Southern Weddings

Author: Emily

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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Happy Friday, friends! We have a Southern Newlywed treat for you today. Audrey and Jeremy Roloff, who run a marriage ministry called Beating50Percent, are here sharing a practice that has made a huge difference in their married life. Don’t miss the promo code they graciously included below! – Emily

We are stubbornly confident that there are still people in pursuit of covenant marriages: marriages that are undividedly devoted, completely committed, persistently selfless, value-centered, joy-filled, and love-based. In the United States, researchers estimate that 50 percent of all first marriages will end in permanent separation or divorce. The risk is even higher for second marriages (by some estimates, about 60 percent). How is it that our grandparents’ generation is committed to their marriages at age 80, yet as a 24-year-old, most of my friends’ parents are divorced or remarried by age 50?

What has caused the pendulum to swing so far? Why are people getting married later, ending marriage sooner, and remarrying multiple times? I was in an old antique shop once and read a quote that I think sums it up the best: “Back in our day, when something broke, you fixed it instead of throwing it away.” The quote was inked over a photo of an elderly couple holding each other close.

But isn’t that just it? When our grandparents were growing up, if their car, bike, sink, dress, bed, or radio broke, they fixed it. Nowadays, most people wouldn’t even know how to fix those things even if they wanted to. If it breaks, they just buy a new one — a better one. Seemingly nothing is irreplaceable. And so the same concept has unfortunately translated to our marriages: if it breaks, just get a new one…

Dawn Photography

My husband and I, and I’m confident we’re not alone in this, want to have a marriage marked by “fixing” instead of “throwing away.” To help, we have prioritized a rhythm in our marriage that has led to tremendous payoff: our Navigator’s Council.

Our Navigator’s Council started out as a weekly “coming together” for Jeremy and I to communicate on important matters, share hurts and struggles, celebrate achievements, review where we’ve been, and dream about where we are headed. We were advised to do this by our pre-marital counselors, who had been asking each other a series of questions and recording their answers in a journal every week since their wedding day 18 years earlier. Jeremy and I immediately latched onto this idea and knew we wanted to do something similar!

On our honeymoon, we made a commitment to a practice of weekly councils. Here are a few of my favorite questions we ask every week:

— What’s one thing I can do for you this week?
— What is something that was hard this week?
— What is a dream, craving, or desire that has been on the forefront of your mind this week?

We have been doing our Navigator’s Councils every Sunday since we’ve been married (with the exception of a few, of course!) and each Sunday is a call to reconciliation, a burning away of bitterness, a revelation of truth, and a strengthening of our love.

Not only is our Navigator’s Council a review of where we’ve been and where we are going, but it is a time to share, a call to transparency, a reminder of truth, a discerning of dreams, and a harvesting of love. As we’ve reflected on old entries, we smile at what this simple journal has prevented us from, and the standard it has held us to. The hour that we set aside on Sundays to create time and space for the discipline of communication has been crucial. Yes, it’s a discipline, but I would argue it’s a vital one for marriage – without communication, we are left to assume, and the Navigator’s Council doesn’t leave room for assumptions. Instead, it turns knowing more into loving more.

When we launched Beating50Percent, we knew we wanted to take this practice that’s been so helpful for us and make it available to everyone, so we launched the Navigator’s Council journal. The foundation of the journal is six questions that you will ask each other, and record your answers to, once a week. (We share one journal and take turns writing week by week.) Each week also includes a short devotional and a weekly calendar.

Like us, we hope that someday you will have a bookshelf full of Navigator’s Council journals that have strengthened and recorded the growth of your love. Whether you are newlywed or you’ve been married for 30 years, we believe our Navigator’s Council journal can transform your marriage! We hope that this practice will help you to have the kind of love that’s marked by fixing instead of throwing away.

Thank you so much for sharing, Audrey! For a 15% discount on the Navigator’s Council journal, head over to the Beating50Percent site and use code SOUTHERNWEDDINGS15!

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

    This is an incredible idea! Thank you for sharing! :)

  2. avatar Julie reply

    Tried promo code and didn’t work :( please let me know once fixed. Thx!

