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Friends, today is my fifth wedding anniversary! You may have caught my ongoing Instagram stories party, where I’ve been sharing some of my favorite photos from different parts of our celebration (if not, you can always see the full feature here and here!). I love celebrating an anniversary because not only does it give me an excuse to pull out my wedding album, watch our wedding film, and go out to dinner with my best friend (yum!), it’s an opportunity to stop and reflect.

An anniversary is the perfect time to cheer yourselves on (something I think is so important!), to remind yourselves of everything you love about the person you married, and to give thanks for all the ways your life is better for having your partner in it.

Like a new year, an anniversary is also a time to consider ways you might be able to improve. John and I are far from perfect, but we have done a few things right in our first five years of marriage. Today I wanted to share five, in the hopes that they might be an encouragement to you!

1. We draw strength from something outside of ourselves. One of the most beautiful things about marriage is that it’s a place where your ugly can show, and you’ll be loved, unconditionally, despite it. That being said, I know I’d be a much more selfish, unforgiving, ungracious, record-keeping wife without a Father who is continually calling me to die to myself and love others as I’ve been loved. We would not have the marriage we do without our faith.

2. We’re willing to change. When I think of the couples I know who have gotten divorced, it’s very rarely because of something dramatic and awful. Usually, the answer is something along the lines of “we drifted apart” or “he’s not the same person I married.” This seems kind of strange to me, because wouldn’t you expect someone to change over time?! Stanley Hauerwas, quoted in Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage, says it well: “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing that it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered into it.”

When change comes, John and I have committed to growing towards each other. Towards each other, not away from each other, and not side by side. We expect each other to change (as high school sweethearts, it was inevitable!), and when we do we (imperfectly) seek to understand it and grow along with it.

3. We trust in our relationship without reservation. This is a hallmark of our particular marriage. We’ve never given each other a reason to doubt it, and so we’ve never been tempted to do so. We don’t treat our love for each other like it’s conditional, or could be threatened to be taken away, or withheld as a bargaining chip. Even if we are angry or frustrated, at bedrock, we both know without a doubt that we are acting from a place of unshakeable love.

4. We don’t ask the other to fulfill needs they can’t. This one can be so hard, friends! While my and John’s lives are deeply, inextricably entwined, we try to take responsibility for our own happiness first instead of looking to the other to fulfill every emotional need. Practically speaking, for us, that means building an inner confidence, maintaining equilibrium through each other’s bad days (you have to put on your own oxygen mask first!), and again, going to God to be reminded of our true worth.

5. We enjoy each other. You know that saying, find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life? I like to switch it up a bit: marry your best friend, and you’ll never work a day in your marriage. That, of course, is not entirely true — even the best marriages have harder days and easier days — but if you truly LIKE your partner, and love spending time with him or her more than anyone else, everything else seems to fall into place. One of our favorite ways to be reminded of how much we like each other is going on evening walks together – we are totally on T.J.’s bandwagon!

Whether you’re celebrating your first or fiftieth anniversary, know I’m cheering you on, friends! And if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear something you’ve done right in your marriage in the comments :)

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Mike reply

    Love these wedding photographs! The bride looks so happy.

  2. avatar Jessie W reply

    Love #1 <3

  3. avatar Geoff reply

    What a great concept to write about a couple’s advice looking back over the years.

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Can you feel the extra sparkle in the air? That sizzle? It’s not fall, friends — I’m pretty sure it’s coming straight from Chapel Hill and all our excitement over our tenth anniversary issue!! After finally selecting a cover (holy goodness, she’s going to blow your socks off!) and nailing down the final few real weddings, we’re moving full steam ahead with wrapping up this gorgeous book and sending her off to the printer at the end of the month. The sweet tea and biscuits are at the ready for a big party once Nicole presses that final send button!

We’re gearing up for our biggest celebration to date when Volume 10 hits newsstands on November 9th, and we know we couldn’t have gotten here without all of y’all. We’re truly grateful. And, we’re thrilled to be able to include you in the celebrations in a brand new way this year by inviting you to join our official Southern Weddings Tenth Anniversary Launch Team!

The launch team will help us spread the news of Volume 10 and the Southern Weddings mission. Why? Because we believe that our mission for cultivating relationships and telling meaningful love stories matters, and that the simplest way to include others to join in the magic is to invite them. And who better to do that than the best hostesses we know? (You!!)

Launch team members will have:
• Special access to sneak peeks from the upcoming issue
• Exclusive membership to a private Facebook group
• Behind the scenes time with the editorial team
• Access to launch team only giveaways
• Loads of fun and more!!

