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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?
Sarah Scott

What’s your fiancé’s name?
Josh Peters

Concept-A Photography

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!

Concept-A Photography

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!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Happy wedding week, Sarah!! That cake is going to be an absolute stunner, and the inspiration pictures are all so beautiful and chic!

  2. avatar Katie C. reply

    Best wishes, Sarah! I know your day will be perfect!!

    I love that you’ll include your dog in your family pictures post-wedding. You’ll always cherish those. As someone who is timid around dogs, I would be pretty uncomfortable if a good sized dog was walking around the reception…especially concerned that Miss Mae might jump up on my new dress or start barking.

    But it’s still your day…so if having her there makes YOUR day perfect, then remember it’s all about you and your groom!!

  3. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    AHH!! We just got back two days ago from visiting Savannah for the 1st time and celebrating our year anniversary and we both kept saying, man, we wish we’d gotten married here! It is safe to say, I am very jealous! Such a beautiful and inspiring city!!

    Make a point to EAT! That is critical! Also, be sure and LOOK AROUND. At the people, at the places, at the details, and most importantly, at your husband!

  4. avatar Kate Collison reply

    I just can’t handle the cuteness of the “wedding proposal + perfect house” story! Too much! Congratulations, Miss Bride Sarah! :) Re : Miss Puppy Mae! – I say go with your gut. You did that with the house, with the dress, and with the guy! ;) As someone who is a “dog person”, I think it would be useful to check to see if a family member or dear friend who is familiar with Miss Mae (or her size dogs) would mind walking her around the cocktail hour on leash for a bit. If her leash is pink and sparkly with a magnolia flower to match your cake (ok, now I’m just projecting ;) and she is well behaved, I’m sure it would be a big hit. If for whatever doggy reason she gets too excited and thinks ladies’ purses are chew-toys, then the puppy-leasher-person can always take her back post-pictures. Not every guest is going to want to greet Miss Mae, and if there are guests who are timid around pups, that’s not a problem if she’s on leash, happy to be near you and petted by flower-girls and dog-lovers. I’ve been at weddings where multiple dogs made an appearance on leashes for pictures and to say hello, and it was glorious for dog-lovers but understated and virtually unnoticed by timid folks. Honestly, I would also probably offer to BE the dog-leasher-person myself if I was a friend of yours, so you may have a bridesmaid or family member dying to have the honor, themselves! Felicitations! Bonne chance, darling! :)

  5. avatar Kristin reply

    Sweet Sarah!! Best wishes on your big weekend. My advice to ALL brides: Remember to stop and smell the (proverbial) roses. Remember to take the time to stop, take a deep breath and take it all in. Then, do it a second time. And a third. It is a very special day, a day that you have put your heart and soul into making happen. Make yourself a mental note to literally stop, look around, make memories, and enjoy each and every moment!!

  6. avatar Madi reply

    Congrats Sarah! You will make a stunning bride!
    Advice to you on your special day: If possible, include a moment at the beginning of your ceremony to look out and take that mental picture of all of your guests. Our pastor did this for my husband and I in our January nuptials and were so humbled by the smiling faces supporting us and great love that we felt in that moment as we were surrounded by all those we held dear.
    As everyone has said above… soak it up! Take it in! Enjoy each and every little detail because it goes by so fast. :)

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Reply to:

Our February Southern Bride of the Month is squeaking in just under the wire! I know y’all will love Jen, and will enjoy as much as I did reading about some of the smart planning decisions she and Nick have made. (I especially liked their plan for setting priorities — see below!) Let’s give this lady a warm welcome!

Hi! What’s your name?
Jen Welch

What’s your fiancé’s name?
Nick Rueter

Vue Photography

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
We met during our freshman year of college at Vanderbilt University. My close friend from home joined the same fraternity as Nick. When I stopped by to hang out with him, Nick always seemed to catch my eye. We went on our first date the day before school started our sophomore year, and the rest was history. Our introduction has become even more meaningful, as that friend will be serving as Nick’s best man at our wedding!

