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John and I are coming up on our fifth wedding anniversary in a few months.

Enough time has passed since that September day that you might think our choices would have fallen out of favor in our memories, that I’d now wish we’d switched this or that detail or done this or that differently. I know some friends who are already itching for a complete do-over, though thankfully to the same people (ha!).

But no. No. Our wedding day was an absolutely magical day, crystalline in its clarity and astonishing in its beauty. I feel so lucky to have absolutely no regrets, looking back — so thankful, in hindsight, that we took the time to do things our way, to do them meaningfully, and to do them with great love. I have no desire to do our wedding over again; instead, I’m free to look forward to what is to come.

I say that not to stress you out — what kind of person would I be if I added stress to a bride’s plate?! — but to encourage you to double down with grace, patience, and purpose as you plan your wedding. Because I want that same clarity and beauty for you… one, five, ten, and fifty years on.

The urgency of wedding planning is this: if you do it right, you only get one chance — but if you do it right, you only need one chance.

One chance to create a memory that will shine in your mind like a beacon until you are old and gray, beckoning you back to why you committed to lifelong love.

One chance to honor and celebrate your community on your wedding day.

One chance to say to your world, This is who we are and who we will be, and this is what matters to us.

One chance to affect all of the people who matter most to you with the power of your love.

Don’t let the urgency of wedding planning scare you — let it fuel you. Don’t let it add details and to dos to your plate — let it strip from your plate the things that don’t matter, that aren’t “you” through and through. Leave those things behind without a trace of guilt.

While you are engaged, so far as you can, prioritize this unique opportunity called a wedding to create meaning in your life and in the lives of the people you love. I promise you that you will reap the riches of that work for years and years to come, and so will those beloved people of yours.

I am with you and for you, friends. And we’re here to help. What part of wedding planning can we help you with so that you’re freed up to create this one wild and beautiful memory? I’d love to hear.

P.S. It must be said – the best tool I know to help you plan a wedding is the Joyful Wedding Planner. I co-wrote it using all I learned from my own wedding, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

P.P.S. New here? You can see more of my wedding in two posts. The photo above is from our big day, by the inimitable Tanja Lippert.

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh how I love this post. I’m saving for my future season, whenever that might be, of wedding planning. So I can reflect and remember

  2. avatar Ashley reply

    These words are so true! I’m three weeks away from our wedding day. It feels good to read a post that leaves you encouraged.

    • avatar Emily reply

      I’m so glad this post encouraged you, Ashley!! Best of luck as you count down to your big day! :)

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Some of you might be wondering why we’re even writing a post about whether you need to feed your wedding vendors, because the answer seems so obvious, while others of y’all are eager to hear the answer. And that’s part of the fun (and sometimes frustrating!) thing about wedding planning: you’ve never done it before, so almost every to do is uncharted territory. We’re here to help, with one of our main goals being to give you both the practical and the pretty as you plan your joyful, meaningful wedding day.

Photo by Whitney Neal with styling by Jaclyn Journey from Volume 8

But back to the question at hand! The short answer is yes, you need to feed your wedding vendors. A Southern bride is a gracious hostess to her carefully-chosen vendors as well as her invited guests, and in addition to being the right thing to do, it pays dividends! Here’s what you need to know:

Who should you feed? Any vendor who is “on” during your reception should be fed. You don’t need to worry about feeding a back-of-house vendor like your florist, who is setting up before your reception begins, because she’ll have the flexibility to set her own schedule and breaks. Generally, your planner, photographer, videographer, DJ or band members, and any assistants for any of these folks, will need to be fed.

Why should we be responsible for feeding them? Well, since they’ll typically be on the clock for 5-12 hours, they’ll need to eat to keep body and soul together somehow. A hot meal will give them way more energy to keep doing their best work than something they packed that morning, and you definitely don’t want them driving off-site (and missing important moments!) to find hot food. Most vendors will carry protein bars or something similar for emergencies, but you don’t want them to rely on those alone.

