Anyone can evoke a Southern mood for your wedding day. All you have to do is select the flowers and greenery that grow plentifully in the South and combine these with gracious Southern traditions.

I’m from the South, but my husband is born and raised in Pittsburgh, so we combined both regions. I was surprised to see the similarities. English ivy, a symbol of fidelity, is used frequently in Southern and Northern decorating because of its availability. Substitute baskets of ivy trimmed with ribbon for bouquets of flowers in the ceremony area. Tie strands of ivy accented with ribbon to the pews. If allowed, attach ivy-filled, reed half-baskets to the entrance doors.

For your wedding party bouquets, choose a traditional Southern Williamsburg look. Bouquet-in-a-cloud, a longtime favorite is a rounded cluster of flowers with netting nestled over the flowers. Net bags of potpourri are knotted to the end of the bouquet’s ribbons..

Use flowers available in the south for your bridal bouquet. Magnolia, freesia, gardenia or stephanotis? the choice is yours. Make good use of the Williamsburg look in your reception area.

For centerpieces, arrange a pyramid of fruit in glass or brass compotes or trays. Top the pyramid with a small pineapple, a sign of southern welcome and hospitality. Complete the centerpiece with tall, slender tapers grouped around the pyramid of fruit. Keep the candle’s flame above the sight line across the table. Carry the look to each individual place setting.

Highlight linen napkins with papier-mache fruit easily found as tree ornaments at Christmas time. Tie the fruit to each rolled napkin with a ribbon. Above each napkin, place small wedding favors (mostly a Northern tradition) of almonds and other sweets of your choosing packaged in small white boxes with the candy and tie with a ribbon. Fashion a pretty bow on top.

Tiny gold pineapple charms, engraved with the date of the wedding, appropriately solve the wedding party gift problem. The charms can later be attached to wristwatches, bracelets or chains. A short explanation of the tradition of the pineapple symbolizing hospitality will make the gift more meaningful.

It’s traditional in the South and North to have guests sign a guest book for the couple. Choose an elegant white book of white or cream-colored pages with your names and wedding date embossed on the cover. Place the book at a prominent spot in your reception area, or volunteer some of the younger members of the family to take the book around to the guests.

The Southern theme is in keeping with the Southern tradition of charm and grace. The Northern touch is more flamboyant and fun, especially when the bride and groom begin the reception by making a grand entrance down a decorated staircase while being introduced to their smiling guests. Combining two regions can truly be an awesome experience.

by Brenda Daube