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Planning a Modern Southern Wedding

Scarlett O'Hara at her wedding in Gone With the Wind

The quintessential Southern wedding—Gone With the Wind via Boxwish

Being in transplanted in the South, especially in Coastal Georgia, it is so nice to see the different traditions in place for weddings. Even those who are not from our area and come for destination weddings still want to include a southern tradition into their wedding ceremony or reception.  With great locations like plantation houses, low country mansions or the regal playgrounds of the rich, like the Jekyll Club, there are so many places that can lend themselves to create a nostalgic event experience.  Moreover, you could allow them to continue to influence the flow and concept of the rest of the event. Get inspired by the grounds, decor colors, etc. and tie them in with your invitations, linens and other parts of your wedding

 

But what if you want to kick it up a notch? What if you want glitz and tradition, or contemporary design and classic heritage?  Let’s look at a few well-known traditions and see how we can have “you” written all over it.

 

 

Video Game System 360 Grooms  Cake

Groom’s Cake—This was once only a southern tradition but has spread across the country as another way to include the groom and his personality (like the one above).  Any excuse for more cake works for me. Southern brides would “gift” their grooms with a single layer cake at the wedding.  The grooms cake is typically chocolate or frosted chocolate, but as you can see, it has gone into a work of art itself.  While the wedding cake has been for the bride (in an unspoken understanding), the groom has an opportunity to represent during the wedding.  It is not restricted to being chocolate either—designs vary from different cake flavors to cupcakes and even fondant covered rice krispy treats!  Surprise him by making it something that reflects his interests and present it at the rehearsal dinner or at a scheduled time during the  wedding.   See the Top 5 Groomscakes of 2008 at Pink Cake Box

Liquid Refreshment—Sweet Iced Tea (seen here from Southern Living)  is a staple here in Georgia. It makes it appearance at every meal,so be sure to include it in your wedding, along with other Southern fail safes:  lemonade, mint juleps, bourbon and whiskey.  We previously talked about Southern Cocktails and Signature Drinks and making them more modern.  What other things can you add?  Try changing up the way you present them: opt for lucite trays, oddly shaped glasses or even mason jars,  as well as “props”.  For example, add a magnolia or gardenia bloom to the trays of passed drinks.  If you want to go for a non-alcoholic bar for your southern wedding, offer sweet tea, lemonade, Arnold Palmers (a mixture of the two) and dress them up—rim the glasses for your drinks with colored sugar.  Or really spice things up by adding different flavors like mango, strawberry or blueberry.  Peach is a hit in Georgia (go figure!).  Include lots of fresh fruit as garnish.

 

 

 

butternut squash casserole

All in the family—Believe it or not, it was once tradition for members of the family to bring a “covered dish” to the wedding.  While you don’t want to necessarily go pot luck for your wedding, you can add an interesting twist.  Prior to your wedding, ask all bridal shower guests to send in or bring their favorite recipes and a picture of themselves.  Have a family member compile them all and put them in a photobook from places like Blurb or PhotoWorks, as a gift to you and your new husband.  This family cookbook will be a great heirloom filled with the loving memories and aromas of kitchens past.  If you or your fiance have a special dish that your parents, grandparents or other family members make, give it to your caterer!  See how they can create a more modern version with killer presentation.

 

When in Rome… Another great way to tie in your Southern location is to share the experience with your guests.  A great way to do this is through your favors. If you are opting for a candy bar, check out southern favorites like pralines, toffees, caramels, brittles, etc.  Don’t forget to add your pecans and peanuts if you’d like to add a twist.  Southern Candymakers is a great resource!  Another idea for favors is to incorporate your Southern wedding location.  For example, if you are having your wedding in Georgia, offer personalized peach preserves (like those featured above from Dewey’s) as a favor or personalized hot sauce for Louisiana weddings and painted Valencia oranges for those in Florida. 

 

 

 

Southern Weddings Blog 

 

Other great modern resources for your wedding in the South are Southern Weddings—the blog is full  of inspirational pictures and ideas of weddings in the South.  Also check out the queen of weddings in the South as well:  Tara Guerard, and her book, Southern Weddings: New Looks from the Old South.  Remember, two of the greatest Southern wedding traditions are grace and family.  Be a good hostess for your guests and work creatively and fervently to bring your two families together.

5 Venue Assets that Will Fabuluxe Your Wedding

zaza I know what the mags tell you– they tell you to ask these incessant (and sometimes unnecessary) questions when looking for your venue space.  You may have an idea as to what you are looking at or looking for in a venue– but do you know how to capitalize on what is there to make your event the envy of your friends?

 

You want your venue to have:

 

1.)  Personality–  Boring events start with boring venues.  If a site jumps out at you, it will also jump out at your guests.  And of course, boring is all relative.  Nevertheless, you still want a venue that reflects your personality and adds panache to your event overall. It should jump out at you and say "I’M THE ONE!" as soon as you walk in the door.  Is it an old mansion?  A trendy art and history museum?  A chartered boat?  You want something that looks like it is well-kept and up-to-date.  When you go into look at the place, look at the fixtures, the floors, windows, etc.  What are some things that you could incorporate into your design scheme?  Art work on the walls?  Winding staircases?  What are some things you can live without?  You want something that complements your fete, not take it over.

2.)  Great Staff–The same personality that you love in your venue should roll over into its staff.  The staff should be engaging, dynamic and professional.  It has always been my position that regardless of how much you spend, be it one dollar or one hundred thousand, you are always the rockstar.  Period.  There are some venues who allow their status to go to their heads, which results in a poor showing to clients.  I can’t remember the last time someone paid me tens of thousands of dollars to mistreat them or give substandard service.  That’s because they haven’t.  You want a staff that provides stellar service– not over the top, but plenty attentive and always with a smile.

3.)  Great Lighting– I can remember many many many moons ago, there was a song by a group called Black Sheep entitled "Strobelight Honey".  A strobelight honey is a person who only looks good under the strobelight.  That being said, lighting does wonders.  It can complement textures and architecture as well as create shadows and depth in your venue.  Lighting adds dimension and character to an event– even on a natural level.  You don’t want your event to look warehoused or completely dark without some sort of complementary lighting.  Lighting can come from strategically placed windows, skylights, open doors and even fireplaces.  To enhance  lighting that is already there naturally, you can add special effect lighting in the form of spotlighting or pinlighting.  This is perfect for showcasing a cake table, sweetheart table or centerpieces.

4.)  Flexibility and Space–  Some of my favorite venues have space upon space that is at the clients’ disposal during their event. This could include a lawn outside of the venue, a covered veranda or a courtyard.  This works in your favor when you are creating that luxury event experience for your guests.  You can have separate, yet spacious, areas for your cocktail hour, dinner, dancing, etc.  This allows you to design your space according your event’s theme or vision.  That could include creating an elegant pre-reception area for meet and greets to a swanky lounge area for guests to relax in during the festivities.  When you aren’t boxed into one particular room, your possibilities are endless.  If you do find yourself with minimum space, you want to make sure that your design scheme will not be too cumbersome for the staff to turnover in as little time as possible to avoid those gaps between scheduled events.

5.) An Extensive PVL (Preferred Vendors List)Some venues don’t call it a PVL, but may give you a list of vendors that they work with frequently.   If you run into a situation where your venue is also your exclusive caterer and baker, that of course, leaves you with other vendors that you must hire.  There is no better place to start than a list of vendors that the venue has done business with before. In this case, you are sure to build an event team that is familiar with your venue and can help you troubleshoot and design through your current vision.  Of course, you want to fact check both ways:  Ask the venue about vendors you are interested in prior to booking them, and vice versa.  You want a team that can work together seamlessly without playing a game of "Quien es mas macho" (who is more macho).

A few other tips on choosing that perfect venue:

  • Never look at more than five venues for your event.  After a while, they all start to look the same.  Do preliminary searches via the internet, ask exploratory questions of vendors and the venue’s staff to narrow down which ones will work for you and what you have planned.
  • I would encourage you to go back a second time to look at a venue. Even if your site is away from home– try to visit it twice during your initial stay. You will find that you will see things that you did not see the first time around. 
  • Take great notes so you can compare after you visit your sites.  Before you visit any, write down key words you want to describe your event, and then revisit those notes to see which venues come close.

 

{Photo: Hotel ZaZa}