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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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Being in a long-distance relationship or marriage isn’t something that most people would willingly choose, but it’s a reality that many couples face. In fact, six out of the eight Southern Weddings ladies have been long-distance with their respective beaus at some point while dating or married!

The whirlwind of my and Logan’s respective job changes forced us into a long-distance relationship before we even realized it! Logan had been applying to jobs in different cities after graduating with his post-grad degree, so it wasn’t a surprise when he was offered and accepted a job in Atlanta, GA. He moved within two weeks of accepting the offer.  Less than a month later, I officially joined the Southern Weddings team, based in Chapel Hill, NC. Needless to say, our job changes meant that we were firmly rooted in two different states for the immediate future.

There’s no shortage of wonderful tips on long-distance dating, but I wanted to share what has (and hasn’t!) worked for us over the course of the past ten months. My hope is to offer practical advice, but also to encourage you to focus on creating memories in this season instead of longing for the day when the two of you are reunited!

Resist the urge to spend all your time together. This sounds like I added it to the wrong list, doesn’t it? Yes, Logan and I are excited to spend time together when we see each other, but we try to resist the urge to be exclusive in an attempt to catch up on lost time. Some of my favorite memories are times Logan and I have spent with each other’s new friends or coworkers. For example, when I’m in Atlanta, we try to make a point of spending time with his coworkers or new friends and attending his church together. It’s a great way for me to begin to get to know his life in Atlanta, and vice versa when he visits.

Know when you are going to see each other again. Having a date on the calendar (as in, an actual date) for when you will see each other again turns any goodbye into a “see you later!” (Logan would approve of that Dumb and Dumber reference.) Of course, it’s tempting to count down the days until you are reunited once you know how soon it’s coming, but try to make sure you’re being present by enjoying your current city and friends in the meantime! As (I think) Jim Elliot said, “Be where you are.”

Make your travel time productive and fun! I’ve never been a big fan of driving (I’d much rather be the copilot and DJ), but I’m learning to make the drives more bearable by making them fruitful! I’ve come to enjoy my drives to Atlanta—it gives me time to process my week and recharge. I love listening to audiobooks on Audible, catching up on my favorite podcasts, and listening to my favorite Spotify playlists (Hamilton, anyone?). Leaving Atlanta on Sunday afternoons can often be sad, so I’ve created a tradition to stop and treat myself to a guilty pleasure of mine for dinner—buffalo wings! Whether you’re driving or flying, use your travel time to your advantage and make it enjoyable!

Know each other’s schedules. Make a point to touch base on Sunday evenings and ask “What does your week look like?” or to share Google calendars with one another. Even if the initial answer is “normal” or “boring,” just keep asking questions! This is great for two reasons: you won’t set unrealistic expectations to hear from your significant other when they have plans, and you’ll know how to follow-up after your days.

Find encouragement. Logan and I had only been living in separate cities for a few weeks when I interviewed with the SW team. Up until that point, everyone’s first question upon finding out about his job had been “When are you moving to Atlanta?” instead of asking how I was feeling. To be honest, it was pretty discouraging that more people cared about my timeline than my heart. If you’ve followed Lisa and Dave’s relationship, you know that they were long-distance for more than a year before Dave moved to NC. When I shared about Logan’s recent move with the team, Lisa immediately said, “Oh my goodness, how are you doing?” The fact that she cared more about my heart than when I was making a transition meant more to me than I could say. She has been a consistent source of encouragement (along with many others!) throughout these past ten months, often texting me on my Sunday drives home to say she was thinking and praying for me. Find the people who will encourage you and cheer you on in this season!

Communicate, but don’t over-communicate. Be honest about how you’re feeling. Talk about what is and isn’t working, but remember that every conversation doesn’t have to be a serious one, nor does it need to be a lengthy one! Some of my favorite FaceTimes with Logan have been quick conversations, like while he is making dinner after getting home from work. He sits the phone on his counter while he “cooks,” and we talk about our days. When he finishes cooking, we often hang up for the evening. These conversations last no more than ten minutes, but they remind me of some of my favorite memories—cooking together.

