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As we’ve been putting together our upcoming print edition that debuts on 11/12/13 (how about that for a release date!?), I’ve been thinking so much about why I love the South and asking myself, “what is it that makes it so magical here?”

Photographed by Jose Villa. This stunning image also graced the back cover of V4!

There is a certain something about the South that makes me slow down and focus on what matters most — celebrating family and love. That certain something is different for everyone, and that’s what makes the South so sweet to me. Whether you’re a Southern transplant or born and bred deep in the heart of Dixie, your South has a story. I’d love to hear from you today what makes your South so wonderful.

Photographed by Faith Teasley for V5.

My South is rich with farmer’s markets and friends that stop to chat on front porches. I love driving home and seeing cows, chickens (especially chickens – y’all know I love our fine feathered friends!) and goats happily grazing on the green landscape. I love the smell of tomato leaves in my garden and the sound of roosters crowing in the distance. I love how I am welcomed into homes of people I just met for a long conversation and a glass of cold sweet tea, as if we’ve been friends forever. I love the magnolia trees, monograms, biscuits, banjos and the plethora of Southern summer blooms that make our days so colorful. You should see the crepe myrtles right now! I love how all of these things (and too many more to name) melt the stresses of life and remind me to slow down and live intentionally. The magic of the South keeps me on the right path.

Photographed for V5 by Joey and Jessica. See the full editorial here.

I love all of this thanks to many generations before me. There is a rich meaning to even the simplest things. As I wrote about in our latest print edition, I love the smell of tomato leaves thanks to my Grampa Cecil, who was born in Excel, Alabama, and would spend many a long afternoon telling me about what Heaven was going to be like as he tended his Early Girls. My love for chickens hatched from a science project in fourth grade where we incubated eggs. We fell in love with our Bantams and my mama has had chickens ever since. My love for flowers and gardening sprouted from my Grandma Celeste, who was a florist in her early years in Birmingham, Alabama. She passed her love of gardening on to my mama who passed it to me. I love the sign in her garden that reads, “God lives in every garden. He loves each growing thing. Forget your ills, get out and dig and sing!”

Photograph by Eric Kelley. More from this amazing shoot here.

I love Southern weddings because a wedding is the perfect opportunity to honor your own special history, heritage, love story and even your grandmother’s prized pie recipe. My perfect Southern wedding would definitely include chickens : )

Photograph by Virgil Bunao.

GIVEAWAY! What do you love about the South? What’s your story? How are you celebrating this magical place we call home in your wedding? Or how did you celebrate with a Southern spirit? I’d love to hear from you! One lucky commenter (chosen randomly) will win one of my favorite prints from our shop that I have in my own kitchen, our South print.

lara Written with love by Lara Casey
23 Comments
  1. avatar Brittany Sweat reply

    There are soo many things I love about the South but if I had to choose one thing it would probably be the sweet people! I haven’t been too many places but when I have visited other states people are as quick to say hello or even give you a smile. I try to be intentional in opening the doors for people and just smiling at people. I love being greeted the same way around the south! You can pop in any little country store and they treat you like family! I love that about the South :D

  2. avatar Hillary Mantha reply

    I love the South for the delicious food, the kind people and the strong sense of tradition.

  3. avatar Jessa R. reply

    I’ve never lived in the South (born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA) but we spent every summer growing up on Kiawah Island for a week. There is nothing like melting mint chocolate chip and catching the sunshine as it streams through moss-covered branches. The sense of peace that pervades on a southern afternoon – it stretches on and on – is a memory that will remain with me always!

  4. avatar Linden reply

    Friendliness, state pride, sunsets, biscuits, monograms, and lakes! Love the south!!

  5. avatar Leigh Pearce reply

    I love so many things about the South. Biscuits and sweet tea, monograms and pearls, college football and mason jars. But what I love most about the South isn’t a thing… It’s the feeling of hospitality and home that you get no matter what state or area you are visiting. People hold doors open for you, folks wave as you pass by, and fruit stands are open on the honor system. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else.

  6. avatar Kristy reply

    I love the music, the food, and the South is where my family is :)

  7. avatar Autumn Lee reply

    I love everything about the south. I am from Texas and moved to Colorado 3 years ago and every day my heart aches to return home. The people are friendlier, the food is way better and they have sweet tea no matter where you go! We had our wedding 2 years ago and our theme was “Front Porch Texas”…basically anything you would find on a front porch back home-whiskey barrels, crates, boots, flowers, wagon wheels, stars, horseshoes etc. We even had flowers in BlueBell Icecream tubs on the tables! There is no place like home!

  8. avatar Mary-Kate McClure reply

    The South is my home and something about home makes my heart filled with joy and warmth! I got married this April and the outpouring of love we were shown absolutely overwhelms my heart. Our loved ones from all over the South gathered around my husband and myself with such generosity, kindness and wisdom! I can not imagine calling anywhere else home!

