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My Year in Review, Part 2: 2017 Had the BEST Savannah Weddings & Elopements!

It’s been a bit busy here, with booking 2018 weddings, but I am finally finishing Part 2 of our 2017 year-in-review! This post covers weddings and elopements that took place between July 2017 and December 2017, as well as professional and personal milestones. With so many couples, I can only include so many highlights, especially with our busy fall wedding season months, but I appreciated all the couples we worked with!

In Part One, I gave some overview stats about how many weddings we did and where they took place. Here are more statistics on 2017 wedding ceremonies and where destination wedding couples traveled from. 

  • I prepared more ceremonies in 2017 (236) compared to 2016 (228). More people requested custom ceremonies, too. In 2017, I prepared 140 custom ceremonies compared to 122 in 2016. That is more than half a month of extra custom ceremonies!
  • Our officiants performed 24 sand ceremonies, 7 handfastings and 4 love letter box rituals. You can look at pictures of these rituals in our ritual guide.
  • As far as nerdy and geeky content, I said “You are only as strong as you are united, as weak as you are divided” (Harry Potter) 16 times, and also asked if you “liked and loved” your partner (Parks & Recreation), and quoted Game of Thrones, twice each.

Looking at the 111 couples who booked a Ceremony + Photo package with us, we had people visit us in Savannah from 25 states this year to be married with our team. Thanks for visiting us this year! As much as my job is in weddings, it is also a lot of tourism, too. Here is a handy map of where people visited from.  

 

  • The couples who traveled the furthest were from Washington, Maine and Vermont. The closest were 4 local couples.
  • We were extremely popular with couples who live in Ohio (6)
  • Last year, we had a number of international couples, but zero this year. They do say international travel to the US is down nationwide.

And on to our month by month reviews of July 2017 through December 2017!


July 2017 Review

When I look back at July 2017, I could not believe how busy we were, for a month that is not traditionally associated with the Savannah wedding season. The first week of July brought us two lovely elopements with Sophie & Jeremy from Charlottesville, VA and Mallerie & Gregory from Moss Point, Mississippi. 

wedding picture at the Savannah DeSoto
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.
Savannah Elopement Photography
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

In mid-July, we delivered our first Intimate Destination Wedding package with Rachael and Tye in Forsyth Park. Based on inquiries and experience working with couples the previous three years, we realized that many couples wanted a package for up to 30 guests that included the officiant and photographer, as well as some light planning assistance. Rachael and Tye were not the first who booked, but the first event that took place and we think it turned out lovely. If you want to learn more about their vendors and plans, you can check out our Intimate Destination Wedding Guide

Savannah military wedding
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

In mid-July, we married the lovely Carmen & Natalie at the Forsyth Park Fountain. Carmen was GORGEOUS and it felt like the Fountain was made for her to take pictures in front of! We were so proud when this picture was featured in HuffPost Wedding’s Most Beautiful Weddings of July 2017 and they even featured it on their Instagram. 

lesbian wedding in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones

Samantha and Jordan were married in Orleans Square with their 5 children present, as well as other family members and more children! It was the first wedding we had where the kids outnumbered the adults and it was amazing. You can tell from this ceremony photo, that they are both a lot of fun and see their “perfectly imperfect” (a quote they asked me to use in their ceremony) life as a great adventure. 

wedding ceremony in orleans square
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

And at the end of July, we worked with one of the CUTEST couples of the year, Norma & Joseph, from the Washington, DC area. We had plans to be married in Orleans Square, but rain (and an Uber) drove us to Whitfield Square where we held their intimate ceremony with lots of laughs and joyful tears. They met working at IKEA, which also tickled me pink. 

intimate wedding in whitfield square savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

In July, I also published a long form piece about officiating weddings, titled “The Wondrous and Womanly Job of Officiating Weddings.” My goal is to write a memoir about this time in my life someday and writing this was part of feeling that process out. I was really pleased when the online publication Athena Talks approached me to acquire the rights to republish it in their collection, helping it get a wider audience. If you read it, let me know what you think!

On a personal note ….

My son Alex turned one! He began walking two days before his first birthday and we have been chasing him ever since. This was the last milestone session we had with Andrea Krey photography. The cake was made by one of our favorites, The Cupcake Parlor


August 2017 Review 

I actually took August off from officiating weddings, though my partners officiated ceremonies I wrote from my office. August is generally a slow month for weddings so it felt like a good time to have wrist surgery that I had been delaying. I had a small, benign, ganglion cyst removed that was pushing on a nerve and making everyday tasks hard, like carrying my 26 pound child and even typing. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I felt like I had a brand new body part!

I also attended WeddingWire World in August, a conference for wedding professionals. The main reason I attended was to meet other wedding officiants that I had become friends with on Facebook and spoke to all the time in groups. It was amazing to meet them in person!

Wedding Wire World 2017 Officiants

While I was taking time off, our Partner Officiant Chris married Lee & Randall at their Intimate Destination Wedding in Greene Square and performed a 25th anniversary vow renewal for Christie & Jon at Forsyth Park, the location where Jon proposed 26 years before!

same sex marriage in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

 

vow renewal at Forsyth Park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

September 2017 Review

The beginning of September was all about Hurricane Irma, which was projected to hit Savannah and Tybee Island directly. Fortunately, it did not, but we were still evacuated, which changed a lot of people’s plans, including cancelling weddings. Fortunately, Michelle and Charles were able to drive up from Atlanta a few days early for their epic Savannah Elopement Experience. Both the lighting and weather were perfect, the day before the storm!

wedding at forsyth park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

A few days after Irma passed our way, Megan and I were able to meet Marie and Geoffrey from Gainesville, FL who were married on Tybee Island before they went back to Florida for a celebration with their family. With so many folks still gone from the evacuation, we were some of the only people on the beach, despite the amazing weather!

Tybee Island Elopement
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

The end of September brought Lucia and Pratik’s Intimate Destination Wedding in Whitefield Square, where they celebrated with their family. They met in medical school and everything about their ceremony was perfect, including where Pratik shared a special necklace with her, the Mangalsutra. If you want to learn more about their wedding, you can review a summary in our Intimate Destination Wedding Guide

Buddhist wedding in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

The last Savannah Elopement Experience of the month was the delightful Sierra & Adam from the Philadelphia, PA area. How amazing is Sierra’s dress? She brought her delightful mom and aunts who wore great hats, too. I loved them all!

alternative wedding dress
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

On a personal note ….

September was really focused on our family and Irma. When bad weather comes around, I become an amateur meteorologist and wish I was Storm from the X-Men.


October 2017 Review

October was an incredible month for elopements and weddings. We married 47 couples and almost all were custom ceremonies in one way or another. It is hard to just pick a few highlights!

Jason and Lenzie and Ohio were one of our first couples of the month. They were fun to work throughout the whole process. Their song was Heaven is a Place on Earth and I wrote their ceremony right after I watched the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror so I was mess. They were so delightful on their wedding day, too!

Forsyth Park Savannah wedding photo
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

Amber and Matt from Illinois visited us for their Savannah Elopement Experience. It ended up raining on their wedding day, but it did not stop them from looking fabulous and having fun. Her gorgeous bouquet was designed by Kato Floral Designs and her hair and makeup was by Brooke Marie & Lindsey Wirht. All of her services were sent up by Shannon, our Client Concierge

 

On October 13th, I had three weddings across the city, from the Wormsloe Historic Site (Tiffany & Cody) to Orleans Square (Emiley & Harrison) and finally to Forsyth Park (Hannah & Cody), all under different weather conditions!

Wormsloe wedding
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography
Orleans Square Savannah elopement
Photo by It’s Megan Jones
forsyth park wedding photos
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

That weekend, I also married our 900th couple, Laura & Rhys from Maine, in a whimsical ceremony with Alice in Wonderland references. They were ridiculously in love.

Sunset wedding ceremony in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

Mid-October also brought us back to Tybee to work with Samantha and Kristopher from Maryland. When I pronounced them married, Samantha threw her hand in the air. This is definitely one of my favorite wedding pictures of all of 2017!

