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Southern Weddings

Author: Emily

Yep, Bess and Ben’s home is beeee-autiful. (But then again, I would expect nothing less from the director of a curated online shop!) At work, Bess’ mantra is to “live with things you love;” at home, it’s clear the number one priority is “live with whom you love.” These two love each other a lot and have plenty of wisdom to share from their 1.5 years of married life. Friends, please enjoy this peek inside Bess and Ben’s Charleston home!

Big hugs to Olivia Rae James for these photos!

The couple: Bess (31) and Ben (30)
Years married: 1.5
Where they live: Charleston, SC
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We met 5 years ago in London, England, while Bess was researching her master’s thesis at Sotheby’s and Ben was living and working. We were married 1.5 years ago in Nantucket, MA, and recently moved to Charleston where we’re loving settling into life in the low country.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. It was a typical rainy summer night in London where only a local pub would suffice; the vacant seat within lead to a remarkable journey to Charleston, the other side of the world (or as we now call it, home).
What is your favorite part of being married? Living with your best friend.
Do you rent or own? We recently completed a five month renovation of our first home. We love living in an older house which has been updated to our specifications. We purchased our home because we adore the area and think that it has potential for us to grow into it. The schools are wonderful and we love our neighbors and the historic community here.

Tell us about the process of moving in together. Ben: Without a doubt Bess’ career experience with renovation and interior design guided most of our decisions for the house. Luckily, we both like to mix styles. It’s fun to throw her a curve ball that breaks convention and see how she fits it all in!
What most makes your house feel like home? Having items which have been passed down to us from both sides of the family. We’re big antique people and love living with a mix of old and new pieces together.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Bess has been collecting furniture and design pieces throughout her career. We splurge in our kitchen and master bedroom, but save on items found at estate sales or at one of our favorite home stores, Ikea…

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Try to give each other what you need. Most weekdays we reconnect by taking our dog, George, for a walk in the evening and discussing our day together. We both need time to unwind and we make sure to try and spend as much time by the water as possible. It’s a great stress reliever.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Date night for us is different every time and we find the most memorable ones tend to reflect the time preceding it. If we’ve been traveling for work, then nothing can beat an intimate dinner at home with a simple meal and the dog at our feet. A picnic at the beach around sunset is pretty idyllic, too… Simple evenings are best and we try to avoid routine and crowds.

What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you know now? We would have focused more on what we use for entertaining friends. We love having friends over for cocktails and food and I wish there were more registries focused on these types of items. Our great friends recently opened a wedding registry site focused on fabulous items for entertaining. I wish they had been around when we were registering!

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our kitchen – it’s where we spend most of our time – we both love to cook and entertain.

Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our kitchen items are what we use most often – a beautiful cutting board, everyday cutlery, and cocktail glasses.
Who cooks dinner? Mostly Bess, however we shop together and enjoy joining forces when we host. We tend to throw ourselves into the deep end in the kitchen and like to experiment. This usually allows for Ben’s scientific approach to clash with Bess’ creative flair!

What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Weeknights are quick and easy. We like our local Trader Joe’s or the fish market for fresh meat/veggies and seafood. On the weekends we splurge by grilling out with friends or trying a new restaurant downtown.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? We love traditional cookbooks – old classics like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and new icons like Gwenyth’s It’s All Good. I also love great food blogs like Food 52 and Feed Me Phoebe.

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? There are so many wonderful memories, but recapping the night when it was just the two of us after the reception was so special. We stayed up late drinking champagne and laughing, never wanting it to end!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We treasure our wedding photos which are framed throughout our home. We also love watching our wedding video on special occasions!
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Ben: I wash her car for her on the weekends – the pollen during spring in Charleston is brutal, and I know she loves a clean car. Bess: I keep his favorite breakfast and dessert foods on hand at all times, and I make sure he always has clean socks.

What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? How fast time flies. I feel like I’ve known Ben my whole life, yet our wedding day still feels like yesterday!
Please finish the sentence: Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… Ben: …how exciting being married would be. Routine and process was an urban myth. Never have I been busier and achieved so much.
This year, our family is most excited about… planting roots in our new home and discovering new things about our (fairly) new city and community.

We’re so grateful to Bess and Ben for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to check out Bess’ beautiful online shop, Lola & Bess.

A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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It’s our pleasure to get to introduce y’all to a new set of Blue Ribbon Vendors each month, because I just know any one of them would be a joy to you if you choose to work together! This time around, we’re introducing you to a few of them through their answers to some of our favorite BRV interview questions. Click through to their listings to find out more about them!

