Weddings for Warriors to Provide Gifted Weddings to USA Military Couples in Savannah
Experience the red, white, blue and good news with the dedicated volunteers at the Weddings for Warriors project.
Founded in 2009, Weddings for Warriors honors and strengthens military weddings by providing free vow renewals and ceremonies to active duty USA military, in-service couples.
The project will honor eight U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps couples with pro-bono, picturesque weddings in Savannah next week, bringing the Weddings for Warriors project to 205 gifted weddings since 2009. Volunteers will help roll out the red carpet to celebrate our USA military families in Savannah's historic churches, garden squares, and a countryside plantation home in coastal Georgia.
Rev. Doug McGarity and Cpl Shane Gaugh USMC watch from the alter in Temple Mickve Israel for W4W bride Amanda Gaugh to enter. The couple was married, "In a park by a notary." He was wearing a black shirt and jeans, she wore a black and white sundress. Photo by Shannon Christopher.
“Once a year, this one big day of pro bono weddings is our way of saying 'Thank You!’ to our USA military families who sacrifice so much,” explains Becky Byous, Executive Director of the volunteer-hosted event. Now in its eighth year, Becky estimates that over $2-million has been gifted in wedding services for military couples during the Savannah-based Weddings for Warriors events.
“These military wedding ceremonies are gifts from the heart."
"Everyone on this big ‘Thank you’ team is a benefactor!” Becky adds. She includes venue owners and staffs, hundreds of volunteers and wedding professionals, including ministers, photographers, hoteliers, transport shuttles, musicians, bakers, florists, logistical coordinators, designers, hairdressers, makeup artists, caterers, gown designers, wedding boutiques, and wedding planners.
Savannah photographer Marcus Baumgartner of Marcus Ian Photography photographs W4W bride Jessica Griffin. Photo by Jame Byous Photography
Savannah tourists and residents are invited to cheer on the military wedding celebrations in Telfair, Calhoun, and Chippewa Squares, beginning with the first arrival of wedding parties around 3:00 p.m. One suggestion is to show an outpouring of patriotism. Take and share photos on social media using #wedsforwarriors. Fly or wave American flags in downtown Savannah. Wear your red, white and blue!
Relocated from Hawaii to New York, Illinois to Texas, military couples representing the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are taking part during the picturesque 2017 Weddings for Warriors in Savannah, Georgia. Hometowns include Newark, CA; San Diego, CA; Victorville, CA; Lima, Peru (growing up in Pembroke Pines, FL); Mililani, HI; Quincy, IL; Long Island, NY; Staten Island, NY; Syracuse, NY; Ft. Worth, TX; Huntsville, TX; Los Fresnos, TX; Saginaw, TX (near Ft. Worth); Uvalda, TX; Olympia, WA.
“So many military couples are married by a justice of the peace in a quick ceremony. Deployment or resources delay their formal wedding — until now for 16 dear people, 8 brides and 8 grooms,” states Becky Byous. “To put this into perspective, there have been 25 deployments for this year’s brides and grooms. Reassignments impacted the number of bridal couples applying and/or having to withdraw this year and every year,” states Becky.
The private military weddings take place in beautiful, historic churches located in the National Landmark Historic District of Savannah, Georgia USA – colonized as the military-strategic capital of Georgia, founded by the British in 1733.
The winter 2017 weddings take place at Trinity United Methodist Church on Telfair Square (225 W President St.), First Baptist Church on Chippewa Square (223 Bull St.), and Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church overlooking Calhoun Square (429 Abercorn Street).
Jaimi Rickelman is photographed in Temple Mickve Israel prior to her W4W vow renewal with husband SSgt Mark Rickkelman. The couple was married at a courthouse with two friends present. They tried to plan a wedding four times but each time deployments prevented a "real" ceremony. Photo by Shannon Christopher
Hosting 87 wedding party guests, the family-style reception will take place in the intimate ways of a small-town southern celebration. A formal dinner reception and dance will take place in the countryside plantation setting of Mackey House (190 Red Gate Farms Trail, Savannah) catered by Magnolia Grill Catering.
On January 12, the Rehearsal Party will be hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW Post 660, located on Ogeechee Road. Food for that event was donated by area caterers and restaurants – 17Hundred90, Cha Bella, Crystal Beer Parlor, IGF (International Gourmet Foods), N-Laws Produce, Cynthia Creighton Jones (Cape Creations), and Chick-Fil-A. The brides’ readiness place has military-significance – American Legion Post 135 (1108 Bull St.), the original headquarters of the Mighty Eighth Air Force.
Savannah's popular wedding professionals will pool their resources for the eighth year under the guidance of the Weddings for Warriors’ Board of Directors.
Seventeen of the twenty-plus photographers who participated in the 2012 Weddings For Warriors Project. Over 130 individuals and businesses participated to provide free ceremonies to the twenty couples and 140 of their friends and family members.
What’s included for the bridal couples? Bridal gowns, attendant dresses, photographs, historic chapel venues, flowers, wedding planners, rehearsal buffet, reception dinner, cake, dancing, transportation, lodging, hair and makeup. Photography is gifted from many of Savannah's top photographers who generously release their photos to the couples for unlimited prints. Flowers are a gift from Kiwi Fleur and lodging for wedding couples is complimentary thanks to Savannah Marriott Riverfront, and B Historic in downtown Savannah.
A sincere thank you to all of our service members from Team South, and may your wedding day be filled with love and joy –
To learn more about the Weddings for Warriors project, please visit weddingsforwarriors.com.