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House parties, burying the bourbon and cake pulls, oh my! Meet the newest addition to the Southern Weddings Shop: All About Southern Wedding Traditions. The whole office is awfully proud of our new e-book library. Why? Because we are big believers in pretty AND practical and our new e-books are the best of both worlds!

There’s something magical about Southern culture that seems to be magnified when digging into the wedding planning process. Outdoor weddings and receptions are common place and keeping away the rain is paramount: enter burying the bourbon. Whether you were born and raised in the South, moved here as fast as you could, or are simply looking to add a dose of Southern charm to your wedding day, our guide to Southern wedding traditions has you covered!

In this 19-page digital download, we walk you through the six most beloved Southern wedding traditions and offer up ways to personalize six classic wedding traditions. We’ll tell you when, where, why, and how to include each in your celebration!

We believe that your wedding day should be a reflection of your very personal love story. We also believe in the power of weaving sweet details (the more Southern the better) into your big day. Educate yourself and figure out which of our favorite traditions will work for you: All About Southern Wedding Traditions e-book!

P.S. Curious about the overlap of our e-book library and the Joyful Wedding Planner? Our e-books can be used alongside our planner (since we go into more detail on each topic than we were able to in the planner) or in tandem with another planner. We’ve heard from so many brides who were sad to have purchased another planner before finding ours, so this is a way that all of y’all can still get our perspective on individual topics without purchasing a second planner! Our e-books also make a great surcee for the brides in your life!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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For fellow college sweethearts Megan and Jack, getting to know each other meant walking to and from their dorm rooms for early morning classes at UVA. But when it came time to plan their wedding, they knew they wanted their celebration to highlight the beauty and history of their hometown of Richmond. With many out of town guests, Megan and Jack wanted to share as much of its charm as possible, so it’s no surprise they chose the beautiful Tuckahoe Plantation as their reception venue! Instead of a traditional sit-down dinner, guests were served family-style as a way to encourage connections — a choice that easily became Megan’s favorite from the night!

Thanks to Ashley Cox for sharing M + J’s beautiful black tie wedding with us!

I love cascading bouquets, and I chose flowers that were mainly white with hints of blue and green. My bridesmaids’ dresses were a neutral color, so I wanted the flowers to provide a small pop of color. Our florist did an amazing job taking my vision and putting together bouquets that reflected my style.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For the ceremony, we chose mostly classical music. For walking down the aisle, we wanted something sweet and peaceful, so we chose Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” At the reception, we had an incredible band called Soul Expressions who played mainly Motown and jazz music. We wanted music that would get everyone up and dancing. Our first dance song was “More” by Frank Sinatra. We love his music and felt that this song really encapsulated how we feel about one another.

Our priest, Father Michael Renninger, was wonderful. He met with us many times before the wedding to really get to know us as a couple, and he did a pre-rehearsal rehearsal for just the two of us so that we wouldn’t have to worry about making any decisions the day before the wedding (for example, what we wanted to be introduced to the congregation as). He has been a family friend for many years, but it was great to talk to him as a couple. More than half of our guests are not Catholic, and we think that Father Mike did a great job of making everyone feel welcome and comfortable.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Shopping for my wedding dress was surprisingly easy and stress-free. I went to one salon and only tried on two dresses. I knew exactly what style I wanted, and that I wanted to have a long-sleeved lace jacket made to wear for the ceremony and remove for the reception.

