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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 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. 

  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 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). You can also download the PDF here.

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

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

 

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

Here Are 7 Reasons Why You Should Elope In Savannah, GA

I recently helped a reporter write a piece on the top destination wedding spots in the United States. The reporter ranked Savannah as number 10 out of 15 and used many of the details I provided which made me really happy. However, the conversation with her made me want to write my own list on why you should elope to Savannah or plan your intimate destination wedding here. When you review the facts, you’ll see that we are actually the BEST wedding and elopement destination in the country.

All photos in this post were taken by It’s Megan Jones Photography as part of one of our signature elopement packages, the Popup Elopement Package and the Savannah Elopement Experience. 


  1. Georgia’s Easy State Marriage Laws

Georgia has some of the easiest marriage laws in the country, if not the easiest of them all. This is important because you do not need to make your travel plans to include waiting periods, invite guests you don’t want to meet a witness requirement, or dig up a ton of documents for your application.

There is no waiting period for marriage licenses in Georgia so you can get married the same day you arrive as long as you have time to visit our courthouse when it is open (every weekday from 8-12 and 2-4). Our marriage licenses also never expire so you can get them on your first trip and get married on your second! Finally, our laws do not require witnesses for your ceremony and you only need your government IDs, as long as you have never been married before. If you have been previously married, you’ll also need a copy of your original certified divorce decree, but that is it. 

Here is more information on how to obtain your marriage license at our local courthouse.

Keeping it simple deserves a high five and a woo hoo! 

lafayette square elopement, savannah
Denise & Vincett, October 2016, Lafayette Square
orleans square elopement, savannah
Tifani & Heather, June 2016, Orleans Square

2. Beautiful Locations For Your Wedding or Elopement Pictures

If you have looked at my location guide, you know that we have AMAZING places to have your pictures and if you are eloping, you can go ahead and have your ceremony and photos at any of our 22 historic squares as well as Forsyth Park and Tybee Island for free. Outdoor spaces like the Wormsloe Historic Site and Greenwich Park are also available for small fees.

elopement, whitfield square, savannah
Victoria & Matthew, February 2017, Whitfield Square 
wedding pictures in savannah
Amy & Dean, January 2017, Chippewa Square
pulaski sqaure wedding pictures
Whitney & Michael, July 2016, Pulaski Square
forsyth park elopement, savannah
Shawn & Bill, June 2016, Forsyth Park
tybee island wedding kiss
Amanda & Gregory, July 2016, Tybee Island,
Tina & DJ, May 2016, Greenwich Park at Bonaventure Cemetery
Wormsloe wedding picture
Erin & Tracy, March 2017, Wormsloe Historic Site

3. Experience Good Weather All Year

While it is true that there are peak spring and fall months for wedding ceremonies and elopements in Savannah because of perfect temperatures and amazing blooms, you can have your wedding here in the winter months of December, January and February or the summer months of June, July and August and the odds are in your favor that the weather will be just fine and you will have an incredible day. 

winter wedding in savannah
Brandi & Matt, February 2017, just off Columbia Square
wedding photography in Savannah
Cassie & Jared, August 2016, just off Forsyth Park

4. Make Use Of Our Experienced Wedding Vendor Professional Community

In many cities, wedding professionals are only available on weekends or have minimum purchases for flowers, wedding hair and makeup, or even desserts. Not in Savannah! In 2016, our officiants married 381 couples and the majority of them were during the week because of Savannah’s reputation for elopements. If you would like to take advantage of a quiet weekday to enjoy your elopement and be pampered, our wedding vendors will not be surprised and will be eager to help and give you the same level of service you would expect for a larger weekend wedding. 

wedding bouquet savannah
Nicole & Michael, November 2016. Bouquet by Pink House Florist.
bouquet in savannah for elopement
Alison & Brian, February 2017. Bouquet by Urban Poppy.
Katie & Jacob, April 2017. Hair & makeup by Laura at Roots Southern Salon. Pedicab by Royal Bike Taxi.
Jennifer & Jeff, April 2016. Makeup by Lindsey Wihrt.

