National travel magazines have recently applauded what locals always knew: this city is a true gem. With its mix of picturesque scenery, urban energy, and classic style, Charleston is a fabulous wedding destination with more than just a weekend's worth of things to see and do.
Food culture in Charleston is everywhere, and we are all luckier for it. Nationally regarded chefs are churning out some of the most exciting dishes in the country, yet a focus on local producers and Lowcountry cuisine can still be felt in even the hippest joints. Regional favorites like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup never fail to disappoint.
Charleston has just about every kind of setting you could dream of, so if you’re unsure about your ideal wedding locale, rest assured that this city’s options are plentiful. Antebellum grandeur, gentle beaches, live oaks swathed in dreamy Spanish moss, and the classic architecture of downtown cobblestones combine for picture-perfect viewpoints everywhere you look.
It’s a decision that some young women dream about for years, wondering just what fate has in store for her. Looks, personality, degrees of compatibility...all these elements cycle through her imagination. Will she have to compromise? Is the right fit out there somewhere? Oh, the search for The One. Wait—did you think we were talking about soul mates? Sorry, friend. No. We’re talking about The Dress. Find your sartorial match made in heaven at one of Charleston’s fabulous bridal shops, where your fairy godmothers of fashion are waiting to outfit you in the gown you were born to wear. (While you’re there, dress up your whole wedding party to match; you’ll see your entire wedding vision really come to life.) Then gild the whole ensemble with help from your local ring and jewelry specialists, where those eye-catching details, from wedding bands to a “something new” necklace, will secure the look you’ve been searching for. Then sit back and breathe a sigh of relief...whew. The hunt is over.
Unless you are a model or a celebrity (and if so, well then congrats to you), the twenty-four hours surrounding your walk down the aisle might be the most photographed day of your life. With all those cameras flashing, you’ll want to be sure you’re looking mighty fine, so book an appointment or two with local hair and makeup professionals well in advance to work through the finer details of your wedding appearance. They’ll help you achieve that polished, but not too “done” affect so that you look like you...just a really, really stunning version of you. What could be better? Reward yourself for all that hard work of being gorgeous with a trip to one of Charleston’s pampering salons, preferably with your best buds in tow, to get that relaxed, glowy vibe that comes from a killer facial and massage. Oh, and remember when we said this was the most photographed you’ll ever be? Same message applies for your hands, so get those digits in front of a nail technician while you’re there. (Trust us, “ragged cuticles” is not a hot look.)
Let’s boil this wedding business all the way down, shall we? You’re planning your wedding because you’re in love, period, and your ceremony is where all your dear ones will bear witness to your commitment. Choosing the right place to wed is paramount, so start perusing wedding venues that suit you and your spouse-to-be down to the ground. Charleston couples often opt for locations that invoke the area’s local beauty and antebellum history, but there are just as many modern spots downtown that would be just the ticket for a city shindig. Once you’ve booked your space, get in touch with a Charleston wedding officiant who can guide you in uttering the right words when the time comes. Then, turn up the sound: there are plenty of local wedding musicians ready to play you gracefully down the aisle. The bottom line? Put your trust in Charleston’s wedding professionals, and your ceremony will surely come off without a hitch.
Of course, the next best thing to a lifetime commitment is an all-night party with your closest crew. But where to stage such a tremendous event? Peruse our comprehensive list of local venues to see what suits the scale of your event. Charleston couples love an outdoor reception under oaks strewn with Spanish moss just as much as an urban downtown venue. Next, the details. Are you and your partner interested in a full sit-down dinner, or would you rather go heavy hors d'oeuvres? Will there be a dessert bar, or a food truck full of goodies, or edible take-home favors? Look into hiring a Charleston wedding planner or designer to help you bring your vision to life. Leverage your planner’s extensive experience to help choose your caterer, sound and lighting professionals, and florist. This investment takes the pressure off of you and your spouse-to-be and helps you focus on throwing down, Chucktown style. Lucky for you, all their local expertise will take your reception from memorable to unforgettable.
