Almost 100 years ago, a lavish resort called the Ribault Club served as a playground for affluent industrialists of the day. Designed by the famous Swiss architect Maurice Fatio, the 16,000-square-foot clubhouse hosted memorable parties and events throughout the late 1920s and ‘30s. Tucked away on 100 acres of pristine property just south of Amelia on Fort George Island, the Ribault Club lay barren and desolate for many years until a group of concerned citizens formed a committee to save the once-thriving structure and its many charms. With funding from the state and national parks, and the City of Jacksonville, the Ribault Club was fully restored in the 1990s.
Since then, the Ribault Club has hosted countless weddings, with the help of an experienced staff headed by General Manager Marie Thompson. An enthusiastic individual with years of experience, Thompson treats all of the brides and grooms as if they were her own family.
“There are so many reasons to host a wedding at the Ribault Club,” says Thompson. “The beautiful location, the historic building and our team of experienced professionals are here to help make your dream wedding come true. We work closely with you to plan your wedding and ensure that it’s exactly what you envisioned. I’ve been involved with every aspect of weddings over the last 20 years, and there truly is something magical about the weddings we have here at the Ribault Club.”
The club offers 6,000 square feet of historically elegant event space, with neoclassical features including fluted pilasters, classical arches, and detailed entablatures above beautifully paneled doors. Most of the rooms contain wainscoting, chair rails, and original terrazzo floors.
“The facility is fully equipped for any size wedding, up to 350 guests,” says Thompson. “We have two catering kitchens, two lovely bride’s rooms, and rentals includes tables, chairs, and banquet tables. We have staff on-site for the entire event to ensure that the wedding goes as planned.” She goes on to say that what clients love about the Ribault Club is that it is quintessential northeast Florida, reminiscent of the sumptuous South, with striking views and a gracious atmosphere.
“One of my favorite parts of wedding day is when I get to sneak upstairs where our bride’s rooms are to just listen for a moment… the laughter, music, champagne popping, and joy of the day is so sweet, and I’m so lucky to get to be a small part of our couples’ best day ever,” says Thompson. “And of course, I tear up every time I see the bride in her dress for the first time!”
Most couples are drawn to the Ribault Club for its stand of live oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss. The backdrop offers a blank canvas on which many styles and decorative themes can be placed. Tiny Italian lights, satin drapes, and rose petals have all made their way onto the trees and grounds of the Ribault Club, with spectacular results.
Another plus for families desiring a destination wedding is that the venue is in close proximity to the Jacksonville airport and only 20 minutes from Amelia Island. So in addition to enjoying a dream wedding at the Ribault Club, family and friends will enjoy shopping, fine dining, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, and, of course, the beach. “The club’s waterfront location echoes the style and elegance of the affluent guests who first came to the resort in 1928 to stroll the grounds, toast nuptials, and celebrate anniversaries and birthdays, and it’s still the perfect setting for exclusive weddings and occasions today,” notes Thompson.
The Ribault Club is located at Fort George Island, on Florida State Park grounds. It is open for visitors Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit their website at www.theribaultclub.com or call (904) 251-1050.