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Disguising History: Southern Wedding Venues Hiding their Dark Pasts


Hey! If you’re here just looking to hire a photographer, you’re probably wondering what you’ve stumbled upon. I wrote this blog because, to put it plainly, I messed up, and this is one of the most important pages on this entire website. If you’re new around here, my name is Ashlee. I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I moved to Savannah, Georgia about three and a half years ago now. I’m a wedding, engagement, family, and portrait photographer. A white one, to be exact. Even if you disagree with everything I’m about to type, I encourage you to really read in depth and with empathy; really sit with your feelings and thoughts for a while afterwards. Before I continue, I also want to make a note here for any past clients I’ve worked with at these locations or current photographer acquaintances who shoot at these locations. I don’t think you’re inherently a bad person, but I hope that posts like this can help us grow together as people and do better as a whole. This post is mainly meant to open a dialogue revolving around the romanticism and glorification of the antebellum South and how that still affects communities and people today.

When I was first restarting my business in my newly Southern home, I took to the internet to find new locations; because I’d only visited Savannah on day trips before I moved here and I didn’t really know much about the city at all. A quick search for “Best Photo Spots in Savannah” on Pinterest basically revealed this:

I was so excited, because all of those looked so beautiful. I checked out Instagram as well, seeing where the other local photographers liked to shoot too, in case I was missing out. I typed in “#savannahphotographer” and was greeted with the same images. I was added to the “Savannah Photographers” Facebook Group, and read others posts about shooting there, “Wormsloe Historic Site” I learned, was the name of the tree tunnel from the images. A $10 entrance fee, and a $25 photographer fee, seemed reasonable. A few months later, I was hired for my first shoot at Wormsloe. And this is where I failed, because I didn’t research anything beyond the first link on Google.

A quick internet search for “Wormsloe Historic Site” leads you to the Georgia State Parks webpage, where they discuss a brief history of the location. Here’s a quick excerpt from their page:

The stunning live oak lined avenue beckons visitors to Wormsloe State Historic Site, whose abundant cultural and natural resources have been, and continue to be, shaped by the influences of the many inhabitants of the Isle of Hope through the centuries including those of Native American, African, and European descent.”

They also go on to discuss the original owner of the land:

“Jones was a humble carpenter who arrived in Georgia in 1733 with James Oglethorpe and the first group of settlers from England. Wormsloe’s tabby ruin is the oldest standing structure in Savannah. Surviving hunger, plague and warfare in the rugged environment of Georgia, Jones went on to serve the colony as a doctor, constable, Indian agent, Royal Councilor and surveyor, laying out the towns of Augusta and New Ebenezer.”

What they don’t mention, and probably never will, are the enslaved people who lived and worked on Wormsloe plantation. I visited Wormsloe plantation roughly two dozen times over the course of three years, including the museum and historic ruins, and not once is the word “plantation” or “slave” mentioned. If you search “Wormsloe plantation history”, and scroll down past the state website, you get a much different view of the so called “Historic Site”.

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“Wormsloe’s first slave dwellings were rude huts near Noble Jones’s fortified house, probably the same structures that the fort’s marines had used in their watch for Spanish invaders. Noble Jones’s great-grandson, George Wymberley Jones, built eight frame slave houses during his agricultural improvement campaign of the 1850s. Jones arranged the new cabins in a double row roughly halfway between the mansion house and the historic fort, with an overseer’s house located at the northern end of the slave village. These slave houses existed at the edge of the plantation’s work and wild spaces. Wormsloe’s slaves lived next to the quarters field and in close proximity to the old fort field and the Jones mansion. Their homes also bordered the rich estuarial marsh of the Skidaway River and the mixed pine and hardwood forest that covered much of the southern end of the Isle of Hope peninsula. Each cabin was surrounded by a paling fence that enclosed a kitchen garden and a few chickens. Slaves labored in the cotton fields and farm buildings most mornings and early afternoons, and hunted, fished, and tended their own small gardens in the evenings and on Sundays. Following Emancipation, some of Wormsloe’s former slaves continued to live in the plantation’s cabins and farm the land, first as sharecroppers and then as renters and wage laborers. During the early twentieth century the De Renne family dismantled all of the cabins save one and used the salvaged materials in other construction projects. The family remodeled the remaining cabin for historical reenactments in the 1930s park, and the structure survives today.” – Excerpt from the University of Georgia.

