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If you’re anything like me, you’ve had a secret wedding Pinterest board for longer than you’ve had a beau, but if you joined my last post, you know how important it is to prioritize your wedding budget before pinning another wedding bouquet (though they are lovely!).

Today, I’m excited to be sharing what our top two priorities have been during wedding planning, and a few ways we’re saving money with another vendor!

Our Wedding Venue

We took the advice of many wise friends and didn’t start dreaming about details or vendors until we secured our venue (and date!). Logan and I are both from North Carolina, but currently live in Atlanta, so we had quite a few location options we could have considered.

We knew early on where we wanted to get married, however. In fact, Logan casually told me before we were engaged that he knew where we were getting married. Talk about sending a girl into a tailspin! Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Clarkesville, GA was a place of refuge for us a year ago after very busy work seasons (the launch of Southern Weddings’ Volume 9 and PowerSheets), and we were overwhelmed by the hospitality and attention we experienced from their entire staff, particularly Luci and Ed, the innkeepers.

When they replied with only one available date between March and October, we were giddy. Albeit eager and excited, we wanted to do research before signing the dotted line to make sure it was a good investment. We took Emily’s advice and compared apples to apples. While Glen-Ella’s initial venue fee was higher than some other quotes we received, we soon realized it was by far the better deal because it included all tables, chairs, dishes, flatware, stemware, and linens.

A bonus for us? Glen-Ella’s restaurant is award-winning, and by booking them as our venue, we get to take advantage of their catering! Not only is the food delicious, but that’s one fewer vendor for us to find and manage!

Photo by Cariad Photography

Our Photographer

I was surprisingly calm during Logan’s proposal, not shedding a single tear! However, when we received a yes from my dream wedding photographer, I bawled my eyes out (and still do tear up when recounting this story to others)!

When Emily and Lisa returned from an editorial shoot for Volume 9, Lisa Kirk looked me in the eye and said, “I know this sounds strange and you aren’t getting married anytime soon, but I think Davy Whitener will shoot your wedding.” I giggled, shrugged it off, but was captivated when the photos for A Storied Love came in.

After spending time in Laurel, MS with Davy and his entire family for our Home Town Celebration editorial for our tenth anniversary issue, I knew I wanted Davy to be our wedding photographer. His demeanor throughout the entire day was nothing but joyful and hospitable, and I couldn’t think of anyone who better embodied our hope for our big day.

Photo by Davy Whitener from A Storied Love

Our Florist

While my Pinterest board was full of beautiful bouquets, I knew early on our flowers were an area where we would be able to save money. Our florist–Bella Flora Designs–has been phenomenal to work with. Not only has she given us options, but never once have we been pressured to spend more money than we have allocated.

Here are a few ways we’re saving in our floral budget:

  • We’ve hired a florist who has worked extensively at Glen-Ella Springs Inn. Susan and Renee’s familiarity with the space gives them an understanding of how to best invest our floral budget. Not only are they familiar with the space, they are local to the area, which means we’re saving on travel fees. Be sure to ask your venue for preferred vendors!
  • We’re flexible about the specifics. I’ve communicated my favorite flowers and color preference, but I trust their expertise in finding the most economical blooms for our bouquets and centerpieces. I’ve found that I’m actually excited about seeing what they create on the day-of!
  • Our bridesmaids are carrying smaller bouquets, and they will be repurposed for the buffet tables after the ceremony. We’re using a mixture of florals and candles for our centerpieces.
  • My three-year-old niece is our flower girl, and we’ve decided to forgo traditional flower girl petals, knowing it’d be a bit of a toss up if she’d actually throw them :)

While we’re certainly saving in our floral budget, I’m confident our flowers are going to be beautiful because I’ve seen Susan and Renee’s work and it matches my personal aesthetic!

I’d love to hear from you! Where did you find your wedding vendors? What made you choose them? I’d love to hear any personal stories!

Need some help prioritizing and planning your big day or want to stock up on gifts for friends? You’re in luck! Shop our Valentine’s Day sale in the Southern Weddings Shop! Our prompted wedding journal, all copies of Southern Weddings magazines, and my beloved Joyful Wedding Planner are up to 50% off!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
9 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I am still quite proud of that prediction, but most of all, I just can’t wait to see the way Davy captures you and Logan!!! Counting down the days!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      I might have thought you were silly at the time, but boy am I grateful that you were right! Xx!

