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Get ready engaged (and soon-to-be-engaged) gals: today’s your lucky day!! In the spirit of gifting experiences, we could think of nothing better than giving you ALL the things you’ll need for creating a memorable wedding planning experience. I wish I’d been lucky enough to have all these resources (both pretty and practical) during my engagement season, and you can bet that I give them to all my best gals when they get engaged. We know that your wedding day will be one of the most meaningful experiences in your life, and we hope these tools help with your planning and preparation!!

Win:
1. Southern Wedding Magazine V9: For practical information and pretty inspiration
2. The Southern Weddings Planner: To keep track of all the details and assist with wedding etiquette
3. Marriage Certificate: To commemorate your big day
4. Vows Booklet Set: For crafting your vows and keeping them close (pocket of your wedding dress perhaps?)
5. The Wedding Day Journal: To remember the planning process, big day and early days of newlywed bliss
6. Welcome Home Guestbook: For documenting all your visitors and sweet memories in the weeks and years after getting married

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One winner will be drawn on December 19th!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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    We Southerners sure are proud of our alma maters, so it’s no surprise that Kimberley and Jonathon were ecstatic to have been selected in the lottery to follow the time-honored University of Virginia tradition of getting married at the chapel on the campus grounds! Together with their planner, Amore Events, they planned a beautiful day full of sweet details and absolutely stunning florals. Out-of-town guests (flying in from Asia, Australia, and around the country!) were treated not only to Kimberley and Jonathon’s love and pride in their university, but also a glimpse at where their love story began. For their alumni friends, this celebration was a highly anticipated homecoming! Along with experiencing where these two started their journey, I’m sure hearing them recite the vows that they wrote together during the ceremony was truly remarkable!

    We’re so thankful Ashley Cox captured all the sweet moments!

    My flowers were absolutely gorgeous! Cody did a fantastic job representing the UVA colors of orange and blue. I wanted a fluffy, soft bouquet and it was breathtaking! The orange poppies really popped.

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My wedding dress hunt revolved around my mom’s veil. It was the only item that I knew I wanted, so I focused on finding the perfect dress to go with it. Since my parents live half a world away in Singapore, a few of my bridesmaids and close friends went with me to help me choose. It was a great day of bonding and beautiful dresses, but I was still unsure and chose to leave empty-handed. When my parents visited a few months later, we found a few contenders, but not the one. Then, my mom suggested that I look into creating a custom dress, and I never looked back. I got to wear the dress of my dreams!

    We were hesitant about doing a first look when Cody first suggested it, but it ended up being a great decision. It gave us a private moment to share together during the hustle and bustle of our wedding day. We were also able to get some great pictures at both the chapel and vineyard without taking too much time away from the cocktail hour, so that was a plus!

    We wrote the whole ceremony together. It was an intimidating task, but it was a great bonding experience for us. We wrote our own personal vows and kept them secret until the ceremony. It made hearing our promises to each other even more special!

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? As alumni of the University of Virginia, getting married at the chapel on the grounds is a time-honored tradition. When we found out that our request was selected in the lottery, we were ecstatic! It allowed us to show our pride and love for our university as we completed one journey and started another. Our reception was held outdoors under a Sperry tent at Keswick Vineyards. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the venue is breathtaking, and we were hooked from the minute we saw it. Having separate ceremony and reception venues gave us the opportunity to give our out-of-town guests a glimpse at our college playground, while, needless to say, for our alumni friends, it was a highly anticipated homecoming.

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Besides all the monograms, we wanted to add a little Texas flair to our wedding to represent where we now live. In the middle of dancing, the DJ played a few fun country songs. We ran to the guestbook table, where we had set up our cowboy boots as decorations, and put them on. The boots were special; Jon’s are made of sharkskin and mine are green lizard skin. Everyone had a blast. We also tried to showcase food from the region, such as candied bacon, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, and Virginia cheeses.