Tybee Island wedding celebration
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

October 21st was the busiest day of the entire year. All of our officiants worked and all three of us officiated exactly at 5PM. We also worked for the first time with a new partner photographer, Ashly from Matthew & Ashly Fine Art Photography. Here are pictures she took of the weddings for Zach & Julia in Whitefield Square and Tiffany & Dakota in Troup Square.

wedding ceremony in Whitefield Square
Photo by Matthew & Ashly Fine Art Photography
military wedding in Savannah
Photo by Matthew & Ashly Fine Art Photography

That weekend, I also married Jenny & Renee in the older part of Bonaventure Cemetery, overlooking the marsh, with Lyndi & Jason Photography. They included their puppy who was incredibly sweet!

Bonaventure Cemetery wedding on marsh
Photo by Lyndi & Jason Photography

The end of October brought us another midwestern couple, Virginia & Robert, from Michigan. They told people that they were eloping, but not where, which I thought was brilliant! I also loved that Virginia wore a purple dress.

eloped in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

And finally, the last Sunday of October brought me back to the Wormsloe Historic Site with Kristy & Rob who had the perfect, intimate wedding with their family, planned by Savannah Wedding Dreams.

wormsloe elopement in Savannah
Photo by Apt B Photography

I was also inducted into the 100 Review Club for WeddingWire in October. This was a big deal because I have only been in business a few years, and I really appreciate all the amazing things my past clients have said about me. My clients make my job easy!

Wedding Wire 100 Review CLub

Also, random, but by the end of October, I was hired by my fourth female drill sergeant to plan and officiate their elopement or intimate wedding in 2017. I will not identify who they are to protect their privacy, but this really flattered me. There are not a lot of female drill sergeants and I appreciated that some of the most badass women in our country felt I was the person who would organize their wedding ceremony the best!

On a personal note ….

Alex started daycare, which theoretically allowed me to begin working full time again. In practice, that has not been the case as our entire family’s immune systems acclimate to daycare germs. As of February 2018, this is still a work in progress.

Halloween brought the 7th anniversary of my first visit to Savannah as a tourist. While the vibrancy of the city immediately impacted me, I had no idea this would be my home the way it became. I am grateful that the risks I took paid off. 


November 2017 Review

Nationally, November is a slow period for weddings, but not in Savannah, where the weather is still mild. My first wedding of the month was with Amber & Paige in Columbia Square. Their ceremony had lots of Harry Potter references!

lesbian wedding in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones

In mid November, we were revisited by Michael & Nicole for a vow renewal on the one year anniversary of their Savannah Elopement Experience! They brought their new addition to their family, Clementine, who was amazingly cute. We also burned a Carl Sagan candle. Their original wedding ceremony had quotes from Carl and their vow renewal featured his wife, Ann. 

vow renewal
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

Linda & JD were married on a November Monday on the south side of Tybee Island in front of their family. They met in the film industry 19 years ago and finally decided it was time to make it official. Linda had two amazing dresses for the photos. They were the best, and had great lighting for their ceremony. 

wedding on Tybee Island
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

The last  Saturday of November brought me two couples and the first was Bonni & Monika from Augusta, GA. They were so cute!

lesbian wedding in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

My second couple were Andrea & Paul who were married at the Coastal Botanical Gardens. They used my All In Package to create an extremely custom ceremony with readings, rituals, and personal vows that reflected their 30 year relationship as friends and then more. I actually Facebook lived their ceremony and you can view it on my Facebook business page. 

In November, I found out that I won The Knot’s Best of The Year award and that I was the only Savannah wedding officiant to have won. That made me extremely proud!

My two new Partner Officiants, April and Molly also started officiating in November. April’s first ceremony was with Angela & Keith and their family. Molly officiated with Ashley & Joshua in an intimate elopement at the Wormsloe Historic Site. 

wedding ceremony in Lafayette Square
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography
elopement at Wormsloe Historic Site
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

On a personal note ….

November flew by! I was happy to host Thanksgiving at my home with friends and watch Alex smear himself in sweet potatoes.


December 2017 Review

December was much slower! One of the first couples of the months was Jessica & Kevin from Tennessee who eloped at Bonaventure. They used a vintage table from Savannah Vintage Rentals for their sand ceremony. How gorgeous is that background!

Sand ceremony wedding ritual at Bonaventure
Photo by Matthew & Ashly Fine Art Photography

The last few weeks of a year always brings us Simple Signing Services at the Savannah Cozy Chapel, too. We introduced a new officiant, Lindsey, to exclusively help us with Signing Service, and she started that week. Here are a few pictures of the couples that were married at the end of December. 

The last weekend of the year brought us a Popup Elopement with Sophia & Forrest. Forrest had just returned from deployment and could not stop taking about how beautiful his new wife was.

elopement in Forsyth Park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

And finally, our last couple of the year was Patricia and John from Minnesota, almost at the Canadian border. As you can see from how I am dressed, it was a bit cold for Savannah, but probably not for them. John said he did not like to smile, but we got a little upturn of his lips for his bride. 

Forsyth Park Fountain wedding
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

On a personal note ….

Josh, Alex and I had some family photos with Esther Griffin Photography, also at the Fountain at Forsyth Park. Even after 70+ ceremonies in 2017 at that location, I couldn’t resist using it for my own phtos.

And that is a wrap on my 2017, which you can see was an amazing year for my business. I look forward to working with all of my 2018 couples and reporting on our adventures at this time next year!

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

My Year in Review, Part 1: 2017 Was A Great Year to Marry in Savannah!

Hey y’all!

I can’t believe 2017 is behind us. It was a FANTASTIC year to elope or have a wedding in Savannah, GA! Here is part one of a year-in-review for weddings and elopements in Savannah, covering January through June of 2017. I’ve included highlights from the wedding ceremonies we officiated, as well as some professional and personal milestones. With so many couples, I can only include so many highlights and these are just a few that I remembered among many wonderful couples I worked with in 2017. 

First here, is a quick review of ALL of 2017. In 2017 …

  • We married 351 couples across 54 locations. 
  • We married 73 couples in Forsyth Park, compared to 55 in 2016.
  • Whitefield Square (19) and Orleans Square (18) came ahead of Tybee Island (13) for other favorite locations. Some of the increase in popularity for Whitefield Square was caused by a rainy summer. The next favorites were Lafayette Square (12) and Pulaski Square (8).
  • We performed 155 ceremonies in a downtown square or park in 2017 compared to 121 in 2016.
  • For traditional venues, including hotels and historic homes, our most popular location in 2017 was Red Gate Farms (5), followed by The Gingerbread House (3) and The Mackey House (3). 

I’ll include more summary statistics in part two, as well, but here are month by month reviews of January 2017 through June 2017!


January 2017 Review

January is generally a slow month for us in Savannah, but in 2017, we were hopping busy!

In early January, we married Amy & Dean from Asheville, NC. This is one of my favorite photos of the whole year. Because of tourist crowds, we don’t always get to take many great pictures in Chippewa Square, the place where Forrest Gump was filmed.

Chippewa Square elopement picture
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

I married Candace & Kristianna at the Fountain at Forsyth Park on the coldest day of 2017 and I had to keep my jacket on! However, we all made sure our shoes were on point.

same-sex wedding at Forsyth Park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

The Savannah Cozy Chapel was also hopping because of the weather! Here are two couples, Janet & James, and Nancy & Allen, who married after becoming widowed. Nancy & Allen met online on OurTime. I love second chance love stories like these!

second marriage, Savannah Cozy Chapel

Senior marriage, Savannah Cozy Chapel

At the end of January, I also had the actor Jason Segel stroll through one of my elopements at Forsyth Park. This was the only celebrity I met this year, despite all the movies filmed here. In 2018, maybe someone else will come on through … or even hire me as their officiant!

In January, I also won my second Couple’s Choice Award from WeddingWire.

weddingwire couples' choice award savannah officiant

On a personal note ….

In January, I also helped organize the Women’s March in Savannah and was the official permit holder. We marched from Wright Square to Forsyth Square and I marched with my husband, son, and friend Carmen while wearing my Captain Marvel jacket and Marvel Girls Fight! shirt. Making sure that women’s perspectives are represented in this political environment, and being engaged in conversations that affect my son’s future, are essential to my core beliefs and I was so happy to participate in this way. 


February 2017 Review

I officiated my first wedding ceremony at The Whitman with Sarah & Chase. I highly recommend it for small, indoor, intimate weddings. Everyone there was so nice!

wedding ceremony at The Whitman
Photo by Photos by Rich Burkhardt

Late February has become one of my favorite times of year because we have had an early azalea season the last few years and I love the blooms. You can see those gorgeous flowers peeping out in this picture of Alison & Brian who visited us from Washington, DC.

azalea wedding photography Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

I also had the pleasure of working with Brandi & Matt on their late February wedding. Brandi rocked a pantsuit and together, they vowed to love each other, as well as “resist tyrants.” Two feminists after my own heart!

