A spirited transplant weds a seventh-generation Savannahian in a cottage by the sea. The bride, Summer Teal Simpson Hitch, shares her real-life love story.
Photographed by Jade and Matthew McCully
We’d met before, out and about in Savannah. But Jim and I first took note of one another in January 2013, when he stopped in to visit my new roommate—who just happened to be his lifelong friend. By late March, our romance was in full bloom. A month later, we were spending every available moment together.
Soft-hearted and strong, Jim is a seventh-generation Savannahian. Because of his deep roots, he introduced me to a side of this tranquil city I’d never known, even after living here nearly a decade. In him, I knew I’d found a special partner.
In 2014, we traveled to London to spend Christmas with Jim’s sister and her family, who lived just outside the city. We extended our overseas travels through the New Year. On December 29, amid a whiteout blizzard eclipsing stunning mountain views of Innsbruck, Austria, Jim got down on one knee in Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse Square and asked me to be his wife.
Even with that beautiful backdrop and familial connection, we could imagine only our beloved Georgia coast as the place to make our promises before family and friends.
A month prior to our engagement, we’d traveled with my best friend, her husband and their daughter southward to Jekyll Island for the annual Christmas tree-lighting celebration. They showed us Crane Cottage, where they had married nine years earlier. As we traversed the island, I admitted to Jim that I thought Jekyll would be a great place to get married. We’d discussed marriage down the line, but as he nodded in agreement, I couldn’t have known that he already had the ring.
You can’t marry a seventh-generation Savannahian in Savannah. So we took it an hour south to that beautiful spot, near enough for the many people traveling from home, but far enough to capture that destination feel. And we chose October, so that we could hold every event outdoors.
We (selfishly) wanted our friends and family to spend more than an evening with us; we wanted them for a weekend. We held a welcome party by the pool on Thursday and invited every guest to the Friday night rehearsal dinner on the front lawn, which my mother-in-law planned to perfection. In doing so, we got to spend as much time as we could with all of our favorite people. Crane Cottage overlooks the Marshes of Glynn—the stuff of poetry—and as the sun set on our wedding day, my groom and I stood near the reflecting pond with family and friends surrounding us, bathed in the glorious orange light of sunset.
Across from the garden where we were married sits Faith Chapel, a picturesque, turn-of-the-century meeting house. It was too small for the ceremony, but we intended for it to serve a special role in our wedding day. We asked my stepfather, who is in seminary, to perform a traditional Anglican prayer. The blessing ceremony was emotional and intimate, with only our immediate families and our best man and matron of honor in attendance. Our “first look” was when I walked down that chapel aisle, and the blessing calmed our nerves for the ceremony to come, out in the Crane Cottage garden.
We chose four little ladies as flower girls, and they stole the show by adding more joy and whimsy to the occasion, dressed as they were in sweet gowns and crowned with precious flower garlands. Their mothers, my dearest friends and attendants, had a great time getting ready with their daughters, and the girls took their roles in the procession very seriously. All of my favorite pictures are with them.
I am a fatal minimalist. Subtle and sophisticated gowns by Joanna August and floral arrangements by Madame Chrysanthemum complemented this elegant, historic venue, which needed little adornment to shine. The pale neutral palette with pops of mauve were chosen to capture the romance and luxury of the Victorian-era Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Verdant floral garlands perfectly suited the long reception tables arranged beneath the Crane courtyard loggia. Elsewhere, arrangements of magnolia leaves and blooms assembled by my mother-in-law and her friends, and an abundance of vintage hydrangeas collected and dried by my mother, only enhanced the lush setting.
Those same dried hydrangeas decorate our Ardsley Park home today—a loving reminder of our cottage by the sea.
Behind the Veil
The big day: Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015
Planner /event designer: Bride with assistance from Cates Mock and Jessica Shell, Jekyll Island Club; mother of the groom planned and executed the Rehearsal dinner
Officiant: Family friend Wilson Barmeyer
Ceremony music: Violin and cello, Jacksonville Strings
Gown: Watters and Watters “Kerry” gown, Bleubelle Bridal Boutique
Accessories: Late-maternal grandmother’s engagement ring and lavaliere diamond pendant, borrowed from aunt; mother’s vintage broach, affixed to the front of bridal bouquet; Stuart Weitzman heels; diamond tennis bracelet, Levy Jewelers; pearl alligator-leather clutch, Satchel; mid-length butterscotch veil and blusher, Bleubelle Bridal Boutique
Hair and makeup: Ashley Edenfield, The Back Porch Salon & Spa, St. Simons Island
Bridesmaids’ dresses: JoannaAugust.com, various styles of long chiffon dresses in “All Tomorrow’s Parties” shade
Groom/groomsmen’s attire: Calvin Klein, Men’s Wearhouse
Catering: Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Reception music: DJ Patrick Rogers, a friend from Colorado
Florist: Michelle Mikulec, Madame Chrysanthemum
Cake: Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Rentals: Jekyll Island Club Hotel
Photographer: Jade and Matthew McCully, Jade and Matthew Take Pictures, jadeandmatthew.com