description. This particular one was a view of the river where we saw so many hippos and crocodiles.

Celebrating EARTH DAY while working from home has been interesting. Typically Earth Day would be one of those days we are running in circles… just wishing we could be home, or be outside…and today, you guessed it, we have all that and more! I’ve enjoyed being able to stay home without any worry that I’m somehow letting someone down, not being somewhere that I’m supposed to be, and it goes without saying our dog Donatella is LOVING it! While we have been quarantined in our little Rocky Face abode, I have been able to drive to my office in Dalton since literally no one is there. It’s quiet for writing articles for NWFA magazine, EMH blog posts, plan virtual cocktail party for designers, host an occasional webinar, take an order or check on the status of orders at the plant. Now more than ever I’ve come to fully appreciate the fact that Emily Morrow Home is a “boutique” brand and company. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay “hands on” with a majority of the marketing because I know exactly what I want…based on all the conversations and discussions over the years with friends like you.

One “quarantine-achievement” in particular that I’m beyond proud of is the launch of the Emily Morrow Designer Pro-gram. It took a quiet mind to lay out the program in a way that enhances everyone’s enterprises, flooring retailers (check), distributors (check), decorators (check), designers (check), retail sales and design associates (check)…and the launch party is next week. Don’t worry, it’s a virtual cocktail party and thus far with have just around 100 RSVP’s who will be joining us. By the way, let me know if YOU or you know of someone you’d like me to invite, the more the merrier!

On Earth Days of the past we celebrated nature in all its glory and (think about this) we had zero worries IF we hugged a person. On this 2020 Corona-virus-impacted Earth Day, I celebrate the earth and nature FIRST, but I also pause to feel grateful for Apple’s MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhones since without those tools, I wouldn’t be able to stay so well connected with YOU. I’m a hugger…and I think this pandemic might just make me think twice about hugging…but meanwhile, I’m still sending “air hugs”.

If you’d like additional reading material check out NWFA’s April May 2020 Issue just released and my article is linked here for the  TRENDS of the NEW DECADE.

Enjoy Earth day ~  let me know HOW you and yours are celebrating!


This is just a glimpse into some of what we’ve been up to…sending out EMH hardwood samples, loading up EMH Cares Quarantine Packages and much more…all from our dining room table or back porch….and OH by the way, I found a missing memory card from my Nikon camera which was FULL of more amazing photos from our Safari in 2018. Some are below.

Elephants in the sunset, taken by Emily Morrow Finkell August 2018 in Kenya.
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While Quarantined…Where do you go to find inspiration for your designs?

A serengeti sunset is beautiful until you figure out that in the distance is a burning prairie in Kenya, photo credits – Emily Morrow Finkell August, 2019.

When asked recently by a member of the press, “Where are you finding creative inspiration during the quarantine?”…and my first thought was that there really wasn’t a creative moment in this whole adventure of staying at home. Then it dawned on me…I had been going back through photos of our treks, clearing out memory cards from my camera and one in particular was from our 2018 trip to Kenya. As any good photographer would do, I didn’t immediately “delete all” but instead “viewed all”…and am “keeping almost all” of the images. So many of the photographs are astonishingly beautiful, causing me to ask myself “how in the world did I miss this one?”. You know how it is when you first get home from a trip, there’s a rush of activity, the usual stuff you have to do when you’ve been out of pocket, and for us, when we got home from Kenya we moved right into product development of the new Emily Morrow Home hardwood styles, all of which were inspired by our travels, many of which were the Safari, and then we ran right into winter market. Quite honestly I never really got a chance to sit down and absorb all the photos I had taken, only a few of the ones that fit the story line of my products. Now that time has elapsed, and now that I have some spare time to do this, I’m amazed at the phenomenal images that have managed to go unseen until this week when I found them, they are treasures. One of my favorites is this shot. I just love the textures, the mix of colors, the contrast of the gorgeous sunset and the threat of danger from the fires. It’s amazing how immediately one image can call to mind such a rich blend of sights, the smells, the sensations in my memory banks. Once again, I am so inspired!


Enjoy the journey!


P.S. Share your favorite travel photos with me at

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Domotex USA 2020 | Emily Morrow Home to host Design Personified: Behind-the-Scenes Mill Tour


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Emily Morrow Home Featured on Fox News

Emily Morrow Home Hardwood was one of the featured manufacturers at the Inaugural “Made In America Expo” in Indianapolis, Indiana where Carley Shimkus of Fox & Friends News shared the story of our commitment to American-made, higher-end hardwood flooring that has a unique manufacturing model developed by Don Finkell, at American OEM, inside a medium security prison just west of Nashville, Tennessee. Click here to see the interview in full.

