Year after year, our sweet real wedding brides have proclaimed that their most memorable wedding day moments occur during their ceremonies. This year is no exception: from exchanging of specially written vows to walking back up the aisle as husband and wife, wedding ceremonies tend to hold treasured moments that are made even more special with sweet details. Everything from jaw-dropping ceremony backdrops to very special reserved seating for the parents of the bride. Our 2016 real weddings were overflowing with incredibly meaningful details and moments, and we’re excited to share ten favorites with you!
Fairly often, I get a quick message from a friend asking for help on behalf of a recently engaged sister, cousin, or best friend. They’re looking for recommendations for venues, photographers, wedding planners, or florists, and I’m quick to point them towards our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory because it’s full of the best and brightest wedding talent the South has to offer! Every single member has been personally vetted by the Southern Weddings team, so I feel like I’m sharing my very own “word of mouth” referrals. We’ve added some new faces, and I’m thrilled to introduce you to them:
Name: A Fox Event
Category: Event Planning and Design
Where you call home: Charleston, South Carolina
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Planners are here to make your dreams come true and will do everything in their power to make sure your day is absolutely perfect!
Name: 2 Sisters Events and Design
Category: Event Planning & Design
Where you call home: Lakeland, Florida
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? Manners and etiquette are still going strong in the South, which pleases me to no end!
Name: Bellelina Studio
Where you call home: Charleston, South Carolina
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: Makeup artist for Charleston Fashion Week, 2009-2012; published in Unveiled Magazine, Charleston Weddings Magazine, Lowcountry Weddings Magazine, Charleston magazine, and House Calls Magazine
Name: Bow Tie Collaborative
Where you call home: Holly Springs, North Carolina
Favorite Southern city? Savannah! All the Spanish moss…gimme, gimme!
Name: Cheryl Sullivan Events
Category: Event Planning and Design
Where you call home: West Virginia
How I got into weddings: For as long as I can remember, I have always loved hosting celebrations for my loved ones, from Sunday dinners to showers to holiday reunions. I fell deeply in love with weddings and the strong family traditions they honored. After a few years of planning weddings, I knew I was hooked. I took a chance and started a business doing what I love. I’ve never looked back!
Name: Forage + Film
Where you call home: Raleigh, North Carolina
Favorite part of a wedding day? We love portrait time. We crave intimate images that capture our couple’s love, so that one-on-one time with them in the midst of all the wedding fun is just perfection.
Name: Heidi Elnora Atelier
Where you call home: Birmingham, Alabama
How I got into weddings: L.O.V.E. It’s as simple and complicated as that. Being hit by a drunk driver in 2005 brought me back home to Alabama where I met and fell in love with my husband, Jeff. Moving back home motivated me to turn my dream of designing wedding gowns into my reality, and in 2006, Heidi Elnora was created.
Name: Heirloom Collective
Where you call home: Raleigh, North Carolina
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Try to be present on your wedding day. Take a few breaks throughout the day to look around and feel gratitude for the love that surrounds you.
Name: Simply Jessica Marie
Category: Invitations and Paper Goods
Where you call home: Knoxville, Tennessee
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: Honestly, the thing I will always be the most excited about is that our own wedding (featuring some of my favorite custom designs to date!) was featured on the Southern Weddings blog! It was absolutely something I wrote home to my Momma about, and something I will share with my kids and grandbabies one day. More so than any of the other blog and magazine features, I am simply most proud of the fact that I get to work with the absolute sweetest and most creatively-trusting brides and grooms imaginable!
Name: sMm Photography
Where you call home: Charlotte, North Carolina
Favorite part of a wedding day? I love when I arrive to the bridal suite and I hear the bride’s mama explaining where the garter came from and who wore it before she did, and that her veil is a treasure from her grandmother’s wedding…details matter when they build the story of your wedding day. I also really love the quiet moment that the bride and her father share right before the doors of the church open.
One of the very sweetest parts of working at Southern Weddings is the people we get to meet and the relationships that are formed over the years. Jessica interned for Southern Weddings back in the day, and ever since then, it has been so exciting to watch her start and grow her business, Simply Jessica Marie. Even more so, we’ve loved getting to witness her forever love story from day one! The joy she and Zack have found in each other is palpable, and when we heard the news of their engagement (don’t miss the story below!), we couldn’t resist asking Jessica to share their wedding planning experience with us. You can catch all of their posts here if you missed them, and now, we’re overjoyed to share their special day with y’all! Jessica and Zack, thank you so much for sharing your hearts with us, not only today, but over the last year and a half–we can’t wait to see where y’all go next!
