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One of my favorite parts of getting our Real Weddings ready to share with y’all is reading each couple’s vows. From the traditional classics to creative rhymes, and even some jokes and lighthearted moments, vows are an incredibly meaningful part of each day, and usually offer some insight into the couple reciting them. Erin + Steve’s vows really struck a chord in my heart, especially this line from the groom: “I, Stephen, take you, Erin, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I give you my word, my faith, and my solemn vow.” Heavens, that makes me tear up just reading it!

Beyond their sweet, sweet vows, I love how Erin’s mama played a big role in the handmade decor of their day. She not only created the invitations and decorated their getaway bikes, she utilized Hobby Lobby and Lowes to put together some seriously gorgeous centerpieces! Big hugs to our friends at Landon Jacob for sharing this colorful affair! Seriously, y’all, pay attention to the heartwarming moments they captured tucked into every corner of this feature!

I initially tried on wedding gowns in upscale boutiques in the suburbs of Philadelphia with my mother and sister in-laws-to-be. I fell in love with a $6,000 Monique Lhuillier dress, completely clueless of the wedding market value of dresses. Back home in Columbia, SC I went to a local bridal salon with my mom, sister in-law, and aunt where I found the winner: Lazaro 3101, a great mix of lace with Spanish flair. I again had sticker shock at the $3,000 price tag and tried to bargain. I scoured recycledbride.com, preownedweddingdressses.com, and finally found the winner on Ebay for $1200. Upon arrival, the dress fit like a glove and needed no alternations. It was meant to be!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did. At first I was totally opposed to the idea but was inspired by my best friend’s wedding that I attended a month prior and the sharing of an intimate moment together instead of a more public, shared moment at the ceremony. It eased a lot of our nervous energy and I’m very happy with our decision.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? My mother is an interfaith minister who had tons of books on creating ceremonies and rituals lying around. We came upon some vows that I believe were shared between her close friends that spoke to us and the incredible risk and trust that marriage demands. Our chaplain was quite fond of them as well: “I, Stephen, take you Erin to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I give you my word, my faith, and my solemn vow.”

One of my favorite things about our wedding was all the detailed creations of my mom, Heidi Darr-Hope, which included the invitations, centerpieces, bikes and lanterns. She bought lanterns from Hobby Lobby and filled them with rocks, candles, and objects from Mexico and draped them in sparkling gold ribbon. She blew up our invitation (that she created) as a sign, and decorated Steve’s and my bicycles. For centerpieces, she gathered Hobby Lobby paper flowers, paper birds, moss-covered rocks, dried beans, candles and bold-colored linens from Palmetto Party Rentals! It was an eclectic mix of fabulousness.

The weather was also amazing! Seventy-degree, sunny perfection graced us in October and made for a fabulous weekend. We also served gourmet shrimp and grits in martini glasses by Loosh Culinare and incorporated some non-traditional elements as well. Our moms and dads walked us down the aisle (both parents raised us, right?). We loved being hoisted in the air on chairs as in Jewish celebrations, and we passed Italian wedding cookies around instead of a traditional cake to honor Steve’s Italian heritage (he’s an Italian citizen!).

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: My colleague at work, who is a life insurance product specialist by day and photographer, jewelry, dress, and (apparently) ornate cake maker by night, created the three-tiered white cake with her mother and transported it, driving 20 miles an hour, from Lexington, SC. It was a work of art and tasted delicious!

