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Introducing Best of the South!

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Back in December when we introduced our pretty new website to y’all, there was one part that was not quite ready for its close-up. We added a “Best of the South” button to our main navigation at that time, but up until now, it simply led to a splash page. Well, no more! Best of the South has launched, and we are pleased to make your introduction!

As y’all know, the South is comprised of many different subcultures, each with their own regional preferences, dialects and accents, vocab words, delicacies, and more. While the things that unite us are oh-so-strong (namely, a love for family and tradition!), with these pages, we wanted to celebrate the beautiful differences, too! After all, Southern gals are fiercely loyal to their locales, and there’s a reason you each chose to get married in a certain state: maybe it’s the one where you grew up, or your fiance attended school, or where your families live now. Whatever your reason is, it’s special, and we want to celebrate that!

So whether you’re tying the knot in Texas or Virginia, consider our Best of South pages your hub for all things state-specific. Choose your favorite and make it your home base for all the most helpful (and fun!) local info as you plan!

Each state’s beautiful header and footer were designed by the talented Joy Laforme. Jess from Magpie Paper Works delicately lettered the names (she did our logo, too!).

And yes, since so many have asked, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Oklahoma will be making their entrance soon! We needed a little more time to put the finishing touches on those three, but keep your eyes peeled for their debut.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear: Which state’s illustrations are your favorite? We had a hard time deciding in the office, but Nicole ultimately chose Florida, Lisa chose Louisiana, and I went with Mississippi!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] our new “Best of the South” pages–have you explored them yet? Read all about them here. Kristin shared her tenth hint for a happy marriage: eat dinner together. Find her advice and add […]

  2. avatar Dana reply

    the illustrations are so beautiful! I loved absolutely all of them!!

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I am SO excited to introduce our Southern Bride of the Month to y’all. Like last year’s November SBOM, Lauren was a familiar face to the Southern Weddings ladies already, since she’s one of our lovely readers who comments often (we love when you join the conversation!). I hope you enjoy! And ladies, make sure you take a minute to answer Lauren’s question at the end!

Hi! What’s your name?
Lauren Leschper (on Twitter)

What’s your fiancé’s name?
James Zarzour (on Twitter)

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
It was my sophomore year of college at the University of Georgia, and I had waited until the last minute to try to find a date for my sorority’s semiformal. My friend’s date had two roommates that I could’ve been set up with – but luckily everyone decided James and I would be a good fit. It was the first and last blind date for the both of us, and we spent the whole night talking and laughing.

A few of Lauren + James’ engagement photos by Lacey of Scobey Photography

Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
It was last December, and James and I had been together for 5 years. At this point we had been talking about marriage for a while, so I knew it was coming but not when. So when he suggested we drive up to Athens to go to dinner, visit our favorite brewery, and walk around historic North Campus, I was a little suspicious. We hit terrible traffic on our way up, so we were afraid we wouldn’t have time to stroll around campus at all, but luckily we made it to town just when the sun was starting to set. If you aren’t familiar with North Campus – it’s full of gorgeous old magnolias, historic buildings, and a beautiful fountain next to the field where UGA played their very first game. After what seemed like hours (but was only about 15 minutes) walking around campus, we were standing by the fountain just talking. Then he got down on one knee – and admittedly I don’t remember what he said (I’m sure it was very sweet and romantic). I do remember that I said YES! It was the perfect proposal – just the two of us.

Lauren’s engagement ring photographed by Lacey for Scobey Photography

When’s the big day?
December 8, 2012

Where might you two be tying the knot?
The Old Courthouse on the Square, Decatur, Georgia. Decatur is such a sweet little town, sort of a mini-destination just outside of Atlanta. It has everything guests could want, including all of the wedding events, so once they arrive for the weekend they can just enjoy themselves! (And no cars needed!)

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
We’re holding both the ceremony and reception at the Old Courthouse on the Square. I’ve known for a long time that I didn’t want a ballroom wedding, but I just fell in love with the marble, tall ceilings, and huge windows at the Courthouse. It’s a perfect blank canvas that still has lots of personality. And I sort of love the fact that we’re having a “courthouse wedding,” even though it’s a very traditional ceremony.