5. Eat & Drink Your Way Through Your Elopement Week

Savannah is known for its incredible food and restaurants. We have Southern food and amazing seafood, from fancy to casual, as well as everything in between. Some of my favorites include The Olde Pink House, Vic’s On The River (my favorite shrimp & grits in the city), Local 11Ten (splurge on the chef’s tasting), and The Grey, the recipient of many prestigious national awards. For more casual fare, you can also fit in some delicious grass-fed burgers at Green Truck, breakfast at Clary’s, and lunch at Mrs. Wilke’s

Savannah also has liberal drinking laws and our restaurants and bars offer our drinks “to-go” in clear plastic cups as you can drink alcohol while you’re walking anywhere north of Jones Street which covers most of downtown Savannah. It is an incredibly relaxing and liberating experience to stroll around our squares on a sunny day, sipping a cocktail. 

6. Explore Our City…  Without a Car

Savannah’s historic district is completely walkable and includes walking tours, trolley tours, carriage rides, and more. You can get a full week of entertainment and activity without a car and getting bored. We also have pedicabs and Uber, Lyft, and Taxis to get around if you need them. One of the best things about getting away for a vacation is not having to worrying about your vehicle, parking, or following maps while driving!

7. Extend Your Trip and Travel the Coast from Charleston to Jacksonville. 

Savannah is in the heart of beautiful strip of coastal towns and cities that extends two hours north to Charleston, SC and two hours South to Jacksonville, FL. Rent a car for just a few days while you are here and explore each way, viewing sites like Beaufort County, Sea Islands, Huntington State Park, and Folly Beach to the north and Jekyll Island, St. Simon’s Island, Cumberland Island, and Amelia Island to the south. There is nothing better than an adventure to celebrate your new married life. 

To recap, Savannah is a great place for you and your love to say I Do. So when are y’all booking your elopement package with us?!?!

Until next time,

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

My Wedding Ceremony Tips For Anxious Couples

A few years ago, I wrote this post for a wedding publication with ceremony planning ideas for brides who struggle with anxiety. The publication that ran it did not do much to promote it, and I have decided to re-run it here with some small edits so I can easily provide a link to the information to clients. I was an anxious bride myself and used many of these tips!


Couples who hire me to officiate their Savannah weddings often tell me up front that they are looking for ceremonies and vows that are “short and sweet.” When I first began my work, I wondered if brides thought I charged by the word!

After getting to know my couples, I realized that many brides – and grooms – seek “short and sweet” ceremonies because they are uncomfortable being the center of attention. Some are inexperienced at having everyone’s eyes on them and that makes them nervous; others have been under treatment for clinical anxiety and the walk down the aisle is an idea that keeps them up at night.

Keeping your ceremony short is one strategy for dealing with jitters, but if you’re truly anxious, even five minutes can seem like a lifetime. Instead, I encourage my clients to plan their ceremonies with their anxiety in mind. Here are tips that some of my clients have used to help them have a wonderful, stress-free day.

Orleans square wedding ceremony
No anxiety here!

#1. Practice.
You do not need to have a formal rehearsal to get comfortable with your wedding ceremony and the flow of it before your big day. Get the script from your wedding officiant and practice at home with your fiancé. Understand what it feels like to stand with him. Learn whether holding hands will make you feel more comfortable or if you want to hold your bouquet instead. You’ll likely find that standing in this together isn’t as scary as you think.

 

#2. Have a private “first look.”
Many couples decide to have a private “first look” between the bride and groom rather than having the groom see the bride for the first time she walks down the aisle. You will feel so many different emotions the first time you see each other; making it a private moment can help eliminate the anxiety.

My colleague, wedding photographer Megan Jones of It’s Megan Jones Photography, agrees based on the weddings and receptions she has shot. “A wedding day can be a hectic time taken over by family, so insist on a private moment with your fiancé with your photographer. When I am asked to photograph a private first look, I have seen the calming effect of it throughout the whole day.”

My couple, Jeff and Jennifer, decided to have a private first look and walk into the ceremony together. Look how calm and relaxed they look.

Couple's first look at Forsyth Park
Photo by It’s Megan Jones Photography

It will still be special even if it is not in front of everyone. Look at Jeff’s expression as he saw Jennifer approach!

