Hey y’all! We get lots of questions about how our Client Concierge service works. I thought it makes the most sense to just show you examples of how awesome this service is! Our Client Concierge service is included in our Intimate Destination Wedding Package and Savannah Elopement Experience, and can be purchased as an add-on for our Popup Elopement Package.
These services are managed by our Client Concierge, Shannon Vaughn, who is a master of organization and vendor relationships. She spends her days texting, emailing and calling our partners to get things ready for your wedding ceremony, with the occasional assist from me.
As your Client Concierge, Shannon helps clients virtually with tasks in ten categories.
Research lodging options
Make dinner reservations
Complete permit applications (and assist with chair rentals)
Order and have a bouquet delivered
Book a hair and makeup artist
Book an acoustic musician
Order and have a cake delivered
Book a videographer
Make carriage ride reservations for the beginning or end of your photo session
Make pedicab reservations for your extra hour of photography
Here is a summary of services we have booked for clients in each category.
Research lodging options and make dinner reservations.
Shannon can conduct initial research for lodging options, based on your location preferences and budget, for both you and your guests. We can also get quotes for dinner and party options on the day of your wedding, as well as some other limited reservations for your stay.
We don’t take photos of the celebration after we end our couple’s photography session with you, but we have helped couples arrange for celebrations at all sorts of restaurants including The Olde Pink House, 700 Drayton at the Mansion, Rocks on the River, Vic’s on the River, Moon River, 45 Bistro, The Pirate’s House, The Chart House and the Savannah Riverboat, among others.
We have also helped couples cater in their celebrations, whether it was for the couple staying at an AirBnB, or for 30 guests in a small venue. The possibilities are only limited by our imagination and the resources available for your date and budget.
Complete permit applications (and assist with chair rentals).
For couples who have the number of guests where a permit is needed, we’ve helped dozens of them rent squares and Forsyth Park through the City of Savannah, as well as arrange permits for Bonaventure Cemetery and the Wormsloe Historic Site. We’ve also helped get quotes for chair rentals for those couples who have wanted chairs.
Greenwich Park at Bonaventure Cemetery, Bonaventure Cemetery and the Wormsloe Historic Site all require permits, even if it just the couple.
Order and have a bouquet delivered.
We work with a few floral designers who create unique wedding and elopement bouquets. Here are a few of our favorites from the past winter and spring seasons.
We can also help you order flowers for the whole family, including corsages and boutonnieres.
Book a hair and makeup artist.
Hair and makeup is our most popular requested service for both our elopements and weddings. It’s fun to get glammed up for your photos! Here are some looks created by our most popular artists, with the brides’ directions.
Book an acoustic musician.
We can book any type of musician for your ceremony, but our most popular, by far, are our violinists!
Order and have a cake delivered.
We assist with lots of cake deliveries, but we don’t have many photos in our library because we’re not at the post-ceremony celebration. We did snag some photos from Erica & Jonathan’s Intimate Destination Wedding of these delicious deserts at the Savannah Botanical Gardens.
Make carriage ride reservations for the beginning or end of your photo session.
We can also book a carriage ride for you to pick you up or drop you off (via a short ride) at your ceremony location, if allowed. Because of city regulations on when and where horses can go, this is not actually a very popular service, but if you are interested and can make it work with your plans, we’ll help make it happen!
Make pedicab reservations for your extra hour of photography.
And finally… if you have two hours of photography with us, we highly recommend that you let us book you pedicabs with Royal Bike Taxi. Chris and his team will drive you around town in their pedicabs so you can get photos with twice as many backgrounds, as well as relax and drink some champagne, feel a nice breeze and share some snuggles as you come down from the highs of making your lifetime commitment to each other. Our couples have reported it is one of their favorite experiences of their wedding.
We’re so excited to work with you and make your elopement or Intimate Destination Wedding in Savannah perfect! If you need more information to help you decide which package is for you, you can read our planning guide, too. You can also fill out the form below if there are additional questions you’d like us to answer.
One of our most frequently asked questions I receive when someone books a Ceremony + Photography package is “What do you do when the weather gets rainy?” While I would love to be able to guarantee wonderful weather to every couple who marries in Savannah, I lack those super powers. I do track weather via multiple sources leading up to every ceremony, to try to relieve as much stress as possible from the couple.
We, of course, have backup plans for your wedding in case it does end up being rainy on your wedding day! Here is a quick summary of those options.
As long as it is not completely stormy, we usually use one of three outdoor backup places for the ceremony. One is the bandshell at Forsyth Park, which is a big open space and completely covered outside theater. The second and third are the gazebos in Whitefield and Crawford Squares. These locations do have capacity limits.
