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Even though we love wedding traditions like no one’s business around here, we can’t say it often enough: when it comes to wedding planning and budgeting, there are no requirements except what’s important to you, the bride and groom! Sometimes getting creative can be a great way to save money or cut costs in your wedding budget, especially when you can shift those savings to the things you’d rather prioritize instead. One idea for how to do that? Skip the brand-new wedding dress, and go with a consignment option!

After all, most wedding gowns have been worn once and then professionally cleaned, so the difference in wear-and-tear between a new and consignment gown is quite slim. And lucky for us, the South boasts some lovely consignment and sample bridal shops that offer the full bridal appointment experience so you won’t miss out on your showstopping “this is the one!” moment. One of our favorites is Meant to Be Boutique in Lexington, Kentucky, where they believe that regardless of how a dress got to their shop, a bride’s dream dress was always “meant to be” hers, and her shopping experience is their top priority! (At your appointment, you’ll have the entire shop to yourself to peruse with mimosa in hand!)

Meant to Be Boutique bride Natalie is one of many brides who didn’t intentionally seek out a consignment shop, but found one to be among the best local options: “It was more that I just wanted to check out the cutest bridal boutique in my town. I ended up being so pleasantly surprised with my experience!”

Aside from the potential savings, there are also reasons to consider a previously-loved gown. Buying off the rack is a great option if you have a short engagement and don’t have time to wait on a brand new dress to arrive from the manufacturer. Consignment shops also have a wide, ever-changing inventory of unique, one-of-a-kind dresses that are not limited to the current season’s availability! They’re also a great “green” option to reduce your wedding’s environmental impact.

Thinking of going this route? Bride Kathryn noted that, “There was mostly only one of each dress, so if I saw one I liked, I had to see if it was a size close enough to mine to make it fit with alterations.” Most dresses you fall in love with at a consignment shop will need adjustments, but as Kathryn said, “In my experience, every girl needs alterations, so it really doesn’t make much difference!” Bride Paige adds, “I wasn’t phased by trying on consigned dresses – I knew that Meant to Be wouldn’t accept anything that hadn’t been well-loved and cared for before coming into their shop.”

Just like at a traditional shop, it’s also important to shop with an open mind about designers and styles, since you won’t necessarily be able to find the exact dress you’re looking for on the rack. But if you do fall in love with a particular gown that may be out of your budget or no longer available, a consigned version of the dress may be your best option! That’s why Megan went with a consignment dress. “I shopped a few local bridal boutiques for my wedding dress, and of course I fell in love with a gown that was over budget. Instead of settling for another dress or cutting the budget for something else, I searched high and low for the gown and was able to find it pre-owned for less than half of the retail price! It was perfect!”

Remember that no matter how you and your dress found one another, all your guests will see on your wedding day is a gorgeous bride! Shopping consignment can be a wonderful way to stick to your budget while still wearing the dress of your dreams. Paige summed up her feelings on that topic well: “Whether the dress has been worn or never worn before, it is still a beautiful wedding gown. It’s also fun to think about a dress that not only gets to be worn once on a beautiful wedding day, but maybe twice.”

We’d love to know: did you wear, or are you considering wearing, a consignment wedding gown? I bought my dress new, but sold it to a sweet bride after my wedding, and like Paige, I was so happy someone else would get to wear her dream dress for half the cost!!

This post is sponsored by Meant to Be Boutique, our favorite consignment wedding dress store in the South. Learn more about them and find out how to make an appointment here!

emily Written with love by Emily
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    Bride Sonia’s joyful Kentucky wedding at the Winchester Opera House.

    I am delighted to introduce y’all to today’s bride, Sonia! Though not a Southern gal by birth, her Winchester Opera House wedding to “Kentucky Nate” embodies all the aspects I think a good Southern wedding should have; including, but not limited to, being steeped in tradition, honoring family, and sharing Southern culture and hospitality. One of the sweetest details of their wedding is Sonia’s “something old!” Sonia chose to honor her family by wearing her paternal grandmother’s wedding gown (with a little redesign help from Donna Beth Creations!).

    Another thing I can’t help but love? Their joyful ceremony! Sonia said, “Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.” That’s exactly what we wish for each one of our couples! Keep reading to learn about Nate’s nickname and how wedding planning inspired where they’ll raise their future babies.

    Thanks to On A Whim Photography for sharing this lovely Kentucky wedding with us!