Groom reaction to bride
Beautiful.

#3. Skip the procession or change it.

Yes, I said it. You don’t have to walk down the aisle and have everyone’s eyes on you if you don’t want to. Depending on your venue, you could have cocktails before your ceremony and mingle with guests without an entrance. When you are ready to begin, you can quietly take your place with your fiancé and officiant and have your coordinator or musician give cues so guests know that you are starting.

You might also feel strength in numbers. I walked into my wedding laughing and surrounded by amazing women who had been an essential part of my journey as a single lady. It felt empowering and instilled a sense of confidence that carried me throughout the ceremony.

savannah ga wedding
From my own wedding. I showed this to a client once, and she said we looked like a girl squad from a Taylor Swift video.

If you want to skip the procession, but are concerned about missing a special moment with your dad, you can make sure to schedule private moments with your parents. In all the weddings I have performed, fathers always seems to be the most anxious of all and uniquely nervous about messing up the job of walking the bride down the aisle. I suspect many would be happy to be relieved of their duty as long as they know you haven’t forgot about them.

 

#4. Have your officiant say your personalized vows for you.

Couples often think about wedding vows as black and white – you can have customized wedding vows that you read yourselves, or the traditional vows that talk about sickness and death. That is not the case! Ceremonies and vows come in many shades of grey.

If you would like to have personalized vows but are too nervous to read them yourself, work with your officiant so he or she can read them and you can say “I do.” I do this all the time! You do not have to have a cookie-cutter ceremony just because you do not want to speak.

 

#5. Skip the reception rituals or enlist some help.
The entrance, the first dance, the throwing of the bouquet can all be triggers for the anxious bride. Once again, you don’t have to do any of these or can change them as you see fit. If you want to have a first dance with your husband but don’t want the spotlight in you, tell some special friends and your bridal party what your song is beforehand and let them know that you want them to join in as soon as they see the two of you hit the dance floor. Everyone else will get up and dance, too, and give you a more private moment.

 

#6. Hire vendors that make you feel comfortable.

If you suffer from anxiety, the rapport you have with the people who will make your wedding special will be very important. If a vendor is going to question every decision and make you feel guilty for breaking tradition, you are probably not a match, no matter how well regarded they are in the wedding industry.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and tell your vendors about your anxiety. Vendors will appreciate your honesty and be grateful. You’ll get better service because they’ll communicate with you more carefully and provide more targeted ideas. If you are nervous about being assertive in person, communicate through email.

Tybee Island wedding
I know when everyone is laughing like this that they are definitely comfortable!

#7. Choose your officiant wisely.
Your officiant will set the tone for the ceremony, the time of the day when most people will have their attention directly on you. He or she is there to provide a safe and warm experience for you to both express your love and feel your emotions. Make sure that the officiant you hire makes you feel that he or she can do that for you and respect all the needs you might have.

You do not have to have a boring and impersonal wedding just because you suffer from anxiety or hate attention. Some creative thinking can help you plan a day that is authentic, meaningful, full of joy, AND relaxed!

 

‘Til next time!

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

Recap: Savannah Wedding and Elopement Location Recommendations

Thanks to all who read my blog series earlier this year on locations in Savannah and the low country where I officiated weddings in 2015. I am glad it was such a hit! Many couples have emailed thank yous and I thought I would write one index post with links to the individual to make it even easier for you to review potential locations.

If you did not read my original series, each post includes pictures  and videos of weddings I performed in 2015, as well as thoughts about each location. Click through to see the full posts and dozens of pictures. Here’s a companion map to the downtown area where all the squares are located.

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 1- Savannah Squares

This blog post covered Orleans, Chatham, Johnson, & Reynolds squares, and Morrell Park.

Wedding in Orleans Square
Kurt & Ian, Orleans Square, December 2015

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 2- Savannah Squares

This blog post covered Columbia, Troup, Whitfield, Crawford and Lafayette squares.

Lafayette Square Wedding
Lauren & Shane, Lafayette Square, December 2015

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 3- Squares & Forsyth Park

This blog post covered Calhoun, Monterey & Madison squares and Forsyth Park.

