From “Gone With the Wind” to “Sweet Home Alabama,” there are tons of examples of Southern weddings on the big screen. It’s not just Hollywood, though; Couples today from every corner of the country are taking inspiration from the region for their nuptials.

“There are so many things about a Southern wedding that I love,” says Hannah Trahan, owner of Southern Couture Weddings in Lafayette, Louisiana. “Good food, good drinks and a great time are at the top of the list of requests for most of my clients — and I couldn’t agree more.”

So whether you’re a Southern belle by birth or simply have fallen for the South’s charms, here are seven tips for hosting a certified Southern wedding.

1. Embrace tradition

Southern weddings are all about traditions. So be sure to include plenty of time-honored customs, such as the cake-cutting ceremony and reception toasts, in the day’s itinerary. You might also want to add a ritual unique to the South, like the burying of a bourbon bottle at the wedding site.

“Southern folklore … says if a couple buries a bottle of bourbon in advance at the site of their wedding, they will have a rain-free day,” explains Linda Wright, founding partner of Cedarwood Weddings in Nashville.

2. Honor your families

Marriage doesn’t just represent the joining of two people; it is also the combining of two families. So, it makes sense that family plays a major role in Southern weddings.

“Personal tributes are often incorporated into Southern weddings to honor family traditions, from a bride incorporating an item from her mother’s wedding trousseau, to serving homemade cookies from family members, or displaying photos of past family weddings,” says Wright. “Heirlooms are often included, such a crystal cake stand or toasting glasses passed down from previous generations.”

3. Show off your hospitality

Southerners have a well-earned reputation for great hospitality. Embody that gracious spirit by going the extra mile to make every guest feel special.

“Welcoming guests with something delicious and beautiful to drink is essential. From herb and fruit infused waters on the front lawn, to welcome champagne on mirrored trays hanging from trees, the idea is to pamper guests as soon as they arrive,” advises Wright.

4. Pick a picturesque venue

Thanks to its long history, the Southeastern U.S. is full of historic estates with homes characterized by big balconies, striking pillars and grand lawns.

“Authentic houses — and barns, too — speak to Southern aesthetics, and create beautiful photography backdrops,” says Wright. “These historic houses were traditionally the center of community activities, and so are naturally anchored in

Southern hospitality.”

5. Keep décor classic

While any color palette can work, pastels are a common choice for Southern soirees. Wright recommends pairing soft tones like blush, ivory and green with accents of navy or gold for a timeless look.

Flowers, too, should be romantic choices like peonies, hydrangeas, garden roses or magnolias — a symbol of the South. Whatever you choose, make sure the blooms and greenery are in abundance.

Finally, light up the whole scene with candles, lanterns and string lights for a magical atmosphere.

6. Dress the part

“Bridal gowns that are soft and flowing with a touch of lace are perfect for Southern weddings, and Southern brides love veils,” says Wright.

For the groom, Wright recommends adding a tasteful pair of suspenders under his suit, allowing him to take off his jacket once the ceremony ends and the celebration begins!

7. Serve up a soulful menu

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Southern wedding if you didn’t have Southern food on the menu. Think comfort classics like mac and cheese, mini shrimp and grits or pulled pork sliders for appetizers. For the entrees, you can’t go wrong with hot and crispy fried chicken, barbeque beef ribs or fried pork chops.

Dessert-wise, there are plenty of options to choose from, including mini blueberry or pecan pies; cups of banana pudding; hearty helpings of peach cobbler; or slices of hummingbird cake.

And don’t forget to wash it all down with a refreshing bourbon-based cocktail or tall glass of sweet tea.

©CTW Features