March 6, 2021
A roundup of twenty one Charleston wedding venues to consider for your big day.
Updated in 2021 to bring you the most current information.
As a wedding photographer, I have a unique perspective on wedding venues in Charleston because I visit so many of them on a regular basis. I have seen them in different seasons, different weather conditions, and so forth.
In this post, I am dishing the pros and cons of each one, and a pointer that I think will come in handy for you as a Bride.
Narrowing to some of my favorite Charleston wedding venues was no easy feat, so only the venues that can accommodate a ceremony and a reception are on this list.
Let’s dive in!
Pro: There are scenes from The Notebook that were filmed here… need I say more!? Founded in 1681, this plantation offers several locations to have a beautiful Charleston wedding. The famous Avenue of Oaks makes for some stunning pictures.
Con: The Cotton Dock may be an amazing place for a reception, but you’ll have to keep in mind that the rental of everything is your responsibility. This venue is not a one-stop-shop.
Pointer: The Plantation grounds are open to the public until the gates close in the evening. Setting up the Cotton Dock for a reception can be a challenge at times because the public is still allowed to tour the venue while vendors are in the process of getting decorations in place. My advice is to only hire vendors that have worked at Boone Hall Plantation before that understand the complexity that it can bring… Trust me – it’s worth it in the end.
Pro: The Wild Dunes Resort has multiple wedding venues to select from. Looking for a beach ceremony and indoor reception? No problem. How about a ceremony on the lawn and a reception under the stars? You got it.
Con: There aren’t many Cons to this venue, but I would caution you to consider wheelchair-bound guests if you’re having a beach ceremony. It’s certainly something to plan for beforehand.
Pointer: This venue comes with complimentary valet parking for you and your guests. Tips aren’t expected, but they are appreciated for the valets. Also, let your guests know that there are plenty of places to stay in or around the resort.
Pro: Centuries ago, this building was a bakery. Now it is a beautiful indoor venue on historic Market Street. It boasts exposed brick, arched windows and wooden beams paired with luxurious finishes.
Con: The bridal suite at Merchant’s Hall is beautiful, but it is a small space to get ready in. The Brides that I’ve photographed here have all had their hair and makeup done off-site before arriving.
Pointer: There is an art gallery directly below this venue. One of the weddings that I’ve done here actually rented it out for their cocktail hour. Guests were able to look at artwork while enjoying hors d’evours. If your guest list is on the smaller side, consider doing this as a memorable touch.
Pro: If you are looking for a dream-like movie scene for your photos, why not take a hint from The Notebook and hop into a flat-bottomed paddleboat? As the centerpiece of this attraction’s enormous gardens, the blackwater swamp offers an unmatched setting that is so unique compared to other Charleston wedding venues.
Con: With this lush, secluded venue comes the caveat of a 45-minute drive from Charleston. So, depending on where you and your guests are staying, the drive can be a bit out of the way.
Pointer: There is a beautiful location here where you can hold a wedding ceremony that will allow for a bride to be escorted in on a paddleboat. If you want a shock and awe moment, this is it. Try to keep it a secret and then when everyone starts looking for the bride when it’s her turn to come down the aisle, have your escort start to paddle out from under the bridge towards the dock.
Pro: When people say “Lowcountry”, this is what comes to mind. With Spanish moss draping ancient oaks and historic charm around every corner, you’re not left for wanting when it comes to this venue. There are three outdoor ceremony locations to choose from here as well as the Legare Waring House and Founders Hall.
Con: It’s a reoccurring theme with some of these outdoor venues, but the bugs here during the summer can be pretty rough. Be sure to have bug spray on hand.
Pointer: If you like the idea of a venue where you can have the ceremony outside, but the reception inside – be sure to ask for a tour of Founders Hall. Also, the azaleas at Charles Towne Landing are breathtaking! If you are getting married around when they are in bloom, this place is beautiful.
Pro: There’s something so romantic about ancient Oak trees and sweeping Spanish moss. Magnolia Plantation has no shortage of either, and its swamps, bridges, and gardens offer plenty of opportunities for photos. They have a few different locations on the property to choose from, so you can accommodate large and small groups.
Con: In the warmer months, sand gnats can be a bit of a bother. Plan accordingly.
Pointer: Be sure to hire a photographer that is very familiar with this venue. Magnolia Plantation’s grounds are too large to walk on foot for photos to make it to all of the prime areas. Be sure to have your wedding planner reserve a golf cart so that your photographer can take you to all of them. Timing is everything, and a golf cart will make the experience enjoyable and faster.
