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Friends, it took me two and a half years to order a wedding album. Ugh! You, too? If you’re in the same stalling-and-searching boat, I’ve got great news for you!! Shutterfly has a beautiful wedding photo book offering, and I think it’s just what you’re looking for, you bargain-hunting but aesthetically-gifted gal :) Here are eight reasons I love their premium wedding photo books and think you will, too.

Isn’t this album a beauty? We teamed up with Sarah, a bride whose Texas wedding was featured in our last issue, to create it. She gave the Shutterfly process two thumbs up!

1. The quality is superb. Let’s start here. For lack of a better description, these books feel good: they’re substantial, they’re luxe, and they have all the bells and whistles you want and expect for your one and only wedding album. Starting with…

2. Layflat pages. Boom. That’s disruption, friends! Layflat pages used to only be available in albums ordered from a professional photographer, but no more. With this premium feature, your gorgeous photos can stretch across two pages without interruption from the binding – a hugely luxe feature. All books are printed on double-thick paper, too.

3. The customization options are impressive. Sizes range from 8×8 to 12×12 (we used the 12×12, with an impressive 24″ wingspan, for our wedding book, and the sweet 8×8″ size for our newlywed book). Cover options include two pretty colors of cloth, leather, a hard matte photo, and antique white linen, among others.

4. They’re not too precious. Yep, you heard that right! While the quality is great, you’re not paying so much for a Shutterfly album that you’ll feel like you need to keep it under lock and key, like a friend of mine who paid thousands for her album. Your wedding album is meant to be enjoyed, passed around, and kept out on your coffee table to be admired often!

5. They are ridiculously affordable. Especially compared to albums ordered from professional photographers, especially when you take into accountShutterfly’s ubiquitous coupon codes, and especially when you consider the quality you’re getting for the price.

6. The layout process is simple… Start with a professionally-styled template (which range from super minimal to fun and colorful), choose page layouts within the template, then add or subtract elements to suit your aesthetic. Two of our albums were based on Modern White, an elegant and simple option.

7. …but it can be as complex as you want it to be. The Shutterfly layout tool is extensive and flexible, with tons of page layouts, the ability to tweak those layouts, and great font and color options. Even if you go to town with customization, though, it’s still easy to use!

8. They’ll even design your book for you. What? Yes! Intimidated by the thought of sorting through all your photos and laying out a cohesive design? Try the new Make My Book Service, where a Shutterfly designer will curate your wedding photos and make a beautiful wedding book for you. You’ll pay a $9.99 fee, but only if you end up ordering the book.

Of course, Shutterfly’s premium photo books aren’t just for wedding albums – I had so much fun creating a newlywed life and honeymoon album, too! Think of your wedding photo book as the first volume in a personal library of amazing memories, beautifully captured :)

Now that you know how easy and affordable it is to make a quality wedding photo book, I hope you’ll have one in your home soon! Happy creating, friends!

This post is sponsored by Shutterfly, a site 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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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the urgency of wedding planning – that if you do it right, you only get one chance, but if you do it right, you only need one chance.

I also shared that I feel confident we (John and I) “did it right” – that we honored our one precious and beautiful wedding day, and that the meaning we found in that celebration has buoyed our marriage for the last five years.

But on a practical note, how did we create a meaningful wedding day? I think the answer of what makes a wedding day meaningful will be different for everyone, but today I would love to share with you ten things that made our wedding day meaningful. Hopefully they will get your wheels turning for your own!

1. Our wedding location. We both grew up and our relationship was born on the New England shore. It’s where I feel most at home, the place from which we both set out into the world, and the landscape I find most beautiful. Getting to share one of our favorite places with our far-flung guests was very special.

2. Our ceremony venue. We chose to get married at the chapel on the grounds of the Coast Guard Academy. My Dad was in the Coast Guard and taught at the Academy for most of my life, so I have years and years of fond memories with the base as a backdrop. I’m also kind of painfully patriotic (ha), so I loved being able to share this part of my heritage with our guests, some of whom might never have stepped foot on a military base before.

3. My bridal party. I chose four bridesmaids to stand beside me – my two sisters, and my two future sisters-in-law. I loved that my wedding gave me a chance to honor these amazing ladies, to recognize them as important people in my life, and to thank them for all they have done for me!

