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A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a baby shower in my hometown. I’m from a small town in North Carolina, where the ladies from my home church were some of the first to change my diaper and rock me in the church nursery. They’ve watched me grow up over the past almost-27 years, and they genuinely love celebrating milestones in my life with me. This means that oftentimes, when I’m home, I find myself faced with the question “So, when are you getting married?”

It can be easy to feel jaded by that question. I get it. The heart behind Southern Weddings isn’t about beautiful pictures—it’s about relationships. In all that we do at Southern Weddings, our mission is to inspire others to cultivate a life full of love. Whether you feel like you’re perpetually single, or dating to see who is right for you, or you’re in a relationship and taking things at your own speed, what I’ve found to be most helpful in responding to this question is a different framework.

(Just a note, I use “we” in most of these answers because I’m talking about it in the context of my current relationship, but to my single gals out there—I see you. Know that I often used these responses when I was single as well.)

Remind yourself that it is a good thing that people are invested in and care about your relationship. It’s important to realize this is often the heart behind that question. Great relationships are cultivated in community with others. When I’m asked this question, it’s typically because the person asking the question cares about me and has seen the good Logan brings out in me, not because someone wants to be able to write a date down in their planner. When Ms. Madelyn or Mrs. Hickman asked me this at my sister-in-law’s baby shower recently, I was grateful that even after years of living in a different place, they still cared about the big things happening in my life.

“Let me tell you about what we’re looking forward to in our future.” One could say this is a way to deflect the question, but I like this answer because it shows that the most exciting thing to me in my current relationship isn’t necessarily an upcoming engagement or wedding day, but the other fun things we have planned. Whether it’s a larger event, like a long weekend vacation to the beach, or something simpler, like date night at a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, I love giving others glimpses into the exciting things happening in my life, whether they have to do with my relationship or not!

“I don’t know. And I’m okay with not knowing right now because I am content with where we are.” Our team fiercely believes that a marriage is more important than a wedding day, and the same applies to our relationships! A wedding day isn’t the finish line, but rather, one of many markers in your relationship. We believe that every part of your relationship—both the big and small moments—is meant to be celebrated in a way that is deeply meaningful. It’s one of the reasons Southern Weddings did our own spin on Fruitful Summer this year! Relationships matter, and cultivating meaningful relationships is the secret to a full life. I’ve found this is exactly why the mission of Southern Weddings resonates with me—and so many of you—so much!

“We’re still getting to know one another.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you should “know” after XX number of months. Yes, some of the darling brides in our magazine and on our blog knew after the first date. But others spent years as friends with their now-husbands. Neither is better than the other. The timing that you choose for your relationship is the best timing for you.

“You should ask him.” One of the very first things Nicole and I realized when we began to talk about dating well in the office was that no one asks our boyfriends this question. Depending on who is asking, one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek answers is simply “You should ask him,” followed by a sweet smile :)

Depending on your relationship with the person asking the question, it’s okay to politely ask them to refrain from asking. I hesitated to add this one, but in the end, I think it’s one of the most important ways you can respond to this question. I’ve found that I often experience the most discontentment in my relationship with Logan when I feel bombarded by the question. One of the most honest ways you can respond is by gently explaining that to someone. I’ve been known to tell my mother or some of my close friends (all people who very much have the right to ask that question) this on days where I don’t particularly feel up to talking about the timeline of my relationship. Each and every time, the person has responded very graciously. Whether you’re single and pursuing other passions or in a long-term relationship, this answer has often led to very sweet conversations!

I’d love to hear from you! Nicole and I are excited to continue to be back on this column to talk to you about dating. Feel free to email me at Jess@SouthernWeddings.com to say hi or let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like us to talk about! I am so grateful you are here!

