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Southern Weddings

Author: Sierra

Hi, ladies! Some of you long-time readers may remember our friend Katie, from the wonderful and hilarious blog Marriage Confessions (and some of you might just recognize Katie from MC, apart from SW!). Katie drops by to share her funny, smart, and poignant perspective on life after the wedding, and we know you’ll love her as much as we do!

It’s the start of another new year. I don’t know about you, but I have big plans for 2012. Big plans. I’m going to eat better, organize my linen closet, send birthday cards on time, get my oil changed before my husband lectures me about taking care of nice things… Big plans, I tell you. New Year’s resolutions are a great way to take a look at your life, reevaluate, adjust your priorities, set some goals, and move forward.

But aren’t those all things we should do in our marriages, too?

Each year, before we make our own New Year’s resolutions, my husband and I go out for a dinner date that we like to call the “State of Our Union.” During this meal, we set our goals and make our resolutions for our marriage in the upcoming year. It’s a time for us to talk about the past year, remember the good things that happened, reflect on the bad things, and pat ourselves on the back about how far we’ve come. It’s also a time for us to look ahead, too. Much like a business, a marriage needs a plan to be successful. Good marriages just don’t happen. They are the result of two people who have planned, worked hard, and set goals.

State of the Union talks aren’t as daunting as they sound. In fact, by the time our meal is finished, I feel really good about myself, my husband, and our family. If you’re looking to jump start your new year and your marriage, here are some tips for a successful State of the Union dinner:

1. Location, location, location – Be sure that you go out of the house somewhere for this discussion. For one thing, it keeps you from fighting about anything you might disagree on. You have to be polite and cooperative if you’re in public. Mostly though, going out to eat somewhere gives the dinner and conversation a sense of lightheartedness. Get dressed up, get a babysitter (if applicable), put on your favorite dress, wear his favorite perfume. It’s much easier to talk about your family budget if you look great, feel desirable, and are having fun. Also, be sure you pick a location that is conducive to enjoying yourselves and having an intimate conversation. For some, this might be a quiet booth at a sports bar and for others this might be a swanky hotel bar. Chris and I just went out to a quaint sushi restaurant on the beach for ours this year. Candle light on the table made even discussions about difficult subjects seem romantic.

2. Focus on certain topics – State of the Unions given by presidents are clearly organized, focused, and precise. State of the Unions given by married couples should be the same. This isn’t the time to drag every small issue in your marriage out of the closet. (That’s what holidays are for…just kidding…kind of…) This conversation should be focused on the big picture, not the nitty gritty. Topics that should definitely be discussed include:

a. Make a financial plan for the coming year. Include what you each prioritize for the coming year, goals you want to achieve, and a plan for how to reach those goals. If you have a major event coming up in the new year, such as a wedding or the birth of a baby, this is a good time to talk about how you’ll prepare for those things financially.

b. As uncomfortable as it sounds, you need to talk about how happy each of you were in the past year with your marriage. And then – this is equally, if not more important – you need to talk about why you felt that way. This doesn’t have to be an emotional or dramatic conversation, either. If you have trouble starting this part, ask your partner to score on a scale of one to ten how happy they were with your relationship last year. Then, talk about why they gave it that score. When you’ve talked about their view, give your own score and tell why. The point of this discussion isn’t to change each other’s mind or to point blame about anything. The point is to see where you are each starting the new year. You can’t move forward if you don’t know where the starting line is.

c. Set your priorities for the new year together. If one of you is thinking about how perfect the timing would be in the spring for a new baby and the other is thinking about how perfect the timing would be in the spring for a new roof, you’re going to have some issues. Having different priorities isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but those priorities should be out on the table for everyone to see and work towards. So, talk about them. What do you want to accomplish that year together? If there are multiple goals, then what is the order of importance? You have a better success rate for reaching your goals if you are both working towards the same finish line.

d. Talk about mistakes you made in your relationship last year and how you can avoid them in the new year. We learn the best from mistakes – and, trust me, we all make mistakes in our relationships. But if we never pause to learn from those mistakes, then our relationships won’t grow. Maybe you’ve had a reoccurring fight that kept coming up in the past year, maybe you made a particularly bad decision about your marriage, or maybe you just had an overall trying year in your relationship… now is the time to talk about the causes of those issues and how you can both work better to solve those issues. This isn’t about rehashing the past, but more about recognizing weaknesses in your relationship so that you can strengthen them together. If you can’t have this discussion without fighting, then save this for its own conversation at a different time. State of the Unions should stay on topic and be polite and civil in order to be the most productive. While this topic is healthy to discuss and is an important part of moving forward, if it’s going to stop your conversation flow, then avoid it during your State of the Union dinner and focus on it at a later time.

