Incredible Destination Wedding Resort: Sea Island, Georgia


Today I want to tell you a little bit about an amazing spot for destination weddings and even domestic honeymoons too!  I recently had the chance to stay at The Cloister at Sea Island during the Engage!16: Sea Island wedding industry summit and I was delighted to discover a sweet southern property ideal for destination weddings.  You can see all the parties they put on throughout the conference featured in our stories earlier in the week – their catering department sure knows how to give every guest a great time!

The hotel, The Cloister, is part of a larger resort, one that encompasses the small island it sits on – complete with a sister lodge property, golf, shopping and fine dinning and lots of natural wonders to explore.  Located in the south east of Georgia, on the Atlantic Ocean, the property boasts a big beautiful beach, a dock overlooking the marsh lands and epic sunsets every night.


For couples tying the knot, there’s a beautiful ivy-clad chapel on property to host your ceremony within.  Surrounded by small pathways and old, inviting trees, this spot is idyllic to say “I do” in.  Every turn at The Cloister, indoors and out, has a romance to it that can only be found in this part of the world, and their wedding spaces have it in spades!


We also had the rare chance to celebrate in the lobby of the hotel, this beautiful two-story space was perfect for cocktail hour, following a would-be ceremony.

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But my favorite part of the property wasn’t the actual hotel itself, though my residence suite was spectacular!  The natural surroundings of The Cloister at Sea Island were absolutely breathtaking.  The serenity around you finds its way within you as a feeling of peace falls over everyone who steps foot on the island.  Nature walks, romantic sunset strolls, and even a kids club to get the little ones in your group out into nature are some of the delightful activities you’ll experience here.  And for groups who like a little more action, there’s also biking, boating, beach and water sports at the beach club, hunting, horseback riding, and fishing too!  The outdoor activities at Sea Island are endless; your group will certainly have a great time, no matter their speed.

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Despite all the modern amenities, the hotel has a nostalgic feeling to it, one rich in tradition (past presidents have stayed here) and an air of formality that is effortless, not stuffy.  The top-notch service, superb food and beverage program, formal (and not-so formal) restaurants give you the opportunity to experience incredible luxury with any style, from pool-side drinks to black tie dinners, and of course outdoor adventure in between.


But the hotel rooms are so delightful, you might find yourself skipping the expansive spa and fine dinning and ordering in instead!  My residence came complete with a full kitchen, fireplace-clad living room, wrap around balcony, two full bathrooms and possibly the most delightful and cozy hotel room bed I’ve ever slept in.  The rooms at The Cloister at Sea Island are so inviting, you really don’t ever want to (or need to) leave! …But when you do, you’ll find details, like these monogrammed loaves of bread, that really do dazzle you throughout your stay.  Sea Island may not be the traditional barefoot in the sand destination wedding, but we like it that way.

Photography: Laura Dee Photography, John Cain Photography, Love Life Images, Joel Callaway Photography, Carla Ten Eyck, Paul Morse Photographs, Genevieve De Manio Photography


Formal Wedding Ideas: Engage!16 Sea Island


Every time I attend an Engage Summit wedding industry event I am blown away by the new ideas, brilliant talents, and creative design of the final night gala.  And this past Engage!16: Sea Island was no exception.  The event took place at The Cloister at Sea Island and the beautiful surroundings were the inspiration for much of the decor.  The creative team literally brought the outdoors inside with grand trees growing from the centers of tables and a dance floor map of the south that looked more like a famous mural than a party rental.  From the moment guests entered the foyer lit up with candles and hurricanes dressed with inspirational messages to the slate menus describing the delicious meal, each and every turn was a deeper dive into a fantasy world of wedding ideas!  If you want to dazzle your wedding guests and you love the look of nature no matter where you wed, you’re going to fall head over heals for this inspiration from Engage!16: Sea Island.

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Thank you to our amazing hosts, our fearless leaders, and the brains behind Engage!16: Sea Island.  Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce work with a ton of talented partners to make this magic happen (see the list below), but in the end, none of it would be possible without them – the lessons we learn, the friends we make, the ideas we get for our readers and clients, the invaluable classroom (and life) education, and a lot of fun and fantastic memories along the way.  Thank you ladies for yet another inspiring week at Engage and for almost a decade of unforgettable experiences together!