Brandi’s dad was diagnosed with cancer shortly before their wedding and unfortunately, she lost him not long after this. I am glad that she was able to share her day with him and that I was chosen to participate in it with them. It is a privilege I recognize and respect as an officiant.

bride in pantsuit
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

I also officiated the most fun, rainy day vow renewal with Adrian and Paula from Southern California. They choose a different city every year for their vow renewal and dressed the part for their Savannah southern ceremony. They caught me a little off-guard when they took a selfie during the ceremony, but it was so much fun!

wedding ceremony selfie

At the end of February, I hired Courtney Alacan as our marketing assistant to help manage all the photos I receive from ceremonies I perform, especially our signature Ceremony Plus Photos packages, and organize them so I can use them for blog posts, Instagram and Facebook posts, and other marketing and advertising. When she began, I had a backlog of over 10,000 photos to review. Yes, ten thousand!

Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

On a personal note…

In early February, I did a mommy and me shoot with Shannon Christopher who is an awesome photographer out on Tybee Island. I will treasure these photos forever. This was right before Alex began crawling. As other parents can tell you, everything changed after that!

Photo by Shannon Christopher Photography

March 2017 Review

March was a slower month for me, which was personally okay! One of our couples, Angela & Javier, booked us last minute and we had the perfect, private Forsyth Park Fountain elopement for them.

Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

My two favorite weddings that month took place the weekend of St Patrick’s Day weekend. Fallen & Jason were married on St. Patrick’s Day in Daffin Park to avoid all the downtown craziness of the parade. They brought 10 of their friends in a limo and had a fantastic time. Two of their friends told me it was the best wedding they had ever attended!

St Patrick's Day elopement in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

Amanda & Robert were married in Pulaski Square the day after St. Patrick’s Day. They included a fun Canvas Unity Ritual for their family where they painted a canvas with Amanda’s daughter as part of their ceremony and then took some fun pictures by themselves when the fountains were still green.

Since their wedding, Amanda has become my dog’s groomer at WoofGang Bakery & Grooming. I can’t recommend her enough! You can see how much she loves dogs from her Instagram

wedding ceremony ritual in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography
St Patrick's Day Elopement in Savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

Alex and Shelby brought their fur family to their Simple Signing Service at the Savannah Cozy Chapel at the end of March. They live in Atlanta now, but decided to get married in Savannah, where they met. They were some happy puppies!

simple signing service in Savannah

In March, we added Shannon Vaughn, our scheduling Manager and Client Concierge to our team. I cannot imagine how we worked without her! If you booked a package with us after March 2017, you know how awesome she is and probably say the same.

Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

I celebrated my third wedding anniversary at the end of March and Alex had his eight month milestone session with Andrea Krey Photography at Forsyth Park. He looks grumpy in this picture, but if he ever decides to release an album, I think this should be the cover.

Photo by Andrea Krey Photography

April 2017 Review

April was one of the busiest months of the year and we married 43 couples! The first week of the year was particularly busy with elopements almost every day. We find April particularly busy every year as many educators from the North and Northeast decide to come down and elope during their spring break. As a former teacher, I think that is an excellent decision! Here are just some of the couples that eloped that first week (not everyone was a teacher).

The Mansion on Forsyth Park Wedding Photos
Laura & Bo (traveled from Bahrain!), It’s Megan Jones Photography
Elopement in Troup Square in Savannah
Shannon & Michael from Georgia, It’s Megan Jones Photography
Pedicabs in Savannah
Katie & Jacob from Michigan, It’s Megan Jones Photography
wedding ceremony in Savannah
Keisa & Sheldon from North Carolina, It’s Megan Jones Photography
Tybee Island Pier wedding ceremony
Christine & Rick from Maine, It’s Megan Jones Photography

I also worked with two couples on their 80-200 guest ceremonies through my All In package, where we meet multiple times to plan all elements of your ceremony. The first, Shellie & Tanner, were married at the Richmond Hill City Center in a ceremony that reflected their relationship, and especially their goals for the future as a young couple. I loved working with them and getting to know so much about them! 

Richmond Hill City Center wedding

William and Danielle were planning a large wedding in Johnson Square and needed extra support in making sure that the ceremony reflected their story and incorporated their guests who represented so many eras of their lives together, from when they met in high school to when they graduated from law school and graduate school and established a relationship in Washington, DC. We used a custom Affirmation of the Community ritual as well as other elements to make it perfect for them for their sunny Saturday ceremony!

Wedding in Johnson Square savannah

The third week also brought lots of weekday elopers and beautiful weather. Christopher and Durga traveled from Germany, one of my few international couples in 2017. 

wedding in forsyth park
Christopher & Durga, Photograph by Danielle George Photography
wedding ceremony in chatham square
Nedra & Elgin, Photo by Photos by Rich Burkhardt
wedding ceremony in lafayette square
Bobbi & Shane, Photo by Photos by Rich Burkhardt.

At the end of April, I married Doug and Karen in Orlean Square. They had been together 20+ years and in the state where they originally lived, were considered common-law married. However, they were not considered married in their new state, Washington, and decided to make it official-official, once and for all. They met while dancing and I loved including the Eskimo Love Song in their ceremony. 

You are my husband, you are my wife.
My feet shall run because of you.
My feet dance because of you.
My heart shall beat because of you.
My eyes see because of you.
My mind thinks because of you.
And I shall love, because of you.

savannah elopement in orleans square
Photo by It’s Megan Jones

This year, whenever we had babies or toddlers at our Simple Signing Services at the Savannah Cozy Chapel, my ovaries hurt. Larri & Jessica were pretty awesome, but their daughter Jamie stole the show. 

simple signing service savannah

On a personal note ….

I threw my husband, Josh, a surprise birthday picnic with Savannah Picnic Company, in Troup Square, where we were married. I totally recommend this for some of my elopers!

picnic in savannah


May 2017 Review

May was also a busy month with another 43 couples! There were quite a few Saturdays in May where Chris, Buffy, and I all officiated ceremonies at exactly the same time. May also hosted many of my favorite ceremonies and couples all year, where people really allowed me to be creative and thoughtful in preparing ceremonies that reflected them and their relationship. It is no wonder that most of the reviews I received in 2017 were from couples I married in May because everything felt like synergy.

Shauna & Julian were a couple who booked me on the very first day of May for their last minute elopement in the gazebo at Crawford Square, close to where they lived. It was rainy, and lovely! I really appreciated their handwritten thank you card, too.

wedding officiant thank you

Aly & Kris from Iowa were married by Partner Officiant Chris in Pulaski Square. For the last two years, every couple who has been married on their wedding date in early May has had a glorious picture in the blooms in Pulaski. These particular flowers literally only last about a week each May! I also used a new reading, Vows, by Tony Kushner, for the first time in their ceremony and it has become a new favorite.

Conjunction, assemblage, congress, union:
Life isn’t meant to be lived alone.
A life apart is a desperate fiction.
Life is an intermediate business:
a field of light bordered by love
a sea of desire stretched between shores.

Marriage is the strength of union.
Marriage is the harmonic blend.
Marriage is the elegant dialectic of counterpoint.
Marriage is the faultless, fragile logic of ecology:
A reasonable process of give and take
unfolding through cyclical and linear time.

A wedding is the conjoining of systems in which
Neither loses its single splendor and both are completely
transformed. As, for example,
The dawn is the wedding of the Night and the Day,
and is neither, and both,
and is, in itself, the most beautiful time,
abundant artless beauty,
free and careless magnificence.

pulaski square wedding azaleas
Photo by It’s Megan Jones.

Fawn & Matt, big Star Wars fans, decided to get married on May Fourth (of course!) and move their wedding up a year. No problem! When it rained, these locals moved the ceremony from Troup Square to the basement of Moon River. I bought a star dress for their ceremony that many of my other nerdy couples have appreciated.

wedding at moon river
Photo by Matthew & Ashly Fine Art & Films

In mid-May, I married Jennifer & Keary from Florida in Lafayette Square. I marry a lot of couples in Lafayette Square, and a lot of older couples, but this was the first time I was surrounded by four generations of women on Jennifer’s side, from her mother to granddaughter. It was some of the most powerful energy I have felt during a wedding ceremony in the three years I have been an officiant. When I see how the trees frame us in this picture, I get goosebumps remembering how it felt.

small wedding ceremony in lafayette square savnnah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones photography.

