A model poses outside the stone pavilion at Indian Springs State Park, which has become a popular place for weddings in recent years. (Special Photo)
Indian Springs State Park has long been a popular place for a number of activities, including getting spring water and catching fish. Increasingly, it has become a popular site for hosting a wedding.
But if you dream of having a wedding at Indian Springs State Park, odds are that you’ll have to wait more than a year to have your big day on a weekend.
Since renovations of the stone pavilion were completed in 2012, the park has had a tenfold increase in the number of weddings it hosts, and every weekend is booked for the next 13 months, Indian Springs State Park Secretary Kim Cato said.
The stone pavilion has two rooms that are connected by a 120-foot-long breezeway. Each room as a fireplace. The structure was built in the 1930s by workers with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
In early 2012, Indian Springs State Park employees and members of Friends of Indian Springs State Park got the manpower and funds together to renovate one of the rooms at the stone pavilion. They added a full kitchen, complete with granite countertops and appliances, and updated the electrical system.
Park Manager Ken Lalumiere and then-Assistant Manager Beth Gilbert did “a tremendous amount of work” on the stone pavilion renovation, Cato said. For example, both built and installed the kitchen cabinets.
The stone pavilion renovation cost $10,000, Cato said. It took less than a year for the park to make that money back from rental fees for weddings at the stone pavilion, she said. Eighteen months after the renovation, the park had made $26,000 just from booking the pavilion for weddings, she added.
The main goal behind the stone pavilion renovation was to increase the number of weddings held there, Cato said. The park has met that goal.
Before renovating the kitchen room, Indian Springs State Park hosted about five weddings a year, she said. After the renovation, the park has had more than 50 weddings a year. The park has started booking weddings on Wednesdays and Thursdays to keep up with the demand.
In fact, Cato said park employees get calls every day about weddings. The majority of calls are from people who live in the Southeast.
“Most of the time, it’s people who have lived here at some point in their life,” Cato said, noting that some people book the stone pavilion by telephone without ever visiting the park or seeing the facility in person.
Couples can rent the stone pavilion for one day — from 10 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. — for $500. For an additional $75, couples can have the grassy area in front of the stone pavilion all to themselves for the day, too. They can also pay extra to rent one or more cottages at the park.
Wedding packages that include the rental of the stone pavilion along with the group shelter, a cottage and other options are also offered by Indian Springs State Park. Some couples choose to rent the group shelter, alone, for their wedding, which is also possible.
In addition, the purchase of a $5 parking pass or the use of an annual ParkPass is required by state law for each vehicle. Parking passes can be purchased in bulk by the couple and provided to guests, or guests can purchase their own parking pass.
The stone pavilion holds up to 130 people. A number of brides choose to get ready in the room without the kitchen, which can also be used for dancing during the reception. Couples can place chairs for guests in the breezeway or on the grass outside the pavilion.
The park provides the facility, tables and chairs. The rest is up to the couple. Providing their own touches is seen as a perk for many couples.
“We allow couples to come in and decorate themselves and do their own catering,” Georgia Department of Natural Resources Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division Public Affairs Coordinator Kim Hatcher said. “By and large, you kind of get to do it your own way.”
Although Indian Springs State Park is not the only state park in Georgia to host weddings, the park is one of the first and most successful at it, leading the way for other state parks to also start having weddings, Hatcher said.
“Several parks are kind of following their lead, but Indian Springs has found a way to run with it and make it profitable,” Hatcher said, quickly adding, “Probably, Indian Springs is a shining example of the best facility we have.”
Indian Springs State Park is currently about 93 percent self-sufficient thanks, in large part, to the number of weddings that are held there, Cato said. The park is located at 678 Lake Clark Road in Flovilla and can be reached at 770-504-2277.
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