Charlotte may not instantly come to mind when thinking of the best cities for a destination wedding, but there’s room to argue it should. Whether it’s an urban setting, museum venue or country club soirée, the Queen City’s wedding offerings are as good, if not better than many of its Southern counterparts (ahem, Charleston and Savannah). Here’s a look at the top wedding sites in Charlotte, and why brides should look here first to say “I do.”
There are few places in Charlotte that exude true Southern charm, and The Duke Mansion is one of them. Built in 1915, the historic property is still one of the most romantic and classic wedding venues in the Southeast. The large, white structure with oversized wraparound porches and views of the property’s many gardens provides a suburban-like setting within the city limits, making its proximity to Uptown a bonus. This manse — which can accommodate up to 150 guests — is one of the most exclusive in the area; just 25 weekends each year are available for weddings, which means nabbing a time slot is highly competitive. Both indoor and outdoor spots are available at the estate, too, such as the cozy Ray Dining Room or the verdant Garden Terrace.
Since opening in 2009, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel has become one of the hottest places for a wedding not only in the Queen City but also the Southeast. While the ballrooms and intimate parlors (large enough to accommodate as many as 450 or as little as 40 guests for dinner) are a draw for couples, the luxury hotel’s Urban Garden and Urban Sip venues are the stars here. Located on the 15th floor, Urban Sip is the chic cocktail bar for local movers and shakers. But its 180-degree view of the city and spacious wine bar entice brides and grooms to hold their upscale, urban receptions there. The stunning, glass-roofed Urban Garden boasts not one but three settings (a total of up to 10,000 square feet) for ceremonies and receptions. The ethereal aesthetic coupled with the location makes this a coveted spot for exchanging vows.
When the Uptown location of The Mint Museum opened in 2010, brides rushed to secure a date on the museum’s calendar, and for good reason. There are two outstanding options for nuptials at the Mint Uptown, both of which provide very different atmospheres. The Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium features a stunning 60-by-60-foot glass wall overlooking the Levine Center for the Arts and the Knight Theater (two prominent Charlotte landmarks), not to mention dramatic white walls and stained hardwood floors that serve as a lovely setting for a wedding. The other venue is the Mattye and Marc Silverman Grand Room and Trustees Terrace, located on the fifth floor of the museum. The spacious 4,009-square-foot room offers a 180-degree view of the cityscape, as well as minimal décor, so that all eyes will be on the vista or the bride. A perk at both spaces: Something Classic is the exclusive caterer to the Mint and one of Charlotte’s best.
The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge
The suburb of Ballantyne is one of the most picturesque communities in the South. When scoping out potential spots, don’t forget to check out the anchor of the area, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge. The luxury hotel exudes Southern charm with its Arts and Crafts-style décor, dark wood paneling and a collection of paintings and watercolors by Thomas Vieth commissioned by owner Smoky Bissell specifically for Ballantyne. There are, of course, the elegant ballrooms that can be transformed into ethereal white settings, but the most impressive space is the Veranda overlooking the par 71, 18-hole golf course. Though it’s not necessarily large enough for a ceremony or reception, it’s an ideal location for a cocktail hour as the sun begins to set over the rolling greens.
Though it’s not located in Charlotte proper, this 400-acre botanical garden about 40 minutes outside of the city is one of the most-sought-after wedding venues in the state. With 110 acres of themed gardens, a dozen fountains and rotating displays, Daniel Stowe offers a variety of settings for ceremonies and receptions. There’s no bad time of year to wed here, as each garden is well maintained so that brides and grooms can capture their picture-perfect shot in the stunning landscape. The best venue on the premises is the White Garden. Designed specifically for hosting weddings, the garden features an ever-changing display of white flowers against a colorful evergreen backdrop. It’s an intimate space used for ceremonies, cocktail hours and receptions, and can accommodate 180 seated guests.
Photos Courtesy of Christopher Record Photography, Richard Israel Photography and Smitten and Hooked Photography