Vue Photography

When’s the big day?
June 22, 2013 – four months to go! I always knew I wanted a summer wedding since my favorite flowers are hydrangeas, and I wanted them to be beautiful and in season for my wedding!

Blue hydrangea inspiration from Brian Kraft and Martha Stewart Weddings

Where might you two be tying the knot?
We are having both the ceremony and the reception at The St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta.

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
Nick and I have celebrated many special occasions at The St. Regis over the past few years, so the venue was already meaningful to us. We knew we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same location and wanted to keep things indoors to spare our guests from the brutal Atlanta heat. The St Regis was the first venue we visited after we got engaged, and while we considered a few others, we concluded rather quickly that the elegance of the St. Regis would be the perfect backdrop for our wedding!

The gorgeous lobby of the St. Regis Atlanta!

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
I’ve always wanted a black tie wedding, so I knew the style and theme would need to feel very formal and sophisticated. At the same time, I want to give everything a contemporary edge. I love the color blue, so we have looked for ways to incorporate that with French blue bridesmaid dresses, navy ink for our invitations, blue hydrangeas for bridesmaid bouquets, and blue lighting for the reception. We also loved the idea of having our wedding ceremony in a dimly lit ballroom surrounded by candles to make the event feel very special and intimate!

Ceremony inspiration via Wedding Style

Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
I am very lucky to have my Mom in Atlanta with me to help with a lot of the details. She has an amazing ability to keep me focused on my vision when I get indecisive. My mom also was smart enough to hire us a wedding planner right away, and Lindsay Pitt of Toast has been very helpful with navigating and refining my hundreds of ideas. I am also very lucky to have eight wonderful bridesmaids, several of which recently got married and have been a huge help by sharing advice they learned from their big day.

What part of wedding planning, if any, has made you the most anxious?
We are so excited to see all of our guests during the wedding weekend, so we are trying to allow for as much time as possible with our friends and family. When we started working on the timeline for the weekend, we realized how quickly the whole day, and especially the evening, will go by, and we were worried we wouldn’t have a chance to talk to every guest. To try and alleviate some of that anxiety, we decided to try and get all of our guests together after the rehearsal dinner to celebrate the wedding weekend prior to the big day! We are also considering doing a first look so we can join the cocktail hour and start celebrating with all of the people who are so important to us as soon as possible!

What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Definitely the invitations! I always knew I wanted to do a calligraphy letterpress invitation, but I have been very indecisive regarding whether to stick with a traditional style or to incorporate some more modern elements. We are working with hi note for all our stationery and they have been fabulous at listening to our ideas and turning them into actual concepts, not to mention that they have been very patient with me considering I’ve changed my mind at least ten times! I am still going back and forth on this part, but have to make a decision pretty soon.

Calligraphy invitation inspiration from Bella Figura

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
Probably the most important aspect of a wedding, to us, and the one that we’re most excited about for our own wedding, is the food. We want the food to match the formality of the event, but also want it to be fun and to showcase some Southern ingredients. It was also important to us that the rehearsal dinner menu complement, but not duplicate, the wedding menu. We’ve worked very closely with the chefs at these venues to create menus that we are truly excited about.

Dressed-up Southern comfort food inspiration from Whitney + Clarke’s wedding (photo by Patricia Lyons)

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! I ordered it back in July and it should come in sometime in the next few weeks. I worked with Susan at Joan Pillow, who made the process as stress-free as possible despite how difficult a decision this was for me. I had always dreamed of wearing a Monique Lhuillier gown, so I went in to Joan Pillow right after we got engaged and thought I had found “the one”. Lucky for me, there was a Monique trunk show a few weeks later, so I went back to order it, but I ended up falling in love with a different gown from the new collection! It is the complete opposite of the gown I was planning to order the first day. I ended up ordering the gown from the trunk show and can’t wait for it to arrive in a few weeks, as I know that will make this all feel very real!

What do you love most about Southern weddings?
I have always admired the way a big Southern wedding can still feel intimate and personalized. While I always knew I wanted a big black tie affair, it was also important that the whole event reflected our personalities and that each guest would walk away knowing we were involved in every detail of the night. I think Southern weddings feel very special because Southern brides pay a lot of attention to the details, especially the delicious Southern food they usually serve their guests!

