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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Photographer and educator Katelyn James is a very dear friend to Southern Weddings, and one of the sweetest gals we know. When she recently mentioned that she and her husband Michael have been working with a marriage counselor almost since they said “I do,” we were intrigued. It’s a topic that doesn’t get talked about a lot, but one we think deserves more love! We asked her to share a bit more about their experience today. Take it away, Katelyn! – Emily

When Emily asked me to share about our experience with a life coach/marriage counselor, I was excited… but then I had a split second of feeling a little uneasy about sharing this part of our life, because there are so many stigmas surrounding the idea of counseling, coaching, and therapy! Then I realized that that is the very reason why I SHOULD be sharing! Just last night we had friends over for dinner, and the fact that we meet with a life coach every two weeks came up. The first thing out of the wife’s mouth was, “Oh, he would never do that! He’s so against counseling of any kind!” I get it. It seems like only those who have super SERIOUS issues go to counseling or have a coach. Well, Michael and I have found that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Michael and I started meeting with our life coach (who is really more like a marriage counselor) over three years ago. At first, we weren’t convinced that it was a necessity. I mean, isn’t it normal to have marital tension, and use tones with one another, and feel conflicted about the balance of working together? Isn’t it totally understandable that we came from different family dynamics and that affects the way we show up emotionally with one another? Isn’t is normal to have weeks of not feeling like we’re on the same team?

I think those things ARE normal… but they don’t have to be. I actually think that the most damaging thing a couple can do in a relationship is just accept the unhealthy parts of their marriage and never dive deeper into the reason they are happening in the first place.

My dad is a pastor, and he always talks about how so many marriages have unhealthy tendencies that get masked by the “children” phase of life. Kids come, and life becomes all about them. It’s exciting and new and fun, but what happens when they are off to college and it’s back to just you and your spouse at home again? When it’s just the two of you and those struggles that you had before kids? They’re going to be waiting for you, which is why you see so many divorces happening when kids reach the end of high school and begin college. The little things matter, and they add up!

Michael and I knew deep down that we wanted to have a third party speak into our life. We love our parents, our siblings, our best friends… but there is something so powerful about having someone meet with us that isn’t biased towards us in any way. Our life coach lives in California, and we live in Virginia. We don’t meet in person, and we don’t even meet face to face. We commit to a simple one hour phone call every two weeks.

The actual commitment of the calls isn’t hard… it’s doing the HEART SEARCHING that’s hard. It’s being honest with how you’re showing up in your marriage that’s hard! Michael and I have grown so much in the last three years. The conversations that we are having with our life coach are the type of conversations that we would have never experienced without someone helping us dig deeper. No one enjoys digging deeper into the mess of their life, but it’s necessary in order to create a new vision for your marriage!

It’s hard to explain what we’ve gained from meeting with our coach in just one paragraph. To put it simply, it has been life changing. Michael and I have a greater understanding of why we are the way we are. The beautiful thing about our coaching sessions is that we have learned to recognize and see more clearly what is truth, and what we make up to be true about what another.

For example, assuming that Michael is mad, frustrated, or annoyed with me based off of his interactions with me totally discredits what could be going on in his world. A lot of tension and tone stems from outside stress. Choosing to respond to Michael based on what I KNOW to be true about him (that he loves me, cares for me, and wants the best for me) instead of the immediate circumstances has been a game changer.

Life coaching or marriage counseling isn’t just for those that are heading down a path of destruction… it’s for healthy marriages! As a photographer, I’ve spent a lot of money on education to improve my craft. My marriage is so much more important than my business, and so it only makes sense that we would invest in our relationship, as well.

If you’re considering hiring a life coach or marriage counselor, I recommend gently bringing it up to your spouse. This is something that you both need to be willing to do. Don’t be frustrated if it takes a few conversations to get on the same page! Sometimes I look forward to our calls, and other times I dread them… but no matter what, I always end our calls knowing that we’re fighting for our marriage together and there’s nothing else that is more important! We are learning how to love each other in a healthier way and even though we’re far from perfect, we know that God is doing amazing transformation in our relationship!

Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Katelyn! For those interested in learning more about Katelyn’s specific coach, you can visit Julia’s site.

All photos by Jillian Michelle Photography

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Amber Stapp reply

    I love this! What a powerful article with such an important message for all couples! I’m inspired by this wonderful couple and their commitment to creating the best most God honoring marriage they can. Blessings to them both. And their baby is gorgeous!!!

