Whether the thought of planning a large, extravagant wedding is overwhelming, or if you just want a small, intimate gathering, eloping is the route to “I do” that many couples are choosing.
“Savannah is a great destination wedding place. There are so many beautiful locations to choose from - from downtown’s squares to Tybee Island - and seasonally, well, it’s December and we have weather in the 70s”, laughs Tim Moore, a former minister and wedding officiant with Elope to Savannah.
With more than 20 years of experience, Moore has seen a wide array of weddings: small, large, some with surprise guests, some with ceremonies so special, so emotional, that there wasn’t a dry eye left - not even his own.
“Believe it or not, we’ve done several weddings at Bonaventure Cemetery. They have a beautiful bluff, and a lot of people don’t know, but they have a park and it’s beautiful”, Moore explains. “There are a lot of areas tourists don’t get to see, like out on Coffee Bluff and toward Isle of Hope and Wormsloe Plantation, that are absolutely gorgeous and make for great photos.”
As a destination city, people come to Savannah for the weather, the history, and the beautiful scenery.
“Every single day there are weddings in Savannah”, says Moore. “Elopements are becoming more popular. For a while I was officiating four or five a week.”
While most couples spend less than $10,000 on a wedding - before the honeymoon - the average cost of a wedding in the United States is more than 26K. If you’re working with a small budget, or would rather spend more on your honeymoon, a weekend getaway elopement usually costs 10% of the average wedding.
“I think people find the beauty in the simple things, and instead of spending tons of money they would rather come down, spend a couple thousand on what they want and get to see Savannah."
That’s not to say that if you elope your family can’t be there. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“Some people bring their whole family, and some are surprised by their family. I’ve had couples include a child ceremony, where they make a commitment to the children and the children make a commitment to the family, and those are really sweet. I’ve seen some that are very, very emotional.”
While many people who have been married before are choosing to elope for their second (or third) marriage, many people who have smaller families and circles of friends find elopement to be the perfect fit for their big day. It is, as Moore says, “very eclectic; it’s anything you want it to be.”
“I’ve seen elopements big enough to be considered a small wedding, complete with gowns, and I’ve had people get married in shorts and T-shirts. I’ve officiated weddings at the courthouse, and afterwards the couple went home to have a big party.”
No matter what you choose, people like Moore strive to make sure your day is special in every possible way.
“When I do a full wedding, I do personal vows. I never do the same wedding twice, and I try to do the same thing with elopements. We just want to make their experience as memorable as possible.”
Getting married, even if you’re eloping, requires some planning. The most important thing you need - other than an officiant - is your marriage license. Once you have that, all you really need to decide on is what you want. Do you want an intimate affair under a canopy of twisting live-oak branches? Do you want a beach wedding, with picturesque Little Tybee in the background? What about flowers? A photographer? Video?
And suddenly you’re overwhelmed again.
“I’ll help you get everything you need together, and depending on what you want, we have package deals with other Savannah vendors we know and trust.”
Tim Moore’s top recommendation: dinner at The Pink House, a “must-have Savannah dining experience.”