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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

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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!

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 2- Savannah Squares

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

Part 2 includes pictures from weddings I performed during 2015 in Columbia, Troup, Whitfield, Crawford and Lafayette squares.

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.

Columbia Square

Columbia Square was one of my favorite places to marry couples in 2015. Its fountain is pretty, there is a lot of space, and it has relatively little foot traffic. You will have the occasional trolley drive by with riders who will applaud you!

Kristin & Fabian, April 2015

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columbia1

Rachel & Deven, June 2015

I performed my 101st wedding of my career in Columbia Square!

Wedding in Columbia Square
Instagram shot

Stacie & James, October 2015

Stacie’s family drove up early from Jacksonville to surprise her at her Halloween Day elopement.

Elopement in Columbia Square in Savannah, GA

Michelle & Joe, October 2015

My third Halloween 2015 wedding was also in Columbia Square and a themed wedding where I dressed up as Wonder Woman and joined Michelle and Joe in wedded matrimony by the Lasso of Truth. It was so much fun! Joe’s daughter Maria wrote her own vows to her new stepmom and while it was fun, there was barely a dry eye in the house.

Cosplay Wedding in Savannah, GA

Elopements in Columbia Square
Jesse & James, July 2015; Anita & Wyman, Valentine’s Day 2015; Michael & Hayley, October 2015; Kathleen & Darrell, New Year’s Eve 2015

Troup Square

I am biased because Troup Square is where I was married. I think it is perfect because of its circle and its quiet feel.

Olga & Alexander, July 2015

Olga & Aleksander did not get married in Troup Square, but they took pictures there as part of their Savannah Elopement Experience newlywed walk. You’ll see more of them in other posts as they visited lots of squares.

Wedding Pictures in Troup Square in Savannah, GA

Luis & Angela, July 2015

Luis & Angela were married in Troup with their children and grandchildren present.

Troup Square Family Wedding in Savannah, GA

Savannah Elopements
Whitfield Square

Whitfield is a very popular square for weddings and elopements because of its gazebo. The only drawback is that it does attract a number of visitors and the benches are often full. However, it is a beautiful setting for weddings and great for cloudy and rainy days.

Kimberly & Chuck, June 2015

Whitfield Square elopement

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Olga & Alexander, July 2015

Here is another square we visited as part of Olga and Alexander’s Savannah Elopement Experience newlywed walk.

Wedding Photography in Whitfield Square in Savannah

Whitney & David, June 2015

Whitney & David’s sons served as witnesses for their sweet elopement.

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Elopements in Whitfield Square in Savannah GA
Robby & Donna, October 2015; Carmen & Christopher, March 2015; Jill & Beth, November 2015

Crawford Square

Crawford Square also has a gazebo and has some beautiful blooming trees that make it perfect for pictures. It also features a popular basketball court, so depending on the time of day, it may not always be the best place for an elopement.

Kristen & Fabian, April 2016

As you saw previously, this couple was married in Columbia Square, but they took pictures under the gazebo, trees, and Spanish moss as part of their Savannah Elopement Experience.

Wedding photography in Crawford Square

Wedding in Savannah, Crawford Square

Christian & MaLisa, July 2015

Christian and Malissa’s wedding party (and me!) posed for this fun picture in one of the corners of Crawford Square.

Christian & Malisa

Lafayette Square

Lafayette is a popular square to be married in. It has a gorgeous fountain, has beautiful trees, and is right by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist which is a great background for pictures, too. The drawback to this square is that the space around the fountain is very small and there is not a lot of room for guests. You will be up close and personal with your officiant! Because of St. John’s, it also has a bit of foot traffic.

Lauren & Shane, December 2015

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lafayette2

Wedding Picture

Chip & Jonas, November 2015

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lafayette3

These couples took pictures in Lafayette Square as part of their Savannah Elopement Experience.

Olga & Alexander, July 2015

Family Pictures in Lafayette Square

Jill & Gary, March 2015 

Lafayette Square Wedding, Savannah, GA

Lindsey & Ryan, New Year’s Day 2016

lafayette1

Sara & Rhett, April 2015

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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.