Fox & Friends News Carley Shimkus interviews Emily Morrow Finkell

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The Lost Art of Hospitality

“Southernism” can be so different to so many people

Recently a friend asked me what “southern” meant to me. Naturally, as a native southern woman, I wanted to give her a reliable answer that she could understand as well as “adopt” into her own world “up north”, in Manhattan. “Southernism” can be so different to so many people but there are a few common themes…one is being nice. Having grown up in Dalton, Georgia where I knew literally everyone or they knew me, I’m pretty sure I’m nice to everyone…and why not? Everyone is pretty nice to me. We tend to mirror the behavior we see in our lives. That said, I have been thinking about this subject even more as we are moving into the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and any other holidays you may celebrate with your loved ones should be a time for pleasure, fellowship and friendship. Why is it then that some think family and friends are two separate things? I think friends can be family and that family can be friends…and what better’s than when your family members are your best friends?!?  Let’s not lose sight of who matters most in our lives, it’s our parents, our children, our siblings and certainly our spouses or significant others.

The 6th “love language” is lovin’ from the oven

When thinking about what makes living in the south “special”, it almost always boils down to something that involves food and beverages with people whose company we enjoy. There’s a famous book titled “The Five Love Languages” but the author left out the 6th “love language”, “lovin from the oven”.  As we southerners celebrate marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations or even great report cards with food, we enjoy the anticipation of said events early on by flipping through cherished family cook books for menu inspiration or for the modern southerners, perhaps the “open table” app comes into play to make reservations. I’ve noticed that one doesn’t even have to be from the south to enjoy practicing these beautiful traditions. As our friends already know, the Kiker & Morrow family is incredibly close-knit and we eat together as often as possible. I’m a strong believer that the act of breaking bread together ensures that we center our minds on what’s most important, and focus our hearts with an attitude of gratitude, and quite honestly it’s the perfect time to talk about what’s happening with the children or grandchildren. When else do you have a moment to look across the table (phones down and on silent please) and see into each others’ eyes what kind of day or week you’re having and have the ability to listen, be supportive or share in the joy of what’s going on. Witnessing each other’s lives is how we should do life…how we should do marriage…and it’s when we are too busy with careers, traveling or simply preoccupied with our own interests that we lose track of each other.

Our mutual commitment to “family” was the common thread

Just this fall, we had two new marriages in our family. My niece V. was the first of the grandchildren to get married. Needless to say, I was so excited when the aunts of the bride and groom began planning the bridesmaids luncheon. With both families having very southern family traditions as the inspiration and our mutual commitment to “family” as the common thread, the theme to our luncheon was born. Although it took all of us “aunts” (many of us are very involved in the floor covering industry here in Dalton) to pull it off, the event was truly southern. Preparations included polishing of the heirloom silver punch bowl, the planning of the color scheme of our table settings, several arrangements of fresh cut flowers, jeweled bird napkin rings, white woven table linens from Italy, layers of gold chargers, blue, white and gold luncheon plates, blue and white porcelain salad plates and the cobalt crystal goblets, all filled with the bride’s favorite southern goodies of fresh fruit, candied bacon, deviled eggs, and southern chicken salad with pecans and fruit. With family and commitment to one another in love, the mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers wedding photos were framed in silver picture frames to serve as a means for each to share their words of wisdom on how to begin a life together from their experiences. The combined wisdom was well over a century of marriage and left everyone with both tears and laughter, just like life, it can be sweet, sad and funny, sometimes all at once. We ended the luncheon with a prayer and a toast to love and a life surrounded with the family we all cherish so much. These special and even daily occasions need not be expensive, formal or overly cumbersome. It can be flowers picked in the back yard or along the road side placed into a vase (or a jar) that makes you smile and sets the scene for something to be memorable, and to nurture the human spirit.

Go ahead ~ use the good stuff for every day occasions!

Every time Don or I are apart for a day or two at the most, we look forward to our “back porch time” together. I am sooooo old-fashioned and perhaps wise to the precious gift that life and love are, and shower Don and my family with love the moment they walk in the door. Life really is a gift and if we are lucky enough to have love too, then it’s up to us to really savor it. At the risk of sounding like “Martha” I always keep some simple ingredients in my pantry like nuts, charcuterie, fresh apples or a variety of cheeses for when we want to “sit a spell” to talk, to watch the birds in the back yard or just enjoy the peace and quiet of our personal sanctuary from the outside world while we enjoy the latest shipment of wine or try something we picked up at CostCo. Do I use the good crystal? You bet I do…if we don’t use the good stuff now, when will we? There’s no point in leaving beautiful things wrapped or boxed up only to never be enjoyed. Besides good wine always tastes better in crystal.

Cheers to a very Happy Thanksgiving!