  3. avatar Julia reply

    “How is it that our grandparents’ generation is committed to their marriages at age 80” – It’s because there was once a time when women didn’t have many other options besides getting married. I can only speak for myself, but I think that women not having their entire self-worth in the eyes of society tied to being wives and mothers is a good thing. And you know what? It actually makes long-lasting marriages in this day and age more meaningful. Let’s stop romanticizing the past, please. It’s easy to be more “committed” to working through difficulties in a marriage when you have no other choice because otherwise you will be treated as an outcast.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hey Julia! I think you raise a good point – women have a lot more options in many ways than they used to, and that’s a good thing! I don’t think Audrey was trying to romanticize the past, I think she meant to honor older folks (both men and women) that have put in the effort to have happy marriages for so many years. Thanks for reading!

  4. avatar July 2017 Goals – Kyla Mary reply

    […] wall in our apartment – read Cultivate – begin weekly meetings with Dillon (inspired by this post) – get into a routine with exercise – honor my bedtime – do daily core […]

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“Money is the number one issue that causes couples to argue.” So says Toni Coleman, renowned psychotherapist and relationship coach… and, well, pretty much everyone I’ve ever talked to about marriage – ha!

One of the things I’m most grateful for in my marriage is that my husband and I have always been on the same page about money… but what if that’s not you and your significant other? Are you just doomed?

NO! Sorry-not-sorry for the all caps, but you’re 100% not doomed. There are some incredible resources out there to help you both get on the same page and change your future with money, and one of the best ones I know is Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover.

In his book, Dave condenses 20 years of financial teaching and counseling into seven organized, easy-to-follow steps that will lead you out of debt and into a total money makeover. It’s a plan designed for everyone, regardless of income, age, or religion (though Dave himself is a Christian).

Total Money Makeover can help you:
— design a sure-fire plan for paying off ALL Debt
— recognize the 10 most dangerous money myths
— secure a comfortable nest egg for emergencies
— radically change your life and your family’s legacy

Sounds good, right? But so do a lot of things. To show you what an impact Dave’s principles can have on real couples, I reached out to a few readers to share the effect this book has had on their marriages and financial future. I hope these stories inspired you as much as they did me — these ladies (and gents) are rocking it!!

Who they are: Ashley and Josh
What Dave’s principles helped them accomplish: They have paid off $18,700 of debt in four months using the snowball method. Their goal is to be 100% debt free in two years.
How they did it: Gazelle intensity! Ashley started a side business (on top of her full-time corporate job) to help pay off debt, and Josh has picked up two extra jobs (one in the evenings after work, and one on the weekends), to help accelerate their debt snowball. By the end of July, they will have paid off close to $23,000!
Their biggest takeaway from the book: “The most amazing thing we’ve gotten from following Dave’s model is unity. Dave talks about the fact that when you and your spouse are both focused with gazelle intensity on ONE goal together, you become more unified than ever, and that has rung true for us.”

Who they are: Bethany and Kent
What Dave’s principles helped them accomplish: Sticking to a budget on smaller salaries (she’s a teacher, he works in ministry at a summer camp), including putting over $1,000 a month toward student loan debt.
How they did it: “Making a budget and following through with it was a HUGE eye-opener. If we didn’t have a budget and stick to it, I can guarantee that we’d just blow that money on food, clothing, and other material possessions, none of which we actually need.”
Their biggest takeaway from the book: “Working towards a common goal has strengthened our marriage and our faith. While my husband has always been a man of few possessions, I definitely have not. I want the beautiful home, the nice and newest clothes, and the coffee treats. Because we only use cash for personal spending, I don’t have a way to exceed my budget. It forces me to not look for satisfaction or happiness in material things, but seek satisfaction in the Lord.”