No matter where you are, what you’re wearing, or what topics you decide to talk about, the overarching rule of State of the Union dinners is to listen. Listen to what your partner says. At our State of the Union dinner with my husband this year, he said that he needed more from me. It was hard to hear and I wanted to immediately snap back with a list of the times that I had needed more from him, too. But this dinner isn’t about pointing fingers or hurting each other’s feelings. It’s about really hearing the needs of your partner and voicing your own needs, and then it’s about making a plan to move forward and meet those needs. So, when my husband said he needed more from me, we spent a little bit talking about exactly what he needed from me. Was it more time? More chores? More effort? Turns out, he just needed more attention from me. He felt like I was giving it all to the kids and he was being left out. I would have never known he felt like that if I hadn’t stopped to really hear him. Now, that’s something that I can focus on changing in the new year.

I think for many married couples, we wait until there is a problem before talking about the state of our relationship, but that is being reactive in your marriage and not proactive. This year, as you kick off 2012 with resolutions of more time at the gym and more organized filing cabinets at work, be sure that you set some good resolutions to help move your marriage forward, too. Knowing the state of your union before the new year begins is the first step towards making this the best year yet!

Love all things Katie? Past columns for Southern Weddings:
Change is the Name of the (Newlywed) Game
My Wedding Registry Changed My Life
Working it Out With the In-Laws
Managing Your Money
Come on Baby, Light My Fire
On Moving

All photos by Oh, Darling! Photography. See more on their blog here!

Oh, Darling! is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Sierra
  1. avatar Taylor reply

    We have talked about having the “state of the union” talk at church!! My guy likes to call it our “romancipation proclamation” haha!

  2. avatar desiree reply

    what a great post!!! thanks so much for sharing. soon-to-be brides and grooms, listen up! it’s not all fairytales and flowers all of the time ~ but that’s okay! My favorite resolution quote is this, “If the grass looks greener on the other side, water your own lawn!!” :)

  3. avatar Candice reply

    Wow, great post. Sounds absolutely terrifying to try but a great way to anticipate and solve issues. I like the idea that this is proactive, not reactive.

  4. avatar Rachel @ The Ongoing Planner reply

    What a great idea! We are very proactive about our conversations, but sounds like a great excuse for a date night :) It is definitely important to remember to listen to each other!

  5. avatar Jen reply

    This is an awesome post! I had been thinking about discussing resolutions with The Hubs this year and this is the perfect format for us to do it with. I’m going to share this with my friends because I think it sounds like something that would be extremely beneficial for all couples!

    Thanks so much for putting this together with such detail! :-)

  6. avatar Sharlee reply

    Great ideas, Katie! I love this! I just told my husband I’d like to start doing this. It sounds like a good way to start the new year. I agree that setting goals/achieving them together helps you to grow together as a couple.

  7. avatar JenniferLO reply

    What a great post! Something every married (or soon to be married) couple should read!

  8. avatar Nikki reply

    Great idea, Katie! I can’t wait to bring this up to the Hubs and get to work setting up a “State of Our Union” dinner soon! My goal is to not become defensive and really listen to my Husband’s needs. Thanks again!

  9. avatar Meghan reply

    Love, love, love this post! Hubs and I try to have this conversation every once in a while, but it’s usually at home and we end up getting distracted and/or nitpicking about other things. I’m right there with you on feeling the urge to just snap back sometimes :) I really appreciate the advice and look forward to planning something like this with my hubby.

  10. avatar Katherine reply

    This is a great post! It makes me feel excited to talk through things with my S.O. a little differently than we might have in the past! Plus date nights are always great :) Thanks Katie!

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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Our Southern Hospitality series has featured so many cute tote designs that we just couldn’t resist creating a Southern Weddings tote especially for our readers! Aren’t they adorable?

The fabulously talented Joni from Chocolate Butterbean designed this Southern beauty for us, and that’s me modeling one on the right! (Thanks to my brother for the photo!) Belles, if you aren’t familiar yet with Joni’s work, you MUST drop what you’re doing and head to her site this instant. She whips up the most wonderful (and Southern!) custom invitation suites and wooden signs. Anyone who owns a copy of V4 has seen her handiwork in action — Joni made our Beau Bar sign!

