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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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Bride Felicia’s lovely Lone Star State wedding.

I’m really excited for y’all to meet today’s bride, Felicia, because her wedding to Gideon is giving me all the Texas feels! Though I only lived in Texas for a short time, it’s a state that you’re sure not to forget easily. And Felicia and Gideon did their home state proud with a semi-destination wedding at Travaasa Austin filled with lots of cowboy hats and even more cowboy boots! When planning their wedding, they envisioned their friends and family participating in activities together and seeing each other often through the weekend. So they worked with Travaasa Austin to reserve the entire resort for a magical wedding weekend of fun events (like horseback riding and ropes courses!) and, most importantly, a four-part marriage celebration! Of course, with a wedding weekend so packed full of gatherings, there are many beautiful details and sweet moments to talk about, but my favorite thing is Felicia’s advice to those planning a wedding. She said, “Do not let the joy of this most precious day get lost in a sea of expectations that will distract you.” Oh my stars, what sage advice. Keep scrolling for more goodness from Felicia!

Big SW hugs to Nichols Photographers for sharing!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Gideon and I really wanted a destination wedding where all our closest friends and family could spend a weekend together. We envisioned friends and family participating in activities together and seeing each other often through the weekend. We liked the idea of guests not having to drive from one venue to the next with all wedding-related events in one convenient location. We also both really love Texas! So we wanted a destination-type wedding, but we couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else but the state we so dearly love. Travaasa Austin was perfect. We reserved the entire resort for our wedding weekend to provide that destination and community environment we were looking for. I am from San Antonio, and Gideon is from Dallas, so Austin was a great place for us to meet in the middle. And who doesn’t love the Texas Hill Country?

Gideon designed my ring. The center stone is a round diamond from his mother’s ring. The two side stones are pear-shaped. I have two daughters, so Gideon liked the three stone ring to symbolize me and my girls. For his wedding band, Gideon picked the largest gold band he could find! He loves gold as it matches the watch he inherited from his grandfather.

My gown is a one-of-a-kind custom couture gown created by Nardos Design and inspired by the Italian heritage of my family. The silhouette is a fitted draped french silk in pristine white with an Italian hand beaded lace bodice and delicate eyelash details. My grace and femininity were the inspiration for Nardos from the sketching to the final fitting.

Gathering our friends and family in one place for the weekend was of the upmost importance to us, so Travaasa was the perfect venue. Guests checked in on Friday for a full day of scheduled resort activities (horseback riding, yoga, spa appointments, ropes course, etc.!), followed by “An Evening Under the Texas Stars.” The evening kicked off with a rehearsal dinner at the resort’s Solidago Gardens, where guests sipped bourbon cocktails and dined family style (literally, under the stars!) in the open-air courtyard. The menu consisted of Southern favorites such as short ribs, quail, grits, and Texas sheet cake. On Saturday, we utilized all of the remaining space at Travaasa for a four-part marriage celebration! We were married in the late afternoon in the Live Oak Courtyard–a gorgeous lawn with views of the Hill Country.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Pretty much all our music was nontraditional. We had a string quartet play the music, but it was all contemporary. We also had two close friends sing a beautiful song during communion, “Divine Romance” by Phil Wickham. Max Helmerich was our vocalist and guitarist (he is in the band Wilderado) and Jesse Ihde sang harmony.

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? Having communion was an important part of the ceremony for both Gideon and I. We felt strongly that this sacred act should be the first thing we do together in our marriage.

Gideon has brought immeasurable joy into my life. My favorite moments are when we read and dream together. He is intentional, thoughtful, fun, and genuine.

I wore a fitted silk and lace gown, and Gideon and his groomsmen were perfect Southern gentlemen in crisp blue jeans and cowboy hats.

It is so easy to get caught up in the details of a wedding. You can go crazy looking at Pinterest at what others have done that has been beautiful or creative and you may feel pressure to have everything perfect or exactly how you’ve always dreamed it would be. My advice is to focus less on the details and more on the moments you will be creating with your new husband, family, and friends. The details will not seem as important as time rolls forward. What you will hold dear in your heart is how you felt when you walked down the aisle…you will remember the time you spent with your girlfriends getting ready for the big event and celebrating after the ceremony. Do not let the joy of this most precious day get lost in a sea of expectations that will distract you. Take the time to visit with each guest (if possible) to thank them for sharing this special moment in time with you. Soak every joyous moment in.

Following the ceremony, guests traveled down to the pool deck for cocktails and appetizers. The pool deck has an incredible view and looks out over Lake Travis–the perfect spot for watching the sun set. One of my favorite details was set here–an escort card wall filled with native blooms. We hand tied each invitation with the organic plant dyed silk ribbon. Escort cards used various flowers and plants found on Gideon’s ranch. He actually hand painted each one! The flowers were then attached to a card with each guest’s name hand calligraphied in navy ink.

