When wedding planner Megan Elizabeth DeChant and photographer Esther Griffin found a rare break in their calendars, they decided to create a dreamy editorial shoot that would showcase the area’s top wedding pros against the backdrop of one of Savannah’s hidden gems, Beaulieu.
Beaulieu is a family home overlooking the Vernon River. Shaded by centuries-old, moss-draped oaks, their limbs bending to the ground, it’s been the setting for family weddings, and now for a limited number of other weddings and events, including the filming of feature films.
Family member and director of Beaulieau Events, Catherine Cooper, took Esther (Esther Griffin Photography) and Megan (Megan Elizabeth Weddings and Events) on a tour of the property. As the gate swung open to a curving drive leading under the trees and to the white-columned home built by Catherine’s grandparents, both Esther and Megan immediately pictured a vintage convertible, stylish couple seated atop.
Megan began visualizing an organic floral arch encircling the bride and groom in a ceremony set up among the ground-level oak limbs. And a dried slice of blood orange she’d seen recently became the starting point for color palettes and other dreams. Ideas taking form, the two reached out to other wedding pros for florals, dresses, paper goods, linens, furniture rentals, classic car, catering and cake (see full list below.) And Esther asked former wedding clients Nicole and Taylor Gerlinger to be models. (She’s a professional model and actress.)
“With a styled shoot, you can really lean into going big, maybe a little more exaggerated than a typical bridal couple would choose to do for their wedding day,” Megan said. “We were able to go elaborate on all fronts and showcase the talents of our fellow vendors and by sharing the images and film, we hope to spark creativity as future couples plan their wedding days.”
Megan, who created detailed design boards, said the shoot came to life exactly as she hoped. “I saw a photo of a dried orange with a calligraphy card, and that was the inspiration for the entire shoot,” she said. “I wanted the end result to be classic with a twist, marrying timeless with trendy.”
Esther and Megan chose the ceremony site because the limbs reaching down to the ground created a sort of outdoor, organic room-like space with curtains of Spanish moss.
“We wanted the florals to feel like part of the earth, like they were growing up from the ground and encircling the couple to create a very private, intimate feel,” Megan said.
Megan and Esther selected several bridal looks to use throughout the day in spaces set up for for ceremony, reception and going away. They also selected fun accessories: lacy capelet, wing-like sleeve extensions, voluminous overskirts, and even live-floral earrings.
“We were thinking whimsical, dramatic and romantic,” Megan said. “The dresses paired perfectly with our overall classic-with-a-twist vibe.”
Megan said each vendor gave their very best: from custom-designed invitations to custom-made bar arch, to gorgeous hair and makeup to show-stopping food and cake-design.
“Esther and I get along really well, and we wanted the whole team to be able to contribute creatively and have fun working together,” Megan said. “It all came together exactly as I dreamed on the design board … actually even better! On the day of the shoot, each of us was helping the others, still creatively thinking about each part of the day. For instance, Nabia, our hair and make-up artist, had the fabulous idea to use one of the cape-wings as a head scarf, and wow. What a fun look!”
Esther said shooting the day was both fun and intense. “There was so much beauty to capture, and I felt such a huge debt of gratitude to each of the vendors who brought their absolute best. And I can’t say enough about Nicole and Taylor. Shooting their real wedding was a dream, and I felt so grateful to get to capture such a genuinely gorgeous couple again,” she said.