Charleston was recently named the #2 wedding destination in the country. Why is that? It can’t be because of anything besides the fact that every part of the city is beautiful and the history has so much to offer. With that level of notoriety comes a lot of different places to get married. We visited six of these venues ourselves. As we already shared, we had specific things that we were looking for in a venue – the number one thing being a waterfront location! Also, it is worth noting that all of these venues are on a certain price tier – neither the most or least expensive in town. However, they are all priced pretty similarly. Since everything varies based on season and even day of the week, for specific pricing, contact the venues directly. Also, we were looking at venues that would hold a reception of 100-150, so these all fall into that category.
Memorial Waterfront Park
99 Harry Hallman, Jr. Blvd.
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
- Cost– Friday: $2,500; Saturday: $3,500; Sunday: $2,000
- View– There is a beautiful view of the Ravenel Bridge and Charleston Harbor overlooking the marsh (directly at the base of the bridge, Mt. Pleasant side).
- Ceremony site– Yes, in the lawn in front of the building.
- Parking– There is ample free parking at Memorial Waterfront Park.
- Hotels– There are several hotels nearby. Can consider them walking distance for younger guests.
- Catering (theirs or outside)– You can use any caterer; prep kitchen on site.
- Bridal dressing room– There is a small room available off of the main reception space.
- Rain plan– They suggested renting a tent to cover the lawn – the interior has enough room for tables for 150 but no dance floor (if you have that many tables).
- Time available that day– Not specified.
- Maximum guest seating space– They say it seats up to 150, but for a wedding reception with band and food, it was roughly 75.
- Layout– There is a pretty entrance through the visitor’s center that leads to a nice, but fairly small, room with large wall murals. A small covered patio on other side of the room. Ceremony in the lawn beyond that.
- Flow– It feels almost backward, but if you direct people around the building to ceremony first, they can come in appropriately. However, the place for guest book and gifts would need to be by the entrance to the visitor’s center.
- What’s included– They include round tables and chairs, but nothing else.
Overall– The Cooper River Room had a very “Charleston atmosphere” with the murals painted on the walls of the inside room. It was very beautiful inside, however when we began thinking about people and food and cake and bar and band, it became very cramped very fast. It would really only hold about 75 people if you had all of those things. There was a nice patio outside that guests could float to and could host a very nice cocktail reception. The ceremony lawn offered good views of the harbor and the bridge, but there was no rain plan. You could rent a tent, but that would ruin the good views. There was also a noise ordinance to follow since there are residential condos nearby. It’s a nice place for a smaller wedding, and has a good price to go with it.
28 Bridgeside Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
- Cost– March/June/July/August/December on a Friday or Sunday is $2500 and $4000 for a Saturday; April/May/September/October/November on a Friday or Sunday is $3000 and $4500 for a Saturday; Jan/Feb is $2000 for a Friday or Sunday and $3000 for a Saturday
- View– The biggest selling point of this venue is the spectacular sweeping view of the Ravenel Bridge, USS Yorktown, Charleston Harbor and downtown.
- Ceremony site– There are multiple places for ceremony- two different lawn spots and one spot on the patio. The patio spot has the incredible views and you can get married with the Ravenel Bridge in the background. An on-site ceremony costs $500 extra.
- Parking– There is ample parking at the venue with no limitations.
- Hotels– There are several nearby, but it would be quite a long walk.
- Catering (theirs or outside)– You can use any outside catering, but must use their bar service.
- Bridal dressing room– There is a room that can be used for this purpose, but isn’t specifically for it.
- Rain plan– If it rains, you can have your ceremony under the permanently covered section of the porch, but it’s not much of a view. There is plenty of room to get at least 150 people under the tent, but then the cocktail hour would have to be right there or in the dinner room.
- Time available that day– Rental includes four hours of set up, four hours of event time, and 2 hours of clean up.
- Maximum guest seating space– 175 with food stations, dance floor, and band.
- Layout– The reception space is an odd “L-shape” room that used to be a restaurant. The bar is along the interior of the bend. There is plenty of room for long tables or round tables, but the dance floor would most likely be around the corner, leaving out one side of the room from the party, which can be good or bad.
- Flow– There is a nice flow from ceremony on lawn or patio, followed by cocktail reception on the patio and/or under the tent, then inside for reception. Guests can easily go back outside on nice nights to enjoy after dinner drinks.
