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Oh friends, this wedding is so close to our hearts! You may remember the beautiful Meredith and Beau from Meredith’s guests posts a few months ago–as former nanny to Lara’s little Grace, Meredith is an honorary SW gal, and we sure miss her around the office! Every step of their engagement, Meredith and Beau were so focused on creating a truly meaningful celebration, right in the heart of their favorite place. After this beautiful July day, they moved a few miles down the road from their venue to begin newlywed life–I can think of no sweeter way for them to be continually reminded of their vows and joy!

We’re so grateful to Shelby Peaden for bringing Meredith and Beau’s wedding day vision to life and to Lauren Kinsey for capturing it so beautifully!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. On December 28 (my birthday, yay!), my mom, sister, sister-in-law, baby niece, and I all headed up to the city to find my “perfect” dress. I was pretty open to anything! After trying on what seemed like every dress in the store, I had narrowed my favorites down to five, and decided to sleep on it. On our second trip, I tried on the five dresses again, and was quickly able to narrow them down by answering two questions: “Is this dress ‘me’?”, and “Is this what I picture myself in when I walk down the aisle to meet my future husband?” The dress we all fell in love with was simple, elegant, soft, and sweet–we were sold on everything…except the price! As I was driving home from the city with my mom, I searched the dress name and designer, and happened to find the exact dress we needed, in the exact size, height, and dimensions for sale (for less than half the price) on OnceWed! It was a pretty easy decision after that!

We were both a little uncertain about a first look at first, worried that we would lose some of the sweetness of the moment we saw each other, but as we thought about it more, we decided to go with a first look.This option allowed us to take a moment away from any built-up nerves. We took time to pray together, and I instantly felt a wave of peace come over me–such a special moment! A first look is not for everyone, but for Beau and I, that moment was just what we needed–not a special moment was “lost” from our first look, as we worried about in the beginning–rather, a special moment was gained!

Choosing the Town Hall as our ceremony site was probably the easiest decision we made throughout the entire planning process. Rosemary Beach is our place. Being in a long distance relationship and traveling back and forth between states throughout the years, this was always the one place that was constant in our relationship. We quickly (and easily) decided that the Rosemary Beach Town Hall would make the perfect location to celebrate together with our two “separate worlds” in our most favorite place!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother was the officiant at our wedding, and knowing him as a man who is passionate about the message of a Christ-centered marriage, I knew that he would be diving deep into the passage of Ephesians for our ceremony. After discussing our ceremony timeline with him the month before the wedding, I knew that what he had to say was exactly what was needed to be said–nothing more, nothing less.

What a joy it was for so many SW gals to have a small part in this sweet day! Morgan designed the paper products, Emily created the tinsel stirrers below, and of course, Lara and Ari were in attendance as Grace carried out her flower girl duties!