Sarah Grace & William were married in Lafayette Square, too (I think 20% of all my Lafayette Square ceremonies took place in May!), They performed the Fisherman’s Knot ceremony, which became one of my favorite rituals in 2017. I love to pair it with a quote from William Shakespeare. 

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep: the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.”
fisherman knot wedding ritual
Photo by Diane Dodd Photography

My most popular Instagram post for all of 2017 was of Amanda and Timothy from Ohio dismounting a pedicab, her in a tutu with a glass of champagne in her hand. I think it was so popular because it epitomized the tone of our Savannah Elopement Experience package- romantic, intimate, meaningful, authentic, joyful, simple and stress-free!

Southern elopement in savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

The end of May brought me Rubecca and Matthew who were so much fun and eloped in front of Rubecca’s mom at the Fragrance Garden in Forsyth Park They lead extremely passionate and adventurous lives and allowed me to bring that into their ceremony. I love to talk about what a grand adventure marriage is so we were a good match!

We also debuted our new signs for our Savannah Elopement Experience, handmade by Caroline Galvez, in May.

just married at forsyth park savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones.

The last Sunday of May was a doubleheader! First, April and Steve from North Carolina married at Greenwich Park in Bonaventure Cemetery, surrounded by their families and their daughters, 2who played roles in making sure their parents got together. Everyone cried, including me and Megan, our photographer. They asked me to include the Mawage speech from The Princess Bride and it was so much fun. Dear future couples- please ask me for this again!

elopement in bonaventure cemetery savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

Our last couple were Elwood and Michelle from Tennessee who went to college together and reconnected on Facebook 25 years later. This reconnection story was one I heard over and over again in 2017. And yup, Elwood had lots of jokes the whole time!

marriage in forsyth park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

On a personal note…

Nothing to report as I was way too busy marrying all the people!


June 2017 Review

That first weekend of June was quite busy, with 8 couples before June 3rd. First up was Jessica and Eric. If you follow me on Instagram, you may be sick of this picture, but it is one of my all time favorites. It started pouring during their wedding, and I held a clear umbrella over their ceremony so they could say their personal vows and have the ceremony they wanted, as well as a proper first kiss. The officiant’s number one job is to be a conduit for energy and protect a couple’s moment, under any conditions! 

Wedding kiss at forsyth park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

Stephanie and Eric also had a stunning elopement that first weekend. I mean, that dress! Their pictures were featured in an editorial over at Best Elope Ideas.

savannah lafayette square wedding
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

June 3rd was my birthday so I took it off to go see the Wonder Woman movie with my husband, and Buffy took over, with Tanna and Dustin from Ohio and their families in Forsyth Park. They used some quotes from Friends in their ceremony, declaring each their lobster.

forsyth park bride
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

In mid-June, we had an extremely fun elopement with Sarah and Zach who spent their hour taking fun and sweet photos among Savannah’s squares. No, they actually did not smash the cupcakes at each other!

wedding cupcakes savannah
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

In one of the more gorgeous elopements we had in Forsyth Park, Hillary and Tyler from Tennessee made a decision to elope in Savannah on their way to attend a wedding. I love when a groom wears color, too. 

forsyth park elopement
It’s Megan Jones Photography

And at the end of June, I officiated Anastasia & Ryan’s wedding at The Mansion at Forsyth Park. They used my Create Your Story package and I met with them in person about six months before their ceremony to capture their story and all the elements they wanted in their ceremony, including a tree planting ritual. Ryan is a spoke word artist and performed his vows as such. It was AMAZING!

wedding ceremony at The mansion at Forsyth Park
Photo by Kim Branagan Photography

On a personal note…

I TOOK A VACATION! It was my first vacation since February 2016, before Alex was born. We went to Asheville, NC for a week and stayed in an AirBnB, explored, and drank good beer and food. It was very restorative, physically and mentally, even including walking around the Biltmore for hours wearing a 25 pound baby. I also met with a fellow officiant for lunch, one day, which was nice. 

Alex and Josh also had a superhero themed Father’s Day mini-shoot with Joleen Marie Photography. This was a few weeks before he began walking.. I mean running. 


And that was the first half of 2017 in a nutshell! 

If you are looking at booking a 2018 ceremony or ceremony plus photos package, let us know so we can get you on the calendar ASAP. It is the second week of January, but we are almost 1/3 booked up for the year! We can also answer questions about locations featured in these pictures and anything else you need to know to plan your Savannah elopement or wedding, too. 

The second half of 2017 in review… coming soon!

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

 

Tracy’s Guide to Planning an Elopement or Intimate Destination Wedding in Savannah!

It’s engagement season! According to WeddingWire, 40% of all engagements take place between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day with the majority of those taking place in December. If you have recently decided to get married, congratulations! Your next decision will be how to make that happen.

If you follow the conventional narrative, you may believe you only have two choices- an impersonal and cheap courthouse elopement, or a big and expensive wedding with everyone you know. Luckily, in 2017, you can have any celebration you want! For most couples, their perfect celebration will fall in between those two extremes and most will bravely go forward with their unique vision for their celebration. And as a beautiful, destination tourist town with a professional wedding community that works 7 days of week, Savannah is a location uniquely positioned to help with any wedding you’d like to experience.

While my team and I officiate all sorts of ceremonies across the area, I also offer packages with photographer It’s Megan Jones for couples who want to experience something authentic, joyful and lovely, and yet simple. We also offer additional planning services as part of some of our packages, too. If you are currently deciding what may be the perfect experience for you, consider which of these situations describes you.


I think I want to elope!

Once upon a time, an elopement was specifically a wedding ceremony that was secret and last minute. Over time, the concept of an elopement has evolved as people plan their lives further ahead and travel more. Some wedding blogs have expanded the definition so far that it is any wedding under 50 guests. Before we go further, let me be clear that, nope, that is definitely not an elopement! For our purposes, we have two criteria that an elopement must meet- (1) there are six or fewer guests (immediate family and/or closest friends) and (2) there is no “set-up” required (venue rentals, seating, decorations, etc.).

An elopement is perfect for almost every couple who wants things to be simple and to celebrate themselves. An elopement may not be a great fit if you really want to include more than six people or you are concerned about family interference clouding your day. For the second issue, every couple’s relationship with their families is different and you know best.

If eloping is for you, the Popup Elopement Package or Savannah Elopement Experience Ceremony Plus Photography packages offer the perfect elopement experiences, depending on how much photography you’d like. You can also use our optional concierge service where our Client Concierge, Shannon, can help you book other services for your wedding, detailed in our Planning Chart at the end of this post.

Here are some examples of how couples used one of our elopement packages this year. 

  1. Carmen & Natalie included their son in their Popup Elopement Package and he was adorable.

2. Alison & Brian from Washington, DC brought Alison’s sister and brother-in-law to celebrate their Savannah Elopement Experience and weekend in our city!

Virginia & Robert visited us from Michigan. Not only did the come alone for their Savannah Elopement Experience, they announced where they eloped only after Megan published their sneak peak on her Facebook page!


I decided that I’d like a small group of my close friends and loved ones to celebrate with me!

If you have somewhere between 6 and 30 guests that you’d like to celebrate with in Savannah, you are not alone. The New York Times Styles section recently published an article on the “micro-wedding” trend  and I was even interviewed as an expert on it by How Stuff Works!

For clients looking to celebrate with more family members and friends than an elopement, we offer the Intimate Destination Wedding package. With that package, we provide the officiant and photography, plus Shannon, our Client Concierge, to connect you directly with other trusted wedding vendors and enter into contracts with them. Based on our experience working with hundreds of couples, we have decided that the specific type of officiating and photography services we’ve included in this package, especially the two hours of photography, are the minimum we need to have a successful event.

When planning an event for this amount of guests, your additional cost considerations are that (1) you may need to rent a venue for your ceremony, as well as possibly seating, and (2) the costs associated with your post-wedding celebration. Every additional guest has the potential to bring their own complications, too, that you may not feel as greatly with larger weddings. 

If you have 7-15 guests, and ARE flexible about the day, time, and specific location of your wedding for this package, you can have your ceremony in one of Savannah’s squares or parks without a permit. If you have between 16-30 guests or are NOT flexible about time, date, and location, you will need to reserve a location. The cost of that can range from $50 an hour for Greenwich Park at Bonaventure Cemetery, $200-400 for the Savannah Botanical Gardens, or $450-$600 for a Savannah square or park, depending on your date. Chair rentals, if needed, usually run between $5 a chair.

