A drive down Ashely River Road will take you by some of the most beautiful and notable plantations in South Carolina, but none we’ve seen top the grandeur of Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. “Charleston’s last Romantic garden” is overflowing with natural beauty, just as this type of garden should be. Characterized by overgrown flora and meandering paths (as opposed to their French counterpart’s more manicured look), romantic gardens allow their inhabitants to surrender to their surroundings, and we couldn’t think of a more, well, romantic location to host a Charleston wedding.
Trust us when we say that a setting this stunning was made for first look photos and wedding portraits. As the #1 destination for bridal portraits, photographers have been coming to Magnolia Plantation & Gardens for years and know exactly how to capture this raw beauty in heart-stirring photographs.
Photo Credit || Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens opened to the public in the 1870s, making it the oldest public garden in America. The staff is primarily focused on maintaining this place’s reputation as a premier venue, while accommodating the thousands of tourists that visit each year. For engaged couples like yourselves, Magnolia offers several wedding venue options to choose from—each more enchanting than the last.
The Conservatory, a greenhouse full of exquisite tropical flora and winding walkways, is an oasis for plant lovers. This space is best suited for early spring, fall, and winter weddings, as the glass house is simply too hot for Charleston’s brutal summers. The smallest of Magnolia’s venues, the Conservatory makes a great space for intimate receptions, rehearsal dinners, and wedding luncheons. The dining area can seat 75 guests and opens up to a deck ideal for drinks and dancing. The experience is completed by a view of the Schoolhouse Pond and Magnolia’s iconic red bridge.
If you were overwhelmed by the Conservatory, you’d better take a seat because the Veranda is knock-you-off-your-feet kind of gorgeous. Situated in the heart of the gardens, the Plantation Home boasts an incredible veranda that wraps around the entire house and must be at least 20 feet wide. Previous couples to wed at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens have set up dinner tables on the Veranda, which can seat 150 comfortably and even more with a buffet-style dinner. The front steps of the home lead visitors to a Butterfly Garden, ideal for a cocktail hour before the reception begins. To really take advantage of all the space around the home, step out on the back lawn, which leads out to the Ashley River. The lawn behind the home can be tented for dinner, while the side lawn is the perfect place for a dance floor. But these are just our ideas—there is so much you can do with this quintessential old Southern plantation home and we love how creative Zola couples have been with this dreamy venue.
For Veranda weddings, the ceremony takes place in the expansive Long White Bridge Lawn, accessible from the home via a stroll through a garden pathway. The lawn overlooks the White Bridge Pond & Magnolia Plantation’s signature white bridge. With a charming antique gazebo and a grand live oak, magical photo ops abound.
The Carriage House
Grander still is the Carriage House and its adjacent lawn, the most popular wedding ceremony and reception site at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. This space is available year-round and offers both a full catering kitchen and private bridal suite. Sitting on the banks of the Ashley River, the sprawling lawn, which can accommodate over 400 guests, is a splendid ceremony site where couples can take their vows under ancient live oaks covered in Spanish moss or on a deck overlooking the Ashley. For the wedding reception, the original Carriage House, dating back to 1840, has been modernized with wagon wheel chandeliers hanging from exposed wooden beams, providing a rustic-romantic ambiance. The House can accommodate roughly 150 seated guests and 200-250 for a buffet-style arrangement—even more with the addition of a tent on the lawns. Outside the House is a patio made of oyster shells (yes, it is as awesome as it sounds) with a fire and oyster pits for the consummate Lowcountry oyster roast.
A few important details
Hopefully, Charleston destination couples are comfortable with long engagements, as Charleston’s most popular wedding venues book 1 1/2 to 2 years in advance. It should come as no surprise that Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, with so much to offer couples and their guests, fills up quickly with reservations, hosting more than 200 weddings a year.
So for real: what are you waiting for? Get in touch with this fantastic venue and learn how you and your spouse-to-be can make Magnolia Plantation & Gardens your own on your wedding day.
Feature Image Credit || Philip Casey Photography