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I remember that photograph. It was instantly synonymous with American style, American royalty, and that fairytale wedding to Prince Charming. I never forgot that image, the beauty of the moment, the elegance and intimacy of the chosen venue. Such an interesting choice to make for such a famous last name. Fast forward nearly 18 years later, and I’m standing on the steps of the First African Baptist Church on Cumberland Island thinking about all the dreams that one photograph gave me as a child. I remember reading about how the guests stayed at the Greyfield Inn where the reception was held but as time passed these little details faded away, now those faded details are a part of my very personal memories. Cumberland became more than a dream, but a cherished experience.
The day is full of delight with the kind of youthful energy and discovery you find in a F. Scott Fitzgerald book. We went on hour long hikes, took bike rides to old cemeteries and rode around horses grazing beneath the ruins of the Dungeness mansion. We rode for hours down the seashore without ever seeing another person, finding seashells and chasing horses. One of the most charming rituals of the Inn is how they make their guests picnic baskets for lunch everyday you can take with you on your private adventures. On our second morning we rode with the house naturalist on a tour of the island where we visited that famous church, saw the house where President Jimmy Carter ate at multiple times, and discovered Plum Plantation which took my breath away. The history and nature, preservation and privateness is so far beyond anything I have ever experienced that I can only describe this stretch of land, twice the size of Manhattan, as magical.
If you ever need to find that corner of the world where things just are… where you can sit in the natural silence of the world alone and breathe in the sunlight, taste the salt of the sea and feel that life is just simply beautiful… then come to Cumberland Island. My heart will be there waiting for you.