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When it comes to unique, but elegant, silhouettes and perfectly on-trend colors, Joanna August is one bridesmaid line that consistently hits it out of the park. I can’t even begin to count the number of times we’ve seen their styles in real weddings–plus, they’re practically always a part of bridal parties rocking mismatched styles. Year after year, I’ve loved keeping an eye on the new designs and colors they come out with, and the newest collection might be my favorite yet (seriously, y’all, can we talk about the Kathy gown? So romantic!). It was a treat to learn about how the company began, how Joanna approaches her collections, and even how designing for flower girls is different from designing for bridesmaids in today’s Designer Spotlight!

Tell us about the beginnings of Joanna August—why did you want to start a bridesmaid line, and how did you get started? When I got married in 2008, I searched high and low for bridesmaid dresses that I thought would feel special, interesting and fashionable. I wanted my friends to be excited for their wardrobe and I also wanted guests to be intrigued by the visual display of all the dresses together–I wanted the bridesmaids’ fashion to make an impression, just like the flowers or the food or the band. But I couldn’t find anything to achieve my vision, so I designed my own! After the wedding, I started to think there might be other brides looking for the same thing, and the Joanna August bridal line was born!
What sets Joanna August apart from other bridesmaid dress brands? We truly approach bridal as ready-to-wear–no exceptions! Every single style, fit, and fabric is designed to be worn in “real life,” not just for weddings. The variety of colors and silhouettes makes it easy to for a bride to tailor the collection to achieve her vision and for the bridesmaids to find a style that suits her personality and body type, but at the end of the day, if any style feels like it would only be appropriate for a bridesmaid, we take it out of the collection!

What is your single best tip for a bride about to start shopping for her bridesmaid dresses? Options are your (and your bridesmaids’) friend! Of course, it is YOUR day, so if have your heart set on a single style and color for everyone to wear, your word goes! But whenever possible, if you can allow your maids to have some say in their style selection, they are going to feel empowered and more comfortable on your wedding day.
What is your current favorite dress in your collection? If you were to get married tomorrow, which dress would you choose for your best gals? I hate to play favorites because I love so many dresses in the collection! You would think it would be out with the old, onto the new, but I still wear several of the legacy styles from my very first collection (the DC dress is my go-to for black-tie events). But, at this exact moment in time, I’d choose our Lauren wrap dress. Since it is a wrap style, it is easy and comfortable to wear, and I love the romance of the off-the-shoulder flounce. I would wear it anywhere! If I were to get married tomorrow, I would let my friends choose any style they wanted but, I would choose the fabric and color for each and add different textures (like lace)
into the mix!

Tell us about your flower girl collection! How did you decide to start that collection? How is designing for little girls different from designing for bridesmaids? Now that I have two little kids, designing for littles felt like a very natural progression. While I totally love and get the appeal of putting little girls in fluffy skirts, I felt there was a void in the marketplace for more simple, bohemian styles, and that is what I was looking to fill with Babes of the Nile. There are definitely certain considerations for flower girls that you don’t think about with bridesmaids, like will a three-year-old keep the waistband on that skirt in the right place? And will a four-year-old dislike the feel of that smocking? Everything needs to be age-appropriate as well–nothing strapless or with spaghetti straps. Other than those considerations, the style and aesthetic of Babes of the Nile is very much in line with the bridesmaids collection.