Now for the good part: here’s how you can get your hands on one!

Starting today, with the purchase of five or more magazines, you will receive this limited edition “Sweet as a Peach” Southern Weddings tote bag FREE with your box of magazines! No telling how fast they’ll go, so this offer is only available while supplies last!

Written with love by Sierra
  1. avatar Angela Carver reply

    I love this tote!!! My wedding is in June in Georgia and I think these would make great welcome bags for my guests. Is there any way I can order them? Thanks so much for all ya’ll do!

    • avatar Sierra reply

      Hi Angela! Congrats on your engagement! The totes are currently not for sale online, but we will be in touch with you shortly!

  2. avatar Carol W reply

    I am getting married in Savannah on April 12th this year. I would LOVE to order these for my bridesmaids. Are they available for sale?

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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Welcome to the fourth installment of our Southern Hospitality feature! Each month, we pick a Southern city and an expert host. Our host shares their favorite items custom to that city that would be perfect packed into a welcome bag for family and friends at a weekend wedding. Just one more perk of attending a destination wedding!

This month, we’re headed to Richmond, Virginia, the bustling capital of the Commonwealth. I had the pleasure of visiting Richmond last spring and actually happened to make many Richmond friends at our V4 shoot in Williamsburg last summer! One of the talented people I met was the stylist for the shoot, Courtney Spencer of Merriment Events. This was before she had her precious baby girl! Courtney also styled one of my favorite real weddings from V4, Katie + Max. You know I love colorful weddings, right?

Since Courtney is based in Richmond, we knew she would be the perfect expert. I hope you’ll enjoy her picks!

A. Petites Bouchées Macarons. French macarons made locally in Richmond by Veronica Perez. Can be made to coordinate with your wedding colors! (priced per order)

B. Popptags. These quirky, letterpress gift tags are made by my friend, Anya in Richmond. Anya also takes custom orders and could personalize a tag for your wedding using your logo, monogram, etc. ($9.95 for 3 or priced per custom order)

C. A Bottle of Virginia Wine. A bottle of wine would be lovely paired with a custom wine tag from Popptags (above). Wine can be purchased locally in bulk from Once Upon a Vine. (price varies)

D. Carriage House Cheese Straws. No self respecting Southerner would ever entertain without cheese straws! These are made here in Richmond. ($6.95 for 6 oz bag)

E. Blanchard’s Coffee. Roasted in Richmond. (price varies)

F. A Ticket for a Trolley Tour. Richmond was one of the first cities in the country to travel by electric street car, and this year, the trolley is making its return to Richmond. Wouldn’t it be lovely to treat guests to a trolley tour of historic Richmond? (custom pricing)

G. Hub’s Virginia Peanuts. (price varies)

H. Chocolate Cravings. Made here in Richmond, it’s truly some of the best chocolate you’ll ever taste! Wouldn’t it be fun to work with the owner to concoct a signature flavor for your wedding? (price varies)

I. Route 11 Chips. Made in Virginia and a staple locally. ($35.00 for a case of 30 2 oz bags)

J. Richmond Gungho Guide. The definitive pocket guide to Richmond produced locally by Kelly Brown. (free)

K. A Copy of Virginia Living Magazine. ($4.95)

L. Lavender Fields Farm Roobios Loose Tea. Perfect for pairing with Lavender Fields honey! ($6.00 for 2 oz bag of tea, $7.50 for 8 oz jar of honey)

M. RVA Playing Cards from Quirk Gallery. 52 reasons to love Richmond from 52 Richmond insiders. ($9.95 for pack)

N. Virginia is For Lovers Pencils. ($49.90 for 100)

We paired Courtney’s expert picks with a custom tote design from another Richmond native, Lauren of Lauren O’Neill Design, who designed this adorable Richmond is for Lovers tote for us! Want one? Simply download the overlay here and take it to your local screen-printer. Thank you for the fun design, Lauren!

From the Richmond area and have additional suggestions to add to our tote? What did you love about Richmond if you’ve visited before? Have a city in mind for future posts? Comment below and let us know!

Check out past totes:

Written with love by Sierra
  1. avatar Kelsey reply

    Raleigh next please! :)

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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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