Southern Weddings Magazine

Author: Lara Casey

Something I love about the South is the slower way of life here that reminds me of what’s most important. The smell of the magnolia blooms and the hum of bees on my crepe myrtles makes me take a deep breath in and forget the stresses of life. Fireflies make my email inbox suddenly seem unimportant. Driving by the cow farms on the way to the grocery store takes my heart to a place where nothing matters but family, deep friendships and the simple joys all around us.

Photo by W+E Photographie via Southern Weddings

Dear brides, my wish for you today and always is that the sweetness of the South would sink into your soul as you plan for your very special important day. May you take a moment to slow down in the hustle and bustle of planning and remember what’s most important.

Photo by Green Tree Photography

So often, I see the statement, “You need ___ for your wedding.” The truth is, you don’t actually need anything at your wedding except your love and someone to marry you. The rest is up to you and what matters most to you. Favors and decorations are not obligations, but rather things you choose to celebrate your love together. You make the rules for your big day and how you want to honor your story, your family and your guests. Choose what matters most to you.

Photo by Adam Barnes via Southern Weddings

Forget your wedding Pinterest board for a just a moment and picture you and your love 50 years from now, enjoying a Southern sunset together, sharing a glass of cold sweet tea. What will you want to remember most about your wedding? What will matter then? You will remember the things that truly came from your heart. The flowers and favors and cake take on a whole new meaning when they are truly a reflection of your two hearts becoming one.

Photo by Jamie Clayton via Southern Weddings

Give your hearts a break from planning this week and drink in the summer sun. There are so many things in the South that can help to remind you of the simple joys in life. Our Southern #SummerDoin list is a great place to start! Tell me — what simple joys do you love about the South? I’d love to hear from you. One lucky commenter will get a Love Notes Notepad from the Southern Weddings Shop!

CONGRATS to the winner from my last post, Dana! Dana, please email Lisa and she’ll get your South print to you right away!

Adam Barnes is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
14 Comments
  1. avatar May reply

    I absolutely love this post and couldn’t agree more! It is the perfect reminder for every bride!

  2. avatar Patti reply

    I love LOVE sitting on my best friend’s porch looking out over the Gulf watching the birds dive for fish and the mullets jump in the water with all our grown kids there, just “visiting” – talking about old times, old friends, new experiences and catching up – without cell phones or Ipads on our laps. We always tell the same old stories again but nobody seems to care and there’s a lot of laughter.

  3. avatar Jessica S. reply

    Nothing makes me believe more in the fact that God is pursuing my heart than the smell of Spring in the South. I absolutely love walking outside on those first days of Spring and feeling my whole body smile at the smell of flowers and trees blooming!

  4. avatar Ashley McGee reply

    I love that when I came home from work too tired to fix supper yesterday, my husband was perfectly satisfied eating pimento cheese sandiches with mason jars of cheerwine while we “unplugged” and watched a late afternoon shower roll in from our front porch. And it definitely doesnt hurt that Charleston is where we’re blessed enough to call home.

  5. avatar sarah reply

    the gulf coast. i love being on the water– its so simple, yet so magnificent– calming & energizing all at the same time.

  6. avatar Lucy Taylor reply

    I love this post! Can’t wait to share it with all of my brides as a dear reminder to focus on what matters most on their wedding day! Thank you Lara!

    I love front porch swinging. It allows you to slow down and meet your neighbors and really form lasting relationships with those around you.

  7. avatar Lauren reply

    Amen, Lara!

  8. avatar Anna reply

    i love lingering over meals with family and friends

  9. avatar Brittany Carr reply

    I read this post right after a stressful meeting with a caterer for my wedding – could not have asked for more perfect timing! Thanks for the much, much needed reminder.

    I love the unspoken hospitality of the South – everyone says “ma’am” and “sir”, men hold the door open for women, etc. It’s a feeling of respect that just makes you feel at home, instantly.

    • avatar Lara reply

      My pleasure! It’s so easy to get stressed with the details. Thinking of you! : )

  10. avatar Marcie reply

    Exactly the type of weddings I want to help couples design/create!!
    LOVE THIS Lara!

  11. avatar Kristy reply

    Swinging on my grandparents porch.

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As we’ve been putting together our upcoming print edition that debuts on 11/12/13 (how about that for a release date!?), I’ve been thinking so much about why I love the South and asking myself, “what is it that makes it so magical here?”

Photographed by Jose Villa. This stunning image also graced the back cover of V4!