What was the most memorable moment from your wedding day? Two moments. One was walking down the aisle with the veil covering my face and my parents in both arms. It was truly surreal with the light twinkling in, a sea of smiling, loving faces, and harp notes drifting through the breeze. Another was that we had SO much fun riding bikes around the fountains as our exit. We were having so much fun that we went for a second ride through the tunnel of guests and then hopped on a pedicab to our afterparty at Nonnah’s.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met three years ago during our first days as graduate students in the School of International Business at USC. We both used the exact same word to describe our initial reaction to each other: Intrigued. For several months, we pursued our interest, curiosity, and desire of one another, developing a deep friendship. However, things weren’t all easy. Steve would be leaving the country soon for his eight-month internship and I felt the tension of wanting to be clear and definite about the nature of our relationship on one hand, and just allowing our love and connection to come in its own time on the other. I chose to allow, not force, the excitement, pleasure, and hope at each step along the way to bring us closer together. It was our inevitable separation for language study and internships in South America that brought clarity to our hearts about the depth and commitment of our feelings. Stephen had to leave for Brazil and shortly thereafter, I was to be in Mexico and then Chile. I realized that I was truly in love when while in Mexico, instead of enjoying the experience, I found myself spending all my time Skyping with Steve. Thanks to the wonders of Skype and a chance to be together for a few weeks in Brazil, our love and friendship grew and blossomed, despite the long separation.
Describe the proposal. Once we were both back in South Carolina, Steve hatched the perfect plan to propose that involved secretly getting his parents from Philadelphia, along with my parents, and tucking them away in a house on Sullivan’s Island. Then there was a very long and hot bicycle ride on the beach until he could find some privacy, a sandy knee for Steve, many tears of joy for me, and finally, a great big surprise party with both families back at the beach house when we returned newly engaged and deeply in love.
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” and “The Way.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We liked the cello and harp duo, both USC students, that played. Steve walked down the aisle to Bach’s “Cello Song,” “The Swan” was played for the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and I walked down the aisle to Debussy’s “Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” which I did a solo ballet dance to as a moonbeam when I was young. It reminds me of grace, freedom, and lightness — just how I felt walking down the aisle. Steve’s sister and operatic genius, Megan, sang the “Glory of Love” with the cellist and harpist during the ceremony. For our first dance, we went back and forth on songs and finally settled on Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of my Life.” We took dance classes at Vista Ballroom in the three weeks prior to the wedding and learned some basic American Rumba moves with dips and spins. Our band played the song live on the wedding day and it was a bit slower than practiced. We made it through laughing and feeling awkward the whole time but it was so fun!
Describe your wedding flowers: I’m not huge on flowers and told my mom only this: “Keep it local and vibrant and I like succulents.” She worked with a local florist but did the majority of the work herself – purchasing lots of succulents from Lowe’s.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Moving from surveying the options to making a decision! There were a lot of wonderful choices on all levels of detail, but getting momentum moving and checking items off the list relieved a lot of stress.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I felt very happy about not splurging on anything. It gave me a big sense of peace knowing that this day was about celebrating our union, not amassing debt or getting carried away on extravagant details. We creatively saved money at all points in the planning process and I felt amazing!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Two moments. One was walking down the aisle with the veil covering my face and my parents in both arms. It was truly surreal with the light twinkling in, a sea of smiling, loving faces, and harp notes drifting through the breeze. Another was that we had SO much fun riding bikes around the fountains as our exit. We were having so much fun that we went for a second ride through the tunnel of guests and then hopped on a pedicab to our afterparty at Nonnah’s.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Soak it in. It is intense to feel so much love and support from everyone in your life, so try to let go of the “plan” you’ve been scheming for months and soak in the wonderfulness of the day. Don’t get caught up in the “what’s next” part.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are renovating an old home and will be happy to move in and do what we love to do most – lay around in sweatpants, cook, drink wine or coffee and chat! We also have a pretty impressive travel lineup going: Patagonia, Berlin, Rio, Colombia, Sonoma, and more! We have a lot to look forward to!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
8 Comments
  1. avatar Katie @ Lovebird Productions reply

    The bright colors, the getaway bikes, her dress….it is such a wonderful Southern affair. I love it!

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  5. avatar alex reply

    who makes the berry colored bridesmaid dress? beautiful!

