It’s easy to see why tying the knot in the South can be appealing to even the most parochial of our Northern brethren. From stunning landscapes to venues steeped in tradition to exceptional cuisine, the South has no shortage of dream locales to say “I do.” But whether you’re having the ceremony in charming Charleston, mountain-encased Asheville, or the bustling city of Atlanta, there are a few things that all Southern weddings do well.
Maybe the best (and potentially most stressful) part of planning a Southern wedding is choosing the right venue. The South showcases venues for all sorts of weddings, whether it’s a traditional church wedding or a ceremony underneath the roof of a barn. The venue not only provides the backdrop for the entire event, but can also set the mood. A ceremony in a grand ballroom, for instance, can create a very elegant feel, while a wedding on a sprawling lakefront property can have a more relaxed and casual atmosphere.
There’s no wrong venue if it meets the desires of the bride and groom, but Southerners do love the outdoors. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, keep in mind the time of year, as well as the time of day, you’re having the ceremony. An afternoon wedding in July may not be comfortable for those who dusted off their best seersucker suit for the occasion. Consider a late Spring (depending on the pollen count) or an early Fall date (if it doesn’t conflict with the big game). Your guests will thank you.
Wedding guests, and maybe even the wedding party, may not remember what color the flowers were for the table centerpieces, but you can bet they’ll remember the food. Every Southern wedding needs a great menu, so embrace the comfort of Southern cuisine. From BBQ to shrimp and grits to pecan pie, a great culinary lineup will be sure to please everyone, and the beauty of it is: there’s no wrong way to tailor the menu. Just keep in mind common allergies and diet restrictions (gluten, nuts, vegetarians, etc.) and you’ll have a wedding to remember.
But don’t forget the cocktail hour leading up to dinner and dancing. As with the food, embrace the Southern charm and go for the mint juleps, bourbon sweet teas and local craft beers. Seriously, leave behind the Miller Lite and see what local brewers are up to. Asheville, for instance, has more than 100 beers they brew locally, and they’re exceptional. Your guests will love the thought and it will give them a little taste of the South.
You’ve reserved a beautiful venue and have partnered with an excellent Southern caterer to give your guests an incredible meal, but what next? Well, once your guests are floored with the scene and full from the food, give them a reason to stick around and celebrate the marriage. There is no shortage of ideas for wedding entertainment, including photo booths, lawn games, and dance floors, so choosing the right ones can be tough. However, there is only one necessity to make sure your reception is a place where people want to be: music.
Here’s where you have a few choices: live music or a DJ. Live music can be great and add another layer of elegance and charm to the wedding, but it can also be expensive and limit the kind of music you get. Hiring a DJ can be a less expensive option, but if you cheap out, you could get a teenager who insists on only playing his “hot” house mix all night. The fact is, you don’t want an empty dance floor, so don’t settle for this part of the event.
Think about hiring wedding entertainment that can give you the best of both worlds: live music AND a database of fun tracks. For example, Nice Entertainment, based in Atlanta, serves the South with professional DJs that partner with live musicians. So, during your cocktail hour you can have a jazz band provide a nice setting for catching up with old friends and relatives, and after dinner, the DJ can amp up the energy and get people dancing.
So, no matter where in the South you’re getting married, if you take these three key elements to heart, your wedding is bound to be a success and have people talking for days to come.