  9. avatar Tiffany reply

    The South was the place where I first discovered the gloriousness that is red velvet cake! To honor that love, I hope to have red velvet cupcakes at my reception.

  10. avatar Stephanie reply

    I love so much about the south, it is hard to narrow it down! What I love most is how close knit the communities are. I grew up with a large family close by, friends that had known us for years, devoted church friends, and teachers at school that knew my family and had taught a lot of us already! I couldn’t imagine having grown up anywhere but my small town and being surrounded by those people. I hope that my children will have those same blessings!

  11. avatar Peyton reply

    I love the South because I can find every member of my family in Georgia, the Carolina’s, and Louisiana. I love it for it’s jam, cheese grits, and home-grown fried green tomatoes. I love it because it’s where my grandmother taught me how to shag in her kitchen while pecan pie baked in the oven. I love being able to monogram everything I own without anyone looking twice. I love oak trees and Spanish moss and hydrangea-filled summers. I love my sweet neighbors, and the sweet accents that can be heard anywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line. I love the South because it’s my home, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  12. avatar Lauren reply

    I love the South because of our amazing Southern Hospitality and the sense of community!

  13. avatar Lauren reply

    I love the South for so many reasons it’s hard to name just one! I love the true Southern Hospitality that is unmatched anywhere else, the undeniable passion for College Football (War Eagle, y’all!) the food (sweet tea and cheese grits are my fav!) and the importance of family. Couldn’t live anywhere else!

  14. avatar Rae reply

    Not married yet and now I’m back up North but my dream wedding would take place under a magnolia tree and the dinner would include fried chicken, Mac & cheese, buttermilk biscuits and lots of sweet tea

  15. avatar Laura reply

    For knowing that you’re never too busy to sit on the front porch visiting with friends, for taking Sunday afternoon drives down back roads with the windows rolled down so you can smell the honeysuckle, and for knowing that your Grandma’s recipe book is worth its weight in gold. I love the South because I am constantly reminded that these simple things are my richest treasures.

  16. avatar Lorel reply

    My family is from the Midwest, but my soon to be hubby is from Covington, KY. I adore his accent and the gentlemanly way he has about him.

  17. avatar Dana reply

    There’s just too much to love down here, but the South excels when it comes to food! The happiest place I can be is on a porch with delicious bbq, biscuits galore, a large glass of sweet tea, and chocolate pecan pie for dessert!

  18. avatar Shelby reply

    The South is home to many, but it means so much more than a house to live in or a town to work, shop, & play in. This place is our family. Whether its your neighbors lending a hand, a peach cobbler to fill your belly, a family tradition that warms your soul, or even the yearly magnolia blooms filling your heart with joy, home in the South is everything.

  19. avatar Samantha reply

    What DON’T I love about the South?? Were celebrating the south through many aspects of our wedding, from the sweet tea station with many flavors of sweet tea (though who could pass up the plain ol’ taste of the original?!), the pie bar, the giant oak that we will be wed under, the magnolias in my bouquet that signify everything about home to me and my fiancé, and plethora of family that will attend and those that have already supported us by baking and crafting!!! Everything we love about the south is only magnified when you’re with family! The tea is sweeter, the flowers fresher! :)

  20. avatar gaji reply

    I love the southern hospitality, warm weather, and beautiful wedding venues.

  21. avatar Katie reply

    What perfect timing for this question! As a recent college grad, I left Virginia after 22 years to move to upstate New York-and my, are things different here! Born and raised in Virginia, my heart belongs in the South, and I am so thankful to have spent my life growing up there. As I have settled into New York, I have day dreams of front porches, more monograms and a familiar farmers market. People look at me like I have two heads when I order sweet tea. I love that I stick out like a sore thumb here, people always notice that I’m not from here, and I beam knowing that I can thank the South for that. I love the sound that ‘y’all’ makes paired with a friendly warm smile, and the comfort that it brings. I love the South for our tradition, and hospitality, for the heat that goes on for days and days. A true Southern spirit is strong, determined, and brave; and I’m thankful for my time away from the South to reflect on all it has taught me! I’m not married yet, but my dream wedding will be covered in Southern goodness. Complete with traditional readings, a huge bridal party,plenty of cold drinks, home-cooked food, monograms and lots of love to go around! The South will always be home=)

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Southern Stems: Gardenias

by in Inspirations, Main on

With the promise of a sweet Southern spring around the corner, we thought it was time to dust off our Southern Stems column! So far we’ve covered south of the Mason-Dixon Line favorites camellias, wisterias, and Texas blue bonnets, and today, it’s the gardenia’s turn.

Though I have many loves, gardenias are without a doubt my favorite Southern flower. Aside from their gorgeous looks, their smell is absolutely divine. (Strong, but divine.) I also love how something so precious is at the same time so common, at least in the South. Almost every house in my neighborhood has a bush, and I snapped this perfect bloom — one of many we passed! — on a walk one evening last June.

Elizabeth Messina via Mindy Weiss, Martha Stewart Weddings, Beaux Arts Photographie

The most common variety of gardenias, gardenia jasminoides, is native to Southern China and Japan, but has found a happy home in the American South. No surprise, since they are a majorly heat-loving plant! Gardenias are also known as Cape Jasmine.

Elizabeth Scott Photography via Southern Weddings, Eric Kelley via Wedding Chicks

Another reason gardenias are perfect for the South? They represent grace and hospitality — perfect for planting beside your front porch! Gardenias are actually a species of evergreen, so they keep their gorgeous glossy dark green leaves all winter. The leaves are beautiful to include in wedding arrangements, too!

Kallie Brynn via Southern Weddings, Kate Harrison via Style Me Pretty, Simple Color via Elizabeth Anne Designs, Brookelyn Photography via The Bride’s Cafe

Gardenias were particularly popular in weddings in the ’60s and ’70s, and are still a favorite with classic brides today. A few tips if you’re planning on using them in your own celebration: Make sure you like the smell! As noted above, gardenias have a strong scent, so even one bloom in a bouquet can make an impact.

Ashley McCormick via Southern Weddings, Eclectic Images, Elizabeth Messina via Style Me Pretty, Laura Gordon via Southern Weddings

Also, while gardenias’ petals are delightfully creamy, they’re also exceptionally fragile, and too much handling can cause the petals to turn brown quickly. If you’re planning to pin a bloom in your hair, reserve two blossoms with your florist — that way, you can change it out post-ceremony to keep things fresh for the reception. Or, opt for a faux version — DK Designs makes a clay beauty we love!

Nancy Ray via Southern Weddings, White Loft Photographie via Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart Weddings

Speaking of faux gardenias, sugar flowers are a perfect option on a wedding cake!

A Bryan Photo via Martha Stewart Weddings and unknown

Do you love gardenias as much as I do? Anyone out there who can’t stand the smell? Will y’all incorporate them into your wedding? I’d love to hear!

Nancy Ray is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
5 Comments
  1. avatar Kristyn M reply

    I love Gardenias! We always had them in the yard growing up and the smell instantly brings me back to my grandmothers yard! I plan on using them in my wedding but not too much because I’m sure not everyone loves the smell like I do!

  2. avatar Jessica B reply

    Gardenias and magnolias both will having starring roles at my wedding! They are so undeniably Southern. Delicate looking, elegant, but both make an impact! Gardenias with their smell and magnolias with their size.

  3. avatar anna reply

    Love the idea of handwritten notes for family members at their seats!

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I’m so glad y’all enjoyed the first post in our Southern Stems series! (In case you missed it, we discussed camellias.) Today, we’re chatting about an equally Southern bloom – wisteria!

Photo by ET Meyer; overlay by SW

The smell of wisteria is right up there with gardenias as one of the most iconic scents of the South, don’t you think? Wisteria is also a spring bloomer, just like the camellia, and it also has a very short bloom time.

Both photos by Christopher Baker from House Beautiful

The floriography meaning of wisteria is “welcome” or “I cling to you,” both perfect for a wedding!

Photos by Jen Huang via Snippet & Ink

Since wisteria is a climber, and not a traditional stemmed bloom, it’s a little harder to incorporate into wedding plans. We did round up a few suggestions, though. First, of course, it makes a gorgeous backdrop for portraits!

On left: photo by Daniela Fego from Style With Us. On right: Holland Photo Arts. Bottom two by Nancy Ray.

If wisteria isn’t in season on your wedding date, we thought this “wisteria hack” was very clever. Simple Elegance hung lavender stock upside down to mimic the delicate tendrils of wisteria, and we think it makes a great ceremony backdrop!

Adrienne Maples via Style Me Pretty

Wisteria can also provide inspiration for cakes and sweets!

Cake from Martha Stewart Weddings (photo by Lisa Hubbard), sweet wrapper from Style with Us (photo by Daniela Fego)

Finally, we found a sweet wisteria crown for your hair, and a sharp wisteria invitation from Bella Figura.

What’s your favorite Southern Stem?

Nancy Ray Photography is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
7 Comments
  1. avatar Damaris Mia @ Le Magnifique reply

    So dreamy and magical! Looooove.

  2. avatar Wedding Albums by Hayley reply

    Wow. Wisteria looks just amazing. I can’t beleive how beautiful it looks in all of the photos.

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  5. avatar Perth Wedding Photographer reply

    Wisteria looks just amazing, especially on 1st image. The last one is also nice :)

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