We wanted our wedding to highlight the beauty and history of Richmond. Many of our guests were from out of town and were visiting for the first time, so we wanted them to experience as much of the city, its history, and its charm as possible. The Cathedral is in the heart of downtown Richmond and was built in the late 1800s. It is impressive, but not ostentatious. We didn’t need to fill the space with flowers and decorations because it is beautiful by itself. For our reception, we chose Tuckahoe Plantation. The plantation is about 20 minutes outside of the city, on the James River. Being UVA graduates, we were drawn to Tuckahoe because Thomas Jefferson lived there for several years as a child. The house and gardens were open for our guests to tour, so they had a chance to learn some of the history of the estate.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We loved the family-style dinner. It provided a chance for us to place together groups of people who might not know each other, but who we thought would get along. It was fun to look out during dinner and see everyone passing platters, laughing, and getting to know one another over amazing food. Our caterer did an incredible job of adding beautiful garnishes to the dishes so that each platter looked like a decoration in itself.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jack and I met at UVA. We lived in the same dorm our first year and had the same early morning class first semester. We got to know each other while walking to and from class together. We were close friends for our first two years of school and started dating the summer before our third year. I was in Charlottesville taking a Spanish class, and Jack was interning in DC and would drive down every weekend to visit. For our first date, we went our for chocolate milkshakes at Ben and Jerry’s.
Tell us all about the proposal! Jack proposed the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2014. His family was in Charlottesville for the holiday, and my family was at our house in Richmond. We all drove out to meet at Pippin Hill to spend the afternoon wine tasting and then to get dinner with both families. Shortly after my family arrived, Jack pulled me aside to go on a walk. He proposed in the vineyard’s grapevines.
When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 180
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was lemon with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. Because it was the middle of summer, we wanted something that was lighter. We decided to have a small, two-tiered wedding cake for the cutting, but we served mini cupcakes to the guests in a variety of flavors (including our wedding cake flavor) so that everyone could taste a few different ones.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I borrowed earrings from my mom, and had my new monogram embroidered in blue into the hem of my wedding dress. The diamond in my engagement ring comes from Jack’s great-great-grandmother, I wore a bracelet that Jack’s mom gave me that was given to her by her mother (it dates back to the early twentieth century), and I wore a pair of Ferragamo shoes that were my late grandmother’s as something old. My something new was my wedding dress and veil.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our planning was shockingly stress-free. Both of our families were very helpful in divvying up tasks. The one thing that does stand out as a challenge, though, was the guest list. There were many people that both families wanted to include, so we had to make some difficult decisions. One thing we did decide was to not include any plus-ones.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t stress about things that don’t go perfectly, because none of the guests know the whole plan, and they will never know if something was or was not meant to happen. For example, our getaway car showed up thirty minutes late, which allowed us to have an impromptu receiving line as our guests were getting on the buses to leave. Everyone thought that it was such a great touch that we got to say goodbye and give hugs, and no one knew that it wasn’t part of our initial plan!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We didn’t live together before we got married, so we are looking forward to setting up our new home and starting this next chapter!

Photographer: Ashley Cox Photography | Planner and Caterer: Lona Crittendon of Cater 2 Events | Ceremony Venue: Cathedral of the Sacred Heart | Reception Venue: Tuckahoe Plantation | Florist: Vogue Flowers | Wedding Cake: The Mixing Bowl Bakery | Rentals and Lighting: Commonwealth Event Company and Classic Party Rentals of Virginia | Band: Soul Expressions | Paper Products: The Preppy Pink Pony | Bride’s Gown and Accessories: Alyne | Gown Alterations and Bolero: Fariba Bridal Alterations and Design | Hair Stylist: Circle Square Salon | Makeup Artist: Kelsey Dewberry | Bride’s Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mist Grey by BHLDN | Menswear: Vera Wang | Transportation: James River Transportation

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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I’m not sure anything makes a wedding celebration more special (or Southern!) than when family is weaved through the entire thing! Such was certainly the case for Katie and Alex, starting with their ceremony venue–these two followed in Katie’s parents’ footsteps by getting married at the University of Virginia chapel. Along with drawing inspiration from their families for their wedding details (they especially loved their family photo display and the groom’s cake designed in honor of their dog!), Katie and Alex’s loved ones also came through in a big way to bring this special day to life. The perfect example: when they couldn’t make it to Virginia a month before the wedding to bury the bourbon, Katie’s cousin took the task into her own hands! As you can see in these photos by Rachel May, the tradition was a great success, leading to many new family memories being created as Katie and Alex celebrated their marriage.

