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Sharing our Home Town Celebration editorial from our tenth anniversary issue, inspired by Laurel, Mississippi!

We have the privilege of traveling all across the Southeast while making Southern Weddings, exploring pockets of the Southeast and dreaming up beautiful love stories along the way! It’s no secret that this particular story is inspired by our own hometown heroes, Erin and Ben Napier. After featuring their home tour back in 2014, it’s been our joy to see their love story and small town make it big on HGTV. Their love for each other and their passion for Laurel’s revitalization was a huge inspiration for this editorial, and we’re grateful for all the ways they made it possible for us to shoot in their sweet Mississippi town!

When we thought about the heart of hospitality behind this shoot, we knew there would be no better photographer than our dear friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor Davy Whitener. This editorial holds a special place in my heart, because Davy is shooting my wedding this April! After our V9 Cover Editorial, one of our former editors came back to the office and said to me, “I know you’re not getting married right now, but I’m pretty positive Davy Whitener is the perfect person to shoot your wedding when it comes time.” And she was right!

After working with Davy on this shoot, and getting engaged a few months later, he was one of the first people I emailed. His heart for hospitality, love for people, and ability to capture the often-unseen moments gave us the beautiful images you see here!

After arriving in Laurel, Emily and I headed straight to Laurel Mercantile Co. to pick up some of the goodies you see above in the welcome crates, including the darling City Beautiful Pennant you see tucked above!

While we ran errands, Lauren Soley of Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals and her team were unloading and prepping the Rogers-Green House for the shoot. We couldn’t have pulled off our Home Town Celebration editorial without her!

I’m not at all embarrassed to tell you how often I think about the flowers Josie and Christine of The Petaler Co. created for us! The sunny pop of yellow in the Sally Homes roses, peonies, and white lilacs mixed with the sprigs of mint and oregano were such a unique combination that I still ooh and ahh over!

There are few things more Southern than a porch swing for bridal portraits! Our HGTV Home Town fans might recognize Bill and Jody’s porch swing from an episode in Season One. Not only did they open their home to us for shooting, but they graciously gave us a tour that evening and joined us for dinner. Trust me when I tell you there is no shortage of Southern hospitality in Laurel, MS!

Gingham dresses that can be worn again paired with embroidered monogram hankies are a sweet way to honor your special ladies!

Isn’t this the most darling lemonade stand you’ve ever seen? Our flower girls and ring bearers were the perfect lemonade hosts, making sure our entire team stayed refreshed all day long.

Keeping with the heart of the shoot and home town feel, two of Davy’s children suited up for the big day and Lauren’s cousins sported their biggest bows as flower girls.

Can you imagine the emotions going through our bride’s head as the doors to her childhood church are about to open? Knowing she’ll see her groom for the very first time in the same church she grew up in admittedly gives me some watery eyes!

Ask your caterer to prepare a private picnic basket or meal for you and your groom to enjoy together post-ceremony before heading into your reception. Bonus points if you’re able to cozy up in the back of a pick-up truck!

Is there anything more Southern than fried chicken, tomato pies, and pancakes? I think not! Lola Fleur outdid themselves with all the delicious food! I can say that because I was able to sneak a few bites in :)

These were genuine smiles from our tiniest models when we told them they could snack on our strawberry shortcake desserts.

Finally, a special treat for you: the crew from Bride Film was on-hand to capture a behind-the-scenes glimpse of this special day! Here’s a look, in two parts:

BTS Part 1: Southern Weddings Home Town Celebration from BRIDE FILM on Vimeo.

BTS Part 2: Southern Weddings Home Town Celebration from BRIDE FILM on Vimeo.

Laurel, you were a gem! Thank you for inviting us into your community with open arms!

See more of this feature in our tenth anniversary issue, on newsstands now and in our shop!

