Events Curator Austin Ackles sat down with Maren White of The Cloister
MW: Howard Coffin, industrial magnate and creator of the Hudson automobile, fell in love with the Georgia coast while on a trip from Detroit to promote his cars in the 1910 Savannah Road Race. The Coffins purchased Sapelo Island, built a beautiful home there, and in subsequent years purchased all of what is today’s Sea Island, as well as large tracts on St. Simons Island. Believing that others would enjoy the coast as much as he and his wife did, Coffin and his young cousin Bill Jones commissioned famed Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner to design The Cloister, which opened in 1928. Knowing that golf would be of interest to his guests, Coffin had Walter Travis design Plantation, the first nine-hole golf course of the Sea Island Golf Club, which opened in 1927 on St. Simons Island.
Although The Cloister quickly became popular, the young company’s early success was immediately affected by the Great Depression. It was an extremely difficult time in the life of the company, with many employees encouraged to find work elsewhere if they could. Most continued to work at Sea Island, where they were paid in Sea Island scrip, printed by the company and honored by local business owners in trade for food and necessities.
AA: You have your own chapel on the grounds of the resort. Does the chapel host a lot of weddings?
MW: The Chapel is extremely special to our brides at Sea Island! Nestled under historic oaks dripping with Spanish Moss, the Chapel is able to accommodate weddings of around 80 guests. With Sea Island’s weddings ranging from 2-300 guests in attendance, about half of our couples are lucky enough to fit their wedding inside this unique venue. For those brides that choose to celebrate with a large group of family and friends, the Cloister Garden is the perfect venue to exchange vows. With the Chapel being just a stone’s throw from the Garden, those brides that are too large to say their “I dos” in the Chapel are still able to incorporate this great venue into their wedding day by starting their walk down the aisle from our Chapel steps.
AA: We’ve seen so many beautiful ways to display and distribute escort cards. What’s the most original way you’ve seen it done at The Cloister?
MW: Our bride’s style always comes into play when designing gorgeous tablescapes! One of my favorite escort card displays has to be one that we did for a New York bride. We took various sized lanterns and staggered them across the table to create a city skyline in candlelight. We then nestled the escort cards on the base of the table on silver trays- all of the guests were drawn to the display and were sure not to forget their escort card! See attached images!
AA: There are so many reasons to visit Sea Island but what is the best reason to have your wedding at The Cloister?
MW: Each bride is drawn to Sea Island for her own reasons- some have been visiting the property since they were little girls, others have found our resort very recently. With that being said, I believe that the reason why our brides come to Sea Island is because of the true Southern Hospitality that our venue offers, while still providing our brides and their guests an incomparable luxurious experience!