Congratulations! You’ve practiced your walk, a little bit of the talk, and all your closest friends and family have come to Charleston to celebrate you and your love. Make your last unwedded night one for the books with a gorgeous dinner at a local restaurant. Take your wedding party to 5Church for modern Southern fare in an upscale dining environment. If you’re looking for classic Lowcountry elegance, make a reservation at Circa 1886, where the food and drink is as locally sourced as possible. For a social dining experience enhanced by an immaculate view, head upstairs to the rooftop of Stars, in the heart of downtown. Wherever you choose to dine, raise a glass to your Charleston wedding and get ready for the good times ahead.
Brunch: the boon of those who barely slept the night before due to indulgence in merriment. Treat your loved ones to one last hurrah before they head home, coffee and mimosas included. Charleston is a city that knows its way around a good brunch, even for a crowd. Host your meal at 82 Queen for an elegant experience in one of their myriad private rooms tinged with French Quarter charm. If you’re looking for something more casual, look into booking a private event at Kitchen 208, where the fare is oh-so Southern and utterly delicious. Alternately, keep things close to home by having your brunch catered in-house by Hamby Events: their pimento cheese biscuits are stunning. If you’re looking for more suggestions, check out our recommendations below for local spots with scrumptious spreads that can help you plan brunch for a crowd.
That envelope, standing out like a diamond amidst the bills and junk mail, is the first piece of information your guests will receive regarding your wedding. The invitation is an insight into your affair’s personality, offering clues about such fundamentals as formality, mood, size, and setting. It’s a gift, really, and can be as pretty as any present—if done well. Don’t waste the opportunity to make a first impression with your invites; enlist the design expertise of a local invitation and paper goods boutique to help craft an original, considered, and cohesive paper suite that truly plants the style seeds for your complete wedding vision. Of course, if your budget allows, going the extra mile to have your stationery hand-calligraphed will pack a majorly sophisticated, not to mention personalized, punch. Charleston’s talented calligraphers can do just about anything with a pen and ink, so whether your vibe is clean and modern or elegantly casual, consider adding an extra touch of artistry to your wedding stationery. That envelope will shine all the brighter for it.
Show your out-of-town guests the true meaning of Southern hospitality with some fun, locally-sourced wedding welcome bags. Charleston is a big, intricate city which might take an unseasoned traveler a good week to explore thoroughly. Give your visitors a leg up by putting together a list of your favorite shops, restaurants, and waterfront views for them to enjoy. (We love to send folks to the Waterfront Park, complete with a splash fountain and a boardwalk with covered porch swings.) Welcome bags are also a great place to put a spare wedding itinerary and a bomb thank you note explaining how out of this world it is to have them join you for the momentous occasion. We bet you’ll find some gorgeous stationery options at mac & murphy over on Cannon Street. Then, top your bag with some Charleston-made treats, like Benne wafers for Lowcountry snacking, a morning pick-me-up from King Bean Coffee Roasters, or some gorgeous artisanal salt from Bull’s Bay Saltworks to dispense some local flavor. If your welcome bag is chock-full of Chucktown goodies, your guests will pretty much have to love this charming introduction to the city. Take a peek at our comprehensive list of wedding welcome bag ideas below.
Treat yo’self and yo’ guests to something above and beyond the standard empty koozie with a locally sourced wedding favor that is utterly your style. Borrowed & Blue loves to think outside the box and inside the city, so we’ve put together a fabulous list of Charleston-inspired wedding favors that are sure to stun a crowd. If you want to leave friends and family with a little something sweet, pick up some saltwater taffy from Charleston Specialty Foods, pre-packaged into perfect wedding-sized favor bags. You may have a more seasoned group of guests on your hands, in which case, offer them their choice of Blackjack BBQ sauce, which come in traditional red, vinegar, and mustard varieites. Another up-and-coming trend is to treat guests to something special that won’t have to leave the reception in a purse or in a pocket. Imagine the wow-factor of the King of Pops food truck rolling up to your reception full of popsicles for a late-night snack before your guests head back to the hotel. For more inspiration, check out our expert guide on local favor ideas below.
