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Southern Weddings

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With so many of us moving far and wide these days, it seems that all of the wedding invitations my husband and I get are destination for us! And we don’t mind that one bit. It’s fun to combine loved ones’ celebrations with an opportunity to see new areas of the country. Your wedding certainly does not have to involve a beachy locale to feel like a vacation. If you’re planning a wedding that most of your guests will need to travel to, you might want to consider ease of transportation, scenic beauty, uniqueness of culture, and abundance of activities when choosing a venue.

One of my absolute favorite getaways we’ve taken so far was for a three-day stay on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. I’m still dreaming of that weekend! Between the peaceful country roads winding past the white fences and fields of horses, the delicious restaurants and distillery tours, the beautiful hiking and horseback riding trails, and everything there is to see in Lexington, this area of Kentucky is divine!

All this gets me dreaming of how amazing it would be to be invited to a Keeneland wedding! If you’re looking for something super fun and different for your guests, combined with a rich Southern culture, I don’t think I can recommend Keeneland enough.

Keeneland certainly hits all the cultural marks, and it’s a fantastic location for guests to be totally immersed in horse country. At Keeneland, guests can watch horses during their morning track workouts or tour the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, the largest stage in the world when it comes to Thoroughbred racehorse auctions. You can even work with the Keeneland staff to organize tours of nearby horse farms for your guests. These experiences will give your guests an unforgettable behind-the-scenes peek of the horse industry.

Not only is Keeneland located in the heart of horse country, it’s also in the heart of the Birthplace of Bourbon! You can work with Keeneland to bring in Master Distillers from nearby distilleries for tastings, cocktail hours, or receptions to add a uniquely “Kentucky” bourbon experience to your wedding.

Keeneland boasts 1,200 acres of property and is home to a variety of venues to match your personality and style. One of these is Keene Place, the original home of the Keene family, built in 1805. Or you can hold a reception in the Keeneland Clubhouse and have the breathtaking views of the Keeneland racetrack serve as the backdrop for your wedding.

You can also share this rich Kentucky culture with your guests through thoughtful welcome gifts! The staff at the Keeneland Shop can fill your welcome baskets with bourbon balls, bowties, mint julep candles and more so your guests can take home a piece of Kentucky.

To top it all off, Keeneland is located right across the street from the Bluegrass Airport, providing easy accessibility from all over the world. And I haven’t even mentioned Lexington’s sweet Southern charm yet! I can’t think of a better location to show off your Southern hospitality than a wedding at Keeneland!

The wedding photos in this post are by Chris Cornwell Photography, Bobbi and Mike Photography, Nina and Wes Photography, and Rebecca Shehorn Photography. This post is brought to you by Keeneland, a quintessentially Southern venue we know and love. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

Written with love by Catherine
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  1. avatar Janna Toruno reply

    So neat! We are doing a semi-destination wedding in Folkston, Georgia. It’s only 2 hours from our hometown of Gainesville, FL. It’s right near the South Georgia Coast- so our guests can stay in town and see the trains that the town is known for or visit St. Simon’s Island if they want!

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One thing I knew from the start of my engagement? We wanted to dance to the tunes of a swing band at our reception. I’m an old soul, and I just knew we’d never be able to create our desired vibe without a horn section!

However, as certain as I was about wanting a band, I was entirely uncertain about which band I wanted. Few things affect your reception’s mood more than the band or DJ, and a band is such an unknown! Will they sound good? Will they play the right songs? Will they be cheesy? Will they be able to read and adjust to the crowd? Ahh!

If you’ve struggled with the same questions, you’re in the right place. To help set your fears at ease, we invited our friends Sol Fusion, winners of the inaugural Best of the South Wedding Awards’ Best Band (!!), to offer some advice on booking a band for your wedding.

Hopefully, your story will turn out much like mine: with a rocking band that’s the highlight of your reception :)

From Sol Fusion: Booking your wedding band can be a lot like online dating. You search through endless websites and profiles hoping to find a match that catches your eye. At the same time, you hope your new prospect is actually available, will fit in with your group of friends, and will be pleasing to your parents and grandparents. Here are four tips to help you find true love! :)

1. Identify your parameters. Ask yourself a few questions as you get started: What sort of vibe do you envision for your reception? Does your venue have space constraints that would limit the size of the band it can accommodate? What is your wedding date? Your entertainment budget?