- What’s included– Some tables and chairs are leftover from the restaurant, but they aren’t very big tables. The patio comes with round tables and chairs.
Overall– Harborside East offers incredible photos from the beginning of your ceremony all the way through every picture you’ll take that night. Great outdoor space gives your guests plenty of options if the weather is beautiful. The interior space is a little odd with its unique shape, so you’ll have to do some serious feng shui. The decor is a little older with Greek paintings on the wall. This is a beautiful spot for a wedding that can accommodate a large number of people. However – the rain plan made me nervous, and I wasn’t really feeling the interior decor. However, this is definitely a top wedding venue in Charleston.
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC, 29401
- Cost – Friday $3,500; Saturday $4,500; Sunday $3,000
- View – The aquarium has an amazing view of the harbor and the Ravenel bridge. The view faces east, so the sun would not set in your guests eyes.
- Ceremony site – There is a large patio with bridge views that would make a perfect reception site. There is room for over 200 chairs.
- Parking – There is a parking deck, but you must either pay or have your guests pay per half hour.
- Hotels – There are several hotels within walking distance (on Calhoun street).
- Catering (theirs or outside) – You can use any outside caterer.
- Bridal dressing room – There are 2 classrooms that you can use as prep rooms.
- Rain plan – In case of rain, you would have to hold your ceremony in the lobby, which is also where the dinner would have to happen.
- Time available that day – The aquarium is open until 6 p.m. daily and you can’t get in to prep until 5 p.m., and visitors will still be around for the first hour of that. So, you can’t start your event until 7 p.m.
- Maximum guest seating space – You could easily seat 200 in the lobby of the aquarium.
- Layout – When you rent the aquarium, you get the entire aquarium, including the lobby and exhibit areas.
- Flow – If you had the ceremony on the deck, you’d probably have cocktails on the second floor of the lobby or in the tanks, then have dinner in the lobby, and then have dancing and celebrations in with the tanks. Your guests would have to walk thru the dining room to get to the cocktails
- What’s included – Other than the venue, nothing is included. You will have to rent all tables, chairs, linens, lighting, and decor.
Overall: I had a mega fantasy about getting married in the aquarium – until we toured it as a prospective venue. Our two biggest deal breakers were the fact that you couldn’t get in to decorate until 5pm and that it included nothing. This basically means that you would have to hire a full service wedding planner, which just isn’t in the cards for us. However, if you have the budget and are looking for a fun and unexpected venue that still has the sweeping harbor views, definitely check out the South Carolina Aquarium!
17 Lockwood Dr, Charleston, SC 29401
- Cost– Friday: $3,500; Saturday: $4,500; Sunday: $2,500
- View– The view here is of the marina. You can see a lot of boats, which are pretty, but you are at ground level, so there aren’t many “money shots.”
- Ceremony site– There is a small patio on the back of the building that can hold a maximum of 120 people or you can choose “Under the Oaks,” which we discovered meant partially in the parking lot in the front of the building and part on the sidewalk. There is a $500 ceremony fee.
- Parking– The venue is located in the city marina, so there is a city-regulated lot. You can choose to cover the parking costs or let your guests pay. The fee is $1.00 per half hour.
- Hotels– There are two hotels that are relatively close by. They can be walking distance for younger guests.
- Catering (theirs or outside)– You must use their catering and bar service.
- Bridal dressing room– No room for the bride, but they say you can hide in their office if need be.
- Rain plan– Can either set up a tent over the patio or choose to hold the ceremony in the side room, but then would have to change your reception layout.
- Time available that day– The rental fee includes four hours, plus set up and breakdown, which was not specified.
- Maximum guest seating space– 160 people for a seated dinner, stations or buffet.
- Layout– The interior space is broken down into multiple rooms that can be interchanged to your desire. There is a main dining room that is long and narrow. There is a side room that can be used for your dance floor and band, or where your food and dessert goes. There is another room in the back that can be used for either of those purposes as well, but has closer access to the bar. Several options for you, but the rooms are definitely set apart.
- Flow-Your ceremony would be held outside on the patio and then guests would likely transition to the other side of the building to another patio for the cocktail reception. Then, inside there are several possible options for the layout.
- What’s included– Tables, chairs and service ware included for the reception. Nothing included for the ceremony.