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Bride Ashley shares her Texas hill country wedding at Boot Ranch.

Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’m not much of an outdoors-y gal, but today’s wedding just might have won me over with its beautiful views of the hill country. I’m delighted to introduce you to today’s bride, Ashley. She and her groom, Aaron, chose to celebrate their big day in Fredericksburg, Texas as a tribute to her late grandfather. Not only had he lived there before his passing, but he left his home to her family, creating many fond memories. Ashley said, “When we are down there, the focus is on enjoying the people around you and being present… all the other stuff and stresses seem to melt away.” I cannot think of a better reason for choosing a wedding locale. Of course, said views of Boot Ranch don’t hurt! Keep reading to learn more about Ashley and Aaron’s Texas wedding and their love story.

Big SW hugs to Feather and Twine for sharing Ashley and Aaron’s wedding with us!

My mom and I shopped for “the dress” for several weekends in Dallas – we called it marathon shopping. It felt like we went to every store in Dallas before I found out that one of the stores was doing a Vera Wang Trunk Show. We decided to go and see if I liked any of the dresses. They also had a photographer and a Vera Wang rep from New York present to tell us all about the dresses I tried on. The moment I tried on my dress I knew it was the perfect dress and the one for me. It was timeless, ethereal, and breath taking. The photographer captured those special moments revealing the dress to my mom. Also, the Vera Wang rep gave me a copy of Vera Wang Weddings book and left a special note in it for me.

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? Our first look – having that special moment between us in such a busy day to just put everything on pause and savor the feelings, emotions, and excitement. I will never forget the look he gave me when he turned around and saw me for the first time – his eyes were filled with so much love and adoration for me and at that moment I knew I couldn’t be more lucky to have him in my life.

I wanted a wedding that was classic, timeless, vintage, and romantic while still being a wedding that people said after the fact “that was such a fun wedding” or “I had the best time!” So I choose to do some things as a nod to old Southern traditions: our family hosted a welcome dinner Thursday night at our Fredericksburg house, I wore my mom’s cathedral-style wedding veil, and we did a hora or chair dance. We chose to display small pictures of our families sprinkled throughout the reception venue because as much as it was about Aaron and me, it was also about two families coming together, and our five-piece band with back-up dancers played music everyone could dance to!

Our ceremony was not a traditional ceremony… Aaron is Jewish, and I am Christian. We decided to have an interfaith rabbi conduct the ceremony. We custom-tailored every part of our wedding ceremony to reflect our personalities and the beliefs/traditions we value. I also decided for my mom to walk me down the aisle and my dad to meet her at the alter to do the hand off since my mom was the person who raised me. Our vows were very meaningful to us as well – “I promise to love you, respect you, laugh with you, and soothe your tears. I promise to share my life openly and honestly with you and to encourage and nurture your growth. Together, we continue this journey of exploration, trust, and communication. I promise to savor each day, reveling in our loving relationship and in our pursuit of happiness.” We felt these words reflected our core values and desire for each other to be the best people we can be.