Photos by Live View Studios from our Facebook page

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
4 Comments
  1. avatar India reply

    This was super helpful! As someone who has dated their current boyfriend for a few years now, I get this question more often. I think “You Should Ask him” is my favorite response, as he would be the one doing the proposing! :)

    xo, India

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      India! I’m so glad it was helpful for you! “You should ask him” is one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek answers, typically followed by “let me tell you all about the exciting things we’re looking forward to!” Grateful for your support! xo, Jess

  2. avatar Kirsten Barber reply

    I loved coming across this article today. The, “When are you getting married,” question and those like it have always bugged me. Growing up, it was, “When will you start dating?” When I was dating, it was, “When will you get married?” And now that I am married, it is, “When will you have children?” As a people pleaser, these questions hit me on an emotional level and start to make me doubt my personal timeline. I used to respond with defensive remarks and anger, but I’ve learned to start laughing off the questions. My favorite response was the cheeky, “You should ask him.” Thank you for doing this. I think it is something every woman faces in her life, and it is always better to handle something with grace, even if it seems a bit intrusive.

  3. avatar Jess reply

    Kirsten! I’m so glad you were encouraged! Questions about the next season of life can be fun to dream and talk about at times, but I love the idea of being able to focus on the present and right now. I think we too often (myself included) wish away the right now for what is to come. Grateful for you! xo, Jess

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Dating Well

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If you’ve been following along with Southern Weddings’ Fruitful Summer series, you may have seen Jess and I writing about “dating well.” It’s a topic that has been on our hearts for a long time. All you single and dating readers out there–we see you and we care about you! Whether you’re focusing on building your individual life and passions, dating to see who is right for you, or you’re in a relationship and taking things at your own speed, we want you to feel confident in the place you’re in. When you’re equipped to handle all the relationships (romantic or otherwise) in your life well, the day that you are ready to plan a life with someone, you’ll have a rich and deep well of experiences to draw from.

The first thing we’d like to do in helping y’all date well? Dispel all the myths surrounding dating out there! Whether these myths have actually been spoken to you, or just planted in your mind, we hope you read on and see that they’re not true!

Myth: You have to be perfect and have it all together to date someone.
The truth: Jess: The perfect relationship doesn’t exist, because no one has it all together. Early on in my relationship with Logan, I remember being terrified to take my shoes off. Why? I can’t believe I’m about to say this on the internet, but it’s because I have smelly feet! I felt this need to make sure that Logan thought I was cute, funny, AND smelled good all the time! It’s such a silly example, but it demonstrates the need I felt to have it all together :)

A few years and some smelly feet later, letting go of perfect has freed me up to be fully myself around Logan. I’m still learning, and our relationship doesn’t always bring out the best in me, but that’s something I’m finding myself being grateful for. Logan is able to graciously point out my blind spots and force me to confront them in a healthy way. We make mistakes. We communicate poorly at times. We forget things that are important to the other person. We hurt one another. We also ask for forgiveness. We are able to do all of those things because we are willing to admit that we aren’t perfect.

Myth: Your significant other will complete you.
The truth: Jess: Yes, having someone to share pieces of your life with is wonderful! But hear me loud and clear, I firmly believe that Logan will never complete me. My pastor always says “Unhappy, insecure single people make for unhappy, insecure married people.” His point is simply this: how we feel about ourselves while single translates into how we view ourselves in dating relationships or marriage. A boyfriend won’t have all the answers, and he won’t be able to solve all your problems. He will be a great sounding board for those problems. He should be one of the many things that bring joy to your life, but he shouldn’t be the only thing. It is good for me to pursue my passions and make time for my family and friends–and all of those things will also ultimately make me a better girlfriend.

Myth: You must not believe in marriage if you’re not planning to get married.
The truth: Nicole: No matter where you are in exploring the possibility of marriage, planning your life now and exploring relationships fully invested in the present is important. The last thing we’d want y’all to feel is pressure to walk down the aisle before you know you’re ready and he’s the one. I’ve had many moments where I’ve thought critically about marriage (raise your hands if you have, too–I know I’m not alone!), but it has given me more conviction about my beliefs on marriage and how I want to live my life and relationships well before the big “I do.” That means planning date nights so my boyfriend and I are more connected, trying new hobbies so I’m improving and fulfilling myself as an individual, and being open about my passions and plans.

