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Two brand new babies and all the horses in Georgia couldn’t keep me from hitting the pause button on maternity leave to recap the most magical night: our celebration for the launch of our special tenth-anniversary issue a few weeks ago. Of course, we did it in high style at the Carolina Inn, with 300+ of our favorite friends and family, lots of fancy dresses and tuxedos, and a menu that would make your grandmama beam with pride.

The launch party is one of our favorite nights year after year, but we knew we wanted to pull out all the stops to make this tenth-anniversary celebration one for the record books. The night started with a signature cocktail for each guest and ended with a dance party that I’m confident we will be talking about for years, maybe decades, to come.

Biggest hugs to our dear friends McLean Events for pulling together all the details and to Brent from Live View Studios for all of these amazing photos! Our friends at Reel Special captured video coverage of the whole evening (don’t miss it at the bottom of this post!), and the Bourbon Booth made sure everyone left with legendary photobooth memories.

Our darling Marissa wasn’t able to celebrate in person since her little fella, BDK3, was only hours away from making his grand debut, so we had to improvise to ensure she didn’t miss out on all the fun (and photos). Speaking of babies, I know I’m a bit biased, but I think all the miniature party guests stole the show.

Lara started Southern Weddings in her tiny apartment on a PC computer nearly 10 years ago, and here we are, all these years later, with 9 team members (did I mention that we all missed Marissa like crazy) and all our families for an iconic tenth-anniversary team photo to commemorate the evening. Interested in a little Southern Weddings trivia? The SW babies and kiddos now outnumber the SW ladies. I’d also be remiss to not give all the kudos to Lindsey Regan Thorne and her Be Pretty squad for their help beautifying the whole Southern Weddings team and doling out some serious curls and lashes.


We’re big believers in good ol’ Southern hospitality, so we greeted guests by name thanks to All She Wrote Notes‘s gorgeous hand-calligraphed nametags, and offered everyone a place to rest their tired feet compliments of furniture from Cottage Luxe. And what’s more hospitable than lovely fresh florals? Our friends at Tre Bella made all our pink-floral-loving hearts swell with gorgeous arrangements sprinkled all over the room, and Jessica with Empress Stationery outdid herself with the party invitation.

As we say in our Sweet Tea Manifesto, “we believe that beautiful things have value simply because they make the world a more lovely place”. It’s such a joy to see this proclamation come to life with beautiful linens from CE Rental and gorgeous ‘walk down memory lane’ chalk signs from the Chalk Shop.

Getting to hug Anna and David Shackleford, our cover photographers, along with so many other friends, including many dear vendors who helped us bring our tenth-anniversary issue to life, was such a gift. We’ve said it over and over, but we could not do this work without the help and support of so many talented friends.

So many hugs!

I told y’all that the food would make any Southern grandmama proud. We love to use the issue for inspiration for the menu, and the Carolina Inn chefs pulled out extra tricks this year. The shrimp po’boys went fast, and I personally enjoyed five or six miniature soups and grilled cheeses as well as my fair share of treats from the biscuit bar (who can say no to pimento cheese). And it wouldn’t be a Southern Weddings party without plenty of Cheerwine, who, coincidentally, is celebrating a big anniversary this year too.

We were treated to amazing live music in the early phases of the evening, thanks to Bounce from EastCoast Entertainment and then an unforgettable dance party thanks to Joe Bunn DJ later. Whitney Houston’s iconic “I wanna dance with somebody” will be an instant flashback memory. And of course, the toasts are always a highlight. It’s such an honor to stand on the stage and raise a glass of thanksgiving to all the friends who helped make our latest issue happen.

It never fails that the photobooth is the most popular spot for the whole evening. The line was never-ending as friend after friend piled into the Bourbon Booth to capture a few memories. Looking back at my first launch party where we proudly piled all five Southern Weddings gals in for a picture, I might have to admit that one of the hidden SW team talents is cramming more and more of us into the photobooth each year.

Before leaving, all our party guests grabbed their very own copy of Southern Weddings and some treats to help them relax the rest of the evening — pralines from Loose Sugar Bakery and a Milk Bath from Southern Traditions Home. Not a bad way to end a wonderful party.

There’s something so special about having your memories captured on video, so thank you to Reel Special for allowing us to relive this sparkling evening over and over again.

I’m going to go on record and proclaim our tenth-anniversary celebration the best one yet. Thank you so much to everyone who celebrated with us, from near and far, for your love and support of the Southern Weddings mission and our special tenth-anniversary issue. We love y’all more than all the biscuits in the world.