    We had a full dessert bar along with a cupcake spread and a traditional wedding cake. Our dessert bar included candied bacon, milk and white chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate cups, fudge brownies, blondies, and lemon bars. There were three types of cupcakes: orange and blue funfetti with peach filling, lemon poppy with strawberry filling, and red velvet with cream cheese. The cake was a fudge chip cake with cherry filling and vanilla buttercream icing. It was all delicious and we loved the variety!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. The first time I laid eyes on Jon, he had a faux hawk, was wearing a Space Jam tank, and had a plastic duck bill on his face. His fraternity was hosting a ’90s party and a group of them had decided to dress up as Space Jam characters–Jon was Daffy Duck! I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but when the resident advisor of my first-year dorm introduced him to me, I was just very amused. Even though our first meeting was less than stellar, my resident advisor continued to sing Jon’s praises. Jon asked me to dinner a few weeks later and I accepted. The rest is history!
    Tell us all about the proposal! On date nights, we love trying new restaurants. That night, Jon chose a beautiful restaurant with a delicious tasting menu. It was a particularly special dinner since Jon had recently accepted a job in Houston and was moving away from Virginia. I didn’t think I would be able to join him, so we were trying to take full advantage of the time we had together. Four courses later, we were full, happy, and waiting for dessert. We had both ordered the same dessert, and Jon joked that he wouldn’t have to worry about me stealing his. When dessert arrived, I remember seeing something shiny in mine. My mind went blank and I could only manage a lame “Why is my dessert different?” Jon said he could see the realization cross my face as he told me he loved me and asked me to marry him. I was so stunned that I barely heard him. He was just glad that I said yes!
    When did y’all get married? August 28, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
    Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! My something old was a gift from my mom. It was a diamond necklace and earrings set that my dad gave her when I was born. I was over the moon when she gave it to me to wear on my wedding day. My something borrowed was the cathedral veil that my mom wore on her wedding day. When we took it out of storage, it broke our hearts to see a tear, but we managed to stitch it up, and it felt so special to walk down the aisle with it on. For my something new, I picked heels from Jimmy Choo. I wanted a pair of shoes that I could wear again, and my blue nail polish complemented them perfectly.
    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Distance was one of the biggest challenges we had to overcome. On top of planning a Virginia wedding from Texas, we had guests flying in from Asia, Australia, and around the country. Fielding calls from 200 of your family and friends about what to do, special exceptions, and guest count were definitely stressful. The other big challenge was combining the cultures of the East and West. Our families are both Chinese and we wanted to acknowledge our Chinese culture, while also celebrating in the Western way. We split the day in half, reserving the morning for traditional cultural events like the tea ceremony–a tea drinking ritual with the family elders where they are given the opportunity to bless the marriage–and the afternoon and evening for the traditional Western ceremony, reception, and party!
    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 looking forward to having free time to read, travel, and just hang out! The wedding process is very time-consuming, and sometimes, you wonder if it’s worth it. Now that we aren’t planning, we want to explore the world!

    Photographer: Ashley Cox / Planner and Florist: Cody Grannis / Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel / Reception Venue: Keswick Vineyards / Cake and Dessert Baker: Buttercream Dreams / Caterer: Roadside Chive / Rentals: MS Events / Lighting: Skyline Tent Company / DJ: Derek Austin / Monogrammed Bow Ties: Mercy Streams / Bride’s Gown: Custom from Ieie Bridal / Headpiece: Enze Bridal / Hair Stylist: Brianna Adams / Makeup Artist: Susan Lim / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Navy Blue Lace by Watters / Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers / Groomsmen Attire: Menguin / Custom Watercolor Wedding Map Guest Book: Luz Design / Wedding Vow Book: Noteworthy Design Co / Fudge Favors: My Chocolate Shoppe / Vintage Cowboy Boots: Texas Junk Company / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

      Beautiful flowers and I love the bridesmaid dresses!

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    The South is absolutely full of the most dreamy outdoor venues–from ranches, to farms, to mountains, to vineyards, and so on and so forth. There are so many lovely options, I occasionally forget how many amazing indoor venues there are too, and the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga just might be one of my favorites. Betsy and Mike chose the Hunter Museum for their beautiful reception, which followed their ceremony at another incredibly special location: the historic woodland chapel near Betsy’s childhood home. Accented by plenty of natural greenery and calligraphy details that Betsy created herself, their celebration was full of nods to their personalities and favorite things!

    Thank you so much to our dear friends and Blue Ribbon Vendors, Bamber Photography, for sharing this beautiful celebration with us!

