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Southern Weddings

Author: Jess Metcalf

Our Southern Weddings’ Editor Jess shares her North Georgia wedding!

I’ll admit I’ve thought about writing this post since my very first day on the Southern Weddings’ team (and long before a sparkly ring was ever on my finger!). I was certain that the hundreds of real weddings interviews I’ve read and helped write for the blog over the past two and half years would leave me prepared to pen this one.

And yet here I sit, scrolling through photos and unable to come up with words to express the overwhelming joy and emotion I shared with friends and family on April 14, 2018.

As a guest, it’s easy to notice the grand moments on a wedding day. The groom’s face when he sees his bride walking down the aisle. The couple’s first dance as husband and wife. The sparkler-lined exit from the reception.

And yet, as a bride, everything changes. While wonderfully memorable, the most vivid and sacred moments from our wedding day are not the grandiose moments. Instead, they are the smaller ones tucked in among the bigger ones. The feeling of calm that rushed over me as I looked out over the ceremony as people gathered. The wink our venue owner gave me before I walked down the aisle. The words Logan whispered in my ear during our first dance.

Those are the moments I will treasure for decades to come. These moments required no preparation. Yet, they felt beautiful enough that they dipped into a sacred space, one reserved for the two of us but occurring alongside those whom we have to thank for where we are today.

During a sermon at our church a few months, our pastor said, “We gather together to remember that which we’d so easily forget if apart.” Our wedding will forever be a moment we look back on to remember the things that matter most to us–our unwavering commitment to one another and the immense love and support from our dearest friends and loved ones.

Plans make a ceremony, but friends make a wedding and love makes a marriage. We will cherish all three for years to come.

On that note, we couldn’t be more grateful for Blue Ribbon Vendor Davy Whitener who captured the images below. Looking through them brings me back to our wedding day, and we will tell others of his generosity and gift for his craft for years to come!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Logan and I took a last-minute trip to Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Clarkesville, GA over New Year’s two years ago. We were both in the middle of heavy work seasons and we needed a place to recharge. Google and a co-worker recommended Glen-Ella, and just 12 hours later we were on the road. We arrived later than we initially planned due to work and we missed our dinner reservation at the restaurant. Luci, the innkeeper, was extraordinarily accommodating and we spent a few hours the first night talking to her and learning more about her and her husband Ed’s history with and vision for the Inn. We left well-rested and (very) well-fed a few days later and always knew we had found somewhere special. After getting engaged, we emailed Luci and didn’t hesitate to say yes to their one remaining date for 2018!

Tell us the highlights of finding your wedding dress. A shorter engagement meant traditional bridal salons would have limited options for dresses, so I started to think of alternative solutions! A friend of mine is a bridal consultant at BHLDN, and she assured me I would be able to find the dress of my dreams, so I booked an appointment there. My mother, mother-in-law, sister, and sister-in-law made a day trip from NC, and I was able to have the traditional bridal salon experience of trying on dresses, but I received my dress four (!!!) days after I ordered it!

“I was thrilled for each of the ladies standing next to me, and I wanted each of them to feel comfortable in what they were wearing. Instead of choosing a single gown, I gave them a color and requested long dresses, and I loved how the mismatched bridesmaids’ gowns turned out!”

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? Logan’s father is a Methodist minister, and we were thrilled when he agreed to officiate our ceremony (luckily we knew he didn’t have any conflicts with the date!). We can think of fewer marriages stronger than his parents’, and it meant so much to have him lead us into this new chapter together. In addition to Logan’s father, we asked two couples who are significant to us share a few words of wisdom during the ceremony. Both of those couples have generously shared their wisdom, homes, and lives with us. They have walked with us through difficult seasons and they daily live out their values in a way we want to emulate.

Towards the end of our ceremony, after Logan’s father (our officiant) pronounced us husband and wife, Logan looked at him and asked, “Can I kiss her now?” His dad sweetly responded, “not yet, son,” which resulted in lots of laughter at the altar! After we recessed, we headed out to the meadow with our bridal party and family, and having those moments together proved to be one of the sweetest and most joy-filled moments of the day.”