Friends and family making the trek to Charleston for your wedding have an adventure awaiting them. This lovely Southern locale is a tourist destination all year round. All you have to do, host, is make sure your guests make their way out of their rooms during their stay. A bit of advance research into all the best spots in town will go a long way toward making your loved ones feel welcome and ready to tackle their down-time between wedding events. Mention Folly Beach for folks who’d like to see a bit of sand and surf before heading home. If they’d like to take in a little history with their seaside views, Sullivan’s Island and Fort Moultrie are just the places. For their fill of antebellum history and stunning South Carolina views, send guests to Magnolia Plantation. The Charleston Visitor’s Bureau has a plethora of suggestions for tours, restaurants, and sights to see, but we’ve compiled our favorite spots below for your convenience.
Downtown and overlooking Charleston Harbor you’ll find the South Carolina Aquarium. Discover native South Carolina marine life, from sharks to turtles and, of course, alligators, and enjoy the daily shows and interactive exhibits. Perfect for people of all ages.www.scaquarium.org
In the heart of downtown Charleston, the restored King Street offers dozens of fashionable boutiques and designer stores to take in during your stay in the Holy City. It’s actually been named one of the top 10 shopping districts in the U.S. by Forbes! Once your shopping spree is complete, relax at one of the many hotels, restaurants, and salons.www.charlestonsfinest.com
Better known as Battery Park, White Point Garden is a must-see in downtown Charleston. Offering incredible views of Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter, and of course the stunning southern-style mansions, the cannon-laden park is yet another Charleston icon.www.charlestonparksconservancy.org
Your wedding guests have two jobs when they get to Charleston: 1) attend your ceremony and reception and 2) eat as much delicious food as they possibly can. Chucktown is the culinary epicenter of all things Lowcountry, so send friends to Cypress to get their grilled oyster on. You can’t beat Sean Brock’s Minero for Mexican-meets-Lowcountry gloriousness, washed down with some truly excellent tequila and churros. Please enlighten your guests that some of the most luxuriously fun doughnuts are just a few blocks away at Glazed, whose rotating, faintly seasonal menu of fried decadence is truly a can’t-miss local experience. Yes, Southern Living has a comprehensive list of what restaurant loveliness you can expect to encounter in Charleston, but we went ahead and put together a list of our favorites below.
Built out of a four-story Georgian house dating from the late 1700s, McCrady’s excels today in modern Southern flavor, inventive plates, expert cocktails, and an ever-changing, seasonal menu (thanks to ingredients from the restaurant’s rooftop garden).www.mccradysrestaurant.com
The Food Is Good at FIG, where pristine plates and seasonal flavor reign supreme. The menu is locally driven, meaning that the chicken liver pâté is as responsibly sourced as it is delicious. No wonder chef Jason Stanhope boasts a James Beard (we’ve got a “Best Chef” in the house).www.eatatfig.com
A fabulous wedding in Charleston wouldn’t be complete without some top-notch accommodations where guests can rest their heads after the evening’s festivities. Wedding guests love a couple who’s so on top of their game, they reserve room blocks for friends and family well in advance. We recommend choosing hotels at a few different price points, betting that most won’t be able to break the bank on a weekend’s stay. There are copious options all over the city and surrounding area. The Cottages on Charleston Harbor offer waterfront views minutes from downtown Charleston and are convenient for guests looking to go in on a group rental. For more options, check out the rentals available from Avocet Properties, many of which are convenient to Folly Beach and other Charleston hotspots. For guests looking for a bit of upscale splendor, suggest the gorgeous historic landmark that is Middleton Place, located right on the waterfront and replete with stunning greenery and secret gardens. Have a look through our suggestions for a sweet spot to stay in Charleston below.