Tell us about planning with your fiancé. Has it gone smoothly? Is he more involved, or hands-off?
Nick has been very hands on and has made efforts to attend every wedding-related meeting, even if just for the support. Nick has also contributed some great ideas of his own, including an incredible idea for a way to personalize our cocktail hour. It will be a very fun surprise for our guests and make our cocktail hour very unique! I feel incredibly fortunate to have a fiancé who is involved and brings a different perspective than I have to every decision.

Reception table and lighting inspiration from The Studio B Photography and Ira Lippke Studios

What do you wish you would have known at the beginning of your engagement?
When we first got engaged, we focused on the venue and the photographer right away. We saved the band for later, and I wished I had known how quickly great bands can book up. We have a fabulous band, Simply Irresistible, but I wish we had booked them right away and avoided all of that stress!

What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but more than anything, I’m looking forward to getting married! I think it’s important to remember that a wedding and a marriage are two different things. While I’m ecstatic about the wedding we have planned, in the end, a wedding is just a fabulous party. What I am most excited for are the vows that we will say to each other on that day, and the fact that I will have my best friend by my side for whatever life throws at me – the good and the bad. We’re incredibly lucky that both sets of our parents have been married for over 30 years, so we have great role models for a successful marriage!

Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
This is one of the most exciting parts, since Nick and I LOVE to travel! We’ll be spending our honeymoon in the Seychelles, with a few days in Dubai on the way back. A few weeks after we got engaged, Nick took me out to dinner and presented me with a slideshow on his iPad for two different honeymoon itineraries. I decided that Seychelles and Dubai was the combination I was least likely to visit outside of a honeymoon. We are so excited to relax at a gorgeous hilltop resort and spend a week hopping around to all the islands to visit beaches, scuba dive, and enjoy delicious food!

Vue Photography

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
At the beginning of our wedding planning, we all sat down and discussed what was most important to us. I wanted to make sure that Nick, my parents, and I all had the “final say” in the area of the wedding that was the most important to each of us. For Nick, that was the food, for my mom it was the calligraphy, invitations and desserts. For my dad it was the band, and for me it was the flowers and décor. It’s been nice to have set these priorities early and to have someone “in charge” of making the decisions for each of these categories.

Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
Yes! We are really debating doing a first look. Nick and I both want to show respect for some of those “wedding traditions,” such as that moment when the doors open and the bride and groom see each other for the first time. However, the idea of a first look is starting to sound more appealing – we would have a chance to take beautiful photos next door to the St. Regis at the gardens at the Atlanta History Center, and more importantly, we could join cocktail hour and spend more time with our guests. What should we do? Is it more important to preserve that special tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony and capture that moment around our friends and family, or should we have that moment in private and get the opportunity to take gorgeous photos outside and then have more time with our guests later? Help!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jen! 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!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    Congratulations Jen and Nick! Every couple is different when it comes to the first look. Myself and my husband are very very glad we did it. It gave us an opportunity to privately and quietly enjoy seeing each other for the first time without 225 people watching you. We exchanged gifts during this time and took some pretty emotional portraits.You can go to my Facebook album if you want to check them out! When I walked down the aisle, I actually didn’t even look at my husband right off because I was so distracted by all the faces! That is definitely something to consider. Seeing each other beforehand definitely did not take away from the emotions at all for either of us. We both bawled like a baby when we saw each other as I walked down the aisle! Whatever decision you make will be right for you as a couple! Good luck!

  2. avatar Shelby reply

    Absolutely adorable! I love the St. Regis Atlanta, it’s the most glamorous hotel in the city. Personally, I’m a traditional when it comes to the first look, but I will say the photos at Atlanta History Center/Swan House are possibly too good to pass up on!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Hi Jen! I just have to weigh in and say that having a first look definitely did not take away from the emotion at our ceremony, if that’s something that’s worrying you! It was a big concern of mine, and I’m so relieved (and happy!) with how everything worked out for us!