What should we feed them? Check each vendor’s contract, because some will specify what they need to be fed. If they don’t, many caterers offer “vendor meals” at a lower price point than what they’re charging for your guests. Ask what this consists of, because it can range from a boxed sandwich and chips to the exact same menu you’re eating. Again, it’s such a nice treat for your vendors to have a warm, yummy meal, so if at all possible, try to work that out with your caterer. If you’re having a buffet, sending your vendors through the line like everyone else is a great option.

Where should they eat? The best place for them to eat is an unobtrusive place that’s close to the action – maybe a table at the edge of the room, or a table just inside the catering tent, if it’s near the main event. You want them to be close enough so that they can spring into action, should it be required! Impromptu toast that needs to be photographed, anyone? :)

When should they eat? Generally, the best time for your vendors to eat is when you and your guests are eating. No one wants to be photographed while chewing, after all! Be sure to ask your vendors if they have a preference, or show them your proposed timeline and see if your suggested meal time works with how they like to do things. They have worked tons of weddings and will know what works best! See our tips for making a wedding day timeline.

Making sure your beloved vendors are well-fed will not only show your appreciation for their hard work, but will give them the fuel they need to finish out the night strong – a win-win for everyone! And if you have extra cake, a slice of that never hurts, either :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Cebu wedding photographer reply

    For me, the vendors should be fed. Its a common sense. It would definitely get the couple an extra mile.

  2. avatar Stephanie reply

    Thank you so much for a well written article As a wedding photographer for several years this time sometimes seems to be a point that brides don’t really understand. Thank you for making it So clear!

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I’M ENGAGED!!!! We can all agree that finally being able to share these words with the world is THE BEST! Right? Whether you’ve dated your fella for a few months or a few years (or more than a few) years, officially declaring your newly minted fiancé status to your loved ones and best friends is one of the best feelings in the word!

Since we’re smack in the middle of engagement season (it’s a real thing that happens every year from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day—we promise), we’re declaring the next five days Engagement Celebration Week. Grab your best gals, your mama, and even your new fiancé (and the confetti) because we’ve got some cheers-ing to do!! We’ve planned fun celebrations all week long, giveaways every day (!!!) and we’re officially re-releasing our recently updated and extra-marvelous Joyful Wedding Planner.

To kick off our weeklong celebration, we want to hear from you! We want to hear the stories of your proposals (and see pictures) so get to posting and use the hashtag #JoyfullyEngaged so we can follow along. I’ve got my confetti and heart emojis-sending fingers ready, and I know the other Southern Weddings gals do, too.

As for the Planner, you might notice that in addition to some updates on the inside (pretty gold D-rings, updated info in every section, new downloads!), we’ve given our gal a fresh new name. There are a few reasons for this:

First, we wanted our Planner to more clearly communicate how we want you to FEEL while planning your wedding. I’ll be the first to admit that wedding planning can have its stressful moments (ahem, budgeting and guest list anyone?), but we believe it IS possible to have a joyful wedding planning experience, and that our Planner can help you have just that — by equipping you with both the practical and the pretty and reminding why we’re all doing this in the first place.

Second, while we will always be the Southern Weddings team and we have the biggest heart for our sweet Southern brides, we think the advice and encouragement in our Planner transcends geography, and we’d hate for a bride who’s hoping for a meaningful and joyful wedding to miss out on our info just because she doesn’t hail from beneath the Mason-Dixon Line!

Our whole team agrees that the Joyful Wedding Planner might be the best thing to ever come out of the Southern Weddings office. We have a burning passion for sharing really, truly GOOD information with y’all – the exact pieces of advice and same resources we’d give our sisters and best friends – and our Planner is the best way we know how to do that.

Whatever stage of engagement you’re in, celebrate as if you said ‘yes’ yesterday during this coming week! For the next five days, be all in!! Reminisce on the feelings you felt right after he asked, and soak up this fun week just for you. It’s time to celebrate!

xoxo,
Kristin and the Southern Weddings team

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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