C
Savvy May 2012

Folly Beach, SC Beach House Weddings--My search for the perfect beachhouse to have our wedding.

C, on July 13, 2011 at 9:55 AM Posted in Planning 1 43
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My fiance and I wanted to have a Charleston area casual beach wedding--without breaking the bank. We came up with the idea to rent a beach house for a week and have the wedding there and it ended up being a much bigger project to find the house than I thought it would be.

However, we found one! And it is literally my dream wedding spot. I'm really excited! This was a ton of work (two different weekends going down there--we live in NC--and TONS of phone calls and emails) so I thought I'd share what I learned and my impressions from visiting about 20 different houses with the community.

It's a lot, so I'll do this over several messages. And possibly even several days.

43 Comments

Latest activity by Rachael, on April 10, 2020 at 10:51 AM
  • Lala
    Master May 2012
    Lala ·
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    I know you are still typing but we are doing the same.....beach house wedding but in the Wilmington area. So I feel your pain about finding a place! But we did as well and LOVE it! Congrats!

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
    C ·
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    First, I'll start with the fact that we really wanted a Charleston area wedding. We visited 17 different Charleston/James Island/Mt Pleasant/Sullivan's Island venues. I ruled out country clubs before we did any visits--I just didn't want to be constrained to only using their food/wine. I also ruled out all the more expensive places without looking at them--they weren't in our budget and I also didn't want to fall in love with somewhere really expensive. Plus, they did not offer the more casual laid back vibe I was hoping for.
    So, on to the 17 "venues" we did look at. Most of them were gorgeous. I particularly like the Alhambra Hall in Mt. Pleasant and the Cooper River Room in Mt. Pleasant--both of which were quite budget friendly too. My fiance also really loved the Old Exchange downtown--which was gorgeous inside and the girl (Catherine) who took us around was really really friendly. A few of them were real duds though (that's why I recommend looking in person).

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    Anyhow, none of these 17 places were perfect though. I mean for us. I had a bit of hang-up with the idea that we had to be completely in and out by a certain time. (I know, that's the norm. But I have been to too many weddings where I finally start dancing and then it feels like 3 songs later the lights come on.) I wanted to be able to have the cost-savings of bringing in our own alcohol and food. But then not have my friends and family afterwards (at least not that same night) be stuck breaking everything down. Plus, I realized that I'm a beach girl. That is why I LOVE the Charleston area. I'm not a history girl. I mean, sure, history is great and interesting, but it isn't a defining interest of mine. So the Old Exchange wasn't right for us either.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    As a side note: if you do look at the Old Exchange, I also HIGHLY recommend the GORGEOUS Confederate Home just down the street---it's really hard to find on the internet---but it is basically a "secret garden" where you could have a beautiful garden ceremony and then walk down to the Old Exchange for a reception full of dinner and dancing. It's actually a neat charity so that all your (very reasonable) fee to rent the space goes to support women who have fallen on hard times and who live there in little apartments. They also have a gorgeous ballroom---BUT they do not allow dancing there beyond just a single first dance b/c the floors are old. So you need to rent somewhere else (the Old Exchange would be perfect) if you want a reception with dancing. The woman we spoke to is Alma and she manages it. I never found a phone number but we literally just walked up and knocked and she toured us around.

    http://www.postandcourier.com/photos/galleries/2008/jul/21/confederate_home/

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
    C ·
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    Okay, off of that tangent and back to our BEACH HOUSE WEDDING SEARCH. As I was saying, after a very FULL day of looking at lots of venues, I was left feeling like we had certainly found places that would work and be gorgeous, but nothing that was just screaming to me "This is it!"

    We narrowed it down to Folly Beach because both Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island will not allow gatherings of more than either 24 or 30 people in rented homes. (if you happen to own a beach house though, you'd be in luck.) Also, Isle of Palms in particular has some tight rules about having commercial activities on the beach. They do have an exception for a photographer for up to one hour. But you are not permitted to have a wedding officiant on the beach if you pay him/her. We had already made a guest list and were looking to find a venue that would allow slightly more than 30 people.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    Start with Fred Holland and Avocet Realty--both rental companies have several event houses. http://www.weddingsfollybeach.com/superspecials.htm Also, I saw multiple listings on VRBO.com and Homeaway.com Also, my hint for vrbo.com and homeaway.com is to send inquiries to homeowners that have homes which look like they are large and might be appropriate for a wedding and ask them if they would make an exception--explaining exactly what size wedding you are envisioning and that you would of course pay an extra event deposit or fee. I then printed out all the homes I'd sent inquiries to, and one week later I followed up on all of them via phone. I was surprised how many people said that they would consider weddings on a case by case basis.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
    C ·
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    The first house we looked at was 1420 E. Ashley: http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p365723?cid=E_OWNERINQUIRY_DB_O_20110527_propertyurl_text_LPROP

    Pros: HUGE yard, less crowded end of the island (near "wash-out" for those of you familiar with Folly Beach), marsh view w/ walkout deck, ocean front, will allow up to 150 guests, rents Monday to Monday during the summer, more parking space, below house is big open clean 5 car garage (could use for eating, dancing or caterers)

    Cons: not dog friendly, inside (while high-end with two fridges, granite, etc.) is not as much my decorating style (the house doesn't feel "beach-y" or "Carolina-y" to me--the furniture was darker and heavier wood), under-house is not pretty--very garage-y, so we would probably rent a tent (which there was PLENTY of space for, but that is added expense), owner didn't show for 1st showing and so we were toured around by vacationers who weren't expecting us. This means we were not able to see bedrooms.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    A bit more on 1420 E. Ashley:

    I LOVED the yard. But the house itself did not feel beach-house-y. It was large and pretty, but seemed to be somehow dark inside. (this is just my impression) After looking at lots of pictures after seeing it the first time, I realized that while the house has TONS of windows facing the ocean side, the house has very few facing the back (marsh side). Those windows are very beautiful from the outside, (the curb appeal on this house was high) but we realized that this house didn't have a lot of hang-out space during the week for our family. There is a screened porch on the back of the house. But again--it just came down to feeling. This house wasn't the "beach house" of my dreams. It is instead more of a high-end builder's house from a suburban neighborhood that someone has put on Folly Beach. If you want (and we came very very close to doing this) to do a tented yard wedding/reception at the beach, this is your house. But spray for mosquitos.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    The next house we came close to really booking was 601 W. Ashley.

    Which is managed by Fred Holland (we worked with Teresa--who was awesome). Here is a commentary by one bride who had her wedding at that house. http://www.weddingmapper.com/plan_wedding/sc/folly_beach/0cdib5

    And here is the house itself http://www.fredhollandrealty.com/vrmgr/rental/DetailPage.aspx?PropertyId=198&WebCode=all&ReturnPath=/vrmgr/search/WebGroupList.aspx

    The house is gorgeous. Large. Oceanfront. Well decorated.

    Definitely worth a visit.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    Then there is Robinini by the Sea---managed by Avocet

    http://www.vrbo.com/251282

    pros: ocean front, GORGEOUS, decorated eclectically but tastefully. This house has HUGE "wow" factor. Also allows 80 guests! We met with the owner who was there when we came by and she was lovely and said she'd make an exception to her normal dogs-only-outside policy and would allow our small dog come, under house is not so garage-y but more barn-like (the owner sent me photos from another wedding where someone did the reception down there and it was GORGEOUS)

    cons: only rents Saturday to Saturday (unless we did April or earlier), no yard, parking would be a HUGE problem, on a still very nice but more congested part of the island

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    Next up 310 W Ashley

    http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p119404

    Pros: great floor plan for a party. Homeowner was there and was so very friendly and nice. Home was well decorated. (felt "beachy") Large flat back driveway would lend itself to dance floor or setting up tables for a meal. 3rd block--so in more crowded part of the beach, but easily walkable for guests who are staying at Tides Folly Beach Hotel.

    Cons: one row back from ocean. Had ocean "view" but it was around other homes.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    1681 E. Ashley

    http://www.weddingsfollybeach.com/1681eashleya.htm

    Again, this one was down near the washout area--thus a bit more secluded. And it was very pretty. But it was pretty much a gamebuster for me that it wasn't oceanfront. Like at all.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    1105 E. Artic

    http://www.weddingsfollybeach.com/1105earctic.htm

    This house is another example of a GREAT yard. The underside of the house was the most open we saw---and it had a fireplace where smores could be done. We could easily picture a really fun outside and under the house wedding. grilling. cornhole. smores. It would be awesome. Plus the house was oceanfront.

    BUT this was the oldest least-nice house we saw. It was exactly the sort of place my family has rented every year for our annual trip to the beach. It was comfortable and livable and the perfect place to curl up on the back porch with your dog and a novel. BUT it wasn't "my" wedding venue. The bedrooms were all just a wee bit too run down. Instead of feeling like you'd rented an amazing southern beachfront b&b for the family to gather at and celebrate at, this house was just a little too worn.

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  • Wicked Lizzie
    VIP September 2011
    Wicked Lizzie ·
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    Wow lots info

    on a side note I love Folly Beach area

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
    C ·
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    So we kept looking. We looked at a few more houses (maybe 3 more) that I'm not going to take the time now to mention here. In fact at the end of our first weekend of searching, I was down to 3 favorites. In no particular order:

    1. Robinini by the Sea http://www.vrbo.com/251282

    2. 601 W. Ashley http://www.fredhollandrealty.com/vrmgr/rental/DetailPage.aspx?PropertyId=198&WebCode=all&ReturnPath=/vrmgr/search/WebGroupList.aspx

    3. 1420 E. Ashley http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p365723?cid=E_OWNERINQUIRY_DB_O_20110527_propertyurl_text_LPROP

    All three would work well. But none was perfect. I was worried about parking at Robinini--and about being all broken up with the size of my party. I had the same concern about 601 W. Ashley. And 1420 E. Ashley had an amazing yard, but the house wasn't wowing me & it was strictly non-dog friendly--which I was realizing more and more was a big deal to me. &because the yard isn't on the ocean side, I was worried about mosquitos

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    (wow, I had no idea I'd end up writing this and making it sound like such a saga. I just really want future brides to be able to use this information.)

    So I spent a lot of time googling, and re-calling people on VRBO who hadn't replied before. Or emailing/calling and asking if they'd allow me to host a wedding at their house--even if they said in their ad no-events. I also googled each address of each of my 3 top choices--and I found people's wedding websites who'd hosted their events there. And I asked how it worked. And I asked for photos. And wow---brides are a friendly sharing helpful bunch!

    And being the over-analyzer that I am, I then decided that I had to see those three again. Plus one more that I had found online. So my fiance, being the amazing patient person that he is, agreed and we headed back down over 4th of July weekend.

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    AND I FOUND IT!!!! http://dunes.vrmreservations.com/vrmgr/rental/PropertyDisplay.aspx?PropertyId=249&WebCode=follybeach&ReturnPath=/vrmgr/search/WebGroupListAll.aspx And it is GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS. And so well designed and thought out and every single last detail of this gorgeous home is perfect.

    Note: it only allows up to 40 people at an event (which it turns out in the end is fine for us)

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    I originally found it on homeaway.com. It is managed by Dunes Properties (who I had already spoken to and who had told me that they had no event houses). But I called the homeowner. He told me he'd made a few exceptions in the past & he insisted on meeting the couple face to face & learning about what they were envisioning before he agreed to a wedding. Of course, we were thrilled to meet him and I'm so glad we did. He was the nicest man. His home is GORGEOUS. I has an elevator (important for our grandmas) and the most wonderful taste and decor and special touches. The floor plan is open and we'll be able to see all our guests at once. He's allowing us to bring our dog and the boardwalk out to the beach off the porch will serve as our "aisle" for my dad to walk me out to where we'll have the ceremony. Big screened porch. & rooftop "cabana" where we can't have the reception (but we don't need to b/c we have such a big first floor) but can have a family bbq earlier in the week

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  • C
    Savvy May 2012
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    So needless to say, I'm SUPER excited. The price ended up being in the same range for his home as all the other homes we looked at (all of them totaled $4000-$5000 for one week and that includes an event fee). (and I think that when you consider that we have overnight accomodations for up to 14 people for a whole week and not just a single wedding venue for 4 or 6 or 8 hours that it is a great deal)

    We plan to keep things simple. I just want good food and lots of laid back fun. I'm even thinking we will do no decorations (beyond candles that my mom already bought for my sister's wedding last year) and no or very minimal flowers---because we're at the beach and I just want people to be able to enjoy this beautiful home and the ocean. The house has a small grassy backyard so we might even set up tables and cornhole.

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  • S
    Just Said Yes March 2012
    Shantel ·
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    Created an account just to tell you what a GREAT help this thread was! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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