  4. avatar Kathy reply

    Congratulations Jen and Nick, The wedding weekend sounds divine, the St. Regis will be the icing on your wedding cake. What ever you decide will be just perfect for you, but if it were me I would go for the private first look. If anything it will fill you both with ever so many more emotions, you will remember this private tender time together forever. So go for the photo opportunities, you won’t regret it.

  5. avatar Brenda reply

    Congratulations, you’re wedding sounds fabulous! As far as the first look, I’d say do it but then again, I was a non-traditional bride, we both walked in together! Your honeymoon will be awesome, I just returned from touring over 13 amazing resorts this past Jany 2013-in. Eautigk seascgelles

  6. avatar Brenda reply

    Woops! Not sure what happened to my last comment. Seychelles are amazing! One word of caution, Dubai will be extremely hot in June, I would spend an overnight in Dubai then head to the Seychelles. Dubai is best when visited in the Spring, Fall or Winter. Have a great time!

  7. avatar Jen reply

    Thanks for all the advice! After reading all the comments Nick and I have decided to do the first look and just reserved the gardens at the Atlanta History Center as our location for this special moment! Thanks to all the readers for your advice! It was super helpful!

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!

Reply to:

Hello, ladies! I am SO excited to introduce you to our first Southern Bride of the Month for 2013! I know after reading just a few sentences of her interview you will fall as in love with spunky, sassy, and oh so Southern Sarah Jane as I have. In fact, she reminds me a bit of our dear Marissa — just sub in the Kentucky references for Alabama ones :) Please enjoy!

Hi! What’s your name?
Sarah Jane Boyson

What’s your fiance’s name?
Brad Calvert, or Emmett Bradford when he’s in trouble :)

Vue Photography

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
We met at one of our favorite local restaurants which was hosting a benefit for autism. I had a girlfriend visiting from Southern California, and Brad was there with one of his buddies who I’ve known for years because we work in the same industry. Jason stopped by our table to say hello, and immediately hit it off with my friend! As a result, we were thrown together for the remainder of the weekend, and by the time it was over, Brad and I had fallen hook line and sinker! We’ve been blissfully together ever since, and still marvel that we never met before that night, as Lexington is such a small town, and we know so many of the same people. God’s timing is such perfection!

Vue Photography

Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
Brad is a die-hard UK Wildcat fan, and I bleed Volunteer Orange! The UK/UT football game always takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and when it’s a home game for Kentucky, our tradition is to go to the game together. He patiently takes relentless punishment from his friends for walking into the stadium with me, as I wear so much orange that you could probably see me from space! I also can and do sing every verse of Rocky Top whenever the appropriate occasion arises (Brad would say that is never). 2011 was the magic year for the Wildcats, and they won the matchup with Tennessee for the first time in 27 years. He proposed that weekend – I’m still trying to decide whether he wanted to commemorate their historic win, or balance what he knew would be a tough loss for me with a wonderful memory! I’m choosing to go with the latter :)

Vue Photography

When’s the big day?
May 19, 2013!!! I seriously am incapable of typing that date without multiple exclamation points, I am so excited. Even though we got engaged in November of 2011, a May wedding date was utterly non-negotiable. Peonies are my favorite flower/obsession, and I was willing to wait any amount of time to have the Big Day when they’re plentiful. I felt a little squeamish about pulling off the wedding in just 6 months, so we elected to pull the trigger for 2013. Actually, it’s been one of the decisions that I’ve been most grateful for, as we’ve been able to take the planning process in bite sized pieces and really enjoy just being engaged.

Ohhh peonies… from top to bottom, photos by Gabe Aceves via Southern Weddings, Adam Barnes via Southern Weddings, Charlotte Jenks Lewis via 100 Layer Cake, Jonathan Canlas via Southern Weddings, Cyn Kain via Southern Weddings, Corbin Gurkin via Style Me Pretty, and 13:13 Photography via Southern Weddings

Where might you two be tying the knot?
The first thing Brad said when we started talking “wedding”, was that he’d like to say his vows with sand in his toes. Weather permitting, the ceremony will take place on the sugar white sands of Carillon Beach, just off 30A in the Florida Panhandle. One of the things I love most about this venue is that it requires so little in the form of decoration. Because the sand and water are so spectacular, additional decor becomes merely gilding the lily. White benches and crepe myrtle branches for an alter are all it will take. The wonderful thing is that frees up additional budget to use elsewhere! Just don’t ask my Daddy how he feels about going barefoot, he is appalled. Mama has already activated the prayer chain for perfect weather, so I have no worries on that score… I swear, that woman has a direct line!!

