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Monthly Archives: August 2017

Y’all know I’m the first in line for a big bow or beautiful monogram, but I also understand they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. (Though, if you’re here at Southern Weddings reading, I’d say there’s a better than average chance they are!) In everything from your aesthetic choices to the words you say when you vow forever to each other, we want you to choose what’s right for you and what most helps to tell your unique story – not what looks good or what someone else is doing.

In that spirit, today we’re chatting about a few wedding ceremony traditions you might want to consider including in your big day. Traditions can make your ceremony even more meaningful by underscoring or illustrating the more important moments, but they’ll fall flat if they’re not rooted in what matters to you. Take a peek and see which ones speak to you – we can’t wait to see what you choose!

Bamber Photography

Military saber arch: For military brides and grooms, one of the most recognizable (and beloved!) wedding traditions is the saber arch—a ceremony exit that both celebrates the newlyweds, and acknowledges that serving our country is truly a family commitment.

Traditionally, the saber arch is performed by 6-8 uniformed service members (often guests or groomsmen/bridesmaids) immediately following the ceremony. On the command, the saber team raises their sabers into a high arch, which the newlyweds enter as they are announced by one of the members. As the bride and groom pass through, the two saber bearers in the front traditionally lower their sabers before the couple can proceed out of the arch.

This is when the saber bearer to the couple’s left gives the non-military member of the couple a gentle tap on the backside and a welcome to the applicable branch! After a kiss, the newlyweds are free to proceed and the saber team recovers on command and dissolves formation.

Unity candle: Typically the unity candle ceremony uses two taper candles with a large pillar candle in the center. At the beginning of the ceremony, a family representative from each side (usually the mothers of the bride and groom) light the two taper candles. Later during the ceremony, the bride and groom use the two light candles to jointly light the large center candle to symbolize the joining together of two families.

Anna Shackleford

Foot washing: Washing one another’s feet is a newer wedding tradition that stems from the biblical story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) as a gesture of service and humility. Christian couples especially may find deep symbolism in recreating this moment during their wedding ceremony, while promising to serve one another selflessly in marriage, but any couple committed to living out these qualities in their future may find it meaningful.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom simply take turns sitting down on a chair in front of a basin of water, while their significant other kneels in front of them, removes their shoe(s), and washes their feet with water. Another option: because a foot washing ceremony is so intimate, some couples choose to wash each other’s feet in a more private setting, perhaps during their first look, or after returning to their ceremony site post-recessional and after their guests have been dismissed.

Jumping the broom: This tradition has a history tied back to nineteenth-century slave communities in the South, but it has gained richness and deeper meaning for couples who choose to include it in their ceremonies today. The act of jumping can represent crossing the threshold into marriage, the beginning of making a home together, their dedication to working together through difficult and joyful tasks, and a sweeping away of the old and a welcoming of the new. The humble broom becomes quite beautiful when used in this way, and many are dressed up for the occasion!

A Bryan Photo

Carrying a white Bible: For families that have Bibles that have been passed down from generation to generation, carrying this heirloom down the aisle is a way for a bride to honor her heritage. Whether or not it’s an heirloom, Christians brides often carry a white Bible as an outward representation of their faith on this incredibly special day. Bibles and small white prayer books can be tucked into your bouquet or embellished with ribbons or flowers and carried solo. If you decide not to carry a Bible but are looking for another nod to your faith, we love the idea of wrapping your favorite verse into or around your bouquet or placing a family bible on the altar at your ceremony.

Ring warming: In a ring warming ceremony, the wedding bands are passed hand to hand through the congregation before being exchanged (tie them to a pillow or place them in a special bag to minimize the risk of dropping them!). Your officiant can ask each guest to hold the rings for a few moments, “warming” them with their prayers, blessings, and good wishes for your marriage. When they’re returned to you ready to wear, they’ll be symbolically fortified for your lifelong marriage to come!

We have heaps more ceremony planning advice and recommendations in our Joyful Wedding Planner. If you’re passionate about telling your unique love story through your wedding, this is the product for you!

Anna Shackleford and Bamber Photographer are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
1 Comment
  1. avatar Wedding Pixie reply

    Love these ideas, hand fasting is another tradition I love!

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Bride Nena shares her ethereal, outdoor wedding at Seven Springs Farm.

Please meet today’s bride Nena! She and her high school sweetheart Tre worked with their planner, Wood Grain and Lace, to bring their vision of an ethereal, romantic, outdoor celebration to life. And boy did they do a fantastic job! I’m in love with how the muted, neutral colors came to life against the historic backdrop of Seven Springs Farms. I’m also quite inspired with Nena’s simple yet powerful advise for bride’s struggling with narrowing down decisions on design details (and something that can be used across many planning decisions!), she said, “go with what you like…stick to your theme, your personality, and your gut, you can’t go wrong!” Looking for more sage advise from Nena? Be sure to feed why they chose to do a first look. This gal is wise, y’all

Big SW hugs to Meredith Ryncarz for sharing Nena and Tre’s sweet day!

