Choosing the Perfect Charleston Wedding Venue

Pro tips for securing your dream Lowcountry venue.

Rich history and Southern charm, cobblestone streets and lush gardens, architectural gems, breathtaking coastal vistas, delightful culinary range — choosing Charleston as your wedding destination was the easy part. 

With so many enchanting spots to choose from, narrowing down and selecting your venue can be tricky. Diverse styles and preferences are met with historic mansions, immaculate churches, elegant ballrooms and iconic outdoor gardens.

As you dive into the wedding planning process — ideally at least one year out from your desired Charleston wedding date — the first thing you need to do is finalize your date and book a venue. Everything else can fall into place after those two pillars are set.

Top Factors to Consider

  • Guest Count: The biggest factor that will impact your wedding cost is size or the number of guests you invite. Most Charleston wedding venue ceremony and reception capacities land around 200 to 400 guests, with some larger venues arching toward 1,000.
  • Venue Budget: Couples typically allocate 15% of their budget for a wedding venue.
  • Availability: Your dream venue may need to be booked well over a year in advance. Consider if you’ll be getting married on a prime Saturday in peak spring or fall seasons (March to June, September and October). Or are you able to have your wedding on a non-peak day of the week during a non-peak month? If so, this may open up more venue possibilities.
  • Onsite Lodging: Would you prefer guests stay onsite or nearby? Or perhaps you’re envisioning a weekend retreat with your wedding party and close family. A handful of Charleston venues double as resorts and inns, offering convenient on-property lodging.
An outdoor reception at The Dewberry

Call in the Charleston Wedding Pros

First, exhale and know that you’ve got a trusted local partner in the wedding planning process. Think of Novela as your personal wedding concierge. We're here to help you design, book and finance the wedding of your dreams, one step at a time. More on how Novela can help you later, but first, let’s find your perfect Charleston wedding venue.

Expert Tips: Selecting a Wedding Venue 101

  • First, ask yourself if a space resonates with you and if you can see yourself spending the most important day of your life here, saying the most important words in your vows, and cherishing memories for years to come with this place as the backdrop.
  • Figure out your realistic venue budget early on and have a clear understanding of your guest list.
  • Remember, comparing venues solely based on pricing isn't an accurate comparison as each venue includes different inventory, and things like the quality of the included chairs matters.
  • Make sure you know what your plan is for inclement weather and that you're comfortable with what that plan would look like in ceremony and reception form.
  • Know what vendors are responsible for vs. what the venue team handles.
  • It is important to know what time you have access to the venue for getting ready, and what time your vendor team has access for set up.
  • Find out what is included and provided at your venue. Do they have in-house catering? Tables and chairs? Any decor? Is there staff onsite to assist with set-up and breakdown?
  • Enlist the help and expertise of a wedding planner. They are an invaluable resource and oftentimes can guide you through site visits.
  • Choose early. One year out may not be enough time to ensure booking prime dates at the best venues.
The view of Ashley River from Lowndes Grove

Make it Yours

Your wedding is all about you and your partner, and your venue should reflect that. This is your canvas. This is where every special wedding day detail you’ve ever daydreamed about comes to life. Start by asking yourself: 

? - Does this venue align with our overall vision? 

? - What type of guest experience do I want to impart?

? - How will the day flow from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception?

Decide what type of energy you want to embody and choose your venue style — beachfront, ballroom, mansion, garden. Knowing your aesthetic will help you narrow the scope to just the ones that are a fit for you.

Venue Visits: Deciding If It’s the Right Fit For You

Here’s what to ask during your initial Charleston wedding venue tour.
Before you sign a contract, be sure you’ve read the fine print. Here’s what you need to clarify before you secure your Charleston wedding venue.

Ask the Right Questions

  • Is my date available?
  • What’s included in the venue rental? 
  • How many hours are included? Is there an overtime fee if I stay longer?
  • What’s the ceremony rain plan?
  • Parking, bathrooms, handicap accessibility and other logistics
  • Closest accommodations
  • What restrictions are there on my other vendors?
  • Is there a dance floor?
  • Curfew or noise rules?
  • Is the venue kid-friendly?
  • Do you allow dogs in the ceremony / on the grounds?
  • Do you allow fire pits, sparklers, fireworks, etc.? 
  • Is there a security fee and, if so, what is the timeframe in which it is returned? 
  • What licenses and insurances are needed?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
The stunning entrance at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

Our Preferred Charleston Wedding Venues

What’s top priority? A gorgeous garden estate backdrop? Plenty of space for cocktails and dancing? An elegant, dramatic modern aesthetic? We’ve done the legwork and vetted the area’s top wedding venues, sorting them by main-attraction details. Here is a sampling of what Charleston has to offer.