Paul Johnson Photography from an SW Carillon wedding

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
I knew we would pick one of the communities on 30A for the ceremony and reception, but Carillon was the runaway pick! Mama, Brad’s mom Vi, my sister/best friend/matron of honor, and two of our close friends made the trip to Florida to find the perfect place. All it took was just one look at the Carillon Meeting House, with it’s whitewashed feel, exposed beams, and indoor merged with outdoor space and we were goners! I don’t think you could easily get the six of us to agree on what to put on a pizza, but Carillon was unanimous. The inclusion of darling Avis Glenister as wedding planner was the ultimate cherry on the sundae!! There isn’t much I haven’t relied on her to do, including sneaking out to the ceremony site on April 19 to bury the bourbon! Girls, she is a trooper!

The Carillon beach walkover (photo by Rae Leytham)

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
From the beginning, we wanted our day to be very intimate, fun, and memorable. We want it to reflect who we are as a couple, but also be the kind of classic affair that will stand the test of time. The colors are inspired by the “Emerald Coast” in the minutes just before sunset, the pale blues and greens of the water, the shimmer and taupes of the sand, and the faint pinks and washed out fuchsias of the pre-sunset sky. The bridesmaids will be in long Amsale chiffon dresses in the palest blush color, and the guys will rock khaki suits. The palette will be carried throughout the reception, with a mix of modern vintage, mercury glass, and distressed/driftwood elements. I love contrasts in both texture and formality, so there will be plenty of that. One of the things I’m most excited about are the cocktail tables next to the outdoor dance floor with petal covered linens that will be lit from underneath, giving them an ethereal glow as the sun sets (thank you, Pinterest!)

Sarah Jane’s cocktail table inspiration, via Brides of Oklahoma (photo by Chris Humphrey)

How have you involved your “community” in the wedding planning process?
I honestly had no idea how many unbelievably gifted women I have in my life until I started planning the wedding! It came as no surprise that my sister Melia would be the number one resource for ideas and inspiration, she is known far and wide for her impeccable taste and talent for all things aesthetic. My friend Kristy Yowell is the graphic designer for Cardinal & Straw fine paper goods, and she has put together a paper suite for us that is nothing short of stunning! Mama has perfected the use of the phrases “that sounds wonderful” and “let’s do it”. I don’t know what I would do without her in my cheering section!

Sarah Jane and Brad’s pretty in pink save the date by Cardinal & Straw

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
From moment one, photography was my number one priority! Brad and I had visited 30A for vacation the year before we were engaged, and I came across an absolutely gorgeous photo taken by Genya Garrett of Vue Photography while we were there. When I got home, I googled her, and stumbled upon her blog. Adjectives fail me when I try to talk about her images, they are just indescribably beautiful!!! Knowing that no other would do, I got in touch with her the day after I got the ring! Seriously, I would have scheduled our wedding for a Tuesday, if that were the only day she was available. From her first exuberant e-mail, I was convinced that we would be fast friends.

Tell us about the one that got away. Is there one dream thing or vendor you wish you could have fit into your budget?
We are both crazy about fireworks and would have loved to have a display at the conclusion of the reception, but we soon realized that due to the zoning restrictions at our venue we would have to have them set up in some sort of raft out in the ocean! Needless to say, that one didn’t make the cut!