4. My veil. One of my sisters-in-law was married just two months before me, and she and I decided to have a veil commissioned. We both wore it at our weddings, and then one year later, my other sister-in-law wore it at hers! We are eagerly anticipating the next family wedding where it will make an appearance, and I’m already hoping my daughter and nieces will choose to wear it one day! I deeply value family traditions and legacy, so it was very meaningful to me to get to create a family heirloom from scratch.

5. Our portrait location. Bear with me here :) There is a very crazy story about how we came to take our portraits at a particular home, but the upshot is that it totally strengthened my belief that dreams can come true and that most people are generous and kind, something that has changed the way I move through the world ever since.

6. Our pastor. Our pastor from our church in North Carolina agreed to fly to Connecticut to officiate our ceremony, and it was without a doubt one of the most meaningful parts of our wedding. He has played such a formative role in our faith walk, and his presence and gentle guidance helped our ceremony stay centered on Christ.

7. Serving communion. We served communion directly following our vows. We chose to see the symbolism in our first act as a married couple being one of serving others while honoring our Lord, especially since we chose to serve our parents and grandparents first. We loved seeing so many beloved and familiar faces coming forward, and it was really special to have a brief moment with each individual guest.

8. Our cocktail hour picnic. Instead of joining our guests at cocktail hour, John and I had a picnic, just the two of us! Our caterers packed up a sampling of everything that was being served that evening, and we got 15 minutes or so to simply bask in our newly-married glow. Those few minutes are an iron-clad memory in my mind, and I’m so grateful.

9. Creating an aesthetic experience. I am an unapologetic lover of beautiful things and singular experiences, and it was a true joy to plan so carefully for so long and then to see all of my dreams and plans come to fruition under that perfectly blue September sky. Thoughtfully creating an immersive experience and then getting to enjoy it alongside our loved ones was very meaningful for me.

10. Giving a toast. At our reception, both John and I gave brief toasts. I believe deeply in saying the words that truly matter, and so I very carefully considered how I would thank and honor both my parents and John’s parents. Though I’ve had occasion both before and after to do the same, I think the sentiment shared in that setting will always hold more weight than any other.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there :) Though I’m sure your list of ways to make your wedding meaningful will be different than mine, I hope my experience might help get your wheels turning! I’m cheering you on!! :)

All photos by Tanja Lippert

P.S. Want to breeze past the logistics and budget to dos so you can focus on what matters most? Pick up a copy of the Joyful Wedding Planner ASAP – hundreds of brides have used it to plan their weddings, and I couldn’t recommend it more!

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar Mollie reply

    I love the idea of a picnic after the ceremony, but I must ask… how did you get photos done and have time for a picnic!?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Mollie! Haha happy to offer some insight! Our cocktail hour was about 1 hour. We used 15 minutes for our picnic, then the other 45 for portraits! Then we joined our reception! :)

  2. avatar Kirsti reply

    Thank you, Emily for sharing these tips! My fiancé and I have tried to keep our focus when making decisions during our planning process for our May 2018 wedding to have a wedding that truly represents us!

  3. avatar Kirsti reply

    Oh my goodness gracious! I just read your post Dreams Do Come True and it’s like we are soul mates! This is EXACTLY how I found my wedding venue – a lot of scouring on Google and then writing letter and eventually meeting with the oh so sweet owners that are willing to let us invite 200 of our guests to their home in May!

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Bride Hayley’s blackberry-inspired wedding at The Oaks Plantation.

Y’all, I’m thrilled for you to meet today’s bride, Hayley! Though she and Dillon are both Auburn alum, they did get married at the same venue where my own sweet sister-in-law (who went to Alabama) did, so I can’t help but adore them! Of course, The Oaks Plantation is a perfectly Southern spot (I can attest to this myself!) with beauty hidden in every nook and cranny, but I extra adore Hayley and Dillon’s attentiveness to their guests. She says, “we wanted our family and friends to feel welcome and loved and to sense that we considered them during all of our planning!” Based strictly on the big smiles beaming from their bridal party, I think they accomplished that and then some. Be sure to keep reading because you don’t want to miss Hayley’s favorite wedding detail (hint: her daddy made them)!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something old was a monogrammed locket on my bouquet. My something new were my ExVoto Vintage earrings. My something borrowed was a handkerchief from my mother-in-law, and my something blue were the silk ribbons from Silk and Willow and Frou Frou Chic!

Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were FABULOUS! They were created and designed by the amazing Lisa Thorne of Thorne and Thistle. She allowed me to travel with her to pick them out, and we focused on incorporating colors to complement the blackberry scheme I used. Our signature flower was a cafe au lait dahlia, such a breathtaking bloom. We incorporated some of the deep blackberry with fritillaria, freesia, and scabiosa, some lighter purple with lilac, and the blue with delphinium. I obsessed over the greenery involved as well and wanted a deep emerald green surrounding my colors.

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I thought that it was a myth that I would “just know” when I put on the right one. It’s actually SO TRUE! I found myself making excuses for each dress, thinking each one could work, but they weren’t perfect. Then I went to J. Andrews Bridal in Peachtree City, GA, and tried on so many dresses there as well. When I put on “my dress” toward the end of my appointment, I knew. It was, and still is, GORGEOUS! It fit like a glove, made me feel beautiful, and I wanted Dillon to see me wearing it right that second!

Each bouquet was tied off with a combination of Silk and Willow and Frou Frou Chic silk ribbon in the shades of the groomsmens’ suits and bridesmaids’ dresses.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had a hard time choosing where to hold our wedding. The moment we arrived at The Oaks and saw the long, oak-lined drive, I just knew. It was perfect! I wanted the wedding to be at a beautiful, intimate place with both the ceremony and reception easily transitioning from one to the other.

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? Oh, there were so many! If I had to pick, I would say the ceremony benches my dad built by hand for the wedding are my favorite. We decided at the last minute that we wanted to have benches at the front of the aisle, and he was more than happy to help! I designed the look and helped him draw out the shapes of the sides, and then, while my dad was at work, my sisters and I painted them. It was such hard work, but we came together as a family to put them together and finish them. They looked absolutely stunning under the oak!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We put so much thought into our song choices. My (now) husband is an incredible musician and LOVES music. He picked the song I walked down the aisle to, and boy did he pick a good one! While a violin and guitar played “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” by Christy Nockels, a family friend sang. We timed the verses to where I would walk down the aisle to the “Alleluia” chorus.

I knew the day would be long, and I didn’t want to spend the entire day hidden away from our family and friends. We put our main focus on the comfort of everyone present, so we knew that doing a first look would make the atmosphere more carefree and take a lot of the pressure off! It was so great doing a first look – we were able to hang out as a huge wedding party ALL DAY and just talk, laugh, cry, and take so many fun, candid shots.

What was Southern about your wedding? Oh this is my favorite part! My husband and I have lived in the South our whole lives, and we wanted to make our wedding uniquely representative of us. Of course, living in the South, there are bound to be some Southern details that must be included. The color scheme centered around blackberries and the many colors they turn throughout their growth. The muted blue, green, marsala, and deep purple were all meant to reflect this. I grew up picking wild blackberries (my favorite!) down from my house in southern Alabama, making this a fun memory to incorporate.

Tell us your love story. I met my husband the first day of our junior year of high school. We really thought nothing of each other for a while; we only had one class together, and our paths crossed every now and then during our show choir performances. It wasn’t until we were selected to emcee a dinner theater together that we each developed secret crushes on each other. Three months later, we were dating and practically inseparable! We knew after 8 months together that we would get married as soon as we finished college, and that we did!

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? The cakes were both made by Peggy McKinney of Montgomery, Alabama, and I designed them both! I knew the bride’s cake just HAD to have blackberry incorporated somehow, so I asked Mrs. McKinney to “paint” the cake with blackberry juice, to give it a watercolor look. She also added a blackberry cream cheese filling – it was divine! The groom’s cake is representative of Dillon, 100%. Mrs. McKinney is famous for her peanut butter chocolate cake, and, since Dillon LOVES peanut butter, we had to have that cake!