Venue and catering: The Carolina Inn | Planning and design: McLean Events | Photography: Live View Studios | Videography: Reel Special | Music: Bounce via East Coast Entertainment | DJ: Bunn DJ Company | Flowers: Tre Bella Florist | Linens: CE Rental | Lounge furniture: Cottage Luxe | Sweets: The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery | Chalkboard Art: Chalk Shop Events | Photo booth: Bourbon Booth | Signage: All She Wrote Notes | Invitations: Empress Stationery | Hair and makeup: Lindsey Regan Thorne | Pralines: Loose Sugar Bakery | Milk bath containers: Southern Traditions Home

East Coast Entertainment, Bourbon Booth, McLean Events, Bunn DJ Company, Live View Studios, Reel Special, Chalk Shop, and Cottage Luxe are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory

kristin Written with love by Kristin
1 Comment
  1. avatar Ryan Worthen reply

    It was such an awesome celebration and we were SO honored that you asked us to film the launch party! Congratulations on 10 amazing years, and here’s to many more!

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There are lots of things I love about the real wedding interview we send to every bride we feature, but hands down, one of my favorite parts is reading each couple’s proposal story. I’m convinced that there is nothing quite like seeing the love of your life on one knee, and getting a peek into that moment for so many couples is an honor and a joy! The story of how Walker asked Haley to marry him is one not to be missed (let’s just say, the monogrammed tissue box on my desk came in handy), and if that’s not enough to make you fall in love with this adorable couple, I’m positive that their Georgia wedding, packed with lovingly handmade details, will!

Thanks so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Live View Studios for sharing this sweet celebration with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Walker and I met at Georgia Southern University. I was involved in a campus ministry called Chi Alpha, and had been leading the worship team. Walker had attended a few times, and since he plays guitar, he decided he wanted to join the worship team as well. I didn’t notice him right away, but once I did, it was hard to look away. Some time later, we met at the park for our first (unofficial) date. We threw the frisbee back and forth for two hours and just talked about family and our lives. On May 18, 2012, we decided being friends wasn’t enough, so he asked me to be his girlfriend. Exactly two years later, Walker decided that having me as his girlfriend was no longer enough, so he asked me to be his wife! Another year later, we were sitting on the balcony of our cabin in Pigeon Forge, sipping on coffee, and enjoying the second day of our honeymoon. We’ve been married for a whopping month and a half now, and it’s as blissful as ever!

I had my heart set on a flowy dress, so once I was in the store, that’s exactly what I grabbed. I tried it on and it looked awful! I decided to go in a different direction with a more elegant, timeless look. When I came out in a trumpet-style, lace gown, every girl I brought with me was in tears. I turned around to the mirror and the tears hit me too. It was obvious that this dress was mine!

We did not do a first look, but let me tell you, that wasn’t decided easily! We went back and forth on the subject for months. Finally, we decided to keep with tradition and see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle. It was a magical moment to see each other in a crowded space, but not notice anyone else but each other.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? The ceremony and reception space were in the same location. This was an obvious choice for us, since it was in the neighborhood where my parents live!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The location was very Southern! We also served peach tea and Coca Cola in glass bottles out of a boat.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made things ourselves! Also, any time we went grocery shopping, we would pick up a few cases of Coke bottles and tea. It helped to spread that cost out!

I walked down the aisle to “How Great Thou Art.” The arrangement was by The Piano Guys, and it had everyone in tears. Our first dance song was “Forever Like That” by Ben Rector. It was a song that we’ve both loved for a long time, and it’s the perfect song to waltz to!

Tell us all about the proposal! Our two-year dating anniversary fell on a Sunday. After spending the day together, he dropped me off at my place so I could get ready, and he planned to pick me up at 8 so we could head to Savannah for dinner. By the time 8:15 rolled around and Walker hadn’t showed up, I began to get a little worried. This man was never late for dates! I looked out the window for his car, but then, something else caught my eye. There was a shiny silver gift bag by my car with a piece of paper taped to it. I went outside, picked it up and began to read: “Two years is a pretty big deal, so I wanted to do a little something extra to set this date apart. I’ve arranged for you to take a trip to the places that are significant to our relationship. Sound fun? So here is how it works: I will give you a destination at the bottom of each letter. You are to drive to each spot and park as close to it as possible. Then you are to take out the numbered letter that corresponds to the stops you’ve made. So for the first spot, get out letter number one, and so on. Think back to the feelings and thoughts you had when our relationship was just beginning. I will meet you at the last spot and we will continue on to our date. First stop, the education building parking lot. Text me before you start!” He also included a CD that I was supposed to listen to while I drove, filled with songs that flooded me with memories. The journey continued to his first college apartment, where we shared our first meal together, the Mexican restaurant where he had met my family for the first time, and the park where we had had our first kiss. Finally, for the last stop, I pulled into the coffee shop where we had spent hours and hours over the last two years. Waiting for me there was the first man I’d ever loved: my dad. He escorted me through the empty coffee shop and out the back door, and with a kiss on the cheek and an “I love you,” he turned me over to the most handsome man I’d ever seen. There was Walker, standing on the patio all alone, under hundreds of Christmas lights, waiting for me! He said all the right things and got down on one knee and popped the question I had been so eager to hear! After a few moments alone and some ugly crying, he walked me around the corner for my final surprise. All of our family and friends were there to congratulate us!
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 70
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We each read a book that taught us how to love when things get difficult, and we would discuss our readings together. At one point, we were so over wedding planning and were just ready for the marriage!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Money. Thankfully, my mom and I are very creative and resourceful when we’re together. We had to do a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to make things work on our budget.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Breathe. On the day of your wedding, stop and look around and take it in. Before you know it, you’re on your way to your honeymoon, so do your best to savor every moment, even the things that go wrong.