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Oh heavens, y’all! There are so many details in Lindsay + Jonathon’s Texas wedding that I am so completly smitten with. First, let’s start with the monogram appearances; from Lindsay’s “getting ready” shirt (we love these from our friends at Memento), to her fabulous cowboy boots, and then on to their married monogram runner mixed into the reception. Complete Southern heaven for this monogram-loving gal! And as a fellow non-cake-eater, I love how L + J had bowls of Jonathan’s favorite sweet, Sour Patch Kids, for guests to nibble on in lieu of a groom’s cake! I cannot guarantee a few of those little suckers wouldn’t have ended up in my purse!

Special thanks to Kelly Hornberger for capturing the sweetest moments (and the monogram details)!

Check out Jonathan’s Texas cufflinks! Love the ode to their home state!

My mom and I had a blast finding my dress. We only went to a few places, tried a lot on but definitely knew that the lace dress I picked was the one. My mom was so amazing in helping me. I definitely could not have done it without her! I did make a few alterations – made the neckline a sweetheart and took the back down a bit, into a deeper V shape.

Walking over to the ceremony site with my dad and then turning the corner and seeing Jonathan at the end of the aisle was truly magical.

This may be one of my favorite ceremony images of all time. Such an incredible moment of love and family!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Deuteronomy 6:5-9
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

There were so many Southern touches, including my new monogram on custom made cowboy boots, the burlap table runners, the wooden stumps for décor used as our cake stand and under our placement of flowers and candles, our signature drink served out of mason jars, Jonathan’s Texas cufflinks, the wooden benches and tables, and of course our food! Our guest book was a “cookbook” I made from all of our favorite family recipes. I included lots of pictures that involved friends, family and cooking and also left a lot of white space for people to sign. We also had “late night snacks” towards the end of the reception that included fried chicken and waffles and a French fry bar, complete with toppings to choose from!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Our wedding cake was five-tiered with a big flower on top and it was on a wooden stump as the cake stand.
For the “groom cake’s,” Jonathan actually doesn’t like sweets except for Sour Patch Kids, so we had little bowls throughout the bar and reception of Sour Patch Kids for people to snack on, complete with heart-shaped spoons, too!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Initially, Jonathan and I met through mutual friends at a party, but we didn’t start dating until about a year and half later, when the timing was right.
Describe the proposal. The proposal was absolutely amazing! Our photographer actually captured that, too (here). Jonathan has played classical piano since he was four, loves to sing and has been playing the guitar since for about 10 years as well. He is so talented! Our first date was at the Hobby Center in Houston where we saw the Phantom of the Opera. On our two year anniversary, Jonathan told me that we were going to see a play at the Hobby Center but that we were getting to meet the cast and see a rehearsal beforehand. When we walked in the theater, I was shocked that besides the people working in the sound booth, we were the ONLY people in the theater. I asked Jonathan where everyone else was and he told me it was a private viewing just for us (massive points!). As we take our seats, the lights start to dim and they call “all cast to stage,” the show is about to start. Jonathan turns to me and says that “they forgot the champagne” and that he will go get it. I think, “champagne, too!?!” As I’m sitting there alone, waiting for Jonathan to come back and the show to start, I hear the first notes of a familiar song on a piano being played. The curtain goes up and there is Jonathan on stage, singing and playing our favorite song! I start tearing up and then basically sobbing and am in absolute shock. Close to the end of the song, a woman comes and gets me and tells me to follow her. She then takes me on stage to join Jonathan. He finishes the song, he stands and takes both of my hands and says the sweetest words, and then he reaches back into the piano and pulls out a small box, gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him! It was SO AMAZING! And that was just the beginning of the night.
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Jonathan really wanted to keep the tradition of seeing me for the first time, walking down the aisle. I was perfectly OK with that!
Did you write your own vows? We did! We said the traditional vows but also wrote our own. My favorite line of Jonathan’s vows to me was, “I vow to love you forever with my whole heart and with everything that I have. This will be the easiest of my promises because there is absolutely no other way I could love you.” Jonathan’s favorite line of my vow’s to him was, “The man I thought I would marry absolutely pales in comparison to the man God has given me in you.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Walking down the aisle, walking back up the aisle, first dance? One of our good friend’s, Thad Lang, played all of our ceremony music on his acoustic guitar. He played “I Have Always Loved You” by Third Day while guests arrived, and also some music he wrote himself. “Air in G String” played while the wedding party walked down the aisle and “Cannon in D” when I walked down the aisle. He played Dave Matthews, “Everyday” when we walked back as man and wife – that was so fun. Our first dance was the same song Jonathan played and sang to me on our proposal, Sister Hazel’s “This Kind of Love.”
Describe your wedding flowers: Absolutely gorgeous! Romantic, lots of whites, ivories, garden roses, pops of deep pink and lambs ear for green. We also had all white petals as our aisle.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There are way too many! My favorite detail about the ceremony was our prayer circle – it was so unique and amazing to feel the love and power of being surrounded by our friends in prayer. For the reception, I have to say our monogrammed, burlap-inspired table runners that my sister-in-law made. Absolutely amazing!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Food was a big part of our wedding because it is a passion of ours. Other details included the truffle popcorn we served out of paper cones and our signature drink served before the ceremony, Mint Rosemary Lemonade. My brother also designed a logo for us to use on all of our signage. We had koozies with our logo, Styrofoam cups, napkins, rally towels for the end of the night and dancing, framed pictures of the two of us scattered throughout the reception, and my dad made hand painted directional signs, too!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We are so blessed in that we didn’t have too many! Honestly, I think the biggest scare or challenge was whenever my dress came in and it was too short. They had to do massive alterations and that was pretty dramatic — but it all worked out!
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000 – $50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Jonathan would say the lighting and I would have to say, of all things, the transportation. We provided buses for everyone and I am so glad we did! I think it really contributed to people staying the entire time and “partying” a little more since they didn’t have to drive. Plus, I heard our friends had a very entertaining bus ride home – singing songs and rapping over the microphone.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The feeling and emotions of it all! I was so calm and so ready – walking over to the ceremony site with my dad and then turning the corner and seeing Jonathan at the end of the aisle was truly magical.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Jonathan put a “moratorium” on any wedding planning/talking for one week when we first got engaged. His intention was for us to enjoy being engaged and to focus on our love and each other and we carried this throughout the planning period. Don’t get caught up in the details of one day and one party. Focus on your love and your marriage to come. Plus, you are only engaged once! Have fun being fiancés while you can!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? To enjoy our first year of marriage to the fullest! We want to do a lot of traveling and “firsts” as a married couple. We certainly are looking forward to building our home together and a family!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
31 Comments
  1. avatar Bethany reply

