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Southern Weddings

Author: Jess Metcalf

With Lisa on maternity leave snuggling the newest SW beau, I’m thrilled to be joining y’all here on the blog to share some beautiful wedding days with you, starting with Laura and Patrick’s Key West celebration! From opting to wear the veil her mother wore on her parents’ wedding day to tucking handwritten thank you notes into small bottles for each guest, Laura and Patrick took a day that is traditionally about celebrating a bride and groom and instead chose to cultivate the beginning of a life full of love by celebrating their families, their story, and what matters most to them. I hope you enjoy reliving their day as much as I did!

A big thanks to Erika Delgado for sharing Laura and Patrick’s day with us!

I knew I wanted a simple dress, without any lace or beading, that would complement my mom’s veil, which I planned on wearing. My mom’s veil was given to her by her grandmother for her and my dad’s wedding 40 years ago. The first day I decided to make appointments, I went with my mom and matron of honor. After trying on a few options that didn’t wow me, the consultant had an idea to have me try on a dress that came with a lace overlay, but to leave the overlay off. As soon as I put the dress on, I knew it was the one! I felt gorgeous in it–it was simple, classic, fit our venue, and most importantly, I could see myself marrying Patrick in it.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed meant a great deal to me: my grandfather’s dog tag from World War II. I tied the tag to lace ribbon and wrapped it around my bouquet. Even though he couldn’t be there in person, he was there with me as I took some of the most important steps of my life. Something old was my mom’s veil, which she wore on my parents’ wedding day. Something blue was the ribbon on my garter. Something new was two things: my wedding dress and my wedding day gift from Patrick.

Describe your wedding flowers. I knew from the moment I started planning that I wanted an all-white palette for the flowers, keeping it simple and classic. Because the reception was taking place in gardens, I didn’t want to compete with the beautiful landscape there. Our florist created a gorgeous mixture of white peonies, garden roses, ranunculus, and lisianthus. Instead of having large centerpieces, I preferred the look of many smaller arrangements mixed with oil lanterns and candles. I collected all of the glassware used for the florals throughout our engagement.

We met in Key West and experienced many memories throughout our relationship there, including our engagement. It made perfect sense to get married in the city where we fell in love. Both of us share a love of the ocean and the unique history and culture that Key West provides. When it came time to decide on a venue, we knew we wanted a location that held true to Key West. The lighthouse, being a beacon of safe refuge for sailors, coupled with Patrick’s time in the Coast Guard, made perfect sense. The large banyan tree next to the lighthouse provided a beautiful spot to say our vows. For the reception, we loved the the gardens of the Audubon House. The layout was unique and it felt like we were inviting friends and family to a backyard celebration in the heart of Key West. Between the ceremony and the reception, everyone boarded the Conch Tour Train to take in a little bit more of the island. The evening was finished off with dinner and (lots of) dancing the night away under the stars. All of our guests generously traveled to be with us, so we wanted to give them as much of a Key West experience as possible.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look on our wedding day. It was important to both of us that our eyes met for the first time in front of our loved ones, moments before we became husband and wife. When our eyes locked as I rounded the corner, all that mattered was each other. We will cherish that feeling forever.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Do what makes you and your significant other happy. People will have plenty of advice, but what worked for them may not work for you. Pick the things that matter the most to you, and that will make you happy. Do your research on vendors–choose ones who align with your style and understand the vision you have. When you you feel confident in your vendors, it makes the day run smoothly, and it allows you to relax and enjoy the day! Finally, throughout the planning process, it helps to think of the day from guests’ point of view. It is your wedding, but taking a little extra time to think about their experience will be greatly appreciated–they did travel just to be with you both on this big day!

In dreaming up our day, the inspiration all came from the sea. The colors came from the varying tones of Florida Keys water, from a muted light minty blue in the shallows to deeper blues where the ocean meets the sky. All of the place cards were pieces of driftwood collected by us in Puerto Rico while Patrick lived there. We love the idea of messages in a bottle. Throughout our engagement, we collected small bottles from antique stores. At the wedding, we rolled up a thank you note for each guest and placed them in the bottles. Attached was a tag with guests’ names that led them to their tables. Each table was named after a different Key we had memories in throughout the Florida Keys. In place of a guest book, we asked that our guests leave us a message and drop them into large old bottles.