Why wasn’t this in the museum? I toured the trails a handful of times and saw the old structures, so why weren’t they labeled properly? Why was the word “plantation” erased completely and scrubbed from the State Park’s Website? You and I both know why. And that’s where my mess up comes in – I didn’t research any of this on my own. I was called out on shooting there, even argued that it was a Historical Site with a museum of the history. I didn’t bother to research anymore than what had been commented on my Facebook Post in a photographers group. I reached out to other photographers to see if they’d had gotten backlash from shooting there and they had! They told me to just ignore it and “do my own thing”, so I did. I’m ashamed to say it took me over a year to research the true history, put my morals in front of my business, and speak out about it. So, let’s discuss. In the next section, I’d like to dive into more history, and discuss the harmful implications and history of the word plantation.


One of the first things I wanted to talk about in this post was the literal word “plantation. This is important, because a lot of venues in the South claim there weren’t enslaved people on the property but still carry the name, such as Magnolia Plantation. Others, like Wormsloe and Cotton Hall just dropped the word from their titles all together because frankly, they know what they’re doing is wrong. When researching the origins of the word plantation, I learned that it was originally derived from the Latin word “plantātiōnem” which means ‘“something that has been planted.” While the first uses of the word did refer to gardens, small colonies, etc., it didn’t take long for that to change. By the 16th and 17th centuries, it soon took on the meaning ”A settlement in a conquered or dominated country; a colony.” This usage, the OED says, is found “chiefly with reference to the colonies founded in North America and on the forfeited lands in Ireland.” Not much later, it became “An estate or large farm, esp. in a former British colony, on which crops such as cotton, sugar, and tobacco are grown (formerly with the aid of slave labour).” However in the 1950s this definition was expanded to include any “environment of inequality and servitude reminiscent of slavery.” So, the literal definition of the word, is essentially what comes to mind when you hear it – Antebellum period enslaved people working on large farms in the South, all while being tortured and murdered at the same time.

While doing research I discovered that a lot of politicians used the word as well, and I wanted to include this because it’s eye opening to the harmful implications when using the word, especially as a title for a wedding venue. The following quotes, and much of the information in this section of the blog, was taken from this article, discussing the word and its history.

  • “In September 2014, a Republican Congressman, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, said that Democratic Senator Harry Reid ‘runs the Senate like a plantation.’ Cassidy added, ‘It is his personal, sort of, ‘It goes if I say it does, if not it stops.’ ”

  • “In 1994 Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House, said the Democrats ‘think it’s their job to run the plantation’ and ‘it shocks them that I’m actually willing to lead the slave rebellion.’

  • “[Hillary Clinton] accused Republicans of running the House ‘like a plantation … in a way so that nobody with a contrary view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard.’

  • “In 2013, the scholar Cornel West called the Rev. Al Sharpton ‘the bonafide house negro of the Barack Obama plantation.’”

  • “Similarly, the phrase ‘plantation politics’ has been used since the early 1960s to describe the control that a small, select few can exercise over a much larger group.’ and “While the OED has no entry for the phrase “plantation politics,” it does have one for ‘plantation mentality.’ Oxford describes this as a ‘derogatory’ term for ‘an attitude likened to that which was prevalent on plantations operating with slave labour, esp. in accepting or condoning racial inequality or paternalism.’”

This same article does onto discuss Cornell University naming their gardens “Cornell Plantations” in the 1940s and how that impacted students on campus. If you’d like an even deeper look into the meaning of the word that article is a great read. Anyway, basically even if your venue claims there were never enslaved people on the property, simply using the word “plantation” to describe themselves only romanticizes plantation life even further; and there was nothing romantic about plantation life for enslaved people. So begs the question – why would venues that never held enslaved people maintain the name plantation? From what I can tell, most venues are trying very very hard to erase their past. They either don’t know the history of the word plantation or just simply don’t care – either way it’s shameful. You can message most of the current ones on Instagram and confront them about their history and they’ll all tell you the same stories. Even so, there has been some uproar across the internet to bring awareness to the problem; Pinterest and Wedding Wire alike have begun banning plantation weddings from their platform. It’s why places like Wormsloe dropped the “P” word from their title – hiding the history and getting naive people like me to photograph there = dollar signs.


