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Each team summit is totally different from the last. Not just because we may be welcoming new team members or talking about new topics, but because each year that passes brings us into a totally new season of business. Some years bring challenging conflict, high stakes, and multiple priorities. Some years are full of fun brainstorming, unpacking new ideas, and finding new inspiration. Either way, we consider our summit to be precious time together.

Even though half of us work remotely, we don’t take it lightly that we have the great privilege of calling each other team members. Most of us have been working (read: spending most of our waking hours) together and sharing everyday life with each other for the past seven years! On top of that, we each bring our personal passions into our work, making this summit not just a business formality, but a time to gather and bring our greatest goals to life.

We got cozy at Fearrington Village’s Garden House for three days of quality time.

Lifeguard Press was so kind, and gifted us each a Kate Spade journal to take notes in. They also threw in extra dahlia-patterned tumblers, pencil pouches, napkins, and straws. All of our new supplies got put to good use during our two days together.

One of our big priorities this year is focusing on workplace health — it actually increases productivity in addition to making you a healthier person! We chatted about how to improve our daily work lives with standing meetings, posture exercises, and color theory, and then had a blast with an outdoor yoga class! (Y’all, some ladies on our team are crazy flexible! I learned that I am just as unbalanced as ever.)

Later, we were incredibly grateful to have our friend Will Ray speak to us about what makes effective teams. He also walked us through our DiSC profile results. Our entire team was solidly representing the Influence and Steadiness quadrants, which are marked by collaboration and enthusiasm, and cooperation and sincerity.

While we did get a good laugh at how skewed our results were, we weren’t at all surprised. Our office culture is marked by enthusiasm for our jobs, and we place a high value on team unity. That’s why it seemed perfectly natural to us that after a full day’s work, we were still looking forward to spending time together at dinner and then getting into our pajamas for a full-on Disney sing-a-long in our hotel room. (Thank goodness our rooms were thoughtfully isolated from other guests!)

Day Two was a game-changer. We showed up ready to get down to business in our new Birdie’s Slippers. (Y’all — they are the best way to look professional while feeling like you’re wearing PJs!) Then, we dove into heartfelt (and yes, sometimes hard) conversation.

To break things up, we scattered in some fun activities (like a scavenger hunt, a nail polish trade from Kendra Scott’s new line, and chair massages). Our favorite activity? A surprise mini baby shower for our dearest editor in chief, Kristin!

After smothering Kristin with love, baby name guessing, and fun games, we narrowed our focus back to business and creating a strategy for the future. This meant studying graphs (it’s more fascinating than it sounds!), engaging in good and healthy conflict, and stripping away the layers of routine to answer important questions with new ideas.

Needless to say, we thought we really earned some of Fearrington’s famous ice cream sandwiches after all of it, and Chef Bedford happily obliged and delivered!

So what are we up to now that the summit is over? We’re making big and small changes—some behind the scenes, and some right in front of your eyes! We’ve simplified our website navigation so it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for, and we’re rolling out more content that will help you prioritize what’s meaningful in your wedding. On top of all of that, we’re having fun inside and outside the office soaking in the magic of the South and living our lives with you!

Photos by Olivia of Nancy Ray Photography (and some iPhone pics by the team, too!)

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
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  1. avatar Southern Weddings Annual Team Summit | Nancy Ray Photography reply

    […] Check out what the Southern Weddings Gals had to say about their Team Summit on their blog here! […]

  2. avatar Bri A reply

    Love seeing the joy among all of you! Thanks for giving us a peek behind the scenes.

    (I hadn’t heard of the DiSC but I’m a sucker for all personality tests, so I’ll have to look into it!)

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The vendor I was most excited about working with AND also the most nervous about working with for my own wedding? My florist. Like most people, I adore flowers and wanted beautiful ones on my wedding day, but I was also very aware that flowers are expensive (and that my budget was not so large).