    My something old was my necklace–it has been passed down from my maternal grandfather’s side of the family through several generations. My something new was my wedding band. When my matron of honor, Brita, got married, she wore my sorority pin as her something borrowed. As I was getting dressed the morning of the wedding, she took out her own pin for me to wear–I was so touched she remembered that little detail–and we pinned it near my heart on the inside of the dress. I also borrowed my gorgeous mama’s pearl and diamond earrings and her tennis bracelet. My something blue was my little blue shoes!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Oh, boy. Well, my mom, sister and sweet bridesmaids took time out of their very busy lives to come all the way up to Chicago in the dead of winter to help me look for my dress (if that is not love, I don’t know what is!). Luckily, Chicago has an incredible selection of bridal shops, so we were able to schedule a lot of appointments in just a day and a half. Unfortunately for me, I loved Every. Single. Thing. that I tried on. I ended up finally choosing a dress, loving it, and then promptly freaking out and deciding I wasn’t sure. Long story short, I made best friends with the ladies at that bridal shop, bless them, because I was there about every week for months until I made my real final choice. I brought them many baked goods, tried on probably every dress they had, and ended up with the perfect dress for me. They were amazingly patient and lovely, and I’m so happy I gave myself the time to be totally certain. It’s a pretty big decision!

    The florist we worked with was a genius. She listened to me prattle on in about seventeen different directions, and got it perfectly right. I wanted mostly greens, natural herbs, and very few flowers. I asked for a few specific additions: lamb’s ear, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, eucalyptus, peonies, and rosemary, and left the rest up to her. The result of our collaboration was really extraordinary. The flowers were perfectly understated at the Little Brown Church, and looked stunning atop the estate tables and rounds at the Hunter Museum. I was so happy with how all of them turned out!

    The ceremony was held at the Little Brown Church. It is very small woodland chapel within walking distance of my parents’ home, where I grew up, and it’s a big part of the neighborhood’s history. It is a stunning setting, and is only open during the summer. The old trees stretch over the roof providing lovely shade, and flowers bloom all around it. I drove past it every single day of my childhood, and couldn’t think of a more special place to say our vows. We both thought it was really exciting that we would always be able to see it whenever we visited my family home.

    Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We opted not to do a first look. We both felt pretty strongly about this tradition, and wanted to save seeing each other that day until I was walking down the aisle during the ceremony. We are both really happy we did, because it made seeing each other that moment at the chapel really special.

    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We did a really great job of remembering the reason for all of the planning: our marriage. It kept us grounded and put the decisions we needed to make into perspective. We trusted each other, compromised, and when one of us cared more than the other about something, that person got to make the final call.

    For the reception, we chose the Hunter Museum of American Art. Chattanooga was such a major focal point of our wedding that we felt like it was the perfect venue to showcase that beautiful city. It combines both old and new in a really special way, and has the most incredible views of the water and bridges.

    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I do calligraphy and hand lettering, so I did the save the dates, invitation suite, envelope calligraphy, escort and place cards, table numbers, and custom wedding crest myself. I worked with a stamp maker in Chicago to make the crest into a stamp, and was able to use it on so many of the details! All of those things can really add up, so we saved some money and I was able to create something that was special and unique to us.

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding crest. I created it by hand with a dip pen and calligraphy ink. It incorporated our initials, a sketch of the chapel where we got married, and flowers from places we have lived. We ended up using it on everything: the invitation suite, photo booth photos, cocktails napkins, escort cards, etc.

    My husband and I sampled about 16 different cakes with my parents, and all of us chose the same combination: white chocolate cake, real buttercream frosting, and raspberry filling. It was so delicious. Mike got to run wild with his groom’s cake, and went for a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and dark chocolate ganache, covered with berries. Our non-Southern friends were totally perplexed by the groom’s cake tradition–I think several of the married guests in attendance were pretty miffed they never had the opportunity to have a groom’s cake of their own! (I don’t think a single one of them minded having two cake selections, though.)