Stay tuned for Part Three with a review of Calhoun, Monterey & Madison squares and Forsyth Park!

2015 Savannah Wedding Location Review, Part 1- Savannah Squares

I married 228 couples in 2015 across dozens of locations in Savannah and other locations in Georgia & South Carolina. It was a joy to get to know so many couples as they created their families!

One of the most frequent questions I am asked by potential clients is where you should have your wedding in Savannah, GA. I thought a photo review of the weddings and elopements I performed last year would be a great way to answer that question. I am most frequently asked about our 22 historic squares so let’s begin with those. In this post, I’ll show you pictures from Orleans, Chatham, Johnson, & Reynolds squares, and Morrell 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 Savannah square is at the end of the post.

Orleans Square

Orleans Square is one of my favorites for elopements and small weddings. The fountain is bright, the trees are gorgeous and there is little tourist foot traffic.

Bettina & Michael, June 2015

Orleans Square Elopement in Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA Wedding in Orleans Sqquare

Ian & Kurt, December 2015

Wedding in Orleans Square, Savannah, GA

Same-Sex Wedding in Orleans Square in Savannah, GA

Wedding Photography in Orleans Square in Savannah, GA

Couples Only Elopements in Orleans Square
Jazmine & Jamale, June 2015; Alisha & Scott, September 2015; Janice & Jimmy, September 2015

Chatham Square

Chatham Square is lush with trees and green space and in a very quiet spot in the city.

Emily & Josh, September 2015

Non-Denominational Wedding in Chatham Square, Savannah, GA

First kiss in Savannah, GA

Sara & Jason, August 2015

Sara & Jason had their ceremony in the courtyard at their bed and breakfast, put took pictures for their Popup Elopement Package in Chatham Square.

Savannah Wedding in Chatham Square

Lindsey & Ryan, January 2016

Chatham Square is not always blooming with flowers, but the warm weather on New Year’s Day provided some colorful flowers for Lindsey & Ryan’s ceremony.

Wedding Ceremony in Chatham Square, Savannah GA

Savannah Wedding Photography in Chatham Square

Couple's Only Elopement in Savannah, GA
Deborah & Kevin, November 2015. These were their first selfies!

Johnson Square

Johnson Square has two beautiful fountains. One drawback is that it is in one of the most popular parts of the downtown area so it can be crowded. It is also across from City Hall where you can take a fun shot like this couple did.

Jackie & Dan, May 2015

Johnson Square Wedding in Savannah, GA

Fountain Wedding, Savannah, GA Romantic Wedding Photography in Savannah, GA

Reynolds Square

Reynolds Square has an open area in the middle of the square as well as some green trees around the borders. It is a busy square, but right outside the Olde Pink House, one of the most romantic places to dine to celebrate your marriage.

Elopements in Reynolds Square in Savannah, GA
Kamlesh & Preeti, July 2015; Billie & Mike, New Year’s Day 2016

Morrell Park

Morrell Park is one of my favorite, but least requested places to get married. It is a park right on River Street with a great view of the river and ships passing by. It also has Savannah’s famous Waving Girl statue.

Gail & Joseph, May 2015

Elopement in Morrell Park, River Street, Savannah, GA
The first picture in this collage is one of the sweetest I took all year.

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.

Stay tuned for Part Two with photos from Columbia, Troup, Whitfield, Crawford and Lafayette squares!

Our Celebration of Marriage Equality in Savannah, Georgia

It’s July 4th and I’d like to honor the principles our country was built on by recapping the celebration we had here in Savannah, Georgia when same-sex marriage was recognized as a constitutional right.

LoveHasWon
Our offer for free weddings. It was shared hundreds of times on Facebook.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Savannah, we’re considered one of the top destination wedding cities in the country and the fountain in Forsyth Park is THE classic location to get married. Megan Jones, my favorite Savannah wedding photographer, and I planned for months to offer free weddings to couples for the two business days after the Supreme Court ruling that would finally make same-sex marriage legal in Georgia. As soon as we saw the ruling on Twitter on June 26th, we sprung into action to get to Forsyth Park so we could marry couples who didn’t want to wait. I barely made it out of the house in one piece as I got dressed, tweeted, cried with joy, answered phone calls, and spilled glittery eyeshadow all over myself all at the same time!