Forsyth Park Wedding
Brittany & Andrew, Forsyth Park, December 2015

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 4- Greenwich Park & Tybee Island

This blog post covered Greenwich Park at Bonaventure Cemetery and Tybee Island.

Wedding in Greenwich Park
Lori & Brenda, Greenwich Park, November 2015

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 5- Venues, Coastal GA & SC

This blog post covered various venues in Savannah, coastal Georgia, and low-country South Carolina. Highlights include The Mansion on Forysth Park, Vic’s on The River, the St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse and Hilton Head.

Wedding at Mansion on Forsyth Park
Jaclyn & Anson, Mansion on Forsyth Park, April 2015

Happy wedding planning!

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 5- Venues, Coastal GA & SC

Welcome to the final post in my Savannah wedding location review series. This post is Part 5 and includes pictures from a “catch-all” of inside venues in Savannah as well as other outside options in coastal Georgia and South Carolina. Don’t forget to check for Part 1 on Orleans, Chatham, Johnson & Reynolds squares, and Morrell ParkPart 2 on Columbia, Troup, Whitfield, Crawford and Lafayette squares, Part 3 on Calhoun, Monterey & Madison squares and Forsyth Park, and Part 4 on Greenwich Park and Tybee Island.

Most of the pictures in this post are from Instagram shots that I took myself unless otherwise noted. When appropriate, I’ve linked to the venue so you can contact them about booking information.

Hotels and Other Venues

Even though most of the pictures I post on my website are of weddings that have taken place outside, I officiate many weddings in Savannah at hotels and other traditional venues. Here is a sampling.

The Manson on Forsyth Park

Jackie & Anson, April 2015

Mansion at Forsyth Park Wedding

Picture courtesy of Jessica Pata of House of Pata.

The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa

Leslie & Gary, October 2015

Leslie & Gary had a custom written ceremony, including a beer unity ceremony in the gazebo. It was perfect.

Wedding at Savannah Westin

Picture courtesy of Westin staff.

Vic’s on The River

Ashley & Andrew, October 2015

Ashley & Andrew were one of my funniest couples all year. I was so glad they picked me to join the fun of their wedding!

Wedding at Vics on the River in Savannah

Picture courtesy of the bride.

Brockington Hall

Brittany & Ramon, March 2015

Brockington Hall Elopement

Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens

Katy & Duane, November 2015

Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens Wedding

The Landings

Nicole & Edwin, July 2015

Wedding at the The Landings Club in Savannah

Hunter Club @ Hunter Army Airfield

Jose & Nakeisha, November 2015

The Hunter Club is available to officers stationed at Hunter Army Airfield. I first met Jose & Nakeisha when I legally married them during a Signing Service in June 2015 (the picture of the high five in the lower left). I was thrilled to officiate their formal wedding ceremony in November in front of all of their friends and family, many who flew in from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I conducted their wedding ceremony in English and Spanish.

Hunter Club wedding

In addition to these, I conducted weddings at many other hotels, including The Andaz and The Brice, which are lovely venues. You can check out photographer Mackensey Alexander’s blog post of one of the weddings I performed at The Bryce.

Savannah & Coastal Georgia

Here are some other outside venues you might consider for your wedding, elopement or pictures.

Daffin Park

Michael & Sarah, March 2015

I officiated Michael & Sarah’s St. Patrick’s Day elopement in Daffin Park due to the parade and Forsyth Park being off limits that day. It’s a great place for pictures because of its fountain and Spanish moss.

Wedding Photography in Daffin Park

Daffin Park Elopement

Photos by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

Skidaway Island State Park

KC & Santo, July 2015

We all walked into the forest at Skidaway park for this elopement. It was beautiful and calming to be so close to nature.

Skidaway Park Elopement

KC and Santo went back to Skidaway Island State Park to take professional wedding photos in the fall with AptB Photography.

The St. Simon’s Island Lighthouse

Abby & John, March 2015

John helped restore the lighthouse as part of his professional trade and it was a very special place for them to get married.

