The One Where We Choose a Venue

WARNING: Pic-heavy. I am Miss Camera, right?

As soon as we got engaged, I knew I wanted to get married in Charleston, SC. I’d only been there once, for Valentine’s Day two years ago. Cam took me on a surprise trip (which I thought would involve a ring. Why else would you go on a surprise trip? Not even a little bit close. I still had to wait almost 2 years.) The minute I got out of the car, I fell in love.

If you’ve been to Charleston, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a magical mix of old and new, historical and modern, slow and fast at the same time.

ImageThe Battery, image via TripAdvisor, photo by Charleston Visitor’s Bureau

How can you not think that’s gorgeous?

Naturally, I decided on the spot that’s where we were going to get married. If we ever got engaged.

After 2 years of waiting (with many, MANY close calls.. including another secret trip to Hilton Head), he finally popped the question. After the excitement and weird feeling of having a ring on my left hand wore off, I set about planning the perfect Charleston wedding.

Except there was a hold up. A big hitch in my giddy-up. A HUGE black cloud.

Charleston is expensive, ya’ll!

And here’s a fun fact – it’s now taken over as the #1 destination wedding location in the US, even ahead of Vegas. And their prices reflect that.

We visited some amazing venues with gorgeous, unbelievable views – plantations, beaches, mansions, golf courses. But none of them had the right feel and they definitely didn’t have the right price for our budget.

Here were my criteria for my perfect wedding:

1. Outdoors. I’ve never been super keen on the hotel ballroom wedding, and have always known I wanted my wedding to be entirely outdoors if possible. Despite the southern heat in the late summer/early fall.
2. A tent. In the same vein as the outdoors theme, I have had an obsession with wedding tents. People who have never seen photos or been to a wedding involving a tent are probably picturing a circus-themed affair. No. I’m talking a billowy white tent with fabric draping and paper lanterns inside. You’re sheltered from the elements but still have the outdoorsy feel. 3. Near the water.. but NOT on the beach. I don’t do sand. I love the beach, but I can do without sand blowing in my face on my wedding day. Plus I don’t want to be barefoot.
4. In budget. This one is a no brainer. We set a budget of $5,000 tops for the venue rental (again, Charleston is expensive!)

Here were our top three choices:

1. The Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina

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The Lookout Pavilion at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina // Personal Photo

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The Beach at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina // Personal Photo

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The Tiki Bar on the beach at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina // Personal Photo

Tiki Bar?? I’m sold. But you have to rent out the entire beach and let me tell you – it was more than our budget. The Lookout Pavilion is great, but it’s a little far back from the water for my taste, it’s not a tent, and they are building a seafood restaurant directly in the view of the harbor.

2. The Pavilion at Patriot’s Point Links

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The Pavilion at Patriot’s Point Links // Personal Photo. Side note: Cam’s working hard.

This was my dream location before we visited. It had everything I wanted – near the water (which you can’t really see from these photos, but it’s just behind the tent in the second photo), a huge billowy tent and surrounded by palm trees. Unfortunately, it’s located directly on the 18th hole of the golf course, so we’d have a few unwelcome guests finishing their rounds. It also ended up being slightly out of our price range. Oh well.

3. The Island House

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The Island House // Image via Islandhouseevents.com

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The Island House Tent // Personal Photo

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The Island House // Personal Photo

The Island House is an awesome venue just outside of Charleston on John’s Island. It has a permanent tent (score for not having to rent one!), it’s right next to the water which in this case is the Stono River, and it has amazing sunset views.

While we drove home, we discussed the pros and cons of each venue. Some (that are not pictured here) were easy to knock of the list for one reason or another, but these 3 held our attention a little longer. After looking at the numbers and what we wanted out of a place, the answer seemed to be so clear – The Island House!

Now for your viewing pleasure, here are a few more fun photos we took of the inside of the house. Keep in mind it was built in the 70s, and it definitely has its original vibe. Luckily, only immediate family and the bridal party will be inside. From the photos I’ve seen, these make amazing photos!

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Yes. The walls are red. And unless you have a 3D computer screen, you can’t tell but they are VELVET. I told you it was built in the 70’s. // Personal Photo

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Cam in part of the “man cave.” Have you ever seen playing card wallpaper? I haven’t. // Personal Photo

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THE MAN CAVE. Cam is very excited about this. There’s a bar, and mounted deer heads and swordfish. I’m a little jealous. // Personal Photo

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The Bridal Suite. No deer heads here, but huge windows overlooking the backyard where I can keep an eye on everything. So type A. // Personal Photo

Sometimes I look at the other venues and wonder what could have been, but this place is so amazingly perfect for us, I just can’t seem to picture my wedding anywhere else. Did anyone else have a hard time narrowing down their venues? How did you ultimately choose? Was budget or your checklist more important?

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