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Like many of you, I wanted a space I could customize to my liking on my wedding day. We opted to rent a Sperry Tent for our reception, and it was the perfect (beautiful!) blank canvas! Seating guests under a tent, as we did, is an obvious wedding choice, but tents can be the perfect backdrop to almost every part of your wedding day. We’re sharing ideas for some of those lesser-known tent moments today, inspired by our friends at Sperry Tents!

Photo by Meg Runion via Southern Weddings

Let’s start at the beginning: the ceremony! Tenting your ceremony site is a wise idea in the South, given our sweltering temps and strong sun. And of course, if it happens to rain on your big day like it did for Jess and Aaron (above), you’re already covered!

Photo by Clark Brewer and planning by Ritzy Bee

As the ceremony concludes, a Sperry Tent is the perfect way to visually mark the cocktail hour as a distinct event! Ushering guests into a new environment will keep them engaged and offer an opportunity for fun decor, like the garland and sign above.

Sophie Epton Photography

If you decide against tenting your entire cocktail or reception space, tenting just a portion of it can still make a huge impact! Guests will love venturing into a smaller tent to order a drink at the bar, kick off their heels on comfy sofas, or pose in front of a photo booth.

Jen Fariello via Southern Weddings

Of course, we still love the idea of tenting your entire reception space — and we know your guests will, too. Whether you add flooring, a dance floor, custom lighting, or heaters, everyone will feel right at home in the space you’ve carefully crafted.

Nancy Ray Photography

Our last tenting opportunity falls at the end of the evening! Make like our Volume 7 couple Callie and Jamie and erect a tent just for your late-night dance party. Their guests transitioned into a Sperry Tent for dancing and late-night snacks after dining al fresco, and from the photos, it looks like that decision really helped end their celebration with a bang.

Mikos Photographers

Whenever you choose to employ a tent on your wedding day, we absolutely hope you choose a Sperry Tent to do it. The quality of a Sperry from sawmill to event site is second to none, and the end result is simply beautiful – handhewn wooden pools, snappy sailcloth, pretty corner patches, and merry pennant flags waving in the breeze above it all. All of Sperry’s design decisions prioritize craftsmanship and have a gorgeous, classic aesthetic that’s at home anywhere from a field to a beach to a manicured backyard. You simply can’t go wrong!

For more information on Sperry Tents and to find a specialist near you, head to their website! For weddings and events in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, contact Sperry Tents Southeast directly.

This post is brought to you by Sperry Tents–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily

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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Grab a tissue, friends–it has been a little while since we had a wedding film on the blog, but I promise it has been worth the wait! I couldn’t get through Meredith and Tate’s highlights film (beautifully captured and created by our Blue Ribbon Vendor, PenWeddings) without some serious tears, thanks to their loving families and friends, their emotional ceremony, and the joy that was evident at every moment. I also love the way PenWeddings was on hand to capture moments from the rehearsal dinner, too–I remember the entirety of my wedding weekend just as fondly as I remember the day itself, so it was especially touching to witness how magical each part of this gorgeous Charleston weekend was for Meredith and Tate!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story! We met on a blind date! Our vet (who is now one of our good friends) set us up. Tate had just gotten a boxer puppy and was at an appointment for the puppy shots when she just flat out asked him if he was single. He said yes and then she gave him my number. I guess you could call it puppy love! :)
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Since we got married in the deep South, Charleston, South Carolina, I guess that is the biggest detail! We did a carriage ride for our bridesmaid luncheon, and getting married in the very first church established in the South was pretty cool!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I remember so much from the wedding and I am so glad I took advice from friends to step away every 30 minutes or so to take it all in. But, I think the most memorable part was walking down the aisle to Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” sung by my dad’s very best friend, and seeing my handsome groom waiting for me. I just stared at him the whole way down the aisle!