Johnson Ecker Wedding - Jessica Barley Photography-155s

Photograph by Jessica Barley Photography.

Driftwood Beach @ Jekyll Island

Robbie & Diana, October 2015

Driftwood Beach Elopement in Jekyll Island

Old Freeman Family Farm in Sylvania, GA

Kelly & Gray, September 2015

Because of a rain delay and a compressed schedule, I was not able to snap a picture of this lovely couple, but did take a picture of their glorious wedding cake and other decor. If your desire is to have the barn wedding of your Pinterest dreams, this is a great location for it.

Sylvania Georgia Barn Wedding

Coastal South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park

Mary & Lisa, April 2015

Hunting Island South Carolina Elopement

Picture courtesy of the couple.

The Beach @ Hilton Head Island

Robin & Dawna, July 2015

I officiated a few weddings in Hilton Head, but this was a favorite and Robyn and Dawna’s daughter was the star of the show.

Hilton Head Elopement

Melrose Resort @ Daufuskie Island

Anna & Clint, September 2015

Daufuskie Island is an incredible place to get married. Anna & Clint Included their family-owned miniature horse, Nino, in their wedding. It was delightful!

Daufuskie Island Wedding

Daffodil Fields in Bluffton

Nikita & Jessica, May 2015

Nikita & Jessica were married in a restaurant, but took pictures before the wedding at the local daffodil field. It was off-season, but they were still able to take these gorgeous photos.

Same Sex Wedding Photography

 

Daffodil Fields Wedding Photography

Daffodil Fields Wedding

South Carolina wedding photos

Lowcountry wedding photos

Pictures by It’s Megan Jones Photography.

And that is a wrap on my photo highlights from 2015! I hope this blog series helps you with your decision on where to have your wedding in Savannah, Georgia and the surrounding lowcountry. I am looking forward to all the new places I already have booked for 2016 weddings, including Washington & Green squares, The Mackey House, the Charles Morris Center and the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel, among many others. I look forward to showing you pictures later this year!

Much love,
Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 4- Greenwich Park & Tybee Island

Hey y’all! Welcome to Part 4 of my review of locations to be married in Savannah. Check for Part 1 on Orleans, Chatham, Johnson & Reynolds squares, and Morrell ParkPart 2 on Columbia, Troup, Whitfield, Crawford and Lafayette squares, and Part 3 on Calhoun, Monterey & Madison squares and Forsyth Park.

Part 4 covers two underrated and inexpensive places to be married in Savannah- Greenwich Park within Bonaventure Cemetery and the beach on Tybee Island.

Unless otherwise noted, the professional photographs are from It’s Megan Jones Photography. The collages are made of pictures I took with my phone and posted on Instagram. Reference material on how to have your wedding or elopement at Greenwich Park and Tybee Island are included in the post.

Greenwich Park at Bonaventure Cemetery

Greenwich Park is a beautiful park located within Bonaventure Cemetery. It is about 15 minutes from the historic district. When you rent the park, you get the entire park which includes a white bridge over a pond, trees with sweeping Spanish moss, and winding pathways. The only drawback to Greenwich Park is the potential for bugs because of its closeness to the marsh. Wear a little bug spray for mosquitoes and avoid the grass in case you happen to step on a fire ant hill. Follow this advice and you and your guests will enjoy the beauty of the park.

Lori & Brenda, November 2015

I am including lots of pictures of Lori & Brenda’s sweet wedding with their son so you can see all of the different backgrounds at Greenwich Park that you can use for your ceremony and pictures. Lori & Brenda purchased our Popup Elopement Package.

same-sex marriage in Savannah

Savannah wedding at Bonaventure Cemetery

Savannah elopement in Greenwich wedding

Wedding pictures with Spanish moss

lesbian wedding in Savannah

Savannah wedding photography at Bonaventure cemetery

Emma & Brian, May 2015

Emma & Brian’s wedding was photographed by Kinzie Ferguson Photography.

savannah ga elopement photography bonaventure

Wedding ceremonies at Greenwich Park, Savannah
Jamin & Kristie (vow renewal), November 2015; Sommer & Matt, October 2015; Lindsay & Nathan, March 2015

 

How to Have Your Wedding & Elopement at Greenwich Park

Even if it just the two of you, you must obtain a permit to be married at Greenwich Park. The permit fee is $35 per hour for every 30 people for Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, and $125 for the first hour for every 30 people and $50 each additional hour for Monday-Friday 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. or 5 p.m.-8 p.m. or anytime on the weekend or on holidays.