If you have 20-30 guests, you may also need to pay a room rental fee for the place where you choose to have your post-ceremony celebration, usually in the high hundreds to low thousands.

If this is these additional costs still sound okay with you and you want to celebrate in Savannah, we truly believe the Intimate Destination Wedding Package is your jam. The services that our Client Concierge can help you book are described in the Planning Chart at the end of this post.

Here are some examples of how couples used the Intimate Destination Wedding Package this year. 

  1. Rachael & Tye from Beaufort, SC married at Forsyth Park on a Saturday in front of 24 of their friends. They rented the square and chairs, as well as secured vendors for hair & makeup, flowers, pedicabs for their photography tour and they had their evening celebration at The Pirate House.

 

2. Lucia & Pratik from North Carolina married in Whitfield Square on a Saturday in front of about 18 family members. They reserved the square but did not rent chairs. We helped with hair & makeup, flowers, pedicabs, and arranging for a lunch celebration at 45 Bistro. 

 

3. Lori and Rob from Florida married at the Fountain at Forsyth Park on a Thursday in front of about 14 family members. Since they were flexible about the time and day, they did not rent the fountain or chairs, but also understood that if the Fountain had been busy, we would have quickly relocated their ceremony to another location in the park or even another square. We made reservations for their large party for three separate events at Hitch, Rocks on the River at the Bohemian Hotel, and 700 Drayton at the Mansion.


I considered my options and I want a huge party with everyone I know and I want it in Savannah!

Many people want a big wedding and I admire that certainty. If you have the budget and you know lots of people, big parties can be awesome! If this fits your description, I recommending contact one of our favorite full-service wedding planners and consider us for your officiating needs with one of our Ceremony Only Packages.

William & Danielle’s 180 person ceremony and reception was planned by Jodi Jackson at Savannah Wedding Dreams and photographed by Geoff Johnson.


 Now that I have made my decision, how much is this going to cost us?

Once you have figured out what kind of wedding fits your needs and desires, you will still need to look at your budget and what works for you. If your budget feels stretched, your next steps are to decide (1) if there are any services you can live without and (2) if your guest count is flexible.

Below are average costs for the various services most people use for their wedding. There are two pages (click on the PDF to scroll). 

Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements Planning Chart

Once you have reviewed the numbers against your vision, and understand what works right for your celebration, let us know how we can help you plan your perfect event!

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

Meet Shannon Vaughn, Our Scheduling Manager & Client Concierge

Many of you already know Shannon- at least virtually!- since she has booked almost all of our 2017 and 2018 clients as our Scheduling Manager. She has also helped about a dozen of you plan additional wedding details, such as flowers, dinner, hair and makeup, and other services, as our Client Concierge. Even though she has only been working with us a short time, I cannot imagine how any of us would work without her!

In addition to all the work she does with Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements, Shannon also has four children with her husband of 15 years who is an active member of our military. Here is a little more about her, how she feels about her work with all of us, and some tips for potential clients. 

Shannon, our Elopement Concierge

 

What made you want to work for a wedding officiant? I have always wanted to work in the wedding industry doing something that allowed me to be a part of a couple’s big day. When I saw the opening, I knew it was the perfect job for me and based on her website, it seemed that I would love working with Tracy and everything she stands for.

What has been your favorite part of the job? My favorite part is definitely seeing everything fall together just how the couple envisioned it. It is a wonderful feeling to see and hear how happy they are to get the wedding of their dreams!
 
Tell us about a specific problem you solved as a concierge. I had a wonderful couple who needed seating for 20 guests for more then one meal while they were in Savannah for their destination wedding… but each guest needed to pay their own bill separately and most restaurants won’t book a group that large without renting the space and requiring deposits beforehand and a set menu. This is the type of situation where I feel like our concierge service can be extremely beneficial to couples because I was able to take the time to call several places to find the perfect places for their needs. They worked great for this couple and they didn’t have to worry or stress over it!
 
After answering hundreds of inquiries and acting as a concierge for a dozen clients, what are your top 3 tips for planning a wedding or elopement in Savannah?
 
1. Transportation! Have a plan in place on how you will get to your ceremony. Parking and traffic can be crazy in Savannah and you don’t want to be late to your own ceremony! There are lots of options here, including Uber, Lyft, and pedicabs. 
 
2. Make sure you understand the city’s permit rules if you will be including more than a few guests. Unfortunately, you cannot show up with 30 guests without reserving a space and making arrangements for a permit.
 
3. Be patient! I have found that a lot of people and businesses in Savannah are “laid back.” They will get it done for you, and it will be AMAZING, but it may take them a little extra time. We are called Slowvannah sometimes for a reason!
 
What is your favorite television show? I could watch Grey’s Anatomy and Friends over and over again… and I do! 
 
Your can’t miss places when visiting in Savannah? Forsyth Park! I love people watching there! So many interestingly fun people going through there all the time.
 
And, finally, what is the best way to show your love to your partner? I have been married almost 16 years to my high school “boyfriend” and I have learned over time that the best way to show love to your partner is through respect and honesty. I feel like those are two super important ingredients to make a marriage work. And don’t forget laughter! 

Your Photo Guide to Wedding Unity Rituals!

It has been a (very) long time coming, but I have finally put together a unity ritual guide for my clients who are considering adding a ritual to their Savannah wedding or elopement ceremony. As your officiant, I have experience with creating and performing many different rituals for unique wedding ceremonies and love to help clients pick the perfect one for them.

When some people hear the word “ritual” in regards to a wedding ceremony, they may picture one of two things- (1) something overtly religious that you may see in a church, or (2) something very new-age. And that is not true at all! A unity ritual is a fun way to physically join your love together as part of the ceremony, and in many cases, create a keepsake that you can take with you to be part of your home as a newly married couple.

Here is an overview of our most popular rituals that I perform. However, there are always new rituals to be created, and ways to personalize the standard ones, so if you want to talk more about your ideas, let me know.

All pictures are by It’s Megan Jones Photography unless otherwise noted. 


The Sand Ceremony

The Sand Ceremony is the most commonly requested unity ritual, at least for my couples. It involves joining separate containers of sand together in an act of unity. It is popular for a few reasons. One, it is fun and colorful! Second, we are a coastal community and the idea of sand and nature appeals to some people who choose to be married in Savannah or Tybee Island. Third, the symbolism of the sand ceremony speaks to many of the clients who choose to work with me and how they think of marriage. The sand is beautiful on its own, and does not ‘need’ the other sand to exist… but they are even more beautiful, unique and strong when they are combined together. I have a sand ceremony script I use on my Ceremony Example page.

I encourage my clients to purchase their sand ceremonies online, either from Amazon or Etsy, unless you know a local crafter in your community who makes them. While you can buy a basic sand ceremony kit at a chain craft store, the choice is greater online and you can also have them personalized. You can also buy sand in every color you can imagine on Amazon.

As you can see from these pictures, there are many sand ceremony kit designs.

Morgan & Brandon, February 2016
sand ceremony ritual in Savannah wedding ceremony
Morgan & Brandon, February 2016
Rachael & Tye, July 2017
Rachael & Tye, July 2017
Sarah & Anthony, July 2017
Sarah & Anthony, July 2017
Lacey & Aaron, June 2017

I love how Angela and Douglas poured their bright sand to make a unique pattern.

Douglas & Angela, July 2017
Douglas & Angela, July 2017

Jessica and Brian’s sand ceremony set kept with their Steampunk wedding theme. 

steampunk wedding sand ceremony
Jessica & Brian, April 2016
steampunk wedding in savannah
Jessica & Brian, April 2016
Kimberly & Marc, April 2016
Kimberly & March, April 2016
Olivia & Miguel, July 2016
Olivia & Miguel, July 2016

The Sand Ceremony is also a great way to involve children and symbolize the blending of a family. 

Carmen & Natalie’s son was super excited to participate!

Carmen & Natalie, July 2017
Carmen & Natalie, July 2017

Laure-Jo & Luke involved all four of their children in their sand ceremony. 

Luke & Laurie-Jo, February 2016

Finally, one of my recent couples, Stephanie and Todd, chose a Unity in Glass Ritual which is similar in intent to a sand ceremony. Stephanie and Todd poured glass crystals into a common container and then sent it to the Unity in Glass team to create a work of art. Here is their finished piece.

