Cumberland Island is possibly one of the most romantic places I can think of – an undeveloped barrier island with just one inn, moss-covered oaks, and wild horses! – and it’s where Kristie and George chose to tie the knot with 46 of their nearest and dearest in attendance.
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? Although we live in New York, we wanted to have our ceremony somewhere along the romantic Southern coast. We drove from the southern tip of Florida to Charleston, South Carolina in search of wedding venues, and the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island absolutely took our breath away. It is the only hotel on a remote barrier island surrounded by spectacular untouched coast and inhabited by wild horses and moss-covered oak trees. The stroll from the inn to the beach is one of the most beautiful we have ever taken – past ponies grazing in fields, underneath a canopy of giant oak trees, over huge white sand dunes, and arriving at miles of unspoiled beach. The inn itself is both elegant and totally down-to-earth – porch swings, fireplaces, clawfoot tubs, bonfires, endless lemonade, oyster roasts – and the wonderful staff treated us like family. The place is just magical.
“Holding hands under an old oak tree and surrounded by our closest friends and family, was certainly our favorite thing about the ceremony. The sun was setting as we exchanged our vows, and there was still enough light to see all the beautiful faces of the people who have played incredibly important roles in our lives. We wouldn’t have changed that for the world.”
Your ceremony in three words. Intimate, natural, heartfelt.
Who officiated your ceremony? We chose a dear family friend, Anne Swallow, to conduct the ceremony. She had previously married several friends and family members. She did a wonderful job and will be carrying on the tradition by officiating the wedding of Kristie’s sister and her fiance next fall.
What was your ceremony music? We both love The Lumineers, so we chose the song “Classy Girls” for the procession of the flower girl, ring bearer, maid of honor, best men and groom. After they all walked, our dear friend Andy Goldman played “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young on his guitar for Kristie’s procession (she still cries whenever she hears it). After we were announced as husband and wife, the DJ played “Best Day of My Life” by the American Authors.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows together. It was important to us to communicate the same sacred words to each other, so that we committed ourselves to the same ideals. It took a long time to draft language that resonated with both of us, but we ended up sharing meaningful promises that came from the heart.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? To get to our wedding, our guests had to fly to Jacksonville, Florida, take a 35 minute taxi ride to Fernandina Beach, Florida (adorable little town) and then hop on a 40 minute boat ride to Cumberland Island, Georgia. We are VERY grateful to all our dearest loved ones for spending the time and money to share this experience with us. It was truly magical!
“Our wedding reception was so fun! After the ceremony, guests strolled up the front staircase and into the living room of the main house. They were greeted with a signature drink and passed hors d’oeuvres. After cocktail hour, guests were seated in the side yard, around a roaring fire pit, where we feasted on the chef’s many creations (much of them made from ingredients grown on the island). We had an intimate first dance, listened to moving speeches from our parents and siblings, and cut our delicious wedding cake. Soon, everyone was out of their seats laughing and dancing under the stars (there was even a dance-off).”
How did you go about planning your wedding ceremony? We wanted to be the “planners” of our wedding. Together, we selected the venue, invitations, flowers and DJ (it was a helpful lesson in collaboration!). Kristie asked her eight bridesmaids to choose their own dresses and make their own bouquets, and she decorated much of the reception space. George assembled the menu and weekend itinerary and asked his ten groomsmen to choose their own suits. We really wanted our wedding to feel like “us,” so that it meaningfully reflected our feelings and values while still retaining core traditions.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Throughout the wedding, there were several handmade details that made the decor particularly special. Kristie’s mom created a fabric swag that hung above the candy table. She also made fifty ribbon and bell “wands” that were supposed to be rung after the first kiss (but we forgot to hand them out!). All of the bridesmaids helped make the floral centerpieces, and several members of the bridal party hung the Ball jars in trees with led candles. The basket carried by the flower girl contained a fabric butterfly that had belonged to Kristie’s grandmother, who passed earlier that spring, and Kristie carried the same blue handkerchief that her mother did when she married her husband five years prior. Every aspect of our wedding was a tribute to how much our friends and families love us and how much we love them.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? The Greyfield Inn provided us with a three tiered vanilla cake with strawberries. It turned out to be the best cake we’ve ever had. It was so good, in fact, that the top layer never made it home – we ate it in the airport!
Did you have a signature cocktail? Our signature cocktail was a vodka-based Southern style lemonade (complete with old-fashioned paper straws!).
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Don’t miss a moment. Schedule in several minutes, multiple times that day, to take it all in. My husband and I were lucky enough to have an entire weekend, and even that flew by…
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Make it yours. Don’t worry too much about what tradition tells you to do. If, when the day is over, you’ve married you’re favorite person in the world – then you did it right.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? DIY flowers. I think that probably saved us at least $2,500. Also, garden roses are a great alternative to peonies. (DIY advice – the roses were the most beautiful and opened on the third day we had them.)
What was your first dance song? Our first dance song was “I’m So Glad” by Royal Wood. We chose this song because it felt particularly honest and loving.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? It sounds so cliché, but one of our favorite moments was our first dance. The whole world seemed to disappear. We both remember looking up when the song finished and suddenly remembering that we were surrounded by 46 people. We will never forget the intimacy of that moment.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Our wedding wasn’t just one evening from a wonderful weekend with our closest friends and family. We took bike trips to marshes, we jumped into the cold ocean, we had picnics on the lawn, we roasted marshmallows over a fire, and we laughed and laughed together on the porch.