Our favorite detail of our wedding was how we infused one of our favorite elements of our love story: the letters we wrote one another throughout our relationship. To set the tone for our wedding and visually portray our relationship as a couple, I infused portions of a love letter Zack wrote to me as an art print on the back side of our invitations for our guests to keep and frame, as our envelope liner pattern, and printed on the back flap of our invitation envelopes. We sealed our suite with a custom gold wax seal featuring our custom wedding crest design, which reminds me of old school letter writing and epic romance. Zack said the wax seals remind him of Game of Thrones, so it was a win-win with both of us! He actually added all of the wax seals to our envelopes, and I loved including him in that way. We carried our love letters through to our day-of design–we used the same wax seals on our escort cards, and displayed them on the scoreboard of the golf course with a handful of our original letters framing the escort cards. Guests then found their tables with envelope table numbers lined with a floral pattern and soft pink calligraphy numbers. We also asked our guests to fill out “advice for the newlyweds” cards as their own letters to us, which we read after our honeymoon and have displayed in a keepsake box on our coffee table. I am excited to go back and read them again throughout the years!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! The something borrowed, blue, old and new tradition is one of my favorites, and I had so much fun gathering all of these pieces! A few of my sweet bridesmaids lent me their rings, each with blue stones, for my something borrowed and something blue. I had them tied to my bridal bouquet so that I could carry a piece of them with me throughout our wedding day. My something old was a handkerchief that belonged to my maternal great-grandmother. It is one of my favorite keepsakes! I had it with me while getting ready, and carried it in my clutch throughout the day. I then had a couple of something new items! My sister gifted me with the most gorgeous Kate Spade jeweled necklace. It made the perfect statement to complete my bridal look, and I cannot wait to pass it down to my daughters and granddaughters as an heirloom in years to come. Zack also gifted me with the most beautiful, delicate diamond earrings on our wedding day, which I wore paired with the earrings I donned during our engagement session!
Shopping for my wedding dress was so much fun! My mom came to Nashville one weekend and we went to three different bridal boutiques to get a sense of what styles I loved best, which designers I was drawn to, and what I had a feeling Zack would love. We walked away from the day feeling excited that we had an idea in mind of what I wanted to look for moving forward! My mom and sister then came back into town a couple of weeks later for Easter. I knew I wanted to take advantage of the time when my sister was in town to get her opinion, so we went to a local bridal boutique, B. Hughes. I tried on a handful of gorgeous gowns, but none of them felt quite right. There was one that I didn’t know if I loved from simply seeing it on the hanger, since the style was so different than what I had been trying, but I tried it on anyway, just to see how it looked. When I stepped out of the fitting room in front of the mirrors, I could not stop beaming! I kept touching each part of the dress, from the stunning beaded floral lace to the delicate tulle skirt, twirling all the while. I remember saying that I did not want to take it off, which is when my mom, sister, and I all realized that it was the one!! I loved my dress so much that I included the floral lace detail as a pattern on our invitations and as the backdrop for our escort card display!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did decide to do a first look! We really wanted to have a few sweet moments to ourselves, since the rest of our day would be spent surrounded by loved ones. Those few minutes are some of the moments I remember most clearly from our wedding day. Spending that time alone helped reaffirm why we were there that day: to join together as just the two of us with God, as husband and wife, to create a unique and love-filled family of our own!
I have a huge love of color, and knew I wanted our wedding flowers to reflect that! I included watercolor florals throughout our invitation suite design and day-of artwork, and the Rebecca Rose Events team brought those same florals to life on our wedding day. We used my favorite combination of flowers: blush and fuchsia peonies, peach garden roses, white anemones with navy centers, pink ranunculus, darling little peach hypericum berries, and lots of soft silver dollar eucalyptus and dusty miller! My bridesmaids’ bouquets were some of my favorite floral elements, as they were adorned with a sweet little gift from me. I adorned their silk bouquet ribbon with navy calligraphy that read, “a single rose can be my garden, a single friend, my world.” I thought it was so fitting for them and their bouquets!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to say traditional wedding vows, and are both so happy with that decision. There is something so special about saying the same words and making the same promises to each other that our parents and grandparents vowed to one another years before!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two readings from the Bible during our ceremony. My sweet uncle read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. We love this reading, because it focuses on two coming together, helping one another throughout life and making each other stronger. That is how we always want to view our relationship! Zack’s sweet cousin then read Colossians 3:14-20. We chose this reading because it reminds us to always let love, peace, and thankfulness be constants in our marriage. And most importantly, to let everything we do in our marriage be done in the name of the Lord!