Our wedding cake was from one of the best bakeries in Key West. We wanted something simple, yet delicious, and went with a three-tiered, all-white ruffled cake, topped with a gold conch shell to symbolize the Keys. Inside, the cake had two flavors: French vanilla layered with mousseline and fresh strawberries, and Key West rum with layers of chocolate ganache, mousseline, and fresh strawberries.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in Key West, Florida in January 2011. I had recently moved to the Keys and one of my best friends from college was in town for the weekend. We went for a night out in Key West, and she decided I had to meet her friend “just in case” I ever needed anything. Her friend was Patrick–they were childhood friends who grew up two streets apart, and he was stationed in Key West with the Coast Guard. Upon meeting Patrick, I was smitten, but never would have admitted it. Having just moved to a new town, I didn’t have much interest in getting into a relationship. I was stubborn, but Patrick’s persistence paid off, and two months later, we went on our first date.
Tell us all about the proposal! Patrick planned a date night in Key West at an amazing sushi restaurant. After dinner, he suggested we go for a walk down the pier next door. We got to the end of the empty pier, and while looking out over the water, we began talking about us and the changes our relationship was going to experience. Patrick was about to move to Puerto Rico for work, while I would continue living in the Keys. In the middle of this conversation, the words “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” came out of his mouth, while he spun me around and got down on one knee. After spilling his heart, he asked me to be his wife. I was completely surprised and, of course, said yes! After the fact, I learned that he had driven across the state to ask permission from my parents, had hidden friends taking photos of the proposal, and even coordinated with my boss to let me have the next day off of work.
When did y’all get married? April 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 110
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The bridal party walked down the aisle to the instrumental version of “Skinny Love” by Birdy. My dad walked me down the aisle to the instrumental version of “All of Me” by John Legend. This song really stood out for the message it was sending to my future husband, and now, every time I hear it, it brings me back to that moment. After the ceremony, our song to walk back up the aisle was “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors. Patrick chose our first dance song. We were on a vacation together when we first heard “Hey Pretty Girl” by Kip Moore, and Patrick instantly said, “This is what we should dance our first dance to.” I loved that he was so excited about the song and that he wanted it for our big day. For my dance with my father, we chose a version of “My Little Girl,” sang by SoMo. The lyrics spoke true of the strong bond between a father and daughter, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room during the dance. Patrick and his mom danced to “The Baby” by Blake Shelton. This song has always been “their song,” so there was no question that it would be what they would dance to.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: How personal the wedding was, from the custom crest, to our dog’s silhouette on the drink stirrers. Every detail involved in our day had our personal touch on it.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We got married in the southernmost City in the United States! I carried one of my dad’s handkerchiefs–I’ve never seen him without one. I also had handkerchiefs embroidered for both sides of parents as gifts on the day-of.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just bought our first house! We are looking forward to making the house a home, traveling, and eventually starting a family.

Photographer: Erika Delgado | Planner: Jill Atkinson | Ceremony Venue: Key West Lighthouse | Reception Venue: Audubon House | Florist: Love In Bloom | Wedding Cake: Croissants de France | Caterer: Catered Affairs of Key West | Rentals: Mile Marker Party Rentals | DJ: Kiss Me Entertainment | Custom Crest: Juliet Grace Design | Paper Products: Smitten on Paper | Bride’s Gown: “D1367” by Essence of Australia | Bride’s Bracelet: Coordinates Collection | Hair and Makeup: Studio Marie-Pierre | Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Adrianna Papell, Amsale, Monique Lhuillier, Joanna August, and Donna Morgan | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse | Groom’s Tie: The Tie Bar | Groom’s Watch: Citizen | Dog Silhouette and Drink Stirrers: Fire Hydrant Press | Head Table Sign: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Envelope Calligraphy: Allie Seidel Design | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Tote Bags: Wedding Chicks Shop | Koozies: My Wedding Store | “Vows” Print: Southern Weddings Shop | Transportation: Conch Tour Train | Special Details: BHLDN | Soap Favors: Key West Soap Company

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
6 Comments
  1. avatar Erika Delgado reply

    What a beautiful wedding day! Thank you for sharing:)

  2. avatar Laura + Patrick Married in Key West » Erika Delgado Photography reply

    […] Featured on Southern Weddings […]

  3. avatar Curtis Wallis reply

    Love seeing all the smiles. Makes this day look so much more special. Beautiful wedding

  4. avatar Nancy Ellis reply

    any idea who makes the MOB gown? Thanks

  5. avatar Robb McCormick Photography reply

    Absolutely stunning wedding. Every detail perfectly executed in front of a perfect backdrop!

