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Have you heard? It’s Engagement Celebration Week! Whether you’ve been engaged for two days or twelve months, we invite you to join the party and celebrate like you said yes yesterday. Upload a proposal or ring shot to our hashtag, enter to win giveaways all week on Instagram, or take 20% off our wedding planner with code JOYFULLYENGAGED. We can’t wait to cheer you on!!

The first item most brides look to book is the wedding venue — and with good reason! Your venue sets the tone for everything that is to come, it often helps determine your wedding date, and it can take up a large chunk of your wedding budget. Many brides or grooms also often have a sentimental attachment to the spot they choose to say “I do,” so (as with many wedding decisions) there’s an additional emotional factor to consider.

Since we know many of you are at the beginning of your engagement (how exciting!!), we wanted to share some of the most important things to consider when choosing a wedding venue! To do so, we invited three of the event planners at Keeneland, one of Kentucky’s premier venues, to offer their tips, and combined them with some of the best info from the Joyful Wedding Planner. We’ve sprinkled a few lovely photos from Keeneland’s various venues throughout, too!

Honey Heart Photography

1. The Particulars of Your Wedding. Know your (approximate) guest count, (desired) date and (approximate) budget before starting the search. It’s okay to not have them all set in stone, but you want to have at least a ballpark for each! If you have any must-haves (great view, garden setting, white walls, etc.), write these down, too. Use this information to make a list of possible venues, then narrow it down to your top picks before scheduling tours.

Honey Heart Photography

2. Your Love Story. Do you have a special tie to a location or city? Your wedding should be filled with your unique love story, and your venue is a great place to start! The Keeneland folks love hearing from brides who met their fiancé on property, grew up coming to the track, or were proposed to in between races.

Nina and Wes

3. Catering. There are several benefits of choosing a venue with an in-house catering company (especially if it’s a fabulous one, like Keeneland’s!). Having the food prepared by an in-house team means you don’t need to create a kitchen from the ground-up, you usually don’t have to worry about renting china and silverware, and you know your venue and catering team will work together seamlessly. Of course, if you have a specific caterer you’ve been dying to work with, or you have a particular vision in mind (like food trucks), you’ll want to look for a venue that allows outside vendors.

Lang Thomas

4. Coordination. At Southern Weddings, we believe that every couple should have at minimum a day-of coordinator, even if it’s just a trustworthy and organized family friend. Whether you’re planning to hire a full-service planner or not, make sure that you meet with and get along with the venue contact who will be on site during your celebration! Ask what level of involvement they’ll have with your planning, too.

VRV Photographie

5. Venue Specifics. The frustrating thing about the wedding venue search is that you’re usually comparing apples to oranges, because every venue builds their packages differently and charges accordingly. Make sure to gather as much information as possible! In addition to our basic questions, below, here are a few next-level Q’s:

— How long do we have the venue on the day of our wedding? Will we have access early to set-up?
— Does our rental include tables, chairs, china, a dance floor, a stage, or any other rentals?
— How will our venue coordinator assist us?
— Do you have enough parking to accommodate our guest count? Do you require valet, and is it additional?
— Restrooms: are they big enough and nice enough for your taste?
— What is the rain plan?

6. Photos. Does the venue itself photograph well? Are there pretty spots for portraits? If not, is the surrounding area accessible, and a good fit for your aesthetic?

Honey Heart Photography

Thanks to the ladies at Keeneland for chiming in today with their expert advice! And remember: as you sift through information from your top picks, make visits to each, and consider your options, don’t be afraid to ask questions, get proposals, and use the expertise of the on-site coordinator!

Sending wishes that you all find your perfect wedding venue match as quick as a Kentucky thoroughbred! :)

This post is brought to you by Keeneland, a gorgeous wedding venue and iconic race track in Kentucky. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar Ryan reply

    LOVE seeing our photographer friends and several past clients on Southern Weddings! The planners and staff at Keeneland are second to none and it is such an honor that we get to produce wedding videos at this beautiful Lexington venue!

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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If you’ve never heard of Montage Palmetto Bluff, BOY do I have a treat for you today!

When John and I first visited this magical Southern destination a few years ago, it really did feel like we were stepping into another world — one where the light dripping through the Spanish moss is always perfect; everyone you meet is friendly, helpful, and relaxed; and each building and street is more adorable than the last. Since our first visit, things in Bluffton have only gotten more beautiful and accommodating, thanks to a recent multi-million dollar expansion and renovation.

It is truly my pleasure to give you the scoop on this Southern gem today, so let’s go take a tour!

Nestled within a lush 20,000 acre coastal nature preserve between Hilton Head Island and Savannah, Montage Palmetto Bluff delights guests at every turn. The property includes:

— 200 guest accommodations, including private cottages, guest rooms, and suites
— six dining experiences
— three distinct pools
— a spa
— a vibrant village and marina
— and a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf course

Combined with all of the other available recreational activities and the sheer pleasure of walking Montage Palmetto Bluff’s grounds, your guests will never run out of things to do during their stay!

Top two photos by Rach Loves Troy from this wedding, middle two photos by Perry Vaile from this wedding, and bottom photo of the Sommerset Chapel

Most famous of Montage Palmetto Bluff’s wedding offerings is the May River Chapel – you’ve likely seen it in past weddings we’ve featured, like Jennifer and Kerby’s and Leigh and Steve’s. I truly think it is the most picturesque chapel in the South! The Sommerset Chapel is a newer, equally beautiful addition to the property, and it has a slightly larger capacity (up to 185 guests).

