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Fairly often, I get a quick message from a friend asking for help on behalf of a recently engaged sister, cousin, or best friend. They’re looking for recommendations for venues, photographers, wedding planners, or florists, and I’m quick to point them towards our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory because it’s full of the best and brightest wedding talent the South has to offer! Every single member has been personally vetted by the Southern Weddings team, so I feel like I’m sharing my very own “word of mouth” referrals. We’ve added some new faces, and I’m thrilled to introduce you to them:

Name: A Fox Event
Category: Event Planning and Design
Where you call home: Charleston, South Carolina
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Planners are here to make your dreams come true and will do everything in their power to make sure your day is absolutely perfect!

Name: 2 Sisters Events and Design
Category: Event Planning & Design
Where you call home: Lakeland, Florida
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? Manners and etiquette are still going strong in the South, which pleases me to no end!

Name: Bellelina Studio
Category: Beauty
Where you call home: Charleston, South Carolina
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: Makeup artist for Charleston Fashion Week, 2009-2012; published in Unveiled Magazine, Charleston Weddings Magazine, Lowcountry Weddings Magazine, Charleston magazine, and House Calls Magazine

Name: Bow Tie Collaborative
Category: Photography
Where you call home: Holly Springs, North Carolina
Favorite Southern city? Savannah! All the Spanish moss…gimme, gimme!

Name: Cheryl Sullivan Events
Category: Event Planning and Design
Where you call home: West Virginia
How I got into weddings: For as long as I can remember, I have always loved hosting celebrations for my loved ones, from Sunday dinners to showers to holiday reunions. I fell deeply in love with weddings and the strong family traditions they honored. After a few years of planning weddings, I knew I was hooked. I took a chance and started a business doing what I love. I’ve never looked back!

Name: Forage + Film
Category: Photography
Where you call home: Raleigh, North Carolina
Favorite part of a wedding day? We love portrait time. We crave intimate images that capture our couple’s love, so that one-on-one time with them in the midst of all the wedding fun is just perfection.

Name: Heidi Elnora Atelier
Category: Fashion
Where you call home: Birmingham, Alabama
How I got into weddings: L.O.V.E. It’s as simple and complicated as that. Being hit by a drunk driver in 2005 brought me back home to Alabama where I met and fell in love with my husband, Jeff. Moving back home motivated me to turn my dream of designing wedding gowns into my reality, and in 2006, Heidi Elnora was created.

Name: Heirloom Collective
Category: Photography
Where you call home: Raleigh, North Carolina
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Try to be present on your wedding day. Take a few breaks throughout the day to look around and feel gratitude for the love that surrounds you.

Name: Simply Jessica Marie
Category: Invitations and Paper Goods
Where you call home: Knoxville, Tennessee
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: Honestly, the thing I will always be the most excited about is that our own wedding (featuring some of my favorite custom designs to date!) was featured on the Southern Weddings blog! It was absolutely something I wrote home to my Momma about, and something I will share with my kids and grandbabies one day. More so than any of the other blog and magazine features, I am simply most proud of the fact that I get to work with the absolute sweetest and most creatively-trusting brides and grooms imaginable!

Name: sMm Photography
Category: Photography
Where you call home: Charlotte, North Carolina
Favorite part of a wedding day? I love when I arrive to the bridal suite and I hear the bride’s mama explaining where the garter came from and who wore it before she did, and that her veil is a treasure from her grandmother’s wedding…details matter when they build the story of your wedding day. I also really love the quiet moment that the bride and her father share right before the doors of the church open.

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!), send us an email!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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    BDK and I actually celebrated our reception in the lobby of the historic Lakeside Inn! So, I love seeing couples transform non-traditional venues into beautiful reception sites that represent their own personal style and love story. Tess and Bernard wanted to show off where they’re proud to live, so they chose to hold their reception at the historic Etoile Polaire Lodge built in the 1830’s. No one had ever held a wedding reception there, so Tess and Bernard worked with their planner Clandestine Events, and Blue Ribbon Vendors Pret a Fete and Kim Starr Wise to develop their vision for a swamp-inspired, romantic vibe into the beautiful reception celebration Tess described as “perfection.” Keeping with their South New Orlean’s feel, they even ended the night with a “bounce” (new Orleans-style rap) performance by Vockah Redu!