P.S. Don’t miss the stories of Alex’s Christmas proposal or Katie’s most memorable wedding day moment below–both are stories for the books!

The vendor that truly set our wedding apart from others was the very talented Kristy Rice from Momental Designs. Her team hand-painted all of our save the dates, invitations, ceremony programs, menu cards, table numbers, and welcome bag inserts. The designs they created for us were works of art that not only captured Charlottesville’s beauty, but also told our story as a couple. I also have to mention Jodi Macfarlan, who did the stunning calligraphy for our seating chart and place cards at the reception. Her work is seriously the prettiest calligraphy I have ever seen, and her ability to match the designs of our paper goods was beyond impressive.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did not have something borrowed, blue, old, and new. My mom told me that she didn’t partake in the tradition when she got married, and my parents have been married for over thirty-five years, so I didn’t feel the need to either!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. It has always been a struggle for me to find dresses that fit well, so to be honest, I was sort of dreading the whole process. My parents were planning a trip from Atlanta to Houston to meet AY’s parents for the first time, so I thought it would be the perfect time to look for a dress with both of our moms and his sisters. We went to Ivory Bridal Atelier in Houston and I tried on several dresses. While every dress the store had was so beautiful, nothing seemed to fit me the right way. Just as I was losing hope, the store manager mentioned that a Fall 2015 Anne Barge dress had just come in. At first glance, I wasn’t in love–it was a light blush color and had an antique look to it. I wanted an ivory dress, but at that point, I was willing to give it a shot. As soon as I stepped into the gown, I got that first feeling of “this might be the one.” It had all this gorgeous lace on the bodice and at the very bottom of the dress. When I saw the matching veil, I was blown away. I knew this was my dress when I found out that I could order it in ivory! With a few magic touches from Linda’s Couture Alterations in Houston, it became everything I was hoping for. Looking back on the whole wedding planning process, dress shopping was absolutely one of my favorite memories and is such a special occasion that every bride should look forward to!

Our fabulous wedding planner, Cody Grannis of Amore Events, created the bouquets for the wedding party and the floral arrangements for the reception. Cody did an amazing job arranging different types of roses with dark greenery to accentuate the light pink in the bridesmaids’ dresses and really make them pop. For my bouquet, I wanted something that looked natural and almost messy, as if the flowers were picked from a wild garden. It came out even better than I had envisioned and was truly unlike any bouquet I’d ever seen. The flowers for the ceremony were designed by Amy Webb from Blue Ridge Floral Design. Amy completely got my vision when I told her that I wanted to have an entrance for the Chapel unlike anything that has ever been done there before. She created this gorgeous floral arch with white roses and greenery that surrounded the front doors of the Chapel. It was such a dreamy piece that perfectly established the entire look and feel for our ceremony.

The most memorable moment for me was seeing my grandfather at the front of the Chapel. My grandfather suffers from Parkinson’s and had a few rough days leading up to the wedding–so rough that we were concerned he might not be able to make it to the ceremony. When I met AY at the altar, I looked to my right and saw a light shining through the stained glass windows of the dark chapel right onto my grandfather. Tears immediately came to my eyes. It was such an unforgettable moment because it was everything that my family had been praying for leading up to the wedding. That same light beam later moved over to me and AY, shining down on us as we said our vows. I remember hearing gasps from the congregation right when it happened, and several guests even came up to us afterwards asking if we had planned it, but perfection like that can only be explained as a gift from above!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? This is an easy one! My parents also graduated from the University of Virginia and were married at the University Chapel on June 28, 1981, so from the moment AY and I started dating during college, I dreamed of following in their footsteps. The University Chapel is so beautiful and rich in history and is such a meaningful place for my family–I really couldn’t imagine us getting married anywhere else. For the reception venue, Charlottesville has so many stunning venues for brides to choose from. AY and I wanted to pick somewhere memorable to us from our time together at UVA. Wine tasting at King Family Vineyards was always one of our favorite activities, and, their views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking and second to none!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Is it okay if we have two favorites? A detail we were really excited about was the Moscow mules, which were passed during cocktail hour. Served in a cute copper mug, they seem to always bring smiles to faces. That’s how we knew Moscow mules would be the perfect signature drink for our wedding–plus, they are also really refreshing on a hot summer day! Another detail that was definitely a wow-factor was the wedding memory table, a display of old family wedding photographs designed by my mother. It was a special way to remember our history and give a presence to our loved ones who have passed. It turned out so beautifully and was something our guests really enjoyed.

