Y’all! April’s Southern Bride of the Month is getting married THIS WEEKEND! Make sure to give her an extra hearty SW welcome, considering all that’s going on in her world this week. Meet Sarah!
Hi! What’s your name?
What’s your fiancé’s name?
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
When I first moved to Atlanta in fall 2009, I was waiting a few months for my job to start and living with my brother, who traveled all week for business. Since I didn’t know anyone else, I decided to get out and explore Atlanta and all its different neighborhoods on my own. I met Josh at a sushi restaurant in Virginia Highlands about a month into my time in Atlanta. I thought he was so cute and so nice! We were pretty much inseparable after our first meeting. A few weeks later, we took our first trip together, to Savannah (where we are now getting married!), and that’s when we both knew it was love!
Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
By the summer of 2011, Josh and I were pretty serious and saving up money for our future plans. We talked about getting engaged first and then buying a house, sometime that fall after his sister’s summer wedding. We started looking at houses “just to get an idea” early that summer, and found the house of our dreams on our first trip! We looked at about 15 more houses, but there was nothing else like it. We decided we couldn’t pass it up, even though I had really wanted to be engaged first. On August 28, 2011, the day after the previous owners moved out, we went over to the house with champagne to walk through our empty house and celebrate being homeowners. Josh proposed on the front porch then carried me over the threshold, so we were engaged before moving into the house after all!
When’s the big day?
April 20 (2 days!!)
Where might you two be tying the knot?
Gorgeous Savannah, GA! The ceremony will be at Christ Church Episcopal, and the reception will be at the Mansion on Forsyth Park.
The Mansion on Forsyth Park by Anna and Spencer
How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
It was really important to me to be married in an Episcopal church. I also love the history of Christ Church — founded in 1733, the first church founded in Georgia, with the current building built in 1840. We feel very lucky to be getting married there. I also love the ballroom in the Mansion — very classic, with crystal chandeliers and gold leaf! And there’s even a chandelier in the marble courtyard for the cocktail hour! We both especially love the Mansion’s central location across from the big fountain in beautiful Forsyth Park, which is filled with azaleas and Spanish moss.
Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
It’s going to be a very pretty, very classic Savannah wedding! At first I was going for a very elegant/ understated look, with champagne, ivory, and blush hues, but I’ve progressively added more sparkle and brighter pinks to the mix, as well. We’ll have champagne linens and bridesmaid dresses, tons of pink flowers, lots of the color gold everywhere (both in the Mansion ballroom décor, and in our details) and lots of candlelight. We will also have an awesome jazz band that’s originally from Louisiana (like me!) and a big white cake with magnolias on it. Our ceremony and most of our reception details are pretty traditional, but everything we’ve chosen is very meaningful to us, as well, and an expression of our love for each other. I think (hope!) our guests will feel that a lot of love for them went into the planning as well. I can’t wait!
Caroline Ghetes via Ruffled
Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
I think what’s most inspired us is the city of Savannah itself… we want our guests to get a feel for all of our favorite parts of the city at our wedding — our church in one of Savannah’s old squares, our reception in Forsyth Park, and an awesome jazz band, shrimp and grits and oysters at the reception! Other Savannah details include pralines and taffy in the welcome bags, transportation in a Savannah tour trolley, and before the wedding, a ladies’ lunch in City Market, a beer-and-oysters brunch for the men on River Street, and drinks at our favorite Savannah pub!
Blush rosette linen photo by Teran Photography and monogram uplighting photo by Patricia Lyons
How have you involved your “community” (friends, family, etc.) in the wedding planning process?
Josh’s mom and sister, my sister, and my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) all live in Atlanta, and have been so helpful to me at all stages, from traveling to Savannah to visit our venues, to making drink stirrers on craft days, to stuffing welcome bags and tying ribbons around 90 satin napkins! We’ve also planned for our good friends to have special parts in the wedding.
Has your vision for your wedding changed or evolved over the course of your engagement? If so, how?
Yes, it took us months to make up our minds between the Mansion and a smaller venue (our favorite Savannah restaurant), so I had two different weddings sketched out in my head -— the big ballroom wedding and the intimate restaurant wedding -— while we were still deciding. Once we decided to pull the trigger and go with the ballroom, I was able to dive into planning and develop that vision into the wedding we’re going to have. We are both so happy we decided to go for the wedding at the Mansion, and the wedding we’ve planned truly is going to be the wedding of my dreams. Also, generally, as time has gone on, I’ve gotten less stressed about making every detail unique and creative, and just had more fun picking out things that I like and that will enhance our guests’ experience. At the beginning, I wanted to incorporate every cool idea I saw online into our wedding, whether it really fit us and our wedding or not. I got a hold of myself, though, and reined in my wedding craziness to focus on us and only choose details that meant something to us and fit with our wedding.