Brian of Myrtie Blue was my amazing florist. I mentioned to him I wanted soft, fluffy florals with a little loose foliage, giving them a slightly wild, garden-y feel. We decided on creams, soft pinks, and peaches, as well as the soft light green lamb’s ear to echo the beautiful ribbons that would wrap around the bouquets: pastel velvet!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were so many beautiful details, but I would have to say that the backdrop for the ceremony and cake table was my favorite that night. We had our wedding verse, Ruth 1:16, written in gold on a large canvas backdrop that we stood in front of for the ceremony, and it then doubled as a backdrop behind our cake during the reception! The cake table also had an amazing gold sequined tablecloth that popped nicely against all the soft blues in our reception space. We were able to keep our personalized canvas at the end of the day, and I am excited to have it for the rest of our lives!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? About two months before our big day, I was sitting at a wedding with my future in-laws. When our friend’s ceremony had ended, and the new couple had exited the venue, all I could think about was how special their vows were and how happy they looked…that’s when it all clicked! I had been worrying about what song would be played when, and what decor would be used where, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t tell you what songs were played at her wedding, or even what flowers were in her bouquet. When your wedding day has come and gone, all that you take with you are the memories made, the words spoken, and the promises kept. Every bride hears it when they begin planning a wedding, and it is much easier said than done, but try to focus on the bigger picture. You are planning a wedding, yes, but more importantly, you are preparing for a marriage with your best friend–and that is a thing to be celebrated!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Beau and I both grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, so we had known each other for years prior to our official meeting. We attended the same high school, where I knew him as the handsome and talented football star. Fast forward three years, and that same cutie happened to be in my Library Aide class fall semester of our senior year. Considering the fact that our “class” consisted of four students, there was plenty of time for Beau and I to really get to know one another. To my surprise, that guy that I had known of for my entire life, but had yet to get to know, ended up being one of the most genuine, precious, and God-fearing leaders I had ever met. We dated throughout our senior year of high school, persevered through some of the hardships of long distance dating through college, and finally got engaged five years later on December 11, 2013. I’ve told him time and time again that finding him in 2008 changed my life, and I am forever grateful!
Tell us all about the proposal! I was Grace’s nanny last year, and as someone who is in the same house as the SW gals every day, you see a few photographers popping in every now and then. When Lara had mentioned to me that there would be a photographer coming to the house to take some holiday family pics for them, and that I should wear “holiday party-appropriate” attire, I did not think anything of it! Come Wednesday morning, I arrived to work (clueless as ever) feeling good about myself because I had actually put makeup on and fixed my hair…thank goodness! After the mini photo session was almost complete, Lara mentioned that we would be heading over to her church to take some final pictures in front of all their Christmas decor. Beau lived in Ohio, and was supposedly at football practice just hours before, so I was shocked when my Beau greeted me at the front entrance of the church with a bundle of roses. He walked me down a candlelit aisle, and seated me in a chair up on the stage. He then washed my feet, all while sharing with me the importance of serving and loving me like Christ loved the church. In typical McKinney fashion, I just lost it. Beau handed me a gift before he popped the question I had been waiting for since I was a little girl: a bible with my future name engraved on it “Meredith A. Blankenship.” We hugged, rejoiced, laughed, and cried.
When did y’all get married? Friday, July 11, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Beau and I considered writing our own vows, but as the wedding grew closer, we decided to go with traditional vows. Although I think unique vows are absolutely precious, Beau and I were content to use the same words that our siblings, parents, and grandparents had all shared on their special days, too!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Delicious! Seriously, Rhonda, the owner at Confections On The Coast, is out-of-this-world amazing at what she does–both on the exterior and the interior of her cakes. On the outside, I wanted my cake to be simple, clean, and to have a little pop of sparkle. I love polka dots, so there were gold swiss dots on every other tier, and a few soft, pink flowers on the top. On the inside, there were four different types of cake: strawberry, coconut, chocolate peanut butter, and french vanilla. Yum!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I thought of my “borrowed” as two things: the diamond on my engagement ring from my mother, that was once my grandmother’s, and that can hopefully go to my future daughter someday, and my grandpa’s Purple Heart that I attached onto my bouquet. My something blue was my perfume, Something Blue by Oscar de la Renta. My something old was my pre-owned wedding dress (what a great deal!), and finally, my something new was my shoes.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We were able to save money in a few areas, one of the main ones being our wedding attire. My dress was bought used from OnceWed and my bridesmaid dresses were on super sale from Anthropologie. Our men’s clothing from J. Crew was ordered through Ebates using a J.Crew card, and purchased through their wedding associate, all to receive a greater discount. The second area we saved in was our bar menu, where we had a limited menu instead of an open bar.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? What’s next? Oh goodness, Beau and I are currently in the middle of our, what I like to call, “adventure year!” Life has been so much fun since we said “I do!” One exciting thing is we are currently living about eight miles down the road from where we got married, in a little beachside condo we adore! As for married life, we are just enjoying being together after so many years of distance. The little things are what bring us joy: coffee together in the morning, praying together each day, planting ourselves in an amazing church, and creating friendships in the same friend group (not seven states away from each other). Marriage is such a gift. We are thankful!

Photographer: Lauren Kinsey / Videographer: Uhles Videography / Planner: Shelby Peaden Events / Venue: The Town Hall in Rosemary Beach, FL / Florist and Lighting: Myrtie Blue / Cake Baker: Confections On The Coast / Caterer and Rentals: Townsend Catering / Band or DJ: Rock The House / Paper Products: Morgan Moore / Tinsel Stir Sticks: Em for Marvelous / Bride’s Gown: “Emotion” by Monique Lhuillier / Veil: Veiled Beauty / Belt: Camilla Christine / Hair and Makeup: Lanna Bloodworth / Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Sugarberry Dress” by Anthropologie / Men’s Suits: J. Crew / Bow Ties: Lumina Clothing / Men’s Shoes: WSS

Myrtie Blue and Shelby Peaden are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
8 Comments
  1. avatar shelby peaden reply

    Yay! So happy to see Mere + Beau up on the blog today. Such a beautiful, kind, loving family! Happy to have been a part of their wedding!

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  3. avatar Lover.ly reply

    What a sweet story from an amazing couple! Love all the personal and heartfelt details of this wedding.

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  8. avatar Amanda reply

    What a lovely wedding story. I love gold and your color scheme was beautiful. I especially loved seeing all the joy and love on everyone’s faces throughout!