    Gorgeous wedding, looks like such a stunning day and the photographs captured that so well. Full of happiness

  2. avatar Michelle B reply

    Oh my word! Those monogrammed cowboy boots…I must have them in my life! I wonder where she had them/got them done!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hey Michelle! I know, aren’t those to die for? I am going to try and find out where she got hers, but in the mean time I found a few places that make custom boots. http://shop.paulbondboots.com/ http://www.timsboots.com Best of luck! xx

    • avatar Maddison reply

      Michelle B: Im dying to know too!

    • avatar lindsay reply

      Maddison: Hi ya’ll! I got the boots from Roy at Boots n Boogie in Santa Fe, NM! http://bluecanyonproductions.com/bootsnboogie/index.htm

      I designed them myself but he was great to work with :)

  3. avatar Feature Love -Southern Weddings- | Kelly Hornberger Photography reply

    […] I love the girls over at Southern Weddings Magazine.  Simple.  And I just wanted to give them a HUGE thankyou for the beautiful post on sweet Lindsay & Jonathan’s Austin area wedding up on their blog today!!  Be sure and check it all out here. […]

  4. avatar Rose {Rose and Ruby Paper Co.} reply

    So beautiful – love the boots!
    The palette is really beautiful too.
    x

  5. avatar Stacy reply

    Any updates on the boots? I REALLY want them!!!