Myth: You’re only in it to get married.
The truth: Jess: Every relationship is different. We know that, but we’re so quick to forget it, especially when scrolling through our social media feeds! We’ve had friends that knew on their first date that they were going to marry someone, but on the other hand, Logan and I were friends for years before we were ever romantically interested in one another. When we were venturing into dating, I remember a friend asking me whether I thought I would marry him. We had only been on one date! I immediately felt overwhelmed not knowing the answer to that question. But here’s the thing: it takes a lot of time to get to know someone. Dating is an investment. Fight the urge to compare where you are to where your friends are, and enjoy the things you’re learning about one another right now. Relationships aren’t a race, and marriage is not the finish line. The more you embrace the timing that is right for you specifically, the stronger your relationship will be…and the more prepared and equipped you’ll be for marriage someday, should you choose to move forward in that way.

Myth: You can only [travel/set goals together/talk about the future] if you’re engaged or married.
The truth: Nicole: To me, these are the most important things to do before you get engaged or married! Though Taylor and I aren’t planning on tying the knot soon, we talk about our “couple goals” and how we want our future to look a lot. Once we had established that we were in a serious relationship, this was our way of making sure we were on the same page of the same book. We’ve talked about everything from marriage to kids to retirement, and we know that if we do get engaged, we both envision a similar future (lots of puppies and traveling ahead!). Our “couple goals” involve our shared passions, and I love that we’re creating memories together now and becoming closer because of them.

Jess and I are really excited to be back on this column in the near future to talk about dating! In the meantime, feel free to email us at nicole@southernweddings.com and jess@southernweddings.com to say hi! This topic is on our hearts all the time, and we love hearing from friends who are in the same place!

Photos by Graham Terhune

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
9 Comments
  1. avatar India H. reply

    As someone who is a long time reader of the blog but not yet married, this has to be one of my favorite posts! I’m in a season of planning on marriage but not yet engaged, and this really helps debunk some of the myths that I often here and encourages me to stop comparing myself to married or engaged friends! :)

    • avatar Nicole reply

      India!! I’m so glad to hear that, and am excited for you in this season of your life! xo

  2. avatar Blair reply

    Love this! I am dating myself and love southern weddings, but I know it is not the right time for me right. I believe so many people get wrapped up in the “idea” of a wedding and don’t think past the long term commitment.

    • avatar Nicole reply

      I’m right there with you, Blair!! I’ve been caught up in that idea, too, but I think there’s so much to love and have fun with when it comes to dating, and we need to share more about it!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Blair! We are so grateful for your support, and we are thrilled to celebrate you in this season of your life! Sending lots of hugs! xo

  3. avatar Catherine reply

    “Relationships are not a race, and marriage is not the finish line.” Yes, yes, and yes!! Love that!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Catherine! We are so grateful you were encouraged! We’re looking forward to continuing this conversation with you! xo!

    • avatar Jaclyn reply

      This is the best quote. When I got to it I thought the same thing Yes!

  4. avatar Ashley Frederickson reply

    I absolutely love these myths, how true they are that they are just that; myths. I have found my biggest weakness and struggle is comparing my timing and relationships to those of my friends. Some get engaged really quickly and work through the harder things later down the road. I am finding that through my dating right now, we are both learning about the hard and weak points in one another that could potentially hurt our future marriage if we allow it too, but we are choosing to turn to Christ and build a solid foundation upon our redeemer for a stronger marriage when the time is right for us.

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Hi belles! Every season we like to find a way to get to know you more, and to share our hearts. To dovetail with our current Cozy Fall focus, each of the Southern Weddings gals will be sharing our favorite ways to simplify and get cozy in our home lives over the next few months. We hope our ideas are helpful as you work to streamline and simplify your own lives for what matters most!