7. The Exchange
Pro: This gorgeous indoor venue is located in Mount Pleasant. With a 5,000 sq. ft. banquet hall, there’s plenty of room for guests to spread out, dance, and have cocktails at the bar counters. It sits about 15 minutes away from the Isle of Palms and Wando River.
Con: As a photographer, outdoor photos can be a bit of a challenge at The Exchange as it is in the middle of a (beautiful) neighborhood. Things like tennis courts and cars in parking lots try to peek out in the background – but, I am always up for the challenge and we make the best of landscaping to pull off the shots!
Pointer: This venue is also rented out to a local church. The church has allowed previous weddings that I’ve photographed there to use their projection equipment. Create a fun slideshow of photos to loop in the background during dinner for your guests to enjoy.
Pro: Poogan’s Courtyard, like all of Poogan’s restaurant locations, is known for its incredible food. Your guests will remember this meal for a long time. Located in Downtown Charleston, this venue is in a prime location to walk to Waterfront Park on East Bay where we can get some really gorgeous outdoor photos.
Con: The venue is on the smaller size, so it would be best for those planning a more intimate gathering.
Pointer: There is a private parking garage right next to this venue that actively tows vehicles. Encourage your guests to park at the Cumberland Street parking garage.
Pro: It’s one of a few historic homes in downtown Charleston that have been converted into an event venue. What separates this home from the others is that your guests are able to enjoy more than just the yard. Dinner can be served upstairs inside this historic home as well which is a unique bonus.
Con: There is not a parking lot for your guests. They will need to park at a public parking garage and walk to the venue.
Pointer: The American Theater is right next to this venue. You can rent out the sign and create a personalized backdrop for your wedding photos.
10. The Parsonage
Pro: This historic home was built to support St. Johannes Lutheran Church in 1841 and renovated in 2014. Located in Downtown Charleston, just one block away from the Market, The Parsonage features a quaint cobblestone courtyard, garden and large porch. It makes for a beautiful, classically-Charleston outdoor wedding. There is also plenty of space indoors for the bridal party to get ready.
Con: Be sure that you’ll have enough space for your guests as the capacity is capped at 100.
Pointer: If you are holding a small wedding in the middle of Summer, this venue should rise to the top of your list. It is heavily shaded due to the surrounding buildings, which makes it a wonderful respite from the sun.
11. I’On Chapel
Pro: Newly renovated and under new management, the I’On Chapel is a gorgeous venue with flexibility in terms of layout and use. With large, arched windows it lets in plenty of natural light. It is perfect for an intimate wedding.
Con: Outdoor bridal photos on the grounds and around the venue will be a little limited due to the fact the I’On is located in the I’On Community in Mount Pleasant.
Pointer: This venue may be small, but it is possible to hold a ceremony and reception here. When the ceremony is over, have your guests enjoy a cocktail hour outside on the lawn. During this time it is possible to reset the indoor space for your reception. It takes some extra planning to coordinate it all, but it will save you in costs by keeping everything at one location. It’s worth looking into.
Pro: How does your own private island on a lake sound? The Lake House at Bulow offers this as a very unique setting for a ceremony. Also, if you’re looking for a place for your Bridal Party to stay the night before, you are able to rent this Lake House. So convenient!
Con: I’ve done weddings here where it rains, and what starts out as a beautiful dream of tying the knot on a private island quickly turns into cramming all of your guests inside the Lake House and making the best of it.
Pointer: Renting tents should be a priority for this venue in the event that the aforementioned should occur. Bugs can also be an issue because it’s on the water; so ask that they spray for bugs before your big day.
13. The Cedar Room
Pro: Of all the indoor wedding venues in Charleston, The Cedar Room offers the most natural light. The Cedar Room was built in 1881 and has gorgeous exposed columns, rustic brick, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Con: The bridal suite is not large enough for a bridal party to get ready in. You will need to plan ahead by getting ready off-site.
Pointer: There is a private elevator that the Venue Coordinator has access to. They can take you to the rooftop of The Cigar Factory to give you an amazing skyline view. Sunset photos here are a hidden gem at this venue if you know to ask for it.
14. The Island House
Pro: This venue comes with a stunning view and also provides space for the bride and bridesmaids to get ready upstairs while the groom and groomsmen get ready downstairs. This is one of the best venues Charleston has to offer for sunset photos. Take a tour here and see for yourself how epic it could be.
Con: If you plan to invite families with small children, be sure they keep in mind that their is not a railing at the edge of this venue where the river drop off is. There are numerous places for kids to safely run around here, but they’ll need to be careful if they start to get close to the water.
Pointer: There has been a new entrance gate and path added to this venue and it goes right next to a gorgeous oak tree. Ask for a golf cart and take your Bride and Groom photos here.
