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Southern Weddings

Author: Emily

Talented, professional, compassionate vendors are the backbone of most every smoothly-running wedding day. When you hire people who are great at what they do AND good people to boot, your only job on your wedding day will be to act as a gracious hostess, love your family and friends well, and say “I do.” What a blessing! That’s why we’re passionate about our Blue Ribbon Vendors – because we want y’all to be worrying about those three things, and nothing else. Here are a few we’d love to introduce you to!

Name: Ashley Turner, Letter A Photography
Where you call home: Dallas/Fort Worth
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? Southern hospitality, sweet tea, the dress… everything!

Name: Melanie Mauer, Melanie Mauer
Where you call home: Lexington, KY
How I got into weddings: More than a decade ago, I used to photograph children exclusively and then one of the many calls I received about weddings wouldn’t take no for an answer! She booked me two years in advance and I spent that time studying and becoming the best wedding photographer possible. What I found was that I fell in love with these beautiful days and the responsibility to document it.

Name: Noi Tran, Noi Tran Photography
Where you call home: Georgia
Favorite part of a wedding day? Oh my, I love every part of the wedding day! I love capturing the details of getting ready. I always look forward to the bride and groom portraits, when I get to have the couple to myself! I love the toasts! I fall in love with all the beautiful stories friends and family share about the couple. I laugh along with my couples and yes, I may cry along with my couples, too.

Name: Kristin Polhemus, Reveriemade
Where you call home: Our historic farmhouse in New Jersey, when I’m not traveling for weddings!
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Trust. Trust your wedding planner to handle the party. This time of engagement is such a special time. Don’t worry about the party; leave that to me. You focus on building the foundation for that marriage of yours!

Name: Katie Powers, The Cedar Room
Where you call home: Charleston
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The location, the food, the people, the service… it is such a great place to have an event!

Name: The Hermitage Hotel
Where you call home: Nashville, TN
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: The Hermitage Hotel has been awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award ten years in a row and the Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award seven years in a row, and is the only hotel in the state of Tennessee to hold either award!

Name: Rev. Linda McWhorter, True + Love Weddings
Where you call home: Austin, Texas
Favorite part of a wedding day? During the ceremony – the vows and ring exchange. It is such a privilege for me to be up close and personal to one of the most intimate and emotional moments of anyone’s life. I feel the joy; I feel the hope; I feel the love.

Name: Cate Gravatt, Violet Iris Studios
Where you call home: Virginia but we travel all over the U.S. for weddings!
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? For me, it is the scenery and there’s something in the air that’s different! The scent of corn, peaches, or dogwood trees always gets me. It sends me straight back to memories of being with my grandfather on his farm when I was a child.

Name: Cristina Calvert, Cristina Calvert Signature
Where you call home: Maryland
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? My best advice for brides and grooms is to take a few minutes after the ceremony or sometime during the reception to be alone together. Stepping away for five minutes and savoring all that is happening will create a snapshot in your memory that will last a lifetime!

Name: Katherine McDonald, Kate McDonald Bridal
Where you call home: Charleston
How I got into weddings: I got into designing wedding dresses the same way I got into designing bridesmaid dresses: I had a number of clients ask me and finally couldn’t say no anymore. I love designing wedding dresses most of all. It’s an honor to be part of the most important dress a girl wears in her life.

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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One thing I love about life beneath the Mason-Dixon Line is how supportive Southerners are of military families. Growing up in one myself, I know military life presents its own unique, but extraordinary, set of experiences–and sometimes challenges. A period of deployment is one of them. We’re thrilled to have one of our readers, Suiter, here today sharing the tips that helped her get through her husband’s six-month deployment on a Navy submarine. Even if you will never experience her exact situation, we think her tips are relevant for anyone with a spouse who travels for work or perhaps simply works long hours at a demanding job. Take it away, Suiter!

1. Begin deployment with goals. Physically write these down and put them somewhere you can see them daily. I decided to set a goal to run my first half marathon. A friend and I signed up before deployment and spent many months training for this goal.

2. Celebrate even the smallest milestones. Sundays were always the toughest days for me. They are usually spent with my husband relaxing, going to church, and/or cleaning the house. So I made sure to celebrate each little milestone by creating a new countdown or celebrating with other wives.

3. Let the dog sleep in the bed. At first I was adamant about not letting this happen, but he became a constant companion during this time, and I was very grateful for him.

4. Don’t go to the grocery store on Saturday nights. One Saturday I geared up to go to the store… only to find myself surrounded by happy couples. I quickly decided morning shopping worked better for me.

5. Make plans. At least once a month I would go somewhere and do something. This would always give me something to look forward to, which I truly appreciated.

6. Communicate expectations. My husband and I talked about expectations prior to deployment. For example, we decided to email daily, but I was fully aware that when they were on mission I would not hear from him. We pre-wrote many love letters to feel connected. I opened a letter a week from him for 26 weeks!

7. Allow for technical difficulties and account for time changes. We tended to forget about time changes, meaning our communication plans did not always unfold exactly as expected. We learned to be patient with each other and mindful of our schedules.

8. Say yes. If a friend asks you to go to dinner, say yes. If someone suggests you come visit them, say yes. It was helpful for me to force myself to make plans instead of sulking.

Thank you so much, Suiter, for your family’s service and these great tips! Military gals, feel free to comment with any other helpful ideas that got you through a deployment!

All photos from Suiter and Ben’s Homecoming by Vanessa Hicks Photography

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Wedding Venues reply

    Great ideas ! thx for advice !

  2. avatar Emily reply

    While it is important to say yes and make plans so you’re not sulking, don’t feel pressured to literally always say yes. If you want to stay home and binge on Netflix, do it. Just don’t do it all the time. It’s important to make time for yourself!

  3. avatar Alyssa reply

    Great advice! I completely agree with every tip on this list, especially #1 and #8. It’s important to continue growing and improving yourself, use this time to meet personal goals. I’m learning calligraphy (something my fiancé isn’t too interested in!) and ALWAYS say yes to dinner plans with friends! I feel SO much better after dinner with girlfriends that offer encouragement and remind me of their support. #4 made me laugh, it’s happened to me before and I agree. Save the grocery shopping for early mornings ;) My fiancé is gone for the next year and I’m focusing on strengthening friendships and spending more time with my family before our wedding next year. Thanks Suiter for the reminders and for you and your husband’s service!

  4. avatar Stephanie reply

    These are all great tips! Patience is certainly key. As mentioned, having regular communication can become challenging with time differences and lack of access to Internet. Being patient during those times of inconsistency is important. When my husband is deployed I find it helpful to write him daily letters. Those letters allow him to still be part of what is going on back home. He gets to know even about the small details of my day, which we tend to forget 6 months later.

  5. avatar Candice reply

    I’m going through my first deployment as a spouse right now (after having grown up as an military brat) so I’m soaking up any and all hints haha.
    I find keeping busy to be key. Same with keeping up a routine, eg. Every Thursday I religiously head to the post office to send him a package.
    A big thing for us has been to make plans for his return. This was hard for me initially, as I lost my dad to a military accident, so changing my mindset enough to believe he will come home has been a challenge. However, planning holidays, concerts and (secretly) our wedding has kept us both positive, looking forward, & is a cheerful conversation starter to fall back on during phone calls.
    Another tip is to start writing a little list of jobs (that only he can do) about a month before he returns – this will help him to find his place back in the home a little easier.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Love all of these suggestions, Candice! Thank you so much for sharing, and for your family’s service!!

  6. avatar Lisa Harlow reply

    Love this post! My husband is due to return from his fifth deployment in just three weeks, I can’t wait! This deployment has been a bit more difficult as our little girls are old enough to understand that their Daddy is away. Many mamas do countdowns for their little ones but I don’t ours until about a month before his return so as not to overwhelm them. And I definitely let our little pup in the bed:)

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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Every summer, we love doing a behind the scenes series to help y’all get to know us a little bit better. In honor of this year’s Summer Love theme, which is all about revisiting childhood adventures and sharing them with our beaus, we’re giving y’all a peek at what inspired the series to begin with–our own childhoods! Each week, you’ll hear from another SW gal about her best summer memories, favorite traditions, and early thoughts on weddings.

With my sisters! I’m in the middle.

Where did you grow up? Southeastern Connecticut–not in the South!
What were your childhood hobbies/favorite activities? Reading voraciously. Playing outside on our playground or in the woods behind our house (usually orphans!). Designing homes for my ponies and Beanie Babies. Riding bikes, playing with my American Girl doll (Felicity!), and drawing (almost always horses) rounded out the list.
What did you want to be when you grew up? My aunt owns a horse farm and gives riding lessons, and I 100% wanted to be her when I grew up. My sisters and I went riding there every chance we could get.
Tell us about a favorite summer vacation. Did your family go somewhere every year in the summer? Yes! My parents met while spending summers at their family cottages on a tiny island in Maine, so we stay there for at least a week (splitting time between the houses!) every July or August. There are no cars and no TVs, but there are rocks and tide pools and fields to explore. It is my favorite place in the world.

I’m in the foreground!

Did your family have any summer traditions? There was an amazing ice cream place about a half an hour from our house, and every summer they grew acres and acres of sunflowers, then sold them for charity. We’d always make a trip during their 1-2 week bloom, and it was always spectacular!
What food or meal most reminds you of your childhood? So many! Overall, Kraft macaroni and cheese is a strong contender, but if we’re specifically talking about summer options, I have to go with a good old hot dog grilled on our back deck. I don’t think I ate a hamburger until I was in college!
Did you ever get to be in a wedding when you were younger? When I was about 13 I got to pass out programs at my uncle’s wedding. While that was exciting, I always had a deep-seated desire to be a flower girl, and was a bit jealous of each of my friends who checked that box.
What did you think about weddings when you were younger? I can’t quite put my finger on why I loved them so much, but my enthrallment with weddings from a young age is well documented. My Mom and I used to sneak into our church’s balcony on Saturday afternoons to watch wedding ceremonies when I was as young as four! Needless to say, few people were surprised when I announced my job working at Southern Weddings :)

In case you missed a post…
Lisa’s childhood summers
Marissa’s childhood summers
Nicole’s childhood summers

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Jadzia reply

    Horses and hot dogs…yet more examples of how alike you and Lisa are!

  2. avatar Lauren McKinzie reply

    I loved playing with my American Girl doll too haha! I also do not grow up in the south, but feel southern at heart.

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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