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One consistent thread at Southern Weddings is that we want to challenge you to think differently during your engagement – to interrupt any frustrating, paralyzing, negative thoughts and either swoop in with a solution or offer another perspective. Frustrated with a ballooning budget? Let’s talk about what really matters and ways to cut costs. Over the idea of tossing your bouquet? Skip it! We’ve got some other traditions you might like better.

Think premarital prep is a waste of time? Think again, my friends! We consistently hear from the couples we feature on SW how valuable, enlightening, challenging (in a good way!), and FUN the time they spent preparing for their marriage was.

If you’re open to the idea but not sure where to start, let me introduce you to To Have and To Hold by Carla and Byron Weathersbee, executive directors of a retreat center in Texas. (They’re the very couple who walked Chip and Joanna Gaines through pre-marital counseling, and as we all know, if there’s any couple who qualifies for #relationshipgoals, it’s those two!)

To Have and To Hold is a great resource for Christian couples leading up to their vows or in their first few years of marriage. In each of eight sessions (designed to be completed in eight weeks), you’ll work through four simple activities that address some of the issues vital to a healthy, lifelong relationship. Ideally, the sessions are designed for you to work through as a couple and then to meet with a pastor, mentor, or small group of other engaged couples for encouragement.

“Our goal in To Have and To Hold is for the two of you to interact, discuss, and possibly debate the subject matter,” say Byron and Carla. “We believe it is better for you to discuss your thoughts, ideals, fears, and questions rather than simply read the latest resource regarding each issue. We encourage you to color outside the lines and creatively adapt each session to meet your needs as you work through the study book.”

To Have and To Hold can help you:
— Understand the biblical purpose for marriage to establish a foundation that provides stability and oneness in your relationship
— Follow responsible stewardship principles for financial freedom
— Challenge your thinking regarding needs, intimacy, and oneness in marriage
— Grow in spiritual maturity together
— Learn the necessary skills to effectively communicate and manage conflict
— Create healthy expectations for marriage

The To Have and To Hold study book retails for $12.99 and can be purchased online here.

I’d love to hear: did you and your future spouse do any sort of premarital prep? Did you feel like it was helpful? Did it bring up any unexpected issues? Was it fun? :)

This post is sponsored by Lifeway. 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 Alaina reply

    FYI- the links to cutting costs and to other traditions aren’t working!

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Hey, newly-engaged friends! Have you moved on from that constantly-staring-at-your-ring phase? No? That’s okay, it’s a good one :) But when you do, you’re going to want to make sure you know exactly how to take care of that pretty sparkler so it stays in tip-top shape. We asked our friends at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company, a company that specializes in protecting jewelry, for a few of their best tips, and here’s what they had to say…

Do regularly clean your ring at home. Jewelers Mutual recommends gently scrubbing your ring with a soft, baby-size toothbrush in a bowl of Dawn dish detergent and warm water. Dry it with a paper towel or regular cloth, being careful not to snag the prongs. Steer clear of open drains and floor vents – eek!

Do visit your jeweler twice a year for a professional cleaning and inspection. I only do this once a year, but I always do it in the month of my wedding anniversary so it’s easy to remember! My jeweler will do a cleaning and inspection for free for past clients — perhaps yours will, too!

Don’t wear your ring while doing certain activities. Jewelers Mutual recommends removing your ring before swimming, exercising, applying sunscreen and bug spray, gardening, and cooking with your hands. Which I’m sure is exactly what responsible people do. But can I tell you a secret? I leave my ring on for all of those things, mostly because I’m more afraid I’ll lose it by constantly taking it off than I am it will get damaged! If you’re going to go my route, be extra good about getting your ring cleaned and inspected regularly. And if you’re going to go the recommended route, choose one safe spot where you always keep your ring when it’s not on, like a pretty box or bowl.

Don’t pack your jewelry in a checked bag. Always wear it on your person or pack it in a carry-on, and handle your carry-on yourself. I’ve heard way too many sad tales of lost bags and airport mishaps to do otherwise!

Do turn your ring around if you’re traveling in a dangerous area. It’s a simple step to minimize exposure.

