When these Louisville natives decided to get married after seven years together, they knew that if they got married in their hometown that the wedding would be massive, perhaps just too much. All they wanted for their wedding was for it to be small and personal. The best way to do that is to have a destination wedding, and their choice of a destination made all the difference.
They chose Savannah, GA, as their wedding site for several reasons. First, it was the first place they ever went on vacation together, just the two of them. Second, they wanted a location that was not as familiar as Charleston or the beach for their guests. They wanted their guests to experience a new place with lots of history and things to do, and because it was a smaller crowd, they could all enjoy it together. The added benefit was that everything is in walking distance, and navigating was not a problem at all.
The bride and groom live in Atlanta, and Savannah is only four hours from their home. Not being familiar with the city, they found the right wedding planner, who then guided them through the entire process of planning the wedding. Caitlin looked for a wedding planner through pictures on social media and portfolios, searching for ones that best matched her personal taste. She chose Marvee Mackenzie from Posh Petal and Pearls to help her with every step of the process; a good wedding planner is invaluable for a destination wedding.
The couple decided to rent large historic homes for their wedding parties and their dates. All the bridesmaids stayed at one house with Caitlin and all the groomsmen stayed at another. Their families also stayed in homes. They were able to get dressed and ready at their respective homes, which were a short distance from the wedding site.
The wedding ceremony and reception were both held at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, on the grounds outside and in the lovely gardens. Caitlin loved the gardens and natural beauty of the site, and it made for a perfect backdrop for the wedding. She also liked that everyone would be in one place all night long, and there was no need to drive from the ceremony to the reception. The only risk was the weather because the entire wedding was outside, and Savannah had experienced a hurricane the week prior. Fortunately for her, the weather turned out to be perfect on their wedding day, October 22, 2016.
The bride and the bridesmaids all stayed at a historic home near the museum called The Whitman. The groomsmen also stayed at the nearby Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn. This made for a relaxed day before the wedding, enjoyed with close family and friends.
The bridesmaids got ready together, including Caitlin’s mother, sister and two grandmothers. The grandmothers both loved their first experience with an airbrush makeup application! The bridesmaids wore champagne-colored dresses with navy shoes. Caitlin used the website Weddington Way when choosing her dresses with bridesmaids all over the country. They created a private group where they could weigh in and comment on dresses they liked in one space rather than through a long chain of emails and texts.
The bride purchased her gown at BleuBelle Bridal boutique in Savannah while on a trip with her mother to plan the wedding. Caitlin knew that she wanted something light, comfortable and definitely with lace. The dress that she chose was one that she would have never picked out for herself, but when she tried it on, she fell in love with it. She loved the elegant front with a touch of lace on the neckline and the low back with a beautiful lace train. She thought that the mermaid style was a risk for her personal taste, but she loved the way the dress looked and fit her. Her mother Jill and her sister Maggie helped her get dressed, and she enjoyed sharing that special time with just the three of them. Later when she was finished, she had a “first look” with her bridesmaids, and it was all captured in the photographs.
Nearby at another historic home, the Savannah Bed and Breakfast Inn, the groom and the groomsmen got ready. They wore navy suits with pink and navy polka dot bow ties and long ties. A problem they discovered was that the bride’s brothers were the only ones who knew how to tie a bow tie. The two Gaynor boys were responsible for all the great bow ties for the wedding.
The First Look
The ceremony took place at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum outdoor gardens with 125 guests in attendance. The bride and groom got help from their pastor when writing their customized vows. They wanted vows that were meaningful and representative of them. They incorporated the Irish blessing at the end of the ceremony to celebrate the Irish heritage of the Gaynors.
Caitlin claims that she is definitely a crier. She knew she would cry when she first saw Neil and when her father walked her down the aisle. She was right on both counts, but knowing about those emotional moments in advance helped her quell the tears during the entire ceremony.
The reception was held at the same venue as the ceremony, which was a convenience for everyone involved. On the property is a covered area outside to accommodate tables and a dance floor. There were also lounges for guests to relax and chat with friends and family.
Caitlin’s floral designer Amy Harvey created a look of natural elements, including wood and natural greenery with touches of soft pinks. Instead of a guest book, guests signed a work of art that Neil made on his computer. It resembled a watercolor and had the states of Georgia and Kentucky combined.
Cocktail hour included a signature drink that everyone loved — the Moscow Mule. Appetizers served during this time included mini chicken parmesans (the first meal Neil ever made Caitlin), fried macaroni and pimento cheese bites and mini hot browns.
The meal was buffet-style with different stations where the guests noshed on marinated grilled vegetables, Chicken Country Captain (a Savannah dish), carved New York strip loin and a smashed Yukon Gold potato bar.
Neil and Caitlin danced to “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison, and Caitlin and her father created a special mix to surprise their guests. They started off with “Stand by Me,” then broke into a choreographed dance to her dad’s favorite song, “Sexy and I Know It,” and ended with “My Girl.” It was a huge hit.
Caitlin’s sister Maggie had a surprise up her sleeve for her toast. Before the wedding, she told Caitlin that she was going to “bring the house down” with her speech — and that she did. To the tune of “Sweet Caroline,” she sang about all the things that her big sister used to say to her growing up, such as “Get out of my room!” and “Stop stealing my clothes.”
Venue: Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
Photography: Mackensey Alexander
Wedding planner: Marvee Mackenzie of Posh Petals & Pearls
Bride’s gown: BleuBelle Bridal, Martina Liana
Bridesmaids dresses: Alfred Sung
Hair & makeup: Bride’s Side Beauty
Groom’s & groomsmen’s formalwear: Generation Tux
Invitations, programs & menu cards: Paper Source
Flowers: Amy Harvey, Harvey Designs
Catering: Chef Nick Mueller
Music: The Crystal Clear Band, Sam Hill Entertainment
Cake: Mollie Cakes
Guest accommodations: Hotel Indigo; Bridesmaids: The Whitman Mansion; Groomsmen: Savannah Bed & Breakfast Inn
Read about even more amazing Southern weddings.