The theme and date were the biggest players in our venue selection. I knew that a picturesque wedding at Magnolia Plantation (one of the hottest venues in Charleston, pics below) in October/November would cost $6500 on a Saturday or $5500 for a Friday or Sunday or $4500 for a Mon-Thurs. Guess what was not in line with the theme?
If you guessed, "Any of that," you are correct.
I was NOT willing to spend $4500 for a venue, in addition to having to have food catered from Magnolia's preferred vendors which generally have minimum cost requirements. To use a preferred vendor, I would expect to pay $35+ per head for food. Yet another hiccup with following our theme. With a guest list of 100ish people, $3500 for food and $4500 for the venue was almost our entire budget. Once you add taxes, fees, and tips, we were already over our budget. Kthxnope.
Knowing that the hot places like Magnolia were definitely out of our price range, I started to get very selective about venues. I knew that I wanted a "cheap" place that wasn't cheap looking. I knew that I wanted it to include the tables and chairs for the reception so we didn't have to pay for just the roof over our heads and add another headache of something else to find (rentals) for the big day. I narrowed down the search to 3 places.
I've listed these venues in our original order of preference. Teh German and I visited the first two together and I actually visited the 3rd choice on my own since I went during the day and he wasn't able to come with me (thus why I actually took photos of the place, abet shitty (to show him)).
Medicine Wind Farm ($1200)
Pros:-Venue was located in Summerville which means cheaper hotels.
-Several options of locations on the grounds for an outside ceremony.
-Covered pavilion for a weather backup.
-The reception area had a pretty cool loft area.
-Reception area had a full kitchen.
-Reception area had a room that could be used for food so guests wouldn't cause a traffic jam while getting foods.
-Reception area had a room available with a "dead spot" that was perfect for a bar.
-Speakers that could be used with an aux cable.
-Cool old wagon that could be used as a prop for whatever we wanted.
-Smelled like horse (since it's actually a horse farm on private property).
-Cowboy boots outside
-Old wagon was huge
-The bridal suite and groom suite were attached to the reception area and I didn't like the idea of our guests peeping inside accidentally or on purpose.
-Furniture in the suites was SUPER old.
-No ice on premises.
-Limited tables/chairs included.
Destination Goldbug ($1000)
-Sullivan's Island bridge view/waterfront
-Tables/chairs included for up to 100 people
-Renovations underway (for the bathrooms/kitchen)
-Patio area could be screened in to keep in heat/keep out bugs.
Cons:-Very boaty with the plaques on the walls and there was also a fish somewhere.
-No bridal/groom suites
-It didn't feel like a big space.
-In Mount Pleasant (which is further away from Teh Ville than Summerville).
Alhambra Hall ($1500)
|downstairs formal entrance|
|super cool landing pattern|
|Bridal makeup/hair did area|
|Hallway from the Groom's suite to the entrance area.|
-Large private toilet for bride.
-Elevator to get up to 2nd floor.
-Ice on premises.
-All inside tables/chairs included for up to 200 people.
-Small kitchen area for staging.
-Grounds are public park, which means that we could have party crashers.
-No outside chairs available.
-Fireplaces are capped so no actual fires.
-In Mount Pleasant.
-Requires an off-duty Mount Pleasant police officer if alcohol is served.
Now if you've noticed in my date announcements, you actually already know what venue we picked, but if you didn't, I'll just tell you.
We went with Alhambra Hall.
Yes, it was the most expensive location, but it was the location that we both liked the best. Medicine Wind and Destination Goldbug didn't feel like us. We aren't cowboys (much to Teh German's disappointment) and we don't really resemble the boat life (even though we are happy to enjoy our friends' boats, we'll stick with Bagheera and Suzi). We felt that the hall wasn't overly rustic and was simple, which was perfect for us. In fact, in many ways, the Hall reminds me of our house. Large and simply furnished with a few touches of personality. And ya know, the white walls are exactly the same...
I did take Teh German by Alhambra before we made the decision. After our tour of Destination Goldbug, we rode to Alhambra since they are about 5 minutes apart from each other. While Teh German was only able to see the building in the dark, I could tell he immediately felt more comfortable at the Hall than at either of the other 2 venue options. It could have also been that I was his tour guide instead of a stranger we didn't know.
After we lurked about in the dark at Alhambra Hall, we headed to Poe's on Sullivan Island for dinner to discuss our options. I told him what he'd seen were the 3 places that I could find at a rate I was comfortable paying. There were other cheaper options out there (parks) and more expensive choices as well and I could keep looking, but I think I was able to make a decision based on the 3 we had seen. He agreed with me that he could make a choice from our 3 options and we could end the search.
Before we had even left the Hall, we both kinda knew our decision, but I told Teh German we could listen to music while we rode to the restaurant. I wanted him to be able to think about it without my interfering. Once we sat down at our table and ordered dinner, we discussed the pros and cons of each of the venues and we both knew that we had each decided our favorite before heading to dinner.
We both liked Alhambra Hall the best out of the 3 choices. We were most comfortable at Alhambra, which in the grand scheme of things is one of the most important things to me. I clarified with him as we waited on our food, "So, we're making a venue decision then?" Teh German, "Yes." Me, "So Alhambra Hall?" Teh German, "Yes." Me, "You're sure, even though you haven't seen it in the daylight?" Teh German, "Yep." Me, "Alright then, we just made our biggest wedding decision!"
Our decision of a venue directly affected our date and other budget items (photography). The Hall was booked for both Oct 28th (Saturday) and Oct 29th (Sunday). I didn't really want to get married on "the day before Halloween" or Halloween. So when I suggested Nov 1st, Teh German agreed and said that was fine. He also mentioned that 11/1 is an easy anniversary date to remember. He's funny. I know he would never forget because he never forgets our first-date-aversary either, and this was before he put it in his calendar on repeat every month. /swoon. But I'm glad I could make it easy for him.
If we were Mount Pleasant residents, we wouldn't have had to pay as much for the venue, but we aren't. Oh well. That said, if we were Mount Pleasant residents, we'd pay a lot more for day-to-day things, so ya know.. trade offs.
We kept our decision on the DL until after we signed the contract with the venue. We told our family and close friends so that way they could go ahead and start figuring out travel arrangements. But once we signed the contract, it was game on and social media official. I won't lie. Signing for the venue made it feel the most real to me. I think Teh German was equally excited. Or it could have been that I swung by Metto before our contract signing and surprised him with coffee. Ya know, either one.