Applications close Monday, September 25, so scoot along and apply today if you’re interested!

The fun doesn’t stop with the launch team! Pre-orders are going on sale soon (ahem, October 9th). I’m hard at work nailing down details for a blockbuster launch party celebration at our beloved Carolina Inn. AND we need your help with a few final details for this issue, so stay tuned to our social channels to vote on a few Southern favorites and for the chance to get your responses published in print!

The countdown to our tenth anniversary issue is on!!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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Y’all know I’m the first in line for a big bow or beautiful monogram, but I also understand they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. (Though, if you’re here at Southern Weddings reading, I’d say there’s a better than average chance they are!) In everything from your aesthetic choices to the words you say when you vow forever to each other, we want you to choose what’s right for you and what most helps to tell your unique story – not what looks good or what someone else is doing.

In that spirit, today we’re chatting about a few wedding ceremony traditions you might want to consider including in your big day. Traditions can make your ceremony even more meaningful by underscoring or illustrating the more important moments, but they’ll fall flat if they’re not rooted in what matters to you. Take a peek and see which ones speak to you – we can’t wait to see what you choose!

Bamber Photography

Military saber arch: For military brides and grooms, one of the most recognizable (and beloved!) wedding traditions is the saber arch—a ceremony exit that both celebrates the newlyweds, and acknowledges that serving our country is truly a family commitment.

Traditionally, the saber arch is performed by 6-8 uniformed service members (often guests or groomsmen/bridesmaids) immediately following the ceremony. On the command, the saber team raises their sabers into a high arch, which the newlyweds enter as they are announced by one of the members. As the bride and groom pass through, the two saber bearers in the front traditionally lower their sabers before the couple can proceed out of the arch.

This is when the saber bearer to the couple’s left gives the non-military member of the couple a gentle tap on the backside and a welcome to the applicable branch! After a kiss, the newlyweds are free to proceed and the saber team recovers on command and dissolves formation.

Unity candle: Typically the unity candle ceremony uses two taper candles with a large pillar candle in the center. At the beginning of the ceremony, a family representative from each side (usually the mothers of the bride and groom) light the two taper candles. Later during the ceremony, the bride and groom use the two light candles to jointly light the large center candle to symbolize the joining together of two families.

Anna Shackleford

Foot washing: Washing one another’s feet is a newer wedding tradition that stems from the biblical story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) as a gesture of service and humility. Christian couples especially may find deep symbolism in recreating this moment during their wedding ceremony, while promising to serve one another selflessly in marriage, but any couple committed to living out these qualities in their future may find it meaningful.

During the ceremony, the bride and groom simply take turns sitting down on a chair in front of a basin of water, while their significant other kneels in front of them, removes their shoe(s), and washes their feet with water. Another option: because a foot washing ceremony is so intimate, some couples choose to wash each other’s feet in a more private setting, perhaps during their first look, or after returning to their ceremony site post-recessional and after their guests have been dismissed.

Jumping the broom: This tradition has a history tied back to nineteenth-century slave communities in the South, but it has gained richness and deeper meaning for couples who choose to include it in their ceremonies today. The act of jumping can represent crossing the threshold into marriage, the beginning of making a home together, their dedication to working together through difficult and joyful tasks, and a sweeping away of the old and a welcoming of the new. The humble broom becomes quite beautiful when used in this way, and many are dressed up for the occasion!

A Bryan Photo

Carrying a white Bible: For families that have Bibles that have been passed down from generation to generation, carrying this heirloom down the aisle is a way for a bride to honor her heritage. Whether or not it’s an heirloom, Christians brides often carry a white Bible as an outward representation of their faith on this incredibly special day. Bibles and small white prayer books can be tucked into your bouquet or embellished with ribbons or flowers and carried solo. If you decide not to carry a Bible but are looking for another nod to your faith, we love the idea of wrapping your favorite verse into or around your bouquet or placing a family bible on the altar at your ceremony.

Ring warming: In a ring warming ceremony, the wedding bands are passed hand to hand through the congregation before being exchanged (tie them to a pillow or place them in a special bag to minimize the risk of dropping them!). Your officiant can ask each guest to hold the rings for a few moments, “warming” them with their prayers, blessings, and good wishes for your marriage. When they’re returned to you ready to wear, they’ll be symbolically fortified for your lifelong marriage to come!

We have heaps more ceremony planning advice and recommendations in our Joyful Wedding Planner. If you’re passionate about telling your unique love story through your wedding, this is the product for you!

Anna Shackleford and Bamber Photographer are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
1 Comment
  1. avatar Wedding Pixie reply

    Love these ideas, hand fasting is another tradition I love!

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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