    I had the honor of wearing my Granny Doris’s (my dad’s mom’s) wedding gown. She purchased the gown in 1954 when she married my PaPa in Virginia. My Aunt Lori, her daughter, wore the gown in 1976 for her Colorado wedding. It created such an amazing bond between the three of us ladies, and my dad was so proud. He fetched the gown from the cedar chest my Granny stored it in in her basement the day I first asked about it! I knew immediately that it was the dress for me. I had been searching for a way to bring my family into our Kentucky wedding and it was the perfect way to do so. In the foyer of the Opera House we had displayed photos of my Granny and Aunt Lori in the gown on their wedding days. It was so sweet to hear and see folks’ reaction when they realized it was the same one!

    Nate’s father, Barry Bainum, was our officiant, and that was such an amazing experience. He is a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church and put so much thought and sincerity into our ceremony. It was very traditional, and we loved that it encouraged participation from our guests. He asked them, “Do you give your blessing to Nathan and Sonia and promise to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage?” It was so important to us that they knew they were invited for that reason: to help us, guide us, and love us in our marriage together. They were a part of it with us by being our witnesses. It was beautiful and joyful and we will never forget when Nate forgot “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” when saying his vows! Barry was happy to help him along through it. Our nephews who were at the wedding were our ring bearers. We had them carry a gold horseshoe for good luck! Nate’s nieces, Genna and Gabby (who helped with the proposal), walked Nate down the aisle to his spot to wait for me. My dad walked me down the aisle, of course! We had to walk down a flight of stairs to make it there! I was so nervous to do so in my heels, but he did the perfect job guiding me down. Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.

    As mentioned before, Nate was born and raised in Kentucky. He grew up in a cabin built by his father on the land his grandparents owned in Fleming County. His upbringing was so unique and the reason he is the man he is today! We determined that our wedding was the best opportunity to share this amazing place that we both love with my family and the people closest to us. I researched every venue in Kentucky before we found The Winchester Opera House. The location was perfect – easy for folks to travel to from local airports and centralized for our wedding week activities. But more than that, it fit our vision perfectly. Southern, regal, and much more “derby” than “country.” After meeting with the venue owner, Vanessa Ziembroski, we were so impressed by her knowledge and experience. Her business offered so many services, and that was such a comfort to us since we were planning the wedding out of state.

    Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did! At first, our reasoning was for logistics. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our reception with guests and thought it would be nice to get the pictures done during the day with good lighting. As our wedding planning progressed we were so grateful we had made that decision! We both looked forward to that moment of pause.

    The ’61 Mercedes Benz in the photos (named Josephine) originally belonged to my Papa, who bought Josephine while he was in the Airforce. My Papa and Granny drove their four children all over Europe and the US in that car! In the 80s, my Papa gave the car to my dad who loved it just the same. He restored Josephine to her original blue color, white wall tires, and red interior. She looked like new! He drove her in a trailer to Kentucky all the way from Colorado just to have her as my “something blue.” I have so many great memories of that car, and this one tops them all.

    Our vision for the decor was simple and elegant. We wanted greenery to be most prevalent in our flower arrangements to represent Kentucky’s beautiful green scenery. We chose to have garlands and wreaths of greenery throughout the decor to represent the culture of the horse races in the area. Nate’s custom tux jacket had “Kentucky Nate” embroidered in it. That is what his buddies call him. His vest had our wedding date embroidered in it.

    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose to have white garden chairs rather than gold chiavari and to have standard silverware rather than gold. We also chose not to have a videographer, and I learned to do the calligraphy on all of our personalized items: invitations, escort cards, table numbers, signs, etc. And Nate and I made all of the tassels on the 75+ champagne confetti poppers for the ceremony. Mostly me, but he helped ;)

    We had a simple wedding cake, just two layers of white cake with white buttercream. In addition to this, we served carrot cake. While we wanted the tradition of cutting the cake, this wasn’t the most important thing to us. We wanted most of all for our guests to have a great seated dinner and an open bar. At the bar we served three signature drinks: The Winchester – Ale81 (Kentucky’s own soft drink) and bourbon, Le Petit Chou – named after our pug and Sonia’s preferred cocktail, vodka, sprite, and soda water with lemon, and The Augustus McCrae -named after our German Shorthair Pointer (who is named after the Lonesome Dove character, Gus) and Nate’s preferred cocktail, double Eagle Rare bourbon on the rocks.