A lot of what I learned as a bride about making the most of a floral budget went into the vendor section of the Joyful Wedding Planner, so today, we’re sharing a few tips along with the floral inspiration board from my own wedding! :)

1. Set your budget first. Even though it’s difficult to guess how much the flowers you want will cost, you can still set a floral budget that makes sense within your overall wedding budget (most sources recommend 5-10% of your overall budget). Knowing your budget will help your florist recommend flowers and styles within your price range. It’s also helpful to have a general idea of numbers, like how many reception tables and how many bridesmaids you’re having, before your first meeting, as most proposals are priced per piece.

2. Be flexible about specifics. So many factors go into beautiful blooms–season, weather, location–making it hard for a florist to make any guarantees about what will be available and in good condition on your wedding day. As well as communicating your favorite flowers to your florist, discuss the colors and feel you’re going for. They will make their best effort to get you the blooms you want, but if anything goes wrong, they can use their expertise to find substitutes that will fit the overall look you’re going for and look great, instead of using a sad-looking flower because it’s one you HAD to have. To improve your chances of getting your must-have flower, find out when it’s in season in your area and set your wedding date accordingly. The flower chart in the Joyful Wedding Planner is a great reference!

3. Organize your inspiration. Florists are visual people, so lots of picture inspiration is helpful IF it’s well organized. Instead of general captions like “love this” on your Pinterest board, identify WHAT you love about different arrangements and bouquets. Is it the shape? The texture? The colors? The specific flowers? Making a note of what specifically draws you to each picture will help you communicate your vision and style more effectively.

4. Be realistic. One of the biggest pet peeves we’ve heard from florists is when brides bring in pictures of grand arrangements or pricey blooms, and ask for something similar on a minimal budget. Keep in mind that floral arrangements in magazines and on Pinterest are often the most unique and expensive in a florist’s portfolio. Instead of asking for an exact replica of an arrangement you love, bring your inspiration photos to your florist and have a conversation about what you like about them. Love the large scale of an arrangement? Use lower-cost greenery to get the same big impact. Love the fullness of a big peony bouquet? Create the same lush effect with different flowers that fit into your budget.

5. BYOA: Bring your own accents. Supplementing your florist with vessels and bouquet wraps is a great way to save money, because you won’t be paying for the time they spend searching for something perfect for you. Just be sure you’re willing to do the work and have the resources to do so before adding this task to your to-do list, and be aware that wide and intricate ribbons come with their own price tag – often upwards of $15/yard.

6. Don’t try to change them. Just like you wouldn’t hope to fundamentally change your mate, don’t expect a wedding vendor to stray far from her preferred style. If you don’t like the style of the arrangements or bouquets in their portfolio, you probably won’t like what they produce for your wedding. If you’re unsure, ask them to send over some examples of past work that they think fits with your style, like my florist did for us (make sure you have an initial conversation first, of course!).

7. The easiest way to cut is to cut. By that I mean, you may be able to wiggle the price of a bouquet from $200 down to $150 by changing the size or composition, but you’re not going to get it down to $25. If the proposal your florist delivers is outside of your budget, instead of whittling down every item, look instead at cutting out several items entirely, like ceremony altar flowers or boutonnieres. That way, you’ll meet your budget AND the pieces you leave in your order will be showstoppers that are exactly want you want!

Are you nodding your head along with this advice? You’ll love the Joyful Wedding Planner! Pick yours up in our shop.

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Karen reply

    Emily, thank you for sharing great tips that both help brides and are respectful of designers! Tips 6 & 7 have me smiling and joyfully clapping inside! To give a realistic expectation to brides, I did want to share one shift from what is stated in #1: Within the past few years (due to drought as well as economic factors) the average floral budget takes up 12-15% of a budget. Floral Design is often on par or more than what is spent on photography.

