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Monthly Archives: April 2017

I remember when John and I first started to think about getting engaged, I was really excited – but also completely overwhelmed.

Excited, of course, because I was inching closer to marrying my best friend! Overwhelmed, because though I’ve been a wedding expert for most of my life, it seems, I was extremely nervous about making such a large purchase when I felt so uneducated on what I was buying (well, what John was buying ;)).

I don’t want anyone else to feel that way, so today, we’ve teamed up with the jewelers at Ritani to offer some engagement ring shopping tips! Whether you’re two months or two years away from getting engaged, I hope you feel more equipped for this big step after reading our Q&A.

P.S. Don’t miss the part about their in-store preview program – such a great opportunity!

Southern Weddings: What do you recommend couples do to prepare before they go ring shopping, if anything?
Ritani: If you’re in the market for a diamond, read up on basic diamond and ring education, including the differences between diamond shapes, the 4 Cs (see below!), and the differences between the most popular ring styles and metals. Before you go shopping, try to narrow down a few basic choices like what diamond shape you like and what style ring. But, know that just as with your wedding dress, you might like a totally different style of ring on your finger than in photos! A Pinterest board can help you gather ideas.

Consider how a certain ring will mesh with your existing style — if you go for a more classic look, try a solitaire or classic setting; if you love vintage-inspired jewelry, explore shapes like cushion, pear, or marquise.

Finally, get a sense for pricing by comparing diamonds and rings on a few different websites. It’s important to remember that diamond shopping is not about finding the “best deal”–rather, you should think about getting the best quality for whatever your budget allows.

SW: How many stores should couples visit when looking for an engagement ring, and how should they decide which stores to go to?
Ritani: We recommend visiting two or three stores in addition to your online research. It makes a big difference to see different types of diamonds in person, as well as try on a few rings. You’ll be able to get a feel for engagement ring styles while also learning about the differences in diamond grades.

If you prefer browsing in-store, plan to visit a handful of independently-owned jewelry stores. Independent jewelers will have more unique designs and be able to design custom rings. Ritani has a network of more than 200 independent retailers throughout the country, so if you need help finding a reputable store, head to ritani.com/stores to find a certified partner.

That said, companies that offer both an online and in-person experience can provide the best value; you get the selection and pricing of an online store with the value of talking to a professional in-person and seeing the diamond first-hand. Ritani offers a free in-store preview option, which lets customers make sure their rings are perfect before they buy.

With our free in-store preview program, you can pick out your engagement ring and diamond online. Our expert jewelers set the ring (with the diamond you picked and in your size), then send it to a local store for you to see it in person before you decide whether you’d like to buy. If it’s not perfect, there’s no pressure to buy. It’s a great way to test out your investment before “driving it off the lot.”

SW: Tell us about the four C’s and what couples should know about them.
Ritani: The 4 C’s of diamonds are cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

Cut refers to the quality of a diamond’s proportions and symmetry. It is angles which allow a diamond to capture light and reflect it, the key ingredient for sparkle. For a truly brilliant diamond, consider those with grades of Very Good or Ideal.

Color refers to the “whiteness” of a diamond, or its lack of color. The less color in a diamond, the higher the value. The GIA grades diamond color using letters to represent the absence of color, beginning with D (colorless) and ending at Z (light yellow or brown).

Clarity is how clean a diamond is, inside and out. “Flawless” diamonds are perfectly clear and smooth (and extremely rare). “Included” diamonds have noticeable scratches or internal markings that make them look dirty and dull. Clarity is generally a less important characteristic because most imperfections can’t be seen unless under professional magnification. Many customers choose a diamond in the VS2, VS1, VVS2, or VVS1 categories.

Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. Unlike the other 3 Cs, carat weight is not necessarily a reflection of quality: you can often find diamonds with low carat weight that are more brilliant and sparkling than their larger cousins. For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. While there is no “perfect” carat weight, the average carat weight sold in most U.S. states is around 1 carat.

For the most sparkle, the most-desired combo is a 1-carat Ideal Cut, Colorless (D), Flawless diamond.

SW: Tell us about the different metal options that couples will be presented with. Are there pros and cons to each?
First, take personal preference into account. Take a look at the jewelry you wear regularly to pick the right metal color. Do you go for classic yellow gold, on-trend rose gold, or timeless silver? From there, consider durability, how sensitive your skin is, and budget. Our most popular metal is 18k white gold.

If you’re really active and work with your hands, you will probably do best with a high-durability (and hypoallergenic!) ring setting like platinum or palladium. Platinum requires very little maintenance and will not need to be replated over time, but it does cost significantly more than other metals. If you don’t do much with your hands and don’t require a super-durable metal, go for a more affordable metal like yellow gold or even sterling silver.

When you’re ready to start browsing for your own heirloom, head over to Ritani’s site. Wishing you all the best in this exciting process! xo

This post is sponsored by Ritani, a company we’ve worked with for years. Thanks for your support of the brands who support Southern Weddings!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Dearest friends,

Four years ago, I got an email from Lara that I read during the closing credits of The Great Gatsby at the movie theater. It contained a job offer, and let’s just say that more than few moviegoers expressed concern over the tears I burst into! I packed up my Honda Accord and moved from Austin, Texas to Chapel Hill, North Carolina a month later.

Since then, I’ve worked on 15 photo shoots, traveled on 14 business trips, covered Bridal Market in NYC twice, attended the Making Things Happen Intensive six times, spoke at the Bliss and Bespoke and Trouvaille workshops, co-wrote the Joyful Wedding Planner, and wrote almost 1000 blog posts and probably close to 100 magazine features. More importantly, I had SO much fun. I believed wholeheartedly in the work I was doing, and the girls I worked with became like family to me.