    What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? A few things! A lot of our wedding revolved around Chattanooga and what makes that city unique. Our venues were both on the mountain and by the water. We included Moon Pies and Coca-Cola in the guest bags, along with a list of our favorite Chattanooga spots. We served Krystal burgers and chicken sandwiches (with root beer floats!) as our surprise late-night snack. Our “Tennessee” menu included some very Southern staples: deviled eggs, chicken and waffles, and copper pennies. A lot of what makes the South so special is the hospitality and genuine love and care for others. It was very important to us that we did everything we could to ensure everyone felt welcomed and taken care of.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. What really happened is Mike was an unsuccessful travel bookstore owner in England, and I was a famous actress. We came in and out of each other’s lives for a while, despite our very different professions and lives, until I realized that I was just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her. Honestly, Mike and I met when Mike was training to be a fighter pilot with his best pal, Goose. There was a LOT of beach volleyball. No, no, no. Mike and I met when my family was vacationing in the Catskills. Mike was a bad boy dance instructor who won me over with his moves. I brought a watermelon to a party. We had the time of our lives. Nobody puts me in a corner. Okay, the real story is that Mike and I met online and went on a date. I almost chickened out because I was tired after a long work week and really wanted to go home, sit on my couch with the dog, watch Netflix and eat a pizza. I figured that I’d have one glass of wine and then call it a night. Instead, we hit it off, laughed the entire time, and ended up closing down the restaurant. Mike called me five seconds after he put me in a cab that night to ask me on a second date. We’ve been together ever since.
    Tell us all about the proposal! Mike had just completed the Ironman triathlon in Louisville, Kentucky and my parents had driven up from Chattanooga to watch the race with me. Mike told my parents that weekend that he planned to propose as soon as we got back to Chicago. They didn’t give me a single hint of what was about to happen! When we returned home from our long road trip back, Mike casually suggested we go get a bite to eat somewhere in the neighborhood. We walked to a restaurant nearby, had a quick dinner, and then walked back to our apartment through a park on the Chicago River. We decided to sit on a bench for a minute to watch the birds and the city lights, when all of a sudden, I looked down and Mike was on one knee with a ring, asking me to marry him. (He said a bunch of other really great, romantic stuff, but I was in shock and have no recollection of any of it.) I said yes, emphatically. About 30 seconds later, the shock wore off and I ugly cried with happiness for probably a good ten minutes.
    When did y’all get married? 
July 18, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
    Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We said traditional vows, but also wanted to write our own. Mike is very open with his emotions, while I’m more introverted and less of a “sharer.” Looking back, I’m so glad we did. We will have those unique words as only ours forever. One of my favorite parts of Mike’s vows was “I love you for so many reasons. I love you because you are delicate and beautiful, yet so strong and independent. I love you because you make me laugh and appreciate of all life’s little moments that can so easily pass us by. I love you because you challenge me to be a better man than I was yesterday.” From mine, “You are my best friend, my teammate, my partner in all things, my confidant, and my favorite person. I admire your kindness, your loyalty, your heart for other people, and your quiet perseverance to be the best human, partner, and friend you can be. You are the strongest person I know.”
    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our photographers were truly extraordinary–we can’t imagine the day without them. They made everyone so comfortable and captured the day perfectly. (I want to be best friends with them. Is that weird?) Truly, all of our vendors were so great–we really lucked out!
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t let that beautiful, time-sucking siren, Pinterest, convince you of anything you don’t actually want or need. Every single person you know will likely have an opinion of what you should do or not do. Take good care of your guests, be true to yourselves as people, never forget the real reason you are all there (to get married!), and you’ll be fine.

    Photographer: Bamber Photography / Videographer: Beckett Media Productions / Planner: Soirees of Chattanooga / Ceremony Venue: The Little Brown Church / Reception Venue: The Hunter Museum of American Art / Florist: 
Humphreys Flowers / Cake Baker: Cakemakers, Etc. / Caterer: Events With Taste / Dinner Band: 251 Main Street / Reception Band: The Answer Band / Ceremony Music: Donald & Mindy Grohman / Paper Products, Custom Wedding Crest, and Monogram: Betsy Letters / Bridal Salon: Dimitras Bridal / Hair Stylist: Beck Molina / Makeup Artist: 
Make Up by Angela R / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August / Groom’s Attire: 
Black Lapel / Late Night Snacks: Krystal / Photo Booth: Photo Magic

    Bamber Photography is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    2 Comments
    1. avatar Dana reply

      her dress is so unique! very pretty!

    2. avatar Stephanie Williamson reply

      Love this dress!!! Who is the designer?!

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