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You know those “Holy Grail” searches that seem to go on endlessly? (See: HG foundation and HG hairspray, for two…) For a lot of people, one of those searches is for the ultimate gift source – one place you can always turn for the perfect item, no matter the occasion, age, or style of the loved one. For my sister, that place has long been Uncommon Goods, and I’m starting to think she’s on to something!

I think all but one of her gifts for our family this Christmas came from their site, and all were big hits at unwrapping time. Uncommon Goods is her go-to for wedding and shower gifts, too!

I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed this, but it seems like many of the couples whose weddings I’ve been invited to recently have either not registered for anything, or asked for cash. If you (like me) prefer to give something tangible as a gift (perhaps in addition to cash!), then a site like Uncommon Goods comes in super handy.

Today, I’m sharing my picks for unique gifts for groomsmen, gifts for the bride (perfect for a shower), and creative wedding gift ideas, and a bit about why I included each below. But, I think the best gifts are always uniquely fitted to the recipient, so if none of my picks are doing it for you, definitely go browse Uncommon Goods’ site yourself – I guarantee you’ll find something to love!

1. Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit. For the gourmet chef in training (or, just your resident taco lover friend!). My brother-in-law would love this.
2. A Wooden Tic Tac Toe Set. Slightly random? Perhaps :) But this would make a classy coffee table addition in any bachelor pad, and win your groomsmen uncle of the year awards for sure!
3. All Natural Shoe Care Kit. File this under things your groomsmen wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves, but that they’ll be happy to have. I feel like millenials are bringing back some of the “old school” things we associate with our parents but that never should have fallen out of fashion, and a lovingly-cared-for pair of shoes is one of them!
4. Multi-Tool Box of Wonders. Clever gadgets are a slam-dunk gift for guys in my experience. The Pocket Monkey (which fits in a wallet!) is especially cool!

1. Adventure Blanket. I love bridal shower gifts that get the couple excited for their marriage, so that’s how I themed these gift picks! A waterproof, foldable blanket is perfect for encouraging picnics, hikes, and beach days for the newlyweds.
2. Date Night Bucket List. No more boring date nights! Your couple won’t skip a beat after the excitement of the wedding dies down with these 25 ideas.
3. Table Topics. I want a set of these for myself! Even approaching my five year anniversary (and 13 years with my husband!), there are things we don’t know about each other, and I think these cubes of conversation starters would be such a fun way to keep our dinners or road trips surprising.
4. Woven Straw Placemats. These are just fun and cute :) But again, I love that they’d encourage your couple to make even a simple weeknight dinner a special occasion!

1. Hand Embroidered State Pillows. I know these beauties have been around for a few years, but I still get all the heart eyes over them! Especially for couples who have moved away from their beloved South, these pillows are a sweet reminder of home sweet home.
2. Timbrephone Acoustic Phone Amp. So they can pump up their Spotify playlist for impromptu after-dinner dancing in the kitchen.
3. Smartphone Instant Photo Lab. This cool gadget lets couples create analog Polaroid-style photo prints from their smartphone or tablet. Encourage them to take snaps throughout the night at their next dinner party, then give them to guests as favors!
4. My Cinema Lightbox. So they can leave sweet messages to greet each other when they arrive home.
5. Do Good Cotton Hammock. So they can feel like they’re still on their honeymoon, even in the backyard.
6. Scratch Map Deluxe. For a couple with a serious case of wanderlust, this map will let them track which countries they’ve traveled to together. Imagine how sweet it will be to look back on their 25th or 40th anniversary and reminisce over all that they’ve done!

Uncommon Goods is working to change the way business is done by making sustainability a part of every decision they make, something that is near and dear to our company’s heart. In addition to making great gifts, they’re steadily working to make themselves more environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and a rewarding place to work. Head to their site for all of your gifting needs!