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Omigosh, I LOVE LOVE my wedding gown! On our way down to Florida to select the venue, we stopped in at Joan Pillow in Atlanta to do a little browsing. For a couple of years now, I’ve been crushing on Monique Lhuillier’s incredible confections, and I fell equally in love with two of her gowns that day! Not only two different dresses, but two which could not have been more different in fabric, silhouette, and vibe!! Susan, the world’s best consultant, told me to go on down and select the venue, and I’d immediately know which one to choose. We went on our way, nailed down venue etc., and I was still completely torn between them! I waited as long as I could to schedule a return visit, just hoping time would help me make up my mind, but had made no progress by the order deadline so we packed up and headed back to the ATL. Mama, Brad’s mom, and my sister/MOH piled into the car, and both of my sweet bridesmaids made the trip (one of them flew down from NYC and back in the same day, just to be there for me!) Y’know what’s funny? When I finally got both dresses back on my body, it wasn’t even close! As soon as I saw “the one” hanging in the fitting room, I got giddy!

Amsale bridesmaid dresses by Divine Light Photography, including the exact designs Sarah Jane’s ‘maids chose!

What do you love most about Southern weddings?
Pretty much everything! As a rule, I adore everything remotely Southern, and will forever hold the opinion that nobody does weddings and parties better than the South! We can’t wait to incorporate some of our favorite Southern details into our day… We’re topping the salad with fried okra instead of croutons. We’ve also decided to bury a bottle of bourbon (a tradition that I first read about on Southern Weddings) and we’re adding touches of cotton to the arrangements and bouquets. Because we’re choosing to tie the knot outside of our “old Kentucky home” state, we’ve really worked to add a few details that remind us of where we come from. We’re doing a Kentucky-themed cocktail hour, with mini hot browns, cheese straws, benedictine and, of course, bourbon! Vineyard Vines has perfect ties for the guys and dads – they have both horseshoes and mint julep cups! Of course, the opportunity to take the next big step in our lives with God’s blessing, surrounded by our nearest and dearest amid all their love and affection is truly the ultimate Southern tradition!

Do you have a favorite Etsy or independent store you’d love to tell us about?
I’ve got to take the opportunity here to make a shameless plug for one of my incredibly talented friends! I just happen to be lucky enough to have met the owner/designer/creative genius behind the children’s clothing line a La Modish. All of her designs are based on vintage children’s clothing patterns from the 50s and 60s, which she then pairs with wonderful, unexpected fabric combinations. She has somehow agreed (it might be because of all the begging) to custom design dresses for my flower girls. She has just begun to design a line of the most adorable infant peep toe slingbacks – I kid you not, I die!

An a la Modish design! (Photo by Erin Roth)

Tell us about planning with your fiance.
Brad is an absolute gem to deal with… he DOES have his opinions, but generally tells me to choose exactly what I would like. I have a feeling he goes this route because it saves him the lengthy sales pitch that he would inevitably get, and end up capitulating anyway. He did draw the line at wearing seersucker, and I know when to pick my battles! Fortunately, Daddy stepped up to be the seersucker standard bearer, as I’m not at all sure we qualify as a Southern wedding with it absent!

What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
I’m looking forward to every single solitary second! This sounds kind of cheeseball, but even though I’m neck deep in all the specifics and details of the day, what gives me the most happiness and serenity is that we’ll begin our lives together on that day. We hope to throw a really great party that our friends and family will enjoy; but even if nearly everything goes wrong, I’ll still be Brad’s wife at the end and that’s the very best part!

Vue Photography

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
I’m pretty much the last of my friends to get married, and all of them told me at the beginning that I should keep an open mind when shopping for the dress. Every single one of them told me that I’d likely end up with the exact opposite of what I thought I would choose. THIS IS GREAT ADVICE! If I hadn’t been open to trying on a dress that my sister, who knows me better than just about anyone on the planet, pulled off the rack – and met almost none of my criteria – I would have missed out on my sartorial soulmate!

Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
Can I ask two? First off, we’ve been considering requesting an “unplugged” ceremony, indicated by a small, gently worded sign as guests enter the ceremony site. Both photographer and videographer have expressed the frustration that comes with nailing the “money shot”, only to have an iPad hoisted by a guest ruin it. With two photographers and a videographer on hand for the ceremony, I feel like they’re going to have enough of a challenge staying out of each other’s frame of reference without the additional obstacle course of phones, cameras, and iPads. What do y’all think? Is it rude to ask people to stow their devices just for the ceremony?