What is your favorite memory from your own wedding day? There are so many great ones! My husband and I got married in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the altitude is high and the weather unpredictable. It had been sunny and gorgeous the whole weekend, but the day of the wedding threatened to storm before the ceremony. Everyone tried to get me to move the ceremony indoors, but something inside of me told me to wait. Then, minutes before the ceremony began, the clouds parted and the sun came out for exactly the 20 minutes we needed get married. The minute after we said “I do” and the guests headed inside for cocktails, the heavens opened and it rained the rest of the night.
Name three items every gal should have in her closet.
1. A really nice bag!! If you are having a bad hair day or aren’t fitting into your favorite pants or just can’t figure out what to wear, you can throw on jeans and a white t-shirt, and if you have a special purse, the outfit will feel super cute and fashion-y. Mine is a simple black Celine bag that I use every day–it makes me feel special every time I leave the house with it!
2. A pair of vintage Levis that fit you just right. Always comfortable, effortless, and in style, and can be dressed up or down for a million occasions.
3. A great black leather jacket–tailored, boxy, moto, whatever suits your personality. Throw it on with jeans to grab coffee or dress down a cocktail dress and go out for dinner. It will never go out of style, is super versatile, and it keeps you warm–what else can do all those things? I couldn’t choose just one, so I have a tailored one from Theyskens’ Theory for when I am feeling “fancy” and an Acne one with star-shaped rivets for when I feel more punk rock.

Thank you so much, Joanna! Follow along with Joanna August here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Dresses: Joanna August | Photography: Stephanie Sunderland | Venue: The Gramercy Park Hotel | Hair and Makeup: GlamSquad | Florals: The Arrangement

This post is brought to you by Joanna August – thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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  1. avatar Bri A reply

    Love the off the shoulder style! Those flower girl dresses are too cute!

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Without a doubt, choosing a bridesmaid dress was one my hardest wedding planning decisions. Why? My bridesmaids (a.k.a my sisters) are some of the dearest people to me, and I wanted them to wear something they loved on my wedding day — and that came at an affordable price point. They’re all stylish and savvy ladies with high standards, and I didn’t want to let them down.

If that sounds like the predicament you’re in, I give you Joanna August’s newest collection. We’ve used her dresses for many projects over the years, including in the most recent issue of our magazine. JA is a trailblazer in the movement to “modernize” the bridesmaid, specializing in chic, fashion forward options for the style-conscious bride and her friends.

The new Joanna August collection features jumpsuits, separates, and lace options in addition to beautiful short and long dresses. I’ve actually worn many of my bridesmaid dresses after their wedding day debuts, and I know I’d pull these Joanna August looks from my closet for special occasions, too — and so will your gals!

Blending bohemian ease and timeless sophistication, JA dresses are both comfortable and glamorous – a hard to find combination! Their modern approach encourages the mixing and matching of colors, styles, and hem lengths so that you can piece together a look that is completely your own and perfectly tailored to your wedding aesthetic.

Ready to browse? Head to the Joanna August site to see all of the lovely options!

Photographer: Danila Mednikov | Hair: Stacy Pitt and Laureen Krawse | Makeup: Sharon Becker | Flowers: Wyld | Location: Gramercy Park Hotel and the Miracle Community Garden

This post is brought to you by Joanna August-–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
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  1. avatar Michelle reply

    These dresses are all so beautiful! If I had to wear these as a bridesmaid I could definitely wear them again!

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We believe that preparing for your marriage is an incredibly important aspect of wedding planning, so I love how Karina and John used their time of engagement to do just that. Throughout the process, they practiced compromise, balanced priorities, and threw in a whole lot of fun along the way, all while keeping their focus on creating a strong marriage. With the help of their planner, Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs, Karina and John threw a wedding that felt like “a fun, Southern shindig,” inspired by their summers spent on the Carolina Coast!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for sharing this sweet day with us!

Wedding dress shopping was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. My mom and I had scheduled an appointment at one of the larger wedding dress shops in town, but about a month before the appointment, I saw on Instagram that a new shop in town was having a trunk show that weekend. I called, and on a whim, my mom, two friends, and I went in for an appointment. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted and picked my dress out right off the rack. It was the third wedding dress I tried on and I knew it was the one. We bought it that day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had our ceremony and reception at a private home along the Intracoastal Waterway. Some friends of ours were also married there and we knew it was a very special place. It meant a lot to us to get married and celebrate right along the water where we’ve made so many memories together over the years.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we used a traditional Episcopal wedding service. My uncle married us, which was extra special because he also married my parents.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We hired a ukulele player for our ceremony, which was so much fun. He played traditional wedding ceremony music with an island vibe. Our first dance was to “Magnolia Wind” by Guy Clark. That song seemed to capture our relationship perfectly and we both loved it.