We_re_at_Forsyth_ready_to_marry_all_the_people_and_take_their_pictures__Celebrate_with_us___marriageequality__savannah__georgia
We taped our sign to the back of my car Vivian while she sat in Forsyth Park’s parking lot.
georgia is ready
Megan and I with these wonderful signs from Georgia Equality.

Our pictures went viral locally and on that Friday, we were swamped by press and vendor friends who volunteered flowers and cupcakes… but we didn’t have any couples come to the park. We did receive a visit from a lovely family who saw our picture on Facebook and decided that they wanted to bring us flowers for our celebration, as well as make sure their children participated in history. It was also their own 10th wedding anniversary. We cannot express how thankful we were for their support.

family

Despite the turnout, we were not discouraged. We had always planned two days of weddings because we expected that most people would need a full day to figure out how to get a marriage license. Over the weekend, WTOC, one of the local stations, posted a picture of myself, Megan, and our friends Sara and Lauren from Vivid Events with information about Monday’s event and then things became… interesting.

wtoc
These were just three of hundreds of comments on our picture, both positive and negative.

On the positive side, over 700 people liked the story, more than almost any other story WTOC had posted in months and it was shared over 130 times. However, there were HUNDREDS of comments from people who said I was going to hell, I should be ashamed of myself, and that they hoped ISIS would visit our celebration (that one still has my head scratching). My favorite was the person who called us a bunch of “butt humpers”… because, giggles.

I’ve also received email directly from people who wanted to let me know they did not approve. I’m a transplant, but I think the correct response to this email is “Bless your heart!”

threat
Sorry, Ken. I probably won’t be able to respond. Marrying all the gays takes a lot of time.

When I decided to become a wedding officiant, I looked forward to marrying same-sex couples in Georgia as I believe that marriage is absolutely a civil right that should not be denied because of who you love. I’ve previously written about the benefits that come from a legal commitment. At the same time, I didn’t necessarily think of officiating weddings as an act of protest or revolution. However, I am fine with that role, too, if it meant I could show that Savannah was one of the best places on earth ANY couple should choose to honor their love.

Anyone who has worked with me for more than half of a second knows that I don’t equivocate when I feel strongly that something is right; opposition only makes me more resolute to do good work and surround myself with those who feel the same. Ambivalence and hesitation are not in my vocabulary. By Sunday night, the internet had me raring to go.

Fortunately, the only thing we experienced on Monday was love- SO MUCH LOVE. We arrived at the park to a line of couples ready to get married and supporters ready to cheer them on! Over the course of the day, we married 6 couples. In no special order, here are pictures of our couples from our celebration of love and equality.

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Jama’l and Sarah were our first couple in line. They told us that our celebration helped make one of their dreams come true.

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Sarah and Jama’l were our first ceremony in front on the Forsyth Park Fountain, a classic place to get married in Savannah, GA.

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Signing my first same-sex marriage license in Georgia!

This next couple came from out-of-town to get their marriage license in Savannah. They heard about our celebration at the courthouse and spontaneously decided to get married as part of it. I am not quite sure if anyone stopped laughing throughout the whole ceremony!

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Apparently, I was so happy, I could not keep my feet on the ground!

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A cupcake toast!

Thank you to Abby from Wicked Cupcakes of Savannah who provided delicious chocolate, vanilla and red velvet cupcakes for all of our couples!

Teresa and Gwen came all the way from Augusta, GA to be married in front of the Forsyth Park Fountain. We had a wonderful bouquet on hand from Vivid Events that matched Teresa’s dress perfectly. You could feel their love passionately from all ends of the park!

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So many smiles!
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I loved this shared look.

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Thank you to Vivid Events for all the wonderful flowers we had for our couples!
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They did it!

Here is an outtake that Megan sent me from this ceremony. I call it my “Drop the rainbow mic- I just married these ladies!” walk.

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Our marriage equality celebration was open to all couples with a valid marriage license, regardless of sexual orientation and one straight couple took us up on our offer.

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Congrats to Kenneth and Debbie!

