The Gateway Wedding

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The beach wedding is ever popular and this Coastal Georgia location should be part of a every bride’s research.

A little over three years ago, St. Simon’s Island Developer Joe McDonough replaced seven run-down beach homes with the Golden Isles’ most stunning boutique hotel- the Ocean Lodge.

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A fifth floor suite at the Ocean Lodge.

Since that time the luxury hotel has hosted some pretty high-profile corporate groups and a number of incredibly elegant wedding parties, according to Elizabeth Fletcher, one of Atlanta’s top event planners. Fletcher’s “I Do Events” company typically does dozens of upscale weddings each year, not to mention corporate events like orchestrating the McKee Foods, Little Debbie Look-a-Like Contest last year, celebrating the brand’s 50th anniversary.

“This property is exquisite in its attention to detail,” says Fletcher. “And the food is fabulous. Brides love the Ocean Lodge.”

Film companies apparently like it, too. They often reserve suits for cast members at Ocean Lodge while filming in the area. Kevin Bacon was one of the favorite guests during the filming of portions of the movie, X Men.

The outdoor courtyard is often the scene for weddings and the Rooftop Terrace Restaurant caters large receptions overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A recent winner of the Golden Isles Culinary Competition for its Fried Green Tomato Crab Cakes, the restaurant has raised its profile in the community. Under the direction of Le Cordon Bleu-trained Chef Nicholas and Manager Chris Hardy, wedding guests may enjoy a sumptuous buffet or a formal plated dinner featuring fresh local produce and seafood, paired with an excellent wine. Wedding cake, flowers, music, and photography may be easily arranged through the hotel. There are 15 spacious guestrooms for wedding parties that often rent the entire facility for the evening.

Exceptional architecture and interior design make the property “one of the finest hotels on the East Coast from Key West to Maine” according to McDonough. He was heavily involved in choosing the art and furnishings for this Tuscan villa-style hotel, which somehow fits naturally into its environment. Hand-painted tray ceilings, Egyptian cotton bed linens and lavish bathrooms with jetted tubs accent most guest rooms. Tile floors and fine finishes enhance the charm of the seaside getaway.

This barrier island off the coast of Georgia has a rich history and a strong modern-day community. If opportunities for photography aren’t satisfied at the lovely Ocean Lodge, peaceful Christ Church and the remnants of Fort Frederica on the north side of the island are about as romantic as locations can be.

OceanLodgeBride2There is also a lighthouse, and of course, the beach itself. The St. Simon’s Lighthouse Campus includes a Museum, a Maritime Center and Lightkeeper’s dwelling. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is cared for by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.

If family members need a bit of adventure to let off steam, SouthEast Adventure Outfitters at 313 Mallory Street will arrange the perfect excursion. Sea kayaking trips through the islands and inlets provide an up-close look at waterfowl and wildlife. These day trips may be as relaxing, or as challenging, as the group can agree upon.

Other fine dining restaurants in the area include Halyard’s, whose chef and owner Dave Snyder has one of the finest menus in the South. Snyder uses fresh local seafood and vegetables for his entrees and has a wonderful “3 for $33” special each evening. Crab bisque, wild Georgia shrimp with cheese grits and homemade pastries are often favorites at the table. Snyder says he’s proudest of his people, some of whom have been with him since he opened, over 10 years ago.

St. Simon’s Island, Georgia is a seven-hour drive from Chattanooga, or a brief flight into Jacksonville International Airport, 75 miles south of St. Simons. Private air service may land at the St. Simons Island McKinnon Airport, accommodating single engine up to G 5 aircraft. The Brunswick/Golden Isles Airport is 21 miles away and is served by a Delta connection. 

This article was originally published in 2011 October/November Issue of Chattanooga Magazine

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About Author

Debbie is the retired Editor of Chattanooga Magazine, and ongoing contributor.

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