This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods, a company we’ve used and loved for years. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar Molly Dansby reply

    love how pretty the site looks today! i’ve been checking in here on and off for nearly 10 (!!!) years. this is my favorite iteration yet! so fresh + clean.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you, Molly!! This is just a little intermediate facelift, with hopes for a bigger remodel in the future, but we’re super happy with it, too! :)

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As an editor at a wedding magazine, I’m often asked what I’m most “over” in submissions. It’s true, LOTS of weddings pass my desk every day, and though I don’t judge trends too harshly, there is one thing I’d be happy to never see again. And that is: baggy, ill-fitting, awkward groom attire.

It honestly makes me super sad! Here are the brides, shining oh-so-beautifully with a look that’s clearly been carefully refined over many months… and then here are the grooms, looking like they just rolled out of bed in their great uncle’s suit that’s three sizes too big for them. Sad!

I get it – in the past, the easiest, most reasonably-priced option was a local tuxedo rental. But, friends, I’m SO happy to say that that’s no longer the best option – not by a long shot. The best option is now The Black Tux.

If you search our archives, you’ll find dozens and dozens of couples who have already chosen The Black Tux for their wedding days. Put simply, The Black Tux offers high-end suits and tuxedos, rented online and delivered to your door.

Too often, renting a tux means worn out, cheap polyester suits that don’t really fit, and several trips to a brick and mortar store. The Black Tux has single-handedly changed that rental reputation, resetting expectations with a simple rental process, a better fit, and the finest wool available (no polyester involved whatsoever).

Not looking for a tux? Though The Black Tux does the classic black tuxedo oh-so-right, that’s just the beginning of their curated offerings. We’ve used their suiting collection – navy, tan, dark and light gray – in several magazine editorials, and have been so impressed every time!

Everyone knows wrangling a wedding party can be one of the most frustrating parts of wedding planning, but – guess what! – The Black Tux has you covered there, too. Simply choose a custom look for your wedding party, or pick from their professionally-styled complete outfits. You can even request a free home try-on for the groom, to see his pick in person.

Once you’ve made your choices, The Black Tux will email everyone with a look that’s ready to rent. Then, you can track your wedding party’s progress online as they set up their account, submit their sizes (so easy), and complete checkout to reserve their sizes for the big day. SUCH an improvement!

One more example of how The Black Tux looks out for you at every turn: your look will arrive two full weeks before your wedding! They want every order to be just right, so they allow plenty of time to make changes. If something’s not perfect, they send a new one right away–for free, of course.

Still worried about ordering online? Consider visiting one of the five The Black Tux showrooms across the country (Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, New York, and San Francisco) or one of their six Nordstrom boutiques (Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Orange County, Seattle, and Washington, DC). Book your appointment online and expect an ambassador to help you view the collection, nail down your sizing, and offer expert style advice.

If you’re in the market for stylish wedding wear, look no further than The Black Tux.

This post is sponsored by The Black Tux, a brand we have used and loved for years. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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I remember when John and I first started to think about getting engaged, I was really excited – but also completely overwhelmed.

Excited, of course, because I was inching closer to marrying my best friend! Overwhelmed, because though I’ve been a wedding expert for most of my life, it seems, I was extremely nervous about making such a large purchase when I felt so uneducated on what I was buying (well, what John was buying ;)).

I don’t want anyone else to feel that way, so today, we’ve teamed up with the jewelers at Ritani to offer some engagement ring shopping tips! Whether you’re two months or two years away from getting engaged, I hope you feel more equipped for this big step after reading our Q&A.

P.S. Don’t miss the part about their in-store preview program – such a great opportunity!

Southern Weddings: What do you recommend couples do to prepare before they go ring shopping, if anything?
Ritani: If you’re in the market for a diamond, read up on basic diamond and ring education, including the differences between diamond shapes, the 4 Cs (see below!), and the differences between the most popular ring styles and metals. Before you go shopping, try to narrow down a few basic choices like what diamond shape you like and what style ring. But, know that just as with your wedding dress, you might like a totally different style of ring on your finger than in photos! A Pinterest board can help you gather ideas.

Consider how a certain ring will mesh with your existing style — if you go for a more classic look, try a solitaire or classic setting; if you love vintage-inspired jewelry, explore shapes like cushion, pear, or marquise.

Finally, get a sense for pricing by comparing diamonds and rings on a few different websites. It’s important to remember that diamond shopping is not about finding the “best deal”–rather, you should think about getting the best quality for whatever your budget allows.

SW: How many stores should couples visit when looking for an engagement ring, and how should they decide which stores to go to?
Ritani: We recommend visiting two or three stores in addition to your online research. It makes a big difference to see different types of diamonds in person, as well as try on a few rings. You’ll be able to get a feel for engagement ring styles while also learning about the differences in diamond grades.

If you prefer browsing in-store, plan to visit a handful of independently-owned jewelry stores. Independent jewelers will have more unique designs and be able to design custom rings. Ritani has a network of more than 200 independent retailers throughout the country, so if you need help finding a reputable store, head to ritani.com/stores to find a certified partner.

That said, companies that offer both an online and in-person experience can provide the best value; you get the selection and pricing of an online store with the value of talking to a professional in-person and seeing the diamond first-hand. Ritani offers a free in-store preview option, which lets customers make sure their rings are perfect before they buy.

With our free in-store preview program, you can pick out your engagement ring and diamond online. Our expert jewelers set the ring (with the diamond you picked and in your size), then send it to a local store for you to see it in person before you decide whether you’d like to buy. If it’s not perfect, there’s no pressure to buy. It’s a great way to test out your investment before “driving it off the lot.”

SW: Tell us about the four C’s and what couples should know about them.
Ritani: The 4 C’s of diamonds are cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

Cut refers to the quality of a diamond’s proportions and symmetry. It is angles which allow a diamond to capture light and reflect it, the key ingredient for sparkle. For a truly brilliant diamond, consider those with grades of Very Good or Ideal.

Color refers to the “whiteness” of a diamond, or its lack of color. The less color in a diamond, the higher the value. The GIA grades diamond color using letters to represent the absence of color, beginning with D (colorless) and ending at Z (light yellow or brown).

Clarity is how clean a diamond is, inside and out. “Flawless” diamonds are perfectly clear and smooth (and extremely rare). “Included” diamonds have noticeable scratches or internal markings that make them look dirty and dull. Clarity is generally a less important characteristic because most imperfections can’t be seen unless under professional magnification. Many customers choose a diamond in the VS2, VS1, VVS2, or VVS1 categories.

Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. Unlike the other 3 Cs, carat weight is not necessarily a reflection of quality: you can often find diamonds with low carat weight that are more brilliant and sparkling than their larger cousins. For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. While there is no “perfect” carat weight, the average carat weight sold in most U.S. states is around 1 carat.

For the most sparkle, the most-desired combo is a 1-carat Ideal Cut, Colorless (D), Flawless diamond.

SW: Tell us about the different metal options that couples will be presented with. Are there pros and cons to each?
First, take personal preference into account. Take a look at the jewelry you wear regularly to pick the right metal color. Do you go for classic yellow gold, on-trend rose gold, or timeless silver? From there, consider durability, how sensitive your skin is, and budget. Our most popular metal is 18k white gold.

If you’re really active and work with your hands, you will probably do best with a high-durability (and hypoallergenic!) ring setting like platinum or palladium. Platinum requires very little maintenance and will not need to be replated over time, but it does cost significantly more than other metals. If you don’t do much with your hands and don’t require a super-durable metal, go for a more affordable metal like yellow gold or even sterling silver.

When you’re ready to start browsing for your own heirloom, head over to Ritani’s site. Wishing you all the best in this exciting process! xo

This post is sponsored by Ritani, a company we’ve worked with for years. Thanks for your support of the brands who support Southern Weddings!

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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