    Big thanks to Heirloom Collective for sharing such a fun day with us!

    We met at the Voodoo Experience music festival in New Orleans in 2008. I was dating someone else at the time, but we became good friends. Bernard, as he likes to say, played the long game — and we got together for good in the spring of 2012. By the time we started dating, we didn’t need to worry about uncovering each others’ skeletons in the closet — we already knew all the dirt there was to know about each other!

    Tell us all about the proposal! I came home from breakfast at my dad’s house to find a puppy (our second mixed breed rescue) on our bed with a ring on a gold cord around his neck. It was 9:30 in the morning and I was not expecting it in the slightest! The diamond was my great-grandmother’s, and my mom had helped Bernard design a contemporary setting.

    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? The ceremony was only 40 our nearest and dearest — then we celebrated with 215 wonderful guests at the reception!
    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? We wanted all our wedding weekend events to be right in or around our neighborhood — we love where we live and wanted to show it off to visiting family and friends. Preservation Hall is a gorgeous, historic space that just screams New Orleans, and it’s small and intimate. The reception was at a masonic lodge built in the 1830’s — again, a gorgeous historic space. The coolest thing about the reception venue was that no one had ever had a wedding reception there — that also made it a ton of work as they had minimal infrastructure!

    Did you write your own vows? We wrote our own vows, and we incorporated bits and pieces of various traditions. My favorite part was a vow we modified from a Buddhist ceremony we found online: “Tess and Bernard, just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?”
    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Tess’s sister officiated our ceremony, which was wonderful — so sweet and intimate. Each of our moms did a reading — Bernard’s mom read “[love is more thicker than forget]” by e.e. cummings and mine read “The Two of You,” by Czeslaw Milosz. Bernard’s friend Barry read a selection from a gorgeous poem that moved us to tears the first time we read it, called “Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight,” by Galway Kinnell.

    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were psyched to work with Emily Shaya from Pret a Fête rentals in New Orleans. She has an awesome selection of vintage furniture that helped us give the reception a distinct style beyond the typical table-chairs-centerpieces.

    South Louisiana is a bit of its own animal as far as the South is concerned, but our wedding was certainly chock full of unique South Louisiana elements. Instead of a rehearsal dinner we had a crawfish boil for all our guests on Friday night — and a Cajun band, Soul Creole, played. On our wedding day we represented quite a few New Orleans musical traditions: traditional jazz at Preservation Hall, New Orleans funk from Dumpstaphunk, and even a bounce (new Orleans-style rap) performance by Vockah Redu to close out the reception!

    Describe your wedding flowers. The interior of our reception venue was pretty stark, so we knew we’d need to go big with the flowers. Bernard wanted to stay far away from the typical ivory-and-pink palate — we developed a vision for a swamp-inspired, rustic, romantic vibe that our florist Kim Starr Wise executed to perfection. The vines all over the interior were her (brilliant) idea.

    When did y’all get married? 3/29/15
    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I spent a weekend shopping for wedding dresses with my mom in New York, where I grew up, and didn’t find anything perfect. On a whim, I stopped into Town & Country, an old school bridal boutique in New Orleans, during my lunch break one day — and found the perfect dress!
    Did you decide to do a first look? We didn’t do a first look. We had a small ceremony followed by champagne hour just with the ceremony guests — so we did our photos right after the ceremony. Everyone we wanted in photos was at the ceremony, so it was easy. Also, from being with friends the day of their weddings, it seemed that once they had their hair and makeup done, and their dress on, they were anxious to get the ceremony underway!
    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “Such a Night” by Dr. John — a New Orleans classic and a nod to our shared history before we got together. Our first dance was “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson — we took dance lessons to prepare, which was a blast.
    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a wedding cake — coconut lime cake with lime curd filling and cream cheese frosting — as well as a groom’s cake, which was Super Mario-themed and complete with a fondant Yoshi (the name of our puppy, who delivered my engagement ring to me).
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We bought and renovated a house together before we even got engaged, which we felt was the big test of our relationship. We also started a joint checking account to pay all our shared expenses, which helped ease the transition and build trust!
    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? It was definitely a second job, and the work fell (surprise, surprise) mostly on the bride. Planning an event in a space without the typical wedding infrastructure allows you to be way more creative — but it can also end up costing a lot more, and taking a huge amount more time and effort to plan.
    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When my mom got confused about the order of the ceremony and stage-whispered loudly from the front row, “When are you going to kiss?”
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? The main thing your guests care about — and the main thing they will remember — is how happy you look. And believe it or not, all the stress of planning will melt away once you turn to each other to hold hands and say your vows.