When it was time for dinner, guests were invited up to the Mesquite Patio, which earned its name for the gorgeous trees whose branches cover the space. The band, Ice House, kicked dinner off by leading guests in “Texas Our Texas,” and then, following the blessing, guests dined at long tables under twinkling lights. When dinner wound down, everyone was invited to the Lone Star Ballroom for dessert and dancing. The band kept everyone on the dance floor until the final, confetti-filled song. We departed under a sea of rose petals on a golf cart decked out with a Texas flag.

The bridal cake was red velvet. It is my favorite! It was topped with beautiful flowers. The groom’s cake was decorated like an oil rig complete with geology under the surface (Gideon is in the oil and gas business). The groom’s cake was chocolate.

When did y’all get married? October 29th, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? I would say, “Hire Ellen Westcott to do EVERYTHING!” My only regret was not paying her more to do more!! She was amazing. All our vendors were phenomenal. Aside from Ellen I would also recommend The Nichols for photography. They were wonderful to work with and very focused on getting everything done in a timely manner.

Photographer: Nichols Photographers | Planner: Westcott Weddings | Venue and Caterer: Travaasa Austin | Florist: Sprout Flowers | Makeup Artist: Makenzi Laine | Rentals: La Tavola, Loot Vintage, and Marquee Events | Wedding Cake Baker: Sweet Treats | Lighting: ILD | Band: Ice House Band | Paper Products: The Inviting Pear and The Boarding School Collective | Bride’s Gown: Nardos Design | Hair Stylist: Kate Leatherwood at Last Satellite Salon

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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When I wrote my post on the most memorable details from my wedding a few weeks ago, I didn’t want the conversation to end there. Getting different perspectives is the whole point, because what constitutes a “meaningful wedding” is different for everyone! (Though I’d wager there are a few themes that run across the board…)

Today, I’m thrilled to have Jasmine, a recently-married friend of ours, here to share ten meaningful details from her Southern wedding. She and her now-husband let their favorite memories inspire their wedding day details, which seems like a great strategy. Hopefully her ideas will get your wheels turning for your own big day!

1. Our wedding location. As is traditional, Alex and I agreed that we should have the wedding in my hometown of Jackson, TN — the only major city between Nashville (our current hometown) and Memphis (Alex’s hometown). Driving down I-40 always makes for a memorable road trip, and now, it will remind us of our wedding, and hopefully in the future kids and even funnier stories!

2. Our preacher. The church we were married in was the church I’ve attended since I was born. My preacher, David Powell, not only married us, but he baptized me at the age of 13. He’s led my family through some of the happiest and direst times. When my father passed six months before my wedding, he led the service in the very same church. It was a comfort for us and a wish of my dad’s to have him lead our ceremony.

3. Our reception venue. Growing up, my sisters and I did pageants. My mom sewed our dresses and painted our faces with as little makeup as possible :) Then, we met Mrs. Rita, a former Miss Tennessee who helped coach here and there. She also owned Crown Winery. When I started looking for venues, I knew it was the one – she’s like family! Mrs. Rita’s husband also passed a few short months before my daddy, and having this connection drew us even closer together. We imagined that her husband and my daddy were in heaven having the best time as we partied below!

4. Our bridal party. Alex and I had a rather large party of friends that have been in our lives for seven or more years, from childhood, college, and our families. It was extremely meaningful to be surrounded by all of our cheerleaders throughout our engagement and on our wedding day. Choose wisely, whether that means having a larger or smaller group!

5. Our wedding stationery. For our paper goods, I searched and searched for something different that had a “feeling” behind it. I didn’t want something that people were going to just put on their refrigerator. We chose an invitation suite from Miss Design Berry because it created conversation and set the atmosphere for a dynamic day! Her animation suited Alex and I to a tee.

6. Our photographer. Looking for a photographer was a daunting task for us. That is, until I found John Sellers of Fernweh Fox in the small town of Martin, TN – the very town that started my parents’ 42-year-marriage! Despite living in a town with a population of 11k, he shoots weddings around the world. Don’t be afraid to find your vendor in a small town, especially if they have a sweet connection to your story!

7. Our catering, cake and candy bar. On Sundays, my Dad would always take us to Brooksie’s Barn for lunch after church. He kept the tradition going even when I started dating Alex seven years ago – Alex just came, too! At our wedding, we shared this “home cooked” buffet with our 400+ guests, to invite them into our family tradition.

8. Including family traditions. My mom and I have always greeted each other by rubbing noses, ever since I was a baby. Not having my Dad there to walk me down the aisle could’ve dampened my day, but seeing my mom there to greet me with our favorite secret greeting made my so happy.

9. Our entertainment. I come from a singing family! Our gatherings turn into concerts. It was a no brainer that my sister Valerie June and my backup singing brothers would take the stage for my and Alex’s first dance. It was a treat for our guests, as well!

Thank you so much for joining us, Jasmine! Friends, you can connect with the new Mrs. Sweet on her Instagram and blog.

All photos by Fernweh Fox

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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