Don’t compare yourself to other couples. Some of my friends who are in long-distance relationships talk on the phone every night. Logan and I are not big fans of talking on the phone, so we don’t do that very often. And that’s okay! For a while, I felt guilty about not talking each day, asking myself “Does this make me a bad girlfriend?” or “Are we really not that serious?” until Logan graciously reminded me that I was being silly, or perhaps ridiculous. We try to touch base each day in some form, but I’ve learned that pressuring ourselves to fit into a mold feels forced and inauthentic. Don’t worry about fitting into every guideline you see about long-distance dating or marriage—this list included!—but do what works best for the two of you!

My final piece of encouragement: this is worth it. Don’t view being in the same place geographically as a “light at the end of the tunnel.” You can learn so much in this season, so don’t wish it away.

Photos by Christopher and Nancy from our Facebook page, which are much lovelier than the screenshots of my FaceTime calls with Logan :)

Is there anything you would add to this list? Feel free to comment below or email me at [email protected]—I love hearing from you!

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

    Love your advice Jess! Especially about not fitting into molds. It seems this day and age that people expect you to be constantly communicating with each other. But I find that when you do that you’re missing out on whats going on around you.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Kelly! Thank you for your encouragement! I agree with you completely, and it oftentimes makes the times we do talk even sweeter! xo -Jess

  2. avatar Christina Dean reply

    Thank you for this list! My boyfriend and I are in the very beginning of a long distance relationship (3 months in a just a few days!), and at the moment none of my friends are in long distance relationships. Reading this has given me some great pointers, and I can’t wait to share it with my beau. Thanks, Jess.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Christina! Sending you extra encouragement! It has taken some getting used to, but there are so many sweet things about being apart as well! xo -Jess

  3. avatar Annie reply

    My husband and I did long-distance for three years before we got married. It was tough, but tips like the ones above make it easier–I especially liked knowing what his general schedule was, so we could plan what times were good to talk or Skype. (We even did some Skype ‘cooking dates,’ where we made the same meal and ate together while we video chatted.) When it felt hard, I tried to remember that doing long-distance was WAY better than breaking up, which would mean I’d never get to talk to him again.

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Hi Annie! Three years! I love what you reminded yourself when things felt hard; what a good perspective shift! xo, Jess

  4. avatar Kensington reply

    Goodness, I love this! I am in a long distance relationship currently, and I find reading people’s advice is so encouraging. I especially identify with setting a date to see each other next. For me, it doesn’t induce a countdown, but instead gives me peace of mind and frees me up to enjoy and be present in all the moments that will happen in between! Thank you for this Jess! It’s fun to follow along on another couples journey :)

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      Kensington! Thanks for sharing, I agree completely; knowing the date definitely gives you the freedom to enjoy the present! Sending you a big squeeze! xo, Jess

  5. avatar Jennifer reply

    Thanks for sharing. Reminds me of my own situation, in which I’ve just begun a long distance relationship with my husband as I start a tour across the country for 10 Billion Lives. “Every day I wake up and we speak…at 4am Pacific Standard Time… because he’s in NYC… and I’m in California.” The story of my husband and me going long distance within a year of our marriage. http://www.nynomads.com

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A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a baby shower in my hometown. I’m from a small town in North Carolina, where the ladies from my home church were some of the first to change my diaper and rock me in the church nursery. They’ve watched me grow up over the past almost-27 years, and they genuinely love celebrating milestones in my life with me. This means that oftentimes, when I’m home, I find myself faced with the question “So, when are you getting married?”

It can be easy to feel jaded by that question. I get it. The heart behind Southern Weddings isn’t about beautiful pictures—it’s about relationships. In all that we do at Southern Weddings, our mission is to inspire others to cultivate a life full of love. Whether you feel like you’re perpetually single, or dating to see who is right for you, or you’re in a relationship and taking things at your own speed, what I’ve found to be most helpful in responding to this question is a different framework.

(Just a note, I use “we” in most of these answers because I’m talking about it in the context of my current relationship, but to my single gals out there—I see you. Know that I often used these responses when I was single as well.)

