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Today we’re thrilled to share our tenth anniversary cover editorial, Azalea Romance!

Let me tell you a secret… when it comes to our editorials, we all have favorites! And if you know me at all, you know that this one was destined to always and forever be mine. From the memories we made at the shoot to how stunning it turned out to the way the story intersects with my own, I can’t help it: I’m smitten.

Growing up in Mobile, Alabama I always dreamed I’d be an Azalea Trail Maid — I even dressed up as one for Halloween one year! When Emily shared in one of our early editorial meetings that we were staging an editorial in my hometown AND that it would be inspired by this historic institution, I was thrilled. Throughout the months of planning, we worked to create a modern representation of the colorful dresses and antebellum style the Maids are known for, and I have to say that our bride’s look — the skirt of an Amsale gown combined with a Heidi Elnora lace crop top — was just one of the places where all the pieces came together perfectly.

Shot at the historic Fort Conde Inn, we had so much fun working with fellow Alabama gals Invision Events to bring this sweet story to life!

Thank you so much to our dear friend Anna Shackleford for capturing these joyful photos! See the whole feature in Southern Weddings 10, on newsstands now and in the Southern Weddings Shop!

Happy launch day, y’all!!

My talented friend Brittany Massey made all my Southern girl hair and makeup dreams come true with our model’s fresh and feminine makeup, and our bride’s voluminous waves!

Y’all, when I say these bridesmaids’ dresses were a labor of love, I am not kidding. Emily and I worked for months to find just the perfect combination of color and style to represent the Trail Maids. We even had the darling Mary Kendall from Bella Bridesmaids Mobile bring two of these gowns just a few short hours before we started shooting!

We even had my own mama create a dress patch to honor the sisterhood of the Azalea Trail Maids. It might be one of my personal favorite details!

Y’all, it is legitimately not possible for our real-life husband and wife models to be any cuter! They were so much fun to work with and their love for each other is such a great addition to this feature.

I think bright and poppy florals that Laura from Marked created are such a happy addition to the neutral linens and gold detailing!

Y’all! These two. That dress. I can’t.

Want to see more of this beauty in print? You’re in luck! Our Tenth Anniversary issue is officially on newsstands today! We’ve packed this issue with real weddings from every corner of the South, beautiful love stories, Southern editorials, your favorite wedding vendors, practical wedding planning tips, and insightful marriage advice, and we hope you love her as much as we do! Head to your local bookstore or Target to find her on newsstands, or purchase your copy from the shop so you don’t have to hunt her down! We hope you love her as much as we do!

Planner and Stylist: Invision Events | Photographer: Anna Shackleford | Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab | Venue: The Fort Conde Inn | Portrait Location: Bellingrath Gardens | Florals: Marked | Hair and Makeup: Hair and Makeup by BBM | Desserts: Elisabeth and Butter | Cake: Lush Cakery | Vintage Rentals: Southern Vintage | Chair Rentals: Crush Event Design | Table Linen: Party Tables Linen and Drapery | Custom Napkins and Wine Bag: The French Table | Paper Goods: Holly Hollon for Dixie Design | Croquet Set: Blue Eyed Yonder | Bride’s Gown: “Saylor” by Amsale | Bride’s Topper: “Chloe Crop Top Extended” by Heidi Elnora | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Maggie” in Scarlet Begonias and Summertime by Joanna August and “The Off the Shoulder Gown” in Fuchsia and Azalea by Natalie Deayala from Bella Bridesmaids Mobile | Gloves: David’s Bridal | Parasols: Luna Bazaar | Custom Parasol Painting: Momental Designs | Pearl Bracelets and Necklace: Kiel James Patrick | Pearl Earrings: BHLDN | Hat: ASOS | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Groom’s Attire: The Black Tux | Pocket Square: Kaye Hannabuss Textiles

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Shelby S. reply

    I love it! Can’t wait to pick up my copy of V10 this evening after work!!

  2. avatar Courtney reply

    It’s beyond magical! <3

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We feature our fair share of Southern weddings around here. ;) And while there are so many styles of Southern weddings, today’s would fall into my personal favorite subcategory…the classic Southern wedding! Hannah and Ryan chose to celebrate at the historic Rose Hill Mansion, surrounded by Spanish moss. Filled with elegance and history, it was the perfect place for Hannah and Ryan to achieve the romantic atmosphere they had envisioned. Vibrant pink paisley linens, sweet hospitality from the moment guests arrived in town, and time-honored traditions round out their magical Lowcountry wedding weekend. We’re sure glad Rebekah Senter was there to capture all the beauty!