The Old Courthouse on the Square (photos by Woodland Fields and Michelle Scott)

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
This may sound like an oxymoron, but we’re planning a wedding that is both formal and fun; “Southern vintage” is probably the closest to a true theme.

Our colors are navy and ivory, with accents of sage green and champagne. Even though it’s technically a “winter” wedding, we wanted to keep a warmer, less “icy” palette.

Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
Not to be stereotypical – but Pinterest! I also love looking at blogs (ahem – Southern Weddings) for photos and inspiration. We’re attending about 8 weddings this year, too, so I’m getting some tips on what to do (and maybe a few things to avoid) firsthand!

We love Lauren’s color palette! How we’re envisioning it… (Photos by Jose Villa with flowers by Amy Osaba, Patrick Moyer and Jennifer Dery via Elizabeth Anne Designs)

How have you involved your “community” (friends, family, etc.) in the wedding planning process?
One of the most exciting parts was getting to involve my sister (who isn’t quite so passionate about white dresses and flower arrangements as I am) in the wedding through design. She’s an amazing artist, and designed my invitations herself from scratch. She’ll also be helping me with some of the DIY elements, like our chalkboard program and menu board.

Has your vision for your wedding changed or evolved over the course of your engagement? If so, how?
Yes and no. Some of the vendors I’ve been in love with from the beginning and that has only grown – my caterer Sun in my Belly, my florist Maria from Amy Osaba. The main thing that has changed is my original idea of a more rustic wedding, maybe in a barn – obviously the Courthouse is a far cry from that, but I love it!

What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Napkins! That’s the silly detail I’m wrestling with now – but honestly, most of the most difficult decisions have been some of the smallest in the grand scheme.

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
James and are incredibly passionate about food. He’s a beer rep (keeps our house very well stocked!) so the bar was key, too. Luckily, we found Sun in my Belly immediately from a recommendation from my boss. As soon as we met them and tasted their locally-sourced menu, we were sold! We carefully chose a menu to reflect our backgrounds: the cocktail hour will feature Middle Eastern food in honor of James’ father’s Lebanese and Egyptian family, and dinner will be incredibly Southern (think fried chicken and mashed potatoes). We’ll only be including craft beer and spirits as well – some from the US, some from abroad.

With a beer rep groom, you know the drinks will be good! Lauren loves these Pimms Cups and this clever sign (photos by Jose Villa and from Martha Stewart Weddings

How has the budgeting been? What’s your best budgeting tip?
The hardest part was determining a budget in the first place. I obviously haven’t ever planned a wedding before, so my mom and I had NO idea what things would cost! The best tips I can give: lots and lots of research, and use spreadsheets to keep track! Also, don’t be afraid to ask – for example, we have coffee service with dessert for a fifth of the usual price, because we asked our caterer about other options for serving (rather than the fancy and very expensive silver carafes).

Tell us about the one that got away. Is there one dream thing or vendor you wish you could have fit into your budget?
A videographer. Having someone capture all the little moments that photos can’t show would be so amazing, but it’s just not something we could justify in the budget.

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! I actually bought it in January – it’s been sitting in my closet for months, since the designer accidentally rushed the order! I went with just my mom, and we didn’t cry when we found “the dress,” but it was such an amazing experience to share with her. Of course, it’s nothing like what I thought I’d pick!

Lauren loves sleek updos, and so do we! (Photos by Cristina G and Raquel Reis)

Do you have a favorite Etsy or independent store you’d love to tell us about?
Clark and Charola at Tough and Twisted do amazing work – we ordered personalized, handforged bottle openers for our groomsmen gifts (can you tell beer is a theme yet?). They just came in and are incredibly cool.

Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
We’re sort of doing a dual honeymoon! Some of our good friends live in San Francisco, so we’re spending a few days there on our way to Hawaii! The “real” honeymoon is seven days in Maui at an amazing resort there.

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
Be organized, and only try to do one big thing at a time. There were definitely stressful moments, but the fact that I kept very detailed spreadsheets of every vendor contacted and every one that had been booked saved my sanity. It also meant that I could keep track of the budget constantly. (I recommend Google Docs, because you can share and collaborate with any vendors, or your parents or anyone else helping plan and pay for the big day).

Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
What color napkins should I choose?? But seriously – I’d love to know what one detail of your wedding is the most special to you. Maybe I’ll get some inspiration!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Lauren! I’m so glad we got to know better! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!

Scobey Photography is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
15 Comments
  1. avatar Katie reply

    Exciting!! We share the same wedding date! I have no idea what to tell you for your napkin color…it all depends on how you’re involving your other colors. Good luck!

  2. avatar Anna reply

    Love your ideas! I think you should do navy and ivory napkins!

  3. avatar Anna reply

    I love that beer is one of the themes here! This sounds like a great, fun wedding. Also, the story of this couple meeting is so sweet! I can’t believe they met in college. Best of luck!

  4. avatar Emily reply

    Too hard to pick just one detail that was the most important, but I have to say that we spent a TON of time choosing the readings and musical selections for our ceremony! Totally worth it in the end :) Other than that, I had a very clear vision for (and was very excited about!) my bouquet!

  5. avatar morgan klaus reply

    Hey Lauren! Jazzed for you guys.

    A little advice on the napkins – color won’t matter in the grand scheme of memories but white fuzz will be remembered! As long as they won’t shed and color everyone’s laps white, you can’t go wrong!

  6. avatar Laura reply

    I had hoped for a videographer too, but didn’t have the budget for it either. But after the wedding, I found time to write down everything I could remember (as recommended by Emily) and I think that will help me remind me of the details that I might forget down the road.

    The one detail that I was so happy that we did was have a big group picture with all of the guests on the front steps of the church. It only took a little bit of wrangling, but it ended up looking amazing!

  7. avatar Kristin reply

    I vote for deep navy napkins with a gorgeous swirly ivory monogram! (If you have a few extras you can save them and bring them out on your anniversary each year!!)

  8. avatar Ashleigh reply

    LOVE the Pimms Cup idea! I’m searching for a signature cocktail to add to our beer & wine options. I actually love the whole beer theme! My husband-to-be is a huge craft beer lover – he’s already picked out the local brews for our big day! Good luck!

  9. avatar Miriam Patrick-Prince reply

    I’m not sure if Lauren remembers, but she and I went to high school together (only for a year when I moved)….. I got married in June and the one thing that made my wedding so special and I’d recommend to every bride is to do your own version of the Jewish tradition of yichud. It is a traditional way of giving the bride and groom a few minutes of peace and quiet before going out to see family and friends. My sister, and maid of honour, helped us out. When we left, we slipped into a back room of the venue and my sister brought us full plates of food. We got to eat in private, just the two of us. Then we were able to go out to the party and mingle without starving.

    I wish you the best! Happy wedding!

    Miriam

  10. avatar Taylor J reply

    Oh, please go with navy napkins!!! Maybe an ivory border to them…or even y’alls monogram! Can’t go wrong…navy is SO classic!

  11. avatar Kat reply

    hi lauren! girl i know EXACTLY what you mean about the little details sometimes being the hardest! i’m currently planning a july affair and some of the SMALLEST things have been stressing me out! some advice i was given: think about practicality as well as style. of course, you want the napkins to blend with your wedding & to fit the color scheme (and in the that case i love the idea of classic navy or a rich sage green!), but when guests look back on it, they probably won’t remember what color they were! however, i bet they do remember if they shed white fuzzy’s all over their little black dress! :) good luck with the last month of planning girl! best wishes on a the day of your dreams & the marriage full of happiness :)

  12. avatar Katie reply

    Best wishes, Lauren! This last month will FLY by.
    One of my favorite, most special moments was our exit. We made sure to stand at the top of the stairs for just a few seconds and take in all our family and friends cheering us on!!! (and the immediate silence when the door closes on your getaway car and you realize you’re FOR REAL married) oooweee you’re going to have such a great day!

  13. avatar Southern Weddings Bride of the Month: Lauren Leschper » Lacey for Scobey Photography reply

    […] sure to head over to Southern Weddings and show them some […]

  14. avatar Lauren reply

    Thanks everyone for the advice! We went with the sage green napkins – they just fit better with the softness of the overall decor (lots of ivory and blush tone-on-tone). We did splurge a little and chose specialty linens for the head table – a gorgeous ivory-on-ivory geometric pattern. We’re so excited – less than 2 weeks to go!

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