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Last week, we asked if you were planning to recite traditional or custom vows over on our Instagram, and the answers were so interesting. My husband and I recited traditional vows ourselves, but I always love hearing the sweet promises and personal vows our couples write. While I know some people are a bit intimidated by the idea of writing their own vows, I think Laura and Alex’s process is a great way to ease the nerves! Sitting at “their table” at a favorite vineyard that is filled with memories of past dates, they wrote the words they would exchange together. Laura and Alex not only took the time to create personal details that reflected their relationship at their wedding, but made the effort to honor their families as well. Especially since their families played an important role in their story, from the fact that their parents lived in the same town (though they had never met!), to being present when Alex proposed, including them in a special way at the ceremony was an obvious decision. Their parents were honored with a parents’ blessing that I’m sure left more than a few eyes misty. Be sure to read the sweet sentiments, but grab your tissues first!

Thanks to Landon Jacob for sharing Laura and Alex’s South Carolina celebration.

Describe your wedding flowers. I really know nothing about flowers. I told Karin Jeffcoat that I wanted them to feel like spring. She had free creative rein with just two requests: anemones and Scottish thistle. We chose the anemones for the deep navy centers and the thistle to honor Alex’s Scottish ancestry. We used a lot of greenery and soft ivory, peach, and silver. My favorite part was that Karin added mint to the arrangements to balance the delicate floral scent with a fresh herb. It smelled amazing.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I borrowed my clutch from Rent the Runway. My old was a family heirloom tea cup and monogrammed silver spoon. My blue was an embroidered handkerchief from my aunts. My new was my bridal jewelry. My mom also got me a sixpence from England for my shoe.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Alex wanted a very traditional wedding ceremony. I was a little disappointed at first, but he was totally right. When we saw each other for the first time with our family and friends surrounding us, it was perfect.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows! My favorite line of his was “I will guide you on new adventures.” My favorite line of mine was “I will navigate our way.” We always joke that he leads the hikes looking for the safest path and easiest way for me and I navigate making sure that he doesn’t get lost. I loved writing our vows together. We went to a vineyard where we are both members and have shared wonderful dates, sat on the front porch at “our table,” and wrote them together.

We chose our venue after losing our original location. We were planning a South Carolina wedding from Oregon and I panicked when we found out in June that our first option wasn’t going to work. We had been to a wedding at our venue before and we both loved it. I called, and as it turned out, they were available and everything fell into place.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We buried a bottle of bourbon to keep the rain away. Our menu was geared toward Southern food–we had grits, fried catfish, BBQ, and pickles. The Krispy Kreme doughnuts were also a big Southern element. We focused our florals around local farms and flowers. One of our signature cocktails was bourbon-based. We also incorporated our Clemson traditions with music, photo booth props, and chants.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our event designer and florist, Karin. From the moment I met her, I was in love. She knew who I was and my taste even when I couldn’t communicate it well. She went above and beyond to make everything personal and special. She is the kind of woman that epitomizes a Southern lady–she is polite, smart, loving, caring, and so strong. Her taste is beyond reproach and she goes above and beyond with everything.