Cinematography: PenWeddings | Photography: Corbin Gurkin | Design, Florals, and Linens: Tara Guerard Soiree | Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church | Reception Venue: William Aiken House | Rehearsal Dinner: McCrady’s Restaurant | Wedding Cake: Wedding Cakes by Jim Smeal | Catering: Patrick Properties Hospitality Group | Ceremony Strings: Charleston Virtuosi | Ceremony Choir: Voices of Deliverance | Band/MC: Simply Irresistible | Tents and Furniture: Snyder Event Rentals | Lighting and Sound: Production Design Associates | Hair Stylist: Kristy Cuthbert of Sola Salon | Makeup Artist: Diedre Outlaw of Studio M Charleston | Bride’s Gown and Groom’s Suit: Vera Wang | Bridal Attendant: Cacky’s Bride Aid | Bridesmaid Dresses: Kate McDonald | Stationery: Lettered Olive | Calligraphers: Claudia Engle Lettering & Design and Elizabeth Porcher Jones | Transportation: Absolutely Charleston, Marquee Limo, Palmetto Carriage | Getaway Vehicle: ACW Limo

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Geoff reply

    What a stunning location for a wedding! Well done on the video. Love your work.

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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When planning a wedding, it can be seriously temping to get so caught up in Pinterest boards and magazine pages that you forget the most meaningful source of inspiration: yourselves! Every couple and love story is so unique, and turning to your own history for wedding ideas pretty much guarantees that your celebration will be a lovely reflection of what matters most to you. Lauren and Michael did a fabulous job of this–from travel-inspired details (I love their table names!), to meaningful readings, to subtle nods to Lauren’s favorite Disney movies, they weren’t afraid to fill their wedding with personal touches at every turn. As a result, their wedding a great reflection of them, and they also remember their engagement as an especially fun time!

Thank you so much to Meredith Sledge for sending this pretty day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I actually found it at the very first shop I went into. I was in Chesapeake, Virginia visiting my family and thought it would be the perfect time to begin my search, instead of having to coordinate with all of them to come up to DC. I had my squad with me: my mother, father, younger sister (my maid of honor), grandmother, older sister, and one of my nieces. They helped me pick out seven different dresses, each one so different than the next, and all within my budget. I tried on each one to tons of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but all of that stopped when I tired on the last dress. Everyone, including me, was silent. We all knew! My dress was the only A-line I tried on. I never thought I would go for a fuller dress, thinking I wanted something more form fitting. This Mikaella dress made me feel like I was floating on the wedding clouds. (Side note, after I got home from buying the dress, I was looking back through my Pinterest account and realized that I had pinned that exact same dress the month before!)

We had always wanted to do a first look so we could have a more private moment together and use that time to take more pictures. Having spoken with other friends who have gotten married, they shared either how great having a first look was in saving time, or how they regretted not doing a first look because they felt rushed to take all of the pictures right after the ceremony. Something important to Michael and I was attending our cocktail hour. Since we did a first look and took our portraits and the bridal party shots then, we only had to do family pictures after the ceremony, so we were able to attend 30 minutes of the cocktail hour. Our first look pictures are my favorite pictures of the day. Getting to have that special moment for just Michael and I was the sweetest.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Michael and I live in DC but I grew up in Southern VA and he in California. We were not tied to any spot in particular since everyone would have to travel to the wedding, no matter where we had it. That left us with tons of possibilities! We did venue research online and picked out five that were in our budget and looked like our style (although we were still trying to figure that out!)–two in DC, and three in Charlottesville, Virginia. We liked certain aspects of each venue, but didn’t have our “aha” moment until Mount Ida Farm. It was the last venue we visited, and while we were there, we were told they were also building a brand new venue. We drove over to look at the construction, and all that was up was the main barn and one chandelier, but we knew. I loved the view of the mountains, the Restoration Hardware feel of the rough cut wood and glass chandelier, and the grove area that was going to be the ceremony area. Two days later, we signed the venue and construction was finished in November 2015.