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We’re celebrating Kristin’s birthday today! Check out #KNWbirthday on social media to see the “recipe” for what makes her wonderful, and leave her some love!

While I’m an Alabama girl at heart, I’ve spent a good portion of my life in Florida. I would say I know some of the best hidden gems in the state, but I think Beth has a leg up on me–she and her sister write a super fun blog called Palm Beach Lately. While PB is a fabulous place to be, I’d have to say that Rosemary Beach takes the cake! It’s a quaint little beach town filled with the sweetest folks and the prettiest buildings (you can even drive your golf cart or ride your bike everywhere!). I can completly understand why Beth and Lawson fell in love with the town and decided to treat their guests to a wedding weekend filled with relaxing, riding bikes, and playing on the lawns.

Heavens y’all, the Town Hall even made for the most lovely backdrop for Paul Johnson to snap one of my favorite aisle shots! Thanks for sharing, Paul!

What a little doll!

I always envisioned going to New York to find my wedding dress, but when I went, I was torn between two styles. I went online to search for a dress that included what I liked about both dresses in one, and I found a Jim Hjelm dress that was exactly what I was looking for. I looked for the nearest shop that carried the dress and it ended up being the one!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I had visited Rosemary Beach, Florida for a wedding about nine years ago and always thought it was such a magical town for a destination wedding. We live in Palm Beach, but wanted a more intimate wedding. Many people were confused about why we were going to a beach town in Florida, when we already lived in one! When Lawson and I visited Rosemary Beach, he instantly loved the town too, and we knew it was exactly what we wanted for our wedding weekend. The town is quaint and beautiful, complete with intimate restaurants, pristine beaches, and amazing architecture. It was so great to see our guests relaxing, walking from their house rentals or hotels into town for dinner or cocktails, riding bikes, and playing on the lawns.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No, we did not do a first look. Since I was a little girl, I always imagined walking down the aisle and seeing my groom for the first time. It is the most amazing feeling to see your future husband’s reaction…one of the most significant moments in your life. There is something so special about tradition.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? “These Hands” was read by the woman who set us up on a blind date.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I coordinated a wedding in NYC when I first started in the event business, and the bride walked down the aisle to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me.” I remember thinking that when I got married, I wanted to walk down the aisle to that song. When we were leaving the church, we played “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. It seemed so fitting once we were pronounced husband and wife. Our first dance was to Ray LaMontagne’s “You are the Best Thing.” We both loved the song and what it stood for, so we knew that it had to be our first dance.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We gave vintage embroidered handkerchiefs to our mothers, grandmothers, and my sister with personal notes. The reception was in a tent on a lawn near the ocean, and the dance floor under the night sky. There was a custom corn hole game in the lawn at cocktail hour, along with a beer boat and koozies. And of course, my handsome southern gentleman.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Being creative with our budget. I love details, so picking what really was important and letting some of the other details go was hard sometimes.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our DJ. We love to dance and we danced the night away. Even a rain storm didn’t stop us! Everyone got under the tent and up on their chairs and kept dancing. We also loved our videographer. Everything went by so quickly, it was so hard to take it all in. We get to relive our wedding day every time we watch our video.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Etsy!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Looking back at the tent and seeing all our friends and family there to celebrate the next chapter in our lives as husband and wife.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something blue was my Gators garter, in honor of my time as a University of Florida Cheerleader, and my something borrowed was my Cartier bracelet from my brother, who owns Gregory James Jewelry.

I’m not a cake gal, but heavens that looks divine! I adore the Swiss dots and pretty peach combo!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. A family friend set me up on a blind date with Lawson, and there was immediate chemistry. We talked and talked and had a great lunch before he headed out of town. I thought he was so cute and sweet, and we had a lot in common. He called me as soon as he got back, and we have been inseparable since.
Tell us all about the proposal! In October 2012, at one of my favorite places, Soho Beach House in Miami, with both of our families there, he asked me to marry him. He could hardly get the question out before I blurted “yes!” It was amazing to share that special moment with our families.
When did y’all get married? November 16, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our own vows. I was hesitant to do so, but Lawson really wanted to and I am so glad we did. Your own vows are a personal expression of your love and commitment to each other. My favorite part of ours was, “In front of those we love, I choose you today and everyday for the rest of our lives.”
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Not to sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to get caught up in the details, but the most important part of the wedding is to celebrate each other.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We recently moved into our new home and are looking forward to our honeymoon at the end of the year.