15. Gadsden House
Pro: The top floor of the Gadsden House can be used as a bridal suite. The room is massive and has a full kitchen, so it’s comfortable and there’s room for your entourage. It’s easily the biggest bridal suite I’ve seen of all Charleston wedding venues.
Con: The second and third floors are not handicap accessible. The stairwell is gorgeous, but it can easily be a concern for someone in your wedding party or family.
Pointer: If you are getting married on a hot day, take advantage of one of the venue’s first floor rooms by keeping your cake and dessert indoors. I’ve seen too many melty cakes here in Charleston. There’s plenty of room to fit in guests who want to see you cut the cake.
16. Hotel Bennett
Pro: Aside from the lavish decor, pampering from your Wedding Specialist and beautiful views, you won’t have to worry about event rentals. They have it all. Everything from the chairs to the menu is covered.
In my opinion, this is the best modern hotel to have your wedding in Charleston. It opened only a year ago in 2019 and it’s absolutely worth taking a tour.
Con: Like most downtown Charleston wedding venues, there is not a parking lot. Your guests will need to park in a parking garage and walk to this venue.
Pointer: Check out their Piazza, it overlooks Charleston’s skyline and it’s a great place for sunset for photos during your reception.
Pro: This venue has a lot going for it. It’s an indoor/outdoor venue that features a private lake as the backdrop for the ceremony, a private dock, a bridal cottage to get ready in, a fire pit, indoor & outdoor fireplaces, and close parking proximity.
Con: The Pavilion is in a residential community and there are community/town noise ordinances that we are obligated to adhere to. On Fridays and Saturdays, there is a music cut off time of 10 pm, while Sundays through Thursdays the music cut off time of 9 pm.
Pointer: Like many outdoor wedding venues in Charleston, this venue is right on the water which can cause the bugs to be an issue at certain times of the year. Be sure to have your venue sprayed before your event to help.
18. Alhambra Hall
Pro: This venue can hold a large group of guests. It’s also a budget-friendly location with a beautiful wrap-around deck for views of the marsh and a large bridal suite.
Con: The cleaning and trash removal is your responsibility, so make sure you have a team of friends and family assigned to take on this task after the wedding.
Pointer: You’ll have exclusive access to the building, but the grounds of this venue are a public park and it stays open throughout the day. If you have your ceremony outdoors, understand that there will be dogs catching freebies close by. The locals of Mt. Pleasant are used to weddings going on here and they always do a great job of moving out of the way, but just understand that you are sharing the grass with them.
19. Middleton Place
Pro: In my opinion, Middleton Place has one of the most beautiful historic gardens that Charleston has to offer. It has that quintessential southern look with ancient Oaks, views of the Ashley River, manicured gardens and a variety of sites to choose from for your ceremony and reception. You can spend the night at the Middleton Inn if you’d like to be close to your venue.
Con: It’s hard to find a downside for this venue, but the one that comes to mind is how large it is. If you choose to have your ceremony far from where your reception is located, your guests may have to make a trek. Granted, it will be a beautiful, scenic trek!
Pointer: The landscape here is one to be marveled from above. Be sure to hire a photographer that has the ability to use a drone to capture a beautiful sunset moment.
Pro: The Francis Marion Hotel is a wonderful location for those who love history and a traditional romantic Charleston wedding setting. Its doors opened in 1924 as one of the largest and grandest hotels in the Carolinas, featuring decorated ballrooms with 20-foot ceilings, marble fireplaces, and antique chandeliers. The staff is excellent and will take great care of you and your guests during your wedding.
Con: There is a parking garage located adjacent to the hotel. Guests will have to pay for parking and make a short walk.
Pointer: Marion Square is across the street from this venue. It is a great location to take advantage of for bridal party photos.
Pro: There are some amazing views for your ceremony here. If it rains and you need to have your ceremony indoors, it’s still just as beautiful. Two thumbs up for this wedding location!
Con: There is no bridal suite, but they do offer a bridal holding room. Plan to spend a very short amount of time in there for touchups and waiting. Plan to get ready off-site.
Pointer: The bar is stationed on the deck outside. During your reception, your guests will be going outside to get a drink while the DJ/Band is inside. Take into consideration the natural congregation around the bar and set out corn hole sets or other yard games. This venue is beautiful on the inside and outside, so take advantage of both!
Well, there you have it! All of the venues above are Marley Photography approved! I hope that this blog on twenty one Charleston wedding venues that can accommodate a ceremony and reception has helped you along your journey!
If you would like to receive more information on hiring Marley Photography for your wedding photography needs, click here.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own based on my experiences at these locations. I am not making official statements for any business, so it’s important that you follow up with venues to verify facts.
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