As someone who was originally taken aback at the idea that I had done anything wrong, let alone actively racist, by shooting at these locations, I feel like I somewhat have a grasp of what goes on in people’s heads when they’re being told “that is bad, and you need to stop.” In this section I want to address the typical responses to discussing this type of subject matter.

  • “That happened so long ago though!”

    • Let’s dissect this mindset. Slavery in America began in 1619 and “ended” in 1865. I’m writing this in 2021, so 158 years ago. However, segregation was legal until 1964, a measly 57 years ago, and Jim Crow Laws existed until 1968. When someone says “that was soooo long ago though”, it’s important to remind them that it really wasn’t, and a pretty large portion of the current American population was alive during this shameful time. Generations of Black people that were directly impacted by the aftermath of slavery are still alive. To put it bluntly, they’re watching you take photos under trees where their great-grandparents could’ve hung from, and then post them all over Instagram like it’s nothing. To add – even if it happened longer ago, it still doesn’t make it right. Time doesn’t change history, so this response doesn’t hold up. Here’s some color photos to remind everyone that it wasn’t that long ago.

  • “It’s so beautiful though, why let such a pretty location go to waste?”

    • The location may be beautiful but what happened there isn’t. Wanting to use a tragic place for the sake of your instagram and website aesthetic isn’t a good enough reason, sorry. There are plenty of wonderful locations that weren’t the site of torture and murder. If you wouldn’t take wedding photos at Auschwitz then you have the ability understand why you shouldn’t take photos at plantations, either.

  • “Those people aren’t even alive, I had nothing to do with their suffering, it’s just land.”

    • Is that what you would say to shooting at a former Holocaust site? No? Okay. I hate that I have to continually use that as a reference, because frankly it makes it out to be like enslaved Black people’s lives on plantations don’t mean as much as Holocaust victims, but it seems to be the only way to get my point across. Many people are neither aware of nor willing to address their unconscious biases. (I am guilty of this myself at times.) Hopefully my references to the Holocaust can help draw ties to the reality and severity of the situation.

  • “Doesn’t that mean we should stop photographing anywhere that enslaved people built? The whole South is bad then if that’s the case!”

    • Probably my most common response to this discussion, is this one. Unfortunately our history is built on Black backs and in the south you’re not going to avoid a place with ties to slavery, you are correct. But by speaking out and bringing attention to the issue we can do our part. You are not glorifying the antebellum south by photographing a building that was built by enslaved hands when you cannot really avoid that in southern urban centers; however, in quite the same way you are glorifying slavery by opting to begin your married life on grounds where they were born, worked, died, and have been intentionally forgotten. The south is complicated. It’s not going to be perfect. You cannot avoid the shadow of slavery. There is a stark difference between shooting at places that happened to involve slavery and places that were completely centered around it.

  • “Won’t my clients just book a different photographer who shoots on plantations?”

    • Probably. However you can take the time to respond to their inquiry to explain why you don’t shoot weddings at a place where people were tortured to death. Every interaction is a chance to do the right thing and educate others. Most people, like I mentioned before, aren’t even thinking too hard about what happened in the past at these sites. Putting ethics and morals before business can be difficult but so so important! Feel free to link this blog if explaining it yourself seems too daunting at first.


Much of the disconnect that comes with feeling like it’s okay to photograph at plantations comes from a lack of understanding/education, not empathy. The stories from plantations are not mine to tell however, so this link is to:

American Slavery As It Is:
Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses:
Electronic Edition.

Weld, Theodore Dwight, 1803-1895

It is not an easy, comfortable, or pleasant read. Those are real stories from real enslaved people that go into grave detail of the atrocities committed on plantations. I highly encourage anyone one the fence about this subject to read through it.


The following articles offer several different perspectives on the subject of plantation weddings from Black and White folk alike, and are definitely worth reading. Click the underlined titles to read more.

