The Mansion on Forsyth Park provides elegant surroundings and the flexibility to allow bridal parties to make the property their own.
The Mansion on Forsyth Park provides elegant surroundings and the flexibility to allow bridal parties to make the property their own.

Selecting a destination to say "I do" is kind of like finding the perfect movie location. In Savannah, Ga., couples have 23 historical garden squares within the nearly 300-year-old city from which to choose.

Most popular is the pre-Civil War Forsyth Park, with its enormous cast-iron fountain as a backdrop, a wide center path that doubles as the bride's aisle and graceful oaks that provide both intimacy and shade.

A ceremony followed by cocktails, dinner and dancing across the street at the Mansion on Forsyth Park is not only convenient for guests but also promises plenty of Southern hospitality. Extra points for cooling off guests with Champagne sorbet served in flutes from Leopold's, an only-in-Savannah ice creamery since 1919.

The 1888 turreted terra-cotta brick mansion housing the 700 Drayton Restaurant blends seamlessly with the adjacent AAA Four Diamond hotel built in 2005 that is part of the Kessler Collection. The 125-room, family-owned Mansion on Forsyth Park is one of nine in the portfolio, and though most are located in the South, Savannah is where the Kessler family's roots run deepest. Their ancestors arrived in the city from Austria in the early 1730s, and the family has been part of Savannah's fabric ever since.

The mansion and hotel are filled with artwork, an extension of CEO Richard Kessler's passion as a collector. Vivid paintings, bold sculptures and original furnishings will make couples feel as though they are entertaining in a gracious home with rooms ranging from a cozy table in a turret to a chandeliered ballroom. A baby grand placed here and there simply await a musician to set the mood.

A suite at the Mansion on Forsyth Park.
A suite at the Mansion on Forsyth Park.

One couple recently treated their 125 guests to an unforgettable Halloween weekend, kicked off with a rehearsal dinner takeover of the top floor of 700 Drayton — including three private dining spaces, a lounge and an Old World-style bar — with high-end Halloween decor and chef stations.

The next evening, after the ceremony was held in a square, guests returned for cocktails in the hotel's Marble Garden Courtyard and dinner in the Viennese Ballroom. Overnight, the space was given a fresh face for brunch, complete with a mimosa and bloody mary bar.

The Cooking School within 700 Drayton is another popular spot for smaller rehearsal dinners (maximum 30 guests), appealing to groups who want the intimacy of sharing one large table while enjoying an interactive meal with the chef.

Newlyweds in search of a Savannah wedding souvenir can consult with the curator at the on-site Grand Bohemian Gallery. Perhaps they'll select a moody black-and-white photo, an oil painting of a Savannah scene or a piece of jewelry by Savannah College of Art & Design graduate Kristen Baird, whose modern designs are set with responsibly sourced, recycled gemstones.

No matter what, a forever piece of art to hang or to wear will serve as a touchstone of one of the most significant days of their lives.

Weekday room rates start at $179 in the low season. Visit www.mansiononforsyth park.com.

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