  2. avatar Stephanie Shaul reply

    Jess, I’m getting more and more excited for you, and I love hearing about yours and Logan’s wedding plans!! Our venue was really the only one we looked at and wanted, and it also had just one date open in almost a year-long span. Hence the six month engagement for us, too! But I truly am SO, so, so glad our engagement was six months (and I have a feeling you will be, too!), and I wouldn’t change that timing for the world. I can’t believe your wedding is coming up so soon – April weddings are the best!! xoxox

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Yes! I think about you and your encouragement often when thinking about our timeframe! Yay for April weddings!

  3. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    We knew what we were looking for and were open to a semi destination wedding, we actually found our dream venue from a Facebook ad! Daughter’s Barn in Folkston, Ga! Our photographer I found from Instagram and fell in love with their work! Southern Studios from Jacksonville, FL! Turns out they were old friends of my fiance’s family!

    • avatar Janna Toruno reply

      My mom is a retired florist, but I’m going with more of greenery on the tables with white pumpkins added in the mix. My niece is going to be carrying a cotton boll kissing ball.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      I love hearing all about your day, Janna! What a fun connection with your photographer!

  4. avatar Tegan reply

    We picked our venue because it’s beautiful, associated with an incredible restaurant, and allows us to have an intimate ‘backyard’ wedding vibe while accommodating our larger guest list.
    My fiancé was on board with it from day one, but what honestly sold him on the venue was the fact that his college football team’s coach got married at the same venue!

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Bride Katey shares her fun Lowcountry wedding weekend with us!

With so many couples having destination weddings these days, I love the way that weddings have become weekend-long vacations to spend with friends and family! I have rarely heard of a couple doing that as well as Katey and Bill, who spent the entire week before the wedding spending quality time with friends and family all over the Lowcountry!

Katey explains, “We spent the week before the wedding at Disney’s Hilton Head Island resort with our family and almost our entire wedding party. We led bike trips around Hilton Head, spent days on the beach and at the pool, and were generally treated like royalty by the Disney staff. On the Thursday before our Saturday wedding, the Mother-of-the-Bride and Maid of Honor planned a girls day in nearby Savannah, GA. All the women guests attending the wedding were invited for historic horse drawn carriage tours through Savannah (with custom to-go cocktails), and then we lunched in the garden at The Brice. While the women were lunching, the guys did a pub crawl around Savannah. Katey’s mom also rented a beautiful house with a porch overlooking the chapel. It became the place all week to sit and watch the guests biking around the resort, and to call down and say hi.”

That relaxed pace and focus on fun memories made together sounds like a great wedding week to me! Read on to hear about the special guest who made an appearance at Katey and Bill’s reception!

Tell us how you picked your wedding venue! We grew up in the northeast and live in San Francisco, but we had vacationed in Hilton Head and absolutely fell in love with it. It was our first week-long vacation together, and was a time when we fell even deeper in love. There was something about the pace of life in the South that caused us to slow down and be present in a way that we rarely could be back home.

The incredible landscape of the South Carolina Lowcountry was the inspiration for our design. We wanted the natural beauty of our surroundings to be reflected in and enhanced by our design, and our wedding planner and florist executed the vision perfectly. We mostly worked with colors that could be found in the landscape, so lots of greens and blues.

What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? The advice that we received was to stay together during the wedding, and just enjoy it together. We followed that, never really being apart for more than a few minutes. It really made the evening feel like an evening for the two of us, instead of just a bunch of friends and family. We’d give that same advice to anyone else getting married.

Bill tried on his wedding ring the day before the wedding, only to find that in the South Carolina humidity, it no longer fit! His brother & best man Kyle took him to 3 different jewelers before they found one that could resize same-day… crisis averted.

Finding the right wedding dress was much more of a challenge than I expected! I knew I wanted something with clean lines, but that wasn’t plain or boring. I pretty quickly decided that silk crepe was the material that suited my vision best, but most dress options seemed to be of the lace and tulle variety. When I tried on my dress, I knew instantly that it was the one. Just the right amount of simplicity and elegance from the material with unique and detailed beadwork on the back and on the cap sleeves.