  • Despite Everything, People Still Have Weddings at ‘Plantation’ Sites

    • “We have to grind against this really entrenched idea of white supremacy, of the glory of the Old South,” she said. “Having a wedding in 2019 or 2020 in front of these gorgeous colonnades on a plantation, all it does is reinforce the idea that what a plantation is: a beautiful home — when it’s not. It’s a labor camp.”

    • “Gardens and particularly the architecture of the ‘Big House’ play a significant role in creating the desirable plantation wedding setting,” she said. The environment, she added, contributes to a “deliberate forgetting of the brutality of slavery and the history of these sites.”

  • Who Are The People Still Getting Married On Plantations? You Might Be Surprised

    • “There were over 46,000 plantations in operation in 1860 in the American South, and nearly 4 million enslaved people in the U.S., with 2.5 million in the “Cotton Belt” alone. Today, there are about 375 plantation museums in the U.S., most of which do not hold weddings. While some former plantations, both those that are and aren’t wedding venues, acknowledge their history with educational programs of varying quality, others seem to have “rebranded” in recent years and swept their pasts under the rug, often by simply taking the word “plantation” out of their names. Still, some others are making sure that their history of enslavement, rape, and abuse is not only remembered, but is also respected by a refusal to make plantations into places of celebration.”

    • “Plantations are the sites of violence and brutality; an enslaved labor camp with a pretty house on it. ‘Whitney Plantation does not hold weddings; instead, it is a place for visitors to confront and grapple with the violence of the past. At a time when even critical race theory, an academic tool that uses race as a lens to examine structures of power, is being attacked, it’s more important than ever to examine this history. The beliefs and myths people have about plantations are linked to how we feel overall about race and race relations and Black labor and service and white supremacy overall,’ says Dr. Banner.”

  • I Visited A Former Plantation To Understand Why People Get Married There. All I Saw Was Pain.

    • “I asked McCaskey if she thought people continue to have weddings at plantations because they don’t know the history or if it is simply that they don’t care. ‘I think it’s probably a combination of things,’ she said. ‘I think so many of them are just — everyone is whitewashed. And so they don’t even — it doesn’t cross their mind because they don’t come in contact with anyone besides other white people.’ McCaskey’s is part of a small but growing group of businesses in the wedding ecosystem that are refusing to participate in weddings held on former plantation grounds even though that decision might come at a significant financial cost.

    • “Glines told me that a lot of people she encounters who either host weddings on plantations or want to have weddings on plantations believe “that was the past” and “these bad things are no longer happening on those grounds,” so it shouldn’t offend anyone who simply wants to use the space to celebrate something beautiful. ‘I think it’s just easier for those who [don’t] feel [it as] part of their own family history to then try to quote-unquote change the script and give it new life,’ she said.

  • Please Don’t Get Married On A Plantation

    • “Typically, historians classify sites that had over 20 slaves as plantations, but many plantation owners owned over two hundred. Yep, over two hundred people that they purchased, often breaking families apart, and forced to work on their property while brutally abusing them, systematically raping them, and just barely keeping them alive. And when they died, guess where their bones ended up? Under that garden where you’re thinking of having cocktail hour.”

    • “Okay, I know what you’re going to say: it’s hard to find a spot that’s completely devoid of negative history! Of course it is. You can really reach and say that there’s bad history anywhere that anyone was ever abused, or died. But here is the question that you need to pose to yourself: as a non-Nazi, would you get married at Auschwitz, and take portraits by the crematorium because the flowers in the field there are so beautiful? This question reads as completely alarming, as an obvious, “No!” but the closest comparison to a plantation is a concentration camp. Pretty columns and gauzy Southern “heritage” aside, a plantation was not a site of accidental death or benevolent caretakers. It was a site of systematic torture, rape, and murder. That “wedding venue” you’re considering? It was physically built by slaves. Slaves who were whipped to death during the construction process. It was inhabited by slaves. Slaves that were consistently raped by their owners, and forced to give birth to children of their rapists, while tending to the needs of their rapists’ families. And many of those slaves died, of natural and non-natural deaths. Infants and children along with adults. And their bodies are buried all over the property, in thousands of unmarked graves.”

