Warm sunshine peeks through the window of the chic conference room as the team sips cups of coffee browsing the latest submissions and Instagram photos that capture stunning DFW weddings. The conversations vary from potential magazine covers to Insta-worthy story features to trending color schemes and the next big photo shoot at DFW’s hottest new venue, working alongside their community of wedding creatives. Of course, there are a few distractions like answering a text message from a spouse or making a note to pick up something for the kids after work. It is exactly where Ashley Bowen Murphy and Kami Huddleston want to be.
Ashley and Kami, fondly referred to interoffice as K&A, launched what now has become a force in niche media and marketing with a very simple idea and solution to a problem in planning a local wedding – a problem that became apparent to both as they were planning their own weddings less than two weeks apart from each other. “There was nothing in the market that really showcased local weddings and the vendors connected to those weddings. There was nothing that gave the wedding community a way to collaborate and work together to create content. There was nothing that gave you a true sense of the vendor’s style so that couples could determine if they were the best fit for their wedding,” Ashley remembers. “There was no way to filter [vendors] to know if they were qualified or not,” Kami says.
Over cocktails, the pair daydreamed about designing a wedding magazine and launching an online resource. Neither Ashley nor Kami had any publishing experience, the advent of blogging as a business was foreign and the world of social had yet to be born, but it was a conversation the duo kept coming back to. Kami was a graphic designer, and Ashley was practicing law. They combined their talents and both let passion and the desire to solve a problem guide them. With only a few thousand dollars of their own money, they started printing media kits, designing a website and treating wedding vendors to coffee. “We just decided we would undertake it and see what came of it,” Ashley says. Wedlink Media initially launched Brides of Oklahoma just over a dozen years ago.
The first issue was a hit! Soon after, vendors all over the region started reaching out wanting to partner and collaborate. Couples wanted to submit and share their engagement and wedding. A couple of years later, the pair hired their first employee, Alli Vaughan, after she had helped with the magazine pro bono from inception. That’s when they also moved from the dining room table to their first four-room office in Oklahoma City.”
Less than two years later, they had hired yet another rock star, Meagan Jones who remains with the company today, and officially launched Brides of North Texas. They still vividly remember those first clients with established businesses and notable names in the marketplace, where they boldly asked for a partnership with people who dominated the industry in Dallas/Ft. Worth. “We just kind of wrote our own path, as we always have and will,” Kami says. Ashley and Kami seized the social media revolution as well— blogging every day about local weddings and vendors and actively sharing valuable content online and engaging with their audience via the social platforms the bride demographic was using the most. They also focused intensely on their website to make sure it was just as beautiful, image-driven and user-friendly as their magazine. At any time of day, any day of the week, couples planning can access content created by the local wedding community, source vendors easily and connect with brands via social, all through their multimedia platforms. Everything is 100% local, leading couples directly to the vendors that can make their dream wedding come to life.
That hard work eventually expanded to yet another market. Brides of Austin debuted in September 2015 and Brides of Houston launched this past September, 2018. K&A have also launched a creative agency, Brandlink Media, that serves to support their partners on an even deeper level with digital marketing, website development, graphic design, branding and social media support. The company now has more than 30 talented employees, and the multi-faceted approach to reaching and influencing the wedding decision-making of engaged couples continues with daily wedding emails, online videos, Instagram tips and endless wedding features showcasing local weddings and vendors.
When Ashley and Kami daydreamed about their own magazine as twenty-something newlyweds, they never imagined they’d get to one day call their “creative project” a multimedia company. But they were onto something. Women and couples planning weddings flock to the array of local wedding resources the company provides. As they celebrate the 10th anniversary of Brides of North Texas, they’re proud of the vision that has come to life, the talented team they’ve built all of who are so deeply invested in the company and eternally grateful for the vendors who support them.
And it is now, in a newly constructed and inspiring, creative workspace, that the pair runs the daily operations of the booming business. They still love every minute of it, from the surreal moment of receiving the latest magazine hot off the press to wedding gown shoots, to the moments they take every now and then to knock on each other’s hot pink office door and still daydream about the next big adventure in store.
No doubt K&A’s labor of love has changed the North Texas wedding scene in big ways. Want to see how the story continues? Grab your copy of the Brides of North Texas 10th Anniversary issue today, and make sure you’re following along @bridesofnorthtx!
Photos: Carsyn Abrams Photography // Story written by: Abby Broyles