Hello, hello, hello! I'm so excited to share all about our honeymoon in Charleston today, but first I wanted to back up to the day after our wedding! Les and I were married on Saturday, September 4, and then the next day we invited anyone who was still in town to join us at a polo match at the Myopia Hunt Club in a neighboring town. Les and I had gone to a few matches before and it just seemed like a fun way to spend the afternoon with our family and friends. We set up a pretty elaborate tailgate, if I do say so myself, and were thankful that the rain held off for the afternoon! I, of course, insisted on wearing my sunhat despite the intense overcast.... excuse my mystique. :)
The best crew.
Now, on to Charleston! On Monday, Les and I left the Air B&B that we rented for the wedding party and went home to pack and spend one night in our apartment before flying down to South Carolina on Tuesday morning. While we were there, a few different locals asked us on separate occasions why we landed on Charleston for the honeymoon, so a bit of a back story there.
Back in April of 2020 when we first decided to postpone our wedding to 2021, we figured we would at least take a little trip on the weekend we were supposed to get married. We assumed that even though we couldn't host a big gathering with 100+ people, we could still take a short flight or even a road trip to a new destination that September. We wanted to pick a city that neither of us had been to before so that essentially eliminated all of the northeast, and we had heard great things about Charleston. I did some poking around online and we LOVED that it looked like there would be plenty to do. So we researched some hotels right downtown and settled on The Vendue in the French Quarter district, booking a three or four night stay.
Well, fast forward to maybe July of 2020 and it was becoming increasingly clear that the trip just didn't make sense in the midst of the pandemic, so we cancelled (and ended up spending a wonderful weekend at my family's cottage in CT instead). And then, even though we originally had our honeymoon sights sent on London, when we got back into planning mode in 2021 we just weren't sure what international travel would look like in the fall, if we would have to cancel, if there would be tons of restrictions, etc. So, we decided that a honeymoon stateside would just make more sense and we essentially re-booked our 2020 would-have-been-wedding-weekend get-away!
Here's the funny thing. After we postponed the wedding in 2020 and booked our trip to Charleston for that fall, we were still in the process of planning for our new date in September 2021, which included ordering a sample suite of wedding stationary from Minted (actually the stationary that we went on to use for our invitations). I was looking it over with my mom and she noticed that the faux wedding details that were printed on the sample stationary included a ceremony in Charleston and a room-block at The Vendue Hotel! How funny is that?! Of all the fabulous hotels in Charleston. So we took this as a sort of sign that we were destined to end up there at some point. And truly, it was the most incredible trip. SO, that's how we landed on Charleston. Now, for what we did while we were there!
After an easy two hour flight, we picked up our rental car, dropped our bags at our hotel, and wandered straight to lunch just a few doors down from The Vendue at Poogan's Smokehouse. We later learned that it's one of a few "Poogan's" dining concepts in Charleston named for a pup that used to hang out on the porch of a house-turned-restaurant aptly named Poogan's Porch. Anyways, I'm going to take this opportunity to pause and say that Les and I had THE BEST bites of food we've ever had while we were in Charleston. The restaurant scene was amazing, and it started right at this first lunch that we happened to stumble upon while waiting for check-in. I had the slider trio and I would go back for the smoked sausage slider any day of the week. I will definitely include the rest of places that we ate at, and what we had, because they are ALL worth recommending.
After lunch, we walked down to the Waterfront Park that was a block from our hotel and just took in the beautiful scenery for a while, and paused for probably the first time to really let it sink in that we were married! We made our way back to the hotel to check-in and were delightfully surprised with not one but TWO bottles of champagne in our room: one from the hotel and one from Les's aunt and uncle! Naturally we popped one right away and kept the other chilled for the next night. We unpacked, settled in, and then set out to basically wander the area and find a place for dinner! We ended up at Fleet Landing right on the water (view from one of their bars below). I had seen it on a few lists of recommend restaurants and it was a nice, casual way to start the trip. We enjoyed drinks on the deck while waiting for our table and then Les had the crab cakes and seafood stuffed hush puppies and I had the chicken piccata (the biggest tragedy of the honeymoon is that we picked a seafood capital and I can't have any!). We were pretty beat so we walked back to The Vendue and crashed, ready for day two!
