As I was driving through Saint Simon’s Island Georgia, getting ready to turn into the driveway of Musgrove Estate and having no idea what to expect, I had already fallen in love with the endless groves of twisted oaks trees draped in Spanish moss that was enveloping me on my drive. I grew up in Virginia, but THIS was what I had always envisioned the “South” to look like.
Musgrove is literally a hidden gem…not visible at all from the main roads on the island. Nestled back in a 600-acre estate of oak forests on the banks of historic Village Creek, it took my breath away driving into the long 3-mile winding driveway through the property. To be honest, by the time I reached the buildings I had forgotten where I was. The late afternoon light was sweeping through the branches making everything lit like an ethereal movie set and I was already picturing the beauty of photographing my bride, Jordanna, amongst the trees.
Jordanna is a “modern” Southern bride, someone who is very shaped by her family traditions but inspired by modern-day Southern fashion (think Beyonce meets Scarlett O’ Hara). When she told me that she wanted to have a vintage tea party where all of her bridesmaids-to-be had to come dressed in old vintage wedding gowns and have it on the grounds of what used to be an old plantation, I was so excited to come shoot it!
After researching Musgrove, it seemed to be the perfect backdrop for this idea of “old worlds and New Worlds Colliding.” Musgrove seems to take you back in time the second you enter the property. Rich in history, over the past century Musgrove has housed American presidents such as Jimmy Carter, foreign dignitaries, philanthropic functions and retreats, and of course the most lavish of all…weddings. Innately, Musgrove’s serene and picturesque environment provides a respite from the outside world. It’s a breeding ground for creativity and a perfect blank canvas for the wedding or bridal tea party of your dreams. You can literally create any type of wonderland you want within the sanctuary of Musgrove.
Like me, my bride Jordanna loves non-traditional things, but also wanted to respect her family. She had recently gotten engaged, and it was a tradition to have a "Bridal Tea Party." Jordanna wanted to have a modern day spin on what a Vintage Bridal Tea Party would look like. So as a nod to her favorite “Queen Bee” Beyonce, her formal invitations asked her bridesmaids, “Will you Bee my bridesmaid?", her chairs said “Queen Bee” and “Maid,” and she had lemon accents and edible bees on the individual mini-cakes. Taking it even a step further with her own bevy of strong females as her entourage, she decided to do a series of fun, fashion-forward shoots in a carriage that dated back to the early 1900's; a perfect backdrop for her vintage photo booth.
Some of the fun activities the girls enjoyed during the bridal tea included horseback riding while picking wildflowers, a braid bar (which is something I am seeing a lot more often now at fashion events), gossiping on lounge furniture under a grove of Oaks trees, cocktails and mini desserts on the waterfront, and of course fierce fashion shoots throughout Musgrove and even up in the huge oak trees! It was definitely NOT your mother’s tea party!
Each year, Musgrove is host to a limited number of weddings for those lucky enough to be selected. Musgrove offers stunning waterfront outdoor grounds for ceremonies and receptions and dressing areas for the bride and groom. The estate features a one-of-a-kind Podocarpus maze to wander through, an ancient statuary, endless space for long walks, a pecan orchard draped with Spanish moss, a 12-acre lake, and a sky filled with endangered species of birds. Traditional southern cooking is a hallmark of Musgrove and enjoying an oyster roast overlooking the amazing marsh at sunset is a Southern tradition not to be missed!
For someone like me that wants to turn any destination wedding into a three-day weekend of memories and adventures, there are endless outdoor activities offered as well. You can enjoy the pool, jacuzzi, tennis courts, fishing, crabbing, kayaking, canoeing, and horseback riding all on this magical property.
The shady Southern Oaks, ocean breezes, and quaint beach town feeling make St. Simon’s Island the perfect setting for a romantic getaway. Whether you are looking for a simple beach wedding, a traditional ceremony in a church, or a large wedding reception, St. Simon’s offers a wide range of picturesque locations, but none with the privacy and exclusivity that Musgrove offers. When you are planning a destination wedding or event, usually people’s minds go straight to Paris, Bali, or Venice, but according to DatingAdvice.com you should give the good ole US of A a chance. As the authority on “all things dating,” they scoured the map and chose the “17 most romantic destinations in the US” and St. Simon’s Island comes in at number 7!
Venue: Musgrove Plantation
Photography: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography
Planning/Design/Styling: Emily Burton Designs
Florist: Gray Harper Events
Wedding Dresses: Ivory & Beau
Wedding Dresses: Bleubelle Bridal
jewelry: Gogo Jewelry
Catering: Cape Creations
Invitations: Foglio Press
Hair + Makeup: Emma Collins Beauty
Rentals: Beachview Event Rental
Mini Cakes: Cathy Huber Cakes
Custom Chair Label Branding + Drink Stirs: Ten23 Designs
Plum Pretty Sugarr- Bridal Vintage Lingerie