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Southern Weddings

Author: Emily

You’ve probably heard us say this before, and we’ll repeat it till the cows come home, because gracious, it can save you so much stress: don’t book any of your vendors till you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue!

I will be the first to raise my hand when I say this may be easier said than done, though. When I was wedding planning, my now-husband and I had an immediate bead on our officiant and photographer, and were eager to confirm the dates with them. But, our venue search took MUCH longer than we ever suspected! (And ended — long story short — with John scrolling Google Maps satellite view to find a patch of coastal land where we could pitch a tent!) I can’t imagine the headache it could’ve caused if we had put down deposits on other vendors before securing the place where our “I dos” would take place (and, of course, the official date!).

Along with setting your date in stone, your venue will likely have more of an influence on your wedding than any other decision–it will determine the style and aesthetic, your guest count, and even the timeline of the day. Below are a few tips for making this important decision!

Start with Google. While venues that market themselves to weddings generally have a lot of information online, unusual or “off the beaten path” options may be harder to find through a simple search. Try searching for phrases like “North Carolina barn wedding” or “Atlanta ballroom wedding”–those terms are likely to bring up posts on wedding blogs (oh hi! :)) and photographers’ blogs, which can be a great way to both find new venues and see how others have used the spaces.

Compare apples to apples. When you’re booking a venue, you’re often booking more than just the space–you may also be booking their in-house staffing, rentals, catering etc. All venues calculate their prices differently, so as you research, try to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to understand and compare. For example, one venue may seem exorbitantly more expensive than another at first, but when you learn that the first price includes a month-of coordinator, valet parking, and use of their extensive rental inventory, while the second is just use of the space, the first may actually be the more affordable option.

Visit your venue one year in advance. If you can, try to visit venues as close to a year in advance of your wedding date as possible–it will give you the best insight as to what you can expect in terms of landscaping and scenery.

Get it in writing. Especially if you are asking for particular allowances, such as hanging a certain type of decor or arranging the space in a unique way, be sure to get the venue’s agreement in writing. That way, even if there’s staff turnover during your engagement, your provisions should be safe.

Here are a few important questions to ask venues you’re interested in–pin the graphic below so you don’t forget! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, you’ll also find this list in there to bring to your appointments.)

I’d love to know–what made you say “yes” to your wedding venue?

emily Written with love by Emily
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Bride Ivana shares her glam Texas ballroom wedding!

Any professional football fans reading today? :) I wouldn’t necessarily count myself amongst your ranks, but Ivana and Jordan’s wedding (featured in our tenth-anniversary issue!) has given me a new reason to care about the upcoming Super Bowl! Jordan plays for the Eagles, and so I, having fallen in love with this sweet couple and having no other existing allegiances, will definitely be rooting for Philadelphia on Sunday.

Of course, you can sport another team’s jersey and still cheer for Team Hicks – they’ve made it easy! From their surprise first dance to their thoughts on serving communion at their ceremony, theirs was a ballroom wedding that oozed personality.

Thanks to Blue Ribbon Vendor Jen Dillender for sharing these beautiful photos!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met through a mutual friend Jordan’s sophomore year, my junior year, in college. My friend Lydia and I were talking at a picnic table in the heart of campus as Jordan was walking by. Lydia calls him over to say hi and he briefly introduced himself to me. A day later, he reached out to Lydia asking about me, and and before I knew it, I was seeing him more and more around our 40 acre campus. We eventually exchanged numbers which led to us going on our first date. Since then, we have been inseparable!

How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Jordan was in (football) season, so we did marriage counseling with the Eagles team chaplain and his wife. We went through many exercises doing all that we could to set a solid foundation before we were actually married. It truly was a blessing to have them guide and prepare us in this new season in life.
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! We had an evening June wedding at the Barton Creek Hotel in Austin, Texas on June 24th, 2017 at 6pm. With Jordan’s schedule, we had to choose a time when he wasn’t in season or in spring training, but it turned out to be the most perfect June wedding.

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? I wanted an elegant, romantic setting with lush peonies and candles everywhere. The colors were blush, white, and gold.
What was your favorite detail of the wedding? My favorite detail of the wedding was taking communion right after we said our vows.

Tell us about your wedding flowers. I love peonies, and knew that I wanted them in my wedding. I had a mix of peonies, pink garden roses, and white orchids. They are flowers that are timeless, beautiful, and make a statement.
Did you write your own vows? We did. My favorite verse that I wrote was: “I promise to be loving, faithful, and true to you always! I promise to uplift you, motivate you, and stand with you when you’re low. I promise to always celebrate, admire, and treasure your highs. I promise to always be your best friend!”

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used. One decor element I wanted to see everywhere were candles. I wanted the room to be lit up for a romantic setting.
What kind of food did you serve at your reception? To start, we served a Mexican wedge salad. For the entree, guests had the option to choose between the jalapeno-brined chicken with smoked tomato butter and the seared sea bass with tomato caper relish. Both were served with garlic rosemary mashed potatoes, and seasonal roasted vegetables.