P.S. Curious about the saber arch and other Southern traditions they included? Our e-book is here to help!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I was in eastern Maryland one weekend and my mother and brother were visiting so we could look at different styles together and get some ideas. My brother and I went to one boutique in Baltimore, Garnish Boutique, and waited for my mother to arrive. Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain and many roads were washed out, so my mother was late arriving to the store. We had the entire place to ourselves, so while we waited for her, my brother and I wandered around the store, just getting a general feel for the overwhelming number of styles they carried. We started making some selections to try on, just as my mother arrived and we kicked off what I expected to be a long afternoon. After I tried on Amsale’s “Troy” gown, the third dress, I was in love and knew it was the one for the big day! We ordered it right then and there.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No, we wanted the authentic reaction of seeing each other for the first time on the biggest day of our lives as I was walking down the aisle. It was one of my favorite moments from that day and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

We chose to have a string quartet play “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Cantata #147 by Bach for the bridal party processional, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” for the bridal processional, and “Hornpipe in D” by Handel for the recessional. We felt that these songs contributed to the classic environment we desired for the wedding.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We loved the idea of a classic Southern wedding. We looked around the Charleston area and fell in love with the Rose Hill Plantation House in Bluffton, South Carolina. The elegance of the historic mansion surrounded by the beautiful Spanish moss seemed like the perfect place for us to tie the knot.

We were always raised to be welcoming and hospitable, and I wanted to project that to our guests from the moment they arrived in town. We held a less formal, all-inclusive rehearsal dinner with all of our guests, and it really set the tone for the whole weekend by giving everyone a chance to meet before the big day. With most of the introductions and connections made on Friday, everyone could get right to celebrating on Saturday. However, I think the nostalgic look that the moss-covered oaks lent to the area was the most quintessentially Southern aspect of the weekend. There were decorations and adornments that defined the wedding all across the property, but somehow, those ancient trees provided an atmosphere that perfectly encapsulated the quiet and romantic setting I had always envisioned.

Describe your wedding flowers. Gorgeous! The ceremony had greenery across the back of the chairs with floral clusters on each aisle end. The centerpieces were vibrant with large coral charm peonies paired with eucalyptus and other floral elements to tie the design together. The long tables mimicked the ceremony design, with greenery that cascaded down the center and over the sides with pops of candles and bright florals. The cake, chandeliers, and escort card display also had floral accents. The bridal bouquet was incredibly lush and smelled amazing, thanks to those peonies!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Laughing our way through our first dance and looking around to see all of our closest friends and family together, celebrating our love and commitment to each other.