Greenwich Park is booked through Savannah’s Department of Cemeteries.

The Beach @ Tybee Island

I am often struck by how lucky we are in coastal Georgia to not only have the beautiful parks and squares of historic Savannah, but the gorgeous beach at Tybee Island. There is little more romantic than a wedding by the ocean (says the girl who was brought up in a fishing town close to Cape Cod!). Tybee Island has many areas to get married in, including the popular South Beach and North Beach areas which have fewer beach goers than the boardwalk area. All of Tybee provides a great background for your wedding.

Ashli & Ryan, May 2015

Ashli and Ryan were married in front of about 20 friends and family members around 7th street.

Tybee Island wedding

beach wedding photography

Stephanie & John, September 2015

Stephanie and John were married in North Beach. I am including extra pictures because the laughing ones make me happy. Weddings are supposed to be fun! Also, they took pictures in the ocean after their ceremony which is a great photo opportunity on Tybee.

Tybee Island elopement

ocean wedding photography

Tybee Island wedding

 

 

beach wedding in Savannah

Savannah beach elopement

Tybee Island elopement

North Beach Tybee wedding

elopement in Tybee Island

Savannah beach wedding

wedding photography in ocean

Elaine & Paul, May 2015

Elaine and Paul were married in South Beach. One of the great features of South Beach is the random driftwood you’ll find in nooks and crannies close to the dunes.

south beach Tybee Island wedding

Tybee Island elopement driftwood

Weddings on Tybee Island, GA
Clockwise: Liz & Sonya, 7th Street, July 2015; Ann & Jeff, South Beach, October 2015, Mindy & Doug, South Beach, September 2015; Kelly & Kyle, The Anchor @ 2nd Street, June 2015; Diana & Cordell, Gazebo @ South Beach, October 2015

Jeremiah & Amanda, May 2015

Jeremiah & Amanda were married at sunset at the Tybee Island Light Station & Museum which is across from North Beach. You can contact them separately for booking.

Tybee Island Lighthouse wedding

Kate & David, May 2015

Kate & David were married in an inlet at North Beach. Mary from Yes Love Weddings posed them and their guests for some great group shots.

family wedding photography Tybee

How to Have Your Wedding & Elopement at Tybee Island

If it is just you and a few guests, it is free to have your wedding on Tybee Island. The beach is first come first serve. You cannot get married on the dunes. If you are going to have chairs or other structures such as an arch, you must receive a permit which is $25. You can contact the city directly to obtain the permit. There are restrictions on what decorations you can use as part of your wedding.

Stay tuned for my final log post in this series, Part Five, which will feature some favorite inside venues and other locations in coastal Georgia & South Carolina!

 

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 3- Squares & Forsyth Park

Here is Part 3 of my review of locations to be married in Savannah. Check for Part 1 on Orleans, Chatham, Johnson & Reynolds squares, and Morrell Park and Part 2 on Columbia, Troup, Whitfield, Crawford and Lafayette squares

Part 3 includes pictures from weddings I performed in Calhoun, Monterey & Madison squares and Forsyth Park.

Unless otherwise noted, the professional photographs are from It’s Megan Jones Photography. The collages are made of pictures I took with my phone and posted on Instagram. Reference material on how to have your wedding or elopement in a historic square Savannah is at the end of the post.

Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square is located on Abercorn and Taylor and is picturesque with lots of trees. There is some tourist traffic as it features Savannah’s most haunted houses. It was a gorgeous setting for these two weddings.

Sara & Rhett, April 2015

sara1

calhoun

Payge & Shaun, April 2015

Just_married_Shaun___Payge_who_posed_with_one_of_their_wedding_gifts.__Congratulations___weddingofficiant__wedding__savannahweddings

Monterey Square

Monterey Square features the famous Mercer House as featured in the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. It is a very busy square and might be best left for elopements and pictures. In addition to the Mercer House, it has many great historic buildings around it that make great settings for pictures.