Jamie and Ashley from Hinesville, GA brought their nephew to their popup wedding. Their ceremony had lots of tears of joy.

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Their nephew sported an awesome mohawk for the occasion.

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A family now recognized by the law.

Cliff and Russell came to the park early with their best friends, a wagon of beer, and their dogs. One of their friends joked that the dogs were happy to finally be “legitimate.” If you can get through this gallery without buckets of water pouring from your eyes… you might need to have your tear ducts examined.

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Cliff and Russell surrounded by their friends and pups.
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Our daddies are getting married!!!
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Cliff read an excerpt from Justice Kennedy’s decision as part of a personal vow to Russell.

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Checking to make sure these are happy tears, dad?!?
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Happy tears! Yay!
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Love of the most beautiful kind.

One of Cliff’s friends captured the end of my marriage pronouncement on video.

 

 

Finally official!!! #hisandhis #mistermister #popupwedding #lovewon #lovewins @hairbyrussellk A video posted by Jennifer Adair (@thebravelittletoaster) on

 

 

So there you have it. Love was celebrated, commitment was honored and the world did not collapse. In fact, I would say that Georgia was made a better place through the official creation of these 6 families. And of course, the work does not end. Over the week, I continued to marry same-sex couples who could not wait any longer through simple signing services, including Antonia and Cortney. Antonia is a soldier in the United States military and when she is serving our country and deployed overseas, she can now be assured her wife is taken care of under the law. Could we honor our hardworking troops with a better gift?

 

 

 

 

As for my work, I am not concerned about backlash. If there are couples who do not want to work with me in the future for my stand, so be it. I married 19 couples over the last seven days, more than triple the bookings of my busiest week thus far. I booked another ten future ceremonies this week as a result of the numerous inquiries I’ve received and while some are same-sex, most are for straight couples who admire what we did. Megan also spent the weekend updating her email capacity as it maxed out by the end of the week! Finally, I am also quite sure the State of Georgia will be looking forward to my increased quarterly tax payment on July 15th due to the unexpected boom. As I suspected, it turns out that standing by your morals instead of being afraid to offend anyone is actually good for business.

Thanks for sharing in our celebration by reading our blog post. All love is beautiful and so are you.

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements

6 Weddings in 6 Days: All Love is Beautiful

I recently experienced my busiest week yet as a Savannah wedding officiant where I performed 6 weddings in 6 days. I took candid Instagram shots of each couple which made me truly appreciate my mantra that all love is beautiful and every wedding is unique.

6 Weddings in 6 Days- Savannah, GA

During my 6 wedding streak, I performed ceremonies for couples who were…

  • surrounded by their parents and grandparents
  • joined by their toddlers
  • accompanied by their beautiful puppy
  • supported by foster children and nieces who served as ring-bearers
  • by themselves
  • wearing the heck out of gorgeous bridal attire and tuxedos
  • attired in their most comfortable jeans
  • together for over 20 years
  • renewing their vows after 5 years of marriage with new wedding rings
  • coupled for a few years and everything in between
  • members of the military
  • small businesses owners
  • taking advantage of the legal protection behind new same-sex marriage laws in South Carolina

I married couples who…

  • had children together
  • had no children and no plans to have any
  • created new families for their children through marriage
  • traveled 1,000 miles by car to marry in Savannah (and escape the snow of the Northeast!)
  • lived in town
  • ran a roadrace the day before their wedding
  • visited Savannah for March’s tourist events
  • cried while they recited their vows
  • laughed during the whole ceremony
  • randomly had the same last name as my husband (yay, Nichols!)
  • wed in a historic Savannah bed and breakfast
  • joined in union on the beach of Hilton Head
  • committed to each other in front of the classic Forsyth Park Fountain
  • recited their vows in multiple Savannah’s squares

What all of these ceremonies had in common was joy… and how you could experience how their love became tangible force.

All love IS beautiful. The diversity of love is a wonderful thing that we should all celebrate!

(Plus, how grateful and I to have an incredible job, right?)

It is easy to get distracted by the overarching narrative of weddings, the ones that you feel you are bombarded with on Pinterest. These marketers claim to tell a story of wedding uniqueness and style, but under close inspection, all seem to be almost exactly the same. It’s okay if that’s not what you want.