Savannah’s weather is very temperamental, especially during the summer, and the weather changes frequently during a day. Depending on our schedule that day, we can also reschedule the time with you if rain is only predicted for a short period of time and it works with the rest of your plans.
If there is no way we can have your wedding outside safely, we also have an indoor venue, the Savannah Cozy Chapel, and we will do everything we can to have a great time with the space. If you have chosen the Intimate Destination Wedding package and are having a reception style celebration after your ceremony, you may also be able to use that location as backup.
The most important thing is to keep an open mind and commit to having fun, no matter what the circumstances. We have some clear umbrellas to have some fun with for the rest of your photos. One of the unexpected benefits of rainy day photos can be dreamy lighting.
Here are some photos of couples who rolled with the rain, had fun experiences, and received beautiful photographs.
We look forward to working with you to make your day perfect!
Want more information on our services? Send us a note!
I recently updated my Meet Tracy page and as part of that project, had some copy that did not make the final cut, including some random facts and photos. The facts were fun to write so I decided to use the content for a blog post for those of you who would like to get to know more about my background before I became a professional wedding officiant and what I do in my spare time.
So without further ado … here are ten random facts about me!
1. I am a self-described high-achiever, just like Hermione Granger. My first career goal at 5 years old was to be a professional writer and I sold my first story to a national publication, ‘Teen Magazine, when I was a sophomore in high school. Luke Perry was on the cover and there was an insert for Beverly Hills 90210 perfume inside.
I am reminded every time I watch Riverdale how old I am.
2. My first job after graduation from college was as a Teach for America corps member in the Washington Heights section of New York City. I am friends on Facebook with many of my students who are all now in their early 30s and living life to the fullest. I am proud to have even been a small part of their lives as I see them unfold in real time.
3. I have a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University, with a focus on economics and finance. It may seem like a strange skillset to bring to weddings, but I’ve found that absorbing and analyzing information to create stories is my jam, whether that data is numbers, words, or photos for my website.
4. I listen to Spotify playlists while I write ceremonies. My playlists include songs from The Vitamin String Quartet and Rockabye Baby, with a little Beastie Boys, New Edition, Janet Jackson and Tegan & Sara thrown in if I need an energy spike. I ask all my couples for a song to listen to while I write their ceremony and I’ve created a public playlist of all those songs on Spotify (10+ hours of music and counting!) .
6. My mom superpower is that I can make any lesson to my son sound like it is anoriginal Daniel Tiger song. The secret is to channel your inner Tom Haverford.
7. When I am not working or mom’ing, I try to spend my time on civic activities that elevate other women in Savannah. I’ve run a number of women’s leadership groups and I am also a board member of a non-profit called Shelter from the Rain that provides mentoring and other support to low-income single moms in our community.
8. I grew up off the beaches of Cape Cod and will always prefer the Atlantic to the Pacific and the ocean to the mountains. When I lived in New York City, I rented a house every summer with friends on Fire Island, a secluded island off Long Island only accessible by ferry and we had a famous neighbor. Her name begins with a T, her book begins with a B and she has a TV show with a number in it. I found that celebrities REALLY are just like us. I love living close to Tybee Island and going around 5PM during the summer when you can see the dolphins swimming on by.
9. I love a good bourbon on the rocks, especially out on our deck in April or October. It is the quintessential Savannah experience.
10. Everyone ALWAYS wants to know my craziest wedding storiesand two stand out. For the first, the bride was four hours late for her ceremony and was not bothered at all. It was my first wedding back from maternity leave and I almost took down my website and closed up shop when I got home!
The second involves a gentleman who showed up to his elopement with a marriage license, but without his bride, and told me that he didn’t think their wedding was important enough for her to ask for time off from work. I did eventually marry them- together- on another date … and less than two years later, he tried to schedule another elopement with me to marry someone else (I politely declined).
And I still love this job. The easygoing couples- and those that bring me challenges- make this experience the best. And yes, I plan to write a book some day all about it someday!
Thanks for reading! I can’t wait to learn more about you, too!
Hey y’all! You may wonder how the process works once you have booked us for your wedding ceremony. It’s a great question! My goal is to make everything as stress free and organized as possible, meaning I am big on processes and timelines! I also value responsiveness, so if you ever have a question you can’t find an answer to, or need to adjust something, email us and we’ll answer it as soon as possible.
Here is an overview of how we’ll work together.