Two of Sarah’s favorite bouquets: from Elizabeth Anne Designs on the left (photo by Photographix), and from Martha Stewart Weddings on the right
What part of wedding planning, if any, has made you the most anxious?
Sticking within budget, definitely! I dream a little bigger than we budget, but Josh has kept me grounded and helped us stick to a monthly payment plan. We succeeded at staying on-budget, and the closer we’ve gotten to the wedding itself, the more I realize that many of the little extras won’t really matter and that no one will miss the things we don’t end up doing.
What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Videography. We booked our photographer 14 months before the wedding, but just booked a videographer one month before the wedding because I couldn’t stop wondering whether we’d regret it!
Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
The way we incorporate our family and friends into both the ceremony and reception. We’re having just our sisters and brothers as official bridesmaids and groomsmen (which is three on each side with Josh’s dad as best man), but I’m having my close friends walk down the aisle to music at the beginning of the ceremony and play other roles in the wedding. I’m also doing a few things to honor my mom, who passed away a few years ago. And at the reception, we will have a family picture table and meaningful songs for family played.
Beautiful table design by Laurie Arons (photo by Meg Smith) via Style Me Pretty
How has the budgeting been? What’s your best budgeting tip?
I wasn’t the best at it, but Josh helped me a lot and we did stay within budget. I’d say to get a good idea of your budget and make the big decisions before deciding on smaller expenses and details, and that details related to guest comfort are more important than details that look pretty (i.e., for us, trolley to transport guests and welcome bags stayed in the budget, but professional calligraphy ended up getting cut). And if you have a long engagement, wait to buy jewelry for your dress—I ended up with two sets I’m not wearing! And, since other brides end up doing the same thing I did, Ebay is a great source for accessories, even if you don’t want to buy used. I got both an unworn designer headpiece and a designer bolero for a fraction of the cost!
Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
It was the first thing I did! I might have been googling wedding dresses even before we got engaged and might have found a picture of my dream dress. I thought it was out of budget and might not be available anymore, since it was a 2008 design, so was planning to look for something similar. But, shortly after I got engaged, the designer had a trunk show in town. I called, and they had the dress, and for a better price than I’d thought! My sisters and mother-in-law made me try on another dress first at the salon, and many other dresses after, but my dress was the second dress I tried on and it was perfect! I bought it right away, even though everyone told me to look around more, and I haven’t seen any other dress I’ve liked as well since!
Two of Sarah’s favorite hair styles: photos by Matt Edge on the left and Jose Villa on the right
What has been the best part of wedding planning? The worst part?
I’ve honestly really enjoyed the whole process — I love pretty things and details, and as a complete romantic, I’ve enjoyed having a year and a half to dream about the day I marry Josh. The best part has been that the planning really does allow the most wonderful day of my life -— when I’ll marry the man of my dreams — to last longer than just a day with all the planning and anticipation. The hardest part for me personally has been wedding planning without my mom, who passed away a few years ago. Not having her at this important time really makes me miss her sometimes. But my mother-in-law has stepped in and been a great help to me with a lot of the traditional mom-tasks, and my family and friends have been great, too.
What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your engagement?
It’s okay if not every detail about your wedding is 100% unique, creative or blog-worthy, and while pretty details are important to the bride, they really aren’t so important to everyone else. It’s important to focus on your guests’ comfort, if you have to choose where to spend your money, and more important than anything is to focus on the love and the marriage that is the reason for the day rather than all the details of the event.
Definitely a guest-pleasing detail: Sarah and Josh’s magnolia wedding cake!
Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
We are taking a mini-moon, a few days after the wedding just to decompress in the mountains. We’ll take an extended tropical island honeymoon later this winter; it gives us something else to look forward to!
Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
A few things! Our german shepherd mix, Miss Mae, will be staying at the hotel and taking family pictures with us. I’d love for her to make an appearance at cocktail hour, but she might jump up on people, and that might not be appreciated (she is about 40 lbs). For those who’ve been to weddings with dogs, what have your experiences been? Is this cute, or annoying (or both)? Also, married readers, what is one thing I should make a point to do on the wedding day? Is there anything you’re really glad that you did that day to make it even more memorable, or anything you regret that you didn’t do? Thank you so much!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Sarah! We wish you all the best this weekend!! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!