Venue Selection for Your Wedding Day
Selecting the perfect venue is a crucial decision in every client’s planning process. This can also be a confusing process as well without the expert guidance from your wedding planner. The difficulty in this process stems from the fact that every venue is unique; each venue includes different items in-house, has different rental needs and different requirements. Comparing venues apples to apples can be impossible so instead you need to weigh the different factors as well as look at pricing and fees when making this important decision. Below are some of our top Charleston Wedding Venues and our insight on the pros and cons of each!
The Historic Rice Mill
This fabulous historic space is extremely versatile! We have done intimate dinners in their marina room (the space that overlooks the Charleston Harbor with windows on three sides), as well as large blow out receptions with amazing bands and a late night party (they allow events to go later into the evening than most spaces on the peninsula). The location of this venue is unbeatable, located in the heart of downtown, yet set apart in a quiet area on the waterfront with indoor and outdoor space to enjoy the harbor and yachts docked nearby. Some things to take into consideration when comparing this venue to others is that there are a HUGE amount of rentals included in the venue fee- tables, cocktail tables, china, flatware, glassware and patio furniture. This can save thousands of dollars when comparing other venues that are a blank slate. The Historic Rice Mill does all their catering and bar service in house (food is amazing), but for brides on a tight budget, you need to ensure the catering and bar packages are within your budget prior to booking.
Magnolia Plantation has many intriguing ceremony spots and reception locations. They all reflect the charm of the Lowcountry and are a great option for destination weddings, out of town guests can experience Southern culture and foliage at this venue. The iconic bridges are ideal photoshoot locations as well as the huge oak trees throughout the property! The carriage house is one of the most popular venues in Charleston. The rustic barn on the property is a great feature, your guests can enjoy a plantation view while also enjoying the luxury of having a climate controlled indoor space and you don’t have to worry about the additional expense of a tent like you may at many other plantation spaces. Magnolia has some preferred vendors when it comes to catering and bar services but you have a good amount of choices that can work with most budgets. They also have a full kitchen on-site at the Carriage House which is a money saver. One thing to consider with a wedding at Magnolia is transportation costs, the plantation is set a bit outside of Charleston with a limited number of hotels near the venue, so most couples will shuttle in their guests, this may be surprisingly expensive so you need to build that cost into your budget right away.
Legare Waring House
The Avenue of the Oaks at Legare- Waring, is the most picturesque view in Charleston! Driving into this venue is absolutely magical. The venue rental at Legare- Waring includes the historic home, the adjacent patio, the avenue of the oaks and the bridal suite and grooms suite inside the home. It is a nice perk to have large spaces on-site to get ready on your wedding day. Even though the home is included, this would be considered one of those blank slate venues. Besides the venue fee having a quite hefty price tag, the rentals that need to be budgeted for would greatly surpass the rentals needed at any of the previous venues we discussed. Tenting and lighting of the patio and/or oaks space can cost upwards of five to ten thousand dollars and everything needs to be brought in including tables, chairs, forks, glasses, linens ect. This is not a budget friendly venue, but if you are sparing no expense on your big day, your guests will be in awe of the beauty Legare- Waring has to offer.
Thomas Bennett House
The Thomas Bennett House is a stunning home located in the heart of Charleston on the peninsula. This is a great central location, in a downtown neighborhood. When you walk into this venue, you feel like you are entering an elegant affair at an old Southern home. My favorite spot is the veranda on the home that overlooks the beautiful gardens where the ceremony or reception can be hosted. Again, this venue is a blank slate. The home can be used for very intimate gatherings but any event of more than about fifty people would need to be hosted significantly in the gardens and/or adjacent lawn space. That being said, you are looking at tenting, lighting, tables, chairs and everything else you need to host your event being rented. This gorgeous space is worth the price tag if you can afford it!
The Cottages on Charleston Harbor
The Cottages at Charleston Harbor is my number one pick for small and intimate weddings and events. At this venue, you can literally rent a private resort for your big day! They have ten beachy cottages on the Charleston Harbor (each two bedrooms with a kitchen and living room area). They also have two different event lawns that can be utilized for ceremonies and receptions. My ideal setup here is the smaller lawn with larger beach space used for the ceremony and the second beach space for cocktails following with the reception in the lawn space overlooking the harbor. The ten cottages that can be rented by your guests all have screened in porches opening up to the venue spaces. The idea of your guests literally walking out their front door into the event is amazing! The venue fee for the spaces is relatively inexpensive which makes up for the fact that the rentals all need to be brought in, this minimal rental fee typically balances out the expense of needing a lot of rentals here. The other cost to consider is the room rental of the cottages, some clients prefer to pick up the tab for their guests which can get really pricey but if you allow your guests to bunk up together (cottages sleep up to 6 adults) and rent their own cottages, this can be a somewhat affordable venue!
How to Choose
Charleston is blessed with so many amazing venue spaces and this list just covers a few. When making a wedding venue selection in Charleston, the biggest challenge is choosing the one that is best for you. I always recommend that my clients both list the top three most important items for their wedding day and we match up a venue based on those key wants. For example, if the band and dance party is your number one request, you don’t want to select a venue with a small dance floor. The beauty of many of these Charleston venues can be blinding and you want to ensure you are selecting a venue that meets your specific checklist!