Photography: Laura Dee Photography, John Cain Photography, Love Life Images, Joel Callaway Photography, Carla Ten Eyck, Paul Morse Photographs, Genevieve De Manio Photography

Location: Sea Island Resort, Event Design + Production Management, Elevated Stage, Boxwood Hedges, Rose Gold Tables, Chairs, Chargers, Custom Bar + Barback, Dance Floor: Beachview Event Rentals, Floral + Event Design: Vine Garden Market, Custom Drapery + Event Design, Linens + Napkins: Party Tables, Inc., Entertainment: Elan Artists, Custom Slate Menus: TPD Design House, Videography: Elysium Productions, I Do Films, Tree Lighting: Full Moon Lighting,  Dance Floor Artwork: Gunnersdaughter, Wholesale Florist: Mayesh Flowers, Entertainment Hair + Makeup: The Back Porch Salon & Spa, Taittinger La Francaise: Kobrand, Jewel of Russia: Quality Wines & Spirits, Sanford Winery: Terlato Wines International, Wooden Tree Trunk Bowls: Adrian’s


Speakeasy Wedding After Party Ideas: Engage!16 Sea Island


What to do when your venue has a curfew or your destination has restrictive liquor laws?  Throw your afterparty in a speakeasy!  Have fun with your event limitations and theme out your party and guests will never know this might just have been your plan B.  Today’s Engage!16: Sea Island inspiration is from a late Sunday night speakeasy party where guests got to serve themselves in order to abide by the laws of the state we were celebrating in.  What a brilliant way to get guests in on the action and play by the rules at the same time!  And if you’re hosting your destination wedding in a region known for a type of liquor or beverage, why not theme your afterparty accordingly and serve up the local favorites?!  This late night gathering was absolutely picture-perfect and though it may have been an Engage Summit afterparty, it certainly was no afterthought!

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Photography: Laura Dee Photography, John Cain Photography, Love Life Images, Joel Callaway Photography, Carla Ten Eyck, Paul Morse Photographs, Genevieve De Manio Photography

Location: Sea Island Resort, Furniture + Drink Displays + Custom Linens + Mahogony DJ Stations: Beachview Event Rentals, Floral Design: Vine Garden Market, Custom Linen + Drapery: Party Tables, Inc., Silent Disco + DJ Collective + Performers: Elan Artists, Themed Props + Décor: Aloha Interior Plants, Calligraphy: Megan Gilmartin Designs, Videography: Elysium Productions, I Do Films,Cups + Napkins: Emily McCarthy, Old Forester Historic + Jack Daniels: Brown-Forman, Ketel One: Ketel One, Don Q Rum: Don Q Rum, Chandeliers: Full Moon Lighting



Country Chic Welcome Party: Engage!16 Sea Island


We’ve got more great event inspiration from parties at the recent Engage!16: Sea Island wedding industry summit.  Today’s fete has a southern flair – fitting since we were in Georgia for the week!  The country chic outdoor welcome party was perfectly designed for a relaxed kickoff to a destination wedding weekend.  Complete with live bluegrass music, a fried green tomato station and a pie bar, no detail was overlooked and the decor had just the right amount of southern charm.  I love the modern pattern linens mixed with picnic tables and bistro lighting overhead!  Plus, a perfect backdrop all around on Sea Island as our setting.

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Photography: Laura Dee Photography, John Cain Photography, Love Life Images, Joel Callaway Photography, Carla Ten Eyck, Paul Morse Photographs, Genevieve De Manio Photography

Location: Sea Island Resort, Furniture, Tables, Chairs + Event Design: Beachview Event Rentals, Floral + Event Design: Vine Garden Market, Custom Linen + Pillows _ Tree Wrap: Party Tables, Inc., Marshgrass Brand: Lulu Entertainment, LLC, Musical Entertainment: Elan Artists, Wholesale Florist: Mayesh Flowers, Videography: Elysium Productions, I Do Films, Napkins + Serving Trays: Emily McCarthy, Edison Bulbs, Dock Lanterns + Chandeliers: Full Moon Lighting, Bowties: Brackish, Calligraphy: Ashley Curry, Cloth Dinner Napkins: Dot & Amy, Cast Iron Fire Pits + Cookware: Sea Island Forge, Jack Daniels + Woodford Reserve: Brown-Forman, Entertainment Hair + Makeup: The Back Porch Salon & Spa


St. Simons Island, Georgia Destination Wedding

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Dave and Emily headed south for their domestic destination wedding under beautiful old oak trees and Spanish moss hanging overhead.  Emily tells us their story.  “Since we were having a destination wedding, we needed a location that was convenient for our guest that would be flying in from New York and Dave’s hometown, Scranton, Pennsylvania. We needed a selection of Hotels and a fun atmosphere for them to spend there weekend.”  And so the couple opted for St. Simons Island in Georgia.  Planning while the bride resided in Atlanta and the groom in the Navy at St. Mary’s made for some unique challenges, but they found just the right place and the rest is well, history.