“Throughout the wedding planning process, Logan had very few non-negotiables, but he insisted the first moment we saw each other be as I walked down the aisle. With 2.5 years at Southern Weddings under my belt, I knew the advantages of doing a first look (ease nerves, get all the photos on the shot list before the ceremony), but I couldn’t convince Logan. While it would have certainly been more convenient, I’m grateful Logan didn’t cave. I have vivid memories of the moment our eyes locked for the first time, and our portraits during the cocktail hour immediately bring back the same giddiness I felt on that day!”

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“My mother-in-law offered her beautiful lace wedding veil for me to wear, which Logan’s grandparents, mother, and aunt found decades ago on a trip to Brussels. In the decades since then, Logan’s mom, aunt, his two sisters, and now myself have worn it on their wedding days. We’re looking forward to passing it down for generations to come!”

“Logan and I took the advice of many friends to prevent a hungry bride and groom, and we chose to have a private dinner in the garden before heading to the reception. Not only did we get to have 20 minutes of uninterrupted alone time, but we ate every bite of delicious food on our plates!”

What was your favorite detail from your wedding? When we thought about our wedding, Logan and I had one goal: to use it as an opportunity to say thank you to the people who have walked alongside us–individually and together as a couple. Logan and I have written many letters to each other throughout our relationship, and we loved the idea of leaving a handwritten note at each guest’s place setting to personally thank them for the impact they’ve had on our lives. It meant writing quite a few notes, but we were grateful for the chance to express our gratitude.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We love music! Each month we curate monthly playlists that have become popular in our circle of friends, so we had a lot of fun choosing songs. For our processional songs, Logan’s brother-in-law, Matt, played the guitar, and his cousin, Megan, sang. Our mothers were seated to “Come Thou Fount” and our bridesmaids walked down the aisle to one of my favorite hymns, “Thy Mercy.” My father and I walked down the aisle to a song Logan and I love, called “Oh, Sing” by The Native Sibling. It was inspired by an old hymnal that the singer spent time looking through and studying. I can’t listen to the song without tears coming to my eyes. Our first dance was “My Whole Life Long” by Delta Rae. Delta Rae is one of our favorite bands, and we love their NC roots!

What did you serve for your wedding cake or dessert? Logan and I aren’t big cake people, but we’ve had many nights where we pull frozen cookie dough out of the freezer and grab a glass of milk! We opted for cookies and milk instead of the traditional cake, and a local bakery made mini chocolate chip, peanut butter, and snickerdoodle cookies. They even uncooked them at our request to make them a little gooey! A dear friend and college roommate made ginger snaps from her family’s secret recipe. Our only regret was ordering too few; they were all gone by the end of the night!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Sometimes love surprises, sometimes love delights, and sometimes, it does both.
Tell us all about the proposal! October 21, 2017 proved to be a day worthy of celebrating! Logan pulled off the biggest surprise of my life by insisting we take a “last-minute” trip to go apple picking in the NC mountains. He had friends cancel some plans on us, pretended to book an Airbnb at the last minute (it was already booked), and an hour after his initial idea, we were in the car on the way to Hendersonville, NC. The next morning, he insisted we get up early to beat the crowds. A few cups of coffee and a basket of Pink lady apples later, we were engaged! With the help of our families and without telling our mothers he was proposing, he sneakily arranged for our families to meet us for dinner, and we were able to share the news with both of our mothers in person!
When did y’all get married? April 14, 2018
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 145
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? The hardest part of wedding planning was the financial piece. We had to prioritize our wedding budget, which meant making a lot of hard decisions, particularly when it came to the guest list. We learned how to better communicate with one another, best manage the expectations of others, and make wise financial decisions that would set us up for a healthy marriage–not just a beautiful wedding day.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? My favorite part of wedding planning was working alongside all of our amazing vendors. It meant so much to know not only could I hand off pieces of our big day to people we trust, but in turn, we had the opportunity to support their hard work and businesses.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Logan and I paid for the majority of our wedding ourselves, and we graciously accepted the generosity of our friends. A dear friend and bridesmaid, Laura, designed all our paper products as a gift, and Emily Thomas (a familiar name to you all!) used all her Southern Weddings experience to serve as our day-of coordinator. Not only were we able to save money, but it brought me so much peace of mind to know people I respect and trust were in charge of key moments of our day. We also used candles in our centerpieces to maximize our floral budget. We skipped wedding programs altogether, choosing to put those funds to things that touched all our guests–like the delicious food!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Take it one step at a time. Over the course of our six-month engagement, Logan and I were in our busiest work seasons, my grandfather passed away, we bought a condo, and I traveled for four weeks for work. When I thought about my to-do list as a whole, I immediately got overwhelmed. However, when I broke down what needed to happen by weeks (and days), it felt much more manageable. I’d encourage every bride to take it one step at a time and think about the tasks that need to happen next. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or defer to the experts when decision fatigue sets in. Our vendor team was phenomenal. Bella Flora did an amazing job with our wedding flowers with very little guidance from me, and it was a sweet surprise to see my bouquet for the first time. And check out the tuxes from Tom! Trust the people you’ve surrounded yourself with, and prepare to fully soak up the sweetest memories.

