Location, Location, Location

Choosing our venue was really a difficult decision for me. Choosing the city where we would get married was even harder. I am from Louisiana and lived most of my life there, but my parents live in Dallas now. My honey and I were both living in Columbia, South Carolina and he was originally from Columbia and his parents still live here. I didn’t want to have the wedding in Columbia because I wanted to keep the wedding to 150 guests and his family would not have been able to keep their numbers down if we’d had it in Columbia. I was really clear about not wanting to meet anyone for the first time at our wedding and wanted to find a location where our closest friends would travel. In fact, all but about 10 of my guests had to travel quite a ways to get to our wedding anyway. I knew that those that really wanted to be there would get there.

We decided right away to keep the wedding in South Carolina because it would be easier on me to plan it. I originally wanted to have a very rustic wedding and found a beautiful farm about 30 minutes away with a wonderful pavillion and tons of rolling hills and huge trees. I visited the location and fell in love. But because the farm was in the middle of nowhere, I began to get concerned about having tons of tables and chairs brought in, bringing in tents and generators, and those portable executive restrooms. I just wasn’t sure that our budget could handle it. I had wonderful dreams of having my favorite caterer do a lowcountry Southern supper and have gorgeous centerpieces in blue and white porcelain vases and pots. It wasn’t a great option for our budget and it wasn’t a great option for our guests. The farm was in the middle of nowhere, so there weren’t any hotels nearby and our guests would have had to drive a long way back to Columbia to the hotels or we would have had to rent some very large buses– another budget buster. I will look forward to planning someone else’s gorgeous rustic farm wedding!

We looked at having the wedding in Charleston, but facility rental fees alone would have taken 1/3 of our budget. My husband and I really wanted to get married in a chapel or a church, but I didn’t want to choose one that meant nothing to us. My husband went to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Greenville is about an hour and a half away from Columbia. The Furman campus is breathtaking and immaculate and has an adorable chapel on the campus. The chapel is simple, has gorgeous windows that allow natural light to pour in, and it’s basically a blank canvas. Greenville is also a great city for out-of-town guests. The Main Street area is full of shops, restaurants, and great hotels. There are plenty of outdoor activities and the place is simply gorgeous! We decided that we’d have the wedding ceremony at the Charles E. Daniel Chapel on the Furman campus and then chose the historic Westin Poinsett Hotel for the reception. The hotel had a great reputation with a lot of our Greenville friends and it’s a full service hotel.

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The Charles E. Daniel Chapel

gold ballroom westin poinsett greenville sc
The Gold Ballroom at the Westin Poinsett Hotel

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Outside of the Westin Poinsett Hotel

The Gold Ballroom was perfect for us because it had the original dance floor from the 1930s and it was gold! I had already chosen pink and gold as my wedding colors and I knew that it would only enhance the decor instead of hurting it. The hotel didn’t have all of the extras that we wanted, but we went out on our own to take care of most of that. They only had white linens and they weren’t guaranteed to go to the floor– a real pet peeve of mine. I’ll elaborate more on the decor later.

My recommendation to those that choose to get married in a hotel is to know exactly what you want and communicate that as often as you can. I plan events for a living, so I knew a lot of what I wanted and knew how to get it done. I would also recommend hiring your own day of coordinator or asking a friend to take on that responsibility. Our hotel salesperson left after 2 months of our engagement. Then the next person left, then the next person left. The woman that was handling our wedding promised that she would be there the night of the wedding and then she wasn’t there because she got sick. (Note to future brides: No one will feel as devoted/attached/excited about your wedding as you will.) I ended up asking a former coworker/event planner to be our day of coordinator right after we got engaged and she offered to do it free of charge. After our salesperson didn’t work the event, I was so thankful and indebted to our day of coordinator for taking charge of everything. I ended up paying her as much as I would have wanted to be paid to do the job. She made everything run smoothly and I knew that I could trust her. Future brides take note– hire a day of coordinator!