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Southern Weddings

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Hello, friends! I’ve got a treat for you today! Our good friend, sweet Southern gal Victoria Strader, is here to share a bit about how she planned her ceremony. She’s five years out from her wedding, but her perspective is timeless, and I think you’ll love this peek into her special day! Enjoy! – Emily

Hi y’all! I’m Victoria, and I’ve been married to my high school best friend/college sweetheart Ben for almost five years. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to keep myself from looking at the one and only Southern Weddings blog before getting engaged, haha! :) We have a one-year-old son named Beau and we live deep in the heart of Texas.

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Meredith Teasley

As each year of my life goes by, I become more and more passionate about the deepening of relationships: the relationship with God that defines my faith, my marriage with Ben, the sweet time spent playing on the floor with my squishy baby boy, and the friendships that keep me thriving in the business of ordinary life. We planned a wedding for the winter of 2012 in our hometown, the place where both sides of my husband’s family have lived for generations.

While we were limited in some aspects of planning because this was the kind of wedding where I had to accept the fact that there would be invitations tacked up on the bulletin board of Granny’s Sunday School class, there were some things we didn’t compromise on. When planning for our wedding ceremony, our vision was for it to be deeply personal: a reflection of our personalities and our faith. We wanted every detail to ultimately point to The Lord through a celebration of the ways he has worked in us individually, together, and in other relationships. I’m thrilled to share three of our favorite aspects with y’all today!

Photo by Caroline Joy

1. Our pastor. The first detail that we were passionate about was our youth pastor from high school officiating the ceremony. Ben and I were in the same youth group, so this felt like a no-brainer! Josh knew us so well then, and even now, five years later and with his family living a few hours away, they still mean so much to us. (In fact, neither of us felt right about announcing the pregnancy of our son until we made the road trip to share the news with them in person!) Josh did an incredible job of weaving stories of each of our personalities together with some deep and beautiful scripture. My biggest hope when attending a wedding ceremony is that I’ll walk away feeling like I know the couple more, and I think Josh hit the nail on the head for us in this way. The message of our wedding shared the gospel of our faith, as well as our own personal stories of coming to be Christians.

2. Our wedding vows. Our vows, and the completely non-traditional way that we stumbled upon them, are another favorite detail about our ceremony. When initially discussing our vows, we wanted something different than the traditional lines, but didn’t feel incredibly inspired to write our own. Enter: the Southern Weddings blog! I watched a wedding video* on the blog of a couple who had written their vows, and their words echoed so much truth from the Bible. They were beautiful, and after showing them to Ben, we agreed that nothing we had begun to brainstorm seemed even a tiny bit as beautiful as those words. I just remember Ben saying, “Nothing I write is going to show people Jesus as well as those words!” Haha!

So I did some hunting, dug up the email of the bride, and emailed her asking permission to “borrow” their vows. I explained our story and the heart behind our request, and she so graciously sent me back her approval and best wishes. I realize this method might not be for everyone (and might make any artistic, creative person cringe – ha!), but it ended up being the best possible fit for us. When we recited those vows, it didn’t feel weird to have borrowed someone else’s words at all. If anything, they felt more special because we had thought so much about them!

3. Our ceremony music. Planning for our ceremony music was not something that came naturally to me (I actually rarely listen to music!), but I knew how important it would be for our celebration. I often think of specific couples when I hear their wedding songs being played, and desired for our selections to be sweet and represent us well! One of our good friends from high school is an incredibly gifted vocalist, so we had him sing “Be Thou My Vision” during a time of prayer. My all-time favorite movie is The Parent Trap (the 90’s version!) so our recessional was to “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”, the song that plays in the closing credits :)

Something really sweet is that as I reflect on planning our ceremony five years later, I would still choose all of the same things. The meaningful part of our wedding grows more and more special to me each year, and I’m so grateful for the time we put into it!

Thank you so much for sharing, Victoria! You can follow along with her on her blog and Instagram, where she shares the most ridiculously adorable photos of her smile-y little boy. If you’re planning your own ceremony, be sure to check out our Joyful Wedding Planner – it’s an invaluable helper for something so important!

*Since the video post Victoria mentioned is from more than five years ago, it’s no longer active on our site, sadly. But the fun part? It was the wedding video of our friend Sam from LULA Hair + Makeup! No wonder Victoria found it so inspiring! :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Laura @ Laura Likes Design reply

    Aw, I just love that you used the song from The Parent Trap! Such a fun little detail of the day!

  2. avatar Pixie Wedding Sites reply

    Oh my goodness what an adorable baby boy! Just so cute :) fab wedding

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The easiest way to guarantee I will cry buckets of tears at your wedding ceremony? Include “Be Thou My Vision.” We sang it during our ceremony, and to this day, anytime I hear it, I’m immediately transported right back to June 23, 2012. There’s something incredibly powerful about music and its ability to bring emotion to life’s most special moments – your wedding ceremony most certainly among them.

A darling reader bride recently asked us to share some of our favorite outdoor ceremony music suggestions, so I’ve happily compiled a few selections, from processional to recessional. (These would all work well whether you’re getting married indoors or out!) My main tip for outdoor ceremonies, though? Be proactive about the sound system, if you’re not hiring live musicians. If you want your guests to be able to sing along or enjoy the music, make sure everyone can hear it.

