How to Officiate Weddings in Savannah
A Savannah Guide to Planning and Officiating Wedding Ceremonies for Couples and Ministers
It’s hard to argue that there’s a better spot to get married in the state of Georgia than its oldest and most storied City: Savannah. Some say it’s less exciting than its bigger sister Atlanta, but for whatever it lacks in terms of metropolitan appeal, it more than makes up for in classic Southern architecture, history, seafood and nature. So, if you’re looking for city amenities and charm, Savannah is where it’s at.
Our guide has all the need-to-know info about getting married and officiating weddings in the Hostess of the South -- from getting your marriage license to ordaining your officiant-of-choice -- plus some extra Savannah-specific wedding tips to make sure your big day goes off without a hitch.
Let’s start with the ordainment process. Judges, city recorders, magistrates, the state governor or a former Georgia state governor are qualified to perform weddings in the state -- and so are ministers, of course.
If you’ve been asked to officiate a friend’s wedding and you do not fall into any of these categories, no sweat. AMM’s ministerial credentials are indeed recognized in Georgia. You can get ordained with us for free in just a few minutes.
Now that the easy part is out of the way, we can help you prepare for the wedding ceremony itself. Being asked to officiate a ceremony is an honor, but can feel like a lot of pressure. You will appreciate our wedding training pages, which are a library of information to help you prepare for your first ceremony and ensure that it goes smoothly.
Here you can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
When it comes time to the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain it at the probate court’s office before the wedding. Make sure they know to head into the office at least three days before the ceremony to apply. Then, help them fill it out correctly and notarize it.
If you want to score extra points as an officiant, you can offer to drop the notarized marriage license back off at the probate court’s office in which the couple applied so they have one less thing on their to-do list. (One of the members of the couple, a family member or the officiant are all allowed to return it after the wedding.)
To obtain your marriage license, you members of the couple will have to visit the Chatham Probate Court’s office at 133 Montgomery Street in room 509. You can either print out the application and fill it out before you head down to save yourself a few minutes, but the office also has copies for you on hand if you don’t have a printer at home.
There is no waiting period to get married once you apply, but the probate course advises coming in at least three days before your wedding day.
When you go, just remember to bring:
- State-issued ID (driver's license, passport, or birth certificate)
- $66 application fee in credit/debit card, cashier’s check, money order or cash (no larger than $20 denominations accepted)
- Premarital education course certificate of completion (optional)
- Previous divorce/death certificate documentation if either party was previously married
If you have all of your required documents, your appointment will take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how busy the office is that day, and then you’ll be issued your marriage license!
Fill it out with your officiant and then make sure to either bring it back in person, have the officiant or a family member turn it in, or mail it in to P.O. Box is 8344 Savannah, Georgia 31412. You have six months to do so before it expires.
Issuance Office: 133 Montgomery Street, Room 509
Fee: $26 - $66*
Waiting Period: None
Return: By officiant, couple or by mail
The Basics -- When it comes to wedding venues, there are so many options to choose from in and around the Savannah area. If you’re thinking of getting married downtown, skip the ballrooms and take advantage of the incredible Victorian architecture the city offers.
The Gingerbread House is perhaps one of the most visually stunning, unique mansions in the historic district, built back in 1899. Before you start clicking through its photo gallery, be prepared to fall in love with its charm. With this venue, you can also take advantage of a free night’s stay in the mansion for the bride and the bridal party if you book a wedding day between Monday and Friday. The Whitman is another impeccably maintained, unimaginably elegant option in the same neighborhood that you’ll definitely want to compare. Or if you’re looking for a similar style of venue outside the busy downtown area, Mackey House is for you; it’s just 15 minutes from the city center.
Forsyth Park is another super popular spot to say “I do” in the city, and it’s no wonder why. The park’s lush greenery, Spanish moss and historic fountain make for an incredibly romantic backdrop for your special day right in the middle of town. You can call the city park services to get a permit to have your actual ceremony in the park, or you can host your festivities at one of the surrounding venues (the Mansion on Forsyth Park or the Forsyth Park Inn) and opt to take photos in the actual park between your ceremony and reception. When it comes to Forsyth Park, it’s best to steer clear of Saturday and Sunday if you want to avoid crowds.
Savannah is also a paradise of golfers. Whether or not you like to swing the club yourself, these joints make for excellent venues. The grounds of the Westin Golf Resort & Spa are truly beautiful at sunset. Nearby, the Club at Savannah Harbor is another one with epic views of the river.There’s also the Club at Savannah Quarters -- about a 25 minute drive east of town -- which has excellent facilities and an even more exclusive feel.
But if you’re feeling more of a beach vibe, Tybee Island has you covered. The three-and-a-half square mile area is home to one of Georgia’s most beautiful beaches and just half an hour from Savannah and a perfect little getaway from the hussle and bussle. Follow this link to its tourist page to check out the venues and vendors it offers.
Transportation -- Getting around Savannah is a breeze. The downtown area is super walkable/bikeable. But if you’re venturing outside the inner city area, you may want to utilize the public transit system. Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are handy and prevalent in Savannah. Check out a comprehensive list of transportation options on the city’s tourism page here.
Weather -- The Savannah area has a subtropical climate (read: warm and wet!) It’s known for its scorching hot summers and accompanying humidity. Spring can be unpredictably hot or cool and often rainy, but is still a beautiful season to plan a wedding as long as you choose a venue with an indoor option in case of showers.
In June, things really start to heat up. Summer afternoon temperatures often exceed 90 degrees, and during the late summer, thunderstorms roll in almost every afternoon. Most couples choose to plan their weddings when things cool down in the fall, but that’s when venue rental rates will likely be the highest.
Winter, however, is quite mild. You can even get some beautiful 65-degree days, although, this is not the usual. Average highs in the winter range from 50 to 60 degrees. But since most couples opt for fall, you’ll find that venues are willing to offer better rates November through March, so perhaps don’t be so quick to write a winter date off.
Dates to avoid -- After narrowing down what season you and your partner want to celebrate, keep in mind some of the major events and festivals that take place each year, drawing in attendees from all over the world. There’s the Savannah Book Festival in February, the Savannah Jazz Festival in September, the Food And Wine Festival in November, and don’t forget about the craziness that St. Patty’s Day brings. If you’re choosing a venue outside of the city, you probably don’t have to worry about the traffic and parking challenges that these events pose, but just be sure to thoroughly check Georgia’s events pages so that your guests don't end up competing for parking on your wedding day.