Who they are: Diana and Kyle
What Dave’s principles helped them accomplish: “The “baby steps” outlined in Total Money Makeover helped us pay off $30K of debt in less than a year and build an emergency fund that now always holds at least $10,000. That emergency fund is for true emergencies–we have a separate short-term savings account we use to save money for hospital bills, replacing a car, etc.–so we’ve never had to dip into it. It’s amazing to live with margin and without a lot of financial stress weighing heavy on our marriage.”
How they did it: “We started by tracking everything we spent so we would have enough understanding of our expenses to create a budget. We had no clue what we were spending–it was eye-opening! (Read: Horrifying.) Then we created a budget, tracked every dollar we spent, and got a little radical about our spending. Surprisingly, it was fun in a weird way. We felt really united as a couple tackling our debt together and became creative and resourceful about achieving our goal.”
Their biggest takeaway from the book: “We still love Dave’s famous encouragement that, ‘If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.’ It’s tough to live below your means when most people around you don’t, but patience and contentment pays off! To us, this quote doesn’t mean that if we live frugally now, we’ll get to enjoy a plush life when we’re older; it means that we will get to give radically because our own financial needs won’t be a concern anymore.”

Who she is: Jennifer
What Dave’s principles helped her accomplish: Jennifer had the margin to follow the call to work in ministry (her dream job!) because she no longer had student loan debt from an expensive graduate degree.
How she did it: “My Dad has been a Dave fan for many years and gifted all of my siblings with his book upon graduating high school. A few years later, though, I found myself signing on the line for $60,000 worth of Master of Architecture loans. After graduate school, I found Total Money Makeover again and finally put it to use. I paid off all of my student loans in under two and a half years by taking on a second job (which provided me free housing) and throwing all of my money at my loans.
Her biggest takeaway from the book: “I’m very thankful for the financial freedom I have now. It’s allowed me to finally say yes to the call to work in ministry that’s God has been placing on my heart for a while now. I know if I were still paying my student loans each month I wouldn’t have been able to consider the career move (financially, yes, but also from the guilt of switching while still paying for that grad degree!).”

Who they are: Britt and Dustin
What Dave’s principles helped them accomplish: They paid cash for their entire home renovation ($180,000 over about three years). “It was an old home that had caught on fire and we naively bought from a family member not having a clue what we were doing – it needed to be entirely gutted.”
How they did it: “Several years ago we took the leap and started working with a financial coach (who had learned under Dave’s principles initially) to get us headed in the right direction. It only took a few phone calls of us connecting together with him to get a better understanding of the purpose behind organizing our finances better. Since then, we’ve made a zero based budget every. single. month. Which just blows my mind, considering my husband was anything but excited about the concept of a budget from the beginning. Now it’s just a habit: it takes us five minutes on the last day of every month, and I don’t foresee us stopping anytime soon.”
Their biggest takeaway from the book: “Dave’s principles have changed us as individuals, changed our perspective on marriage and truly being a team, and allowed us to pay cash for everything we do now. We simply don’t buy it if we can’t pay cash, and we believe that’s the best thing for us and what we ultimately want for our life and our family.”

Ready to get your own financial house on track? Total Money Makeover is available wherever books are sold in physical, audio, and e-book form, and it makes a great gift for an engagement party, bridal shower, or newlywed couple. Buy it here on Amazon, and grab a few accompanying freebies right here!

This post is sponsored by Harper Collins. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
6 Comments
  1. avatar Lindy reply

    I LOVE this article! (I’m a bit of a Dave Ramsey fan, and while I’ve never read the Total Money Makeover, I have listened to a LOT of his podcasts. They motivated me while my husband and I were completing Baby Step 6, which we just finished last week! Woohoo!)

    • avatar Emily reply

      My husband and I are huge fans of his Entreleadership podcast! So much good stuff even if you’re not a business owner!

  2. avatar Lauren reply

    I originally gained insight into Dave Ramsey through Emily’s personal blog and borrowed the book from the library. I was able to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt with his principles! Love this post!

  3. avatar Emily B. reply

    I too borrowed the audio book from the library and ended up listening to it twice since it was so good and had so many good nuggets of information. Year to date I’ve paid off $6,800 towards my car loan and have vowed to never finance a vehicle again. So happy to see other women so fired up about personal finance!!! Thanks Emily for a great post!

  4. avatar Emily M. reply

    What a great post! I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey, and really believe his approach allows couples to grow in new, financially-healthy ways! My fiance and I love his podcasts too!

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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