Emily and Dave wed at Epworth By The Sea.  “The location was selected for several reasons, style, beauty, religious beliefs and convenience. Dave and I knew we wanted to get married outdoors. We wanted a venue that was rustic, yet modern with an elegant twist. The first time we walked through the grounds at Epworth By the Sea, we knew we had found the right place! The beautiful old oak trees with the Spanish moss hanging off of them, and Frederica River to the west painted the perfect wedding day photo. We really didn’t need to do a lot of decorating to the outside, we could let nature could speak for itself. The sun peeked through the Spanish moss so perfectly and the reflection of the water off the river with the cool breeze was enough to get us excited.” 

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“The inspiration of our wedding was definitely influenced by our individual personalities, our first date meeting, and recreating aspects of special moments in our dating life. I loved modern elegant designs, while my husband is the lover of anything rustic and outdoorsy.”

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“Dave’s grandmother had given him rosary beads from where his family was originally from Sicily, Italy. She gave them to him before she passed away. On our first date before we departed Dave gave them to me and said that they would always be there to watch after me since he couldn’t be.  Our grandmothers both played an integral part in our lives. I had the rosary beads wrapped around the stems of my bouquet to symbolize our spiritual relationship together and in Remembrance of Dave’s grandmother.”

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“My grandmother had given us on Dave’s first trip down to meet her, her old wedding ring. She blessed us and said, “Do with it what you may” and she looked at me and said, “He is the one!” Dave surprised me and had the ring melted down reshaped, dipped into white gold set with a total 2 carat center diamond and diamond insets all around the band. It was a design that I have showed him from several different rings combined. An elegant mock triple band! He had the original diamonds in the band that my grandmother gave us made into earrings that he gave me at the rehearsal dinner to where on our wedding day. “This was my something old, something new.” 

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Emily and Dave met online and dated a year before he popped the question.  “Dave proposed exactly a year to our first date, August 28, 2010! We were on our way to Athens, Georgia to eat at my favorite Restaurant, Carrabba’s and he stopped at this field of horses in Madison Georgia. We used to always stop here to pet the horses and just ride to look at the beautiful country and rolling hills. It was rare that all of the horses ever came up to the fence on a given day, but all 15 of them were grazing right near the fence. The sun was setting, I was petting the horses and Dave grabbed my hand and, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!”

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For the reception, guests headed indoors where personal details lay at every turn – including a guest photo guest book!

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The centerpieces and table decor varied from table to table, but all had that cozy winter wedding feel.  “I used a rotation of four table centerpieces. Mercury glass ornaments of different shapes & sizes with snow dust, tree branches hung with tea lights sitting in a clear glass hurricane vase filled up with coffee beans, and 3 vanilla candles at different sizes on a silver charger plate.”

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Who doesn’t love a hot chocolate bar at the end of an evening?!?  This pair incorporated elements from their relationship into the big day and that included hot cocoa!  “Some of the pieces that really inspired me for our wedding were the Hot Chocolate Bar that we went to on our first date. Since we decided to get married in January and have an outdoor wedding, we thought what a perfect way for our guest to warm up over a CYO (Create your own) Hot Chocolate Bar. We did have a hot chocolate menu at each place setting when the guests arrived, so if you weren’t creative you could choose a hot chocolate recipe from that. The recipes were something we came up with to reflect our love for chocolate and for each other. The recipe names were: A little Smore love, Mint 2 Be, Southern Yankee (for my husband since he loves the south but grew up in the North), and Hitched.”

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And for the traditional dessert, both bride and groom got just what they wanted!  “I wanted to bring Dave’s love for the outdoors into our reception. For the groom’s cake we went with cheesecake since that is his favorite. We had custom oak tree cake stands made. I found pictures online and we asked one of our family friends with a wood shop to build them and seal them with polyurethane. It was important that the wedding not be all about me so these fit my husband to a tee, because one of his favorite passed times is hunting.”

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Everything from this wedding had special, personal meaning to the bride and groom.  Her something blue was worn by her mother in her own wedding!  “The blue silk garter was worn by my mother when she was married back in the 1970. My great Aunt made this for her before her wedding day and stored it in an old blue powder puff tin with a note. My mom left it for me to where in the same tin with a personal note. I too plan on doing the same!”  

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Congratulations Emily + Dave!

Destination Wedding Photographer: Blume Photography

Wedding Vendors: Wedding Venue: Epworth By The Sea, Wedding Dress: Martina Liana, Bride’s Cake: Betty Zeigler Cakes LLC, Groom’s Cake: Cheesecake Factory, Florals: Blush 129, Inc, Catering + Facility Services: Aramark, Linens + Chairs: Beachview Tent Rentals