Before the ceremony, we played covers of Disney songs. I am a huge Disney fan and had to incorporate Disney somehow without it being too cheesy. It was perfect and all of the guests noticed. When I walked down the aisle, my brother played the electric ukulele and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That song was played the morning after Michael proposed when we were in Hawaii at breakfast by the beach. When we were thinking of what song to play at the wedding, that was the first one we both wanted. It was made even more special by having my brother play it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Michael and I wrote our own vows and read an excerpt from a poem together. Some of our favorite lines from Michael’s vows were, “If the last six years have taught me anything, I know that even the next 60 won’t be enough to show you how much I love you.” From mine: “There is something about you, an energy, presence, laugh, or smile that is electric. That is what drew me to you and hasn’t let me go. I love that you can walk into any room, make a friend, or win people over with your sweet dimples and charm. I always think to myself, wow, he is mine.” There was also a reading Michael and I said to each other before our vows, “Everything that happens is nicer with you” by Sandol Stoddard.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The best way we planned was through being open and honest with each other. We regularly discussed all aspects of our relationship and being married. This included all of our finances, expectations, dreams, ambitions, goals, etc. Even if those discussions were uncomfortable or hard to get through sometimes, we knew it was for the best and would get to a spot where we need to be, now and in the future.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We brewed our own beer that had special labels of us from Oktoberfest on it. We had a caricature artist on hand the whole evening to give our guests an even more special experience. Our guestbook was a painting of us from the Disney movie “UP,” where could sign a balloon. All of the wine and champagne we chose was from wineries we have visited in Napa and Sonoma. Instead of traditional table numbers, we named all of the tables after different countries, and the escort cards were tickets/passports to the guest’s destination (aka table). Any friend or family member could walk into the wedding and know it was ours.

Michael’s favorite dessert is pie. It doesn’t matter what type of pie, just as long as it is a pie! We had three different flavors (gooey butter, peach bourbon, and strawberry mint). We also had Georgetown mini cupcakes. Michael and I live across the river from Georgetown and always love to go to Georgetown Cupcakes. We worked with the company to design all of the fondant toppers and select four delicious flavors. For our wedding cake, we chose a simple white cake with etched-on gold. We also used a gold topper that said “You’re My Favorite,” since we say that to each other all of the time. It was simple, sweet, and delicious (honey lavender-flavored), and the sheet cake we served alongside it was champagne-flavored.

Don’t miss Lauren and Michael’s wedding film by WhiteFlair Productions below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both went to James Madison University during undergrad, but didn’t meet until our senior year. I led an alternative spring break trip, and the fall leading up to it, I got to meet my co-leader. We started to hang out and he began inviting his roommates along too. One of those roommates was Michael. During our second meeting, I became bold and gave him my number, and the rest is history.
Tell us all about the proposal! To celebrate completing our Master’s degrees, Michael and I went to Maui, Hawaii with the Lee family. On June 3, 2015, we took a flight over to Kona for a night and did a five-hour night snorkel adventure to see manta rays. We were on the first part of the snorkel, when the sun was still out, and after 30 minutes or so, we began to swim closer to the boat and coral. I saw what I thought was a piece of trash on the reef and thought, wow, someone littered! I kept swimming until Michael had to ask what it was. I went back over to check it out, and on the paper was one word: “Lauren.” We swam down and got the paper, and on the back, Michael had written a note asking me to marry him. Overtaken with joy, I began to giggle and shout OKAYYYYYYYY! When we got back onto the boat, Michael gave me the ring.
When did y’all get married? April 16, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 166
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The only point of any contention while planning was the guest list. We both come from large families and have a number of friends, and we wanted to include all of them. However, due to the venue size restrictions, not everyone could be included. Working on the list and narrowing it down was a huge headache and pain in the side!
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? A great feature of our venue was that we could bring in our own alcohol. Instead of doing an open bar with our caterer, Michael and I selected and bought all of the wine, champagne, liquor, beer, and specialty cocktails. Not only did this save money, but we were able to select top shelf and the drinks that we enjoy. What bottles we had leftover (since we definitely over-bought), we were able to return to Total Wine and Costco for even more savings.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We both loved wedding planning because we made decisions as a team. Drink plenty of wine and planning becomes even more fun! I would also say, don’t worry so much about hurting others’ feelings. I say this not in a selfish sense, but you will find you are more concerned about how others will feel or react than you are about your own feelings. There is a time and place to be focused on yourself, and this is one of them.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to enjoying every day as husband and wife. We also can’t wait to continue to travel the world and see and experience new things!

Photographer: Meredith Sledge | Videographer: WhiteFlair Productions | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Venue: The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm | Florist: The Flower Box | Cake Baker: Arley Cakes | Caterer: The Local | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Party Masters | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Bride’s Gown: Style 1959 by Mikaella | Hair and Makeup: The Spot Beauty Shop | Bride’s Shoes: “Chrissy” by J. Renee | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Styles 7289L, 7372L, 7366L, and 7257 by Alfred Angelo, Styles F15782, F15928, and F15933 by David’s Bridal | Menswear: Tuxedo by Sarno | Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment | Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

lisa Written with love by Lisa

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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