Photographer: Live View Studios / Videographer: Charis Films / Planner: Michele Hankey / Venue: The River House / Florist: Brooklet Flower Shop / Wedding Cake: Julie Evans / Rentals: Rental Party Shop / DJ: Bryan Evans / Bride’s Gown, Veil, and Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal / Hair Stylist: Keturah Brocatto / Menswear: MADE by Cam Newton

Live View Studios is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Kelly reply

    Oh Lisa, I cried too!!Such a beautiful proposal story!!

  2. avatar Brent and Anna – Live View Studios reply

    Thank you for sharing Haley & Walker’s sweet story and their wedding day! xo

  3. avatar Cassidy reply

    That proposal story. Sa-woon! I also appreciated Haley’s honest about what the biggest challenge with their wedding was. It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations for a wedding — and the finances that they entail. But it sounds like Haley and Walker didn’t sweat it and enjoyed their day.

  4. avatar Dana reply

    oh my gosh this is the SWEETEST proposal! even got some tears out of me!

  5. avatar LINA reply

    What a gorgeous wedding & less than $10,000! They definitely should get the prize…they knew exactly how to spend their money! This was better than some that spent over $20,000.

  6. avatar Julie reply

    Way to go Walker and cousin Haley! The wedding looked magical- great planning. Prayers for that magic to continue forever.

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We’ve had a swell of, well, swell new additions to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory, and I’m so happy to share a few of them with you today! In reverse alphabetical order, just for fun…

P.S. Potential new BRV members, see below for an important note!

Shaking Hands Productions crafts your wedding day film like a piece of art, shooting every moment cinematically and unobtrusively and with a bit of Super8 film throw in for good measure. They are based in Virginia.

Make Merry! is the most cheerful invitation design house that you ever did see! I love that Laura sees her mission as “discovering what is special, unique and personal about those I’m designing for… and bringing it to life!”

Live View Studios is a husband and wife photography team based in North Carolina. Since they describe themselves as “hopeless romantics,” it’s no surprise that they describe their photos as romantic and intimate, too!

I adore that one of the things that Life Stage Films loves what they do is catching moments their couples never knew existed. I think that’s something video does exceptionally well, and I love that these North Carolina filmmakers celebrate that!

Krystle Akin’s clean, fresh images are captured with a mix of film and digital formats, something we love in the SW office! She’s based in East Texas but travels all over.

We know that Mississippi resources are few and far between in our Directory (we’re working on it!), which is just one reason why we’re thrilled to have Kendall Poole Event Planning! Kendall and her team specialize in multi-day celebrations and personal relationships with their couples.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with Jennifer Ericksen on quite a few magazine projects (including our V3 cover, an editorial for V4, and an upcoming online feature!), and so we’ve seen firsthand her talent and kindness! We’re thrilled to be able to recommend her as a hair and makeup stylist to NC brides.

As I’m sure y’all have surmised, the SW ladies are suckers for gorgeous penned letters. Hardink Calligraphy’s modern, friendly style is just our cup of (sweet) tea!

Speaking of sweet things, we’re also thrilled to welcome Chic Sweets to the family! Natalie specializes in custom dessert bars, and Florida brides are lucky to have her!

The beautiful work of Amelia Johnson is balm to the eyes, isn’t it? She’s based in DC/Virginia, but loves to travel, too!

To check out all of our Blue Ribbon Vendors, just click over to the full directory! You can search by category or state to find your perfect match. Vendors, if you’re interested in getting involved, just fill out this form and Kristin will get in touch!

Please note BRV membership rates will go up slightly starting on January 1, 2013. We will never raise rates on current members as long as your membership doesn’t lapse, so if you’ve been on the fence about applying, I’d suggest doing so now to lock in at the current rate! We would love to hear from y’all!

emily Written with love by Emily
5 Comments
  1. avatar laura reply

    Oh yay, thanks so much for spreading the word! SO excited to be a Blue Ribbon Vendor :)

  2. avatar Victoria reply

    Love the Tortoiseshell Cocktail Ring, Leather Tassel Key chain, and the Fold-over Clutch! And all the paper goods. I have liked Design Darling’s page and shared this post!

  3. avatar Brent & Anna – Live View Studios reply

    Thanks! We’re so happy to be part of the SW Family :) xoxo

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