    Photographer: Heirloom Collective | Planner: Clandestine NOLA |
    Ceremony Venue: Preservation Hall | Reception Venue: Étoile Polaire Masonic Lodge | Florist: Kim Starr Wise | Wedding Cake: Shake Sugary | Caterer: MoPho NOLA | Vintage Rentals: Pret a Fête | Rentals: Event Rental | Lighting: Firefly Ambiance | Musicians: Little Maker, Dumpstaphunk, Quickie Mart, Vockah Redu | Paper Products: Sarah Mangerson Design | Bride’s Gown: Watters Wtoo | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: Ted Muehling | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Blush and Bashful | Bride’s Shoes: London Sole | Groom’s Suit: Paul Smith | Groom’s Shoes by Cole Haan | Photo Booth: Deep Fried Photo

    Kim Starr Wise, Firefly Ambiance, and Pret a Fete are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
    2 Comments
    1. avatar Janna reply

      What a gorgeous wedding! And I love the Lakeside Inn- growing up in the Altamonte Springs/Apopka area, I know Lakeside Inn well!

    2. avatar Emily Sawyer reply

      Marissa, I am curious! Is there a post of your wedding at the Lakeside Inn? I love Mount Dora and have been to the Lakeside Inn. What does a reception in the lobby look like?
      Thanks!
      Emily

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    If I could run off and marry a wedding, it would be this one. Margaret + Marty planned their New Orleans nuptials themselves, with a beautiful venue to springboard off of and a desire to vivaciously celebrate their new life together — one read-through of their interview tells us that M + M love to dance! I’m absolutely smitten with how their wedding seems to have organically sprung up from the bricks at Race and Religious, but the Southern Weddings gals have agreed — it must be Margaret’s radiant personality and lovely smile that top this wedding off beautifully.

    Thank you, Heirloom Collective for sharing this day with us!

    Two things: How amazing are Margaret’s shoes? I love that they’re a modest nude color with a spark of red! Next, how cool do these gals look below? I am impressed that Margaret’s ‘maids were able to find matching dresses from various stores like Asos, Modcloth and BCBG.

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. 
I knew I needed something I’d be able to dance in. I didn’t want anything too trendy, or anything to looked to era-specific. I admired BHLDN dresses from afar until I found out I’d be going to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, so I booked an appointment with them immediately! After trying on a few options, I put on my dress and never looked back. It was the first dress I did a twirl in, and that’s how I knew.

    Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did decide to do a first look. Our ceremony and reception were at the same place, so we knew we would have limited time to admire each other’s looks and have some alone time.

    I love this photo below! Heirloom Collective did a wonderful job capturing a calm and intimate moment before the ceremony. The colors are gorgeous, and I can only imagine the exciting things these gals are talking about while sipping on sodas and fixing each other’s hair.

    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 
Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7 and Colassians 3:12-17

    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We hired a traditional New Orleans brass band to play before, during and after the ceremony. Our original brass band fell through a week before the wedding, but thankfully our friends helped us pull together a band, and they were wonderful. The entire wedding party walked down the aisle to Trumpet Voluntary, and the recessional was “When the Saints Go Marching In!” We told the band to play whatever they wanted, and that was what they settled on. It was perfect. Our first dance, mother-son and father-daughter dances somehow ended up being disco themed: “Boogie On Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder, “Late in the Evening” by Paul Simon and “More than a Woman” by the BeeGees, respectively. It was awesome!