Todd & Stephanie, April 2017

Handfasting Ritual

The second most popular unity ritual we perform is the handfasting ritual. It is the origin of “tying the knot” and it has Pagan and Celtic roots (though there are other versions). During a handfasting, the couple gives consent to have their hands tied and a reading is performed. Couples have used all sorts of cords for their handfasting, many handmade or having familial significance. 

(While I don’t have a picture, I also once did a handfasting with the Lasso of Truth, dressed as Wonder Woman, for a Haloween wedding!)

Kristen & Lee, May 2016
handfasting ceremony on Forsyth Park in Savannah
Kristen & Lee, May 2016
Susan & Jaden, July 2016
handfasting in troup square in Savannah
Jessica & Kevin, December 2016
Jessica & Kevin, December 2016
Shannon & Michael, April 2017
Kate & Joseph, April 2017
Kate & Joseph, April 2017

The Fisherman’s Knot Tying Ritual

The Fisherman’s Knot ritual also involves some tying, but the couple themselves tie the knot, a “true lover’s knot.” The knot represents the strongest bond possible, one that does not break and even becomes  stronger under pressure.

I love this ritual and its symbolism, but of all of them, it is one that the couple should practice in advance because tying the knot may not be easy, especially if you are nervous!

Sarah-Grace & William, May 2017, Photo by Dianne Dodd Photography.
Sarah-Grace & William, May 2017. Photo by Diane Dodd Photography.

Wine Ceremonies

Wine ceremonies are fun! There are lots of variations from simply toasting to your future, to combining white and red wines and drinking from the same cup and everything in between. I have also conducted a ceremony with beer, for a couple who were beer aficionados and even got engaged at their favorite brewery. You could also substitute other liquor for a toasting ritual.

Chiquinn and Antoine combined white and red wines, and then passed a common glass that they had personalized. 

Chiquinn & Antoine, July 2017
Chiquinn & Antoine, July 2017

Stephanie and Paul used one wine and drank from the same cup. Jess & Bob mixed red and white prior to the ceremony and drank from separate cups to be able to toast to each other. 

Stephanie & Paul, November 2016
Jess & Bob, November 2016. Photo by Apt B. Photography.

Love Letter Box Ritual

With the Love Letter Box ritual, the couple writes love letters to each other to read on a future anniversary. They store the letters in a beautiful box and lock it together. The boxes can be found on Etsy and Amazon and usually also include space for a bottle of wine and two glasses for relaxing when you do sit down to read those heartfelt letters.

Roy & Tereza, October 2016
Roy & Tereza, October 2016
Roy & Tereza, October 2016

Unity Canvas Painting Ritual

The Unity Canvas Painting Ritual is a fun ritual you can include when you are blending a family. Together, everyone contributes their unique creativity via paint and a canvas. The canvas can be blank, or you include an image, to start. Here is some of the text I read while Amanda, Robert, and their daughter Cimone painted on their heart.

“… this blank canvas symbolizes the start of your new journey together, the new family that you are now forming and are dedicated to build together.
 
Your canvas represents the passion, love and tenderness at the core of your family, and which will be the building block of your new life as one.”
 
Amanda & Robert, March 2017
Amanda & Robert, March 2017

Candle Lighting Ritual

I don’t have many candle lightings requested, mostly because our ceremonies are outside. Many people also think they are only for church ceremonies, but a candle lighting can represent more. Here is what I read during this candle lighting with Renee & Vanadis at the Savannah Cozy Chapel.

“This candle you are about to light is a candle of marriage.
 
Its fire is magical because it represents the light of two people in love.
 
This candle before you is a candle of commitment because it takes two people working together to keep it aflame.
 
This candle is also a candle of Unity because both must come together, giving a spark of themselves, to create the new light.
 
As you light this candle today, may the brightness of the flame shine throughout your lives. 

May it give you courage and reassurance in darkness; warmth and safety in the cold; and strength and joy in your bodies, minds, and spirits.
 
May your union be forever blessed.”

Renee & Vanadis, November 2016

Affirmation of the Community Ritual

The Affirmation of the Community comes from many denominations, as well as the Quaker tradition where individual guests give a dedicated wish to the newly married couple. With a large number of guests, that can overwhelm a ceremony. In a simple Affirmation of the Community ritual, I speak to the guests about the importance of their presence in the couple’s lives and then ask them to give their communal blessing to the couple for their marriage.

People choose the Affirmation of the Community for a variety of reasons. It is a very positive and spiritual ritual and is appropriate for all situations. For Whitney and Kim, every person in the room on their wedding day had seen them through to that moment, when not everyone in their world was supportive of their love. It was extremely important to them to include everyone who had been with them on their journey. 

Whitney & Kim, March 2016
Whitney & Kim, March 2016

Willam and Danielle met when they were in high school and were surrounded by people who had seen them through multiple stages of life, including graduate school, law school, job changes, and relocations. They wanted a ritual that included EVERYONE who was part of their story.

William & Danielle, April 2017. Photo by Geoff Johnson.

Breaking of the Glass

The Breaking of the Glass is primarily a Jewish wedding ritual. Glass is fragile, like all human relationships, so it is a reminder to protect what is important. Breaking the glass is also an irrevocable act, which committing to marriage should be.

breaking the glass wedding ritual in Savannah
Kristen & Lee, May 2016
Kristen & Lee, May 2016

It is more traditional for the groom to break the glass, but many people use a more modern interpretation and break the glass as a couple as Alyssa and Gary did. 

April & Gary, April 2016. Photo by Dream Weaver Photography.

Jumping the Broom Ritual

The Jumping the Broom has roots that are long and storied. While there are European cultures that also perform it, it is primarily associated with the African-American community today. As Danielle Young summarizes

“Jumping the broom was a part of African culture that survived during American slavery. Once Blacks could have weddings with rings that were recognizable by anyone as a symbol of marriage, the broom ceremony wasn’t required. During this time, jumping the broom fell out of practice from the stigma it carried, and in some cases still carries, among African Americans who wanted nothing to do with anything associated with that era. However, because of Alex Haley’s book “Roots,” the jumping the broom tradition saw a resurgence.”

Sometimes, the couple sweeps with the broom before jumping, to ward off negative energy before they jump into married life. Often, the broom is made and laid down by an important family member. 

jumping the broom at a Savannah Wedding
William & Cliffton, November 2016. Photo by Lyndi & Jason Photography.

Finally, there are a number of other rituals I have performed, but do not have pictures of, such as planting seeds together, unveilings, the cord of three strands, the red string of fate, and others. If I get pictures, or perform new rituals, I will update this blog post! And if you have a ritual from your culture that you would like to use or adapt, please let me know.

A final note: Rituals are included in my custom ceremony packages. They are not included as part of the Tracy’s Choice or Popup Elopement Package without an upgrade. You can view all my ceremony packages here

Thanks for reading!

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

 

Hiring Savannah Wedding Officiant

I’m Hiring Partner Officiants for Fall 2017

 

Hey y’all! I am hiring three new partner wedding officiants for our team to start this fall. Partner wedding officiants officiate weddings when I am unavailable or double booked. Depending on the season, and their availability, partner officiants can marry 2-10 couples per month.

Hiring Savannah Wedding Officiant

I am looking for one officiant based in Savannah and two officiants based in Hilton Head and the St. Simon’s and Jekyll Island areas, respectively. Because we are so booked in Savannah and Tybee, we usually have to turn down all requests for those coastal areas and I would love to change that. 

Here is a brief overview of how the Partner Officiant process works.. Partner Officiants conduct wedding ceremonies written by me. Partner Officiants usually only communicate with their clients a few weeks before the wedding, those some clients may want a pre-hire consultation via Skype or FaceTime. 

If you would like to apply, please send an email and resume or link to your LinkedIn profile at tracy [at] oppsproject [dot] com. Qualified applicants only, please. 

 

Responsibilities:

  • Officiate pre-written wedding ceremonies and Signing Services as assigned
  • Provide high level of customer service to all clients with enthusiasm
  • Keep information about weddings and clients confidential
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion (generally cocktail or formal business wear for women, suit for men)
  • Be prompt for all events and arrive before the scheduled time
  • Respond to emails from clients and Slack notifications from our team members promptly.

