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Some of the very best posts in our archives are the ones written by real brides actively planning their weddings and sharing their thoughts along the way. We want to bring you more of that! Today’s guest, Grace, was actually married this spring, but close enough :) We met her at one of our photo shoots for Volume 10, and when she told us she used our Joyful Wedding Planner throughout her engagement, we were tickled pink! Since we’ve been talking about all things ceremony for the last few weeks, I asked her to come on over and share more about hers. Take it away, Grace! – Emily

For about a week after getting engaged, my time was mostly spent daydreaming about our engagement day and gazing at my beautiful ring (ha!). Once I shook off the “engagement high,” I dived into planning our wedding — I could hardly wait! My excitement quickly turned to frustration, though, as I was overwhelmed with the number of options and decisions there were to make, as I’m sure y’all can relate to. I needed a solid guide that would come alongside me and my husband as we created a wedding that was uniquely ours. Thankfully, the Joyful Wedding Planner came to the rescue!

From the very beginning stages of wedding planning, my husband and I knew that we wanted to get married in the mountains, a place we both love and where we’ve made wonderful memories. We also knew that we wanted our wedding day to glorify and display the love of Christ, and for this reason, the ceremony was the most important part of the day for us. It was not only the part of the day that we would officially be declared husband and wife, but also a chance for us to show our family and friends that we did not take marriage lightly and were making a serious commitment to one another. It was also a chance to show the power of Christ’s love in our lives and the power we would rely on for our marriage! Lastly, we wanted our marriage to signify the joining of our two families into one.

After having a solid handle on what we wanted for our ceremony, I worked through my planner to help figure out exactly what I wanted for each detail:

— For the officiant, we knew that we wanted an individual that displayed a strong love for the Lord, was eloquent in speaking the beauty of the Lord’s love for us, and had mentored us through our relationship.
— We also decided to include two wedding rituals. The first was the lighting of the unity candle to represent our new life in Christ, our two lives becoming one, and the joining of our families. I just loved the imagery of two flames merging to become one! The second ritual we took part in was communion.
— We picked readings (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Ephesians 5:25-33 and 22-24) to show that we were choosing to love each other in our marriage and to illustrate the roles that we were promising to take up.

The planner encouraged me to come up with a Plan A and a Plan B for the ceremony in case of weather, and to make sure that we could be happy with either outcome. Thankfully, our venue gave us the option of holding our ceremony outside or inside of the barn, giving us two beautiful settings (one rain-proof!). If it was held outside, it would be held in front of a large tree with arching branches. If it was inside, the barn setting would be accented with twinkle lights and draped cloth, fitting for our mountain setting. We ended up having our ceremony inside of the barn because of a high forecast for rain, and it ended up being intimate and beautiful!

My husband and I both agreed from the start that we would recite traditional vows (writing our own would have been too much pressure for us!). That was an easy decision to check off the list :)

For our processional music, we chose two favorite songs to display both of our personalities: one of my husband’s favorites (“Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel) for the family and wedding party entrance, and one of mine (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri) for mine. Our communion song was “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us.” Our ceremony music was played by dear friends on piano, flute, violin, and oboe.

When the ceremony was finished, we wanted to end on a joyous note and decided to have a bluegrass band play a lively tune and have our guests throw flower petals in the air to join in the celebration with us as we walked out as husband and wife!

Thinking back on it, the ceremony was the sweetest and most joyous moment of the day (and probably my life!) and everything my husband and I valued and loved was displayed perfectly through it. I am so thankful that the tone for our marriage was set on that day. Planning for the ceremony was so sweet but being married now is even sweeter!

All photos by Blue Ribbon Vendor Ally & Bobby!

emily Written with love by Emily

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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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
  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!

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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Knowing that so many of you are newly (ish!) sporting an engagement ring, we’ve been working our way through wedding planning must-dos here on the blog for the past few weeks. After several rounds of budget advice, it’s time to move on to vendors: finding them, hiring them, and working with them! For all of our best wedding planning advice in one place, be sure to pick up your copy of the Joyful Wedding Planner!

For many of us, planning a wedding is the first time we’ve had to hire someone – maybe ever, and almost certainly for something creative! It can feel like a lot of pressure to get it right, because your wedding vendors are the folks who will transform your big, precious ideas into a celebration that can be enjoyed by the people you love most. We’ve got a whole roster of vendors we love for browsing, but today we’re taking it one step further and really breaking down the question “how do I find vendors for my wedding?”

Use your network. Naturally, some of the best recommendations come from people you trust. Loved the flowers at your best friend’s wedding? Ask her who she used. And remember, negative reviews can be just as helpful as positive ones!

Ask your vendors. Found a vendor you 100% click with? Ask him for other vendor recommendations. Photographers and planners, especially, work with countless vendors every weekend and can have great insight into the best options in your area.

Look to blogs and magazines. Wedding blogs and magazines can be a wealth of vendor leads, in a number of different ways. Search for real wedding or editorials that took place in your area and follow up with anyone whose work you love. Check to see if they have a vendor directory, usually a hand-picked selection of vendors that have been vetted in some way (ours is called the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory). And don’t forget print and online advertisements – if you love a publication, chances are you’ll love the vendors that care enough to advertise with them.

There’s a common belief that vendors and venues charge more for the same services as soon as the word “wedding” is mentioned. Surprise! That’s probably true – but for good reason. A once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding comes with an entirely different set of expectations, pressure, time spent planning, service, and creativity than your average cocktail or bridal party, and a higher price often reflects that. Though it can be hard to justify the expense on the front end of a wedding, talented vendors are worth every penny in the end!

I’d love to hear: how did you find your vendors? Who are your favorites?

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Joseph Requerme Photo reply

    Usually your suppliers will recommend someone that they trust, so, ask your supplier. Those points you have mentioned are really helpful.

  2. avatar Christine reply

    Yes to all of the above. Also, Instagram can be a great resource to find vendors. Follow beautiful wedding accounts and check to see who they tag. You can discover many wonderful vendors using that method! I found most of my wedding vendors via wedding magazines and trusted wedding websites and blogs (like this one!). I also turned to my wedding planners and their relationships for additional vendor intros. Honestly, the vendor finding process was so much fun!

  3. avatar Bri A reply

    These are such helpful tips because there are so many options out there! I especially love asking vendors that you have a rapport with, because working with someone brings a unique perspective!

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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