Second, does anyone have a super terrific recommendation for a waterproof mascara? I’ve never had good luck with the waterproof formulations, but I’m guaranteed to need one on the Big Day! I get teary at weddings where I don’t even know the folks getting married, so I’m pretty sure that my regular stuff will not survive the day intact! Thanks so much for any suggestions.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Sarah Jane! It has truly been a pleasure. 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!

Adam Barnes and Cyn Kain are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Congratulations Sarah Jane! What a wonderful day you’re planning! I LOVE the idea of an unplugged wedding, my best friend is getting married (on the same day as you, actually!!) and she is doing the same for the ceremony and I intend to do so when my day comes. I think in the end, guests will appreciate the fact that they were fully focused on your ceremony, rather than on getting a great shot on their device.

  2. avatar invitation consultants reply

    what a cute couple! love the SEC rivalry aspect to their engagement weekend :)

  3. avatar Anna ( reply

    I absolutely LOVE the table linens. And what a sweet proposal story! Go Vols!

  4. avatar olivia reply

    I love the pink amsale bridesmaids dresses but I DIE for that wedding dress in the picture with it. It’s perfect. Now if only i could figure out who makes it. Can you post a link directly to that wedding? I searched the photography blog for it but I couldn’t find it. Thanks!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Olivia! Here’s the link: It looks like it’s a Kenneth Pool design!

  5. avatar Lisa reply

    What a perfect Southern bride of the month–she is adorable! I love the pretty plans and the sweet Southern details they’re incorporating!

  6. avatar Holly Blackwelder Carpenter reply

    Sarah Jane-congrats! Haven’t seen you in ages, but thrilled that you are getting married.
    I wanted to weigh in on unplugged–DO IT! Nope, not rude, the need to be doing something with technology 100% of the time is getting in the way of enjoying the moment and enjoying people. We have no tech on Sabbath, and now find ourselves pushing off the return to technology. Your guests might learn a valuable life lesson, and once they get over their withdrawal, they will enjoy the day more. Happy planning!

  7. avatar Marissa reply

    Oh my! Yes, Sarah Jane is definitely a girl after my own heart! Feel like we’re kindred spirits! And – a product junkie myself – I’ve got you covered on mascara! Try Benefit’s BADgal Waterproof Mascara. I love it! Can’t wait to see how your wedding turns out and wish y’all the best! xx

  8. avatar Sylvia DOWDY reply

    Sara Jane, WOW! So proud of you! We know how beautiful a Southern Lady is darling!! You will be a beautiful bride and we ‘ll all be smiling when you and Brad want on that beautiful beach! You got Melia, your parents and most your Southern Gal’s to bring in the big day with you! I love you so much, Sylvia Enjoy the ride!!!!

  9. avatar Parker reply

    Oh my stars…this is for sure one of my FAVORITE Southern Bride posts!!!! I love her energy!

  10. avatar Gary reply

    Fantastic wedding. I love the colours, very brave.

  11. avatar Mike dundon reply

    Very happy for you and Brad ! Great site too .very well done

  12. avatar Brides to BE! » Vue Photography reply

    […] Check out not only January’s Bride of the Month, but February’s too!!!!  Both Sarah Jane and Jen Welch have been featured!!! Check out both of their interviews:)   So honored and excited […]

  13. avatar Avis {Carillon Weddings®} reply

    Oh, Sarah Jane! I just absolutely adore you! I cannot wait for your big day. Your family is the absolute sweetest. Ladies, she really is this enthusiastic in person, and full of genuine love, charm and energy! Brad is one lucky man. Anyone who meets her, is instantly a part of her family. I’m honored to be a part of their wedding day! xoxo

  14. avatar Pink Beach Wedding by Vue Photography – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] almost like seeing the photos from a friend or cousin’s wedding. After all, anyone who read SJ’s Southern Bride of the Month interview probably felt like they had gained a new best friend — she’s just that chatty and warm! […]

  15. avatar Wedding Belles Photo reply

    I love the “she said yes” cards! What a cute, dainty idea!

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