What was your reception like? In order to fully soak in the beauty of the surroundings, we held dinner al fresco on the village green. We had lights strung over the dining area and candles adorning the historic ruins on the lawn. We had speeches from the father of the bride and the best man. We also decided to say a few words too, to thank all our friends and loved ones for traveling so far to celebrate. As we told them, the wedding ceremony was for us, but the reception was for the family and friends who supported us and loved us throughout our lives. Later in the evening, Bill arranged for a surprise visit from Boston College’s mascot, Baldwin the Eagle – who charged into dinner to the BC fight song. Katey was stunned! Baldwin then lead everyone upstairs into the River House for coffee and dessert, and the Steel Toe Stilettos started the dance party. Upstairs revolved around a central dance floor, but we had couches and seating on the wraparound porch for people to eat dessert and chat.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We both went to Boston College (Class of 2007), but never met during our 4 years of college. On the first night of our 5-year reunion, at the infamous college dive bar, Mary Ann’s, we finally met. Bill bought a round of drinks. Katey responded with a Game of Thrones quote about Lannisters always paying their debts and then bought him a drink in return. The rest was history. We dated long distance between Boston and Palo Alto, CA for two years before settling together in California, where we’ve lived ever since.
Describe the proposal! Bill invited me to join him last minute for a weekend before a “work trip” to Las Vegas. When we got there we “realized” that all the hotels were sold out because it was the weekend of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, so we made a “last minute” trip out to Zion National Park for the weekend. We went for a hike, and Bill started sweating a little more than usual (it looked like it was about to start raining!) We paused for a moment on a ridge with a commanding view, and Bill set up his tripod to take a picture, but to my surprise, he didn’t pose – instead he got down on one knee. Then he dropped the ring, but managed to stop it from rolling off the cliff. I said yes! Then we went to dinner that night, and “just happened” to run into our parents (from Massachusetts and New Jersey) at the same restaurant right outside Zion National Park! After a great dinner, we spent the night and then a family weekend in Las Vegas.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Our officiant, Saral, was kind enough to host us for a long weekend at her house in Ojai, California. She walked us through three days of reflection and exercises on marriage and developing a shared family mission – we’re so glad we did that! Over that time, Saral became a close friend and mentor to us, and we’ve planned trips back to visit her as we float through an incredible first year of marriage.
How many guests attended your wedding? 140.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? Since we live in San Francisco and don’t have family in South Carolina, the logistics of getting everything there were quite challenging and involved more than a few trips to FedEx! Luckily our amazing wedding planner Ashley gladly volunteered to be our “wedding warehouse” for a few weeks.
Tell us about the rehearsal dinner. We held a rehearsal dinner for the bridal party and family where we had a Lowcountry boil and the requisite speeches (including the presentation of the Groom’s Cake!). We followed that up with a welcome party, featuring the Cluster Shucks, who played some great bluegrass and got everyone excited for the festivities to come. Towards the end of the night, they played a few crowd-pleasers, ending with a massive sing-along to “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. The sing-along continued with them on the trolleys home.
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? The groomsmen (and the dads) went skeet shooting in the morning, followed by a few cocktails and lunch. Bill sent over a wedding gift to Katey: a set of hoop diamond earrings custom-made by Cresalia Jewelers in San Francisco. Katey opened them as her mom looked on.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. Early in the ceremony, our officiant Saral asked us to turn around and just look at our friends and family. This was pretty untraditional. In most wedding ceremonies you face forward, towards the officiant. It was a special moment to be able to look out at all our friends and family who had traveled so far to celebrate with us.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? We drank from the Sullivan family chalice, which has been used in family ceremonies for over 50 years. (Bill finished the whole thing.)
Did you have a cocktail hour? Our cocktail hour was right outside the church overlooking the candlelit ruins, and thanks to our fantastic wedding planner, it was timed perfectly for sunset. Katey and Bill escaped for a bit down to the dock to share a quiet moment alone – it couldn’t have been timed better, because “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was playing across the water, and a pod of dolphins swam past.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to Beyonce’s “Love On Top.” In our true style, we scheduled a very last minute, single dance lesson to prepare the week before the wedding… but in our opinion, we crushed it!
Did you take a honeymoon? We went to beautiful French Polynesia, where we spent a week touring islands on a catamaran chartered by Tahiti Yacht Charters, followed by a week at the St Regis, Bora Bora.
What’s next for you as a couple? Thirty days before our wedding, we bought our first house together in San Francisco. (And we moved in the week before we left for the wedding!) So a lot of our downtime together these days is in doing home fix-ups and just settling in. We also have lots of friends’ weddings to celebrate!