The only thing that matters when planning your wedding ceremony is you- what will make you happy on that day and every day in the future when you think about it.

Simple or complex, your wedding will be wonderful as these 6 weddings I performed.

PS: I use a feature on my phone called Auto Awesome that created this amazing GIF from pictures I took of one of the couple’s weddings. They were as fun as it looked!

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PPS: Want to book me as your wedding officiant? Check out my packages and my availability today.

The Diversity of Marriage

Happy 2015! Congratulations to everyone who was engaged over the holidays and best wishes to everyone else who is seeking to bring more love into their life through the commitment of marriage, whether you are single or already married.

Over the holidays, many friends asked me questions about the couples I’ve married over the last six months. Everyone wants to know how they met, how old they were, and if I ever want to cry while performing a wedding ceremony (yes, all the time!).

Honestly, my biggest takeaway has been that there is no standard when it comes to a wedding ceremony and that all marriage is beautiful. I am lucky and grateful that people want me to take part in this important part of their lives.

I created this infographic with very unscientific statistics on the couples I’ve married to date. It shows the genuine diversity of who I work with a wedding officiant. I hope you find it as interesting and inspiring as I do. Every wedding is special, whether it is a simple or a large celebration.

I am currently booking 2015 dates and have already reserved many weekends between now and October. Contact me to reserve your wedding today!

SCW FINAL INFOGRAPHIC

 

Tracy Brisson officiating a wedding

A Wedding Story: Dawn & Chad

Happy Friday ya’ll! Fall wedding season is here upon us here in Savannah, starting with one of our Savannah Elopement Experience weddings tomorrow. Congratulations Valerie and Rico!*

I had the privilege of marrying Dawn and Chad this summer. It was a gorgeous wedding between people who had shared much of their lives together already and wanted their day to reflect this. I created a ceremony that emulated the greatness of a modern marriage, and also acknowledged that their marriage would be so strong because of the individuality that they brought to their relationship.

Tracy Brisson officiating a wedding

Here are some tips from Dawn & Chad’s wedding that might help you when working with your wedding ceremony officiant.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Dawn & Chad wanted to respect many of the traditional wedding ceremony elements, but make sure that they were implemented in a way that made them happy. That included speaking very little during the ceremony, incorporating God as part of their intentions for their marriage, and having a sand ceremony to reflect that they were joining their lives together.

 

At first, Dawn was a little nervous to ask about some of these, but I was happy to create a ceremony that represented what she wanted to represent her dream wedding. Your officiant is there to help you achieve your ideas, so don’t be shy in listing all of your thoughts. It is likely they’ll be thrilled to do it!

Don’t be afraid to make it special. Dawn & Chad did not want to write their own vows or have to worry about saying them during the ceremony. However, they understood that deciding not to write something custom doesn’t not mean that you need to stick with “to have and to hold until death ’til us part.”

With input from the couple, I was able to select and refine vows that captured their relationship, but left them calm and collected about saying I Do.

Chad-
 
Do you vow, in the presence of God to love and cherish Dawn, 

– to respect and support her dreams, 
– to laugh with her,
– to trust and always believe in her,
– to shelter her when times are difficult,
– to grow with her, 
– to have faith in your journey together through all the changes that will come, 
– and to faithfully love her forever, with all of your heart? 

(My favorite part of the entire ceremony was when Chad responded “Absolutely!’)

It was a beautiful day and I was honored to be their officiant. Take inspiration from Chad & Dawn and make your wedding day as lovely and personal as possible. 

*Don’t forget that if you want to book the Savannah Elopement Experience for this fall or winter, our $100 discount expires October 1!

5 Wedding Planning Lessons from My Own Ceremony

One of the unique experiences I bring to couples who hire me to officiate their weddings is that I recently planned my own non-traditional wedding ceremony in Savannah, GA. I married my husband in Troup Square in March 2014 and we hosted a reception at the place we met, The Creative Coast.

I met my husband in Savannah at a networking event, but we both grew up in New England and spent most of our adult lives in Boston and New York, respectively, before moving here separately. From the very beginning, I knew that he was the man I wanted to be with and share adventures with for the rest of my life.

