History In The Making
For well over two hundred years, The Greenbrier has survived and flourished by adapting to changing times. The current Greenbrier has evolved from a primitive sulphur spring in the wilderness in the late eighteenth century to today’s grand elegance. However, the resort maintains its premier status because of an ability to blend smart changes with solid traditions.
The Greenbrier’s latest venture is beginning to take shape on the broad and lovely lawn at the foot of the historic Presidents’ Cottage Museum and Paradise Row Legacy Cottages. The new wedding chapel will complement the simple architectural lines of those earlier buildings and will draw on the resort’s long tradition as a romantic rendezvous destination. Back in the day when matchmaking was an art, it was practiced at the highest level at “The White,” as the resort was once called by those who frequented it. Decades before the Civil War, a certain Colonel William Pope organized The Billing, Wooing and Cooing Society in the resort’s ballroom. Nominally the dance instructor, Colonel Pope’s real function was arranging introductions between eligible young people with an eye to marriage. His plan seemed to work: in 1835 he reported ten marriages and fifty courtships in progress.
Over seventy-five years ago, local historian Perceval Reniers put Colonel Pope’s organization into its larger context: “The Billing, Wooing and Cooing Society [recognized] that no other place in the South was the equal of White Sulphur Springs for the making of marriages. You took the sulphur water or you took a mate, and with both it was the same—there was no knowing what the effect would be.”
In the nineteenth century, couples courted at the resort but rarely married there. The Greenbrier, however, was widely seen as a delightful honeymoon destination and as an attractive location for significant wedding anniversaries.
But with the expanding popularity of destination weddings made possible by air travel, The Greenbrier has found itself in the enviable role of being the perfect wedding site. The beautiful mountain setting, the stunning interior décor, and the sense of privacy provided to those who long to be away from the cares of the outside world, all make The Greenbrier a particularly appealing wedding venue. Add to that the almost tangible aura of romance generated by years of couples wandering the paths throughout the property. One journalist wrote one hundred years ago: “It has been poetically said that at The White the fire flies that brighten the nights of summer are all the love words that have been breathed by generations of happy lovers.”
Thus, The Greenbrier embarks on a new venture deeply rooted in the resort’s long history. That combination of respect for the past and an eye toward the future produced the vision of a new
chapel. With the resort’s wealth of resources, talent and experience focusing on the dreams of “happy lovers,” there is no limit to the magical moments that lie ahead.
Please stay tuned for more information about the new wedding chapel set for completion on August 28, 2015. If you would like to learn more about weddings at The Greenbrier, please visit greenbrier.com/weddings.