For All Clients
After you have sent us an inquiry, had all your questions answered, and booked your package with us, we’ll send you an email with a basic timeline for your wedding. Within a few days after that, we’ll also send two emails. One email will include a link to our Client Portal, a collection of resources and wedding advice I have developed over the years, and a link to your personal Document Center. The Document Center hosts all your event information, contract(s), invoice(s) and questionnaire(s). I encourage my couples to create a special email folder for all the emails you might receive from us!
The second email you’ll receive is a questionnaire you’ll complete to tell us your ceremony preferences. This is an important one! Depending on which package you’ve purchased, the questions will be different. We recommend that you complete the questionnaire as a couple, as soon as you can, and make the experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. The more information you give me, the better I can select or create a ceremony for you.
Once I review your questionnaire, I may send you some follow-up emails with tips if you have selected a specific theme or have told me you’d like to write your own vows. If you are having an elopement and are unsure about the location, I’ll also follow-up to narrow down choices and talk through the pros and cons of each.
Throughout the planning process, you’ll receive emails from me or Shannon, our Scheduling Manager & Client Concierge, to check in. Some will be automated, such as at 90 days before, and some will be specific emails to your experience, like at our 30 day check in where we make sure all your original wedding ceremony preferences are correct. If you have chosen a package that includes a video or in-person consultation (Create Your Story, The All In, or Intimate Destination Wedding Packages), we’ll schedule that 90 days out, unless you give us a different timeline for your appointment based on travel or other circumstances.
After the 30-day mark passes, I’ll begin writing your wedding ceremony! If you chose the Tracy’s Choice or Popup Elopement Package, I’ll use the answers to your questionnaire to select a pre-written ceremony from my personal library for your event. If you choose any of my other packages, I’ll use your answers, or my notes from our consulting session, to prepare your ceremony.
[FYI: I ask all my clients to provide a song I should listen to while I write their ceremony. I love these songs and keep them on a Spotify playlist!]
About 14-7 days from your wedding, I will send you a copy of your ceremony with a final confirmation of any logistics, such as how to pay your balance (if you have one) and arrival times. If you are working with one of my Partner Officiants, you’ll receive a formal introduction and during that email exchange, I’ll transition your primary correspondence to her.
Leading up to your wedding or elopement date, I’ll prepare for your ceremony! After the ceremony, I will take care of your marriage license based on the directions you provided during the planning process.
Ceremony Plus Photography Clients
For our clients who choose a Ceremony Plus Photography package, the ceremony creation process is exactly the same, but other things may be also happening at the same time to make your day perfect.
If you chose the Savannah Elopement Experience or the Intimate Destination Wedding, Shannon, our Client Concierge and Scheduling Manager, will help you with all your wedding planning tasks so they are set up and confirmed for your wedding or elopement. She’’ll send you a separate questionnaire, and schedule a follow-up phone call, if she has questions before she contacts other amazing Savannah wedding vendors. You can also add on this service for the Popup Elopement Package.
Here are some of the tasks Shannon can help you with.
Research lodging options
Make dinner reservations
Make carriage ride reservations for the beginning or end of your photo session
Make pedicab reservations for your extra hour of photography
Order and have a bouquet delivered
Order and have a cake delivered
Book a hair and makeup artist
Book an acoustic musician
Book a videographer
Complete permit applications
On the day of your wedding or elopement, your photographer, Megan Jones from It’s Megan Jones Photography will capture your day! How long you’ll be with Megan will vary, based on the package you booked with us.
If you selected the Popup Elopement Package, Megan will photograph the ceremony as well as take portraits of the couple in the same location. The whole process is designed to be simple and only takes about 20-25 minutes!
If you are a couple who chose the Savannah Elopement Experience, you will spend an hour with Megan, including the ceremony, and you’ll take a newlywed walk where you’ll get photos in multiple squares, and enjoy cupcakes and champagne, if requested.
If you are having an Intimate Destination Wedding, Megan will photograph you for two hours, including the ceremony. For this package, we recommend reserving pedicabs with Royal Bike Taxi for the second part of the package. Shannon can book the pedicabs on your behalf.
You can also add an extra hour of photography- with pedicabs- to the Savannah Elopement Experience package if you want more photos and more backgrounds.
Within one week to two weeks following the ceremony, Megan will cull through all the photos, edit her selections, and deliver an online gallery that you can use to share, download the digital files, and even order prints from. If you would like physical products with your photos, such as beautiful leather wedding albums, wall art in gallery wraps and gallery wrap clusters, she can send you a product guide and schedule a non-obligation, free consultation with you to review the options.
If Megan is already booked for your requested date and time, you may work with one of our Partner Photographers- Matthew & Ashly Fine Art + Film and Photos by Rich Burkhardt. If that is the case, you’ll know when you book, and the rest of the process will be exactly the same.