We chose a tiered cake with four flavors: almond white on the base, banana on the next tier, coconut on the third tier, and almond white again on the top tier. It was delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our story began in January 2008. We were both seasoned freshmen, yet strangers to each other, at Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Upon arriving to the first day of health class, our teacher assigned seats in alphabetical order. I walked past Ryan’s seat, immediately noticing how attractive he was, and silently prayed for him to not be weird. Class proceeded without a single exchange between us. The bell rang and we moved on to our next class, English. The students’ names were written on little sticky notes stuck to each desk–unsurprisingly, our teacher assigned seats in alphabetical order, which meant Ryan and I would spend the entire semester sitting next to each other in two classes. Two days passed without a single exchange or glance in my direction. After days of staring at the back of Ryan’s head, I finally got the ball rolling and introduced myself. We spent the next two years being “just friends” and dating each other’s peers before I agreed to go on a date with Ryan in the fall of 2009. We spent the remainder of our high school career living up our team-captaining, best-smile-winning, popular couple days. However, as graduation approached, we were unsure how our relationship would manage being several hours apart. In August of 2011, I went off for soccer pre-season at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Ryan joined the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech. Since the schools were only four hours away from each other, it was fairly easy to get away and spend weekends together. In 2012, Ryan was accepted at and transferred to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Despite the doubled distance, we both were determined as ever to continue to support each other’s dreams and grow even more in love. After knowing each other for eight years, Ryan (FINALLY) asked me to be his wife in August 2015. Throughout the past few years, we have worked hard at our respective goals, but we were ready to move towards the future together.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Ryan: I decided to ask on August 15, 2015, the last free Saturday of summer before I had to return to the Academy for my fall semester. Coming up with a location was difficult, but I kept going back to her home in South Carolina. I love the water, and Lake Murray seemed like the perfect spot! The first step was to find a way to realistically get my family down to South Carolina without ruining the element of surprise I desired. My brother and sister were responsible for asking Hannah if my family could come down for the last weekend of the summer. Hannah was delighted, as we had been talking about getting our families together at the lake for a few years, and it seemed like this year would finally be the one. However, her brother Patrick was going to be in Virginia, and I intentionally left it unclear whether I would be permitted to leave from my training in Maryland. Hannah grew increasingly frustrated with me until I sadly informed her that I would be unable to come down for the weekend. Hannah did not know Patrick was coming after all, so we capitalized on his surprise arrival to throw her off the scent. His surprise worked beautifully! He presented her with a beautiful dress, which she promptly changed into so they could all “go” to a downtown restaurant called the Oak Table. While everyone prepared to “go to dinner,” I hid on the bottom floor of the house with my parents, who had brought the ring. The last piece of the puzzle was figuring out how to get Hannah down in my direction. Right before they left for the restaurant, my mom claimed to have misplaced her camera lens. Poor Hannah was the last one to use the camera and promptly panicked. She remembered having used it on the dock, and ran downstairs to search for it. As soon as she stepped outside, Hannah saw me and realized what was happening. She froze, and tears began to roll down her cheeks. With a little shove from Patrick, she starting moving and made her way down to the dock. I, thrilled to have pulled off the element of surprise, could not stop smiling. For a few perfect moments, it was just Hannah and me on the dock. I will never forget them. On a flawless sunny afternoon on the lake with both of our families there to witness the big moment, I asked Hannah Lee Carlson to be my wife.
When did y’all get married? June 11, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! I combined my something borrowed and old and wore my grandmother’s ring on my right hand. I used my great-grandmother’s blue handkerchief as my something blue. My something new was my Paul Andrew heels.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We bought our own alcohol. Since we bought it wholesale, we received a massive discount and asked our catering staff to serve it during the cocktail hour and reception.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Ryan and I are starting our married life in Houston, Texas. We look forward to living together for the first time, strengthening our relationship with Christ, and starting a family with new traditions.

Photographer: Rebekah Senter Photography | Planner and Florist: Eventi Floral & Events | Venue: Rose Hill Mansion | Wedding Cake: Ronnie’s Bakery & Cakes by Lou | Caterer: Downtown Catering Company | Rentals: Snyder Events | Lighting: JLK Events | DJ: Henry Race via JLK Events | Paper Products: MLC Designs | Bride’s Gown: “Troy” by Amsale | Hair and Makeup: Eye Do Makeup & Hair | Bride’s Shoes: Paul Andrew | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Leah” in Blush by Jenny Yoo | Flatware and Vintage Glassware: Ooh! Events | Linens: La Tavola Linen | Vintage Car: FX Limousine

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Bri A reply

    I’m so glad I saved this post until I had time to read through it. This wedding is a DREAM. Each photo made me think “this is my favorite piece” and then the next one topped it. (Although, the picture of the groom holding her bouquet might have been the best part! But, also…the beautiful proposal!)

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us, Hannah and Ryan!

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With a love for the mountains and fond memories of Charlottesville, Lauren and Andrew chose to celebrate their wedding in her home state of Virginia. After a whirlwind tour of venues, they settled on a beautiful backdrop of rolling hills at The Market at Grelen. A six-month engagement meant a spring date for their celebration and a venue in full bloom, so Andrew and Lauren worked with their florist to accentuate the already lovely landscape with local flowers. So local, in fact, that the magnolia blooms in Lauren’s bouquet were plucked from the magnolia trees that line the road leading to their venue! Continuing to play off the beauty of Virginia, their clear tent was the perfect place to top off their lovely day with dancing under the stars.

Thanks to Sera Petras for capturing Lauren and Andrew’s dreamy day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my wedding dress on the first day of “the search,” which was quite the outcome considering, like any good Southern woman, I can sometimes take my time making big decisions! Since Andrew and I were engaged over Thanksgiving and wanted a spring wedding in Virginia, I only had six months to plan everything. When I learned that some women give themselves a full six months to find their wedding dress alone, I started to internally panic! The pressure was on, but I tried to keep it at bay and enjoy our new engagement until January, when my future mother-in-law (thankfully!) decided to help kick-start my dress search by making a couple of appointments at boutiques that her daughter had visited a few years before. I fell in love with the lace on a gown at the first boutique we visited, but decided to give the second boutique a try. After trying on a few more dresses, I came out in one that I felt really pretty in–and the looks on my friend and mother-in-law’s faces sealed the deal. When I looked in the mirror, I knew I had found the dress I wanted to get married in–I only wished that my mother, who lived in Virginia, had been there there to witness the moment. We took plenty of photos and video for her! I also had my dress customized, replacing some rhinestones in the center of the magnolia flowers on the back with pearls.