Bill & Marie, May 2015

Monterey Square wedding in Savannah, GA

Wedding Pictures in Monterey Square

Jill & Gary, March 2015 

Jill and Gary took pictures in front of the buildings that circle Monterey Square as part of their Savannah Elopement Experience newlywed walk.

Savannah, GA wedding photography

Samantha & Vincent, October 2015

Elopement in Monterey Square
Instagram shot

Madison Square

I did not perform any weddings in Madison Square, but we used it as a setting for some of our Savannah Elopement Experience couples. The statue takes up much of the square.

Chad & Sheree, July 2015

Wedding picture in Madison Square, GA

Forsyth Park

I am not sure how to summarize Forsyth Park. In 2015, I married 30+ couples there! It is the most popular place to get married in Savannah, especially to elope. I could not feature all of the couples, but here are some highlights. Also, you can see pictures from our June 29 same-sex marriage celebration in a separate blog post.

Jill & Gary, March 2015 

Wedding Ceremony, Forsyth Park fountain

Olga & Alexander, July 2015

Forsyth Park family wedding

Jason & Jonathan, September 2015

I did not only conduct elopements at Forsyth Park. Jason & Jonathan’s ceremony had about 150 guests.

Same-Sex marriage, Forsyth Park
Instagram shot courtesy of All About You Entertainment.

The following couples chose Forsyth Park as the location for their Popup Elopement Package.

Jan & Carlton, September 2015

Forsyth Park Fountain Wedding

Some friendly tourists stopped to applaud Jan & Carlton after they kissed and their reaction was priceless!

Forsyth Park Elopement

Marcus & Dennis, October 2015

Same-Sex marriage in Savannah, GA

Kristin & Noe, September 2015

Kristin & Noe’s weekday wedding day was rainy so we held the ceremony under the bandshell and took pictures in other parts of the park when the rain cleared.

Forsyth Park bandshell wedding

Spanish Moss Wedding Photography

Nikki & Candace, November 2015

Candace & Nikki also used other parts of the park to take pictures with their children. These two pictures were taken by Jana Butman Photography.

Wedding photography with children in Forsyth Park, GA

Forsyth Park wedding

Brittany & Andrew, New Year’s Eve 2015

New Year's Elopement in Savannah, GA

An international tour group witnessed Brittany and Andrew’s elopement and stopped to congratulate them.

Forsyth Park wedding, Savannah GA

 

Elopement photography in Savannah, GA

Elopements in Forsyth Park
Clockwise: Constance & Adrian, November 2015; Michelle & Quayland, New Year’s Eve, 2015; Karmen & Kitto, May 2015; Denise & Mark, July 2015; Dory & Sean, September 2015; Darrin & James, December 2015

Robert & Lanette, October 2015

Robert and Lanette could not wait to text their kids after their Forsyth Park elopement.

Forsyth Park romantic kiss

 

Susan & Kevin, October 2015

Susan had wanted to be married in Forsyth Park since she was a little girl and she finally got her wish.

Forsyth Park wedding

 

How to Have Your Wedding & Elopement In a Savannah Square

The City of Savannah’s regulations require you to reserve a square for an “exclusive event,” which means that other people cannot enjoy the square or watch you while you are being married. If it is just the two of you, you do not need a permit as long as you stay out of people’s way and are okay with the occasional tourist onlooker. If you have a handful of guests (10 or fewer) and your ceremony is on a weekday, you can likely also use one of the larger unpopulated squares if you are respectful of other people, you keep the pathways clear, and your ceremony is short and standing-only.

If you are planning a ceremony with guests, you need to reserve your square or park with the City of Savannah via the Leisure Services Bureau.  The cost ranges from $300-$600, depending on when your wedding is and whether you are a Savannah resident. You are also required to pay for security which is $84.

Here are links to a map of the squares and information about each square’s history.

We are moving on from squares. Stay tuned for Part Four with a review of Greenwich Park in Bonaventure Cemetery and Tybee Island!