Halloween is right around the corner and we couldn't be more excited!! Any great celebration must have a signature drink, so we searched the interwebs for our favorite drinks and found our top 5 Spooktacular Halloween drinks and we just HAD to share them with you! And as a bonus we included a few of our favorite photos from last year's Bewitching Affair at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
1. MR HYDE POTION
Made with aromatic herbs, blackberry liqueur, and vodka. Get the recipe HERE.
2. BLACK MAGIC SHIMMERING CHERRY MARTINI
This glittery, black Halloween cocktail is concocted with black vodka, cherry juice, and orange juice. get the recipe HERE.
3. CREEPY EYEBALL MARTINI
This awesomely creepy martini has blood orange liqueur and a green tea simple syrup in it! Get the recipe HERE.
4. THE WITCH'S BREW
What's not to love about champagne!? Get the recipe HERE.
5. BLOOD SANGRIA
Do you like zombie's and the Walking Dead? If so, this Walker Blood Sangria is to die for! Get the recipe HERE.
*The drinks above are not original recipes of Southern Celebrations Magazine and have been linked to their
Bonus because we love Halloween!
Here's a few of our favorite photos from last year's Bewitching Affair Inspirational Editorial at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Say hello to our fabulous Creatives:
Photography by: Rachel Erin Photography
Model: Katelyn Louise Barnett
Floral: Blooming Flowers & Events
Makeup: Danielle Does Makeup, L.L.C.
Venue: Myrtles Plantation
Cake: Fairy Dust Cakes
Invitations: THE little BLUE CHAIR
Videography by: Amy K & Co.
Throughout the planning process, especially as your wedding day gets closer, vendors and bridal party members are going to be inundating you with questions relating to timing and when things are supposed to happen. The overwhelming pressure can cause you to rip your hair out and scream, but it doesn’t have to be so! Today, I’m sharing with you my tips and tricks on creating your own wedding day timeline, and with it save your sanity (and your hair!)
When creating your wedding day timeline, my first and foremost suggestion would be to look at when the sun sets (or rises, if you’re doing a morning wedding). The light in what photographers and videographers call Golden Hour (generally an hour or two before the sun actually sets) is absolutely magical, and you will certainly want photos captured during that timeframe. That being said, when you plan around the sunset, you set yourself up for a solid foundation to plan your ceremony and reception, as well as be able to take all the photos on your list. You can also determine if a First Look is something you want to do together, especially if you’ll be pressed for gorgeous lighting after the ceremony for portraits.
After you determine when the sun is going down, carve out time for the ceremony, and any travel that might be involved if you are moving between ceremony and reception venues. When talking to your officiant, ask about how long of a ceremony you should expect. Though you don’t need to write down every detail, get a general idea, and make sure to block it out(I love using Excel for timelines and all things relating to planning…I’m a real big fan!). To figure out the average times for folks to get to and from different venues, I like using Google Maps and their “arrive by” or “depart at” feature for this. Factoring in earliest guest arrival, giving wiggle room in case of an unforeseen car accident, and other probable situations regarding getting to the ceremony venue is also a good idea here. Tack on roughly an hour for photos beforehand at this time, and you should be golden for everything relating to ceremony.
Now, you’re at the reception: determine now if you’re doing speeches, who’s speaking, if you’re doing a garter and bouquet toss, Money Dance, and if you’d prefer to have everything done at once or have the evening spread out. Different parts of the US do receptions differently, such as in Louisiana traditions are spread throughout the event to give guests time to eat and socialize with you, whereas East Coast weddings tend to do all everything right at the beginning and leave the rest of the reception to party and dance. You can certainly time it however you like, but remember that songs last roughly 4 minutes (so carving out 30 minutes of first dances isn’t quite necessary), the DJ or Band has to know when you’re doing various tosses and dances, and folks aren’t quite ready for cake right after dinner.
Whew! That’s a lot! But what about everything before the actual wedding? Go back to ceremony and pictures beforehand, and map out how long it will take you to get to getting ready locations. Mark down when parents, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and everyone involved have to be dressed at the location. Refer back to contracts of how long you have your photographer and videographers, and include travel times in this, especially if they’re shooting you getting ready. Estimate roughly 30 minutes to get dressed, as pictures and poses will be taken throughout, and any last minute bathroom breaks and touchups will be needed then. In regards to getting ready, think 1.5 hours per person getting hair and makeup done, and how many stylists will be working with you. Generally for a five person bridal party and two mothers, with two stylists working, look at roughly 4 hours. Be sure to remember to eat, as it might be a while before you get to sample your delicious wedding food! Again, include traveling, especially if you’re going from home to a salon. If you’re doing a massage or getting nails done, be sure to include that as well, and confirm all of your appointments.
Finally, you want to finish up the timeline with when you should be up and about, and look at when you should go to bed the night before so that you’re well rested and prepared for the big day. Taking the extra time to ensure that you’ve got everything planned out and taken care of well in advance will make a HUGE impact on whether or not you enjoy your wedding day. This also allows you to look at any last minute details or items that need to be taken care of, and you can delegate those tasks.
I hope this guide has been helpful! Timelines and making sure everything is just so can be overwhelming, especially if something unexpected comes up, but with these tips and tricks, you can get a better handle on making sure that you get to enjoy every second of your wedding day.
The world is a big place so let’s narrow down the options for the destination when planning the dream honeymoon. Start by considering the following questions:
Jamaica is considered the heart of the Caribbean and a popular destination because of its all-inclusive resorts. There are beautiful beaches bordered by rugged mountains and foamy waterfalls. Reggae music will add some spice to your fun romantic nights in Jamaica.
Jamaica is the perfect place to loosen up, lose your inhibitions and enjoy what happiness and great times the island has to offer. Negril has some of the finest all-inclusive resorts and is one of the most romantic destinations in Jamaica, situated on seven miles of beach and voted the most romantic beach and resort.
Just mentioning the city of Venice conjures romantic mental images of a bridge arching over a canal, a gondola gliding by, and the moon reflecting off the water. It is the most romantic city on earth. Luxury hotels are clustered along the Grand Canal and around Piazza San Marco. For the newlyweds on a small budget but want big romance, Venice offers several economical options not far from the Piazza. The absence of automobile noise makes you feel like you are in an era filled with romance and simplicity.
St. Lucia offers 19,000 acres of breathtaking scenery that includes rainforests, long stretches of relaxing beaches, stunning mountain scenery, a steaming volcano, and breathtaking waterfalls. St. Lucia also offers a limitless list of activities that include kite sailing, fishing, scuba diving, dolphin watching, the list goes on and on. Resorts on the island offer all-inclusive deluxe accommodations as well as luxury five-star hotels. For the first-time visitor, I usually recommend staying at a resort. St Lucia has a wealth of natural beauty and charm that lets the newlyweds get lost in the purity and feel in nature. Romantic resorts are limitless, with over water bungalows, hidden cabanas in a mountain cover or the ever-popular Jade Mountain with the breathtaking infinity pool balcony overlooking the Pitons. What a perfect recipe for romance.
Exotic. City and Beaches. Bangkok is the first stop to take in the sights and sounds of the city. Enjoy fine dining on a sunset dinner cruise, modern hotels and a fun party seen for a couple of nights. Take an adventure to Chang Mai for a couple of days, the lush green hills are breathtaking. Delight in taking a tour of a tribal village and you must do an elephant trek. Blissful beaches? Thailand has that too. Phuket is filled with Palm trees, crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Resorts are top notch here that cater to honeymoon couples offering some of the best spa and couples massages. Thailand has it all, exotic, the city, the beach and the romance.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Escaping to Mexico lets honeymooners enjoy fine beaches with deep blue waters, world-class restaurants, excellent golf courses, and a lively nightlife. For the couples that enjoy fishing, Cabo San Lucas offers some of the best sports fishing in the world. Take advantage of romantic sunset’s over Land's End. Arc and Lovers Beach are areas that every couple should enjoy. Cabo San Lucas also has all-inclusive resorts that offer luxurious suites with custom furnishings, as well as luxurious spa’s and world-class dining. There are even private home rentals available. Cabo San Lucas provides the scenery that will inspire any newlywed to create romance while indulging in the culture of the spectacular country of Mexico.
Lake Louise, Alberta Canada
Lake Louis offers snow, beauty and romance! The Fairmont at Chateau Lake Louise offers fine accommodations with an exquisite spa and stunning views that overlook a beautiful serene lake. They offer activities and stunning views year-round. If traveling during the winter months a couple can take part in winter activities like snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice skating and a romantic sleigh ride! The summer months offer stunning views minus the snow. You can take part in the summer activities such as white-water rafting, horseback riding and hiking. Chateau Lake Louise is a great destination for honeymooners who like snuggling during the winter months or hand holding during the summer months.
Jungle tours, volcanoes, beaches, posh resorts like the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton, road to Hana, luaus, rainforest, waterfalls, breathtaking sunsets. Maui offers a wide variety of resorts to fit any newlywed’s style and taste. From the heavenly beaches to the scenic natural wonders, there are plenty of reasons why Maui has been voted “Best Island” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler for seventeen years. Maui has it all for honeymooners, relaxation one day and adventure the next!
Meeting your vendors can be stressful and overwhelming – generally, you don’t know what exactly to ask, contracts can be complicated, and pricing may not make any sense whatsoever. Creatives and wedding industry professionals who are used to the language and work flows of weddings and events can sometimes be overwhelming with talking contracts, timelines, and getting into the details of your dream wedding, and can cause a sense of trepidation that can prohibit you from asking questions, or make you feeling silly for asking such a seasoned professional (spoiler: never feel silly for asking a question regarding investments you’re making on your wedding day!). Because of the investment you’re making into your wedding, today I’m sharing with you my tips and tricks on having a successful meeting and consultation with your vendor or potential vendor for your wedding.
First, before you even schedule with vendors, it’s best to know what kind of financial commitment you want to make for your wedding. Whether you decide that by looking at averages of wedding costs for your city or region, or by determining who is committing the funds to make your dream wedding come true, making a tentative budget or getting a ballpark amount for what you want to spend is key. Once you figure out your budget, start looking at the style you want to convey – light and air with lots of greenery, or something more formal with a sit down dinner at a hotel, will help guide you to vendors who have those kinds of experiences and tastes as well, ensuring that your wedding day is consistent in all ways. When looking at images of potential venues or the portfolio of a photographer, many times you will find credits regarding the florals, rentals, hair and makeup, and coordinator, and be able to see from those credits their other work and reviews (and therefore, give you a peek to see if you’d be a good fit before you meet to chat about your wedding).
What about when you actually sit down with a vendor? Of course, ask about experience, style, what’s included as a service and what is the client experience with them. But, it is to my recommendation to always ask about whether or not a vendor has a full contract, and if they carry insurance. With more and more venues requiring insured vendors (particularly with caterers), it’s important that the contract protects everyone’s interest, and that should the worst happen, liabilities are able to be covered and taken care of.
When you get to the portion of the meeting regarding deposits and retainers, ask about the difference and what is refundable or nonrefundable, and if the difference can be spelled out within the contract if it’s not already. A deposit, more often than not, can legally be refunded if service is found unsatisfactory or the event is cancelled unless it is strictly outlined as nonrefundable. It is so important for you as a client to be knowledgeable going into a contractual agreement. Ask if you can have a copy reviewed, or if they contract has been reviewed before. As always, it’s better safe than sorry.
My biggest piece of advice however relating to pricing and money, even when you’re reeling from the sticker shock or pleasantly surprised with a vendor’s pricing: keep in mind you’re not just investing in a final product after a service, but you’re also investing in a client experience. I personally would rather spend more money on an excellent customer service experience and great time with a vendor and have fantastic product than a bland, impersonal relationship, and therefore have my final product be tainted by that client experience.
Besides looking at making sure that everyone’s interests are protected and ensuring everything is in budget, there are key questions you should ask during your meeting. When you’re spending money and investing in your wedding day, you want to make sure that the people you’re hiring work well together and with you. Ask if they’ve worked with your other hired vendors or at your venue(s), but also learn about them as a person and ask what got them into doing photography or baking or planning weddings, what they do when they’re not working, and their favorite spots around town. Getting to know your vendors as people will help you build a relationship with them, and you’ll find that you have a better experience working with them in the long run.
So, in summary: research and inquire about pricing and availability, even in ballpark amounts, always ask about reviewing a contract and insurance, and get to know your vendors beyond what they do for you. Doing this will lead to better working relationship and a more satisfactory experience on your wedding day.
Kena's bridal session at Rodney Baptist Church in Natchez, Mississippi is absolutely stunning! Captured by The Art & Photography of Candra George. Bouquet created by The Petaler Co.
From the Photographer:
"Kena lost her mother at 13 years old, to breast cancer. It was Easter Sunday. On her 18th birthday, she came home to find her father had passed of a heart attack. Six weeks later, Hurricane Katrina took her family home. She was on her own. While any one of those things could've broken her forever, she was strong. She finished school, fully supported herself, and serves her community as a 911 operator. Then she met Tyler. When it came to her bridal portrait, I wanted something that truly represented her, her strength, and how far she had come. The Rodney Baptist Church in Natchez, Mississippi was perfect. It was damaged, ravaged by flood waters only 6 weeks prior, but the light in the church shines like the light in Kena!"
Bonus photos just because.....
1- When should we leave for the honeymoon?
The anticipation of the honeymoon is sometimes becomes greater than the anticipations of the wedding. The idea of going away with each other to a wonderful destination makes you want to go as soon as possible. Keep in mind several things when planning your departure date for your honeymoon. If your wedding is a Friday night wedding you are more than likely going to be up late at the reception celebrating with friends and family. Most flights depart early in the morning add on to the early arrival time that you have calculate for check in you may be lucky to get 3 hours of sleep in. Why not plan on having a relaxing day after the wedding either at home or at a hotel in the city near the airport you will depart from. Leaving 2 after the honeymoon keeps you from exhaustion this way you can arrive at your destination refreshed and ready to relax and enjoy the honeymoon.
2- Who pays and plans the honeymoon?
Traditionally the groom is responsible for paying for and planning the honeymoon. The bride and her family are typically the ones paying for and planning the wedding. By the groom planning the honeymoons this frees up the bride from another task on her ever so long to do list. There are lots of couples that do pay for the honeymoon together as a couple however the planning of the honeymoon should still be on the responsibility of the groom. The groom can keep the honeymoon destination a surprise or the details a surprise. The couple may also do the planning together however one person should be in charge of the details. The groom or the couple does not have to do the planning alone. Just like the bride will hire a wedding planner there are travel professionals that do specialize in planning honeymoons. Travel professionals bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise which will make the honeymoon planning process effortless.
3- What is a honeymoon registry and is it okay to have one?
Just like the registry you have for your china and household goods there is also now something called a honeymoon registry. This is all done virtually through an online host. There are several honeymoon registries to choose from. Honeyfund.com is a great one that has a free and a paid version. Guest give you money to go towards your honeymoon. The funds are deposited into an account that you collect on a specific date using a direct transfer to your bank or pay-pal. Some resorts such as Sandals have a direct honeymoon registry for guests staying at any of their resorts. You can use the money to go directly towards the honeymoon cost or use it for your excursions, spa treatments or specialty dining.
There are some different opinions on having a honeymoon registry. You know there will be that Aunt that has to get you a place setting or silverware. If you happen to be getting married a second time then a honeymoon registry is a great way for loved ones to give you a gift that you and your fiancé will love and use since you are more than likely already combining two household of "stuff".
4- How do we decide on a place to go that we both will enjoy?
This is a very important question. One that should take time on both parties part to discuss, contemplate and answer. Think about the places that you have been individually. Have you already traveled together? Each of you should write out your top 5 list of places that you want to go without the other one seeing it, then compare notes. Do you have any destinations that match? Do you have all completely different answers? You will need to discuss why you want to visit those destinations.
You will also need to think about how you want to spend your honeymoon. Do you want to spend it in Europe where a lot of walking and touring are entailed? Do you want to spend it in the snow being active on the slopes? Or do you want to relax and rest on the beach? Consider that you will both possibly be somewhat exhausted from all of the wedding festivities that have taken place over the previous months.
The key point to deciding on a place to go is communication with each other. Makes sure you both want to go so you will both enjoy the honeymoon.
5- Is it ok to go off the grid?
Absolutely! You do not even have to tell your friends and family where you are going. You do want to leave information with an emergency contact but that is all. This is your time. Even if the resort you will be staying at offers WiFi do your best to avoid being active on social media, texting and checking emails. This is time for you to be in the moment. This is the time to create memories that will last a lifetime. You can upload pictures at a later time to show friends and family what a great time you had and the beautiful scenery. Phone calls, texts and emails can all wait until you return. Friends and family will respect your wishes. Be in the present moment on your honeymoon. Enjoy the company of one another leave the electronics in the safe. Listen to the sounds that surround you. Look at the beauty that you are immersed in. Smell the aromas of flowers, the sea, the mountains or wherever you may be. Allow yourself to feel and enjoy the sensations of the emotions that you are feeling with each other.
From the Photographer:
"Isaac grew up around St. Simons Island. So when they asked me to take their pictures...they immediately knew that they wanted the coast. We frolicked around Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island which is about 30 minutes from SSI. It was a windy and chilly day. But, they both were such troopers and the driftwood was an incredible backdrop.
Amanda, from New York, and Isaac from Georgia are the perfect match! College led Amanda down to North Carolina and her job shortly led her even more south to Georgia-- where she met Isaac. After they met and went on their first date, Amanda knew that she had fell for Isaac. Isaac also knew that he had fallen for Amanda. But, both didn't tell one another and had no clue leaving the date if the other would call back. Amanda knew he was special when they shared a love for literature and writing."
Photographer: Hillary Leah Photography LLC
Location:Driftwood Beach, Georgia
Beauty: Emma Collins Beauty
From the photographers, Radhika and Ian, a husband & wife team, Radian Photography:
"These two have seen each other through long medical school nights, are in the process of applying to residency programs, and now they are planning their wedding! The best part of our time with them had to be hearing about Monica and Sam’s wedding plans and what they are excited about in this next phase of life. They know that residency will undoubtedly be difficult, but they are looking forward to knowing that when they go home at the end of their long days, it will be to each other. But the gorgeous Fall weather, Monica’s dress (which matches her wedding colors!), and just the right amount of wind definitely didn’t hurt. We are so glad we were able to capture these photos of them in celebrating their love before tying the knot!"
This styled bridal session at Touchstone Farms in Virginia comes complete with sheep and beautiful blooms!
Photographer: Tim Souza Photography
Jewelry: Amelia Lawrence Jewels
Dress Store: David's Bridal
Event Venue: Touchstone Farms
Floral Designer: Vintage Floral Design
Whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Asheville, North Carolina or staying close to home in Washington, Louisiana, finding a wedding venue to hold your ceremony or reception (or both) is one of the first items to cross off your wedding planning checklist. A lot is dependent on this choice – the date, formality, and overall aesthetic is completely dependent on your choices between barns, warehouses, historic homes, open fields or mountain getaways…there’s quite a few options, regardless of what part of the South you find yourself in. As one of the most important decisions you make while planning your wedding, how do you make heads or tails of what a venue needs for an event, and what’s considered a necessity or lagniappe?
Photo by Rachel Erin Photography for Southern Celebrations Magazine, Vol. 5
First, one of the biggest factors you need to consider is availability. If you’re able to wiggle around your date, it can be easier to find a venue, but if you’re particularly stuck on a certain day, be aware of the time you are looking. For example, it might be difficult to find an available venue for the first of March in Louisiana if you’re starting planning the October before. Giving yourself ample time, if possible, will lead to more available vendors and give yourself more options.
Speaking of options, as you tour and inquire to venues, ask about their catering policies. Many venues do not allow outside catering, and some that do allow outside caters may have preferred vendors, or require vendors to have a certain level of insurance and liability. Knowing what the policies are relating to alcoholic beverages and the venue’s allowances (some state run venues such as parks or historic buildings may only allow wine and beer, and ban hard liquor) could also affect your decision making while looking at different places. Regardless of a venue’s policies however, you should always inquire about their liability and insurance, and ask if they are covered in the event of rowdy guests or if someone was to hurt themselves on the property. If a venue does not have insurance or a policy in which you can add to your contract with them that would hold them liable, it would be to my recommendation to stay away, and look at other options. This is a necessity you cannot overlook, as it protects yourself and your guests as well as the business.
While searching at venues, in particular ones that are outdoors or in public spaces, ask about bathroom access and availability. Having a primary bathroom area where your guests can be comfortable as well as not be disturbed by non-invited persons is ideal; in the event a bathroom is not conveniently located nearby, ask about renting a bathroom trailer, and the policies regarding them. National and state parks, where often policies of “leave no trace” are in place, may not allow you to bring a trailer in, and can also cause problems regarding trash and waste disposal overall. At venues such as bed and breakfasts, it would also be pertinent to ask about bathrooms and waste disposal, as such venues are generally converted homes, and may not be able to handle your tentative guest list.
Another factor to consider while choosing your wedding venue(s) is parking and travel. Not only the availability of it (especially if you’re getting married in a more urban area, where street parking may be an option, or you have to budget purchasing a lot for the day), but also the proximity of parking to the venue. In terms of travel, look at nearby lodging for out of town guests (especially if they are more than an hour away from your tentative venue), and consider party buses to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception venue if they are quite a distance away. Acknowledging that over-drinking may be occurring at your wedding, I would recommend checking out Uber and Lyft as possible transportation options, as they offer prepaid rides via a special code for your attendees.
Finally, the biggest consideration you should take into while looking at venues is if it stays true to the style and reflection of you and your future spouse. If you’re a couple that loves the outdoors and open space, then I would certainly look at parks or estates with gracious lawns and gardens, or if you’re a couple that likes a little bit more glamour or would prefer the indoors, a stately plantation home or a ballroom would be a better option. Regardless of budget or time constraints, do not lose hope that you will find something that fits you and speaks to you. Much like when you knew you would marry your spouse, when you know, you know, and it will be perfect.
Have any questions relating to venue hunting? Feel free to reach out to the team of Southern Celebrations Magazine, and check out their vendor list, where you’ll see the best venues the South has to offer!