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We all know Charleston summertime heat can be draining at times. There is several fun and creative ways that I have seen past weddings incorporate cool, sweet treats!

  1. Ice Cream – We have had several weddings open an ice cream station towards the end of the evening as a late night hors d’oeuvre to cool off the dancing crowd.

Ice Cream

  1. Specialty Cocktails – It is always nice to have a custom beverage available at your bar for your friends and family to sip on throughout the night.  This sets your wedding apart by serving the couple’s favorite, memorable beverage.Drink
  1. Cool, damp wash clothes – We had one wedding offer their guests cool, damp wash clothes during prime dance time, as a nice refreshing way to keep their dancing shoes on!


  2. Popsicles – King of Pops is a local, tasty popsicle purveyor who can bring their fun, eclectic, freezer cart to your wedding reception, and help chill the guests out!


  1. Ice Sculpture Display – what a dramatic effect to have either your hors d’oeuvres displayed on an ice sculpture or have a custom ice sculpture available to view by your guests.

Ice Scuplture


In each of our three ballrooms, we have two areas where the dance floor and entertainment can be placed. There are positives to both locations.

The most popular location is in the center of the ballroom. I typically see this when the entertainment is a DJ, and when the dinner is plated. Placing the dance floor in the center makes this the focal point of the ballroom, and everyone is equal distance away from big events. When you are performing your first dance, cutting the cake, and giving toasts- everyone can see the happy couple in the middle.

dance central

Ballroom 11.22

The other dance floor location is at one end of the ballroom. I typically see this set up when the entertainment is a band, and when the dinner is station style. When you have a band, they usually require a large stage, and you do not want the stage to cut the ballroom in half, if you put them in the middle. The dinner is usually station style because it promotes the guests to move around, and there is a designated dancing area and dinner area. This is also a popular location if you feel not every guest will partake in dancing. They can sit farther away from the dance floor, and hold a conversation.

dance end


Trending since 2013- we are seeing more and more of the naked wedding cake.

Still offering multiple cake layer flavors, instead of the icing being on the exterior of the cake it’s between the layers. This type of wedding cake gives a vintage, rustic, and antique look to your wedding décor. It is also one the healthier side because you are using less icing. Plus, we have found that instead of decorating your cake with sugary, fondant flowers – brides are instead decorating their naked cake with natural elements such as flowers and fruit – giving your cake a fresh and delicious look! Although this new cake trend may not appeal to everyone because of its “unfinished” look, you still satisfy having your classic wedding cake with a modern look.

ABCD Naked Cake

Cake Picture Credit: Ashley Brown Cake Design

Choosing the perfect menu for your wedding reception a simple process with our Wedding Sales Manager and Chefs . Being in the south, we find many weddings choosing our station dinner packages to create a more casual atmosphere. We decided to ask our Chefs to choose their favorite stations:


Packwood Management’s Executive Chef, Simon Andrews is one of the creators of the bridal menus and has overseen many wedding receptions at the hotel during his 18 year career with us. His favorite station is, “shrimp & grits of course!”  Born in Ireland, he has adopted the southern ways and loves to create his specialty of shrimp and girts. Chef Simons uses a secret ingredient (Tasso Ham) leaving your mouth watering! This station is one of our most popular because shrimp and grits are a delicacy of the south!

Shrimp and Grits Cropped Web


Francis Marion Hotel Executive Chef, Phil Gaulin has been with the hotel and a part of Chef Simon’s team for over 2 years. He even was the Executive Chef at our sister property (Middlebury Inn, Vermont) before he moved back south 2 years ago with his family. His favorite station is, “most definitely the banana fosters because it’s a mixture of rum & sweetness!!” Fun fact about Chef Phil, he loves bananas! Our banana foster consists of homemade vanilla ice cream smothered in a rum & brown sugar sauce covered in fresh bananas.



Banquet Chef, Daniel James is the youngest member of Chef Simon’s team and brings lots of popular food trends to the team. His favorite station is, “Our fried chicken and waffles because it’s southern and up and coming.” We infuse our homemade syrup with bacon, jalapenos and a hint of thyme. We also offer the more traditional syrup.

Chicken & Waffles


We hope you’re hungry now!

Cop Cakes

Cop Cakes

We have seen a growing trend in Groomsmen Cake’s at weddings here at the Francis Marion Hotel. The tradition of a Groomsmen’s Cake originated in England, dating back into the late 1800s.  Bakers would create a special cake which would identify to the Grooms personality. The baker would infuse the cake with strong chocolates or alcohol to signify that the male is the “stronger sex”.

Chantilly Cakes

Chantilly Cakes

While we don’t see many alcohol infused cakes, we do see cakes which signify the Grooms personality and likes. Many of the cakes involve their favorite football or basketball team, college logo, favorite type of beverage, or is job related. This cake can be served either as dessert at the rehearsal dinner or on a separate cake table at the wedding.

Ashley Brown Cake Design

Ashley Brown Cake Design

1. Historic Ballroom Charm

Rising high over the Historic District at the corner of King and Calhoun Streets, the Francis Marion Hotel stands as a Landmark in the Charleston Skyline and the city’s rich history. Now restored to its 1920’s elegance this grand old lady of Charleston shines again as a symbol of Hospitality to all who visit. Our historic Colonial and Gold Ballrooms with 24-foot ceilings and antique crystal chandeliers add both elegance and grace to any event. The Carolina Ballroom features a balcony overlooking Marion Square Park.



Carolina Ballroom Rounds Straight on uplighting Hi Res


2. Location, Location, Location!

Conveniently located in the heart of downtown’s Historic District, and on the city’s popular Upper King Street, the Francis Marion provides the perfect location for guests to easily access the city’s best restaurants, shops and attractions by foot! Also, across from Marion Square Park, the hotel is the best venue for many of the city’s most popular festivals throughout the year.

FMH Exterior

3.Fantastic Food!

Our own Swamp Fox Restaurant & Bar offers upscale Southern cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner and lively piano bar entertainment.

Executive Chef Simon Andrews and Chef de Cuisine Phil Gaulin create regional specialties that emphasize beloved flavors reminiscent of the old south.

Shrimp and Grits Cropped Web

4.Everything that’s included!

– Complimentary Ballroom (Based on meeting a food and beverage minimum before tax and gratuity)

– White Full Length Table Linens and White Linen Napkins

– Centerpiece on each Table to Include a Square Mirror, 4 Votive Candles and a Tall Cylinder Glass with a White Candle

– Dance Floor

– Band Staging

– Complimentary Wedding Cake Cutting and Serving

– Francis Marion Suite for Your Wedding Night

– Discounted Room Rates for your Out of Town Guests

– Complimentary Menu Tasting for Up to 4 Guests


5. Personalized Wedding Advice and On-Site Coordination from Our Wedding Specialist

© Dana Cubbage Weddings 2015

© Dana Cubbage Weddings 2015

At the end of your amazing wedding day, it is popular to do a formal departure, for your guests to “send the married couple off”. Your guests line up on two sides, creating a tunnel for the couple to walk through and with a little creativity, wish the married couple well into the future. Here at the Francis Marion Hotel, our memorable sendoff spills right onto the energetic King Street and Marion Square Park. You can have a limo, horse & carriage, or bike taxi, waiting to whisk the happy couple on a ride through our historic streets of Charleston. From bubbles, rose petals, glow sticks, streamers; we have had some exciting exits at the Francis Marion Hotel.

St-Lukes-Chapel-Wedding-039-Sides-77-78-1920x1312Credit: Richard Bell Photography

© Dana Cubbage Weddings 2015

Credit: Dana Cubbage Photography

In a 2014 study, over 50% of weddings used hashtags.

Wedding hashtags have become a fantastic way to share pictures from your engagement to your wedding day and beyond. Couples are encouraging their wedding guests to post pictures from their special day online to reminisce later!

Helpful ideas to create your wedding hashtag:

-Wedding Date

-Nicknames or Initials

-Cute phrase that friends call you as a couple

There are hashtag generators online if you need help!




Alcohol at a wedding can be just as important as food at a wedding to some clients.  With that being said, alcohol can cost just as much as the food in some cases! It is important to know that you have choices on alcoholic packages:

1. Unlimited Bar – you pay a flat price per person per hour for unlimited drinks at the bar. I usually recommend this option if your guests are heavy drinkers

2. Consumption Bar – you pay per drink consumed at the bar. This package is challenging because you can estimate the number of drinks ahead of time, however you will not know until the wedding is over, if you exceeded that estimated number or not. If the guests drink more than we estimated ahead of time, you are left with an outstanding bill. I usually recommend this package for light drinkers.

3. Corkage or Guest Provides Bar – You purchase the alcohol outside of the hotel and bring in for our staff to serve. This package is nice if you desire alcohol selections that we do not offer. This package is also ideal for light drinkers.  Lastly, an additional perk to this package is that if you do not consume all of the alcohol, many providers will let you return any un-opened bottles.

A wedding is a celebration, and with that, guests usually drink more than normal. Make sure you choose the best bar package for your guests and your budget!


When choosing the layout for your reception venue, one decision is where the bride and groom will sit.  They are usually set apart from the remaining tables, whether at a sweetheart table with just the two of them; or at a head table, including the entire bridal party.

In my experience, most couples choose to have a sweetheart table, due to the dates of their bridal party. Usually they do not want to separate the dates for the evening, or they do not have enough space to include them on the head table, so the sweetheart table seems perfect.  Choosing a sweetheart table will also give you a few moments to yourselves and soak in the day.  I also feel that it is more inviting for your guests to greet you, because they do not have to talk over a head table, or slide behind the head table.

Here are some examples of sweetheart tables and head tables at the Francis Marion Hotel: