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Southern Weddings

Author: Jess Metcalf

Engagement has been one of the sweetest and most refining seasons of my life. We’re less than four months away from the big day (more on my wedding planning journey will be coming to the blog this January!), and it’s been an opportunity for my fiancé and I to lay the groundwork for one of the best parts of life—our marriage.

The privilege of working for Southern Weddings gives me a treasure trove of real wedding interviews from brides who have walked before me and shared their best wedding planning advice. One of the most common pieces of advice I’ve heard? Set a goal for your wedding, and run each decision you make through it. It’s been one of the most helpful pieces of advice during wedding planning, and we know it carries over into planning for our marriage, too!

While I won’t claim to be a goal-setting expert by any means, I’ve learned a lot from our sister brand, home of the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner, and the amazing ladies I work alongside. Today in the spirit of the new year, I’m excited to share some tips for how to incorporate goal setting into your relationship!

Our friend Sophia is a real-life PowerSheets user and joined us at this year’s PowerSheets photo shoot as a model! Photo by Faith Teasley

Create a common language. Logan and I are paying for the majority of our wedding ourselves, and we quickly realized that our money can easily disappear if it isn’t connected to what matters to us. By setting a goal for our wedding and asking ourselves four questions each time we make a decision, we’ve created a unifying language that makes it easier to have what could be difficult conversations. Why? Because we’re on the same page about our end goal. Those simple questions have diffused a lot of tense conversations and decisions we’ve had to make over the past two months.

Explain why goal setting has worked for you. If your significant other isn’t fully on board right away, explain why goal setting matters to you, what excites you about it, and the difference it has made in your life. Give tangible examples and be open to hearing his thoughts, too. Sharing my PowerSheets with Logan over the past two years has helped keep me accountable, and it’s given me a cheerleader on the days I don’t necessarily want to work on my goals (ahem, gym days!).

Play it cool. Introduce the idea of goal setting gently. If you’re hoping to set goals together, don’t bust out eight different colored pens, stickers, PowerSheets, and your calendar and ask for a three-hour block of his day all at the same time. That’s a sure fire way to send him scurrying away! If you think sitting down for a large chunk of time isn’t in the cards, try incorporating some prompts from your PowerSheets into your normal conversation. I’ve found that some of our best conversations happen during long car rides (great for upcoming holiday travels) or on Sunday afternoon strolls.

Listen before speaking. Ask questions, and practice the art of the awkward pause. Looking for an easy way to get your significant other to share more? Employ a simple phrase: “Tell me more about that.”

Make it fun. Whether you’re celebrating your first holiday together or your fiftieth, I’d venture to guess that some of your favorite memories stem from traditions in your family. The same can be true for goal-setting! Make setting goals for your family fun by incorporating things you love. Have a favorite restaurant that falls beyond your typical eating out budget? Make it a special date night and enjoy a leisurely dinner together. Love traveling and exploring new places? Choose a recurring weekend each year, and make it an adventure. A change of scenery can be helpful for you to dig deep together. Look at what fires you up as a couple, and incorporate those things into your goal setting!

Seek guidance. If I’ve learned anything during wedding planning, it’s that asking for help from those more knowledgable than me isn’t just recommended, it’s required. The same is true for goal setting. Instead of flying solo, look to others with more experience! Our founder and sister brand, the Cultivate Shop, created the PowerSheets Goal Planner to help you cultivate what matters most in your marriage. Whether you use PowerSheets or not, there’s a plethora of resources available. Find them, and use them!

Write it down, and celebrate your progress. A hallmark of the PowerSheets is that you don’t just say goals out loud and forget about them. You write them down, post them up in your home, and return to them regularly. When there’s progress to celebrate, do so with abundance! Make your favorite meal for dinner, go out for ice cream, go to the beach for the day, take the afternoon off of work and go to a movie–whatever is meaningful and fun for the two of you, do it.

We’d love to hear from you! Do you and your significant other set goals? Share your best tips, tricks, and advice for setting goals in your marriage below!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
4 Comments
  1. avatar Heather reply

    Love this. Goal setting has been so crucial in our marriage. We make a point every 3 months to have a goal setting meeting.we plan goals 1 month away, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 5 years. Both in regards to work, personal growth and travel. (We love traveling, so it’s important to plan trip goals for us). Lots of goals! But it helps us stay on track as a team, build each other up and celebrate those accomplishments. 💚

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Love that you plan goals for those increments, Heather! We’re hoping to invest in a house this year, so my fiancé and I will definitely need to have goal-meetings and checkpoints to stay on track!

  2. avatar Tameika reply

    My husband and I have been married for 14 years and we always set goals together. And not just new year’s goal but monthly and quarterly goals, We also meet on Sunday afternoons and in addition to planning for the week, we use that time to check in on goals. We are accountability partners and that helps.

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Sharing our Home Town Celebration editorial from our tenth anniversary issue, inspired by Laurel, Mississippi!

We have the privilege of traveling all across the Southeast while making Southern Weddings, exploring pockets of the Southeast and dreaming up beautiful love stories along the way! It’s no secret that this particular story is inspired by our own hometown heroes, Erin and Ben Napier. After featuring their home tour back in 2014, it’s been our joy to see their love story and small town make it big on HGTV. Their love for each other and their passion for Laurel’s revitalization was a huge inspiration for this editorial, and we’re grateful for all the ways they made it possible for us to shoot in their sweet Mississippi town!

When we thought about the heart of hospitality behind this shoot, we knew there would be no better photographer than our dear friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor Davy Whitener. This editorial holds a special place in my heart, because Davy is shooting my wedding this April! After our V9 Cover Editorial, one of our former editors came back to the office and said to me, “I know you’re not getting married right now, but I’m pretty positive Davy Whitener is the perfect person to shoot your wedding when it comes time.” And she was right!

After working with Davy on this shoot, and getting engaged a few months later, he was one of the first people I emailed. His heart for hospitality, love for people, and ability to capture the often-unseen moments gave us the beautiful images you see here!

After arriving in Laurel, Emily and I headed straight to Laurel Mercantile Co. to pick up some of the goodies you see above in the welcome crates, including the darling City Beautiful Pennant you see tucked above!

While we ran errands, Lauren Soley of Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals and her team were unloading and prepping the Rogers-Green House for the shoot. We couldn’t have pulled off our Home Town Celebration editorial without her!

I’m not at all embarrassed to tell you how often I think about the flowers Josie and Christine of The Petaler Co. created for us! The sunny pop of yellow in the Sally Homes roses, peonies, and white lilacs mixed with the sprigs of mint and oregano were such a unique combination that I still ooh and ahh over!

There are few things more Southern than a porch swing for bridal portraits! Our HGTV Home Town fans might recognize Bill and Jody’s porch swing from an episode in Season One. Not only did they open their home to us for shooting, but they graciously gave us a tour that evening and joined us for dinner. Trust me when I tell you there is no shortage of Southern hospitality in Laurel, MS!

Gingham dresses that can be worn again paired with embroidered monogram hankies are a sweet way to honor your special ladies!

Isn’t this the most darling lemonade stand you’ve ever seen? Our flower girls and ring bearers were the perfect lemonade hosts, making sure our entire team stayed refreshed all day long.

Keeping with the heart of the shoot and home town feel, two of Davy’s children suited up for the big day and Lauren’s cousins sported their biggest bows as flower girls.

Can you imagine the emotions going through our bride’s head as the doors to her childhood church are about to open? Knowing she’ll see her groom for the very first time in the same church she grew up in admittedly gives me some watery eyes!

Ask your caterer to prepare a private picnic basket or meal for you and your groom to enjoy together post-ceremony before heading into your reception. Bonus points if you’re able to cozy up in the back of a pick-up truck!

Is there anything more Southern than fried chicken, tomato pies, and pancakes? I think not! Lola Fleur outdid themselves with all the delicious food! I can say that because I was able to sneak a few bites in :)

These were genuine smiles from our tiniest models when we told them they could snack on our strawberry shortcake desserts.

Finally, a special treat for you: the crew from Bride Film was on-hand to capture a behind-the-scenes glimpse of this special day! Here’s a look, in two parts:

BTS Part 1: Southern Weddings Home Town Celebration from BRIDE FILM on Vimeo.

BTS Part 2: Southern Weddings Home Town Celebration from BRIDE FILM on Vimeo.

Laurel, you were a gem! Thank you for inviting us into your community with open arms!

See more of this feature in our tenth anniversary issue, on newsstands now and in our shop!

Planner and Vintage Rentals: Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals | Photographer: Davy Whitener | Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab | Videography: Bride Film | Ceremony Venue: Laurel First United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Rogers-Green House | Florals: The Petaler Co. | Hair and Makeup: Blush Salon | Catering: Lola Fleur | Lighting: Celebrations | Paper Goods and “Just Married” Banner: Southern Fried Paper | Strawberry Shortcake Boats: Shop Sweet Lulu | Escort Card Board: Minted | Linens: La Tavola Linen | Hanky Embroidery: Needleworks | Bride’s Gown: “Heloise” by Leanne Marshall via The Sentimentalist | Veil: “Phoenix” by Sara Gabriel | Jewelry: ExVoto Vintage | Ring: Trumpet & Horn | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Bridesmaid Dresses: Anthropologie | Groom’s Blue Blazer: Bonobos | Ties: Macy’s | Flower Girl Dresses: Rachel Riley | Hair Bows: Wee Ones | Welcome Box and Napkins: Laurel Mercantile

Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals and Southern Fried Paper are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lauren at Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals reply

    This was such a fun day in Laurel, Mississippi with so many talented vendors from around MS and the Southeast. Thank you for including us!

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Our most astute readers might recognize Jillian and Hayden from our most recent print issue, V9, and I’m thrilled to be showing you even more images today the blog! My favorite part of their home tour? While it’s not their forever home, it’s evident the two of them are doing a wonderful job at living intentionally and joyfully right where they are. And their dog is pretty cute, too :)

The couple: Jillian and Hayden Pottkotter
How many years have you been married? Two
Where do you live? Houston, Texas

Tell us a little bit about your apartment. Why did you choose to live there? Our apartment has two bedrooms and is in an established neighborhood tucked away in the middle of Houston. We found this “diamond in the rough” completely by accident when we were looking for a park to take our dog to when we first moved to the city. We would go on walks every evening, dreaming of being able to live in this area that we had fallen in love with. We like that our complex is an older, smaller community in the middle of a “normal” neighborhood, filled with families, pet owners, and frequent get-togethers among neighbors. We even have a nightly “Yappy Hour” where we walk our basset hound, Watson, to the park to romp around with other residents’ dogs!

What are your favorite things about apartment living? What are the biggest challenges? One of the things we love about apartment living is how cozy it is. We did not have a ton of furniture or decor when we were first married, so it would have been very daunting to move into a large space right off the bat. Apartment living enables us to utilize every space, making our home more comfortable and livable! One of the biggest challenges about living in an apartment is not having a yard or garden for ourselves and our stir-crazy dog. We so look forward to one day having immaculate gardens and a yard to call our own! There are also many things we cannot change about our apartment, such as our giant mirrored wall or the small windows, but we are thankful for lessons in contentment and the gentle reminder that material possessions aren’t worth yearning for anyway. At the end of the day, what matters the most is who you share your home with, not your 80’s jazzercise mirrors!

Which room in your apartment is your favorite and why? We see the most life lived in our living room, which is what makes it our favorite room. Whether it be spending time with our Young Life high school friends, relaxing with a glass of wine and The Office at the end of the week together, or our friends coming over to watch college football (gig ‘em, Aggies!), this room embodies exactly what we imagined our home to be. We prayed that our home would be a place where people would feel comfortable, valued, and welcomed. We hope that our living room will always be a place for this!

Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? Luckily, we have pretty similar taste when it comes to what we want our house to look like. I have also been fortunate that Hayden has trusted me when it comes to decisions about decorating; I defer to him when it comes to maintenance. I think the most important thing we have learned is to share our vision, listen to each other’s opinions, and decide on details together. We won’t make decisions without consulting one another and making sure that we will both love the outcome.

What most makes your apartment feel like home? We love that many things in our house hold a memory or sentiment—from the sand dollars found in the ocean on our honeymoon to the vintage oar from my grandfather’s home on Lake Superior—these things tell the story of who we are as a couple and truly make this apartment our home. We both desire a “collected home,” not filled with things we could have bought from a store, but a home filled with meaning, stories, and character.

What are some of your dreams and plans for where you live over the next five years? We plan to stay in our apartment for the next two years, until I finish medical school. Our future is uncertain with regard to where my residency will take us next, so we cannot really make any concrete plans until then. No matter where we end up, we would be thrilled to buy a fixer upper and spend time making it our own. We would love to stay in Houston, but would also welcome a new adventure with open arms, as long as we get to do it together!

Photography: Kimberly Chau | Styling: Jennifer Laura Design

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
1 Comment
  1. avatar Wynelle Cowdery reply

    Absolutely adorable. So proud of you both especially Hayden as I was his Spanish teacher and he was an awesome student.
    I wish you both all the best. Keep up the great work! So creative and welcoming. Blessings and a big hello from England!

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