Qualifications:

  • Significant experience with public speaking or performing
  • Experience working with difficult people and unique situations
  • Experience as an independent contractor who organizes his or her own work and has been responsible to customers
  • Ease with mobile technology and apps (our job is very mobile and we use a lot of technology)
  • Flexible schedule on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends
  • Belief in the concept of a modern marriage
  • Belief that ALL people deserve to be married, regardless of their sexual orientation
  • Belief that weddings can be joyful and fun while recognizing the importance and responsibility of the event
  • Comfort with performing ceremonies that are both non-denominational and non-religious

Partner officiants must have reliable transportation to get to weddings.

Compensation:

  • Partner Officiants are contractors and paid a flat fee per gig or rehearsal. They will be issued a 1099 at the end of the year. Payment is monthly by invoice.

Hiring Process:

  •  If interested in becoming a Partner officiant, please send a resume and cover letter by September 1st to tracy [at] oppsproject [dot] com. Interviews will happen on a rolling basis. Finalists will be asked to conduct a mock wedding ceremony in front of the Fountain at Forsyth Park. If the opportunity arises, you can also watch me officiate a wedding after being interviewed. 

Please note:  I am looking to bring in a person that I can work with long-term and is a part of my organization, not someone I can simply refer weddings to when I am booked. If you are looking to market yourself as an independent wedding officiant in the future, or currently have a website or Facebook page marketing yourself as an officiant, this is not the position for you. 

I look forward to your referrals and applications!

Meet Buffy Nelson, Partner Officiant

Since 2016, Buffy Nelson has been working with me as one of my Partner Wedding Officiants when I am unavailable or double booked. Buffy was originally hired to just cover my summer 2016 maternity leave, but has become a beloved member of the Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements team and our clients love her!

Savannah wedding officiant Buffy Nelson

Buffy brings rich experience to her job. She has lived in Savannah for 20 years and is a graduate of the Savannah College of Arts and Design. She was born in Dalton, GA and was lucky enough to fall in love with her best friend, Adam, and they have been together almost 25 years.

Here are some questions I asked Buffy and some pictures of her officiating ceremonies! Here is probably my favorite picture from all her ceremonies. 

Savannah wedding officiant Buffy Nelson

 

What made you want to officiate marriages?

I wish I had a definitive explanation, but I don’t. When I discovered you were looking for another wedding officiant, I knew I wanted to do it, and I knew I would be good at it. I have never been that confident about anything ever! LOL!

I really like being around happy people. It makes me happy!

What has surprised you the most about officiating?

How calm the couples are when they get married. How intimate the ceremony really becomes. We could be on the beach, in the park, one of the squares, people all around, and for those few minutes, it doesn’t matter. It’s just them. It’s so sweet.

Is this your only job?

Actually, I am also a licensed real estate agent with Seabolt Brokers, LLC.  This is not my only job, but this job can turn a bad day into a good one. On any given day, a couple gets married, I get to marry them and everyone is happy. Who wouldn’t want to do that?!?!?

Thanks for all you do for your couples, Buffy! 

Wedding Photo Fun with Cupcakes!

As part of our Savannah Elopement Experience and Intimate Destination Wedding ‘ceremony plus photography’ packages, we offer cupcakes for you to enjoy as part of your post-ceremony newlywed photography tour among our historic squares. We’ve found that having a sweet treat together after the ceremony (and sometimes, paired with a glass of champagne) can make our couples relaxed and happy, which is exactly the vibe we are striving for with your Savannah elopement! They also make a great prop for photos, both sweet and silly.

As a summer treat, here are some of our favorite pictures of our couples enjoying their post-wedding ceremony cupcakes. We provide your cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes of Savannah because they are so tasty and easy to order for just for the two of you. The most requested flavor, is of course, Wedding Cake, but our favorite for photos is Confetti Fun.  

Photos by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

Savannah Elopement in Pulaski Square
Aly & Kris, May 2017
Wedding cucpakes
Amanda & Robert, March 2017

Cupcakes also lead to sweet wedding kisses. 

Wedding kiss in Savannah
Heidi & Rich, May 2017
Shiloh & Keith, June 2017
Pulaski square savannah wedding photography
Amanda & Timothy, May 2017

Jacob told us that he left all the details for their elopement to Katie, but insisted on picking the cupcake flavor himself!

Kate & Jacob, April 2017, Confetti Fun
Katie & Jacob, April 2017
Keisa & Sheldon, April 2017

Sara & Zach really got into posing and we loved it! How fun is their relationship?!?

Sara & Zach, June 2017
Sara & Zach, June 2017
David & Angel, February 2016

I love how the cupcake looks with her nails! 

Victoria & Matthew, February 2017, Strawberry Shortcake
Lacey & Aaron, June 2017
Kristen & Ben, September 2016
Lindsey & Ryan, January 2016
Maggie & Nathan, April 2017
Shannon & Michael, April 2017

Rob & Josh teased a cupcake smash… but held off on it. 

Rob & Josh, May 2016

However, our final featured couple, Stephanie & Paul, did the traditional cake/cupcake smash. To date, they have been the only ones who have gone through with it… and it was awesome!

Stephanie & Paul, November 2016
Stephanie & Paul, November 2016
Stephanie & Paul, November 2016
Stephanie & Paul, November 2016

How amazing and sweet were these photos!? We love our couples. 

One last note: We are happy to provide cupcakes for our two elopement packages, but we like our couples to consider these two thoughts in planning and filling out their questionnaire with their ceremony preferences.

One, is that because Savannah does get SO hot at times, there may be a chance of melting or icing sliding off that we can’t help. That can especially be the case in late spring and summer. Even if that happens, they will still be delicious!

Second, while the general idea of cupcakes probably sounds awesome when you are filling out your questionnaire for your package, if you don’t see yourself as the type to take pictures like these, or really don’t like sweets, you may want to pass on having them for your hour with us.

And on that note, after looking at all these pictures again, I am off to Gigi’s to get a cupcake of my own (my personal favorite flavor is Chocolate Chip Cooke Dough)!

 

Until next time,

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements 

 

Three Planning Tips for Writing Your Wedding Vows

I love when couples decide they would like to write their own vows to each other, or even offer personal statements before the “official vows.” While it is not necessary to write your own vows to have an authentic and personal ceremony, it can make it something extraordinarily wonderful if you are open to it.

For many years, I have offered a free vow writing guide to couples who are looking for help on what to write about in their vows. Here are some more things to think about when you write about your wedding vows for your ceremony. 


1. Decide on the format, structure and length together.

Tybee Island Wedding Vows

    Amanda & Gregory, July 2016, with officiant Buffy.

This depends on the couple, but I always thing it is a good idea for a couple to decide how ‘aligned’ they want their vows to be. Some people are natural speakers, and even prefer speaking from the heart rather than preparing anything in advance. Some people want to make sure that there are no surprises at the ceremony. Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to decide together what “ground rules” you will have for writing what you say on your wedding day. Specifically, I encourage you to sit down and answer these questions together.

  • Do you want to use a narrative format where you talk about your love or a list of promises to each other or a combination?
  • Do you want to have the same format or are you okay having each person choose the format that goes naturally with their writing and speaking style?
  • Do you want to stick to the same length?
  • Do you want to each say your own vows or have Tracy repeat them in question format and simply say “I Do” at the end?

Generally speaking, for clients who are nervous about the vow writing process, I recommend the following framework to get them going. 

  • Begin with 1-2 sentences of why you are excited about marrying this person
  • State 3-5 specific promises you want to make to this person
  • Make a closing statement, maybe even the same one. 
  • Stick to 250-500 words total.

2. Make them specific.

Michael & Nicole, November 2016

The best vows are specific to your relationship, in addition to promising to love, cherish and take care of each other. My previously mentioned vow guide has a number of prompts that can help you think back of things you share, quirks you know about each other, and moments you have experienced together. Here are some examples some of my couples have used in writing their own vows.

J & S, June 2016

  • Do you promise to make sure there is always cheese in the house, to tell her honestly if there is food in her teeth, and to get her a chocolate from the freezer whenever she asks?
  • Do you promise to listen to him, to support him in all his endeavors, and to accept that 82 games is the perfect length for a hockey season?

C & W, November 2016

  • I promise to put my phone on silent when we’re watching a movie.
  • Thanks for being patient with me, especially when I’m hungry. Oh, and thanks for not judging my insane obsession with Asian cuisine.

M & K, May 2016

  • She promises to always be your biggest fan and make sure that all new friends are immediately informed that you were named best dancer in high school.
  • She promises to go on fishing adventures with you, even if those adventures require bringing along a machete.