There is a certain something about the South that makes me slow down and focus on what matters most — celebrating family and love. That certain something is different for everyone, and that’s what makes the South so sweet to me. Whether you’re a Southern transplant or born and bred deep in the heart of Dixie, your South has a story. I’d love to hear from you today what makes your South so wonderful.

Photographed by Faith Teasley for V5.

My South is rich with farmer’s markets and friends that stop to chat on front porches. I love driving home and seeing cows, chickens (especially chickens – y’all know I love our fine feathered friends!) and goats happily grazing on the green landscape. I love the smell of tomato leaves in my garden and the sound of roosters crowing in the distance. I love how I am welcomed into homes of people I just met for a long conversation and a glass of cold sweet tea, as if we’ve been friends forever. I love the magnolia trees, monograms, biscuits, banjos and the plethora of Southern summer blooms that make our days so colorful. You should see the crepe myrtles right now! I love how all of these things (and too many more to name) melt the stresses of life and remind me to slow down and live intentionally. The magic of the South keeps me on the right path.

Photographed for V5 by Joey and Jessica. See the full editorial here.

I love all of this thanks to many generations before me. There is a rich meaning to even the simplest things. As I wrote about in our latest print edition, I love the smell of tomato leaves thanks to my Grampa Cecil, who was born in Excel, Alabama, and would spend many a long afternoon telling me about what Heaven was going to be like as he tended his Early Girls. My love for chickens hatched from a science project in fourth grade where we incubated eggs. We fell in love with our Bantams and my mama has had chickens ever since. My love for flowers and gardening sprouted from my Grandma Celeste, who was a florist in her early years in Birmingham, Alabama. She passed her love of gardening on to my mama who passed it to me. I love the sign in her garden that reads, “God lives in every garden. He loves each growing thing. Forget your ills, get out and dig and sing!”

Photograph by Eric Kelley. More from this amazing shoot here.

I love Southern weddings because a wedding is the perfect opportunity to honor your own special history, heritage, love story and even your grandmother’s prized pie recipe. My perfect Southern wedding would definitely include chickens : )

Photograph by Virgil Bunao.

GIVEAWAY! What do you love about the South? What’s your story? How are you celebrating this magical place we call home in your wedding? Or how did you celebrate with a Southern spirit? I’d love to hear from you! One lucky commenter (chosen randomly) will win one of my favorite prints from our shop that I have in my own kitchen, our South print.

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
22 Comments
  1. avatar Brittany Sweat reply

    There are soo many things I love about the South but if I had to choose one thing it would probably be the sweet people! I haven’t been too many places but when I have visited other states people are as quick to say hello or even give you a smile. I try to be intentional in opening the doors for people and just smiling at people. I love being greeted the same way around the south! You can pop in any little country store and they treat you like family! I love that about the South :D

  2. avatar Hillary Mantha reply

    I love the South for the delicious food, the kind people and the strong sense of tradition.

  3. avatar Jessa R. reply

    I’ve never lived in the South (born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA) but we spent every summer growing up on Kiawah Island for a week. There is nothing like melting mint chocolate chip and catching the sunshine as it streams through moss-covered branches. The sense of peace that pervades on a southern afternoon – it stretches on and on – is a memory that will remain with me always!

  4. avatar Linden reply

    Friendliness, state pride, sunsets, biscuits, monograms, and lakes! Love the south!!

  5. avatar Leigh Pearce reply

    I love so many things about the South. Biscuits and sweet tea, monograms and pearls, college football and mason jars. But what I love most about the South isn’t a thing… It’s the feeling of hospitality and home that you get no matter what state or area you are visiting. People hold doors open for you, folks wave as you pass by, and fruit stands are open on the honor system. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else.

  6. avatar Kristy reply

    I love the music, the food, and the South is where my family is :)

  7. avatar Autumn Lee reply

    I love everything about the south. I am from Texas and moved to Colorado 3 years ago and every day my heart aches to return home. The people are friendlier, the food is way better and they have sweet tea no matter where you go! We had our wedding 2 years ago and our theme was “Front Porch Texas”…basically anything you would find on a front porch back home-whiskey barrels, crates, boots, flowers, wagon wheels, stars, horseshoes etc. We even had flowers in BlueBell Icecream tubs on the tables! There is no place like home!