Our wedding flowers were dreamy. We were very lucky to have our wedding on a beautiful hilltop venue that was in full bloom to begin with, so we were far from working with a blank slate. I worked with our amazing florist, Whimsical Floral, to design a floral spread that complimented and accentuated the venue with flowers that were local to Virginia and also went with the springtime color story I had envisioned: soft pinks, greens, and shades of white. I really wanted to incorporate magnolias into our wedding flowers, as an ode to my memory of growing up with two giant magnolia trees in my yard, and the trees started flowering about a week before our wedding. In fact, the road leading up to the venue was lined with magnolia trees in full bloom, and my florist was able to sneak a fresh magnolia bloom from one of those trees into my bouquet, which made me happy as a clam. She also picked fresh pink peonies right from our venue’s peony field and incorporated some other gorgeous pinks and whites into my and the bridesmaids’ bouquets. Our centerpieces were a mix of gold pedestal bowls filled with mixed greens, pink and white honeysuckle, peonies, hydrangea, mock orange, and magnolia leaves with magnolia blossoms. We also had a hanging centerpiece over the head table, covered in peonies and magnolia leaves and blooms. One of my favorite parts of the wedding was creating a vision for the flowers!

We exchanged the traditional wedding vows and also shared some personal sentiments with each other during the ceremony. The ceremony felt exponentially more special because we were able to share such personal thoughts about each other in front of all of our family and close friends.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I would say that our wedding was definitely Southern, from having an outdoor wedding with a magnolia theme, to our officiant’s very charming Virginia accent! I couldn’t imagine wearing anything but pearls on my wedding day. Our Southern signature cocktail was bourbon-based (we buried a bottle of bourbon in spirit since we lived out of state at that time!), and we chose a Southern-leaning local menu, including truffle mac and cheese, cornbread, and sauces galore, buffet-style so our guests could get up and mingle with each other at their leisure. I also surprised Andrew with a life-sized basketball groom’s cake (he played in college) at the rehearsal dinner–he is from New England, so he was completely taken aback by this fun Southern tradition!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We lived in Boston, but decided to get married in my home state of Virginia, in the beautiful rolling hills near UVA, where I went to college. We both love the mountains and had made some fun memories together in Charlottesville, so we took a whirlwind tour of several venues in the area about a month after we were engaged. We had such a great feeling after visiting the Market at Grelen and meeting Sarah, and the fact that we could have our wedding the Saturday of Memorial Day (we wanted a long weekend so our guests could enjoy the area) sealed the deal. We really wanted a spring wedding (spring in Virginia is so special) and we were enamored with the venue’s surroundings and natural beauty. Our venue felt sophisticated, but unpretentious; it was a perfect blend of the outdoor elements with indoor comforts (inside the tent). We also loved that we were able to have our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in three completely separate spaces, each with their own unique look and feel, but all within close proximity. The flow of the evening and the spaces felt very organic, with each location getting a little more spectacular leading up to the reception tent. The clear top (and sides) tent was also a big selling factor–it allowed us to feel like we were outside while we were still protected from the elements. We had a spectacular sunset and we danced under the sunset and stars–it was magical.

