If you’re working south of the Mason-Dixon, or if you just love the classic style of a Southern wedding, you’re probably familiar with the incredibly-talented folks at Southern Weddings Magazine. This week we had the chance to chat with Emily Ayer, Art Direct for Southern Weddings about her incredible path towards her dream job, her favorite wedding trends, and her most memorable wedding experience. Emily also had some fantastic insight about what photographers can do to improve their submission, so check out our interview below!
Emily Ayer of Southern Weddings Magazine
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started as an editor?
I lived my whole life on the coast of Connecticut before attending college in Massachusetts — I don’t have a Southern bone in my body! I do, however, have a love for weddings in general and Southern weddings in particular, and decided my senior year of college that I was going to work for Southern Weddings Magazine (despite the fact that they hadn’t posted any openings). The story is a pretty good one; if you’d like to read the whole thing, it’s posted here. Other than weddings, I love the color pink, china patterns, reading etiquette books, reading in general, the ocean, donuts, and my family (though not necessarily in that order).
How would you describe the style of Southern Weddings? What makes your publication stand out?
Our tagline is “fresh, fun, and fabulous,” and while it’s a little cheesy, I truly believe it encompasses all that we want to embody as a publication. We celebrate timeless, classic wedding style while never forgetting the love story — of a couple, a family, and, often, a place — behind the beautiful details. Besides gorgeous content, Southern Weddings is known for the vibrant personalities that make up its staff. We LOVE getting to know our readers, and love that they trust us to shepherd them along their path to the altar.
We love your new branding and look! Can you tell us about the process of rebranding? How did Southern Weddings decide on the new design?
Why, thank you! I would say the rebranding process really started once we decided on the cover for V3, our third print edition. The images from Joey + Jessica (see the full shoot here) perfectly encompassed the feel of our brand, and the colors used had a lot to do with that. From there, we just wanted a clean, feminine, but still fun design that infused more of our staff’s personality, better showcased our content, and facilitated back-and-forth with readers. For the header, we knew after seeing her illustration and design work in V3 that Brooke from Curious & Company would do a fabulous job, and she did! We love that the header rotates upon refresh, too. Flosites, of course, made it all come together. We’re still working out a few kinks here and there, but we’re pretty happy with the way it’s shaped up!
Your magazine caters specifically to Southern brides. What characteristics would you say makes a wedding distinctly Southern?
Southern weddings, more than weddings anywhere else in the world, are a celebration not only of the couple getting married, but the families surrounding them coming together. At a Southern wedding you’ll eat delicious, unfussy food, the bride’s uncle will not allow you to stay off the dance floor, and numerous people you’ve never met will call you “honey.” The most important characteristic of Southern weddings, though, is the graciousness that permeates the enter celebration.
How has using Two Bright Lights changed the way you review submissions?
It’s made it easier! It’s easier because I don’t have to worry about losing a submission in my (sometimes cluttered) email inbox, and when I have the chance to review weddings, I can zip through several fairly quickly. We love Two Bright Lights!
How do you choose which Real Wedding submissions to feature? What are your most common reasons for not accepting a submission?
When selecting real weddings, we look for great photography, unique details with meaning, and a great story. When we don’t accept a wedding, it’s most often because the photography either doesn’t fit within our standards, or isn’t our style. We prefer natural light, fine art wedding photography, and very much shy away from overly-processed work. Other than that, it’s usually that the details are either too cluttered or trendy, or don’t seem to have meaning to the couple or their families.
What is your advice for photographers who are submitting for the first time?
Familiarize yourself with our blog and print features and the way we structure them so you’ll know what we want to see to judge a submission! If 50% of your submission is portraits, there’s no way I can tell if the wedding will be a good fit for our blog.
What was the most memorable wedding you’ve personally attended? What made is so special?
Can I have two? The first would have to be my older sister’s wedding last August. It was the first wedding in my immediate family, and it was amazing to celebrate with some of my favorite people in the world in my favorite place in the world (she got married on the island in Maine where my family has a cottage). My second favorite would be my former coworker Katharine’s. Her wedding, to me, embodied everything a great wedding should be. Her ceremony was AMAZING — extremely emotional and personal to her and Kyle. The toast that she gave at the reception, too, was incredible — I KNOW there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. More than any details, those moments are the ones you remember for the rest of your life.
What are your favorite new wedding trends? Least favorite?
Since I consider it both my personal bent and the lean of Southern Weddings, I’d have to say I love the return to classic elegance I’m seeing. (Although, is that an oxymoron?! Classic style as a trend?) My least favorite would have to be extraneous signage, as well as rhyming signage. It can be cute, but it’s just not necessary.
How would you describe your own sense of style?
I like to think my personal style is classic and feminine. I wear very little jewelry — pearl studs, a pearl pendant necklace, and a watch everyday — and I LOVE dresses, cardigans, and leopard-print ballet flats. If you’re curious, you can see my style Pin board here.
Which submission from Two Bright Lights featured in your publication was your favorite? I’d have to go with the most recent one — Julie and Brian’s wedding from Julie Roberts Photography. It looked like a magical evening! (Posts here and here.)