  8. avatar Mary-Kate McClure reply

    The South is my home and something about home makes my heart filled with joy and warmth! I got married this April and the outpouring of love we were shown absolutely overwhelms my heart. Our loved ones from all over the South gathered around my husband and myself with such generosity, kindness and wisdom! I can not imagine calling anywhere else home!

  9. avatar Tiffany reply

    The South was the place where I first discovered the gloriousness that is red velvet cake! To honor that love, I hope to have red velvet cupcakes at my reception.

  10. avatar Stephanie reply

    I love so much about the south, it is hard to narrow it down! What I love most is how close knit the communities are. I grew up with a large family close by, friends that had known us for years, devoted church friends, and teachers at school that knew my family and had taught a lot of us already! I couldn’t imagine having grown up anywhere but my small town and being surrounded by those people. I hope that my children will have those same blessings!

  11. avatar Peyton reply

    I love the South because I can find every member of my family in Georgia, the Carolina’s, and Louisiana. I love it for it’s jam, cheese grits, and home-grown fried green tomatoes. I love it because it’s where my grandmother taught me how to shag in her kitchen while pecan pie baked in the oven. I love being able to monogram everything I own without anyone looking twice. I love oak trees and Spanish moss and hydrangea-filled summers. I love my sweet neighbors, and the sweet accents that can be heard anywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line. I love the South because it’s my home, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  12. avatar Lauren reply

    I love the South because of our amazing Southern Hospitality and the sense of community!

  13. avatar Lauren reply

    I love the South for so many reasons it’s hard to name just one! I love the true Southern Hospitality that is unmatched anywhere else, the undeniable passion for College Football (War Eagle, y’all!) the food (sweet tea and cheese grits are my fav!) and the importance of family. Couldn’t live anywhere else!

  14. avatar Rae reply

    Not married yet and now I’m back up North but my dream wedding would take place under a magnolia tree and the dinner would include fried chicken, Mac & cheese, buttermilk biscuits and lots of sweet tea

  15. avatar Laura reply

    For knowing that you’re never too busy to sit on the front porch visiting with friends, for taking Sunday afternoon drives down back roads with the windows rolled down so you can smell the honeysuckle, and for knowing that your Grandma’s recipe book is worth its weight in gold. I love the South because I am constantly reminded that these simple things are my richest treasures.

  16. avatar Lorel reply

    My family is from the Midwest, but my soon to be hubby is from Covington, KY. I adore his accent and the gentlemanly way he has about him.

  17. avatar Dana reply

    There’s just too much to love down here, but the South excels when it comes to food! The happiest place I can be is on a porch with delicious bbq, biscuits galore, a large glass of sweet tea, and chocolate pecan pie for dessert!

  18. avatar Shelby reply

    The South is home to many, but it means so much more than a house to live in or a town to work, shop, & play in. This place is our family. Whether its your neighbors lending a hand, a peach cobbler to fill your belly, a family tradition that warms your soul, or even the yearly magnolia blooms filling your heart with joy, home in the South is everything.

  19. avatar Samantha reply

    What DON’T I love about the South?? Were celebrating the south through many aspects of our wedding, from the sweet tea station with many flavors of sweet tea (though who could pass up the plain ol’ taste of the original?!), the pie bar, the giant oak that we will be wed under, the magnolias in my bouquet that signify everything about home to me and my fiancé, and plethora of family that will attend and those that have already supported us by baking and crafting!!! Everything we love about the south is only magnified when you’re with family! The tea is sweeter, the flowers fresher! :)

  20. avatar gaji reply

    I love the southern hospitality, warm weather, and beautiful wedding venues.

  21. avatar Katie reply

    What perfect timing for this question! As a recent college grad, I left Virginia after 22 years to move to upstate New York-and my, are things different here! Born and raised in Virginia, my heart belongs in the South, and I am so thankful to have spent my life growing up there. As I have settled into New York, I have day dreams of front porches, more monograms and a familiar farmers market. People look at me like I have two heads when I order sweet tea. I love that I stick out like a sore thumb here, people always notice that I’m not from here, and I beam knowing that I can thank the South for that. I love the sound that ‘y’all’ makes paired with a friendly warm smile, and the comfort that it brings. I love the South for our tradition, and hospitality, for the heat that goes on for days and days. A true Southern spirit is strong, determined, and brave; and I’m thankful for my time away from the South to reflect on all it has taught me! I’m not married yet, but my dream wedding will be covered in Southern goodness. Complete with traditional readings, a huge bridal party,plenty of cold drinks, home-cooked food, monograms and lots of love to go around! The South will always be home=)

  22. avatar Pastel Candy Themed Wedding | Burnett’s Boards – Wedding Inspiration reply

    [...] credits: mason jars via Southern Weddings, photographed by Faith Teasley // flowers from Wedding Chicks, photographed by Amy Arrington [...]