Planner and Vintage Rentals: Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals | Photographer: Davy Whitener | Film Processing: Richard Photo Lab | Videography: Bride Film | Ceremony Venue: Laurel First United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Rogers-Green House | Florals: The Petaler Co. | Hair and Makeup: Blush Salon | Catering: Lola Fleur | Lighting: Celebrations | Paper Goods and “Just Married” Banner: Southern Fried Paper | Strawberry Shortcake Boats: Shop Sweet Lulu | Escort Card Board: Minted | Linens: La Tavola Linen | Hanky Embroidery: Needleworks | Bride’s Gown: “Heloise” by Leanne Marshall via The Sentimentalist | Veil: “Phoenix” by Sara Gabriel | Jewelry: ExVoto Vintage | Ring: Trumpet & Horn | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Bridesmaid Dresses: Anthropologie | Groom’s Blue Blazer: Bonobos | Ties: Macy’s | Flower Girl Dresses: Rachel Riley | Hair Bows: Wee Ones | Welcome Box and Napkins: Laurel Mercantile

Lovegood Wedding & Event Rentals and Southern Fried Paper are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
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It’s our pleasure to get to introduce y’all to a new set of Blue Ribbon Vendors each month, because I just know any one of them would be a joy to you if you choose to work together! This time around, we’re introducing you to a few of them through their answers to some of our favorite BRV interview questions. Click through to their listings to find out more about them!

Name: Merideth Bugbee, Belle Soiree Events
Where you call home: New Orleans, LA
How I got into weddings: My very first job was waiting tables in a New Orleans restaurant. The ONE time the staff let me bring out a birthday cake to a lady celebrating her 50th birthday my heart was so full of joy knowing I played a very tiny part in making this day special. I knew from that moment that special events were what I was made for. A few years and lots of hard work later, Belle Soiree Events was born!

Name: Michael Cottrell, Cottrell Photography
Where you call home: Dahlonega, GA
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? My favorite thing about weddings in the South is the low humidity. No really, I love everything about the South! The folks I photograph are extremely pleasant to work with and are grateful for everything. I love sweet tea, too! Never been to a wedding that didn’t have it.

Name: Duck Woods Country Club
Where you call home: Kill Devil Hills, NC
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The true romance of it! I am especially partial to romantic country club weddings.

Name: Emilie Baros, Emilie Anne Photography
Where you call home: Austin, TX
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? A tall glass of sweet tea, good music, and BBQ!

Name: Jessica Sowyrda, Ever & Anon
Where you call home: Houston, TX
Favorite part of a wedding day? Hands down: when the groom sees the bride for the first time. In that moment, you see utter love and awe in his eyes.

Name: Jennifer Vu, Firefly Ambiance
Where you call home: New Orleans, LA
How I got into weddings: My background is in accounting and on the weekends, I worked for another local company setting up weddings. I fell in love with weddings and three years ago decided that I needed to follow my heart. It has been three amazing years!

Name: Keeneland
Where you call home: Lexington, KY
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? During the planning and on the big day, always remember what this is all about- marrying the love of your life. Be thankful for the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, and be thankful for all your friends and family who came to celebrate with you.

Name: Lauren Soley, Lovegood Rentals
Where you call home: Hattiesburg, MS
Favorite part of a wedding day? We love everything about the reception! From the first dance to cake cutting, we enjoy seeing the newlyweds and their guests have the best time socializing and dancing the night away. Relax, and take it all in!

Name: Lydia Robins Hendrix
Where you call home: Columbia, SC
Pie bar or red velvet cake? Pie bar all the way. One of my life’s dream was fulfilled when I had one at my wedding!

Name: MiKel Rumsey
Where you call home: Columbia, SC
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The South is like no other place on earth – the land of sweet tea, hospitality, yes ma’am and yes sir, biscuits and gravy. Where everything is better with some good food and a few friends, and no piece of clothing is safe from a monogram. Southern weddings are just the same – traditions handed down from mother to daughter, father to son, embroidered handkerchiefs and something blue. The sweet sounds and scents of the South make a Southern wedding something you can’t duplicate anywhere else.

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at southernweddings.com!

emily Written with love by Emily
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