  6. avatar spencer reply

    i am dying to hear about those boots too!! please post

  7. avatar dressonline reply

    beautiful wedding dress,wedding cake,wedding shoes

  8. avatar Katie O’Keefe reply

    Oh, oh, I am sharing this wedding. Monograms, ombré, prayer and it’s rustic – some of my favorite things at a wedding!

  9. avatar A Pretty and Rustic Texas Wedding | Wedding Resource reply

    […] out this beautiful Texas wedding on Southern Weddings to see how to do rustic in a pretty and feminine way. From the monogrammed burlap table runner to […]

  10. avatar Crystal reply

    Where did you find the monogram Boots? I love them

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Crystal! Lindsay got the boots from Roy at Boots n Boogie in Santa Fe, NM! http://bluecanyonproductions.com/bootsnboogie/index.htm Good luck! xx

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  12. avatar Wendy reply

    Where in the world did you get monogram cowboy boots?! I love them!

  13. avatar Lisa Hurley reply

    Where r the monogrammed boots from? I love them! Lisa

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    […] Cooper Photo Source: Southern Weddings Source: The Lane Source: unknown Source: Southern Weddings Source: LRF Source: Love You Mean It Blog About LillyLilly is a […]

    • avatar Lucy reply

      A perfect wedding , beautiful people , beautiful wedding , beautiful shoes

  15. avatar Laura Huseth reply

    I love these inital boots from Lindsay and Jonathon’s wedding. Do you know where I can find them? They would be PERFECT for my wedding! Thank you!

  16. avatar Camille reply

    Hey! What a sweet wedding! I am getting married in June and adore those boots! Where are they from?

    Thanks!
    Camille

  17. avatar Erica Smith reply

    Where did the birdie get her boots! I am in love and want a pair for my wedding!! Please respond!!

  18. avatar Monogram – A – Rama « David Tutera Wedding Blog • It’s a Bride’s Life • Real Brides Blogging til I do! reply

    […] monogram shirt […]

  19. avatar Lindsey reply

    I am in LOVE with that dress! Do you know which one it is from Enzoani?

    Thanks!!

  20. avatar Lauren reply

    I love this belt? Did it come from Enzoani as well. I have a beautiful lace gown for my Carolina Inn wedding but I cannot find a belt I love. Please let me know where she found this!

  21. avatar jimmy Vasquez reply

    i really like the boots for my fiance that you have featured brown and white they are really nice and i would like to purchase them how could I contact you or could possibly purchase these ?

  22. avatar Shaye reply

    Where did you get your monogrammed boots from?

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  25. avatar Hannah reply

    Beautiful wedding! How did you make the monogram table runner?

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Why hello, lovelies! Today we’re talking about a trend that I am huge fan of – mixed bridesmaid dresses! It’s a bit different from the all-one-designer, different styles look (though that’s lovely, too!). No, today we’re talking about any designer, any style — but all matching in tone or color. Not only is it an extremely stylish option, it’s a great way to ensure that your bridesmaids feel as beautiful on your wedding day as you do (well, almost — no one can top the bride’s glow!). Even celebs love giving their gals a little freedom with their dress choice. Most recently Molly Sims chose this fashion option, her bridesmaids each wore a different Elizabeth Kennedy floor-length dress.

There are so ways to incorporate the mixed bridesmaids look into your wedding day style. You can opt for the monochromatic look, with all your maids in coordinating shades of one color, or go a little crazy and let them choose their own style completely. Either way, I know your BFFs will be sure to thank you!

P.S. Worried your ‘maids might not want the responsibility of choosing their own gown, or might be confused by the open-ended request? Feel free to shoot them an email with some suggested dresses — but emphasize that these are just examples, and they’re welcome to find their own frock.