Name: Merideth Bugbee, Belle Soiree Events
Where you call home: New Orleans, LA
How I got into weddings: My very first job was waiting tables in a New Orleans restaurant. The ONE time the staff let me bring out a birthday cake to a lady celebrating her 50th birthday my heart was so full of joy knowing I played a very tiny part in making this day special. I knew from that moment that special events were what I was made for. A few years and lots of hard work later, Belle Soiree Events was born!

Name: Michael Cottrell, Cottrell Photography
Where you call home: Dahlonega, GA
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? My favorite thing about weddings in the South is the low humidity. No really, I love everything about the South! The folks I photograph are extremely pleasant to work with and are grateful for everything. I love sweet tea, too! Never been to a wedding that didn’t have it.

Name: Duck Woods Country Club
Where you call home: Kill Devil Hills, NC
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The true romance of it! I am especially partial to romantic country club weddings.

Name: Emilie Baros, Emilie Anne Photography
Where you call home: Austin, TX
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? A tall glass of sweet tea, good music, and BBQ!

Name: Jessica Sowyrda, Ever & Anon
Where you call home: Houston, TX
Favorite part of a wedding day? Hands down: when the groom sees the bride for the first time. In that moment, you see utter love and awe in his eyes.

Name: Jennifer Vu, Firefly Ambiance
Where you call home: New Orleans, LA
How I got into weddings: My background is in accounting and on the weekends, I worked for another local company setting up weddings. I fell in love with weddings and three years ago decided that I needed to follow my heart. It has been three amazing years!

Name: Keeneland
Where you call home: Lexington, KY
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? During the planning and on the big day, always remember what this is all about- marrying the love of your life. Be thankful for the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and be thankful for all your friends and family who came to celebrate with you.

Name: Lauren Soley, Lovegood Rentals
Where you call home: Hattiesburg, MS
Favorite part of a wedding day? We love everything about the reception! From the first dance to cake cutting, we enjoy seeing the newlyweds and their guests have the best time socializing and dancing the night away. Relax, and take it all in!

Name: Lydia Robins Hendrix
Where you call home: Columbia, SC
Pie bar or red velvet cake? Pie bar all the way. One of my life’s dream was fulfilled when I had one at my wedding!

Name: MiKel Rumsey
Where you call home: Columbia, SC
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The South is like no other place on earth – the land of sweet tea, hospitality, yes ma’am and yes sir, biscuits and gravy. Where everything is better with some good food and a few friends, and no piece of clothing is safe from a monogram. Southern weddings are just the same – traditions handed down from mother to daughter, father to son, embroidered handkerchiefs and something blue. The sweet sounds and scents of the South make a Southern wedding something you can’t duplicate anywhere else.

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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For many of us, planning a wedding is the first time we’ve had to hire someone – maybe ever, and almost certainly for something creative! It can feel like a lot of pressure to get it right, because your wedding vendors are the folks who will transform your big, precious ideas into a celebration that can be enjoyed by the people you love most. We’ve got a whole roster of vendors we love for browsing, but today we’re taking it one step further and really breaking down the question “how do I find vendors for my wedding?”

Use your network. Naturally, some of the best recommendations come from people you trust. Loved the flowers at your best friend’s wedding? Ask her who she used. And remember, negative reviews can be just as helpful as positive ones!

Ask your vendors. Found a vendor you 100% click with? Ask him for other vendor recommendations. Photographers and planners, especially, work with countless vendors every weekend and can have great insight into the best options in your area.

Look to blogs and magazines. Wedding blogs and magazines can be a wealth of vendor leads, in a number of different ways. Search for real wedding or editorials that took place in your area and follow up with anyone whose work you love. Check to see if they have a vendor directory, usually a hand-picked selection of vendors that have been vetted in some way (ours is called the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory). And don’t forget print and online advertisements – if you love a publication, chances are you’ll love the vendors that care enough to advertise with them.

There’s a common belief that vendors and venues charge more for the same services as soon as the word “wedding” is mentioned. Surprise! That’s probably true – but for good reason. A once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding comes with an entirely different set of expectations, pressure, time spent planning, service, and creativity than your average cocktail or bridal party, and a higher price often reflects that. Though it can be hard to justify the expense on the front end of a wedding, talented vendors are worth every penny in the end!

I’d love to hear: how did you find your vendors? Who are your favorites?

We’ll be sharing a quick and simple piece of wedding planning advice based on our most frequently asked questions once a week! Feel free to email us with your own question, or pick up a copy of the Southern Weddings Planner (available in the Southern Weddings Shop!) for all of our best resources in one place!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

Reply to: