(This is a guest post by the super talented Kaylee Turbeville. I wonder if IMDB will add “Guest writer at theflossip.com? She is writing about how she selected the winning venue for her wedding reception.)
In September 2001, one of my sisters married her high school & college sweetheart at The Columns in Florence. It was a gorgeous day and an absolute gorgeous setting. I specifically remember turning to my mother and saying “I won’t have a huge wedding, don’t worry.” We shared a laugh reminiscing over the year of showers and parties that led to the special day.
I moved away from Florence, and after attending weddings in New York and Martha’s Vineyard I came home with a new appreciation for southern weddings. As elaborate and expensive as they may have been, the cocktails could not compare to that of the Southern setting that nature provides us with.
About a year ago, I noticed a trend. Old friends from the North were migrating south to Savannah and Charleston for their “destination weddings.” Gorgeous settings and friendly people kept being mentioned when I would ask them why.
Friend after friend kept getting married in the churches with receptions at the Country Clubs, and while there is nothing wrong with the Country Clubs, there is something about being an original that I find extremely enticing.
In July, I was taken aback when my boyfriend proposed. The number one question we heard within MINUTES was “when’s the wedding?” It remained the number one question for weeks. Finally we picked a date. Then we thought of venues and I started researching.
My, how Florence has changed since 2001. I am not sure if it is because of my Pinterest obsession, but I kept seeing idea after idea that I loved. The possibilities were endless. We thought of eloping, and I was so surprised to find, eloping is not limited to City Hall anymore. You can rent chapels that come with professional photographers and catered meals. There are companies in Charleston that specialize in this. I found them greatly appealing.
We then decided there were too many people we wanted to share such a special day with. The problem with the date we chose was that it was a day before Easter. Most churches would accommodate, but our siblings have small children, which meant someone would miss Spring Break or an Easter Egg Hunt.
I thought of calling Bravo! Event Rentals to ask their opinion. I actually sat a table with the Owners at the Pee Dee Heart Ball (thank you Flossip), and they were genuinely nice people. Alas, I took to the internet to find my wedding venue. After searching throughout Florence I was shocked at the selection of venues. I couldn’t find many on The Knot, but I did what all great women do; I stalked Collin Smith, Geoff Hughes and other photographers’ websites to see various photos of venues. You learn more from Facebook than the Wedding Channel.
For instance, there is a place in Marion named Hidden Acres, and if you love the idea of a gorgeous outdoor setting, you should really check this one out. I happen to know the owners and it is breathtaking. However I didn’t know that I wanted everyone to travel and then drink. Yes, there will be drinking at my wedding.
I approached my future mother-in-law about it. She and her husband named several venues in Hartsville, but with many marrying at Country Clubs, we wanted something different. We wanted to keep the focus on the reason we were getting married in the first place.
After checking out restaurants, Osborne’s, Oakdale, the Country Club of South Carolina, Country Club of Florence, my soon to be in-laws backyards and revisiting The Columns, we finally toured Lawton Park in Hartsville. At first, I was hesitant about getting married in Hartsville; but upon seeing the venue on the lake, I was soon swooning over Lawton like I had downtown Hartsville. Its charm is evident, and it only holds 120 people, so the guest list will be sparse, but what a great way to keep only current family and friends in attendance! The inside of the building has recently been renovated and by the time we were leaving the family and myself had mapped out how the day would look. After a little Pinterest perusing, the dream had a life of its own. The price of Lawton is amazing. Thousands less than what was quoted at other venues, and for what we want, it provides.
I learned a few valuable lessons while searching for a venue. First, never say never. I quickly found myself entertaining the idea of a big country club wedding, which I said I would never do. Secondly, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Look until you find a clear vision of what you want. Parties are fun, but the whole process of planning a wedding will make you pull out your hair. Don’t try to overwhelm yourself. You will drive yourself and the groom crazy. Bridezillas were the trend ten years ago; it’s still an iffy economy. People have greater problems than what colors you choose.
Lastly, I learned a lesson the hard way. A co-worker/friend recently became engaged. They are such a sweet couple. They are having their wedding in Charleston. After speaking with her about the whole process she came to the same conclusion I did: Venue operators should make receptionists and coordinators aware; the bride comes to you to see what you can offer her. Not for you to be rude and act like she has to prove something to you. You can be a snob to your friends, but it’s never great form when it comes to business. Luckily, we didn’t have this problem with any of the places we toured. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it is to find quality vendors. There are so many various options. In the growing population that is Florence, I am sure many brides appreciate the fact that we no longer have to settle for what everyone else has already done. Well done Florence!
(Flossip note: I linked the venues that Kaylee considered so that you can check them out for yourself!)