  2. avatar M. Goblet reply

    Do you often copy/paste your previous articles into new articles, only adding a few small bits of information, and then publishing it as new? See what Lisa wrote in Expert Advice on May 15, 2014, as it’s pretty much word for word what this article is.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi M.! This may or may not surprise you, but actually, yes! We know that our readership largely turns over every 1-2 years as brides get engaged and married and new brides come to our site, so we regularly re-post similar content buried in our archives that we think is helpful for every engaged bride to read. I hope that helps to clarify, and thank you so much for reading!

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Wedding photographer and bride Lauren shares her Old Wide Awake Plantation wedding.

When you photograph beautiful weddings as your job, I can only imagine that it would become a bit challenging to narrow down all the lovely inspiration you’ve seen as you plan your own wedding day. That’s why I am excited to introduce y’all to our bride for today, Lauren! Not only is she a wedding photographer herself, but she knew exactly what she wanted! She says, “ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to get married on a plantation in Charleston. Once we stumbled upon Old Wide Awake Park and Plantation, we both just knew it was the perfect venue for us.” With friends and family traveling in from their home state of Maryland, she and Eddie knew they wanted to give their guests the full Lowcountry experience. After all, South Carolina is their new home! One other thing she also knew right off the bat: that she would wear that ever-amazing Hayley Paige gown! Two stellar choices I’d say. Keep reading to learn more about her sweet (and sparkly!) celebration.

Thanks to Natalie Franke for capturing Lauren and Eddie’s wedding!

Our welcome bags included treats that were local to the Charleston area in grit bags that read “Grits and Gratitude.” We wanted our guests to feel welcomed to our new home state the second they arrived! We also served Southern comfort food to our guests so they could have the full Charleston experience while they were in town: shrimp and grits, BBQ, pecan pie tarts… all delicious!

Since I am a wedding photographer, I had my eyes set on the Hayley Paige “Carrie” gown for quite some time. I had it all over my Pinterest board and even cut out of magazines hanging on my inspiration boards in my office. I knew that was the dress I wanted to get married in! The second I walked out of the dressing room, my mom started tearing up and my dad said, “Yep, that’s the one.”

Describe your wedding flowers. We wanted everything to have a just-picked-from-the-garden feel. Nothing rounded or tight, very organic feeling.

Eddie and I experienced a lot throughout our wedding planning process. It was filled with so many laughs and wonderful memories, but also some heartbreaking ones. Our wedding was rescheduled due to the hurricane, and we lost my grandfather two weeks before the wedding. Those experiences really tested our marriage before we were even married, and I can honestly say I couldn’t have picked a more understanding and kind man to do life with. This process strengthened us and I know we can get through anything together!

My first dance with my dad was Zac Brown Band’s “I’ll Be Your Man.” I am 100% a daddy’s girl (my dad even surprised me and took dancing lessons for our dance!), so it was extra sweet to dance with him to such a special song.

Eddie was so nervous but his vows were so beautiful. A verse from my vows: “Your kind heart, gentle smile, and unconditional love are things I adore endlessly. You always put others before yourself, can always see the positive in any situation, and are the hardest-working person I know. I always wanted to find a husband who had the traits of my father and with you, I know I have. I never knew someone could love me the way you do – without any hesitation and unconditionally.”

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was having to reschedule our wedding due to Hurricane Matthew. Our wedding date was originally October 7, 2016, but we cancelled everything the Tuesday before. My heart was broken and the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. We had been planning the most incredible day to begin our marriage, and in a matter of hours, it had been completely rescheduled to a month and a half later. Thankfully, we had incredible wedding vendors and one incredible planner (thank you Margaret!). Everything was taken care of and our wedding day was unbelievable!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite detail from the wedding would have to be the cigar boxes that were used at the cigar bar. They were my grandfather’s, who passed away two weeks before the wedding, so it was very special that we could incorporate him and his memory into the wedding.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy the process! I always tell that to my brides! It goes SO fast, especially the last four months, so take time to slow down and enjoy each day together! It’ll be wedding day before you know it!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “A Thousand Years” being played by live violinists. It’s always been such a classic wedding song, and it always makes me cry at weddings, so I knew I wanted to have that same experience at our own wedding. Our first dance was Dan and Shay’s “From the Ground Up.” The first time we heard this song together, we knew it was perfect for us.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was a simple one tier cake for Eddie and me to share. It was a vanilla cake with wildberry whipped filling and a blackberry drizzle.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Eddie and I met through mutual friends at a local bar called The Greene Turtle in our hometown of Westminster, Maryland. After that night out, we randomly kept running into one another, and finally he had the courage to ask for my number. The rest, as they say, was history!
Tell us all about the proposal! We moved to South Carolina at the end of 2015, when Eddie accepted a job that would let us live five minutes from the beach. In March of 2016, the day before Eddie proposed, he woke me up before the sun was up and said, “We are going to the beach to watch the sunrise.” Since we had never gone to watch the sunrise, I knew something was up and I got so many butterflies. Once we got to the beach, he laid out our towels, had our favorite coffee and bagels ready to share, and I could tell he was acting differently. We sat there for about an hour and watched the most incredible sunrise… Then before I knew it, we were packed up in the car and headed home! He never proposed because he got so nervous! The next morning, he told me to get dressed up for dinner that evening because we would be going down to the Marshwalk for dinner and drinks. After we had a glass of champagne at our favorite place, we decided to walk down to the marsh to watch the sunset. As we were walking down, Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” started playing over the speakers and when we reached the edge of the pier, he got down on one knee and proposed! So even though his plan was to propose at sunrise the day before, it turned out to be absolutely perfect!
When did y’all get married? November 26, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 75
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided on doing a first look! As a wedding photographer, I always love capturing first looks so I knew it was something I wanted to incorporate into our wedding. I also knew Eddie would be super nervous for our ceremony, so I thought us seeing each other before the ceremony would help calm some of his nerves – I was right!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did this blessing of the hands: “These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? I didn’t! Ah! What was I thinking?!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We did a buffet-style dinner which definitely helped with the cost of the food!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Oh my gosh… I was incredibly happy with ALL of my vendors. I have to say though, I did fly two of my vendors in from Maryland, and I was so appreciative that they made the haul to Charleston for us. Natalie Franke (our photographer) and Jacob Jensen (our DJ): these two MADE our wedding absolutely everything I dreamed of. My planner, Margaret, truly made sure everything was taken care of and that I didn’t have to worry about a single thing the entire day – such an incredible and sweet lady!!!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When I danced with my mom, brother, and aunt to honor my grandfather’s life. It was a beautiful moment that I surprised them with – I know he would have loved it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We have another fun year of traveling planned, and Eddie will be joining me as an assistant for some of my destination weddings! I’m also looking forward to slowing down at some point and making more memories here in SC. We are definitely not ready for babies yet, but the idea of little Eddies running around does make me happy!

Photographer: Natalie Franke Photography | Second Photographer: Madison Short | Planner: Margaret McKenzie | Venue: Old Wide Awake Plantation | Florist: WildFlowers Inc. | Wedding Cake: Ashley Brown Cake Design | Caterer: Hamby Catering and Events | Rentals: EventHaus and Snyder Rental | Officiant: Christy Loftin | Ceremony Music: Bob Williams Duo | DJ: Jacob Jensen of District Remix | Paper Products: Shine Wedding Invitations | Bride’s Gown: “Carrie” by Hayley Paige | Bridal Salon: Coastal Knot Bridal | Bride’s Engagement Ring: Shipley’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry | Wedding Bands: Kay Jewelers | Hair and Makeup: Ash and Co. | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale from Bella Bridesmaids | Getting Ready Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Men’s Attire: Vera Wang from Men’s Wearhouse | Transportation: ACW Limo | Favors: Mr. and Mrs. Match Boxes from For Your Party

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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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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