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A Southern Love Letter from Lara

by in Main on

This month, in honor of all things love, we’ll be sharing a valentine a week from an SW gal. Lara is up today, and this is her love letter to North Carolina.

Have you caught the love letter bug? Check out More Love Letters, an organization after our own hearts. Their goal? To turn your best love letter into a lamp to light the path of someone who needs to read it. Find out more here.

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
6 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    When you started this series, I thought about who or what I would send my love letter to. It would have to be the place that holds my heart, my dear homeland, North Carolina. Thanks Lara for the words that all North Carolinians can utter to our beloved state.

  2. avatar Dee Shore reply

    Love this! Favorite line, “You are gooder than grits” lol

  3. avatar Kate Collison reply

    “Honey to my Heart” :) Love!

  4. avatar Emily reply

    Oh my stars, I love North Carolina. Born and raised here, I spent a short year in NYC, only to head back home to my cozy, perfect, home state. No matter where the future takes me, I’ll always feel a sense of comfort when I see our state flag and that lovely cardinal.

  5. avatar Rachelle Sauser reply

    What I love about the south is the general care people have for each other. I was born in NY, then moved to oklahoma (boomer!!!) then Louisiana, then California. My family currently lives in California but when choosing a college I picked the University of Oklahoma….and boy am I glad that I did! Oklahoma brought me awesome friends, sweet memories, and meeting my soon to be husband Beau (: Once I got engaged and graduated my fiance and I had to decide where we wanted to live, and we ended up choosing California. That being said, it has made me realize how truly special Oklahoma was to me. I think it says a lot when something is so tough to leave. My memories and friendships made are so special to me and who knows!…maybe I’ll end up there again someday. The south is a different pace of life that isn’t found everywhere.

    anyways, the south is a sweet place to me. California girl but Oklahoma has my heart.

  6. avatar Five on Friday | sevenlayercharlotte reply

    [...] Southern Love Letter from Lara Casey to my state.  North Carolina is special, and I’m blessed to call it home.   [...]

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Howdy from the beautiful Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, where Emily (and Emily) and I have been engaging at the engage!12 Wedding Conference.

We’ve met so many new friends and had a wonderful time visiting with many of the remarkable vendors that have made our latest issue such a success. It has been a very inspiring week! I was happier as a pup with two tails to be invited to speak here and happy as a pup with three tails to share about how we do things ’round here at Southern Weddings.

Photo by Scott Clark and Chellise Michael with Elan Artists

Y’all know we do things a little differently. We’re small… and mighty… and Southern. We do all the layout, shipping, shoot creation, cleaning up after our messes and everything ourselves. We’re a tiny team with more passion than a hen has feathers. But, I didn’t talk about just us in my speech… I talked about YOU.

You are why we are here. You cheer us on and write us encouraging notes and share our magazine with dear friends and we sincerely wouldn’t be where we are without our very loyal readers. So, I wanted to just say a quick thank you. I wish I could jump through my screen to hug each of you, too. Thank you for believing in us and being our cheerleaders. Thank you, most of all though, for LOVING.

It’s because you love your fiancé’s and husbands and families and this magical place we call home so much that we are inspired every day to do what we do and we have so much goodness ahead! We love y’all! You sweeten our tea!

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
2 Comments
  1. avatar Jessica Clinch reply

    I have been following your time at the conference on Instagram since Sunday, and it looks like it was such a rewarding experience! I would have loved to be there to hear you share your story and wisdom, and I hope to attend one of these conferences in the future!

  2. avatar Sandryte reply

    You got no idea how much you inspire me! I used to save a photo that I liked. But now it became an obsession. I want to memorize EVERYTHING I see on your page!

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‘Round these parts, we look forward to a whole lot at Thanksgiving… fresh biscuits, mama’s pecan pie, grandma’s sweet potato pie (can you tell we love pie?), stuffin’, football, turkey, and most of all… family! We have so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving and hope your holiday is filled to the brim with cranberries and a whole lotta LOVE!

