Post # 1
I need your help because I am absolutely torn and any opinions/advice would be great! I have gotten it down to 2 reception venues, but I can’t seem to make the final call. If you have any info one way or the other for the Historic Rice Mill or the Mills House Hotel, please help! We are thinking it will be around 150 people for a Saturday evening reception.
Rice Mill – This spot caught my eye from day one. I love this venue, but I hesitate because of things I hear and the pricey event minimum (15,000). I love that it is on the water and the venue is stand alone aka the building is for your wedding only when booked. I have heard great things about the catering. I am concerned about the tide going out and showing mud, not water, the cost of paying for everyone to park, the dance floor space and low ceilings (although I did not notice this much when visiting).
Mills House Hotel – Specifically looking at the Barbadoes Room and Courtyard. I orginially was not a fan of hotel venues, but this one is very historic and Charleston-like with a beautiful inside space and courtyard. It is not on the water, but is in a pretty area of downtown. I am concerned about the dancefloor space (seems small and hard to see) as well as the exiting rules (no sparklers allowed which was always my favorite idea). This space has a F&B minimum that is lower than the total event min at Rice Mill.
Has anyone else compared the two? Or did you use one of these venues and absolutely love it? (or hate it)?
Thanks for any help!!
Post # 3
I am so happy you posted this, as I am considering the same venues and would be interested in the feedback as well!
Post # 4
My reception is at the Hibernian Society right next door to the Mills House, so I booked a block of rooms with the Mills House. They recently called me to tell me that they are changing hands- from the Holiday Inn brand to a Wyndham brand. I am not sure what is going to happen in that transition on the wedding side, but they have been really unresponsive/helpful in getting our block set up, which stinks. Also, I have a friend who used their catering department for a Hibernian Wedding and the woman was unhelpful and a pain in the butt to work with.
I did request a proposal from the Mills House and if I remember correctly (I can’t find it now!) the alcohol pricing was really outrageous- which is what I have found at most of the hotel venues. I wanted to have our reception at the Francis Marion or Double Tree- their food pricing was great, no room rental fee and then the bar fees were crazy- like $40 for open bar for 5 hours. Honestly, our open bar is $14 with a private bartending service, so that was a deal breaker for me.
I did day-of coordination for a wedding at the Rice Mill and the dance floor had plenty of space. The food is AMAZING.
How many people are you having? I have called basically every venue in Charleston and I used to plan events as well so I am familiar with all of them. If you tell me your approx attendance I may be able to make some recommendations.
Post # 5
I attended a wedding last April at the Rice Plantation. It was probably the most beautiful wedding I will ever attend. Sun was setting during ceremony and cocktails and a full moon over the tent for dinner. @tracyb3285:
Post # 6
@tracyb3285: Thank you so much for your notes!! Yes, the Mills House food and drinks are very pricey. It didn’t seem that way at first, and then on our proposal things quickly added up! I was originally worried about a total event minimum Rice Mill has, but with food and drink, Mills House ended up being even more! That is interesting to know about them changing brands, I was never informed of that.
We are thinking we will have 150 people. And, as of this weekend, we have decided to go with the Rice Mill! Both spaces are pretty and don’t need a whole lot of decoration, but when it came down to cost and what I wanted in a venue, Rice Mill was the better choice for us. I have seen other rave reviews about their catering as well, so I am really excited about that!
Are there any other hotels that you are working with for room blocks that you would recommend? I am going to check out those right by the Rice Mill, but any downtown would be great!
Post # 7
@kelseybsc: I am glad you got that all figured out! I am having a heck of a time getting affordable room blocks (or at least what I think is affordable!) and I’ve advised my guests to do their bookings on a site like expedia or hotels.com or look at the independent inns/b&bs because they have been a lot cheaper in the cursory searches I have done. I did do a block of rooms with the Ansonborough Inn because we will be staying their the night of our wedding (I really wanted a suite for my girls to get ready in and their Admiral Suite- the nicest suite they have at a whopping 850 square feet!) was only $269 a night and they will reduce that rate as people book rooms there. You can’t go wrong.
Honestly, given your reception is at the Rice Mill, I would look into the hotels right over there- so much cheaper than anywhere downtown. Marriott was willing to do a $159 rate and the Comfort Inn was going to do $120 (nothing too fancy there, but clean & has a free shuttle to downtown) and the new Holiday Inn that is opening on Lockwood would be $139 a night.
Post # 9
@tracyb3285: Were you happy with the Ansonborough Inn?? I’ve found totally mixed reviews (one said there were roaches! Yuck!) and I’m trying to decide between using the Ansonborough and just renting a house for my bridesmaids to get ready/stay the night of the wedding. Our reception is at the Rice Mill so I’m trying to find somewhere close! I know this is sort of an old thread but hopefully you’ll see it!!
Post # 10
I just posted a book long response to another thread here all about the Rice Mill! http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/charleston-brides-2#post-6408832 We’re getting married there on November 3rd.
In addition, I wouldn’t worry about the tide. It may be in or out, but we have visited in low tide and yes – there is pluff mud – but that’s just part of the Lowcountry charm. It doesn’t smell and the marsh is still just as pretty.
Mills House is nice, but to me, not as pretty of a historic venue. Rice Mill shows off way more Charleston charm. Plus, I can’t vouch for their catering at the Mills House.
Rice Mill and Good Food Catering are definitely on the pricier side for catering, BUT I have worked with them before and tasted their food – all delicious.
Plus they will set up and break down for you and they have a good number of furniture in stock at no additional fee. They will also coordinate all rentals for you which is a major plus for us.
If you’re stuck on a spring wedding, you really do have to look at F&B minimums which are $15k at Rice Mill during that time. We prefer the fall in Charleston when the weather is amazingly temperate and everything is sooooo much cheaper for weddings. No minimums, cheaper venue fees, and cheaper lodging for you and all your guests!
We paid $1500 for our venue fee (including our ceremony fee to do it there) and will spend less than $8k total on food and alcohol at Rice Mill for 100 people. Hope this helps!
Feel free to ask any questions, I have researched almost every venue in Charleston and used to live there so I know my way around.