I hope that gives you a good overview of our client process and we look forward to working with you to officiate your ceremony, or plan your elopement or intimate wedding! And special thanks to Somi Benson-Jaja from Shot by Somi for the wonderful photos he took of us during a fun shoot, and Lindsey Wirht who did my makeup.
Hey y’all! I get many questions on what to wear to an elopement here in Savannah. With 300+ Ceremony Plus Photo packages booked over the last three years, I have witnessed all sorts of wedding attire… and that is the way it should be! Your wedding ceremony with me is a space where I want you to be as authentic as possible and feel safe and excited to do so.
Most of our couples choose to wear conventional wedding wear- long, white or ivory dresses and dark suits and tuxes, with a small percentage electing for something very casual. Our couples always look perfect, whether they are wearing a dress that’s big and poofy- or sleek and form-fitting- or a suit that features a a bow-tie. This particular blog post celebrates some of the more non-traditional choices we’ve seen from 2015 to 2017. It was hard to choose just a few highlights, but hopefully they give some inspiration to anyone planning a destination elopement who wants to try something different. I have separated these photos into categories: (1) Shimmer & Pink, (2) Vintage Love, (3) Pop of Color, (4) Elopement Style, (5) Unique & Awesome, and (6) Fashionable Grooms.
All photos are by It’s Megan Jones Photography unless otherwise noted. I am looking forward to seeing what all our 2018 couples (and beyond) wear to celebrate with us!
PS: Don’t forget to look at the shoes and the headpieces as you glance through these gorgeous elopement photos!
Shimmer & Pink
I’ve said before, on the blog and social media, that I don’t find myself very girly, but I am beside myself when someone shows up in an outfit that sparkles, shimmers, or is silver, pink or blush. Here are a few brides who selected dresses that made me squee.
I included an extra photo of Sophia because of her super glam jacket, too.
Many of our brides who choose to wear gowns still gravitate toward a vintage, or even boho look. These couples made it a whole theme or communicated to us that they found their decades-old dress in a thrift store or wore something given to them from their family.
Lacey looks so sassy in this photo. I love it!
Turns out a stole is also convenient to wrap your new husband in during the first kiss!
Even Patrick and Kelly’s dog dressed up for their day.
We love dogs, and babies!
And finally, you cannot get more vintage than a steampunk wedding.
Pop of Color
I love when couples wear color to their elopement. More of this, please!
What dreamy lighting these two ladies had for their portraits!
Surprisingly, Barbee is the only bride we’ve had wear black. I think it is an amazing option for anyone’s wedding day.
Many brides go with a short dress for an elopement. Here are just a few that rocked it. Lots of amazing outfits among these grooms, too!
More sassiness in Troup Square! Check out those matching shoes, too.
Michelle’s dress was short and long, and made for her to swish and swing all over Savannah!
Unique and Awesome
These two brides did not fit into their own category so I had to make one just for them. First, we have Brandi who rocked a bridal pantsuit.
Second, we have Amanda, who wore a custom made tutu for her special day.
And last, Victoria’s dress is in the unique category because of its design, and because it met a specific dress goal most women wish for: IT HAD POCKETS!
Grooms also have taken some risks, whether it is coordinating their outfits, wearing seersucker, or wearing a jacket that wasn’t a dark color.
And that’s a wrap. I hope you loved these 34 couples as much as I did!
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!
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.
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.
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 proudwhen this picture was featured inHuffPost Wedding’s Most Beautiful Weddings of July 2017 and they even featured it on their Instagram.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 fromlooking 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!
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.
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!
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.
That weekend, I also married Jenny & Renee in the older part of Bonaventure Cemetery, overlooking the marsh, withLyndi & Jason Photography. They included their puppy who was incredibly sweet!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
The last Saturday of November brought me two couples and the first was Bonni & Monika from Augusta, GA. They were so cute!
My second couple were Andrea & Paul who were married at the Coastal Botanical Gardens. They used my All In Packageto 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 today’s world, 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. The Savannah Elopement Experience also includes a Client Concierge service where we can help you book other services for your wedding, detailed in our Planning Chart at the end of this post. You can add this service on to the Popup Elopement Package for $75.
Here are some examples of how couples used one of our elopement packages this year.
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!
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 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.
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.
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). You can also download the PDF here.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I love how Angela and Douglas poured their bright sand to make a unique pattern.
Jessica and Brian’s sand ceremony set kept with their Steampunk wedding theme.
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!
Laure-Jo & Luke involved all four of their children in their sand ceremony.
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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.