Tell us all about the proposal! Dillon happened to be living in Savannah, GA, at the time he decided to propose. I planned a trip to visit him with four of our good friends, and we were all spending time in the city while he was working (or so I thought!). As we walked through Forsyth Park downtown, my friends began acting so strangely, walking behind me, stealing my coffee, and just smiling at me in a weird way. I suspected nothing! I happened to spot Dillon up ahead, but of course I was the last one to do so. I excitedly ran to meet him, while everyone else stayed behind. I thought it was so strange that none of them wanted to go and say “hi!” Then, it hit me. “NO!” “WAIT, right now?” “Are you sure, right now?” I was so shocked, I didn’t know how to be a normal human in that moment. Dillon got down on one knee and said the most beautiful things to me, promising me forever. We cried and hugged and hugged our friends, then went to a surprise brunch with our families and friends who had driven to be there with us!
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 220
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Dillon and I attended pre-marital counseling with the pastor who would eventually marry us. We had a wonderful time learning more about each other, because, even after five years, there is always more to discover! We learned more about our individual weaknesses and how those will affect our marriage, as well as how to humble ourselves to work through them. It was an awesome experience: I highly recommend pre-marital counseling!
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? I really looked for pieces I wanted to incorporate into our wedding, waiting for the best opportunities. I bought my shoes from Anthropologie on Black Friday, which was an incredible deal! We also ended up buying other things during promotions and deals, which did cut some of the cost.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I actually had two I couldn’t have lived without! Our photographer, Taylor, was so kind and just FUN to work with! She also shot our engagement photos, and traveled all the way to Savannah, Georgia, just to shoot at the locations we wanted! Her style is gorgeous, exactly what we envisioned! She captured my style and the little details I worked so hard on perfectly. Also, our florist, Lisa, helped me from day one! She immediately picked up on my style and what I liked and began helping put together a gorgeous event! She is always full of unique, beautiful ideas, which was exactly what I needed! She also took full advantage of my talents and helped me to create beautiful paper goods, painted signage, and more for the wedding!
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Dillon is a musician, but, since we’ve been in college for awhile, he hasn’t had the opportunity to perform in several years. Unbeknownst to many of the guests and a lot of our family, he planned several songs to perform with the band at the reception! He began by singing “The Way You Look Tonight” and “My Girl” to a roaring crowd, dancing and laughing the whole time! It made the day that much sweeter that he was able to do what he loves on such a special day. He closed the night with the band with “Piano Man,” one of his all-time favorites. Many of our friends had never heard him sing, since it was something he did more in high school, so it was so fun to see their reactions to his talent!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? START EARLY!!!!! Contact those you want on your vendor list the week you get engaged! It was so hard for me to figure out who I wanted to hire and then to actually hire them, simply because I had never planned a wedding before. Make sure you’re reaching out, even if you think that person whose style you’re in love with “might be booked or too expensive.” You never know! We also opened a separate credit card strictly for the wedding and connected it to a PayPal account. It made everything so easy!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently both still in graduate school at Auburn University. When we graduate in less than a year, (Dillon in mechanical engineering and me in speech-language pathology), we will be moving to the beautiful Savannah, Georgia! We can’t wait to start a home there and see where life takes us!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? YES! One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the tea party my bridesmaids and I had while getting ready! I am both a calligrapher and potter, and I made a custom tea set for the occasion. The tea tumblers used were part of the bridesmaids’ gifts, and I wanted us to be able to relax and enjoy some tea while spending some quality time together! I highly recommend incorporating a relaxing element to every wedding day!

Photographer: Taylor Dane Photography | Videographer: Collective Memories Video | Planner: Thorne and Thistle | Ceremony Venue: The Oaks Plantation | Reception Venue: The Oaks Plantation | Florist: Thorne and Thistle | Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Peggy McKinney Cakes | Caterer: Jennie Weller Catering | Rentals: Brendle Rentals | Band or DJ: Route 66 | Pottery: Redd Artistry | Guestbook: Velvet Raptor | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Silk: Silk and Willow and Frou Frou Chic | Paper Products: Redd Artistry | Logo: Laura McCarty | Bride’s Gown: Casablanca Bridal | Bride’s Earrings: ExVoto Vintage | Makeup Artist: the bride and bridesmaids! | Bride’s Shoes: Anthropologie | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Hayley Paige Occasions | Rompers: Old Navy | Groom’s and Groomsmen’s Attire: Belk | Getaway Carriage: Capitol City Carriages

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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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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