    Y’all!! I just want to cry when I see this photo below. There is so much joy!

    What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? 
The venue! Our venue was a big chunk of our budget, but we couldn’t imagine NOT getting married there. And, having splurged on such a perfectly curated, eclectic place, we didn’t have to worry about decorating it too much. Our wedding would have a very distinct look (one we wanted) without a lot of work on our part!

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? 
The most Southern detail — and part our Northern guests loved the most — was the reception-style dinner! I loved that everyone could mingle while noshing, and we didn’t have to worry about whom to seat where or whether there were exactly as many chairs as there were guests (there weren’t, and it was totally fine). Of course, our food was Southern. We served collard greens, black eyed pea salsa, pickled shrimp salad, cornbread, brisket, pulled pork, the works.

    Describe your wedding cake or dessert. 
Marty hates cake, so we went with pies for our dessert (and then Marty ended up being too busy dancing to try any! Sorry, Mart!). Our caterer created a bunch of different Southern-influenced pies, including sweet potato pie, an apple galette, and pecan pie, for guests to choose from.

    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 
Definitely the dance party. I found our DJ, Otto Orellana, while at a bar with co-workers. We could not stop dancing! So, I asked him for his business card. The next day I emailed him (introducing myself as the girl who could not stop dancing) and asked him to DJ our wedding. He responded with, “Well, I don’t normally do weddings anymore but you and your friends seemed really fun, so sure!” And did he deliver! The dance portion of our wedding was the most fun we’ve ever had.

    How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. 
We met in college. During our freshman year, we lived three floors apart and were introduced by mutual friends. We soon learned that we’d gone to brother and sister high schools, had some of the same friends, and had never met! Marty pretended that he needed help with his homework in order to get me to hang out with him. Soon I realized that he didn’t need homework help as much as he needed a dance partner.

    Describe the proposal. 
We currently live in New Orleans, but we both grew up near Oak Park, Illinois. Every holiday season, we escape our family parties and go see a movie at Lake Theater, a classic art deco movie theater in Oak Park. On the day before Christmas Eve in 2011, Marty invited me to go see Mission: Impossible 4 (how holiday-appropriate!), but instead of going into the theater, he proposed. Afterward we headed to a bar on Madison Street to celebrate with friends and family.

    In what month did you get married? 
March 2013

    How many guests attended your wedding? 
115

    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our venue was pretty much a blank slate. We could choose the caterer, the bartender, the flowers, everything. While I loved that everything was completely customizable, it was also a challenge to cover all of our bases without a wedding planner (having tents on standby for rain, ordering compostable dinnerware, renting linens!). We did everything ourselves, down to making sure we had enough ice! But, the upside was that we could do everything our own way, to our taste.

    What range did your wedding budget fall into? 
$10,000-$25,000

    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 
Go with your gut when making decisions and customize your wedding to how you want it.

    What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? 
We went on a fantastic honeymoon to Paris, Croatia (the Dalmatian Coast) and Istanbul. Now that we’re back, Marty is graduating from Tulane School of Medicine and starting his residency at Tulane; I am continuing to work as a public interest attorney in New Orleans.

    nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
    10 Comments
    1. avatar Lisa reply

      Love, love, love this wedding!! New Orleans is definitely one of my favorite wedding cities–they all seem to have the best energy and joy, and this is no exception! Her dress is gorgeous, and the venue is just amazing!

    2. avatar Lauren reply

      I LOVE the mustard bridesmaid dresses. I can’t believe how perfectly they matched since they came from different stores.

    3. avatar PJ Greetings reply

      This wedding looks like it was a blast and I love the colors

    4. avatar Jen reply

      New Orleans weddings are the BEST!! My husband and I hosted a NOLA destination wedding in March…so I’m a little biased!

      Congrats M & M! Beautiful wedding! :)

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    10. avatar Rudy reply

      Love the bridesmaids dresses! Such an awesome color too. Such great photography!

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