MARISSA: Heavens, y’all! I don¹t even know where to start! 2012 has been a year full of amazing blessings and incredible challenges – and I’m so grateful for them all! I am so thankful for the talented women I am not only blessed to work with everyday, but am able to call my friends. L, E, E, N + K, thank you! For our sweet readers, and talented clients. For my loving family – especially my mama, who is always there for me no matter what. For my handsome husband, BDK: you are the definition of a Southern gentleman, and my dream come true. Lastly, for God’s incredible grace. Without that, I am nothing.

This year, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with the Kloess side of my family. Since I come from a small family, spending the holidays with this crowd is always a joy! Let’s just say we are one big ol’ Southern family – so big the dinner table has to be made of card tables and random chairs! Traditionally, my FIL deep fries a turkey in the backyard, and we celebrate with all the fixin’s, from homemade pecan pie to sweet potato casserole. I can’t wait! Even though I’ll miss my family and our traditions, I’m so thankful to have such wonderful in-laws to spend the holidays with.

NICOLE: This year, I am overwhelmed by how much there is to be thankful for! I’m so grateful for a loving family that gives me strength and some hilarious stories to tell and for terrific friends and a boyfriend who make me feel at home no matter where I am. I’m grateful for an amazing job that has filled my days with creativity and love and for a degree from the best University on the planet. Lastly, I’m grateful for my mom’s cooking, pug faces and Pantone. I’m heading to Charlotte today to bake pies and celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. Inevitably, there will be much debate over what to include in our Christmas lists and a lot of planning for my sister’s October 2013 wedding!

ALEXIA: I am thankful for my wonderful family, beautiful friends and unforgettable experiences at Southern Weddings this semester. I am also grateful for sweet tea, starry nights, cowboy boots and red velvet cupcakes. I am spending Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house surrounded by family, laughter and of course a little pumpkin pie :)

EMILY: As usual, my gratitude cup overflows, which is something I’m grateful for in and of itself! I am so very thankful to call John my husband (after seven years of having a boyfriend – ha!) and for the person he is; for my parents, my siblings, and my parents and siblings in law (or, my parents and siblings in love, as one of my friends likes to say); for a God who in ALL things works for the good of those who love Him and for a church family that reminds me of that; for my sweet kitties and our warm house; for the health of those I love; for the blessing of living in this beautiful, amazing country; and for my job that I love so very much, and the amazing ladies with whom I get to work. Also, chocolate chunk pecan cookies. Yep, definitely thankful for those.

This year John and I are hosting Thanksgiving in North Carolina for my parents and one of my sisters. We’ll be a small group with entirely too much food, but I don’t really consider that a problem :)

KRISTIN: Thanksgiving 2012 marks my first married Thanksgiving, and I am looking forward to celebrating with my favorite husband and our amazing families. It is a well-known fact that I love ALL holidays and love to celebrate in BIG ways. On Thursday we will be crisscrossing the state of NC to celebrate, and I am responsible for bringing official ‘dishes’ to both meals as a reward for getting married (my late Grandma Jewell’s green bean-corn casserole — serious deliciousness and a family tradition — for my family and a sweet potato casserole for KPW’s). Thanksgiving day is sure to be overflowing with family, laughter, all my favorite foods*, and a nap, along with countless chances to reflect on all my many blessings.

During this sweet season of Thanksgiving I am reminded of the never ending listing of things that I am thankful for including, but not limited to, continued daily grace, my husband and our freshly-made marriage, our family, health, the SW family, the sunshine, and being able to find joy in each day. Hope y’all have a blessed Thanksgiving. Bring on the mashed potatoes!! PS: *Seriously. The food. We served Thanksgiving dinner at our wedding reception because it is our absolute favorite meal. I can’t wait.

LARA: Thanksgiving is a double great day for us this year as today is Grace’s first birthday! It’s been a crazy and blessed year between motherhood, making a magazine and so much more. I am overwhelmingly grateful for you, sweet readers and friends. Thank you for making this holiday time so special for us with all the excitement and kind words about V5! The story of Southern Weddings makes my heart so FULL. I am grateful for my family, dear friends, the SW ladies, a job that I love and most of all for grace. Amazing grace. God is good, y’all! This year, I’ll be attempting to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner by myself, so wish me luck, y’all! Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite meal all year with the sweet potatoes and turnip puree topping my list of leftover highlights. Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credits, top to bottom: Nancy Ray, Nicole’s iPhone, personal, Tanja Lippert, Martha Manning, the Cheesebooth from the SW Launch Party last week!

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
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