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Being in a long-distance relationship or marriage isn’t something that most people would willingly choose, but it’s a reality that many couples face. In fact, six out of the eight Southern Weddings ladies have been long-distance with their respective beaus at some point while dating or married!

The whirlwind of my and Logan’s respective job changes forced us into a long-distance relationship before we even realized it! Logan had been applying to jobs in different cities after graduating with his post-grad degree, so it wasn’t a surprise when he was offered and accepted a job in Atlanta, GA. He moved within two weeks of accepting the offer.  Less than a month later, I officially joined the Southern Weddings team, based in Chapel Hill, NC. Needless to say, our job changes meant that we were firmly rooted in two different states for the immediate future.

There’s no shortage of wonderful tips on long-distance dating, but I wanted to share what has (and hasn’t!) worked for us over the course of the past ten months. My hope is to offer practical advice, but also to encourage you to focus on creating memories in this season instead of longing for the day when the two of you are reunited!

Resist the urge to spend all your time together. This sounds like I added it to the wrong list, doesn’t it? Yes, Logan and I are excited to spend time together when we see each other, but we try to resist the urge to be exclusive in an attempt to catch up on lost time. Some of my favorite memories are times Logan and I have spent with each other’s new friends or coworkers. For example, when I’m in Atlanta, we try to make a point of spending time with his coworkers or new friends and attending his church together. It’s a great way for me to begin to get to know his life in Atlanta, and vice versa when he visits.

Know when you are going to see each other again. Having a date on the calendar (as in, an actual date) for when you will see each other again turns any goodbye into a “see you later!” (Logan would approve of that Dumb and Dumber reference.) Of course, it’s tempting to count down the days until you are reunited once you know how soon it’s coming, but try to make sure you’re being present by enjoying your current city and friends in the meantime! As (I think) Jim Elliot said, “Be where you are.”

Make your travel time productive and fun! I’ve never been a big fan of driving (I’d much rather be the copilot and DJ), but I’m learning to make the drives more bearable by making them fruitful! I’ve come to enjoy my drives to Atlanta—it gives me time to process my week and recharge. I love listening to audiobooks on Audible, catching up on my favorite podcasts, and listening to my favorite Spotify playlists (Hamilton, anyone?). Leaving Atlanta on Sunday afternoons can often be sad, so I’ve created a tradition to stop and treat myself to a guilty pleasure of mine for dinner—buffalo wings! Whether you’re driving or flying, use your travel time to your advantage and make it enjoyable!

Know each other’s schedules. Make a point to touch base on Sunday evenings and ask “What does your week look like?” or to share Google calendars with one another. Even if the initial answer is “normal” or “boring,” just keep asking questions! This is great for two reasons: you won’t set unrealistic expectations to hear from your significant other when they have plans, and you’ll know how to follow-up after your days.

Find encouragement. Logan and I had only been living in separate cities for a few weeks when I interviewed with the SW team. Up until that point, everyone’s first question upon finding out about his job had been “When are you moving to Atlanta?” instead of asking how I was feeling. To be honest, it was pretty discouraging that more people cared about my timeline than my heart. If you’ve followed Lisa and Dave’s relationship, you know that they were long-distance for more than a year before Dave moved to NC. When I shared about Logan’s recent move with the team, Lisa immediately said, “Oh my goodness, how are you doing?” The fact that she cared more about my heart than when I was making a transition meant more to me than I could say. She has been a consistent source of encouragement (along with many others!) throughout these past ten months, often texting me on my Sunday drives home to say she was thinking and praying for me. Find the people who will encourage you and cheer you on in this season!