    As our guests arrived to the ceremony and when we walked back up the aisle, my brother-in-law played acoustic guitar. He played the tune from the movie Crazy Heart, “The Weary Kind.” Nate and I are big Ryan Bingham fans! The lyrics aren’t extremely romantic, but instrumentally it is so beautiful. We liked the imperfections in its story and thought it was fitting for us. Walking down the aisle, Jarrod played the instrumental version of our first dance. The song is “Diamonds and Gasoline” by the Turnpike Troubadours. I knew Nate would immediately recognize the tune and know I was on my way! Again, the lyrics weren’t typical for a wedding, but it was a song that we loved when we were discovering our love for each other. My dad picked out the song for our father-daughter dance, “I love you Because,” which is a duet between Lisa Marie Presley and her father, Elvis. My dad and I LOVE Elvis and he does the best impersonation. He sang to me in his Elvis voice while we danced. So many emotions! Nate chose to surprise his mom with the song for their mother-son dance, “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. This song is loved by her whole family. It was played at both her parents’ funerals. It was such a sweet moment for all of the “Montana Hippies,” the DeWeese side of the family. My mom and I had a special dance together to “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. She sings this song to me a little too often ;)

    Tell us your love story in one sentence. You fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.
    Tell us all about the proposal! Nate was born and raised in Kentucky, and I was born and raised in Colorado. In August 2015, Nate’s parents, sisters and nieces, Genna (10) and Gabby (6), visited us from Kentucky for a weekend of Colorado fun and celebration. My family hosted a barbecue for the families to meet on my 23rd birthday. The little girls made made me a special gift: a fairytale storybook, written by Genna and illustrated by Gabby. The story featured me as a princess and told of all those who traveled to see me on my birthday and how much they loved me. It then read, “One person loved her the most. His name was Nate. He had a very important question to ask her…” The story ended with Nate on one knee and me in shaky tears as he popped the big question!
    When did y’all get married? October 8, 2016.
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 84. It was the perfect number for us to feel connected to our guests and still have a full dance floor!
    What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In lieu of a guestbook, we created bourbon cocktail-themed postcards. We asked our guests to write us a note, kind thought, or marriage advice during our wedding reception. Throughout the first year of our marriage, Nate’s mom has been sending us the postcards randomly. It has been the most amazing reminder of our love and the support they promised us! The postcards always seem to arrive at the perfect time and are so meaningful to us. We read them together every time we receive one.
    What was Southern about your wedding? My dress! The lace sleeves, off-the-shoulder neckline, and the train! It was so Southern and so perfect. Also, having the wedding in Kentucky exuded the hospitality and celebration of the South. We so enjoyed sharing Kentucky’s charm with our guests. Nate’s parents and sisters hosted a welcome dinner on their farm the Wednesday before the wedding where we ate a traditional Kentucky meal with hot brown casserole, BBQ, and bourbon. On Thursday, our guests had lunch in the little town of Midway, KY before touring the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery. On Friday, we attended the opening day of the Fall Horse Race Meet at Keeneland followed by our rehearsal dinner at the Jefferson Davis Inn. It was exactly what we had hoped for in sharing Nate’s home.
    What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? The life planning that developed with our wedding planning was our favorite thing about it all. Dreaming of our wedding week spent in Kentucky and discussing the things we loved about it most brought it into a different perspective for us. Ultimately, it lead to our realization that Nate’s “Old Kentucky Home” was where we want to be and to raise our future family. We plan to move to his family farm this fall to plant our roots!
    What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Planning from afar! It was difficult to book vendors and trust their judgment and reliability from a different state. We were so blessed to find the Winchester Opera House – they offered so many services that it really reduced our workload.
    If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
    What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? We both agree that our first look was the most memorable moment. Nate remembers the note and gift I had delivered to him just before. It referenced his grandparents and our goal to love the way they loved each other. And for me, I never felt more treasured by him. We cherished that moment of pause to embrace the impact of the day.
    What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Have a day-of coordinator! We were so grateful for ours! It allowed us to truly enjoy the day. I didn’t worry about what the groomsmen were up to, and Nate knew they were right on schedule. The staff of the Winchester Opera House made the perfect environment for our wedding day, and that is so important!