Overall– The Rice Mill had a lot of pros and cons. There were several things throughout the space that showed the building was old. Some of them were very rustic and charming, but others were just old and worn out. Cool ceilings throughout the rooms gave it as historic feel. There are a lot of options for layouts for the reception, but everything is pretty separate. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending if you want to be able to give some people their space. The ceremony space was really bad and this is one of the places where you would probably want to have your ceremony somewhere else. The views were nice, but they are only going to include the boats from the marina because you are at sea level with them and won’t be able to get above them. This is a nice place for a historic feel for your reception and can definitely accommodate a large number of people.
95 Ripley Point Dr., Charleston, SC
- Cost– Sunday-Thursday: $1,000/hour; Friday-Saturday: $1,200/hour (three hour minimum)
- View– Breathtaking views as the boat will ferry you around Charleston Harbor. You can take photos on the water and will get anything you want in the background. The views couldn’t be more beautiful… as long as it doesn’t rain.
- Ceremony site– You can have ceremony on the top floor of the boat. Standing room only for a maximum of 100 guests.
- Parking– There is plenty of parking for the boat at the lot at the dock.
- Hotels– Several hotels that are within walking distance for guests of all ages.
- Catering (theirs or outside)– You can use any outside caterer, but must use their bar service.
- Bridal dressing room– None.
- Rain plan– None. If it rains, it will get crowded.
- Time available that day– You can access the boat one hour before the ceremony.
- Maximum guest seating space– 100 max, but they encourage no assigned seats so that people can eat at different times.
- Layout– The boat is three levels with the ceremony and dance floor party taking place on the top level, which is completely open with a cover on top. The main floor is where the majority of the reception would be located where guests can also access the main deck. Below deck is another floor which has a few booths where people can sit, but would be isolated.
- Flow– The ceremony would be on the top level and then guests would go downstairs to just start the full reception. There is no isolated place for a cocktail hour. Then, guests would go back upstairs for dancing.
- What’s included– Tables and chairs for the reception are included, but there are no chairs at all (or room for them) for the ceremony.
Overall: The Carolina Girl is one of the most unique options you’ll find for a wedding in Charleston. Where else are you going to get married while cruising around at sea? This would be a great place for a party, but there are a lot of cons as well. The biggest con is that everything is very separated and isn’t very friendly for elderly or disabled guests. The ceremony has to be standing, which is interesting. The rental cost seems low at first, but there are a lot of mandatory add-ons, including their bar service, using their DJ, and using their coordinator. They said no one has ever gotten sick during an event, which was a big concern of ours. This would be a really cool venue for a party or small wedding (50 people or less), but any more than that and it begins to get crowded.
130 Mill St, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
- Cost – Fridays: $2,000-$3,000; Saturdays: $2,500-$4,400; Sundays: $2,000-$2,500 (varies by season)
- View – The Cottage on the Creek looks over Shem Creek. There are views of the creek (and often, dolphins) from the first floor, with sweeping views increasing on the second and third floors.
- Ceremony site – The Cottage has a 3,000 square foot deck that includes a 20’x40′ tent for ceremonies.
- Parking – There is ample parking in the adjacent lot.
- Hotels – There is one hotel within walking distance, though it is old and not updated. There are many hotels within a 5 minute drive.
- Catering – You have to use the on-site catering and bar service.
- Bridal dressing room – There is a very small bridal room, which is more like a closet in the basement.
- Rain plan – The tent is permanent and would be ok in a light shower, but not a downpour.
- Time available that day – You can start decorating and setting up at 9 a.m.
- Maximum guest seating space – The interior has 2 levels for seating, with room for 200 comfortably.
- Layout – The lay out is very open, with an open-walled loft and lots of windows.
- Flow – If you had the ceremony on the deck, then the happy hour under the gazebo (on the deck), and finally had dinner and dancing inside, there is a very natural flow to the space. There is a path directly from the parking lot to the deck so your guests do not have to walk through the reception space to get to the ceremony.
- What’s included – The rental includes 24 indoor tables and 148 indoor chairs as well as 125 ceremony chairs.
Overall: The Cottage on the Creek is a hidden gem. It was renovated in the last year. The interior looks new and pristine, with a coastal vibe. The views of the creek are excellent. There is not a great getting-ready space for the bride, but there is a small room in the basement. You have to use their catering, which is important to review and compare to your budget, but it does make it easier to coordinate with one less vendor. If you are looking for a more casual venue with a Charleston vibe, be sure to check out the Cottage on the Creek.
We really hope this guide helps you pick the perfect spot in Charleston for your wedding!