Photographer: Perry Vaile Photography | Videographer: Life in Rewind | Planner and designer: Ashley Rhodes Event Designs | Ceremony venue: May River Chapel at Montage Palmetto Bluff | Rehearsal dinner and reception venue, caterer, and wedding cake: Montage Palmetto Bluff | Florals: Em Creative Floral | Bride’s gown: Rosa Clara | Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s earrings: Cresalia Jewelers | Bridesmaid dresses: Newport Crinkle Chiffon by Jim Hjelm | Hair and makeup: Bride’s Side Beauty | Men’s fashion: Indochino | Paper goods: Lowcountry Paper Co. | Rentals: EventHaus Rentals | Linens: Nuage Designs | Sound: Stage Front Production Services | Ceremony music: Charleston Virtuosi | Reception band: Steel Toe Stiletto | Photobooth: EPIC Charleston | Transportation: Old Savannah Tours

Written with love by Catherine
4 Comments
  1. avatar Zookbinders reply

    Great images. Looks so fun! Beautiful wedding!

  2. avatar Neza Reisner reply

    Stunning wedding!!

  3. avatar Peter Kiral reply

    So happy to be a part of this awesome wedding ceremony with the Charleston Virtuosi string quartet! Good luck guys !

  4. avatar Liana – AisleMemories reply

    Wow what a lovely wedding! I absolutely love the wedding colors – that shade of blue is perfect. All of their decorations were just wonderful. Congratulations to Katey and Bill!

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It’s been a busy and exciting week for the Marks family, as we just moved into our first house yesterday! This might explain why the first goal on my 2018 PowerSheets is to create a life-giving home. One of the most exciting things about newlywed life is getting to plan what kind of household you’re going to run together! This goes much deeper than the decor or furniture arrangement. We want our home to be inviting and cozy: a place where people feel like they can be themselves and make a mess. And yes, nothing gives me life like our home being organized, simplified, and beautiful too!

As long-time apartment renters, we’re still getting used to the idea that we’re allowed to change major things! Now please note that I’m a firm believer in your ability to do more than you think in a small space and rental. You can see the beloved apartment we just said farewell to (with its bold navy paint and many heavy things on the walls) here for proof! But now that the only thing holding us back is our budget, we’re especially busy planning, making lists, and most importantly, digging into the Southern Newlywed archives for inspiration.

Today I’m having a ball sharing some of the gorgeous and brilliant ideas I want to borrow from our Southern newlyweds!

The Kitchen

Obviously I love Megan and Jeremy’s blue, white, and gold home with its plentiful ginger jars, pops of green and pink, and a bedroom that looks VERY familiar. But what I can’t believe is how her kitchen looks just like my plan for our new kitchen’s “after” as well! We have a very similar backsplash and countertop color except that our cabinets are currently ivory. This photo is my proof that white cabinets will blend in beautifully!

The Front Porch

While our front porch is not as generous as this one, and we won’t have room for this delightful sectional sofa, we do have a front porch! Christine and Drew’s cozy couch with its pillows and throw blanket are along the lines of what I’m thinking. I want our porch to be a relaxing place to sip an Arnold Palmer and watch the world go by once the warm weather comes back!

The Exterior

I can sense my husband getting nervous now, so I will note this is a long-term dream, but someday I would love to paint the house white and the shutters black like Sarah and JB’s classic home!

My Office

One of the biggest selling points for our new house was the room for me to have a designated office! No more working in our bedroom! I’m just thrilled about my new sunny workspace. The plan is to make it cheery and colorful (with all my Write the Word journals on display for starters!) like Maghon’s!

The Living Room

I am all about adding comfortable seating for conversation, and these buffalo check armchairs are everything! Also, note Jillian and Hayden’s well-styled bookshelves.

The Dining Room

Our dear Kristin and Kyle have moved back to the tar heel state, and I sincerely hope this amazing farmhouse table and colonial chairs came with them. We don’t need a new dining room table, but I’m going to try to find a smaller version of both for our breakfast nook!

The Master Bedroom

We both really loved our moody, navy walls, but I think I’m ready to try an all-neutral bedroom with just some pops of pink, gold, and blue! Luckily, we have everything we need already to make that happen. But, I have always wanted to update our bedding to something monogrammed just like Megan and Josh’s duvet cover and shams!

The Nursery

Last, but not least, I can’t forget our sweet little girl’s room! Her nursery will be pretty identical to what it was in our old place since we just set it up six months ago, but it was inspired by a Southern Newlywed column! Our dear friends Erin and Ryan have since moved back to their beloved South Carolina into a darling Old Village of Mount Pleasant home, but they let us borrow these amazing Lilly Pulitzer curtains!

Needless to say, this is a very long-term project, even if we focus on it all year! That’s one of my favorite things about married life: the ongoing project of tending to your home together.

Written with love by Catherine
1 Comment
  1. avatar James Wedding Photography Ireland reply

    I’m building up my new home and as a photographer I loved the images and ideas, thanks for sharing ;)

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