Photographer: Davy Whitener | Planner: Emily Thomas | Venue, rentals, and caterer: Glen-Ella Springs Inn | Florist: Bella Flora Designs | Cookies: Sugartopia Sweets | DJ: Family friend | Paper Products: Laura Bennett Paper | Bride’s gown: “Rosalind” by BHLDN | Veil: Family heirloom | Earrings: Goldenstrand Jewelry | Hair stylist: Melanie Sorrow | Makeup artist: Margaret Snider | Bride’s shoes: GAP | Bridesmaid dresses: BHLDN, Tulle & Chantilly, and Tobi | Groom and groomsmen attire: Tom Dixon via Executive’s Cutting Edge | Bouquet ribbon: Frou Frou Chic

Davy Whitener is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
6 Comments
  1. avatar Stephanie Shaul reply

    Endless congratulations, Jess!!! I loved reading your wedding story, and the images from your day are truly remarkable, emotion-filled, and gorgeous! I can feel the incredible joy and love (and laughter!) that you two and your family and friends shared, for sure. Savor every moment of newlywed life! xoxox

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Steph! As always, I’m grateful for your genuine encouragement and excitement! Thanks for celebrating alongside us! Xx!

  2. avatar Kirsti reply

    Jess, I am very certain that your veil is the most beautiful veil I have ever seen!!! Congrats to you and Logan!!!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      A high compliment, Kirsti! I’m grateful it was loaned to me for our big day! Xx!

  3. avatar Francie reply

    Jess, I loved reading about your wedding and seeing all of the photos. Everything was absolutely gorgeous! As someone who loves writing and receiving letters, I was so touched by all of your letters to your guests. What a thoughtful and meaningful thing to do. Congratulations and best wishes to you and Logan! Francie (we met at MTH in March)

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Francie! It’s so good to hear from you! I’m so grateful for your kind words and for the chance to share our big day with so many friends near and far through SW! Sending you a big hug!

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 Photo by Rachel May

It’s hard to believe we’re in the homestretch of our wedding planning, with only 8 days to go until we say “I do!” It’s been a whirlwind six months, and we’re excited to celebrate with all our family and friends soon! I know how quickly things can turn from fun to frazzled without a proper plan in place, and if I’ve learned anything during our engagement season, it’s preparation is key.

We’re making progress on the last lingering things on our list, and a large part of that has been working on timelines for the morning of the big day! After talking with our friends at Plum Pretty Sugar , I was inspired to share seven tips I’ve incorporated into my planning, and I hope you find them helpful!

Photo by Robyn Van Dyke

Write it down. I’m taking a few moments to write out my excitement, my hopes and dreams for our marriage, and how much I value him. Since we’re forgoing a first look in favor of seeing each other at the altar, we’re hoping to exchange letters to one another.

