Theme Weddings: Southern Weddings

An 1800s plantation mansion surrounded by trees

If you’ve seen “Steel Magnolias,” then you’ve seen an authentic Southern-themed wedding. In that late 1980s movie, they served up an armadillo-shaped red velvet cake and wore Pepto Bismol-colored bridesmaids dresses, but you don’t have to actually go that far to have the perfect Southern-themed wedding. We have the best ways to make your Southern wedding memorable, as sweet as sweet tea, and fun for everyone.

Wedding Venue

Traditionally, Southern weddings were attended by those near and far. It was the social event of the season, so droves of people came to spend entire weekends celebrating the union from miles away. A great place to hold all of these people was usually at a plantation or mansion. This hasn’t changed much today. Research some wonderful old plantations or mansions with large backyards that can hold all of the guests.

Beautiful, big oak trees will be amazing for photos. The best thing about these places is you don’t have to do a lot of decorating. The history tells its own story and creates the perfect backdrop for a Southern wedding. You can only imagine characters from “Gone With The Wind” walking down the cascading steps in their fluffy, long gowns.

A newlywed couple dances after their wedding ceremony

The Food

One of the things that stands out in the South is the food. Most people think of cozy, comfort food that just makes them smile. You don’t have to pile their plates with chicken-fried steak and gravy, but you can have fun with the food. Biscuits are a staple in the South, so you can always pair a fluffy biscuit with a side of barbecue and potato salad. Southerners loved anything fried, so having activity stations with things like fried okra and fried zucchini dipped in ranch is a great addition. Side dishes such as mac n’ cheese and cheesy grits go perfectly with fried chicken or a juicy steak. You can do the meal buffet style or go for bigger portions on a plate.

You can have cake for dessert, but a Southern staple of peach cobbler or apple pie is also a perfect complement. You also must have some sweet tea or lemonade for guests to drink. It’s okay to go a little wild and have fun with the food. A Southern theme means you don’t have to make the food as formal as most weddings.


Most people think Southern weddings are filled with mason jars and burlap. You don’t have to go this route if it isn’t your style, as there are other types of Southern decorations. You can go with a more formal feel. Candles and large floral displays can help create this effect. Use antiques or your great grandmother’s china for a more formal feel. Place beautiful flowers in antique silver pitchers. If you want to go with a more rustic look, sunflowers and other bright flowers are your best friends.

A canopy of oak trees covers an old road

Candlelit lanterns along the lawn, cotton with tied stems and mason jars wrapped in twine make perfect decorations anywhere in the reception. Hang lights or lanterns from the large oak trees for special effects. Wooden signs with directions in chalk or paint add a great touch. The best thing about Southern-themed decor is that you have such a large range of choices. You can have a formal wedding with the thoughts of old Southern parties in mind, or you can go farm-style rustic with modern touches in mind.

Weather Issues

Many receptions are held outside at Southern-themed weddings, so hot or rainy weather must be kept in mind. If it’s going to be hot, pass out personal fans so that people will be able to keep themselves comfortable. One easy thing to do is to create wedding programs that turn into fans. Tents can be put up in case it is threatening to rain as well. You can decorate the inside of the tents and make them look more stylish. Make sure there is adequate shade if you don’t have a tent, so people are able to escape the heat and sun.

The Attire

Bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t have to dress in blush pink like “Steel Magnolias” or like Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind” to be Southern. Soft colors with the lovely accents of flowers will achieve this look as well. The South doesn’t have a style of being bold with dark colors, but instead is subtle and elegant using pastels. Dresses are worn in an elegant, flowy style. If you’re considering a more a rustic style, creams and light browns are the perfect color accents. Your bridesmaids don’t have to wear a boring brown dress, instead they can use accents with flowers to create the same rustic look.

A little boy wearing a seersucker suit holds a bouquet of daffodils

Seersucker and Stamps

Southerners love embroidery. Having your initials on everything you own is a sense of pride. Bridesmaids with embroidered vintage handkerchiefs and bags with their initials love showing off the Southern theme. Seersucker material is huge in the South because it’s lightweight and breathable while being stylish as well. From the groomsmens’ suits to the bridesmaids’ handbags, seersucker is the perfect choice of material for a Southern themed wedding. You can embroider or put your new initials on anything you wish in the wedding decor. Tablecloths, napkins and signs are a wonderful place to start. Show off your Southern pride by putting your stamp on anything and everything.

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