Hello, friends! I’ve got a treat for you today! Our good friend, sweet Southern gal Victoria Strader, is here to share a bit about how she planned her ceremony. She’s five years out from her wedding, but her perspective is timeless, and I think you’ll love this peek into her special day! Enjoy! – Emily
Hi y’all! I’m Victoria, and I’ve been married to my high school best friend/college sweetheart Ben for almost five years. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to keep myself from looking at the one and only Southern Weddings blog before getting engaged, haha! :) We have a one-year-old son named Beau and we live deep in the heart of Texas.
Photo by Blue Ribbon Vendor Meredith Teasley
As each year of my life goes by, I become more and more passionate about the deepening of relationships: the relationship with God that defines my faith, my marriage with Ben, the sweet time spent playing on the floor with my squishy baby boy, and the friendships that keep me thriving in the business of ordinary life. We planned a wedding for the winter of 2012 in our hometown, the place where both sides of my husband’s family have lived for generations.
While we were limited in some aspects of planning because this was the kind of wedding where I had to accept the fact that there would be invitations tacked up on the bulletin board of Granny’s Sunday School class, there were some things we didn’t compromise on. When planning for our wedding ceremony, our vision was for it to be deeply personal: a reflection of our personalities and our faith. We wanted every detail to ultimately point to The Lord through a celebration of the ways he has worked in us individually, together, and in other relationships. I’m thrilled to share three of our favorite aspects with y’all today!
Photo by Caroline Joy
1. Our pastor. The first detail that we were passionate about was our youth pastor from high school officiating the ceremony. Ben and I were in the same youth group, so this felt like a no-brainer! Josh knew us so well then, and even now, five years later and with his family living a few hours away, they still mean so much to us. (In fact, neither of us felt right about announcing the pregnancy of our son until we made the road trip to share the news with them in person!) Josh did an incredible job of weaving stories of each of our personalities together with some deep and beautiful scripture. My biggest hope when attending a wedding ceremony is that I’ll walk away feeling like I know the couple more, and I think Josh hit the nail on the head for us in this way. The message of our wedding shared the gospel of our faith, as well as our own personal stories of coming to be Christians.
2. Our wedding vows. Our vows, and the completely non-traditional way that we stumbled upon them, are another favorite detail about our ceremony. When initially discussing our vows, we wanted something different than the traditional lines, but didn’t feel incredibly inspired to write our own. Enter: the Southern Weddings blog! I watched a wedding video* on the blog of a couple who had written their vows, and their words echoed so much truth from the Bible. They were beautiful, and after showing them to Ben, we agreed that nothing we had begun to brainstorm seemed even a tiny bit as beautiful as those words. I just remember Ben saying, “Nothing I write is going to show people Jesus as well as those words!” Haha!
So I did some hunting, dug up the email of the bride, and emailed her asking permission to “borrow” their vows. I explained our story and the heart behind our request, and she so graciously sent me back her approval and best wishes. I realize this method might not be for everyone (and might make any artistic, creative person cringe – ha!), but it ended up being the best possible fit for us. When we recited those vows, it didn’t feel weird to have borrowed someone else’s words at all. If anything, they felt more special because we had thought so much about them!
3. Our ceremony music. Planning for our ceremony music was not something that came naturally to me (I actually rarely listen to music!), but I knew how important it would be for our celebration. I often think of specific couples when I hear their wedding songs being played, and desired for our selections to be sweet and represent us well! One of our good friends from high school is an incredibly gifted vocalist, so we had him sing “Be Thou My Vision” during a time of prayer. My all-time favorite movie is The Parent Trap (the 90’s version!) so our recessional was to “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”, the song that plays in the closing credits :)
Something really sweet is that as I reflect on planning our ceremony five years later, I would still choose all of the same things. The meaningful part of our wedding grows more and more special to me each year, and I’m so grateful for the time we put into it!
Thank you so much for sharing, Victoria! You can follow along with her on her blog and Instagram, where she shares the most ridiculously adorable photos of her smile-y little boy. If you’re planning your own ceremony, be sure to check out our Joyful Wedding Planner – it’s an invaluable helper for something so important!
*Since the video post Victoria mentioned is from more than five years ago, it’s no longer active on our site, sadly. But the fun part? It was the wedding video of our friend Sam from LULA Hair + Makeup! No wonder Victoria found it so inspiring! :)