Must Have: Stunning Groves + Gardens

Lowndes Grove
Set on an idyllic downtown Charleston waterfront estate, this captivating venue boasts 14 dramatic acres of live oak groves and serene river views. Lowndes Grove features a relaxed and refined setting steeped in 1786-era architecture and period furnishings. The picturesque venue delivers boundless indoor and outdoor venue space, including a ceremonial grand lawn with a pristine white mansion backdrop, a formal dining room ideal for intimate dinners, a striking glass-enclosed portico for elaborate receptions and dancing, and a 750-square-foot piazza overlooking the river and oak grove.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Embrace Southern charm and elegance inside the original 1840 Carriage House and share your vows under the loving shade of a 400-year-old live oak. Immerse yourselves in dramatic centuries-old live oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Float across the iconic fairytale white bridge. Capture idyllic imagery among the garden’s vibrant azaleas, wisteria, hydrangea, magnolias and camellia. Host your welcome party, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner and dancing throughout a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Must Have: Historic Elegance

Middleton Place
Sprawling along the banks of the soothing Ashley River, Middleton Place is home to deep historic roots and America’s oldest landscaped gardens. Flawless and visually striking celebrations unfold across the manicured grounds and guests swoon over the 65 acres of sweeping vistas and intimate garden rooms while onsite culinary pros wow with tailored menus and Lowcountry delights.

The Governor Thomas Bennett House
An architectural treasure embracing downtown Charleston’s timeless charm, the Governor Thomas Bennett House is a handsomely restored Southern home. Host guests on the spacious porch and under Spanish-moss-draped live oaks. Arrange a grand Crescent Garden ceremony under the shade of a 200-year-old oak. Savor a thoughtful reception on the piazza overlooking the brick courtyard and classic pineapple fountain. The Governor Thomas Bennett House is located downtown, just minutes from major hotels, shopping and attractions.

Must Have: Waterfront Romance

Ocean Course at Kiawah
A golf course and country club destination sought by visitors from around the globe, this lavish Lowcountry island boasts five legendary golf courses, three pool complexes, 13 restaurants, an acclaimed spa and 10 miles of gorgeous white sand shoreline. Design your celebration around barefoot vows on the beach or a traditional church ceremony in the fairytale Sanctuary Chapel. Host a lavish ballroom or courtyard garden reception and revel in endless elevated private luxury on this unspoiled barrier island.

Harborside East
Situated at the foot of the iconic double diamond Ravenel Bridge and mere minutes from downtown Charleston, Harborside East features four waterfront ceremony sites offering unparalleled views of the Charleston skyline and harbor. Choose your favorite waterfront view among courtyards, meadows and lush lawns lined with palm trees. Design a dreamy photo shoot around breathtaking sunset vistas and downtown Charleston and Ravenel Bridge backdrops.

Must Have: Classic Charleston Appeal

Cannon Green
Cannon Green incorporates a 19th century Charleston Single House façade in the Garden Room along with two additional adjoining entertainment spaces—a lush and intimate Courtyard and spacious historic Trolley Room. Call on the Garden Room for a versatile 1,500-square-foot floor plan immersed in historic local flavor and stylish contemporary design. Center your reception around the signature 3,000-square-foot Trolley Room’s white oak wood floors, ambient lighting and sound stages. And spill out onto the adjoining Courtyard for tranquil city garden vibes and rows of grand palmettos.

The Dewberry
Dripping in refined taste and prestigious heritage, The Dewberry wraps wedding weekends in immaculate detail and gracious Southern style. The luxury escape lies in the heart of downtown Charleston with vantage points overlooking Marion Square, the Charleston Harbor and the Holy City skyline. Design your celebration around decorative hand-crafted metalworks, period furnishings, brilliant works of art and timelessly elegant indoor and outdoor venue spaces.

The exquisite gardens at The Governor Thomas Bennett House

A Friend in the Industry

Working with Novela is like having a trusted friend — one with copious insider knowledge and industry connections — by your side every step of the way. We’ll match you with an expert wedding concierge to customize your wedding day plan, including venue and vendor recommendations, detailed pricing options, a high-level budget framework, and a customized checklist just for you.

Find your perfect Charleston venue, book all your vendors, and finance your wedding at 0% interest — all in one place. Novela is the first transactional one-and-done wedding planning company.

So, are you ready to start planning your dream wedding?

Our concierge team is here to help you every step of the way.