A Southern tradition we included in our wedding was burying the bourbon, believed by Southerners to keep the rain away. I tend to worry about silly things like the weather, so when I heard about this tradition, I had to find a way to make it happen, especially because every wedding planner will tell you that Charlottesville weather is the most unpredictable. My cousin and a bridesmaid in our wedding, Jayne Anne, is currently a student at UVA, and offered to bury the bourbon for us at King Family Vineyards, as we live in Dallas, Texas and couldn’t find time to make the trip. In true UVA fashion, she chose to bury Jefferson Reserve, and exactly a month later, we had the most beautiful weather for our big day. To Jayne Anne’s surprise, AY and I asked her to do the honors and dig up the bourbon at the reception, too! We owed her big time for bringing us sunny skies and high-70 temperatures at the end of June! It was such a funny sight to see Jayne Anne trying to dig up the bourbon with the massive shovel provided by King Family–an image we will continue to laugh about for years to come! Once the bourbon was retrieved, AY and I said cheers with two antique sterling silver shot glasses from Tiffany’s, given to us by my mother as a wedding present a few days before the wedding. Each shot glass had our new initials engraved on the front and are keepsakes we will forever cherish in remembrance of the tradition.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Especially when times get stressful, try to remember what the day is really about. A dear friend of mine would remind of that by saying, “No more or no less married” when I would start to worry or compare our wedding with others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose sight of what’s really important, but your wedding will be perfect in its own way. As you make it about the love that you have for each other, it will, without a doubt, be the best day of your life.

The cake mastermind, Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, made both our wedding and groom’s cakes. Our wedding cake was a four-tiered cake with roses and gold leaf flakes decorating the rim of each tier. The cake flavors were hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla butter cake with French vanilla buttercream. I was so blown away by our wedding cake–it was beautiful inside and out and looked like something out of a magazine! Our groom’s cake was designed to look like AY’s beloved family dog, Ellie B. Young, who wasn’t able to travel to Charlottesville to celebrate with us. The cake was around two feet tall and featured chocolate cake with Oreo chocolate icing. It was such a sweet surprise for the Youngs that Ellie B. could make an appearance at the wedding, even if it was just in cake form! Having parents that grew up in Charlottesville, there are several local spots that are sentimental for my family. One of those places is The White Spot located on the Corner. It serves an infamous dessert called the “Grillswith,” a grilled and butter-brushed Krispy Kreme donut with vanilla ice cream on top. Our caterer, C&O Restaurant, replicated the recipe perfectly and served Grillswiths to our guests as the late night snack at the reception. I swear, I’ve never seen people react in such a way to a dessert! Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how delicious they were and it was definitely a fun treat for our guests who also know and love The White Spot.