Photos by Rach Loves Troy from this wedding

For your reception, venue options include beautiful lawns and green spaces, including the Village Green with the iconic ruins of the Wilson Mansion. These spots are perfect for tenting, and can graciously host up to 500 guests. I love the history behind these locations, which once hosted some of the most fabulous Southern parties of the early 1900s while the mansion was still standing – quite the legacy!

Photos by Perry Vaile from this wedding

There are two beautiful ballroom options for indoor affairs, as well. I love that even the indoor options incorporate Palmetto’s lovely surroundings, with large wraparound verandas and gorgeous windows.

Photos by Rach Loves Troy

Once you arrive, trust me, you and your guests are not going to want to leave, so thankfully there are wonderful rehearsal dinner options on property, too. From a romantic wine cellar to the fire-pit dotted May River Lawn to the open-air pavilion at Moreland Landing, perfect for an oyster roast and complete with a five-story tree house wrapped around a centuries-old live oak tree (!).

Montage Palmetto Bluff has you covered in the beauty department, too, with Spa Montage. There, you can indulge in a couples massage, take a dip in both hot tubs and cold plunge pools, and get your hair and makeup done for the celebration itself in their full-service salon.

Curious to see more of this Southern wedding wonderland? Take a peek at a few past Montage Palmetto Bluff weddings we’ve featured:
Jennifer and Kerby: married on the Village Green with a tented reception at the Village Green
Leigh and Steve: married at the May River Chapel with a reception at Moreland Landing
Janelle and Paul: married at the May River Chapel with a reception in the Oak Ballroom
Caroline and Wyatt: married at the May River Chapel with a reception under a tent on the Village Green and dancing in the Oak Ballroom

Of course, you can always head to the Montage Palmetto Bluff website for the full scoop,, including their wedding brochure and contact information. And P.S: Even if you’ve already planned your wedding at another location, there’s still hope! Montage Palmetto Bluff makes the PERFECT honeymoon destination :)

This post is brought to you by Montage Palmetto Bluff. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

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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While attending the most recent Engage wedding industry conference, I had the pleasure of hearing the fabulous Lynn Easton speak. She and her team create magnificent events all around the country (and world!), but we’re proud that’s she’s based in the Southeast and that her work has graced our pages many times. (Most recently, in our new issue!)

During Lynn’s talk, she referred to herself as “the queen of Sperry Tents,” and it’s true, they pop up over and again in her design plans. Of course, my ears immediately perked up, because I’m a Sperry connoisseur, as well! :) I asked her to share her best tips from years of working with these beauties, and she graciously obliged. Here they are, along with photos from a few of Easton’s Sperry events!

Photos by Christian Oth Studio

What do you love most about using Sperry tents in your design plans?
Our favorite thing about Sperry Tents is that they assimilate into the great outdoors so beautifully. Their artisan construction, delicate profile, and organic elements allow them to blend beautifully and seamlessly into the great outdoors. The combination of the translucent sailcloth with hand-hewn wood poles, the lyrical lines of the tent, and the flags tossing in the wind creates a welcoming and whimsical backdrop for our design aesthetic.

Photos by Eric Kelley. See more from this wedding in Southern Weddings V9!

Why do you choose a Sperry over other types of tents for your clients?
We love the way a Sperry looks at night when you light the top of the tent. The ceiling of a Sperry tent will glow making them as beautiful from the outside as the inside. We also love how they look from a distance. Their natural beauty stirs anticipation as guests make their way to enter the tent!

Photo by Eric Kelley

Do you have any money-saving or design-maximizing tips to share when working with a Sperry tent?
Unlike a frame or structure tent, Sperry tents are beautiful without a stitch of “clothing” – a.k.a. draping! We do tend to drape the side poles to add a bit of luxury, but it is not necessary. The natural amber wood poles of a Sperry are beautiful on their own, and we use them as a design element of the wedding décor.

Photos by Jose Villa

What are a few little-known tips or tricks from your experience working with dozens of tented events?
— It is very important to consider your historical temps when selecting your tent! When the temperatures rise, the coolest tents will be a white vinyl pole or a white vinyl frame tent as the solid vinyl does the best job of blocking the heat from the sun.
— Sperry tents, while beautiful, are light porous, so you will need to be mindful of how your florals will handle the heat during set up if it’s a very warm day.
— It is also important to remember that a clear top tent acts like a greenhouse, so we never use them during the warm months without AC.
— Ask your tent vendor if they have 10′ poles available for your selected tent. Lifting the side pole height tends to cost a bit more but the extra lift on the sidewalls is worth it!
— If you are working with Sperry tents, remember they come in all shapes and sizes! If you need back of house tents for catering, the band, or restroom facilities, utilizing matching Sperry tents may be more visually appealing. They also make fantastic rain back-up plan tents for ceremonies or cocktail, because they require little to no décor to be aesthetically pleasing.

Photo by Jose Villa

What is the number one thing readers should know about throwing a tented event?
Tented events are expensive! You have to remember you are essentially building a room that needs to have lighting, power, and some temperature control, and that gets expensive. If you need to floor the tent, do not be surprised when the cost of the flooring is typically more expensive than the entire tent itself.

Photo by Patricia Lyons

Thank you so much to Lynn for offering her expertise! If you’re considering a Sperry Tent for your wedding, here are a few other posts you might find useful…
Tented Weddings 101
How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding
Planning a Reception Lounge
7 Ideas for a Tent at Your Wedding

This post is brought to you by Sperry Tents. Thank you so much for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

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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