We chose not to do a first look. My husband is pretty traditional and really wanted to see me for the first time when I was walking down the aisle. I’m so glad we made that decision because when our eyes met for the first time, it was such a magical moment!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We both grew up in North Carolina and wanted the wedding to feel like a fun, Southern shindig. We served all Southern foods: deviled eggs, fried chicken, bourbon-glazed pork, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, collards, hoppin john, and cornbread. We also had boiled peanuts, mini Moon Pies, and Pepsi for a late night snack. John and his groomsmen wore seersucker suits with bow ties, and part of the groomsmen gift included an NC flag Freeker (knit koozies made here in Wilmington).

We had a four-tiered cake with textured white buttercream frosting. Each layer was a different flavor and so delicious! The cake was decorated with flowers and greenery.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I knew when we started planning an outdoor wedding that the weather would be a huge factor. The forecast looked pretty promising for our big day–just a slight chance of storms. All throughout the ceremony and cocktail hour, the weather was perfect. Just as we sat down to eat dinner though, the sky turned black and the wind really picked up. A few cocktail tables blew over and a tablecloth caught on fire! The cake almost blew over, but was saved by my quick thinking cousins! The radar showed a crazy storm headed our way. We rushed to cut the cake and prepare for the rain to come when suddenly, the sky cleared. It never rained. The light coming through the clouds as the storm passed was absolutely beautiful. Our photographer captured a picture of that sky over our tent, and it is my absolute favorite photo of the night. Once the threat of pouring rain was over, the band cranked up and we danced the night away!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I met through mutual friends on July 4, 2009 at Wrightsville Beach. We spent such a fun day boating with friends, and we really hit it off. We exchanged numbers that night and spent the next day together. He cooked me dinner the following week and I was sold! We dated for close to seven years before getting married–part of that time was long distance while I attended graduate school. John was so supportive and drove to Durham nearly every weekend so we could be together. We both knew if we could survive that separation, we could survive anything together. After school, I moved home to Wilmington and we got engaged the following year.
Tell us all about the proposal! We got engaged in November 2014 at Wrightsville Beach–where we met and where we spend most weekends in the summer. It was the day after my 30th birthday, and John woke up extra early to suggest we go to breakfast and then for a walk on the beach. I could tell he was a little nervous while we were walking along the water and thought something was up. A few minutes later, he was down on one knee. Later that night, we surprised all of our friends with the news at a party. It was a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 175
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a pearl bracelet from my mother-in-law, which served as my something borrowed and old. I wore Duke blue nail polish on my toes for my something blue. My dress, veil, shoes, and earrings were all new.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wedding planning, in many ways, was good practice for married life. There was lots of compromising, budget discussing, and balancing of priorities. We managed to have a lot of fun throughout the process, and constantly reminded ourselves that our marriage was much more important than the wedding.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we’re enjoying a low-key summer with family and friends and saving for our first home.

Photographer: Anna Routh Photography | Planner: Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Fiore Fine Flowers | Wedding Cake: One Belle Bakery | Caterer: Gibbs Catering | Rentals: L&L Tent and Party Rentals | Lighting: High Performance Lighting and Power | Band: Mr. Potato Head Band | Ukulele: Kent Knorr of North Carolina Ukulele Academy | Paper Products: Reeves Engraving | Bride’s Gown: “MJ101” by Madison James | Bridal Salon and Veil: Coastal Knot Bridal | Hair Stylist: Kelli Kuperus and Megan Gregory from Sea Grass Salon and Day Spa | Makeup Artist: Amy Kennison | Bride’s Shoes: “Danya” by Naturalizer | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Trolley: Azalea Limo

Anna Routh, Fiore Fine Flowers, One Belle Bakery, and Coastal Knot Bridal are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Karina + John » Anna Routh Photography reply

    […] Thanks also to Southern Weddings for featuring this sweet wedding recently. Check it out here. […]

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