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You’ve probably heard us say this before, and we’ll repeat it till the cows come home, because gracious, it can save you so much stress: don’t book any of your vendors till you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue!

I will be the first to raise my hand when I say this may be easier said than done, though. When I was wedding planning, my now-husband and I had an immediate bead on our officiant and photographer, and were eager to confirm the dates with them. But, our venue search took MUCH longer than we ever suspected! (And ended — long story short — with John scrolling Google Maps satellite view to find a patch of coastal land where we could pitch a tent!) I can’t imagine the headache it could’ve caused if we had put down deposits on other vendors before securing the place where our “I dos” would take place (and, of course, the official date!).

Along with setting your date in stone, your venue will likely have more of an influence on your wedding than any other decision–it will determine the style and aesthetic, your guest count, and even the timeline of the day. Below are a few tips for making this important decision!

Start with Google. While venues that market themselves to weddings generally have a lot of information online, unusual or “off the beaten path” options may be harder to find through a simple search. Try searching for phrases like “North Carolina barn wedding” or “Atlanta ballroom wedding”–those terms are likely to bring up posts on wedding blogs (oh hi! :)) and photographers’ blogs, which can be a great way to both find new venues and see how others have used the spaces.

Compare apples to apples. When you’re booking a venue, you’re often booking more than just the space–you may also be booking their in-house staffing, rentals, catering etc. All venues calculate their prices differently, so as you research, try to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to understand and compare. For example, one venue may seem exorbitantly more expensive than another at first, but when you learn that the first price includes a month-of coordinator, valet parking, and use of their extensive rental inventory, while the second is just use of the space, the first may actually be the more affordable option.

Visit your venue one year in advance. If you can, try to visit venues as close to a year in advance of your wedding date as possible–it will give you the best insight as to what you can expect in terms of landscaping and scenery.

Get it in writing. Especially if you are asking for particular allowances, such as hanging a certain type of decor or arranging the space in a unique way, be sure to get the venue’s agreement in writing. That way, even if there’s staff turnover during your engagement, your provisions should be safe.

Here are a few important questions to ask venues you’re interested in–pin the graphic below so you don’t forget! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, you’ll also find this list in there to bring to your appointments.)

I’d love to know–what made you say “yes” to your wedding venue?

emily Written with love by Emily
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Belles, we have a treat for you today!!

Early last year, our friends at Southern-staple Lauren James told us a VERY exciting secret: they were working on a one-stop bridesmaid shop for their signature LJ dresses!

We pretty much started jumping up and down, as nothing could make more sense: Lauren’s dresses are PERFECT for Southern gals, and they’re already being used in weddings around the world! Now, the geniuses at LJ have simply streamlined the shopping and ordering process for your entire bridal party, making it easier to deck your belles in bows on your wedding day. Here’s how:

Head to the “Made for You” section of the Lauren James site to create an account and set up your own bridal suite. This will be your custom landing page, where you’ll enter information about your wedding and each bridal party member.

Choose from a wide range of options to assign each bridesmaid a color, fabric (100% cotton or seersucker), and dress style choice. You can give each gal several styles to choose from, or assign one option to everyone. Bridesmaids can order a dress with added length too!

Once you’ve made all of your selections, the system will send an email to each bridal party member welcoming her to the bridal suite and showing her the style options you’ve chosen with links to shop on the website. From there, each gal can order her outfit of choice directly from Lauren James.

As the bride, you’ll be able to see who has ordered what, and when, eliminating so many headaches and the hassle of chasing down your girls! Hallelujah!!

All dresses are made to order in the United States and take up to ten weeks for delivery.

Genius, right?! You already know Lauren James dresses are the epitome of “wear it again after the wedding,” and now, they’ve made the whole process simple and fun for everyone involved. We could not be more excited to see more LJ bows show up in our real wedding features from here on out!

To check out the Bridal Suite for yourself and scope out the dresses featured in these photos (the Morgan, Emerson, and Livingston), head to the Lauren James site!

Photography: Bamber Photography | Venue: Leslie-Alford-Mims House | Hair and makeup: Teighla Norris | Flowers: Amanda Day Rose | Cake: Ashley Cakes

This post is sponsored by Lauren James. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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I hope you all had wonderful Christmases, belles!

As much as we’ve loved recapping some of our favorite details from 2017 real weddings (dresses, bouquets, bridesmaid looks, ceremonies, sweets, and details), this final post has our heart. Please enjoy fifteen of the most magical wedding moments we caught a glimpse of this past year – may they inspire you to seek the joy in your own wedding planning and wedding days!

Louise popping some bubbly with her best gals (photo by Hunter Ryan)

Ellie and her sweet mama getting ready (photo by Elisa Bricker)

Lindsey putting on her gown for the first time (photo by Amy Arrington)

Cathleen getting a kiss from her ring bearer (photo by Mike Cassimatis)

Isabelle riding to the church with her parents (photo by Ashley Seawell)

Lynnsey and her daddy waiting to walk down the aisle (photo by Mark Williams Studio)

Rachel meeting her groom at the altar (photo by Cassidy Carson)

Marci and Ross praying over their new marriage (photo by Taylor Dane)

Taryn and Chris beaming with excitement post-ceremony (photo by Kristin Sweeting)

Ashley and Aaron all smiles after their ceremony (photo by Feather & Twine)

Tom taking his new bride for a swing (photo by Jen Fariello)

Morgan and Scott celebrating their new marriage (photo by Caroline Jurgensen)

Hannah and Ryan dipping on the dance floor (photo by Rebekah Senter)

Katie and Cameron jamming out with friends (photo by Hannah Mayson)

Weinjie and Futhum making a triumphant exit (photo by Elle Golden)

Elisa Bricker is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Paolo reply

    Loving these moments! Indeed really magical.

  2. avatar Tiffany reply

    Awwww so wonderful to see Louise poppin bubbly shared !! Thank you so much – she was truly such a sweet sweet bride!! Blessings to 2018!! – Cody&Tiff

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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