As many of you know, a lot happened outside of work during these years, too. Dave and I got engaged. He moved to North Carolina. We got married and shared an incredible first year of marriage. We bought a house. And, in September, we became parents to our precious baby boy.

I had originally planned to follow in the footsteps of the many AMAZING, inspiring mamas I work with, but over the last few months, I’ve realized that this is a new season for me in more ways than one. Through many prayers, I made the very personal decision that my time with Southern Weddings had come to an end.

And so, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you so much for your support over the years. It has been an incredible, humbling, and joyful privilege to celebrate so many of you as you got engaged, said “I do,” shared your beautiful weddings with us, and then stayed in touch as a newlywed. Many of you have become much more than readers to me—you’re precious friends! I will be in the front row of SW’s cheering squad as they move forward with two wonderful new team members I know you’ll love.

Being a part of Southern Weddings is something I will forever look back on with so much gratitude, and I will miss y’all so very much! Please do keep in touch on Instagram.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being the sweetest readers below the Mason-Dixon. It has been an honor to be a small part of your days through Southern Weddings.

All my love,
Lisa

P.S. I couldn’t resist—below, find some of my very favorite photos and memories of the past four years!

My first team photos, for V6–feels like forever ago! (Landon Jacob)

One of my most cherished Southern Weddings/life memories: when Dave proposed at the V6 launch party! (Callie Davis)

Working at and modeling in V7’s A Bushel and a Peck shoot with my then-fiancé–being on a magazine cover is now one of my go-tos for “Two Truths and a Lie” :) (Nancy Ray)

Meeting Carolina Herrera at my first Bridal Market with Emily. We were so starstruck! (Divine Light Photography)

One of my favorite team photo shots ever! (Jodi and Kurt)

Left: In the newly renovated editorial wing with Emily (Robyn Van Dyke); Right: Behind the scenes of my all-time favorite editorial, Texas Sweethearts. (Jen Dillender)

Two weeks before my wedding, the girls threw me a gorgeous surprise bridal shower! (Julia Wade)

An SW family photo at my wedding :) (Just missing Marissa and Brandon!) (Ryan Ray)

Another favorite from Bridal Market, this time with Kristin (Kat Harris)

The V8 launch party, with my mama and sister in attendance–so fun! (Theo Milo)

Silly selfies and one of my very first baby bump photos at the V9 team shoot (Jake + Heather)

And finally, the most recent launch party, which was such a joy to attend in the middle of my maternity leave! (AJ Dunlap)

A note from the rest of us: Needless to say, many tears have been shed over Lisa’s farewell. But mostly, we are so, SO grateful for all that she has given to our company and to y’all over the last four years–and how her love for our mission and our readers will live on in things like the Joyful Wedding Planner! Please join us in sending her love today!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Bri A reply

    Lisa, I’m sure SW was shaped by your presence and I know they will miss you dearly (there’s so much love in these pictures!). Wishing you all the best for a joyous new chapter of your life!

    xo

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    You have plenty of readers above the Mason-Dixon as well, Lisa! This Virginia transplant to Chicago loves to pretend she’s still in the South. I’ll look forward to keeping up with your blog and Instagram!

  3. avatar Dana reply

    awwwww love you! I’ve loved following your SW journey and look forward to your next big steps! Big hugs!

  4. avatar Catherine reply

    You will be so missed, Lisa! Your sweet voice and perspective has drawn so much meaning out of so many lovely weddings for us as readers, and I felt like I knew you before I met you at Making Things Happen! I’m wishing you all the best in this next step and am excited to continue to follow along with your adventures on Something Pretty!

  5. avatar Jenn P. reply

    Lisa, your sweet personality, style and encouraging words will be missed! I’m so excited for you to move into whatever it is you’ve been called to and I hope that it brings you joy!
    xoxo, Jenn

  6. avatar Ashlie Muller reply

    Awe, I will miss you Lisa. :( But I will keep reading your blog! I started reading your blog, long before you started at Southern Weddings. When I read you were going to be working for my favorite wedding magazine, I was so happy! i wish you all the best!!

  7. avatar Kara reply

    Lisa, I still remember meeting you for the first time at the Texas Sweethearts editorial shoot! What a joy it was to watch you thrive at doing what you love most. I know that you will continue to touch so many people’s lives as you move forward in this next step! Prayers and best wishes!

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Ways to Love on Your Bridesmaids

by in Main on

Most of your engagement is about you and your fiancé, of course, but bridesmaids can add so much sweetness to your wedding planning experience, from celebrating with you when you find your dream dress, to showing up for a marathon crafting session with rosé in hand, to making you feel loved all throughout your wedding morning while you’re getting ready. With all they’re committing to do for you to make your engagement and wedding day especially wonderful, showing your appreciation to them throughout the process is a must for any gracious bride. Giving your bridesmaids a gift during your wedding week is pretty popular, but what can you do before that that will be quick and easy, but meaningful? Enter our new Southern Weddings Postcard Set!

Each set of ten postcards features a fun phrase and an adorable, Southern-inspired design. Here’s a tip: address and stamp a postcard for each one of your bridesmaids as soon as you get them. Then, whenever you feel inspired throughout your engagement, add your note and pop them right in the mail! The easier you make doing sweet things for your bridesmaids (or anyone, for that matter), the more likely you’ll be to carry them out.

Seriously, how cute are they? “Cheers to you” is my favorite, but the honeycomb print on “You’re the bee’s knees” is so much fun. I think it’s safe to say any of them would be an absolute delight to receive in the mail!

P.S. Looking for more ways to love on your bridesmaids throughout your engagement? Flip to the “Gracious Bride” section of the Joyful Wedding Planner!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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