Photographer: Paul Johnson Photography / Videographer: Films by Francesco / Planner: Beth Beattie Branding, PR and Events / Ceremony Venue: Town Hall, Rosemary Beach / Reception Venue: Eastern Lawn, Rosemary Beach / Florist: Events by Nouveau Flowers / Wedding Cake: Confections on the Coast / Caterer: Townsend Catering / DJ: DJ Wolf / Bride’s Gown: Jim Hjelm / Paper Products: Palm Beach Parties / Bride’s Jewelry: Gregory James Jewelry / Hair Stylist: Amanda Parisi / Makeup Artist: Jamie Gummere / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Men’s Attire: Bonobos

marissa Written with love by Marissa
11 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I adore their first dance photo – the clouds coming in make it so dramatic!

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    That dress was made for her!!

  3. avatar Mary reply

    This is such an insanely gorgeous wedding!

  4. avatar Mikkel reply

    Beautiful! Love the bridal party portraits and how the cake was captured. LOVE the calligraphy on the menus too! It all looked so gorgeous and like a great party in a beautiful setting!

  5. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #136 | Floridian Weddings reply

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  6. avatar Hilary reply

    I love her monogram design on her pillows & koozies, do you know which designer she used for those?

  7. avatar Molly reply

    Where did you get the koozies? I love the simple classic monogram.

  8. avatar Kate reply

    Love the PJs for the bridesmaids! Too cute – where did she get those?

  9. avatar Stevi reply

    Anyone know the style number of the wedding dress? I would love to get a better look at it. Thanks!

  10. avatar Erin Dunavant reply

    Who designed their logo? What Etsy site was used to personalize party favors?

    Thank you!

  11. avatar Kara reply

    I have been looking everywhere for this color of bridesmaid dresses! Yellow….but very pale yellow. Do you know the name of this color from Jcrew? Is it “champagne” or “parisian yellow”? It is hard to tell online!

    Thank you!

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Welcome back to our newest “real bride” series, Mere Found Her Beau! If you missed last week’s post, you can meet Meredith and her fiance right here. Today, she’s back to tell us about where they’re getting married and how they chose their venues! – Emily

Our families are getting so excited about my and Beau’s special day in one of our most favorite places, and I’m excited to share the details with you all! Being in a long distance relationship and traveling back and forth between states, Florida has always been the one constant place for us. We’ve spent many happy summer weeks there with family, filled with stillness, rest, and relaxation. When it came time to chose a wedding location, Beau and I didn’t hesitate for a moment: Rosemary Beach, Florida, hands down. Well, that was our dream, of course, but lots of things had to fall into place before it could become our reality. Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?

In the summer of 2010, and Beau and I decided to go on an after dinner walk through the town of Rosemary Beach. We already knew it as a dream-like fairytale during the day, but we fell even more in love with it that night. I can remember the two of us strolling past the Eastern Green, holding hands, and allowing our hearts to dream big “what-ifs” as we discussed the possibility and hope of a future wedding:

“Ooh! What if we were married right here on this lawn? What if we had a reception out here? Oooh, yes. An outdoor reception. With twinkly lights! I love twinkly lights!” We were getting a little carried away… or maybe I was. Oh, who cares who it was :) All we knew was our hearts shared a love for a little town at the east end of 30A, and an even deeper love for one another.

Dear Wesleyann

I know I’m making this sound like we made a snappy decision, made one quick call, and BOOM: our venue search was done. That would have been lovely, but it’s not exactly how things played out. Wanting to view and discuss a few things in person before we made any final decisions, my mother and I quickly arranged a (whirlwind) weekend, made a list of our favorite venues, and flew down to Florida to continue the search for our perfect venue.

Our first visit was with Alys Beach. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe Alys’ atmosphere… let’s go with dazzling. From the moment we met with our wedding specialist on their grounds, we were wowed as they offered us coffee, escorted us around in a futuristic white golf cart, and kindly showed us each of the available venues in their area. Based on our tour of the town, we knew a few things:

— Alys is beyond beautiful. I mean, there was a glistening sunset reflecting off the ocean in the distance just over two of their perfectly-trimmed greens (that detail alone – gracious!).
— The soft feel of the town, and the all white architecture, would have fit my wedding style perfectly.
— There was a pretty hefty minimum on weekly rentals that had to be met in order to book a green on their grounds. Since our date is during “busy season,” prices seemed to be even higher than we had imagined (not easy on a budget).
— Beau and I are getting married in July. Florida’s summer heat and humidity are not very forgiving, and without any air conditioned option, it was hard to imagine Alys as the location for our wedding and reception.

Lauren Kinsey

All three (main) greens were super lovely, but by the end of the tour, my mom and I had decided that they would visually be a great fit for our wedding, but not practically, so with that, we zoomed off to the next venue.