  • Brides And Grooms Who Got Married At A Former Slave Plantation Are Speaking Out About Criticism Of The Venues

    • “Records of the treatment of enslaved people are hard to come by, Walcott-Wilson said, but ‘framing violence at plantations can’t be limited to acts of brutality — individual acts of brutality of people getting abused physically. Because the violence of slavery is ownership, and it’s the active dehumanization of people.’”

    • “At the heart of the discussion about plantation weddings is whether or not they should be used for celebrations and events, instead of serving mainly as a memorial to the people who were subjugated and treated inhumanely. And plantations continue to carry the significance of the violence that white supremacy has wrought. When prosecutors traced the route that Dylann Roof, the white man who shot and killed nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, took prior to the attack, they found that he visited a Confederate museum, a Confederate soldier cemetery, a slave cemetery, and four former slave plantations, Boone Hall being one of them. He took at least one photo in a slave cabin at Boone Hall, prosecutors said. ‘There’s no way to separate the beauty and the violence of plantations,’ Walcott-Wilson said. ‘They are the same in many respects. The people who built that beauty were enslaved people.’”

  • Plantation weddings are wrong. Why is it so hard for white Americans to admit that?

    • “ In a letter, Color of Change wrote that ‘plantations are physical reminders of one of the most horrific human rights abuses the world has ever seen. The wedding industry routinely denies the violent conditions Black people faced under chattel slavery by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry.’”

    • “Many white Americans insist that they had no role in slavery and that it was ‘so long ago’. Yet they seem quite adamant about defending it. Of course, denying black Americans’ pain – and preserving and normalizing the symbols of black subjugation – is just as American as slavery itself.”

  • Slave plantation weddings use romantic love to romanticize America’s racist history

    • “For many African Americans of my generation, born and raised in the waning years of the Jim Crow South, plantation museums not only invoke the horrors of slavery, but also, the legalized segregation that denied black descendants access to the places where their ancestors lived and suffered. Most plantation museums are unwilling to confront the complex histories of plantations, or to acknowledge the painful pasts plantations represent to many people.”

    • “It is not my intention to make couples feel guilty about where they were married. My goal is to call attention to an issue and inspire plantation museums to revisit their missions. Are they primarily concerned with educating visitors on plantation history, life and culture — or are they primarily venues for special events? If the latter, what kinds of events are most appropriate for their organization, and which are inappropriate?”

  • A romantic union? Thoughts on plantation weddings from a photographer/historian

    • “During my tenure as a wedding photographer, I often witnessed these issues first-hand. At one wedding, the venue was surrounded by cotton fields, which served as a backdrop to many of the wedding portraits. While trying to document a happy moment for the wedding couple, I imagined that just over 150 years ago, these fields held little joy for those forced to cultivate cotton. At one wedding in middle Georgia, each table featured cotton stems as their centerpiece, and above the reception barn was a wreath wrapped in white cotton.”

    • “As a photographer, I have reconsidered booking weddings at historic sites that contribute to profiting from a violent past. If plantations and other historic sites continue to book weddings in their spaces, their part could come in the form of providing more historical interpretation or acknowledgment of that fraught past to prospective clients. The removal of problematic terms like “charming” is a start, but more work needs to be done.”


There’s a lot of plantations in the South disguising themselves as wedding venues, so I’ve compiled a list of places to avoid. This is obviously not a complete list, because unfortunately there are so many of these venues, but it’s a start. Please feel free to comment and add more to this list, I plan to try and update this regulary.

  • Tanglewood Plantation, Lynchburg SC

  • Wormsloe Plantation, Savannah GA

  • Lowndes Grove Plantation, Charleston SC

  • Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville GA

  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston SC

  • Woodlawn Plantation, Guyton GA

  • Ormond Plantation, New Orleans LA

  • Old Wide Awake Plantation, Hollywood SC

  • Sweet Home Plantation, Pinewood GA

  • The Historic Rice Mill, Charleston SC

  • Hillwood at Davies Manor Plantation, Memphis TN

  • Washington Plantation, Washington GA

  • Cotton Hall Plantation, Yemassee SC

  • The Ford Plantation, Richmond Hill GA

  • Boone Hall Plantation, Mt Pleasant SC

  • Ashburn Hill Plantation, Moultrie GA

  • South Eden Plantation, Thomasville GA

  • Wilmington Plantation Events, Savannah GA

  • Southern Tree Plantation Inc, Blairsville GA

“Oh no – I’m a venue on this list! What can I do?”