I’d like to provide some lessons to prospective brides and grooms that I learned from successfully planning a wedding in just 3 weeks. But first, I’d like to share my personal story to provide perspective on why I planned my wedding the way I did and how I wouldn’t have wanted it to play out any other way.

Me

First, let me be honest with you. Until my mid-30s, I never seriously imagined that I’d become a married woman…. ever (never mind become a wedding officiant!). I was an introspective only child who liked writing stories and surrounding herself in books, except when I chose to exercise my stubborn and bossy streak to help the neighborhood kids create more inventive mischief.

No princess weddings here.

I loved my fierce, independent streak and I liked being in charge of my life. No princess complex here. Those characteristics stayed with me through my adult years where they benefited my career and led me on adventures both in New York City and on trips with my friends as part of a relatively content life.

fierce and independent single woman

When I felt stagnant in my career in late 2009, I left my job and opened up a private consulting practice. With the crazy hectic nature of my previous job absent from my life, I began waking up every morning feeling strangely empty. I realized that I was ready for something more than just changing my career. I was ready to be part of a family and spend the rest of my life with a partner. I also realized that I deserved that, which is an epiphany that many women likely understand.

Me + One

Luckily, a few years later, my husband came into my life. For the first time, I was able to understand what it was like to share your life with someone, celebrate your collective and individual wins, and pick each other up from disappointments… and that I didn’t have to give up my identity to do it. Me + one was definitely better than just me.

when two becomes one

My husband and I discussed getting married in early 2014 and how we should do it. Beyond our love for each other, we had been living together for about a year and there were certain financial benefits we would experience if we were officially married. Neither of us had families who could contribute to a wedding nor had we ever given any thought to what type of wedding we would ever want.*

We were one big blank slate.

We did know we wanted to honor this big moment in our story and a city hall elopement seemed underwhelming and frankly, depressing. After multiple conversations, we realized that more than anything, we wanted to enjoy a special day and create memories of our commitment that we could share with our future children. Understanding those desires solved all of our indecision.

*(My husband claims that early in our relationship, after some (lots of) wine, I told him that my perfect wedding ceremony would involve Mariah Carey, in person. I deny that. Maybe.)

Me + One + Friends & Family

My husband and I were engaged in late February 2014 while we were on vacation and were married 3 weeks later. We told our friends and family that we wanted them to join us, but understood if they couldn’t on the short notice. We had 50 people accept our invitation with about 25% of our guests coming from out of town. Our total budget was less than 20% of the 2013 average cost of a wedding and we had a catered party with unlimited beer, wine, and dancing.

My wedding day was perfect and there was nothing I would have planned differently if I’d had more money or time.


At one point in my career, I was responsible for organizing hiring events for hundreds of job candidates with just a few days notice so I’ll acknowledge that I had event-planning skills in my toolbox that came in handy when putting together my plan for our wedding. Even with those skills, I think the following five lessons helped more than anything else.

 1. Have a strong vision for what makes you happy and hold firm.  If you don’t want to include a tradition, don’t.

One of the reasons that I had such a short engagement was that I really didn’t have any interest in being engaged. The vacation we had together that week was wonderful, but there were no other reasons to stretch things out: I didn’t want a bridal party or to attend a bridal shower. I didn’t want gifts and didn’t need an excuse to spend time with my girlfriends.** Other traditions I scrapped were paper invitations (that people would throw away), a procession, being given away, parental dances, and flowers.

Yes, I didn’t have flowers at my wedding by choice.

I try to keep my life as simple as possible, including limiting what I own and keep as mementoes. A wedding shouldn’t change that. I wouldn’t keep preserved flowers, didn’t want to be responsible for cleaning them up, and I wanted my hands free all day. While I am sure they would have been pretty, flowers didn’t mesh with my overarching values or needs.  People tried to buy me flowers as late as that morning, but I insisted I really didn’t want them, because, well… I really didn’t! Remember: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to just because it’s a wedding.

Plus, there are amazing flowers all around Savannah for your pictures.

flowers for your savannah wedding

While I limit what I keep, I’m not completely devoid of a sentimental side and still have notes that go back as far as college. We did want something we could keep so we had guests fill out wedding mad libs which we store in a memory box with a few other items from our wedding.  I am also glad that I spent money on a photographer and videographer.

(I did have a bachelorette party- Savannah can help you with that, y’all.)

2. Borrow the best from the weddings you’ve loved attending.

If you’re honest with yourself, less than half the weddings you have attended stood out to you. If they do, they were special because the food and dancing was amazing or the ceremony itself was unique and personalized.

The year before my husband and I got married, we somehow attended seven weddings, and they were all unique and specific. We let ideas from all of them inspire us. One influenced our decision to use a superhero and Harry Potter themed origin story as part of our ceremony (yeah, we’re nerds) and quote Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights in our vows. Our ceremony was as authentic and meaningful to us as could be.

Another wedding that took place in New Orleans led us to celebrate the location of our wedding as a central theme of our ceremony. Savannah is known for their To-Go cups, so we printed some up for our guests (very inexpensive on the internet (see lesson four)).

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3. Trust your friends and family and let it go.

While I was the one with the plan, I definitely couldn’t have done it without my friends. They love you and want to help. One highly-organized friend helped me find my dress in just one 90-minute shopping trip (thank god) and helped my husband pick out his tux. Facebook friends gave me recommendations for other service providers like makeup and hair. Finally, the day before, when I was stressed from figuring out potential weather problems and catering issues for our Friday night party for out-of-town guests, I let two of my friends kick me out of the reception space and completely take over decorating it. I left all my trust in them, even though my fiercely-independent, bossy, inner only-child tried to stop me.

They did a spectacular job. Yours will, too.

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FYI: The LOVE sign that became a major decoration piece of our reception space was borrowed from the AirBnB rental that one of my girlfriends was staying at and is the center of an “only-in-Savannah” story. When my friend mentioned that she was going to a wedding to the rental owner, the owner insisted she take the LOVE sign with her to the wedding and find a place to use it. Apparently it had been used in multiple family ceremonies and was a good luck charm. My friend said “Sure, I’ll carry a huge lighted sign to my friend’s wedding?!?” and it ended up being an amazing part of our day.

Thank you, gracious Savannah stranger!

4. Etsy is your other friend.

We bought a number of items, like our cake topper, that we needed for our celebration on Etsy.  Many vendors are used to working with brides and can answer any question you have. Plus, as a bonus, your money is going directly to makers and a company that supports local women entrepreneurs and makes a positive impact on the world.

Definitely schedule some time to browse the site, even just for ideas. If you’re having a small elopement, something still might catch your eye. You’ll find that most of the items will be more cost-effective than what you can find at major stores.

5. Know that this WILL be one of the best days of your life.

So by now, you shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve spent most of my life thinking many of the “Hallmark-type” platitudes we repeat about weddings have been invented to make us spend money on things we don’t need.  But the day after my wedding, I remember the moment I woke up, still with a smile on my face, and thought, “Wow, that was literally the best day of my life.”

you may kiss the bride

I wasn’t sure that was going to the the case, and you might not either as you get closer to your ceremony. A few days before our wedding, my husband and I were shopping in Target, picking up the last of the wedding supplies, both of us stressed with work projects happening at the same time. I remember stopping our cart in a moment of weakness, looking at him and saying “Let’s remember exactly how stressed we feel at this moment so when our future child starts talking about his or her wedding, we recommend eloping at city hall.”

But I was wrong. It was all worth it.

Even though the days and hours up to the ceremony might be anxiety-ridden, and you’ll feel your head spinning with random details, once you see your spouse-to-be… you won’t be able to contain the perpetual smile on your face. Wherever your ceremony is, and whether it’s just the two of you, or you’re joined by a few friends, or everyone you know, it’ll be special to you and those emotions will carry the day. You’ll remember that joy forever, beyond just the following morning.

Remember that you don’t have to be anyone you’re not just because you’re getting married. Take the time to figure out what really matters to you and use those understandings to develop your plan for your wedding. Do that and your day will be absolutely perfect.

Good luck y’all- and let me know if I can help!

Tracy Brisson, Founder of Savannah Custom Weddings & Elopements