The biggest challenge we had to overcome while planning our wedding centered around religious beliefs and traditions. We had many conversations together, with our parents, with a priest, with Zack’s uncle who is a pastor, and with friends about how to stay true to ourselves and our religious beliefs while also keeping each of our family traditions active and be respectful of them during our wedding. It was definitely a big lesson in compromise and blending of families, and we are both so happy with the decision we made! I could not imagine having been married by anyone other than Uncle LeGrand!
We looked at a few garden venues, and then Zack mentioned the idea of getting married at a golf course. I immediately loved that idea! Zack plays golf weekly with his friends, and I loved the idea that we could incorporate something that was a part of his life into our wedding day, since he was so graciously accommodating many of my wedding ideas! When we first visited Gettysvue together, I could not get over the gorgeous rolling greenery and stunning view of the Tennessee mountains. I knew it would make the perfect backdrop for our ceremony! It also had a unique setup that allowed us to make use of the entire venue for each element of our wedding day: a beautiful bridal suite and groom’s area for getting ready, a grassy mountain view area for our ceremony, a patio for our cocktail hour, a ballroom for dinner and toasts, and an area outside under a tent overlooking the golf course for dancing!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Since our dinner was one of the details we were most excited about (it included a full mac and cheese bar with delicious toppings, a steak carving station, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and crab cakes!), we wanted to focus our food and beverage budget toward that, so we decided to save money in other portions of our food and beverage budget by opting for a simple beer and wine beverage package instead of a full bar or signature cocktails. We also saved money on our cake by only having two tiers, since we had a feeling our guests would be quite full after dinner!
While certain elements of our wedding were traditional, our wedding cake definitely was not! We knew we wanted to have fun with the design, and also include a couple of delicious flavors. We chose a delicate dusty blue for the bottom tier, with sweeping gold brushstrokes on the base tier to reflect the painted elements throughout our wedding design. To balance the more unique cake design, we kept things simple with a two-tiered cake adorned with one beautiful blush peony and a few eucalyptus leaves. The cake flavors are what really won us over with our cake designer! We selected two flavors, English toffee and strawberry. Zack loved the strawberry flavor, and I loved that it was pink! We especially loved smashing it in each other’s faces, haha! If you are on the fence about the cake smashing idea–we say go for it! It was really fun, and makes for awesome photos and video!
Don’t miss Jessica and Zack’s wedding film (by Zack’s brother and sister-in-law, Casey and Kristin!) below!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Oh, our love story–it is one of my favorites to tell! It all started one Friday evening in May 2014. I was getting ready for a fun night out with my girlfriends, when I jokingly turned to my roommate and swore we were going to meet our boyfriends that night. She laughed, and we carried on getting ready. Later that evening, as we were about to head home, we stopped by one of our favorite places and I was happy to see my friend Sierra (a former SW employee!), who I hadn’t seen in months. I was even happier when I noticed that she was with a new group of friends, including a dapper boy wearing a sport coat. Something immediately drew me to him (he claims it was his sport coat!), so I walked right up to him and introduced myself! We talked and laughed for what felt like hours. We made plans to meet up the next night, and after another fun evening, planned our first date for that upcoming week. I knew that there was something extra special about him when he showed up at my doorstep with a single red rose!
Tell us all about the proposal! Fast forward eight months from the day we met–months full of fun trips, holidays spent with families, and more thoughtful and sweet date nights–to January 24, 2015. Zack, his brother, and his sister-in-law had gifted me a promo video for my business as a Christmas gift, and this was the big day that filming was supposed to take place. Little did I know, it was also the day Zack was going to propose!! The big morning came, and I got all dolled up for my “promo video.” Zack knew this was the perfect decoy, because I would be wearing a cute outfit, I would have my nails painted, my friends would be with me the whole day, and he would catch everything on both video and camera. After a morning full of girly activities with my friends, we quickly grabbed lunch while Zack, Casey, and Kristin went back to my house to set up for my “interview.” As I walked into my house, I saw Zack standing in the hallway leading to my office. He wore the same sport coat that he was wearing when we first met. I hadn’t caught on to what was happening yet–I was still so focused on what I would be saying during my interview! Zack led me into my office where he had a couple of collages set up displaying our favorite pictures together. On my desk, I saw a note that had my name on it sitting atop the journal that we keep together. As instructed by the note, I flipped to the bookmarked page, which said, “On December 17th, I bought an engagement ring.” At that moment, I was in SUCH shock! Zack led me to the middle of the room, took my hands, and said the sweetest things I have ever heard in my entire life–words that I had been so excited to hear since we first met! Once I heard the words “Will you marry me?” I immediately screamed “Of course!!” and hugged Zack, without even taking a glance at my ring! Once we started to settle down from the excitement, he told me that he promised my mom that she would be the first person we would call. The tears that started to well up upon hearing my mom’s voice turned into screams of joy as she walked around the corner and into my room!! My entire family, Zack’s mom, and my friends all followed her into the room, and I felt so surrounded by love. It was the perfect ending to the most wonderful surprise!