Communicate, but don’t over-communicate. Be honest about how you’re feeling. Talk about what is and isn’t working, but remember that every conversation doesn’t have to be a serious one, nor does it need to be a lengthy one! Some of my favorite FaceTimes with Logan have been quick conversations, like while he is making dinner after getting home from work. He sits the phone on his counter while he “cooks,” and we talk about our days. When he finishes cooking, we often hang up for the evening. These conversations last no more than ten minutes, but they remind me of some of my favorite memories—cooking together.

Don’t compare yourself to other couples. Some of my friends who are in long-distance relationships talk on the phone every night. Logan and I are not big fans of talking on the phone, so we don’t do that very often. And that’s okay! For a while, I felt guilty about not talking each day, asking myself “Does this make me a bad girlfriend?” or “Are we really not that serious?” until Logan graciously reminded me that I was being silly, or perhaps ridiculous. We try to touch base each day in some form, but I’ve learned that pressuring ourselves to fit into a mold feels forced and inauthentic. Don’t worry about fitting into every guideline you see about long-distance dating or marriage—this list included!—but do what works best for the two of you!

My final piece of encouragement: this is worth it. Don’t view being in the same place geographically as a “light at the end of the tunnel.” You can learn so much in this season, so don’t wish it away.

Photos by Christopher and Nancy from our Facebook page, which are much lovelier than the screenshots of my FaceTime calls with Logan :)

Is there anything you would add to this list? Feel free to comment below or email me at Jess@SouthernWeddings.com—I love hearing from you!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
9 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Love your advice Jess! Especially about not fitting into molds. It seems this day and age that people expect you to be constantly communicating with each other. But I find that when you do that you’re missing out on whats going on around you.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Kelly! Thank you for your encouragement! I agree with you completely, and it oftentimes makes the times we do talk even sweeter! xo -Jess

  2. avatar Christina Dean reply

    Thank you for this list! My boyfriend and I are in the very beginning of a long distance relationship (3 months in a just a few days!), and at the moment none of my friends are in long distance relationships. Reading this has given me some great pointers, and I can’t wait to share it with my beau. Thanks, Jess.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Christina! Sending you extra encouragement! It has taken some getting used to, but there are so many sweet things about being apart as well! xo -Jess

  3. avatar Annie reply

    My husband and I did long-distance for three years before we got married. It was tough, but tips like the ones above make it easier–I especially liked knowing what his general schedule was, so we could plan what times were good to talk or Skype. (We even did some Skype ‘cooking dates,’ where we made the same meal and ate together while we video chatted.) When it felt hard, I tried to remember that doing long-distance was WAY better than breaking up, which would mean I’d never get to talk to him again.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Hi Annie! Three years! I love what you reminded yourself when things felt hard; what a good perspective shift! xo, Jess

  4. avatar Kensington reply

    Goodness, I love this! I am in a long distance relationship currently, and I find reading people’s advice is so encouraging. I especially identify with setting a date to see each other next. For me, it doesn’t induce a countdown, but instead gives me peace of mind and frees me up to enjoy and be present in all the moments that will happen in between! Thank you for this Jess! It’s fun to follow along on another couples journey :)

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Kensington! Thanks for sharing, I agree completely; knowing the date definitely gives you the freedom to enjoy the present! Sending you a big squeeze! xo, Jess

  5. avatar Jennifer reply

    Thanks for sharing. Reminds me of my own situation, in which I’ve just begun a long distance relationship with my husband as I start a tour across the country for 10 Billion Lives. “Every day I wake up and we speak…at 4am Pacific Standard Time… because he’s in NYC… and I’m in California.” The story of my husband and me going long distance within a year of our marriage. http://www.nynomads.com

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A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a baby shower in my hometown. I’m from a small town in North Carolina, where the ladies from my home church were some of the first to change my diaper and rock me in the church nursery. They’ve watched me grow up over the past almost-27 years, and they genuinely love celebrating milestones in my life with me. This means that oftentimes, when I’m home, I find myself faced with the question “So, when are you getting married?”

It can be easy to feel jaded by that question. I get it. The heart behind Southern Weddings isn’t about beautiful pictures—it’s about relationships. In all that we do at Southern Weddings, our mission is to inspire others to cultivate a life full of love. Whether you feel like you’re perpetually single, or dating to see who is right for you, or you’re in a relationship and taking things at your own speed, what I’ve found to be most helpful in responding to this question is a different framework.