Tell us a bit about your first dance. Jordan and I surprised our guests with a Latin dance by Marc Anthony as soon as our first dance ended. It was so much fun, especially for him to take part in my Latin culture. Our friends and family loved it!
Tell us about your wedding cake! Our cake was a six layer white cake with beautiful fresh flowers that consisted of two flavors. Our flavors were orange, and chocolate cake with strawberry and grand marnier whipped cream filling.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? We really tried to cater to our guests. Every person there had impacted us in some way, so we wanted to make everyone feel special and as if they were being catered to.

Describe the proposal! At the time Jordan and I were long distance because he had relocated from Austin to Philadelphia to play for the Eagles, so we planned a trip to Turks & Caicos I was very much looking forward to. We took a private boat ride, and 20 minutes or so into our sail, Captain Tim tells us we’re about to pass what many believe is the most beautiful part of Turks & Caicos. Jordan gets up to quickly refill his drink, but when he returned, he returned with much more than a refill. He gave me his hand to help stand me up. Not a word was said as we locked our eyes together. I knew IT was about to happen. He promised me a lifelong love, and made me the happiest girl in the world as he asked me to marry him. Jon, ‘the crew member,’ came over to re-introduce himself to me as ‘Jon, the photographer.’ Afterwards, we celebrated, did our engagement shoot around the islands, and even got to swim with wild dolphins which was a sweet ending to our perfect day.
How many guests attended your wedding? 250
What was Jordan’s favorite detail of the wedding? (From Jordan) My favorite detail of the wedding was the surprise first dance. I am not much of a dancer and was nervous to do it all the way up until the music began playing. Once we started dancing everything happened perfectly, even better than we had practiced. For me, it was fun to step out of my comfort zone and be able to bring excitement to the reception.
What was your reception like? It was so much fun! We couldn’t get off the dance floor and neither could our guests. For the last dance, we surprised everyone with gold and white confetti poppers that added the perfect touch to the night.
What was Southern about your wedding? Our wedding revolved around our faith. This was what was most important to us: that not only did people see our love for one another, but for Jesus Christ as well. The first thing we did as husband and wife was take communion, vowing that our foundation will be found in Him.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? My advice is that if you’re planning a wedding from afar, I highly recommend hiring a planner. It is so important to hire someone that you instantly connect with! Remember, you’ll be talking, texting, emailing, and meeting with them for the entire process, so choose someone you can imagine building a friendship with. Plus, it just makes the process that much more fun, and stress-free.

Photographer: Jen Dillender | Videographer: Wes Raitt | Planner and Designer: Brock + Co Events | Ceremony and Reception Venue:Barton Creek Resort + Spa | Florals: Botanical No.9 | Wedding Cake Baker: Simon Lee Bakery | Bride’s Gown: “Fiona” by Galia Lahav | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal | Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Bride’s Jewelry: Russell Korman Jewelry | Bride’s Veil: Galia Lahav | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Lola Beauty | Groom’s Fashion: Soto & Co | Rentals: Whim Hospitality | Linens: Nuage Designs | Decor: Townsley Designs | Favors: Cornucopia Popcorn | Lighting: Filo Productions

emily Written with love by Emily
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Belles, we have a treat for you today!!

Early last year, our friends at Southern-staple Lauren James told us a VERY exciting secret: they were working on a one-stop bridesmaid shop for their signature LJ dresses!

We pretty much started jumping up and down, as nothing could make more sense: Lauren’s dresses are PERFECT for Southern gals, and they’re already being used in weddings around the world! Now, the geniuses at LJ have simply streamlined the shopping and ordering process for your entire bridal party, making it easier to deck your belles in bows on your wedding day. Here’s how:

Head to the “Made for You” section of the Lauren James site to create an account and set up your own bridal suite. This will be your custom landing page, where you’ll enter information about your wedding and each bridal party member.

Choose from a wide range of options to assign each bridesmaid a color, fabric (100% cotton or seersucker), and dress style choice. You can give each gal several styles to choose from, or assign one option to everyone. Bridesmaids can order a dress with added length too!

Once you’ve made all of your selections, the system will send an email to each bridal party member welcoming her to the bridal suite and showing her the style options you’ve chosen with links to shop on the website. From there, each gal can order her outfit of choice directly from Lauren James.

As the bride, you’ll be able to see who has ordered what, and when, eliminating so many headaches and the hassle of chasing down your girls! Hallelujah!!

All dresses are made to order in the United States and take up to ten weeks for delivery.

Genius, right?! You already know Lauren James dresses are the epitome of “wear it again after the wedding,” and now, they’ve made the whole process simple and fun for everyone involved. We could not be more excited to see more LJ bows show up in our real wedding features from here on out!

To check out the Bridal Suite for yourself and scope out the dresses featured in these photos (the Morgan, Emerson, and Livingston), head to the Lauren James site!

Photography: Bamber Photography | Venue: Leslie-Alford-Mims House | Hair and makeup: Teighla Norris | Flowers: Amanda Day Rose | Cake: Ashley Cakes

This post is sponsored by Lauren James. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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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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