  • There’s two separate answers to this question depending on the history of your venue!

    • Option One: Your venue was never actually a plantation, and you adopted the name without knowing/caring about the implications of the word itself. There were never any enslaved people on the property and you have detailed history to prove it – great! You can start by removing the word “plantation” from your title and apologizing for contributing to the romanticism of plantation life. As we move forward in society, progress is important. Nobody is perfect, including me! If you’ve taken these steps and you’re still on my list, please reach out to me so I can correct it and remove you.

    • Option Two: Your venue was a plantation, and you’re still using it as a wedding venue. If this is the case, you should be following in the footsteps of places like Menokin and Whitney Plantations, who put the focus of their sites purely on the history and Black lives affected there. They even reached out to the descendents of the enslaved people to give reparations and ask how they want their family’s stories to be told. This article, which is an ethical guide to touring plantations, has some amazing information regarding this subject specifically. “While the revenue may be tempting, a different business model is possible, says Joy Banner, director of communications at Whitney Plantation outside New Orleans. Whitney is famous for focusing exclusively on Black lives, and it does not host weddings or other events that detract from this mission. ‘There is opportunity to be honest and still have a sustainable business,’ she says.”


Are you a Black wedding vendor or know someone you’d love to see on this page? Please comment and let me know so I can update this list regularly!


While I cannot erase the fact that I made an ignorant mistake, I hope that this page can draw more attention to the practices that take place here in the South. It’s such common practice here to shoot on plantations that many photographers don’t even realize what they’re doing. To those that currently don’t care, I hope you will take this blog into consideration when booking with clients in the future. As artists with platforms, large and small, we have a duty to do the right thing and educate others. Don’t continue to normalize and romanticize plantation photography, instead bring awareness and teach the dark history that the land holds. Be compassionate, kind, and put your morals in front of money.


  1. One Moment One Shot Photography says:

    WOW! What details you have shared here. This was an Amazing read as a photographer here in Savannah myself. Would love to be added to your vendor list.

  2. Sam Bowers says:

    So the famous Savannah Grey Bricks that this city has so many building are built of were made by slaves. So should the whole town be boycotted? Or should we acknowledge the past and move on to a better future?

    • Ashlee C. says:

      Hi Sam! Thanks for your response. This is actually the one of the responses that I get over and over again, so I went ahead and added a section in the blog to address this. It reads:

      "Probably my most common response to this discussion, is this one. Unfortunately our history is built on Black backs and in the south you’re not going to avoid a place with ties to slavery, you are correct. But by speaking out and bringing attention to the issue we can do our part. You are not glorifying the antebellum south by photographing a building that was built by enslaved hands when you cannot really avoid that in southern urban centers; however, in quite the same way you are glorifying slavery by opting to begin your married life on grounds where they were born, worked, died, and have been intentionally forgotten. The south is complicated. It’s not going to be perfect. You cannot avoid the shadow of slavery. There is a stark difference between shooting at places that happened to involve slavery and places that were completely centered around it."

  3. Veronica Kringlen says:

    I would like you to come visit and I will tell you the history of Wilmington Plantation!! This property was never a Plantation, it was the General Oglethorpe Hotel built in 1927!! This property was always a hotel until 2000 when it was developed into condominium’s . Please take our property off your list and again it would be my pleasure to show you our beautiful historic property that was named plantation by the developer in 2000. Prior to the development of condominiums this property was the Sheraton!! We would appreciate you posting a revision on your blog
    Veronica Kringlen
    Venue Coordinator

    • Ashlee C. says:

      Hi Veronica!

      Thanks for reaching out! Unfortunately your property still carries the name plantation, which reinforces and romanticizes the antebellum period and suffering of enslaved peoples. That’s why I made sure to go into a comprehensive history of the word plantation and the harmful implications it carries. It directly translates to its common colloquial meaning of a property with suffering, unfortunately. Not all of the properties mentioned here had enslaved people, but profiting off of the romanticism of plantations and referring to them as charming and southern is a problem I’m attempting to address to the general community. It’s why platforms like wedding wire and Pinterest are banning any “plantation” themed weddings – enslaved people or not.