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One of the things that was most Southern about our wedding was that it truly was a family affair! All of our vendors were either family, friends, or people we had previous working relationships with, which made our day feel even more special because we knew they were pouring their hearts into each detail just for us! Not only did our family and friends help bring our wedding day to life, but we also honored our family through our details. We included all five of our little girl cousins as flower girls since we simply couldn’t favorite just one, we had a table in our reception area with photos, albums, and heirlooms from our parents and grandparents on their wedding days, we used my parents’ champagne flutes during our toast, and our ceremony backdrop was made of three fabric panels, each with my parents’ first dance song, Zack’s parents’ first dance song, and our first dance song that I lovingly calligraphed on the flowing fabric. I loved the idea of creating a statement piece that tied together our families! Since the majority of my guests and some of Zack’s guests were traveling in from all across the country (and one from overseas!), making sure they felt comfortable throughout our entire wedding weekend was of the utmost importance to us. We tried our best to show true Southern hospitality, from the welcome gift boxes our guests received at their hotels, to our post-rehearsal dinner get-together, to ensuring that there was something for every age group to do during our wedding reception. We had a lounge area with games and playing cards where people could rest their feet while still having fun, corn hole for our competitive Southern friends, and a dance floor with continuously amazing music for those who simply wanted to dance the night away! Zack and I also each relived our college days through songs at our reception–my sorority sisters surprised me by singing one of our Sigma Kappa songs after our first dances were through, and Zack’s University of Tennessee friend group gathered together to sing and dance to Rocky Top!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We found it most helpful to seek counsel from our parents and friends who have been married, asking them about their marriages and what advice they would provide to us as we were going through our engagement and preparing for the years to come. We also worked together to be as open and honest as possible about not only what we love about each other, but also about how we could help each other grow. We learned how to compromise together, make decisions as a couple, and communicate better. Learning each other’s love languages early on in our dating relationship really helped with this! Growing as a couple is a continuous learning process, and I couldn’t ask for a better person to help me grow as a wife and eventually as a mother than Zack. I hope to be able to support him as much as he always supports me!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are so excited to continue planning travel adventures together! Zack and I fell in love with traveling overseas during our Italian honeymoon, and always want to be planning one major trip each year. We are currently planning a trip to Ireland with another one of our couple friends, and cannot wait to explore that part of the world together! Zack has also taken up woodworking, and has built us a new coffee table and a beautiful coat rack for our entryway. He is so talented! I cannot wait to keep these pieces in our home for years to come, and pass them down to our children and grandchildren one day.
Photographer: Perry Vaile | Videographer: Casey and Kristin | Planner and Florist: Rebecca Rose Events | Venue and Caterer: Gettysvue Polo, Golf, and Country Club | Cake Baker: Art of Cakes Bakery | Rentals: HoneyBee Events | Tent Rental and Lighting: All Occasions Party Rentals | Lighting, DJ, and Getaway Car: Music in Motion | Paper Products, Signage, Watercolor Painting, and Pocket Squares: Simply Jessica Marie | Bride’s Gown: “Heavenly Lace” by Reem Acra | Bride’s Veil: “Athena Cathedral Veil” by BHLDN | Bride’s Necklace: “Crystal Arches Necklace” by Kate Spade | Bride’s Bracelet: J.Crew | Bride’s Earrings: Kay Jewelers | Hair and Makeup: Bangs and Blush | Bride’s Shoes: “Isabella Scalloped Heel” by BHLDN | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: BHLDN, Amsale, and Lulus | Menswear: Kenneth Cole and Ralph Lauren | Ties: The Tie Bar | Vintage Stamps: Verde Studio | Silk Ribbon and Ceremony Backdrop Fabric: Adorn Company | Guitarist: Logan Murrell | Macarons: Sweet Darling Patisserie | Bridal Party Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bride’s Reception Dress: “Shined Cocktail Dress” by BHLDN
Perry Vaile and Rebecca Rose are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!