2. Make it personal. How can your potential entertainment options add to the personalization of your wedding day? If there’s a must-have first dance song for sentimental reasons, do they know it or can they learn it? Same goes for mother/son and father/daughter dances!

3. Ask questions. A good band should be ready and willing to answer them! Don’t hesitate to ask them:

— How long will they play?
— Will they take breaks, and if so, how are they handled?
— How is the set list put together and can you veto or add in songs?
— Have they performed in your venue before and are they familiar with its acoustic, power, and amplification requirements?
— Do they offer ceremony and cocktail hour packages or upgrades?
— Are certain band members guaranteed? What happens if a band member falls ill on the day of the event? If the band dissolves prior to your event date?

4. Use an agency. Using a reputable agency can streamline your search for finding fitting entertainment (and when wedding planning, streamlining is always a good thing!). Because agencies represent multiple artists, they have the resources to connect you with artists who fit your criteria regardless of your budget or how eclectic your tastes might be. There are also fewer hurt feelings or cringe-worthy moments along the way — if you just don’t think a certain band will be a good fit, the agency will simply provide additional options!

An agency also acts as an insurance policy, ensuring that the band you book is reputable and will show up as contracted. If something unforeseen should happen, the agency has the resources to pull equitable or better talent to fill in – whew!

I’d love to hear: Will you have a band at your wedding? Or is your vibe more DJ? :)

Voted Best Band in the 2017 Best of the South awards by Southern Weddings, Sol Fusion is one of the nation’s premiere private events bands. Based in Charlotte, NC, the 11-piece musical powerhouse has performed at high-profile wedding and corporate functions throughout the United States and beyond.

Sol Fusion is exclusively represented by ECE (formally East Coast Entertainment), a long-time Blue Ribbon Vendor and the largest full-service entertainment agency in the country arranging unforgettable entertainment and producing custom events from coast-to-coast and around the world.

All wedding photos by Caroline Lima. This post is brought to you by ECE and Sol Fusion, two vendors we know and love. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar CJOHN reply

    Very helpful…Thank you!

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Have y’all heard?! Jess in our office is engaged!! We could NOT be more excited for her (like, really could not). The last few weeks have been about celebrating, but since she’s planning on a shorter engagement, I, the resident wedding planning guru in the office (!), am excited to get down to brass tacks with her soon!

Having a newly-engaged gal on our team has made us appreciate all over again anything that can simplify the wedding planning process. Enter: Zola, our favorite one-stop site that’s reinventing the wedding registry and planning experience!

From engagement, to your wedding, to decorating your first home, Zola is with you every step of the way. Here’s how:

Your Zola Weddings dashboard includes planning checklists, your wedding website, guest list management, and your registry, all in one easy-to-use place. Your checklist is custom-created based on your wedding date and the traditions you may want to include in honor of your religion or heritage. Of course, you can also add, remove, and edit tasks to best suit your needs.

In your guest list tab, you can add guests and all their information (imported from your contact list, by requesting info via a private link, or by entering it manually), specify what the inner and outer envelopes of your invitation should say, and then mark an invitation sent or not sent. Guests can then RSVP through your wedding website so you can track them in real time. No more penciling numbers onto the back of reply cards in case someone doesn’t fill out their name!

Creating a wedding website is SO helpful for your guests (we’d even call it a gesture of Southern hospitality!), and Zola Weddings makes it incredibly easy. Their 50+ templates are beautiful (and free!), the pages are customizable, and the entire thing is mobile-optimized.

We have to talk about Zola’s claim to fame: their online registry! With the ability to add gifts from over 500 top brands, like Waterford, Le Creuset, and KitchenAid, Zola is like your and your family’s favorite department store. BUT, unlike a department store, you can also register for experiences (like cooking classes, spa visits, and more), for newlywed staples like Blue Apron meals, and for cash funds for your honeymoon or a house down payment!

True to their reputation for amazing customer service, each couple who uses Zola Weddings will have access to a Zola advisor. This person will be able to answer any questions you may have as you use the system, and they’ll even walk your more technophobic guests through your registry!

Cheers to making the wedding planning process simple, so you can focus on what matters during your engagement. We hope you love this awesome service as much as we do!

This post is brought to you by Zola Weddings. Thank you 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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