    Photographer: Brooke Bailey of On A Whim Photography | Planner: Vanessa Ziembroski and Natalie Johnson of The Winchester Opera House | Ceremony and Reception Venue, Caterer, Rentals, and Lighting: The Winchester Opera House | Florist: Neal Linville of The Winchester Opera House | Wedding Cake Baker: Stacey Maslin, The Cake Lady | DJ: DJ Kevin Croucher, Wed Laugh Love | Paper Products: Minted | Bride’s Gown: Vintage Redesign by Donna Beth Creations | Bride’s Veil: Donna Beth Creations | Jewelry: Kendra Scott Earrings | Hair Stylist: Erika Evans, Something Blu Lexington | Makeup Artist: Tamika Holifield, Something Blu Lexington | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade New York | Groom’s Attire: Custom Joseph Abboud | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Champagne poppers: Oriental Trading Company | Garter: made by bride and sister | Handkerchief: embroidered by bride | Bride’s Rings: Tacori | Groom’s Ring: Sather’s Jewelers, Fort Collins, CO

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    1 Comment
    1. avatar Kara B reply

      LOVE that dress! The shoes are pretty awesome too!

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    One of the MOST common questions I receive from readers is what gift I gave my husband on our wedding day. And I totally get that – if there was ever a time to gift an heirloom, or something that will become part of your new family’s lore, it would seem like your wedding day would be the day! Exchanging gifts and letters to open before your first look (if you’re doing one) or your ceremony can be a wonderful way to reflect on what your wedding day is really about, celebrate your history, create a family heirloom for your future home, and build anticipation for seeing each other.

    Sometimes coming up with a great gift idea that will tell the story of your relationship or surprise your fiance is easy… or maybe you need a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing, and that’s okay, too! Today, a few of our friends and readers are sharing what they gave their husbands as wedding day gifts, and they are as sweet, meaningful, and thoughtful as you could hope for. We would LOVE to hear from y’all in the comments, too, and really make this a helpful resource for the next gal who emails me! :)

    P.S. I gifted my husband an original framed oil painting of a sand dune that reminded me of the area in Michigan where his family has a home. It now hangs in our bedroom!

    Photo by Jen Fariello from Priya and Tom’s wedding

    My husband and I actually conspired together and gifted ourselves a post-wedding day spa trip that was scheduled for IMMEDIATELY following the wedding! After changing out of our wedding clothes and driving off from the reception venue, we headed straight for a luxurious spa in downtown Atlanta and treated ourselves to some serious decompressing after a SUPER long day! It was SO needed and it allowed us to decompress and giggle about what just happened in the past 24 hours. CRAZY – yet super romantic!
    –Lacoya Heggie of Hello Love Events, @HelloLoveWeddings

    Throughout our engagement, I had been secretly writing in the Southern Weddings Memories of Us Journal, and this was part of my wedding gift to Rob. I’d chronicled our engagement and wedding planning journey, as well as writing and reflecting on all of our most vivid memories together, our favorite dates, when I knew he was the one, and so much more. I also gave Rob a pair of cuff links with an “S” on them, which were passed down from my maternal grandparents. My parents gave these heirloom cuff links to me last summer right after my grandma passed away and when they knew that Rob was the one. My mom’s maiden name began with an “S,” and our last name begins with an “S,” as well, so it was only fitting that Rob become the next owner of this treasured family heirloom.
    –Stephanie Shaul of Stephanie Scholl Events, @StephanieShaul (See Stephanie’s wedding planning process!)

    My husband’s Pawpaw died from cancer before we ever started dating, but I knew just how much his Pawpaw meant to him and how close they were. For our wedding, I wanted him to know that he was still with him in spirit. I got my husband a wooden cutting board with an elephant engraved on it. Elephants were his Pawpaw’s favorite animal, and he collected them. I got his Nanny to give me an old card from his Pawpaw, and I got his signature engraved on the board, as well.
    –Katy Osborne

    I got a huge custom wooden frame from Hobby Lobby with a thick mat, sized to fit a wedding picture in it eventually. On the mat I hand wrote our wedding vows! I filled it with an engagement picture for now, and it will eventually go over our bed. I just got married a month ago and still smile a ton every time I see it!
    –Avian Nuckolls

    Photos by Esther Louise from McKara and Brandon’s wedding

    I got my husband an embossed Bible and a lapel pin of his Scottish family crest. Nothing major or crazy expensive, but they are very significant because the two most important things to the two of us are our faith and our families, and they are two of the things we want to carry into marriage with us.
    –Pamela Bunten