Image credits from top to bottom: Jill Thomas, Erin Hearts Court, Celine Kim, Erin Hearts Court, Lane Dittoe, Tim Will (see more of this reader-favorite V3 wedding here), Jose Villa via Inspired by This, Lane Dittoe, Thread Bridesmaids, Josh McCullock, Paul Johson (see more of this gorgeous wedding here + here), Todd Pellowe (see more from this wedding on SW here + here), and Aaron Shintaku.

What do y’all think? Would/will you give your girls a little freedom when it comes to picking their own dresses?

P.S. Looking for some more Southern style inspiration?
Wellies
Derby Hats
Sleeved Gowns
Short-Haired Brides

marissa Written with love by Marissa
17 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    LOVE this trend…though I hesitate to say trend, because I hope it sticks around! I definitely want to do this for my bridesmaids someday!

  2. avatar Lydia reply

    I love it when brides do this! I still have a bridesmaid dress in the back of my closet that I absolutely detest. Determined to get it out this summer and sell it!

  3. avatar Brittany R reply

    I love the idea of the monochromatic color scheme–like the one featured in the first photo. Problem: my wonderful other half has TOTALLY nixed this idea. He is 100% against shades of the same color–he’s okay with same designer/color and different styles but this…would be a no-go. Is that something I should just “deal with”? I never thought it would really matter to him. Thoughts?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Brittany, you never know what your beau is going to care about! BDK (my husband) had this weird thing that the bride (myself) should only wear white! No color on shoes or sashes. It was odd! Just remember, this is the beginning of a marriage and in marriage comes compromise. If he is totally against it and you are luke warm, I’d let it go. Focus on what’s most important to each of you and left the rest fall into place naturally. Hope this helps! xo, Marissa p.s Either way I know you’ll be a stunning bride!

    • avatar Brittany reply

      Marissa: Such good advice. In the end, I really don’t care what colors our party wears (I mean I do care, but you know…it’s not the most important thing). Great point about compromise. Thanks for your sweet reply!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      My pleasure! I’m sure either way that you and your bridesmaids will look gorgeous! Best of luck! xo, Marissa

  4. avatar Ashley, Indie Atlantic Films reply

    I think it really adds a personal, unique touch! I love the idea!

  5. avatar Emily reply

    I think my favorite is the Todd Pellowe photo with all the rich colors in camel, plum, and ruby! Perfect for fall!

  6. avatar Sara reply

    I feel almost silly asking five independent, intelligent women in their 30s wear the same dress! This is a great idea and I loved the examples-makes me feel a lot better about it. The photos still look great!

  7. avatar Tracy reply

    I’m doing this for my wedding at the end of the month (I’ve let my bridesmaids choose cocktail dresses in various shades of grey), and I am thrilled to see all of these beautiful pictures. You’ve just reinforced to me that I’m making a good decision. I’m a Midwest girl, but I went to school at/lived in Chapel Hill for 7 years so I have definitely taken away a love of Southern details from my years of living in the South, and I am extra excited to hear that this is considered a “Southern” tradition. Cheers!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Ooh, I love the shades of gray! That is going to look so stunning (not as stunning as you though!). Best of luck! xo, Marissa

  8. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up | Gift Registry News reply

    […] Marissa’s Southern Style column that highlighted on of our favorite trends, mixed bridesmaids’ dresses, we decided to put together a few of our favorites in a handy shopping guide! Take a look at the […]

  9. avatar Changing My Mind: Bridesmaids’ Dresses Revisited | Weddingbee reply

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  10. avatar tiffany reply

    ok so i am having a true southern style wedding from the dress to the place where we are having it. and i was wanting to know if anyone out there could help im doing southern belle type dresses but cant find them anywhere or any one to make them for me . i love the whole feel of everything on this page but i was to take my wedding style way. back to gone with the wind type of style

  11. avatar Quick Tips for Styling Your Bridesmaids reply

    […] Image from Erin Hearts Court via Southern Weddings […]

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