Choose your room carefully. My bridesmaids and I will be getting ready at a local Airbnb, and we intentionally chose a space with abundant natural light to get ready in. If possible, choose a room with neutral colors, and try to keep things neat and tidy throughout the morning. If details are important to you, have everything you’d like photographed laid out and waiting for your photographer—a full invitation set, my mother-in-law’s veil, etc.

Choose attire for your bridesmaids. If you’ve been in the Southern Weddings family, you know we’re all big fans of Plum Pretty Sugar pajamas and robes! Plum Pretty Sugar was kind enough to gift our team pajamas for our Cultivate Team Summit, and we worse them for our slumber parties all week long. I loved them so much I ordered pajamas for my bridesmaids (I love how they offer Getting Ready sets for their pajamas, robes, and rompers!). I’m thrilled it’s a gift that will not only be beautiful in our photos, but they’ll enjoy for years to come!

Photo by Taylor Rae

Create a playlist. Leading up to our engagement, Logan created a secret Spotify playlist for us to enjoy after getting engaged. Since then, it’s become one of my favorite playlists because it brings up such sweet memories! I’ve already started building my wedding morning playlist on Spotify, and I have a speaker on my packing list. I know the playlist will bring back great memories in the months following our wedding day.

Give your phone to someone else. If you follow our sister brand, you know “phone down, eyes up” has been one of my goals for the year. I’m especially excited to pass my phone off to my sister or Matron of Honor on the morning of the wedding so I can fully soak up time celebrating with my family and loved ones without the urge to reply to text messages or scroll through social media.

Don’t skip breakfast or lunch! My appetite is the first thing to go when I get anxious, but the last thing I want is my stomach rumbling during the ceremony! We have a plan for breakfast, lunch, plenty of snacks, and a few mimosas for the wedding morning so no one goes hungry!

Have a plan. This is arguably the most important tip! I’ve been in my fair share of wedding parties to know the wedding morning can fly by, and I want to make sure we have plenty of time for hair and makeup without feeling rushed! Your wedding day is perhaps the one day you don’t want to be fashionably late :)

Newlyweds and bride-to-be’s, I’d love to hear from you! What would you add to this list? Is there something you did the morning of your wedding that you loved or would change? Leave a comment, and let me know!

This post is brought to you by Plum Pretty Sugar–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
1 Comment
  1. avatar NST Pictures – Artistic Wedding Videos reply

    These tips are perfect for brides! Thank you!

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve had a secret wedding Pinterest board for longer than you’ve had a beau, but if you joined my last post, you know how important it is to prioritize your wedding budget before pinning another wedding bouquet (though they are lovely!).

Today, I’m excited to be sharing what our top two priorities have been during wedding planning, and a few ways we’re saving money with another vendor!

Our Wedding Venue

We took the advice of many wise friends and didn’t start dreaming about details or vendors until we secured our venue (and date!). Logan and I are both from North Carolina, but currently live in Atlanta, so we had quite a few location options we could have considered.

We knew early on where we wanted to get married, however. In fact, Logan casually told me before we were engaged that he knew where we were getting married. Talk about sending a girl into a tailspin! Glen-Ella Springs Inn in Clarkesville, GA was a place of refuge for us a year ago after very busy work seasons (the launch of Southern Weddings’ Volume 9 and PowerSheets), and we were overwhelmed by the hospitality and attention we experienced from their entire staff, particularly Luci and Ed, the innkeepers.

When they replied with only one available date between March and October, we were giddy. Albeit eager and excited, we wanted to do research before signing the dotted line to make sure it was a good investment. We took Emily’s advice and compared apples to apples. While Glen-Ella’s initial venue fee was higher than some other quotes we received, we soon realized it was by far the better deal because it included all tables, chairs, dishes, flatware, stemware, and linens.

A bonus for us? Glen-Ella’s restaurant is award-winning, and by booking them as our venue, we get to take advantage of their catering! Not only is the food delicious, but that’s one fewer vendor for us to find and manage!

Photo by Cariad Photography

Our Photographer

I was surprisingly calm during Logan’s proposal, not shedding a single tear! However, when we received a yes from my dream wedding photographer, I bawled my eyes out (and still do tear up when recounting this story to others)!