  4. Adam says:

    Thank you for taking the time to listen, research, and then write this post. It’s inspired me to move forward with addressing venues up north that are rumored to be anti LGBTQ.

  5. Lisa says:

    Ashlee, I think you’d better go back to where you came from…….you’re not welcome in the South and obviously don’t understand anything about our history or culture.

    • Ashlee C. says:

      Hi Lisa!

      Thanks so much for your response! January will make year 4 for me here, and I have felt almost nothing but welcome! Southern hospitality is real! Could you go into a little more detail about what I’m not grasping about the history or culture? I’ve spent months researching this topic and discussing it with people of all kinds. I’d love to know what I missed!

  6. Don Davies says:

    Savannah Georgia really has both good and bad historical highlights. But honestly, each time I visit, I just fall in love with the place! It’s just so beautiful. Specially when I go to Downtown and visit the famoust attractions there that I found on I really hope people will really get to see the beauty of the place more!

  7. TW says:

    Hi Ashlee!

    I was recently contacted to photograph a wedding at a southern plantation (one of the venues you have listed). Before I respond, I wanted to do more research to see if it was an actual plantation, or just using the name and I came across this. I’ve lived in North Florida for 4.5 years now and this is the first plantation wedding I’ve been contacted about. I have been dreading writing to a bride to tell her that I can’t morally agree to that and have been at a loss for words. I am always taken back when I see photos at these plantations and am confused why there is such a lack of beautiful ‘southern-syle’ venues that are not plantations. I get it. Brides want gorgeous oak trees and beautiful buildings. Photographers want dreamy photos for their website. I’ve just never been able to put into words why I can’t agree with the decision to use plantations for the happiest day of your life. They are beautiful monstrosities. I’d love to link this page on my website and give you credit for your well-thought-out post and research. Or even possibly work with you to develop a short statement for my site. is that something that would be possible?

    • Ashlee C. Photography says:

      Hi there! Thanks so much for your comment! It definitely doesn’t feel awesome responding to potential clients, but educating is a great way to move forward! You are so more than welcome to link this page or any excerpts from it on your website or include it in emails. I’ve essentially just been writing back this:

      "Hey! Thanks so much for reaching out. Unfortunately I no longer shoot on any plantations/anywhere that has plantation in the name and here’s why: insert link here. Let me know if you end up going with a different venue and I would love to work with you! Best."

      While a lot of the venues here do have a dark past, there are oak trees and houses that were built post-segregation era in the South that are beautiful. I’m working on putting together a list of places that are okay to photograph at that have the same beautiful background just no tragic past attached – that way in the email we can add "Here’s this instead!"

      I hope that helps! Best of luck and proud of you for standing up for what’s right!

      • Ashlee
  8. Jodi Lee says:

    Hi Ashlee!

    Thank you SO much for taking the time to research, write, and post this blog! I am a wedding filmmaker in Charleston, SC and also don’t accept inquires located at former slave plantations. Would I be able to link this blog on my website?! Hope we get to work together one day!

    Thank you!

    • Ashlee C. says:

      Hi Jodi!

      Absolutely! Please feel free to link this anywhere you like, and thanks for taking a stance on doing the right thing!



  9. David Kelly says:


    I am a historian committed to telling the full history of Savannah and the surrounding Low Country. I am so glad to read your blog. You shouldn’t feel bad for not knowing; history has been whitewashed to minimize the impact of slavery. We must learn our full history – and that means learning more from a female, Black and Indigenous perspective (among others). We can be proud of our history but only if we acknowledge and understand what was done to others, and make amends

  10. Tammy says:

    Thank you for this article. I just took my family to visit Wormsloe and was saddened at the lack of history provided/ how much was purposely omitted. I tried to teach my kiddos as much as I could while we were there. I was also saddened at the obvious instagram photos being taken on the long drive in. I hope the site eventually begins teaching about the currently omitted history.

  11. Oriana says:

    Ashlee, thank you for writing this and sharing your research. It’s given me a lot to consider.

  12. alay4d says:

    Wow Thanks for this write-up i find it hard to discover excellent facts out there when it comes to this subject material appreciate for the thread site

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