Remind yourself that it is a good thing that people are invested in and care about your relationship. It’s important to realize this is often the heart behind that question. Great relationships are cultivated in community with others. When I’m asked this question, it’s typically because the person asking the question cares about me and has seen the good Logan brings out in me, not because someone wants to be able to write a date down in their planner. When Ms. Madelyn or Mrs. Hickman asked me this at my sister-in-law’s baby shower recently, I was grateful that even after years of living in a different place, they still cared about the big things happening in my life.

“Let me tell you about what we’re looking forward to in our future.” One could say this is a way to deflect the question, but I like this answer because it shows that the most exciting thing to me in my current relationship isn’t necessarily an upcoming engagement or wedding day, but the other fun things we have planned. Whether it’s a larger event, like a long weekend vacation to the beach, or something simpler, like date night at a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, I love giving others glimpses into the exciting things happening in my life, whether they have to do with my relationship or not!

“I don’t know. And I’m okay with not knowing right now because I am content with where we are.” Our team fiercely believes that a marriage is more important than a wedding day, and the same applies to our relationships! A wedding day isn’t the finish line, but rather, one of many markers in your relationship. We believe that every part of your relationship—both the big and small moments—is meant to be celebrated in a way that is deeply meaningful. It’s one of the reasons Southern Weddings did our own spin on Fruitful Summer this year! Relationships matter, and cultivating meaningful relationships is the secret to a full life. I’ve found this is exactly why the mission of Southern Weddings resonates with me—and so many of you—so much!

“We’re still getting to know one another.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you should “know” after XX number of months. Yes, some of the darling brides in our magazine and on our blog knew after the first date. But others spent years as friends with their now-husbands. Neither is better than the other. The timing that you choose for your relationship is the best timing for you.

“You should ask him.” One of the very first things Nicole and I realized when we began to talk about dating well in the office was that no one asks our boyfriends this question. Depending on who is asking, one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek answers is simply “You should ask him,” followed by a sweet smile :)

Depending on your relationship with the person asking the question, it’s okay to politely ask them to refrain from asking. I hesitated to add this one, but in the end, I think it’s one of the most important ways you can respond to this question. I’ve found that I often experience the most discontentment in my relationship with Logan when I feel bombarded by the question. One of the most honest ways you can respond is by gently explaining that to someone. I’ve been known to tell my mother or some of my close friends (all people who very much have the right to ask that question) this on days where I don’t particularly feel up to talking about the timeline of my relationship. Each and every time, the person has responded very graciously. Whether you’re single and pursuing other passions or in a long-term relationship, this answer has often led to very sweet conversations!

I’d love to hear from you! Nicole and I are excited to continue to be back on this column to talk to you about dating. Feel free to email me at [email protected] to say hi or let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like us to talk about! I am so grateful you are here!

Photos by Live View Studios from our Facebook page

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
4 Comments
  1. avatar India reply

    This was super helpful! As someone who has dated their current boyfriend for a few years now, I get this question more often. I think “You Should Ask him” is my favorite response, as he would be the one doing the proposing! :)

    xo, India

    • avatar Jess Metcalf reply

      India! I’m so glad it was helpful for you! “You should ask him” is one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek answers, typically followed by “let me tell you all about the exciting things we’re looking forward to!” Grateful for your support! xo, Jess

  2. avatar Kirsten Barber reply

    I loved coming across this article today. The, “When are you getting married,” question and those like it have always bugged me. Growing up, it was, “When will you start dating?” When I was dating, it was, “When will you get married?” And now that I am married, it is, “When will you have children?” As a people pleaser, these questions hit me on an emotional level and start to make me doubt my personal timeline. I used to respond with defensive remarks and anger, but I’ve learned to start laughing off the questions. My favorite response was the cheeky, “You should ask him.” Thank you for doing this. I think it is something every woman faces in her life, and it is always better to handle something with grace, even if it seems a bit intrusive.

  3. avatar Jess reply

    Kirsten! I’m so glad you were encouraged! Questions about the next season of life can be fun to dream and talk about at times, but I love the idea of being able to focus on the present and right now. I think we too often (myself included) wish away the right now for what is to come. Grateful for you! xo, Jess

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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