When Emily and Lisa returned from an editorial shoot for Volume 9, Lisa Kirk looked me in the eye and said, “I know this sounds strange and you aren’t getting married anytime soon, but I think Davy Whitener will shoot your wedding.” I giggled, shrugged it off, but was captivated when the photos for A Storied Love came in.

After spending time in Laurel, MS with Davy and his entire family for our Home Town Celebration editorial for our tenth anniversary issue, I knew I wanted Davy to be our wedding photographer. His demeanor throughout the entire day was nothing but joyful and hospitable, and I couldn’t think of anyone who better embodied our hope for our big day.

Photo by Davy Whitener from A Storied Love

Our Florist

While my Pinterest board was full of beautiful bouquets, I knew early on our flowers were an area where we would be able to save money. Our florist–Bella Flora Designs–has been phenomenal to work with. Not only has she given us options, but never once have we been pressured to spend more money than we have allocated.

Here are a few ways we’re saving in our floral budget:

  • We’ve hired a florist who has worked extensively at Glen-Ella Springs Inn. Susan and Renee’s familiarity with the space gives them an understanding of how to best invest our floral budget. Not only are they familiar with the space, they are local to the area, which means we’re saving on travel fees. Be sure to ask your venue for preferred vendors!
  • We’re flexible about the specifics. I’ve communicated my favorite flowers and color preference, but I trust their expertise in finding the most economical blooms for our bouquets and centerpieces. I’ve found that I’m actually excited about seeing what they create on the day-of!
  • Our bridesmaids are carrying smaller bouquets, and they will be repurposed for the buffet tables after the ceremony. We’re using a mixture of florals and candles for our centerpieces.
  • My three-year-old niece is our flower girl, and we’ve decided to forgo traditional flower girl petals, knowing it’d be a bit of a toss up if she’d actually throw them :)

While we’re certainly saving in our floral budget, I’m confident our flowers are going to be beautiful because I’ve seen Susan and Renee’s work and it matches my personal aesthetic!

I’d love to hear from you! Where did you find your wedding vendors? What made you choose them? I’d love to hear any personal stories!

Need some help prioritizing and planning your big day or want to stock up on gifts for friends? You’re in luck! Shop our Valentine’s Day sale in the Southern Weddings Shop! Our prompted wedding journal, all copies of Southern Weddings magazines, and my beloved Joyful Wedding Planner are up to 50% off!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
9 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I am still quite proud of that prediction, but most of all, I just can’t wait to see the way Davy captures you and Logan!!! Counting down the days!

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      I might have thought you were silly at the time, but boy am I grateful that you were right! Xx!

  2. avatar Stephanie Shaul reply

    Jess, I’m getting more and more excited for you, and I love hearing about yours and Logan’s wedding plans!! Our venue was really the only one we looked at and wanted, and it also had just one date open in almost a year-long span. Hence the six month engagement for us, too! But I truly am SO, so, so glad our engagement was six months (and I have a feeling you will be, too!), and I wouldn’t change that timing for the world. I can’t believe your wedding is coming up so soon – April weddings are the best!! xoxox

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Yes! I think about you and your encouragement often when thinking about our timeframe! Yay for April weddings!

  3. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    We knew what we were looking for and were open to a semi destination wedding, we actually found our dream venue from a Facebook ad! Daughter’s Barn in Folkston, Ga! Our photographer I found from Instagram and fell in love with their work! Southern Studios from Jacksonville, FL! Turns out they were old friends of my fiance’s family!

    • avatar Janna Toruno reply

      My mom is a retired florist, but I’m going with more of greenery on the tables with white pumpkins added in the mix. My niece is going to be carrying a cotton boll kissing ball.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      I love hearing all about your day, Janna! What a fun connection with your photographer!

  4. avatar Tegan reply

    We picked our venue because it’s beautiful, associated with an incredible restaurant, and allows us to have an intimate ‘backyard’ wedding vibe while accommodating our larger guest list.
    My fiancé was on board with it from day one, but what honestly sold him on the venue was the fact that his college football team’s coach got married at the same venue!

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