This decadent boutique hotel features eighteen studios, all built around 1804, with period architectural features and modern chic details. Its downtown location, surrounded by lush greenery and other historic homes, makes Zero George feel like a getaway in the center of the city.www.zerogeorge.com
Not everyone has the forethought or ability to secretely document your first engaged moment, so get in touch with a Charleston photographer to capture your post-engagement bliss on film. Your e-sesh serves a couple of different purposes: it helps you and your partner get used to posing in front of a pro and helps your photographer get to know your style. When your wedding rolls around, you and your fiancé will be fully primped and prepared to model your way through the day. Charleston is a historic city with intrinsic Southern charm and gorgeous land, air, and sea views to match. Pack a couple of outfits each and head out to one of your favorite local haunts, whether it’s the restaurant where you had your first date, your favorite spot along The Battery, or your go-to beach spot. If you need a little bit of inspiration to put a spring in your step, consult this list of 6 best engagement shoot locations in Charleston selected by some of our favorite local photographers.
Ladies of the world, we can imagine no playground more fun or engaging than the city of Charleston for your bachelorette weekend. Drive in one direction and you’re at the waterfront. Drive the other way and you’re cruising down King Street, trying to decide whether to eat, drink, shop, or do all of the above. Whether you feel like it’s the perfect weather to head out to Kiawah Island or you’re ready for a spa day at the Wentworth Mansion, brides of all kinds can party like they please around here. Food rules this city, so make sure you eat well in between. Have lunch at Xiao Bao Biscuit, where Asian soul food and small plates reign supreme. By the time dinner rolls around, you’ll be in the market for some wine and gorgeous Italian food, so naturally you’ll make your way to Indaco. Warehouse is next; their snacks, beverages, and good times roll out ‘til about 2 AM. (Order the empanaditas stuffed with smoked cheddar and gouda—no regrets here.) Since one night of bumpin’ bachelorette goodness isn’t enough, read on for more Charleston girl-party tips.
Gentlemen of taste know that Charleston is a Southern bachelor’s dream. Between the excellent food, great weather, and abundance of activities, this party will be nonstop from end to end. Begin the day with breakfast Lowcountry-style at Toast, where the tomatoes are fried and green and the coffee comes quick. Head to Shem Creek Park for some paddle boarding or the Glozone Fun Center for a bout of lazer tag. When you’re ready for lunch, join the queue at Artisan Meat Share for some of the freshest, most delicious sandwiches in the area. Have a relaxing afternoon over local beer at Homegrown Brewhouse, then wind your way over to Hominy Grill for jalapeño hushpuppies and she-crab soup. If you can still stand up after all that excellent nosh, go for drinks and dancing at Club Pantheon and raise a glass to your bud. For even more ideas of how to throw down in Charleston, read on.
Where would we be without the immensely talented pool of Charleston wedding vendors? Their passion for planning, commitment to their couples, and incredible ingenuity is what makes the local wedding scene as remarkable as it is, and it's the unique team behind every wedding working together that makes each event an affair to remember. Their combined experience and expertise is second to none, and we want you to benefit from it while assembling your dream team of vendors. Check out our Spotlight Series for in-depth Q&As with the best of the best in the industry, and make sure to read the articles they've contributed to Borrowed & Blue for the most reliable wedding tips and tricks, straight from the source.
If Charleston is one of your regular haunts, we’re sure you already know that this city is full of tourists all year long, and your wedding day will be no exception. Two things will save you and your loved ones from the fate of unforeseen traffic jams and overbooked hotels: a bit of advance reconnaissance and some class-A planning skills. When selecting your wedding date, think about what major happenings might impact travel or bookings surrounding your ceremony and reception. To give you a leg up, we’ve put together the below list of Charleston events that will translate into extra tourists. Even if your wedding is on a busy weekend, you’ll be able to reserve blocks of rooms for guests well in advance, and your friends and family will love you for your foresight.
When planning something as complex and significant as your wedding day, sometimes you just want friendly experts to step in and share some pearls of wisdom. Lucky for you, we know people (we’re sitting right here—wink wink). And we’ve got your back: insider tips, exhaustive research, and inspiring takes on all aspects of the planning process, compiled here specifically with your wedding location in mind. You’re just a few clicks away from wedding planning peace of mind...You’re welcome! (No thank-you note required.)
Check out some other useful local online resources to get you acquainted with all-things Charleston, from travel guides to the local restaurant scene to great local wedding blogs run by our friends in the industry: