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Southern Weddings

Author: Jess Metcalf

As an Editor for the Southern Weddings’ team, I’ve had the privilege of making Southern Weddings and chatting about Dating Well on the blog. Since getting engaged almost three months ago, I’ve gotten to experience Southern Weddings’ from a new perspective: a bride-to-be!

Emily will be the first to tell you I’ve always been a closet crier, and I often find myself tearing up reading our real wedding interviews or watching a wedding day video. But flipping through the pages of our tenth anniversary issue as a bride-to-be this year was different. For the first time I was imagining OUR wedding and OUR marriage, and let’s just say I used quite a few tissues during our launch season!

My fiancé, Logan, and I got engaged on October 21, 2017 while apple-picking in the NC mountains, and we’re planning an April 14, 2018 wedding. You likely just did the math on your fingers, and thought, “Wow, that’s quick!” Indeed! It’s been a whirlwind of planning a wedding, adjusting to a new city in a new state, continuing to serve in my job, and preparing for marriage–not just a wedding–alongside my fiancé, Logan. Our shorter engagement season has helped us learn how to prioritize what’s most important to us, and it’s teaching us skills that we know we’ll carry into our marriage.

Knowing we were working on a shorter timeframe, I’ve developed an even deeper affection for our Joyful Wedding Planner! It’s been my right-hand guide for this entire wedding-planning process! Whether you’re already engaged or have a sneaky suspicion that ring is coming (no one has to know; mine was tucked under my couch and if Logan ever saw it I’d just chalk it up to needing it for work!), go ahead and snag one for yourself from our shop!

Our very first wedding planning conversation? The budget! While both sets of our parents are generously contributing to our wedding, we are paying for the majority of our big day ourselves. It’s important to note that we established our budget based on the amount of money we have, not the amount things cost. While we hope our wedding day is a celebration of our marriage, we also know it’s one day, and we want to be good stewards of both our finances and the finances of our families. No one day, no matter how happy, is worth starting our marriage off on the wrong foot financially.

Identifying our biggest priorities early on was a huge help in determining where to direct our attention, time, and budget. Our goal for our wedding is to celebrate our marriage and say thank you to all of those who have loved and supported us–both individually and as a couple–over the years!

To better help us do that, we’ve been running each of our financial decisions through a few questions we came up with to help us align our budget and priorities:

  • What is motivating this decision? Is it what we want, or are we doing it because others expect it?
  • Will this make people feel loved?
  • Will this have a lasting impact?
  • Does this say “thank you” to people?
  • Is this a place we can save money and add value elsewhere?

These questions have helped us choose most of our vendors: our venue and caterer, our photographer, our florist, our paper goods, our bakery, and many more!

In the same way that Logan and I are trying to be good stewards of our finances throughout wedding planning, we also know that vendors are doing the same. Approaching each potential vendor with a grateful heart and without expectation has helped us graciously ask for referrals if they are out of our budget.

As my coworker Emily says, it’s possible to have a wedding on any budget, but it’s not possible to have any wedding on any budget. At the end of the day, regardless of budget, your wedding will be gorgeous and meaningful and memorable because you at are the center of it–blissfully happy and in love–no matter how much you spend or don’t spend, and that is what your guests will remember years from now!

I’d love to hear from you! What areas of your wedding did you prioritize in your budget, and why? Is there anything you wish you’d prioritized differently?

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
8 Comments
  1. avatar Emilee Renwick reply

    Jess!! April 14 is my birthday! It is always my favorite time not only because of the obvious, but because in the spring the whole world blooms! Baby animals are born, flowers begin popping up and the Lord is risen!
    Thank you for these 5 big questions! My fiance and I are just now going over all things budget and guest list so this is beyond helpful.
    Happy planning and much joy to you both!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      How fun, Emilee! I’ll have some cake on April 14th to celebrate you! I’m so grateful it was helpful, and I wish you and your fiancé the best! What a sweet season!

  2. avatar Brittany Worthen reply

    Love love LOVE this post! When Ryan and I got married back in 2010, we had a very small budget and we knew we were going to have to make some very hard decisions for our wedding. We knew we wanted beautiful photos, but we couldn’t afford a top-tier photographer. Thankfully, we found an up-and-coming boyfriend and girlfriend photo team that absolutely crushed it and we LOVED our wedding photos! Also, considering Ryan had started his own wedding video business back in 2004, his wedding gift to me was to surprise me by hiring a wedding videographer friend of his to capture our day and that footage is such a treasure to us today!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      What a great way to save money, Brittany! And what a sweet gift from Ryan! I’m so grateful you’ll forever have that memory of your celebration on film!

  3. avatar Taylor reply

    I’m currently planning a wedding too, I got engaged November 18! I love the southern weddings planner, my fiance and I had no idea about the different wedding costs and this is so helpful! We are prioritizing the guest list, with big families a small wedding wasn’t an option so we knew catering would be a large part of our budget. To compensate we chose other areas we could save on. And a coiple things to splurge on!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Sounds like you and I might be planning the same wedding, Taylor! Lots of family on both sides makes cutting the guest list difficult, but we’re finding other areas to save (like florals!). I’m so excited for you and your fiancé!

  4. avatar Katie reply

    What are your wedding must have priorities? What is a good budget to start with?

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Hi, Katie! Great question! Our top priorities are a photographer and venue/catering (the venue we chose includes a great restaurant that handles catering). I’ll be sharing more about those two choices in my next post! Our Joyful Wedding Planner offers a great suggested budget breakdown, but your final budget will depend on a lot of factors. The surefire easiest way to cut your budget? Cutting your guest list! It’s hard, but the savings will add up!

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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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