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Katelyn James

Say howdy to: Nicole Yang, our Art Director

Favorite simple beauty routine or product: Lately, I’m more in love than ever with my blush, especially since I’ve been in the mood to simplify and have been on the outs with the rest of my makeup bag. I use Nars, and just a couple of swipes across my cheeks makes me feel more put together and my face a little brighter, even if I’m not wearing anything else. (Shout out to Nars — their blush is so pigmented that it lasts forever!) I’m also religious about my moisturizer in the fall so that my skin stays hydrated as the temperatures dip.

Favorite simple fall activity: Just as the days start to get cool and crisp, I love opening the windows, lighting a candle, and snuggling under a blanket to read for an afternoon. Also, if you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, there’s just something about GG and fall that just go together. I started rewatching it last week!

Favorite tech device/app/strategy that simplifies your life: Taylor and I started using AnyList when we moved in together so that we could make grocery lists and share them with each other. They sync with whoever you share your list with, and you can program it to automatically categorize your groceries into sections like produce, meats & seafood, dairy, and more. Plus, you can add notes to it, which I do often (“5 bananas: 3 yellow and 2 green” — I’m very specific about my fruits). It saves us so much time moving around the grocery store and meal-planning. I use it for everything now, including Christmas gift ideas and my bucket list.

Favorite morning routine that simplifies your life: I always sit down for breakfast and read my favorite blogs in the morning (it’s like the 2015 version of reading the newspaper!). That little bit of time to focus on things that get me fired up is like an extra jolt of energy to start off the day.

Favorite evening routine that simplifies your life: Washing the dishes, drying them, and putting them away. I sleep so much better knowing that our kitchen is clean and nothing’s waiting to be done in the morning. Plus, I have the exact same breakfast every morning, so knowing that my favorite mug is clean and everything is where it should be makes mornings go by smoothly.

Favorite trick for simplifying your schedule: I have to second Kristin on this one — meal planning, 1000%! The fall is Taylor’s and my busiest season — he’s working around the clock with the NC State Football team and I’m dedicated to making a magazine. There are many nights where we both come home at 9pm or later and don’t want to do anything. This year, we’ve been really strict about sticking to not just a meal schedule, but a meal prep schedule. We have a list on our fridge that tells us what we need to eat that night and what we need to make that night (to be used for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner, if we’re getting home late). It’s helped us feel like we’re still eating well-rounded meals in the middle of a crazy season.

Favorite simple weeknight recipe: Risotto! This is the easiest thing for us to make, and it’s so warm and comforting. We’ll just sauté some onions in a dutch oven, add whatever veggies happen to be in the fridge and a swish of wine, then add some arborio rice and broth and then let it sit on medium-low for for a little over a half hour, stirring occasionally. We have some designated “couch meals” that call for snuggling up on the couch while we eat, and this is one of them. (Pizzas are designated “floor foods” that always require a picnic blanket on the floor, and also a super-simple option for us.)

Favorite simple date: I have to admit, Taylor and I have been really bad about fall dates in the past. The way our work schedules match up mean that we only see each other after 9pm and before 8am, including weekends. This year, we’ve agreed to setting morning coffee dates on game days, which seem even cozier than evening dates for some reason!

Favorite simple way you love on your beau: This is so, so simple, but I greet him at the door with a smile and a kiss when he comes home. That might sound terribly old-fashioned, but I know it makes a world of difference after a long day at work. The last thing I want him to think when he comes home is that I’m not happy to see him because he worked late, or that I’m too tired or preoccupied to get up and hug him (especially when on most days, it feels like we haven’t seen each other in a week). Also, I cook and make lunches! It’s such a simple thing to set aside leftovers for lunch before making our dinner plates, but I know Taylor really appreciates that he can just grab a container of food to take the work in the morning, and that it’s going to be a balanced meal that will last him through the evening. He’s lucky I like him ;)

Next up: Marissa!

In case you missed a gal…
Emily’s simple favorites
Kristin’s simple favorites

Written with love by Southern Weddings
1 Comment
  1. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    Yes! Fall and Gilmore Girls totally go hand in hand!! And Nicole, I love your strict banana preferences :) So many good tips in here!

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