My mom was adamant that buying the dress was of highest priority. To start, just my mom and I went to my initial appointment and I tried on about ten dresses there. I really liked two of my choices, but knew I needed to sleep on it to make the right choice. The next weekend, we went to another bridal shop just to explore other options, but none of them compared. I invited my nana and my maid of honor to the first salon to help me choose between my top two. I ended up choosing a modern, fresh Watters gown. It was perfect for my outdoor venue and went perfectly with the ethereal, romantic vision I was going for – and I felt amazing in it!

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes! We decided to do a first look because we loved the idea of having an intimate, private moment just the two of us. We had heard from other couples that the wedding day would go so fast and we didn’t want to let the day pass us by without just stopping to cherish the moment amidst all the excitement of the day. Not only did we get this special time together, but we got even more amazing photos and it calmed our nerves before the ceremony.

All of the prelude music had a very laid-back vibe and was performed both vocally and with an acoustic guitar. I really wanted my walk down the aisle to be totally different, so I chose “Canon in D.” It sounded so bridal and classic. For our exit song, we chose “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” because it was upbeat and really fit the vibe of our wedding. We chose “Say You Won’t Let Go” for our first dance. We had been going back and forth on different song choices and then one day we were driving down the road listening to the radio when this song came on, and we looked at each other and just knew that it was perfect.

My aunt, college roommate, and close friend officiated our ceremony. Having someone so special to both of us made our ceremony that much more meaningful. The message was not only beautifully written, but incredibly personal. We also wrote notes to one another that we read prior to our first look. During the ceremony, we placed them in a box that we won’t open until our 10th anniversary. It’s killing us not to open it yet, but we know it will be worth it!

What did you serve for your wedding cake? We had a white chocolate raspberry cake along with funfetti macarons, lemon blackberry cupcakes, snickerdoodle cookie sammies, berry hand pies, and funfetti donuts for dessert. We liked the idea of having lots of variety and it looked gorgeous as a display.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. We are high school sweethearts!
Tell us all about the proposal! Tre and I met through mutual friends when we were just 16 years old. We spent our first date hanging out by a neighborhood pond watching the sunset. Six years later, just days after our six year anniversary, Tre asked me if I would pick up his nephew from that very pond. I happily agreed. When I arrived, there Tre was standing at the end of the bridge waiting for me. I was quickly reminded that this was the first place we had ever spent time together, just the two of us. He got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. It was absolutely surreal! The whole proposal was so Tre – sweet, thoughtful, and genuine.
When did y’all get married? May 20, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We decided on Seven Springs because it had everything we wanted: gorgeous grounds, privacy, and no one that we knew had ever been married there before!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? The monogrammed handkerchief my nana gave me. Her sister gave it to her before her wedding and my nana passed it on to me before mine. I incorporated it into the base of my bouquet for an heirloom touch. I hope to pass it on to my daughter one day.
What was Southern about your wedding? We buried the bourbon a month before our wedding to ward off bad weather and it worked like a charm! It was 75 and sunny on our big day. I mean absolute perfection! Not to mention we got married outside, in May, in rural Virginia – doesn’t get more Southern than that!
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? I loved designing the details of our wedding. Deciding what the desserts would be displayed on, where the bars would go, what to get my bridesmaids, all of the fun, creative stuff!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The hardest part was not being able to see everything together before the wedding. You spend months choosing the perfect flowers, what color linens to use, and all these other things and you have no idea if it will look good once it’s all pulled together. I was so pleasantly surprised by how great everything looked on the day of. My best advice to other brides who are struggling over the design details is to go with what you like. It’s hard not to stress about what it will look like all together, but if you stick to your theme, your personality, and your gut, you can’t go wrong!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Hiring a planner! Our coordinator had done hundreds more weddings than we had, so we took her advice on selecting reputable, affordable vendors, and we listened when she told us not to bother with super elaborate wedding favors.
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Reading Tre’s letter to me was the most memorable moment for me. I sat alone in the bridal suite as I read it aloud overcome with emotion. It was so special to read a letter that culminated seven years of feelings, thoughts, and memories. That’s when it really hit me that we were about to become husband and wife. It was such an incredible moment.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Soak in every moment. The day flies by so quickly and with everything that’s going on, it can be hard to really appreciate each second, but try your best to slow down, take a breath, say a prayer with your maid of honor, and soak it all in. This will be the best day of your life and you will look back and want to do it over and over again!

Photographer: Meredith Ryncarz Photography | Videographer: Rachael Curry Films | Planner: Christine Greenberg of Wood Grain and Lace Events | Venue: Seven Springs | Florist: Amanda Burnette | Wedding Cake: Arley Cakes | Caterer: Champagne Taste Catering | Rentals: Rent-e-quip and Paisley and Jade | DJ: Cam DiNunzio | Paper Products: Epoch Design | Bride’s Gown: “Maidera” by Willowby by Watters | Bridal Salon and Accessories: Bridal Elegance | Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott | Hair Stylist: Katia Ocampo of Mango Salon | Bride’s Shoes: Gigi Crystal Pointy Toe Flat by Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Fashion: Show Me Your Mumu | Men’s Attire: BLACK by Vera Wang from Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Paisley and Jade reply

    Loved being a part of Nena & Tre’s gorgeous day! Bravo to all of our vendor friends for bringing this lovely vision to life and thanks SW for featuring!

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Hello, friends! I’ve got a treat for you today! Our good friend, sweet Southern gal Victoria Strader, is here to share a bit about how she planned her ceremony. She’s five years out from her wedding, but her perspective is timeless, and I think you’ll love this peek into her special day! Enjoy! – Emily

Hi y’all! I’m Victoria, and I’ve been married to my high school best friend/college sweetheart Ben for almost five years. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to keep myself from looking at the one and only Southern Weddings blog before getting engaged, haha! :) We have a one-year-old son named Beau and we live deep in the heart of Texas.

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Meredith Teasley

As each year of my life goes by, I become more and more passionate about the deepening of relationships: the relationship with God that defines my faith, my marriage with Ben, the sweet time spent playing on the floor with my squishy baby boy, and the friendships that keep me thriving in the business of ordinary life. We planned a wedding for the winter of 2012 in our hometown, the place where both sides of my husband’s family have lived for generations.

While we were limited in some aspects of planning because this was the kind of wedding where I had to accept the fact that there would be invitations tacked up on the bulletin board of Granny’s Sunday School class, there were some things we didn’t compromise on. When planning for our wedding ceremony, our vision was for it to be deeply personal: a reflection of our personalities and our faith. We wanted every detail to ultimately point to The Lord through a celebration of the ways he has worked in us individually, together, and in other relationships. I’m thrilled to share three of our favorite aspects with y’all today!

Photo by Caroline Joy

1. Our pastor. The first detail that we were passionate about was our youth pastor from high school officiating the ceremony. Ben and I were in the same youth group, so this felt like a no-brainer! Josh knew us so well then, and even now, five years later and with his family living a few hours away, they still mean so much to us. (In fact, neither of us felt right about announcing the pregnancy of our son until we made the road trip to share the news with them in person!) Josh did an incredible job of weaving stories of each of our personalities together with some deep and beautiful scripture. My biggest hope when attending a wedding ceremony is that I’ll walk away feeling like I know the couple more, and I think Josh hit the nail on the head for us in this way. The message of our wedding shared the gospel of our faith, as well as our own personal stories of coming to be Christians.

2. Our wedding vows. Our vows, and the completely non-traditional way that we stumbled upon them, are another favorite detail about our ceremony. When initially discussing our vows, we wanted something different than the traditional lines, but didn’t feel incredibly inspired to write our own. Enter: the Southern Weddings blog! I watched a wedding video* on the blog of a couple who had written their vows, and their words echoed so much truth from the Bible. They were beautiful, and after showing them to Ben, we agreed that nothing we had begun to brainstorm seemed even a tiny bit as beautiful as those words. I just remember Ben saying, “Nothing I write is going to show people Jesus as well as those words!” Haha!

So I did some hunting, dug up the email of the bride, and emailed her asking permission to “borrow” their vows. I explained our story and the heart behind our request, and she so graciously sent me back her approval and best wishes. I realize this method might not be for everyone (and might make any artistic, creative person cringe – ha!), but it ended up being the best possible fit for us. When we recited those vows, it didn’t feel weird to have borrowed someone else’s words at all. If anything, they felt more special because we had thought so much about them!

3. Our ceremony music. Planning for our ceremony music was not something that came naturally to me (I actually rarely listen to music!), but I knew how important it would be for our celebration. I often think of specific couples when I hear their wedding songs being played, and desired for our selections to be sweet and represent us well! One of our good friends from high school is an incredibly gifted vocalist, so we had him sing “Be Thou My Vision” during a time of prayer. My all-time favorite movie is The Parent Trap (the 90’s version!) so our recessional was to “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”, the song that plays in the closing credits :)

Something really sweet is that as I reflect on planning our ceremony five years later, I would still choose all of the same things. The meaningful part of our wedding grows more and more special to me each year, and I’m so grateful for the time we put into it!

Thank you so much for sharing, Victoria! You can follow along with her on her blog and Instagram, where she shares the most ridiculously adorable photos of her smile-y little boy. If you’re planning your own ceremony, be sure to check out our Joyful Wedding Planner – it’s an invaluable helper for something so important!

*Since the video post Victoria mentioned is from more than five years ago, it’s no longer active on our site, sadly. But the fun part? It was the wedding video of our friend Sam from LULA Hair + Makeup! No wonder Victoria found it so inspiring! :)

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Laura @ Laura Likes Design reply

    Aw, I just love that you used the song from The Parent Trap! Such a fun little detail of the day!

  2. avatar Pixie Wedding Sites reply

    Oh my goodness what an adorable baby boy! Just so cute :) fab wedding

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