(Just a note, I use “we” in most of these answers because I’m talking about it in the context of my current relationship, but to my single gals out there—I see you. Know that I often used these responses when I was single as well.)

Remind yourself that it is a good thing that people are invested in and care about your relationship. It’s important to realize this is often the heart behind that question. Great relationships are cultivated in community with others. When I’m asked this question, it’s typically because the person asking the question cares about me and has seen the good Logan brings out in me, not because someone wants to be able to write a date down in their planner. When Ms. Madelyn or Mrs. Hickman asked me this at my sister-in-law’s baby shower recently, I was grateful that even after years of living in a different place, they still cared about the big things happening in my life.

“Let me tell you about what we’re looking forward to in our future.” One could say this is a way to deflect the question, but I like this answer because it shows that the most exciting thing to me in my current relationship isn’t necessarily an upcoming engagement or wedding day, but the other fun things we have planned. Whether it’s a larger event, like a long weekend vacation to the beach, or something simpler, like date night at a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, I love giving others glimpses into the exciting things happening in my life, whether they have to do with my relationship or not!

“I don’t know. And I’m okay with not knowing right now because I am content with where we are.” Our team fiercely believes that a marriage is more important than a wedding day, and the same applies to our relationships! A wedding day isn’t the finish line, but rather, one of many markers in your relationship. We believe that every part of your relationship—both the big and small moments—is meant to be celebrated in a way that is deeply meaningful. It’s one of the reasons Southern Weddings did our own spin on Fruitful Summer this year! Relationships matter, and cultivating meaningful relationships is the secret to a full life. I’ve found this is exactly why the mission of Southern Weddings resonates with me—and so many of you—so much!

“We’re still getting to know one another.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you should “know” after XX number of months. Yes, some of the darling brides in our magazine and on our blog knew after the first date. But others spent years as friends with their now-husbands. Neither is better than the other. The timing that you choose for your relationship is the best timing for you.

“You should ask him.” One of the very first things Nicole and I realized when we began to talk about dating well in the office was that no one asks our boyfriends this question. Depending on who is asking, one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek answers is simply “You should ask him,” followed by a sweet smile :)

Depending on your relationship with the person asking the question, it’s okay to politely ask them to refrain from asking. I hesitated to add this one, but in the end, I think it’s one of the most important ways you can respond to this question. I’ve found that I often experience the most discontentment in my relationship with Logan when I feel bombarded by the question. One of the most honest ways you can respond is by gently explaining that to someone. I’ve been known to tell my mother or some of my close friends (all people who very much have the right to ask that question) this on days where I don’t particularly feel up to talking about the timeline of my relationship. Each and every time, the person has responded very graciously. Whether you’re single and pursuing other passions or in a long-term relationship, this answer has often led to very sweet conversations!

I’d love to hear from you! Nicole and I are excited to continue to be back on this column to talk to you about dating. Feel free to email me at Jess@SouthernWeddings.com to say hi or let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like us to talk about! I am so grateful you are here!

Photos by Live View Studios from our Facebook page

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

    This was super helpful! As someone who has dated their current boyfriend for a few years now, I get this question more often. I think “You Should Ask him” is my favorite response, as he would be the one doing the proposing! :)

    xo, India

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      India! I’m so glad it was helpful for you! “You should ask him” is one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek answers, typically followed by “let me tell you all about the exciting things we’re looking forward to!” Grateful for your support! xo, Jess

  2. avatar Kirsten Barber reply

    I loved coming across this article today. The, “When are you getting married,” question and those like it have always bugged me. Growing up, it was, “When will you start dating?” When I was dating, it was, “When will you get married?” And now that I am married, it is, “When will you have children?” As a people pleaser, these questions hit me on an emotional level and start to make me doubt my personal timeline. I used to respond with defensive remarks and anger, but I’ve learned to start laughing off the questions. My favorite response was the cheeky, “You should ask him.” Thank you for doing this. I think it is something every woman faces in her life, and it is always better to handle something with grace, even if it seems a bit intrusive.

  3. avatar Jess reply

    Kirsten! I’m so glad you were encouraged! Questions about the next season of life can be fun to dream and talk about at times, but I love the idea of being able to focus on the present and right now. I think we too often (myself included) wish away the right now for what is to come. Grateful for you! xo, Jess

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