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Southern Weddings

Author: Emily

Some of the very best posts in our archives are the ones written by real brides actively planning their weddings and sharing their thoughts along the way. We want to bring you more of that! Today’s guest, Grace, was actually married this spring, but close enough :) We met her at one of our photo shoots for Volume 10, and when she told us she used our Joyful Wedding Planner throughout her engagement, we were tickled pink! Since we’ve been talking about all things ceremony for the last few weeks, I asked her to come on over and share more about hers. Take it away, Grace! – Emily

For about a week after getting engaged, my time was mostly spent daydreaming about our engagement day and gazing at my beautiful ring (ha!). Once I shook off the “engagement high,” I dived into planning our wedding — I could hardly wait! My excitement quickly turned to frustration, though, as I was overwhelmed with the number of options and decisions there were to make, as I’m sure y’all can relate to. I needed a solid guide that would come alongside me and my husband as we created a wedding that was uniquely ours. Thankfully, the Joyful Wedding Planner came to the rescue!

From the very beginning stages of wedding planning, my husband and I knew that we wanted to get married in the mountains, a place we both love and where we’ve made wonderful memories. We also knew that we wanted our wedding day to glorify and display the love of Christ, and for this reason, the ceremony was the most important part of the day for us. It was not only the part of the day that we would officially be declared husband and wife, but also a chance for us to show our family and friends that we did not take marriage lightly and were making a serious commitment to one another. It was also a chance to show the power of Christ’s love in our lives and the power we would rely on for our marriage! Lastly, we wanted our marriage to signify the joining of our two families into one.

After having a solid handle on what we wanted for our ceremony, I worked through my planner to help figure out exactly what I wanted for each detail:

— For the officiant, we knew that we wanted an individual that displayed a strong love for the Lord, was eloquent in speaking the beauty of the Lord’s love for us, and had mentored us through our relationship.
— We also decided to include two wedding rituals. The first was the lighting of the unity candle to represent our new life in Christ, our two lives becoming one, and the joining of our families. I just loved the imagery of two flames merging to become one! The second ritual we took part in was communion.
— We picked readings (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 5:25-33 and 22-24) to show that we were choosing to love each other in our marriage and to illustrate the roles that we were promising to take up.

The planner encouraged me to come up with a Plan A and a Plan B for the ceremony in case of weather, and to make sure that we could be happy with either outcome. Thankfully, our venue gave us the option of holding our ceremony outside or inside of the barn, giving us two beautiful settings (one rain-proof!). If it was held outside, it would be held in front of a large tree with arching branches. If it was inside, the barn setting would be accented with twinkle lights and draped cloth, fitting for our mountain setting. We ended up having our ceremony inside of the barn because of a high forecast for rain, and it ended up being intimate and beautiful!

My husband and I both agreed from the start that we would recite traditional vows (writing our own would have been too much pressure for us!). That was an easy decision to check off the list :)

For our processional music, we chose two favorite songs to display both of our personalities: one of my husband’s favorites (“Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel) for the family and wedding party entrance, and one of mine (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for mine. Our communion song was “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.” Our ceremony music was played by dear friends on piano, flute, violin, and oboe.

When the ceremony was finished, we wanted to end on a joyous note and decided to have a bluegrass band play a lively tune and have our guests throw flower petals in the air to join in the celebration with us as we walked out as husband and wife!

Thinking back on it, the ceremony was the sweetest and most joyous moment of the day (and probably my life!) and everything my husband and I valued and loved was displayed perfectly through it. I am so thankful that the tone for our marriage was set on that day. Planning for the ceremony was so sweet but being married now is even sweeter!

All photos by Blue Ribbon Vendor Ally & Bobby!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Juicy peaches, ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, sun-warmed berries, abundant zucchini — whether you cultivate a backyard patch or head to the farmers market each weekend, there’s no month like August for fresh produce. Instead of simply trying to gobble up as much as you can in the summer months (though absolutely NO judgment if that’s the route you take!), why not prolong the season by preserving your favorites through pickling, jams, and jellies?

Photo by Eric Kelley from Southern Weddings Volume 5

One of our most popular posts from the last ten years (!) is this simple jam recipe and accompanying printable mason jar labels from Homespun ATL that we originally featured in 2012. Whether you’re looking for a sweet wedding favor or just a fun newlywed weekend activity, we’ve got you covered!

P.S. This jam is meant to be stored in the refrigerator, so you don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty of actual canning. (But feel free to use pretty jars, regardless!)

What you’ll need:
2 pints ripe strawberries (or about 5 cups), hulled and chopped
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
The juice of a whole lemon

What to do:

Bring all of these ingredients to a simmer in a dutch oven. Mascerate the strawberries until you have a bright, sticky, slightly chunky jam. Transfer to sterilized glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, if you can make it last that long! Those biscuits are calling!

If you are feeling really adventurous, add a drizzle of balsamic and a few cracks of pepper to the jam while it’s cooking.

For the labels:

Download our PDF template here, and print onto regular paper or sticker paper. Cut along the black outline with scissors. If you’re using regular paper or cardstock, place the label on top of a mason jar lid, then screw the metal ring on top of it. Or, punch a hole through the top and hang it around your jar with a bit of twine or ribbon.

If you’re using sticker paper, cut out and place that pretty little label anywhere your heart desires.

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar Kyla Shattuck reply

    This is such a great newlywed idea! Dillon loves fruit, so this would be such a fun way to spend time in our kitchen together and bless him with a treat afterward! :)

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Though most of us have attended several wedding ceremonies by the time we need to plan our own, the basic structure can still be confusing! I distinctly remember worrying that we’d somehow leave some important element out (like the kiss!!) just because we’d somehow overlooked it! Thankfully, our officiant was on hand to make sure everything important was included, and I’m sure yours will be, as well.

Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Nancy Ray from Whitney and Cory’s wedding

Depending on whether you’re getting married in a church and/or with the blessing of a certain denomination, you might have more or less latitude in designing your order of ceremony. Here, we’ve outlined the basic elements in a Christian ceremony to get your wheels turning on what might be included and where there are opportunities for customization (and so that you don’t forget anything truly important :)).

Don’t worry too much about how long or short your ceremony is – your guests love you, and if each piece of your ceremony is purposeful, they’ll see that. That being said, be sure to take your guests’ comfort into consideration – don’t make them sit outside in the sun or stand for an hour-long ceremony!

One final tip? Make sure you confirm with your officiant how you two would like to be announced for the first time: as Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas? As Mr. and Mrs. John and Emily Thomas? As John and Emily Thomas? It’s a big moment, and one you want to make sure and get just how you’d like it! :)

Looking for more ceremony tips? We’ve got a whole slew of them in our wedding planner, and I’d also recommend checking out our posts on how to write your own wedding vows and nine of our favorite romantic wedding vows for inspiration!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Savannah Fannon reply

    Love it! Are there any suggestions for music in an outdoor ceremony?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Savannah! I love that idea! We haven’t written that post yet, but I will put it on the calendar :) In the meantime, I think you can’t go wrong with live string versions of modern songs for an outdoor ceremony!

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