Our wedding cake was three layers, consisting of lemon and white cake with white frosting. My favorite part of the cake was the fondant magnolia blooms–our baker did a spectacular job of making them look true to life. We also had our new monogram on the top layer, which was a nice personal touch. A close friend of mine, Cakes by Colleen, makes beautiful mini cakes, and I had her make three different flavors (almond, red velvet, and chocolate) to add another dessert option for our guests. In addition, we had a fire pit with a s’mores station outside the tent for our guests to enjoy while sitting under the stars.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. In a not-so-traditional way: Tinder! The app was brand new and we were both out of the typical “Tinder generation” and in our early/mid 30’s, but out of curiosity, we thought we’d give it a go. Andrew was traveling a lot when we first “matched,” so it took a couple of tries to line up our first date, but what I remember about that first night (besides it being one of the chilliest December nights in Boston I can remember) is that Andrew was all smiles, and he laughed at all of my dorky jokes. He didn’t even give me a hard time for being late to what turned out to be a very important date! Two weeks after we met, I went on a trip to Kenya for two weeks; when I told him I would be photographing school kids in Nairobi, he sent me with a suitcase full of brand new running shoes from the company he worked for to give to them. The whole experience melted my heart. We stayed in touch over WhatsApp daily while I was away, and when I returned, we spent an entire weekend together instead of catching up with friends. That’s when I knew we had something really special.
Tell us all about the proposal! The proposal came as a complete surprise to me! Though we had lived together for six months and had talked about the longer term plan to get married, we had not talked timing as far as getting engaged. I was a bit surprised when he said he wanted to treat me to a nice dinner out at our favorite restaurant in Cambridge, Craigie on Main, the night before Thanksgiving. However, he said he owed me a nice meal because he had been out of town for the past week for work, so I gladly agreed to his fancy idea. Completely unaware of his master plan, I even had him push back the reservation an hour so we could meet a few of our friends for drinks in Boston before dinner! Looking back on it, I can’t believe how many road blocks I unknowingly created for him that day–patience is one of his greatest virtues. We enjoyed our entire meal in the corner booth where we sat for our very first Valentine’s Day, and after our last course, he started talking about how wonderful the past two years had been, how he couldn’t wait for our future together, and that he had a little present for me. That’s when he took out a little blue box. I was so shocked, I couldn’t stop saying, “Are you serious? Is this happening right now??” It was an evening I’ll never forget. The chef sent out a beautiful congratulatory dessert and champagne and the table beside us took pictures. After all of the excitement at Craigie, we went home, popped another bottle of bubbly, called all of our family and friends (my dad knew because Andrew had asked for his blessing) and danced the night away to Bruce Springsteen (Andrew’s favorite) in our apartment. The next day, we shared the great news with his family in person in Rhode Island. It was a Thanksgiving to remember.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 145
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look after a close friend told us that it was the best decision they made for their wedding day. We were hesitant at first because we always imagined seeing each other for the first time when I was walking down the aisle, but the first look was so special because we got to embrace each other right away and spend a few moments saying what first came to our minds–something we could not have done by seeing each other at the altar for the first time. The joy we felt was beyond measure, and it took away some of the pre-ceremony nerves so that walking down the aisle was filled with even more excitement. It also helped to get through some of our tears (of joy!) out before the ceremony so that we could keep it together for our vows.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Although we hired a DJ for most of our reception music, our first dance was performed by Andrew’s brother-in-law, professional musician Will Evans. “Life is Just a Photograph” is one of our longtime favorite songs written by Will, and it speaks to lifelong love and commitment. It was very special and emotional to have one of our close family members perform this song live as we danced together for the first time as a married couple.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was planning a wedding from afar in less than six months, while also working full-time and planning/managing a cross-country move. Needless to say, we did not have much downtime in the months leading up to the wedding! Thankfully we caught up on sleep when we got to California.
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? Music is very important to Andrew especially, and we went with a DJ over a live band to cut costs; however, with a live performance for our first dance and the harpist at our ceremony, we were able to get the feeling of live music without a band’s price tag.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Divide and conquer! For the creative, planner-type brides like me, one piece of advice: it does not make you any less of a bride to hand off tasks to your groom. In fact, you will breathe easier by doing so and he will probably enjoy helping you out and having input over certain aspects! I waited longer than I should have to realize this :) Enjoy your engagement and set some sacred time aside each day for just the two of you, when there is no mention of the wedding planning. Prepare for your marriage, and talk about your mutual goals and aspirations.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are very excited about this new adventure we’ve embarked on in California! We are both East Coasters, so this has been a major move for us, but we truly feel it is a unique opportunity to build a strong foundation for the rest of our married lives. Wherever we go, we have each other–and at the end of the day, that’s all we really need.

Photographer: Sera Petras Photography | Videographer: Joygaba Photo | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Day-Of Coordinators: Colleen McCabe and Helen Osinga | Venue: The Market at Grelen | Florist: Whimsical Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Pao Cakes and Cakes by Colleen | Caterer: The Local Restaurant and Catering | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Frank Smith via Prime Time Sound & DJ Services | Harpist: Kristen Eye | Decor: A Grand Affair Events | Paper Products: Lattice Tree Studio | Bride’s Gown: “Selena” by Watters | Bridal Salon: Cristina’s Bridal | Bride’s Veil: Tiffanys Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Emily Hair & Makeup Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: “Lesta Slingback” by Anne Klein | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Long Tulle Convertible Versa” in Petal by David’s Bridal | Menswear: J. Crew

The Market at Grelen is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Sera Petras reply

    Thank you for featuring this lovely spring wedding! It was such a dream to photograph! I am always thrilled to see my couples on Southern Weddings!

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