25 Jan

Love is in the air for wedding vow renewal event at Brookgreen Gardens

“(Marriage) is a declaration to the world that you’ll hold each other’s hands forever.” — author Prue Leith.

On Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2022, Brookgreen Gardens, a jewel on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®, will host its annual “Romance in the Gardens” event for married couples who want to celebrate their love and renew their marriage vows in a location as magnificent as their love.

During Romance in the Garden last year, 48 couples renewed their vows. (Photo courtesy of Coastal Observer Newspaper)

“Romance in the Gardens offers couples a memorable experience to recommit their love to one another in a most beautiful outdoor setting,” said Ron Daise, vice president of creative education at Brookgreen Gardens. Daise is one of two speakers during the event, the other being Jay Rowe, vice president of public operations at Brookgreen.

The event will include two nondenominational ceremonies at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., at the Brookgreen boat landing and a Southern cake reception and champagne toast at the Leonard Pavilion. Musical entertainment will be harpist Rebecca Nissen for the vow renewal ceremonies and the Paul Grimshaw Duo for the reception.

Each bride will receive a miniature bouquet of flowers and each groom will receive a boutonniere. The couples will also receive a personalized certificate and professional photograph. In lieu of cutting a cake during the reception, each couple will receive an individual box of goodies, including a cupcake.

“This event gives couples a chance to rekindle the flames of their love,” Rowe said. “It is a chance to start afresh with each other and their relationship.”

Ron Daise and Jay Rowe, both staff members at Brookgreen Gardens, perform the ceremony during Romance in the Gardens. (Photo courtesy of Coastal Observer Newspaper)

Daise and Rowe say that the ceremony is a lot like a wedding ceremony, just with 20 to 30 other couples.

“Some couples dress in formal wear, while others sport jeans and casual attire,” Daise said. “Their eyes as they look at their partners, however, all bear the same sentiments: ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m happy to be with you,’ or ‘Regardless of whatever we may have experienced, let’s continue living and loving together!’ It’s a lovely experience.”

He said that he and Rowe are just there to guide the couples as they are immersed in the deep feelings of the moment.

“We each provide readings that inspire listeners to reflect on their physical, emotional, and spiritual bond with their partner,” Daise said.

Rowe agreed, adding that same-sex couples are usually part of the group, and they are welcome.

“We are just like two preachers at a wedding,” Rowe said. “We just give them a chance to celebrate their relationship, the times they have shared and their desire to continue to be together.”

This special event was the brainchild of Page Kiniry, president and CEO of Brookgreen Gardens, as yet another way to honor Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington.

“Brookgreen Gardens was created by Anna and Archer Huntington and is a central part of their love story,” Kiniry said.

“They purchased the property initially as a retreat so Anna could recover from tuberculosis and realized immediately that the property should be open to the public,” she said. “Hosting an event on Valentine’s Day honors our founders’ story and celebrates the beauty of the Gardens they wanted to share with the world.”

Kiniry said the event has evolved since it first began.

Susan and Doug Funck, center, of High Point, N.C., married seven years, participated in last year’s Romance in the Gardens. Couples of all ages choose to renew their vows during this special event. (Photo courtesy of Coastal Observer Newspaper)

“Each year it has grown and the couples that attend tell us how special the day was for them,” she said. “They also form a special bond with the Gardens as part of their own love stories.”

Kiniry added that Brookgreen staff and volunteers relish the opportunity to share a special day with all the couples who participate and learn about their stories.

“We have couples that have only been married a few years to couples celebrating 50-plus years of marriage,” she said. “For many, it is a chance to have the kind of reception they were unable to have when they married, and they enjoy sharing that experience with other couples from across South Carolina and beyond.”

Brookgreen Gardens is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Founded in 1931, Brookgreen is home to  the  largest  and  most  significant  collection  of  American  figurative  sculpture  in  the  country and is a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and the protection of the plants, animals, and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Tickets for the event, which are now on sale at, are $40 for member couples and $50 for non-member couples. For more information, visit the website or call 843-235-6000.

By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast©

Harpist Rebecca Nissen and Jay Rowe, vice president of public operations at Brookgreen, at the 2019 ceremony. (Photo by Mark A. Stevens/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

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