F & W, May 2016

  • There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I love you with all my heart and soul, and to me, this will always have been enough.
  • As Twitter user Jomny Sun said “falling in love is like having spent your entire life reading a thesaurus and someone hands you a dictionary.” And I know that’s cheesy, but so are you, and I want to be cheesy together.

3. Choose the best way to read them that works for you and your ceremony. 

Alfredo & Vanessa, March 2017

An important consideration is to consider how you may want to read your vows on the day of your wedding. Please don’t try to memorize them! You can bring your vows handwritten or typed on any type of paper, bring them in special notebooks, or have them included as part of your ceremony script and read them off my tablet. The pictures included in the post demonstrate the different ways you can choose to read your vows.

  • If you choose to bring them on paper, think of the weather conditions and quality of paper. I unfortunately had a ceremony out on Tybee where the weather conditions make a groom’s notebook paper vows tear and run so he had a hard time reading them. if your ceremony is during a rainy or windy time of year, cardstock may be a good idea.
  • If you’d like to handwrite your vows, a vow notebook is perfect. You can find them on Amazon or Etsy. Small colorful Moleskin notebooks are also great options.
  • Finally, think about how you will want to keep the vows after your ceremony, if you are creating a memory box or scrapbook. If you include your vows electronically with my ceremony script, you can also print them later for your keepsake plans.

 

I offer a review of your personal vows as part of any of my custom writing ceremony packages. If you send me your vows, I’ll read them and give joint and individual feedback on how they mesh without spoiling your surprises. I hope this post makes you confident that you can definitely write the perfect wedding vows, the ones that are romantic, joyful, meaningful and authentic to your relationship!

Until next time, 

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

Harry Potter wands

My Harry Potter Inspired Wedding Ceremony

When I am writing ceremonies for my clients, I take all sorts of information into consideration in how to choose and create a wedding ceremony that is special for them. For couples who select my Choose Your Own Adventure package, the Savannah Elopement Experience or my other custom writing packages, I offer a “playful” theme and when a couple picks this option, my inner nerd squeals! For most of my playful ceremonies, I use references from literature or pop culture that resonate with the couple and unless the couple asks me otherwise, I keep it subtle (quotes, etc.). Some references I have used have included Dr. Seuss, other children’s literature, Star Wars, The Office, Parks & Recreation, The Big Bang Theory, LOST, Friday Night Lights, and Marvel comics, among others. However, without a doubt, the most popular playful reference request I receive is to include some Harry Potter.

[One weekend, I had 3 separate playful ceremonies that invoked references from Parks & Recreation, Marvel comics, and Harry Potter respectively. The experience left me wanting to write fan fiction where Leslie Knope defeated Hydra at Hogwarts, all in the name of true love!]

Why Harry Potter might one ask? To be fair, it is not a very romantic “text.” While you can admire the deep love Snape had for Lily, it is tragic. Harry and Ginny’s love is somewhat muted and often boring (in my opinion), and there are whole essays all over the internet about how problematic Ron & Hermione’s relationship is at times. But Harry Potter is still more about love than your average romantic sonnet is. It is about universal love that is unequivocal and pure and so strong, love that can defeat evil on its own. What marriage would not want that strong force behind them?

For many others, Harry Potter is an easy bonding experience for couples in those early days, something not very risky they can discuss and love together as their relationship grows. That was certainly true for my husband and I. Just a few months into dating, we went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando where we bought wands and all sorts of gear. It was a magical trip that is a fond memory I will always have of us and a happy milestone in the progression of our relationship.

Harry Potter wedding
I mean, how cute is he? Wouldn’t you fall in love just based on that enthusiasm?
Harry Potter wands
We really don’t see ourselves as evil people, but these were the best wands, hands down.
I am a Gryffindor
I always say that I thought I was a Ravenclaw, but small business ownership made me a Gryffindor.

A wedding officiant always has to consider how many of her secrets she should give away, but in the interest of love and and nerd culture, I am publishing one of my Harry Potter influenced ceremonies. Again, because most of my couples are looking for subtle, the influences are understated.


INTRODUCTION AND ADDRESS

We are assembled here today to celebrate and support the marriage of YYY and XXX. They are delighted that you are here and thank you for your participation on their special day.

Today there will be no dearly beloved, no betrothed, and no ancient rhyme of the married.

Today there are no dead languages to solemnize vows that are very much alive and will remain so for a lifetime.

Today is about promises that become permanent and friends that become family.

Marriage is the clasping of hands, the hearts, the union of two lives as one. Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. A husband and wife are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and even critic… and we can do that, because in marriage we say not only, “I love you today,” but also, “I promise to love you tomorrow, the next day and always.”

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open. Marriage is also a place of freedom. Freedom to fully express who you are, knowing that you have someone there to catch you when you fall, encourage you when you are discouraged, and applaud your successes.
 
Marriage makes you strong- independently and together.
 
This is all true. These are essential parts of a good marriage, but there are also other important components – friendship, courage and even risk -because marriage is a risk – a great and glorious risk when you embark on the adventure in the same spirit. It is also a great responsibility. In the words of Albus Dumbledore, “We can’t choose our fate, but we can choose others… The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
 
However, when you accept that responsibility for someone’s heart, there are rewards you receive when you take risks, share your journey with your whole heart, and let love walk into your life.

You find your soulmate.

Someone who has locks that fit our keys and keys to fit our locks. And we know that when we feel safe enough to open the locks, we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be.

Our soulmates make us feel treasured, safe and loved beyond our wildest measures. We get the partner and lover and protector we always desired, and maybe even needed.

YYY and XXX  met at a mutual friend’s birthday party where [something amazing and unique happened]. It may sound silly, but beautiful love stories often start this way, where someone does something small, unexpected and quirky and playful. Because it is the amalgamation of small things that slowly help you discover that the person you were meant to be with, your companion for life, is already there right beside by you.

And, that is how the bonds of marriage are formed. For marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm, a web that is fashioned of love.

YYY and XXX, may the promises you make here today, reflect the love and sincerity of your truest intention for this union. When life is peaceful and when it is painful, may you continuously be reminded of the deepest intention of the vows you make here.

VOWS & RING EXCHANGE

Your rings seal the vows of marriage and represent a promise for everlasting love. It is a physical manifestation of the promises joining the bride and groom together.

XXX-

Do you promise to stand by YYY always, have faith in her and encourage her,
to listen to her and laugh with her and to hold her,
to communicate fully and fearlessly with each other,
to value your differences as much as your common ground,

and to be her friend, lover, and partner for all the days of your lives as her husband?

[XXX: Always.]

YYY-

Do you promise to stand by XXX always, have faith in him and encourage him,
to listen to him and laugh with him and to hold him,
to communicate fully and fearlessly with each other,
to value your differences as much as your common ground,

and to be his friend, lover, and partner for all the days of your lives as his wife?

[YYY: Always.]

BLESSING & PRONOUNCEMENT

YYY and XXX, may your marriage be blessed with love, peace and happiness. As you go out into the world and begin your new origin story as a married couple, please remember that you are only as strong as you are united, as weak as you are divided. You are protected, in short, by your ability to love.

YYY and XXX, you have promised each other your love, devotion, and commitment. By the authority vested in me by the state of Georgia, I pronounce you husband and wife and publicly present you as Mr. and Mrs. ZZZ. You may kiss the bride!


And who has a Harry Potter influenced wedding ceremony? Just about anyone! Of the 15 couples who requested Harry Potter references over the last year, they ran the spectrum in age and other demographics and the formality or casualness of their wedding ceremony differed greatly. Here are just three couples who used variations of this ceremony.

Bill & Shawn, June 2016
Fallen & Jason, March 2017

 

Maria & Tyler, February 2016

My Harry Potter influenced wedding ceremony is available through my Choose Your Own Adventure or Savannah Elopement Experience package as is or with edits, and parts can be used with any higher level custom writing package as well. If you are a big Harry Potter fan, there are lots of other options you can also use for ceremony rituals, including a ‘sorting’ ceremony, a ritual to honor the physical representation of memories for a Pensieve, or a unity ceremony with potions, among others. I’d love to brainstorm them with you!

My final thoughts: Your wedding ceremony is a blank slate. Make it about you and bring in as much or as little nerd as you’d like. You’ll never be sorry.

May you Also be protected by your ability to love.

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements