When it comes to style, the South conjures up images of stately old mansions, decadent food and music you can dance to — all ingredients that contribute to a great wedding. But whether you’ve dreamed of a Southern wedding because it’s where your family’s roots are or because Steel Magnolias is your favorite movie of all time, it’s increasingly possible for gay couples to have the Southern destination wedding of their dreams — or to bring some Southern flavor to a wedding, wherever the celebration is taking place.
To get the lowdown, we spoke to celebrity wedding planner Shawn Rabideau (shawnrabideau.com) known for his work on television programs such as Bethenny Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After. Rabideau specializes in gay weddings and has spent the last several years expanding his services to the South. “It’s an area that’s lovely, amazing and growing exponentially,” he explains. For Hollywood sparkle, Rabideau points out that celebs like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have celebrated their wedding in the Charleston, SC area. He also points out that the area is a great place to get more for less. “Your dollar goes much further,” he says. “You can have a big destination wedding without breaking the bank.”
Rabideau also notes Savannah, GA as a destination for a Southern wedding. “Savannah weddings are definitely charming; it’s a very different city,” he says. “It has the charm of Charleston and the grit of New Orleans.”
So what are the hallmarks of a Southern-style wedding? “Well, a traditional Southern wedding is a cocktail style reception,” Rabideau explains. “You walk in; there’s not a seated dinner. It’s a bunch of stations, passed hors d’oeuvres, traditional Southern drinks, and it’s more about mingling and having a good time with less formality.”
“There’s still the first dance, the toasts, mother/son dance, and all of that,” Rabideau assures. But one of his favorite aspects of a Southern wedding is the way it ends: “One of the things that’s very different,” he explains, is that the happy couple tend to make “a formal exit at the end of the night. I think this is awesome — like in Steel Magnolias when they leave the wedding and everybody waves them off. It has that sense of romance to it.”
When it comes to trends, Rabideau says couples are increasingly taking their signature drinks seriously — having Southern companies create craft cocktails. “There are obviously a lot of local bourbon distilleries here,” he notes. Rabideau also suggests sending guests on their way with a taste of the South — literally — in their gift bags. “Include She Crab soup mix, local snacks, homemade pralines, sweet tea vodka: the sky’s the limit,” Rabideau concludes. “You definitely want to make it very Southern to give them the total experience.”
Last modified: June 19, 2017