We had a dessert bar filled with fun candy (hot tomales, twizzlers, sour patch watermelons, M&Ms, skittles, etc.), decorated cookies, and an assortment of macaroons in old-fashioned apothecary candy jars all centered around my cake. I decided to have a butter cream cheese and fresh strawberry yellow cake. I wanted something refreshing and delicious and to stray away from what was typically done. The cake was decorated with laurel like greenery and vibrant flowers pin-tucked into the greenery around the base of the tiered cake.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Timing was everything for us – we had known that we were meant for one another when we dated at LSU, we just had to find out who we were as individuals before we could grow a life together successfully.
Tell us all about the proposal! We had been dating long-distance from Dallas, where Aaron lived, to Nashville, where I lived, for a little over a year. We knew after dating six months that one of us would move so that we could be together and enjoy the little things in life that regular couples get to enjoy, like going to the grocery store together, etc. Well, Aaron flew up to Nashville in January and let me know he had made dinner reservations at this new restaurant I had been wanting to go to. He finished getting ready before I did (as usual), went into my living room, and waited on me to finish up. Shortly after, I walked out of my bedroom all ready and he greeted me and told me how lucky he was to have me in his life and how he couldn’t imagine his life without me. He then got down on one knee and proposed. It was so special and intimate – which was exactly what I wanted. My engagement ring has more meaning than a typical engagement ring does – the center stone is from a ring my grandfather had and left to my mom after he passed away a little less than 5 years ago after a tragic accident. Aaron knew that I adored my grandfather and thought he hung the moon and decided to incorporate a piece/ memory of him into my ring.
When did y’all get married? April 22, 2017.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 156.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For our ceremony I decided to have a more traditional approach and went with a harp and two violinists. I wanted to keep it classic but with a fun twist for the music selections. They played songs that I had always loved. Aaron and I chose our first dance song, “You are the Best Thing,” based on the lyrics and how true it resembled our feelings for each other. We also felt like this song would remain somewhat of a classic song. I chose “Wonderful Tonight” for my dad’s song because I felt it was special in the meaning of how much love a parent can have. Aaron chose to dance with his mom to “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” because he used to sing it to his mom when he was little.
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? I can honestly say it was the most perfect day… I want to go back and relive that day over and over if I could! My wedding was all about the details and making those details reflect Aaron’s and my fun-loving and unique personalities. One of the details I did love was that I chose to wear Kate Spade rose gold sparkly Keds for my wedding shoes. I didn’t want to wear a shoe I couldn’t dance the night away in. So it was kind of funny to have this timeless classic dress and sparkly tennis shoes underneath it!
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? The best part was having all the people I loved the most surround and support Aaron and me while we went through this life-changing event. I have never felt so loved and so special!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Stressing over the details and the feeling of having to take everything on.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Some of my vendors were local to Fredericksburg and provided better pricing than other vendors from larger nearby cities. Also, I created all my save-the-dates and wedding invitations on Minted instead of from a traditional paper store.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Do what you want to do and not necessarily what you are expected to do or what someone else wants you to do. Also to keep things in perspective – remember that all this planning is for one day, and the things you stress or get upset about beforehand don’t really matter because at the end of the day it is about you getting married to the love of your life and if that is achieved the wedding was a success!

Photographer: Feather and Twine | Planner: Melanie McKinley from Mayhar Designs | Venue and Caterer: Boot Ranch | Florist: Sprout | Wedding Cake Baker: Sophie’s Bakery | Rentals and Lighting: Whim | Band or DJ: Jordan Kahn Orchestra | Paper Products: Minted | Bride’s Gown: Vera Wang | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: Stanley Korshak | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Kiss By Katie | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale | Menswear: The Black Tux

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Jackie reply

    Her bouquet is gorgeous, and I love the different dress the maid/matron of honor wore. It looks so beautiful with the blue dresses.

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Bride Taryn shares her pretty, pink wedding at Ravenswood Mansion.

Fellow pink-loving gals, come on in close, and please meet today’s bride Taryn! She said she “wanted the wedding to be rooted in Southern tradition but with elements of surprise.” And y’all I would say that Taryn and her beau Chris did that so well thanks to traditional Southern elements like a receiving line to welcome guests to the Ravenswood Mansion and late night cookies with milkshake shooters for an extra fun twist, plus much more! Keep reading to learn how the newlyweds incorporated family traditions into their romantic wedding day under the clear-top tent!

Big SW hugs to Krisin Sweeting for sharing!

We knew we wanted to have the ceremony in a church. The sanctuary had many design elements that were similar to the church I grew up in back in Mississippi. The reception venue was special because not only were we able to rent the grounds for the reception, but also the gorgeous home that was built in 1825. We used the house all day to get ready that morning, take our first look photos, and then for the reception. The rooms of the home were open and bright, and the grounds were stunning, overlooking the hills of Williamson County. It was the perfect serene backdrop we were looking for.

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. I went to A LOT of stores. I travel for work, so I took the opportunity to look for the dress in every town I visited. Even though I traveled far and wide, I ultimately found my dress right in Nashville. I immediately fell in love with the flowing organza skirt and unique lace. It was the perfect mix of vintage with a modern twist.

What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Enjoy the process because it will be over so quickly. Focus on a few key elements that really matter to you, and then trust the professionals with the rest. Let go of what you can’t control (and that includes weather!) Most of wedding planning is really for your guests, but try to come up with a few things that mean something just to you!

My grandfather officiated parts of the ceremony. He also officiated my parents’ wedding and my sister’s wedding. It was so special to have him at the altar with us, to administer Communion and announce us man and wife. The most meaningful part of the ceremony for me was when my grandfather led us through Communion. Only Chris and I were taking part while the guests enjoyed a vocal performance. It was such an imitate and precious moment for the three of us.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes. We choose to go with a first look so that we had a moment just for us early in the day. We also thought (correctly) that there would be tears, and wanted to have that real moment. It gave us more time to spend together on that day and more opportunities to take special pictures.

