How To Plan The Perfect Charleston Wedding Weekend

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two brides kissing in wedding gowns on a wooden walkway in a tropical Charleston field

Charleston, South Carolina is consistently ranked one of the best cities in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The colorful buildings, rich history, and tropical climate make this city a prime destination for tourists and a romantic paradise for engaged couples like yourselves. But a Charleston wedding is incomplete without a weekend of activities surrounding the main event. Read on for Zola’s tips and recommendations for how to plan the perfect Charleston wedding weekend.

Black and white photo of couple walking in downtown Charleston

Photo Credit || Art of Roxy Photography

Planning a stunning wedding weekend takes a bit of know-how, so please take our advice and hire a Charleston wedding planner. We recommend Mike Winship, the man with the vision behind Charleston Wedding Planner. An expert in his field with decades of experience, Mike never fails to execute an extraordinary affair, and is deeply connected to the Charleston wedding scene. Another great choice for a wedding planner is Christy Loftin Events. Christy’s experience planning events of all kinds throughout Charleston makes her a savvy and creative force that’s sure to make your wedding planning experience stress-free.

bride and groom holding hands on a pier in charleston south carolina

Photo Credit || Richard Bell Photography

Ready to get started? Here’s a sample breakdown for what each day of your Charleston wedding weekend could look like.

Friday

TGIWW (Thank God It’s Wedding Weekend). Friday night marks the beginning of your weekend-long celebration and the moment things start to seem real—you’re mere hours away from tying the knot. Whether you and your wedding party have a rehearsal or not, hosting a rehearsal dinner or simply a welcome party is a great way to greet out of town guests and kick off the wedding weekend.

All that’s needed for this Friday night fête is good food, drinks, music, and your friends and family. (Throwing in a few lawn games can’t hurt.) When considering your venue choices for the welcome party, take into account what kind of venue you have chosen for the wedding day. If your wedding reception is more formal in nature, consider a casual atmosphere for the welcome party and vice-versa. This way you’ll guests will get to see the many faces of Charleston throughout the course of their weekend.

shrimp and grits with green scallions and red peppers in a white bowl with a napkin and fork resting nearby

Photo Credit || Poogan’s Porch

If you’re having an outdoor wedding and have chosen a venue like Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, host the welcome party at Magnolias restaurant in the heart of downtown so your guests can get a feel for Charleston’s nightlife. A forerunner of upscale Southern cuisine since 1990, delight your guests with Magnolias’ signature dishes such as Down South Egg Rolls and Shellfish over Grits.

Perhaps you had a tough time choosing between a garden or a waterfront wedding? Here’s an easy fix: host the welcome party at the open-air Bridge Bar at the Charleston Harbor Fish House, which overlooks the Ravenel Bridge and all of Charleston’s skyline. Or, for an unbeatable view, host the wedding welcome party on The Carolina Girl, a gorgeous yacht that’s available year-round and accommodates up to 150 people. There’s even a dance floor and a killer sound system. I don’t know about you, but we’re sold. 

The Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina in twilight as an orange sunset fades at the horizon

Photo Credit || The Carolina Girl Yacht

man and woman kissing in the bow of a yacht with a sunset behind them

Photo Credit || The Carolina Girl Yacht

Saturday

If you’ve decided to host a pre-wedding brunch for the wedding party and/or additional friends and relatives, we’ve got you covered with recommendations. Toast of Charleston is the place to go for classic Southern fare that will win over even the pickiest eaters. Slightly more formal, the Macintosh offers farm-to-table American cuisine with creative dishes like bone marrow bread pudding and jalapeño cheddar sausage gravy. The Palmetto Cafe in the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel is another exquisite dining space in the heart of downtown that prides itself in serving “Classic Southern cooking with a contemporary twist.” We’re certainly intrigued.

After brunch, brides and bridesmaids may be interested in pampering themselves at Bellelina, a gorgeous upscale spa and makeup studio in downtown Charleston where they can prep for the wedding. Bellelina offers a variety of beauty treatments at totally reasonable prices as well as traditional or airbrush makeup application. Grooms and groomsmen should head out to Old South Barber Spa on State Street for professional shaves in this historic barber shop. Decorated like an old-school men’s club, with polished mahogany and plush leather furniture, it will set the tone for a special day indeed.

african-american woman in a turquoise shirt getting her makeup done before her wedding by a makeup artist

Photo Credit || Wedding Headline

Charleston bride on cobblestone street

Photo Credit || Rick Dean Photography

While you and your crew are getting dolled up, give your wedding guests a list of must-see Charleston attractions they can check out prior to the actual wedding. A trip to Charleston is not complete without visiting The Battery and White Point Gardens. Have them stroll through the park and take in the historic statues, 18th century cannons, the Charleston Harbor, gorgeous mansions, and those glorious moss-draped live oaks. King Street between Broad and Spring streets has a ton of trendy boutiques and shops for the fashionistas in your family, and the open-air Charleston City Market, which dates back to the early 1840s, provides a totally different shopping experience with independent merchants selling their goods. If you’re not getting married at one of the many plantations and gardens in Charleston, make sure your friends and family spend some time visiting these incredible properties.

exterior photograph of Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston, SC

Photo Credit || Boone Hall Plantation

bride and groom on a bridge overlooking the water

Photo Credit || Richard Bell Photography

Sunday

Over so soon? After your beautiful Charleston wedding (are those new rings we spy?), bid farewell to your guests and thank them heartily with a post-wedding brunch. Poogan’s Porch on Queen Street is a winner, combining that easy-breezy coastal ambience with seriously delicious eats, and they are well-equipped to handle large group dining. Fleet Landing Restaurant overlooks the Charleston Harbor and serves up a killer brunch with fresh seafood and classic Southern dishes. If time permits, walk off that brunch with a stroll along one of Charleston’s beaches.

plate piled with bisuits stuffed with cream cheese and strawberries with a mimosa in the background

Photo Credit || Poogan’s Porch

Couple on bride by Charleston coast at sunset

Photo Credit || Diana Deaver Weddings

We hope we’ve inspired you with our ideas for how to spend your Charleston wedding weekend. Get creative, speak with your Charleston wedding planner, and enjoy your celebration in the Holy City from start to finish!

Featured Photo Credit || Art of Roxy Photography

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