Valentine’s Day ‘I Do!’ at the Davenport House Gardens

Romantic micro-weddings are also a fundraiser

Planning a wedding can be a stressful task for even the most organized bride, not to mention the ever-soaring costs and challenges of a post-pandemic world.

On Valentine’s Day, The Davenport House Museum is offering a stress-free and economical way for a couple to start their married journey together in their beautiful gardens on the year’s most romantic day.

“We’ve been doing this event for 15 years or so and it has become a tradition,” said Jamie Credle, director of the museum. “We have a couple coming back this year for a recommitment ceremony after getting married here ten years ago.”

They’re calling them “micro” weddings which will be conducted by a licensed officiant every 15 minutes from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on February 14. For a $100 donation to the museum, happy couples will have a personalized ceremony and up to 10 guests for their garden wedding. Those marrying for the first time must bring a valid Georgia marriage license.

Reverend Sheena Fulkerson cannot wait until the special day.

“This is my second year as the officiant for the Valentine’s Day weddings in the garden. One of my favorite parts of participating is getting to know the couple a little bit better and customizing the wedding for them, making sure everything they requested is included.”

Ceremonies run every 15 minutes in the arbor with twinkle lights to help set the mood.

“It’s quite remarkable to be part of people’s special moment,” Credle said. “It’s wonderful to connect with the couple on the day that brings them the greatest happiness. We don’t have a professional photographer here, but we will take pictures with cell phones to help capture the moment. It’s an economical option in such a lovely place.”

Credle added, “It’s much nicer than I would assume a judge’s chambers would be.”

Fulkerson agreed. “There’s no fuss or stress to this sort of wedding. I think it allows the couple to focus on why they’re getting married and their commitment to each other.”

One of the most interesting parts of the Valentine’s Day weddings for Credle is seeing how people arrive.

“We’ve had folks show up in flip flops and shorts and we’ve had them arrive in a carriage in full tux and wedding dress,” she said with laughter.

Fulkerson remembered a surprise vow renewal ceremony.

“The husband told the wife they were going out for dinner somewhere in town,” she said. “However, unbeknownst to her, he had arranged a renewal ceremony with her parents and children hiding in the garden to come out and surprise them.”

Credle, too, had a memory to share.

“Two couple were visiting together from New York. You know, good friends who’d made arrangements to come down to Savannah for some Valentine’s fun,” the director said. “The men didn’t know what was going to happen when they came into our gift shop. The two ladies dropped down on their knees and asked their husbands to marry them again. There were a lot of tears of joy over this extremely sweet gesture.”

Fulkerson said the pandemic has altered how wedding are being done these days, especially when couples cannot have family in attendance. 

“I had a 50th-anniversary vow renewal,” the reverend began. “I don’t know what their real names were, but they went by Coach and Cookie and were just the sweetest couple.”

“Their family and friends couldn’t be here because of COVID, so I really wanted to nail a special message to them,” Fulkerson said. “Throughout the ceremony, they kept glancing at each other and trading elbow barbs in knowing ways. It was very memorable because of the love they brought to us that day.”

Reverend Sheena easily received her officiant status with a quick online registration. Now, she’s ready for her second year of conducting the services.

“Before last year, I had probably done about 15 weddings here in the garden for couples. I’ve always been involved with Valentine’s weddings, but in more of an organizing the couples and getting them ready to go on next sort of thing. I think of the whole day like a baseball game: somebody is always hitting and somebody is always on deck.”

According to The Davenport staff, reservations (which are required) are filling up quickly. However, it’s not unusual to take a last-minute reservation.

“We’ve had people decide at the last minute that they didn’t want to do it, after all, which is fine with us,” Credle explained. “We’d rather they do that before the ceremony than after.”

While they’ve never had a runaway bride, they did have a forgetful one.

Credle remembered, “We were at the ring exchange part of the ceremony when the bride panicked. She’d accidentally left the rings in her purse. Fortunately, our staff retrieved the rings, so all ended well.”

Fulkerson appreciates each and every individual couple. “It’s great to see such an array of people come to get married in the garden. We have a diverse range of couples who come to be joined together. You know, love is love. I’ve been married to my husband for almost 19 years and we’re still madly in love. It’s wonderful to see people equally as in love and wanting to create this union together.”

Credle feels the Davenport House is the perfect backdrop for a special wedding.

“Because we’re centrally located in the historic district, we’re an exclusive spot where you can have the feel of downtown, but the privacy of the garden while surrounded by the energy and excitement of the downtown area.”

“This is one of the reasons we exist,” Credle said. “And that is to share with other people.”

For more information or to make reservations, contact The Davenport House at 912-236-8097 or by visiting davenporthousemuseum.org

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