Do insure your ring. When I think about how much my ring means to me and how devastated I would be if I lost and couldn’t replace it, insuring it is a no-brainer. The cost is typically 1-2% of the value of your ring, and with Jewelers Mutual, you can choose your own deductible. They also cover replacement due to loss, theft, damage, mysterious disappearances (which, let’s be honest, most ring disappearances would probably be filed under “mysterious”), floods, and earthquakes. Many typical homeowners’ insurance policies only cover replacement due to theft.

For your own handy guide to all things cleaning and care for your engagement ring, download this guide from Jewelers Mutual today. While you’re there, get a quick quote to see how easy it is to protect your new sparkler. And now tell me (and be honest!): do you take your ring off or leave it on for things like swimming, exercising, and baking?

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

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Ashley Seda reply

    So glad I found this blog! I had been having trouble working with my current insurance company to add-on my ring. So excited to try out Jewelers Mutual.

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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Even though we love wedding traditions like no one’s business around here, we can’t say it often enough: when it comes to wedding planning and budgeting, there are no requirements except what’s important to you, the bride and groom! Sometimes getting creative can be a great way to save money or cut costs in your wedding budget, especially when you can shift those savings to the things you’d rather prioritize instead. One idea for how to do that? Skip the brand-new wedding dress, and go with a consignment option!

After all, most wedding gowns have been worn once and then professionally cleaned, so the difference in wear-and-tear between a new and consignment gown is quite slim. And lucky for us, the South boasts some lovely consignment and sample bridal shops that offer the full bridal appointment experience so you won’t miss out on your showstopping “this is the one!” moment. One of our favorites is Meant to Be Boutique in Lexington, Kentucky, where they believe that regardless of how a dress got to their shop, a bride’s dream dress was always “meant to be” hers, and her shopping experience is their top priority! (At your appointment, you’ll have the entire shop to yourself to peruse with mimosa in hand!)

Meant to Be Boutique bride Natalie is one of many brides who didn’t intentionally seek out a consignment shop, but found one to be among the best local options: “It was more that I just wanted to check out the cutest bridal boutique in my town. I ended up being so pleasantly surprised with my experience!”

Aside from the potential savings, there are also reasons to consider a previously-loved gown. Buying off the rack is a great option if you have a short engagement and don’t have time to wait on a brand new dress to arrive from the manufacturer. Consignment shops also have a wide, ever-changing inventory of unique, one-of-a-kind dresses that are not limited to the current season’s availability! They’re also a great “green” option to reduce your wedding’s environmental impact.

Thinking of going this route? Bride Kathryn noted that, “There was mostly only one of each dress, so if I saw one I liked, I had to see if it was a size close enough to mine to make it fit with alterations.” Most dresses you fall in love with at a consignment shop will need adjustments, but as Kathryn said, “In my experience, every girl needs alterations, so it really doesn’t make much difference!” Bride Paige adds, “I wasn’t phased by trying on consigned dresses – I knew that Meant to Be wouldn’t accept anything that hadn’t been well-loved and cared for before coming into their shop.”

Just like at a traditional shop, it’s also important to shop with an open mind about designers and styles, since you won’t necessarily be able to find the exact dress you’re looking for on the rack. But if you do fall in love with a particular gown that may be out of your budget or no longer available, a consigned version of the dress may be your best option! That’s why Megan went with a consignment dress. “I shopped a few local bridal boutiques for my wedding dress, and of course I fell in love with a gown that was over budget. Instead of settling for another dress or cutting the budget for something else, I searched high and low for the gown and was able to find it pre-owned for less than half of the retail price! It was perfect!”

Remember that no matter how you and your dress found one another, all your guests will see on your wedding day is a gorgeous bride! Shopping consignment can be a wonderful way to stick to your budget while still wearing the dress of your dreams. Paige summed up her feelings on that topic well: “Whether the dress has been worn or never worn before, it is still a beautiful wedding gown. It’s also fun to think about a dress that not only gets to be worn once on a beautiful wedding day, but maybe twice.”

We’d love to know: did you wear, or are you considering wearing, a consignment wedding gown? I bought my dress new, but sold it to a sweet bride after my wedding, and like Paige, I was so happy someone else would get to wear her dream dress for half the cost!!

This post is sponsored by Meant to Be Boutique, our favorite consignment wedding dress store in the South. Learn more about them and find out how to make an appointment here!

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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