Our first dance was to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” by The Tams. We thought this song was perfect for us, as AY’s last name (and now mine) is Young. The song also has a great Motown beat and is super easy to dance to!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at the Foxfield Races, an annual horse race in Charlottesville, during our first year at the University of Virginia. I was introduced to him as “AY,” short for Alex Young, and continue to call him AY to this day. We really didn’t get to know each other until we had a class together our second year. He was in the 8:00 A.M. class section of Commerce 180 and I was in the later section that everyone wanted to be in at 11:00. On the first day of class, AY slept in and missed his section, so he snuck into the later one. During the class, our professor asked the students to divide into groups for the semester. To this day, I can still picture the moment AY walked down the classroom hallway over to me and nervously asked to be in my group. I told him that he had to ask the professor for permission, once he admitted to being in the earlier section. Thankfully, the professor said yes, because I truly believe that our love story began with that study group. I spent more time laughing at his terrible jokes than actually doing work, but I also got to see what a great guy he was…and, he did most of the work. We were both dating other people at the time, but we became great friends because of the class. We finally started dating a month before graduation, and have been together since!
Tell us all about the proposal! AY came to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my family. On Christmas morning, he pulled me aside and told me that I needed to open my present early. He described it as “Christmas-y” and hinted that he wanted me to have a chance to use it before the day was over. He handed me a medium-sized box, and inside were six ornaments holding pictures of special moments during our relationship. I thought it was such a sweet present and understood why he wanted me to open it early. As I started to hang the picture ornaments on my parents’ Christmas tree, AY mentioned that he forgot to include one ornament in the box before he wrapped it. He hung the last ornament on the tree and asked me to look at the picture. Busy trying to find vacant spots on our very full tree, I just said, “Oh, that’s very cute” without really examining the picture. AY laughed and told me to look closer. When I did, I screamed, as I realized it was a picture of AY down on one knee in front of his family’s Christmas tree back home! He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in front of my family, who ran into the room as soon as they heard me scream. My mom was just as surprised as I was–she thought we had knocked over the Christmas tree!
When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Having a male vocalist sing “Ave Maria” by J.S. Bach was one of the most important parts of the ceremony for us. My grandfather, who was a professor at UVA and a big reason why I went to school there, has always loved that song. His father (my great-grandfather) was a self-taught opera singer and sang “Ave Maria” at my grandparents’ wedding. We hoped it would evoke special memories, while also creating new ones for our families, and it certainly did!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Stephen Alcott, a priest from my grandparents’ church in Charlottesville, officiated our ceremony. Leading up to the wedding, AY and I met with Father Stephen several times for marital guidance and counseling. I would definitely encourage other couples to do so as well. Getting to know Father Stephen better and talking through our plan as a married couple put us completely at ease during our ceremony, allowing us to really enjoy and appreciate the moment.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We were very fortunate to have a wonderful wedding and a dream-come-true honeymoon. Now that we are officially the Youngs, we are looking forward to having some down time and getting the chance to be newlyweds. I also have to admit that our wedding diet kept us from trying the hot new restaurants in town, so we are pretty excited about not having to be good anymore!

Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Planner and Florist: Amore Events | Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel | Reception Venue: King Family Vineyards | Ceremony Florals: Blue Ridge Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Maliha Creations | Caterer: C&O Restaurant | Rentals: MS Events | Lanterns: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Cocktail Hour Guitarist: Peter Richardson | Band: Attraction via Sam Hill Entertainment | Calligrapher: Jodi Macfarlan Calligraphy and Joie de Vivre Calligraphy | Paper Products: Momental Designs | Bride’s Gown and Veil: “Avallon” by Anne Barge | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bridal Gown Alterations: Linda’s Couture Alterations | Bride’s Hair Piece: Lila Accessories | Hair Stylist: Brianna B. Adams | Makeup Artist: Gohar Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Bellini by Amsale | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Groom’s Tuxedo: Suit Supply | Groom’s Cuff Links: Ledbury | Groom’s Bow Tie: The Cordial Churchman | Bride’s Robe: Girl with a Serious Dream | Bridesmaids’ Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Erwin Pearl | Maid of Honor’s Hair Accessory: Twigs & Honey | Bouquet Ribbon: Silk & Willow | Wedding Dress Hanger: Poppy and Scooter | Custom Napkins and Drink Stirrers: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Transportation: Ambassador Limousine and Albemarle Limousine | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Stage: Skyline Tent Company

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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  1. avatar Rachel May reply

    Thank you so much for the feature! It’s an honor to be on the SW blog! :)

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