P.S. The linked headings below lead to a Spotify playlist, where you can listen to our suggestions! A perfect activity for a weeknight dinner :)

Favorite wedding ceremony classical processional songs:
• Wedding March – Mendelssohn
• Canon in D – Pachelbel
• Ave Maria – Bach or Schubert
• Water Music – Handel
• Ode to Joy – Beethoven

Favorite wedding ceremony hymns and songs:
• Abide With Me
• All Creatures of our God and King
• Be Thou My Vision
• Come Thou Fount
• In Christ Alone

Favorite non-religious ceremony songs:
• Wedding Processional – Rodgers and Hammerstein
• Can’t Help Falling in Love – Elvis
• Falling Slowly – from “Once”
• Make You Feel My Love – Adele
• A Thousand Years – Vitamin String Quartet

Favorite modern recessional songs:
• The Real Thing – The 5 Royales
• Book of Love – The Monotones
• Brighter Than the Sun – Colbie Caillat
• Everlasting Love – Carl Carlton
• Love, Love, Love – The Clovers

One final tip? When picking music, think about the overall feel of your big day – is it classic? romantic? laid-back? upbeat? Pick music that will tell your story and maybe even make you tear up when you hear it at a friend’s ceremony years later ;)

We have more ceremony music suggestions (along with heaps of helping ceremony planning recommendations) in our Joyful Wedding Planner. Snag one over in our shop!

Image round up: Jen Dillender, Tanja Lippert, Jen Fariello, Blue Ribbon Vendor Amy Arrington and Perry Vaile

kristin Written with love by Kristin
4 Comments
  1. avatar Savannah Fannon reply

    Any suggestions on playing music outdoors?

  2. avatar Patti reply

    I’m a church organist and singer and play at weddings all the time. For outside ceremonies, it will depend on what musicians you will have. I heard a string quartet playing Beatles tunes at a wedding and they played “Here Comes the Sun” as the bridesmaids came down the aisle. I’ve heard a recorded instrumental of “Someday My Prince Will Come” at an outdoor wedding. One of my daughters used recorded dulcimer music for her wedding that included the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” and for her recessional, she used “How Sweet it Is (to be Loved by You)” by James Taylor as her recessional. It was perfect.

  3. avatar EvDressau reply

    This is a great reference, I think I will listen to these music before my wedding, and then find out that I feel suitable for my wedding song.

  4. avatar Geoff reply

    Choosing music had to be one of the hardest things we had to do for our wedding, but once we had the ceremony entrance and first dance songs the rest seemed to fall into place.

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Some of the very best posts in our archives are the ones written by real brides actively planning their weddings and sharing their thoughts along the way. We want to bring you more of that! Today’s guest, Grace, was actually married this spring, but close enough :) We met her at one of our photo shoots for Volume 10, and when she told us she used our Joyful Wedding Planner throughout her engagement, we were tickled pink! Since we’ve been talking about all things ceremony for the last few weeks, I asked her to come on over and share more about hers. Take it away, Grace! – Emily

For about a week after getting engaged, my time was mostly spent daydreaming about our engagement day and gazing at my beautiful ring (ha!). Once I shook off the “engagement high,” I dived into planning our wedding — I could hardly wait! My excitement quickly turned to frustration, though, as I was overwhelmed with the number of options and decisions there were to make, as I’m sure y’all can relate to. I needed a solid guide that would come alongside me and my husband as we created a wedding that was uniquely ours. Thankfully, the Joyful Wedding Planner came to the rescue!

From the very beginning stages of wedding planning, my husband and I knew that we wanted to get married in the mountains, a place we both love and where we’ve made wonderful memories. We also knew that we wanted our wedding day to glorify and display the love of Christ, and for this reason, the ceremony was the most important part of the day for us. It was not only the part of the day that we would officially be declared husband and wife, but also a chance for us to show our family and friends that we did not take marriage lightly and were making a serious commitment to one another. It was also a chance to show the power of Christ’s love in our lives and the power we would rely on for our marriage! Lastly, we wanted our marriage to signify the joining of our two families into one.

After having a solid handle on what we wanted for our ceremony, I worked through my planner to help figure out exactly what I wanted for each detail:

— For the officiant, we knew that we wanted an individual that displayed a strong love for the Lord, was eloquent in speaking the beauty of the Lord’s love for us, and had mentored us through our relationship.
— We also decided to include two wedding rituals. The first was the lighting of the unity candle to represent our new life in Christ, our two lives becoming one, and the joining of our families. I just loved the imagery of two flames merging to become one! The second ritual we took part in was communion.
— We picked readings (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 5:25-33 and 22-24) to show that we were choosing to love each other in our marriage and to illustrate the roles that we were promising to take up.

The planner encouraged me to come up with a Plan A and a Plan B for the ceremony in case of weather, and to make sure that we could be happy with either outcome. Thankfully, our venue gave us the option of holding our ceremony outside or inside of the barn, giving us two beautiful settings (one rain-proof!). If it was held outside, it would be held in front of a large tree with arching branches. If it was inside, the barn setting would be accented with twinkle lights and draped cloth, fitting for our mountain setting. We ended up having our ceremony inside of the barn because of a high forecast for rain, and it ended up being intimate and beautiful!

My husband and I both agreed from the start that we would recite traditional vows (writing our own would have been too much pressure for us!). That was an easy decision to check off the list :)

For our processional music, we chose two favorite songs to display both of our personalities: one of my husband’s favorites (“Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel) for the family and wedding party entrance, and one of mine (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for mine. Our communion song was “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.” Our ceremony music was played by dear friends on piano, flute, violin, and oboe.

When the ceremony was finished, we wanted to end on a joyous note and decided to have a bluegrass band play a lively tune and have our guests throw flower petals in the air to join in the celebration with us as we walked out as husband and wife!

Thinking back on it, the ceremony was the sweetest and most joyous moment of the day (and probably my life!) and everything my husband and I valued and loved was displayed perfectly through it. I am so thankful that the tone for our marriage was set on that day. Planning for the ceremony was so sweet but being married now is even sweeter!

All photos by Blue Ribbon Vendor Ally & Bobby!

emily Written with love by Emily
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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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