    My husband and I travel a TON (we move to a new city every four months!). When we travel, we each take on different roles – I do a lot of planning in advance, and then once we’re there, he is the directions guy. He is amazing with maps and has a great sense of direction, so he is always leading us around on our adventures. For his wedding day gift, I got him a Tiffany sterling silver compass. I had it engraved with our wedding date, our initials, and “Our Adventure.”
    –Emily Yates

    I ended up giving my husband a valet box filled with a few smaller, meaningful goodies. I designed the box myself, and asked my dad to build it using wood from some family land that I own. Then, I had a trophy shop make a plaque for the top with my husband’s monogram, and one for the inside of the lid with a personal note from me. I told my husband it was my way of bringing my past (family land) and present (my dad making it) together for something for the future (our marriage). My husband loved it and I’m hoping this will be something that will become a legacy piece that will be handed down to our children at some point.
    –Christian Howell

    Since I was fifteen years old, every month I have written love letters to my “future husband,” telling him about my life, my heart, how much I already love him, and how I am already praying for him. I continued writing throughout our courtship and engagement. The day of our wedding, I put the letters in envelopes and tied everything up with pretty ribbon. There was one he was supposed to open before I walked down the aisle, and the rest of the letters we read together on our honeymoon and are still reading today. He said it was the best gift he has ever received and that the letters are still so precious to him.
    –Caroline Willis

    I bought the vows print from the SW shop and had it framed for Bradley. It now hangs in our bedroom next to a huge canvas of our favorite wedding portrait and serves as a reminder of the vows we took that day.
    –Jennifer Cantrell

    Photo by Mandy Busby from Elise and Paul’s wedding

    As my gift to Robert, I needlepointed a classic, black and white cummerbund. I designed the pattern before we were even engaged, and I spent our whole engagement year stitching in secret. It brought me so much joy to give a gift that I know my husband will treasure forever!
    –Caroline Jones

    I gave my husband a large, framed picture of a sunrise we watched together while camping on top of a mountain before we got engaged. It was a favorite memory of ours and a gorgeous image. The photograph had been stored on our laptop for years and would probably still be in a folder on our desktop if I hadn’t printed it as his gift!
    –KJ Boyer

    Joining our money was a topic of ongoing discussions throughout our dating life and engagement. (I’m a spender and he’s a saver.) For his gift, I had a money clip engraved with “The joining of bank accounts. Zachary & Olivia. April 28, 2017.” I filled it with some cash just for him, but I think he ended up buying souvenirs for me on our honeymoon! My dad always carried a money clip, and I thought gifting my new husband one was a sweet nod to my past and Zach’s new role.
    –Olivia Denhoff

    Friends, I’d love to hear: if you gave your husband a gift on your wedding day, what was it? Please chime in below!

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

      My husband and I LOVE to travel and have been to a number of places together, so I knew from the moment we got engaged that I wanted to give him something related to our travels but I had no idea what! After months of researching and gathering ideas, I ordered a large custom map of the world that said “World Travels of the Mackvicks” at the top. It also came with pins in different colors that you could put into the map to indicate your next destination, your favorite trip, where you’ve been together, etc. It now hangs in his office and surrounding the map are photographs and pieces of artwork we’ve taken or collected from our trips!

    2. avatar Kathryn Widman reply

      My husband and I would have never met if it wasn’t for Clemson University. We both went to college there, only a year apart, with a ton of mutual friends, but we never met. We didn’t meet until we had both moved to Washington, DC for jobs and were introduced at an Alumni Football Watching Event at a local bar, became friends, and months later started dating. I’ve had my Clemson class ring since before I even graduated, but he never got one. I’ve known for almost the entire 5 years of dating that I was going to gift him this on our wedding day. Almost all of his guy friends have one and Clemson is what brought us together, so I always knew. Over the years, I thought he would either buy one for himself or guess that he would get it from me eventually, but he was totally shocked (and emotional) when he opened it up at our First Look. It’s one of my favorite memories from our Wedding Day. Now we both have our Clemson rings. And our photographer got some great shots! {We also wrote each other notes for that morning to read and he gave me a lovely gold necklace from a family-owned jeweler in Charleston, SC where I’m from to remind me of home}. It wasn’t about the gifts, but what they meant to us.

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