We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake. Instead, we had wheels of Oregon-made cheese stacked to look like a cake. We also had a Krispy Kreme doughnut tower, because Krispy Kreme is my granddaddy’s favorite food.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take time to create personal details not just for you and your husband, but for your family as well. We honored both families with details, from the flowers to desserts. The family blessing was another way that we wanted to make everyone a part of this special day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in Oregon, where we now live. We were working for the same engineering firm and met at a happy hour. I was talking about books and Alex haughtily said, “You look like the kind of person who reads Harry Potter.” I countered with, “You look like the kind of person who can’t read.” He was shocked that I picked back so quickly. After that, we realized that we both went to Clemson University at the same time and that our parents actually live in the same town. We slowly developed a friendship and realized how much we loved the same things: hiking, exploring our new city of Portland, good food and wine, photography, and silly movies. We have now hiked over 400 miles of trails and traveled all over the country together.
Tell us all about the proposal! My favorite holiday is Christmas. I may or may not go a little overboard with family traditions and cookies. That particular winter was very cold in Oregon and I told him that all I wanted was an ice scraper with a glove. Alex insisted that on Christmas morning, my mom and I come to his parents’ house to open presents. Everyone was opening one present at a time and Alex was getting very impatient. Finally, everyone had opened all of their presents. Alex told me to sit on the couch and that my “big” present was next. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. He placed a shirt box in my lap that was almost weightless. I opened it to find the gloved ice scraper. I couldn’t figure out why he had made such a big deal about it, but then, he told me to try it on. I was a little exasperated and just shoved my hand in. My middle finger got stuck on something and I couldn’t get my hand out. He kept saying pull hard, get your hand out, etc. Finally, I got my hand out with a mighty tug. Alex had sewn my engagement ring into the ice scraper! He proposed with both of our families around us. After many tears and hugs, his mom exclaimed, “OH Alex! You shouldn’t have surprised all of us, what if she had wanted to say no?” As it turns out, Alex had only told his best friend what he was planning so that it was a complete surprise to everyone!
When did y’all get married? April 17, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 80
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did a parents’ blessing and a reading. We wanted to involve our families as much as possible. The parents’ blessing was: “A marriage is not only the joining together of two individuals, it is also a joining together of two families. The care, support, and nurture which have been extended to Alex and Laura by their families is as important now as it has ever been. In fact, it needs to be extended now to include another person. Both families need to be committed to support both partners in this marriage. Lance and Wendy, you are not losing a son, but rather, you are gaining a daughter. Do you promise to love and encourage Laura as you would your own? If so, answer ‘We will.’ Janet, you are not losing a daughter but rather, you are gaining a son. Do you promise to love and encourage Alex as you would your own? If so, answer ‘I will.'”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? It was very organic. We would talk about how we compromised or leaned on each other for wedding planning, and made those things part of our marriage plan. We also spent time with our minister to talk about the importance of faith, respect, and love.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We DIY-ed our photo booth and favors, potted succulents. Surprisingly, the cake of cheese was also a major cost saving; all of the cheese was only $250. We did a cocktail hour with only our signature cocktails to limit bar costs, and then switched to beer and wine for the rest of the reception.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Seeing each other for the first time is something that we will always cherish. I couldn’t keep still during the ceremony because I was so happy to finally marry Alex. People laughed at me because I was bouncing during the ceremony.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are on our way to Japan to celebrate a belated honeymoon. We will be cruising around the island, visiting, and hiking for 11 days. We are so excited to go to a new country that neither of us has ever been to. We’re also excited about the little memories and traditions that we are building in our home.

Photographer: Landon Jacob Photography | Planner: By Invitation Only Event Planning and Design | Venue: 701 Whaley | Designer and Florist: Cote Designs | Caterer: Southern Way | Rentals: 428 Main | Ceremony Music: Micah Gangwer | DJ: Dave Gilbert via PartyTime DJ’s | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 106 by Marisa | Bride’s Jewelry: Freida Rothman | Bride’s Clutch: Gela Clutch by Inge Christopher via Rent the Runway | Hair Stylist: Mikel Rumsey | Makeup Artist: Dannon K. Collard | Bride’s Shoes: “Gwinee” by Christian Louboutin | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Scoop Lace Sheath by Josie Natori via Rent the Runway | Menswear: Vera Wang via Men’s Wearhouse

Cote Designs is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar venuesandvows reply

    The Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the wedding cake is such a cute idea. Love all of the details of this wedding and how personalized it is. Truly feels like a southern wedding!

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I remember feeling a lot of pressure as the date of my first wedding anniversary neared. It seemed like a momentous occasion, and I wanted to celebrate it in a meaningful, memorable way! In the end, I’m not sure if our celebration counted as “momentous,” but it was very us — we spent the day at the beach, then splurged on a nice dinner out where we exchanged heartfelt letters, a nod to the traditional first anniversary gift of paper.

Ever since, we’ve loved combining an adventure, delicious food, quality time, and a gift keyed to the traditional anniversary gifts to mark another year of marriage. If you need a refresher, here you go:

To our sweet brides who were married last year: this one’s for you! We’ve brainstormed a few of our favorite and most creative “paper” anniversary gifts to give and to get, and here they are…

An album of wedding photos. In addition to the options from your photographer, we love Artifact Uprising and MILK Books.
A book of Instagram photos from your first year. Chat Books makes it so easy to upload right from your phone!
A framed keepsake. Maybe your wedding invitation, an art print, or a favorite photograph from your wedding or first year as married people. More ideas here.
Art from your hand-lettered wedding vows. John and I are still completely charmed by the watercolors Simply Jessica Marie made for us!
A book. You could exchange favorite novels, buy a new devotional to do together, pick out a gorgeous coffee table volume, try a new cookbook, or look for a rare first edition.
Stationery. There are gorgeous readymade options available, or you could order a monogrammed version or even commission a set with your likeness!
A brush lettering kit. So you can create your own beautiful works of art on paper.
A custom painting to commemorate your first home. We love the sweet versions drawn up by Little House Shop.
A board game to play together. Cardboard is pretty much paper, right? :) Or these pretty playing cards.
Tickets. Plane tickets, tickets to a show, tickets to a game… the possibilities are endless!
A sweet card. To tell him how much you love him. Because really, isn’t that the best gift, anyway? We love Shannon Kirsten’s designs.

What do you think, friends? Any suggestions to add to our list? I’d love to hear!!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Caroline reply

    I gave my husband a big framed world map for our first anniversary that we can add push pins to all the places we’ve been together. We both love it and I think we will have it forever!

  2. avatar Valery reply

    For our paper anniversary my husband and I gave each other a year of dates! We wrote 12 date ideas on little slips of paper. Then we put them in a jar with cash (more paper!). We’ve gone on one date every month and it’s been such a great way to make sure we’re spending meaningful time together each month.

  3. avatar Stephanie Nelson reply

    I got my husband a subscription to a journal he was always tracking down/borrowing, but for something less academic you could consider a magazine subscription!

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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New to the party? Catch up on the First Steps After Getting Engaged Part I and Part II!

Before diving into the next two steps after getting engaged, let’s take a minute to chat…how are you, friend?

If you got engaged during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I wouldn’t be surprised if a little bit of panic is setting in now that the celebrations are slowing down and the fact that you have to plan a WEDDING is feeling more real by the day. You may be feeling like your wedding will never live up to the pictures you have pinned, or that you won’t be able to pull off a magical evening on a tight budget. You may be feeling totally overwhelmed by how many ideas you have (how to choose?) or nervous about not being “creative” enough to plan a beautiful, meaningful day. Whatever you may be feeling right now, I’d love to give you some encouragement.

YOU are enough. Your soon-to-be marriage is enough. The party you’re throwing is a bonus…and it should be a fun one, at that! Any time that wedding planning stops being fun over the next few months, take a step back. Head out on a date with your fiancé, call a friend and catch up on what’s going on with her, or simply relax with a movie or a good book. I promise, it’ll allow you to come back to planning with fresh eyes, and most of all, a grateful heart! Ready to hear your next two tasks? Let’s do it!

Next to budgeting (and sticking to said budget), coming up with a guest list might be the trickiest part of a planning a wedding, but that’s our next step! A good way to attack this task is to ask both sets of parents for lists of anyone they want to include, and make a list of your own (with your fiancé) as well. Once you know who is on the combined list, start cutting it down as needed. Don’t worry about having an exact count right off the bat–for now, the priority is simply to figure out if you’re looking at a wedding for 50 or 500. A few little tips once you do start refining the list: 1. Try to stick to “all or nothing” terms when deciding on questions like kids, plus ones, etc. Being clear about something like an “adults only” reception is generally fairer and easier to communicate than trying to take situations on a case-by-case basis. 2. Be respectful and listen to the reasons someone may want a certain person invited, but don’t be afraid to be firm if you have a legitimate reason for not wanting that person at your wedding.

Have you noticed that within five minutes of finding out you’re engaged, most people ask where/when the wedding will be? If you’ve had an answer ready and waiting, great! But if not, it’s time to figure out when (in general) and where (in general) you want to tie the knot. A few factors to consider: ease of travel (both for guests and for you during the planning stage), how long you’ll be giving yourself to plan, and any major family events already on the calendar (or, for many Southern fall brides, the SEC football schedule!).

We’ll be back with two more “first steps” to take after getting engaged next week! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss a single post of this special series. As a bonus, when you sign up, you’ll receive an exclusive “Will You Be My Bridesmaid” card printable created just for Southern Weddings readers by Sage Paper Company!

See more from this engagement session by Shara Jo on our Facebook page!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Olivia Crotts reply


    Thank you so much for this message! My fiancé and I got engaged in August and since then we have been wrapped in the whirl wind of wedding planning. I have been feeling a little discrouraged this week wondering exactly what you wrote, that my wedding might not live up to the pictures I have saved and in my head. Hearing that I am enough and my wedding is enough is so encouraging! I couldn’t be more thankful to the SW girls for this wonderful little corner of the internet!

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Olivia! Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad this post resonated with you! Your wedding will be INCREDIBLE because of you and your soon-to-be husband–nothing else needed! :) Xo!

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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