On Wednesday morning we set out decently early to tour two plantations. These were high on our list of things to do so we wanted to make sure that we made time early on in the trip. First we went to Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, followed by Middleton Place... and we learned SO much. For starters, we had heard that the gardens at Magnolia were a destination in and of themselves, but I sort of figured they were maybe a more recent edition to the property. Formal tours of the gardens, though, actually date back to just after the Civil War. Union troops burned the original plantation house and destroyed all of the infrastructure that was built by slaves to harvest rice, so the Drayton Family had to find a new way to bring in income. They started admitting visitors for garden tours in 1870 (Charleston socialites would come by boat on the Ashley River), and have done so ever since. While at the plantation, you can also tour and listen to a talk on the five slave cabins that are still standing on the grounds. It was all incredibly moving and impactful, especially to see remnants of the trenches that slaves had hand-dug on the property for harvesting Carolina gold rice. We learned a TON more and I certainly can't do all of it justice, but Magnolia is definitely a place I would visit again and recommend to anyone going to the Charleston area.
Also, we did two different "plantation house" tours on our trip (the other one, Boone Hall, I'll get to later) but we naively didn't realize that neither were the original houses that were built for the plantations. However, the house that stands at Magnolia today is still historic— built in 1873 after the prior farmhouse was burned by Union Troops— and it was definitely worth touring. We regret not going to Drayton Hall just up the road, built in 1738 by the third son in the Drayton family, as it's the oldest preserved plantation home still open to the public. It's definitely on our list for next time.
After some heavy passing rainfalls and touring Magnolia Plantation for a few hours, we drove ten minutes up the road to Middleton Place. At Middleton we opted to wander the grounds and site of the plantation/original house on our own rather than do any formal tours because it was somewhat late in the day. The grounds were truly stunning, but naturally we didn't learn as much as we did at Magnolia without doing a tour (although there was a pretty powerful exhibit listing all of the slaves who were bought and owned by the Middleton family). We did, though, see some beautiful wildlife, including an alligator which was FASCINATING to me. Les claims he had seen some before and he was surprised I had never seen one in the wild... where would I have seen an alligator growing up in Connecticut?! See if you can spot them in the two photos below.
From Middleton, we drove back to our hotel and promptly showered after hours of walking in the South Carolina heat. I may or may not have taken a nap, and then we got dressed for dinner at one of our top three restaurants from the week: SNOB (stands for Slightly North of Broad). It had been recommended to us by Les's aunt and it was a GREAT pick (side-note, I made all but two night's worth of reservations before we got to Charleston and I would definitely recommend doing the same). We tried to snap a pic outside the restaurant to send to his Aunt Connie but the stormy weather and our umbrellas sort of thwarted our plans. BUT I did think that my black date-night bodysuit deserved more justice than it was given in the one shot we took, hah!
Anyways, the live musician was really fun to listen to, and I'm going to go on record saying that I had the best bite of food from the trip (maybe in my life?!) at SNOB. We started with a charcuterie board and then I ordered essentially a vegetable plate and Les ordered shrimp & grits, which we kept seeing on several menus we had previewed so he knew he had to try it somewhere. My plate was honestly incredible. The veggies—including green beans, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, and zucchini—had all been cooked in some sort of delicious broth, roasted, and served alongside mashed potatoes, risotto, and grits. Les was in heaven, too, and his dish ended up being one of his top two meals from the trip. If we go back to Charleston, SNOB would be one of the first reservations I would make. I promise that I didn't take photos of all of our food on they honeymoon (nor do I usually) but I couldn't resist with these two dishes! I'm pretty sure the photo of Les's meal is blurry because he was shooing me away. :)
I snapped this picture because I was laughing at how many drinking vessels I had amassed over the course of our meal, from a bourbon cocktail to wine with dinner to the champagne toast that our waitress brought over!
From SNOB, we wandered over to a neighboring dessert cafe and stood in a super long line for sorbet before getting up to the register and finding that they were all out..boo. Luckily there was a sort of candy/ice cream emporium right down the block and I ended up with the perfect scoop of raspberry sorbet! I seemed to be craving something refreshing after a full-day in the hot sun. After an easy walk back to our hotel, we were out cold and ready for day three!
Ok, that seems like enough for now (and we're only on day two!!). I promise I'll be more concise on part II... see you then. :)