We included Southern details each step of the way. We chose hand calligraphy invitations. The location of Ravenswood as a traditional Southern mansion for the full day of celebrations. My dad and I rode together to the church in a vintage white Jaguar. We had a formal leave from the church and the reception venue. We incorporated a receiving line as guests arrived at Ravenswood, and we were able to greet each and every one. The guests had Southern appetizers during cocktail hour of shrimp and grits and hot chicken mac and cheese. We offered a seated outdoor dinner, and the bride and groom dined at a sweetheart table. We also had a cold snap right before the event so I ordered ivory pashmina shawls that were given out to guests as they arrived. Also, the cake knife and server were a gift from the bride’s parents in the couple’s silver pattern.

What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? The most memorable moment for me was sitting at the sweetheart table with Chris. All our guests were talking and laughing while being seated in the tent, there was a beautiful sunset, and we were officially married. I just remember that moment so well, of taking in the moment that everything had come together just as we had dreamed.

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? My favorite detail of the wedding was the clear tent. As guests arrived for the beginning of the seated dinner, the sun was just beginning to set. I knew I wanted everyone to enjoy the beautiful, plush landscape, green hills in the distance, and the sunset. The clear tent gave the protection we needed while giving an uninterrupted view for the guests. As the night came, you could see the stars through the tent while the lights inside the tent gave such a romantic feeling.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. A boy from New York City and a girl from Mississippi met on a blind date in Nashville, and we both knew very quickly that this was it!
Tell us all about the proposal! We were supposed to be leaving that day to travel to Mississippi to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday, but Chris had my sister make up a reason that we couldn’t leave until the next morning. So we were on our way to dinner that night when Chris made a detour up to the State Capital Building which sits high on a hill above Nashville. And there, overlooking the city where we met and fell in love, with a gorgeous sunset, Chris got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was just the two of us there, and we were so caught up taking in the moment that eventually his brother called thinking that perhaps something had gone wrong! The next morning we left for Mississippi and surprised my family. My grandmother said it was the best 90th birthday present.
When did y’all get married? May 6, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. During the ceremony, friends of the bride, who are also sisters, sang a beautiful duet of “Wonderful, Merciful Savior.” They sang while the bride and groom took Communion. The song really set the tone for the worshipful moment we wanted to have during the ceremony. I choose “Trumpet Voluntary” to walk down the aisle. The church had an amazing pipe organ, and the song was a great fit for the fanfare of the organ. Plus, I wanted to make a big entrance. Our first dance at the reception was “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis. The groom is a huge Elvis fan, so it was an easy choice for him.
What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? Why did you choose it? Each layer of our wedding cake featured a duo serving. Guests were given a slice of vanilla almond with chocolate, vanilla almond with strawberry, or vanilla almond with dreamsicle. Also late in the evening, we served chocolate chip cookies with milkshake shooters.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? I really enjoyed putting together the big picture: traditional Southern elegance with a modern twist. I wanted the wedding to be rooted in Southern tradition but with elements of surprise. I really liked planning the logistics of how guests would arrive, move through the house, and then be seated in the tent. I really wanted the guests to feel the Southern hospitality and then just have fun.
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The hardest part of planning the wedding was letting go of the “what ifs.”
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We choose less expensive chairs for the seated dinner. I knew the beautiful natural landscape plus the floral arrangements and tabletop decor would create the perfect ambiance without needing an expensive chair.

Photographer: Kristin Sweeting Photography | Videographer: Matt G Video | Planner, Florist, and Lighting: Regalo Design | Ceremony Venue: Forest Hills United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: Ravenswood Mansion | Wedding Cake: Signature Cakes by Vicki | Caterer: Chef Penelope’s Catering | Rentals: Southern Events | Ceremony Music: Silver Strings | Band: The Respectables | Paper Products: The Lyrical Pen | Bride’s Gown: “Odette” by Modern Trousseau | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Cassie” in Blush by Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Transportation: Matchless Transportation

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Wedding Pixie reply

    Stunning bride. Love the Badgley Mischka shoes!

  2. avatar Florent Vidal Photography reply

    Congratulations to the beautiful couple!
    This wedding looks incredible. I agree with the bride, the clear tent must have been such a stunning touch to the reception x

  3. avatar Jackie reply

    Her dress and veil – amazing! I love when friends/family members are officiants for weddings. It always makes it so special.

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