The second place we viewed was good ole Rosemary (we’re on a first name basis these days). Obviously, I was going in already loving this venue. When my mom and I arrived at our meeting, we were given a key to view the Town Hall and a highlighted map to view the available greens. In our previous research, we had learned that the Eastern Green was no longer available to summer brides due to wear-and-tear from the “busy season.” This was upsetting for about all of three seconds, before it clicked (again) that we were getting married in July (hot!). With that in mind, we headed to view the St. Augustine Green first, and the Town Hall second. Both were even lovelier than we remembered, but had pros and cons that we needed to reason through:

— St. Augustine Green would allow me to fulfill my dream of an outdoor, tented reception, whereas The Town Hall would provide a lovely air-conditioned venue, as well as a small courtyard to the side for something fun… say, twinkly lights, perhaps? :)
— Rosemary’s venues had the light, white architecture and feel that would nicely accentuate my wedding style, just like Alys.
— St. Augustine Green had an area to its left that was under construction, but we were assured that it had not been an issue for brides in the past and was easily blocked off by event décor, tents, etc.
— The Town Hall was quaint and lovely, but could possibly to be a little snug inside or outside during the reception with our guest count.
— Rosemary Beach had a rental requirement number higher than any of the other venues we looked at.

Lauren Kinsey

My mother and I knew two things when leaving Rosemary Beach: we were not certain that the suggested décor to hide the construction would be a style we would love, and we still felt uneasy about our guests being outside for the entire night without any indoor option. With these things in mind, we were able to cross off the St. Augustine Green, and head to our third visit: Carillon, or “the village by the sea”.

I hate to admit this, but since Carillon was more of a “spur of the moment” visit, my mother and I took our final tour into our own hands (making it more of a “trespassing browse” of Carillon, rather than a tour). As we moseyed down the main street, we began to realize how sweet this town was, complete with soft colors and a warm elegance – truly a village by the sea! Eventually, we stumbled upon the Carillon wedding chapel and green, and immediately ooh’d and ahh’d over how darling they were. The back wall of the building was mostly glass, opening up to the dune lake that sits in the middle of Carillon — very romantic. I could have easily pictured my wedding in this venue: cute and quaint, with many possible areas for those twinkle lights I envisioned. The only problem: size. Carillon was definitely too small for our guest count, an unfortunate problem that is difficult to wiggle your way out of. We quickly crossed it off our list.

Vue Photography via Southern Weddings

After many meetings, tours (and “tours”), and long chats over warm cups of coffee, we made a decision: we would be married at our dream venue, Rosemary Beach! My indecisive heart had officially found peace. Although my initial vision included a large, tented, outdoor ceremony and reception on a green, when considering all of the factors (most importantly heat!), providing adequate comfort for our traveling guests was of much greater importance to Beau and I than aesthetics. On July 11, 2014, I will be marrying my beau in the Rosemary Beach Town Hall, and I could not picture a more perfect location to choose forever with my best friend!

Where are y’all getting married? Have you ever visited this part of Florida? I’d love to hear!

Missed a post? Check them all out here:
An Introduction + Proposal

Dear Wesleyann is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
9 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    My husband and I got married at Eden Gardens along Hwy 98 and on the bay side. It was an awesome outdoor venue. BEAUTIFUL in pictures. I’d recommend for anyone considering a 30A wedding.

  2. avatar Kelsey reply

    I’m not a Southern bride (although I certainly wish I was!) but my fiancé and I are getting married one day after Meredith & Beau! Fun fact :) Congratulations, Meredith! It looks like such a beautiful place!

  3. avatar Lisa reply

    I’ve only ever driven through a little part of Florida on my way to NC from Texas, but these venue pictures have me anxious to take a real trip there! Rosemary Beach looks beautiful and oh-so-perfect for Meredith and Beau!

  4. avatar Rachel reply

    A seriously beautiful wedding venue!

  5. avatar Samantha reply

    I live in Panama City, FL. We go to the Rosemary Beach area quite often, it’s so beautiful!

  6. avatar Kristyn Monaghan reply

    Rosemary Beach is one of my favorite places! Perfect for a wedding! I hope it’s everything you imagined and more!

  7. avatar Leon Bailey reply

    Will have to take a trip to visit this venue as it is in Florida. It’s incredibly beautiful! :)

  8. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] of 32–vote for your favorite Southern delicacies here. Meredith shared the story behind her wedding venue search. Emily outlined some super helpful tips for creating a wedding day timeline. We love real […]

  9. avatar KHBride reply

    I love the Jane dress! Wonderful idea!

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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