Through the Lens: Great Southern Wedding Venues

By Judy Garrison Photography courtesy of Benfield Photography, Jenna Henderson, Seeing Southern Photography and Javen Photography

Garvan Gardens, photo by Javen Photography

Telling your love story in the right setting is an expansion of your love. Your wedding venue is a major element in the storytelling that will live on for years.

American singer-songwriter Jack Johnson eloquently reminds us that we are “better together” and that most questions lurking in the heart can be answered by simply being together. And when together turns into a lifetime that originates with a wedding day, be ready, for this sets in motion a chain of events which are born from childhood dreams.
Whether the wedding takes place in six months or 24 months, a bride’s first decision is always the venue. With the most favorable venues being snatched up as far as two years in advance, knowing your style, tone and the story you want to tell makes what follows easier. And when the photographs arrive long after the day is over, the story lives on.
As documentary wedding photographers, curating a couple’s personal story means utilizing the venue as a major element in storytelling. After all, the venue becomes an extension of the couple, and its landscape, a major component. With that in mind, here are some of the most captivating venues in the South that offer amazing backdrops for photography and love.

Beau Jardin
Natchitoches, Louisiana
Located in the heart of one of the most romantic downtowns in America, Beau Jardin can easily take your breath away. From a photographer’s viewpoint, it has it all: winding staircases, flowing waterfalls, wooden bridges, and live oaks surrounded by native plants and flowers. The staff prides itself in providing a natural canvas to make the bride’s wishes a reality. Whether it’s a large event or an intimate affair, Beau Jardin is the ideal location no matter the time of year.

Christopher Place
Newport, Tennessee
Whether it’s only the two of you or the entire family joining you for the weekend, Christopher Place offers packages for any number. With 20 guestrooms on site, it’s a grand location for keeping the bridal party together to enjoy every moment. With a hostess that is described as “unflappable” and a gourmet chef preparing the food, assurances like this make the entire weekend smooth-sailing. And then, there’s the view. For the epitome of stunning, come to Christopher Place and be awed by the Great Smoky Mountains.

Garvan Woodland Gardens
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
This botanical oasis is a wonderland, but when you take one look at the Anthony Chapel, it raises this destination to an entirely distinctive level. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls with iconic views of woodlands and gardens, it is the ideal setting for nature lovers. Seating up to 160 guests, the chapel is elegant, dramatic and intimate—the complete package. For a photographer, this is a gem with endless stories to tell.

Mountain Laurel Farm
Cleveland, Georgia
Travel back to a turn-of-the century generational farmhouse situated on rolling hills with splendid Blue Ridge Mountain views at Mountain Laurel Farm. Innkeeper and owner Melody Lothridge provides personal guidance, removing all the guesswork and replacing it with a one-of-a-kind experience. Whether it’s a single day or an entire weekend on the farm, choose the perfect package for your budget and wish-list. In addition to historic charm and vintage elegance, Mountain Laurel Farm offers rustic chic in a comfortable setting; choose the barn loft, the main house lawn or the field by the creek for the ceremony. A very popular choice for brides from all over the southeast, it has also caught Hollywood’s eye.

Oak Hollow Farm
Fairhope, Alabama
It’s the tunnel of trees that first snare your eye. Then, the rustic barn, which will accommodate up to 350 guests, is as inviting as it is charming. With all catering done in-house, Oak Hollow can provide everything needed for an entire weekend, from rehearsal to reception to overnight stays in the bunkrooms.

Stanton Hall
Natchez, Mississippi
Taking up an entire city block, Stanton Hall, a Greek Revival Style mansion, captures elegance perfectly. With its massive Corinthian columns and marble mantelpieces, these touches add a historic ambience that are rarely found or are available for special occasions. Continuing in the tradition of the original builders and owners, Stanton Hall was built to entertain and that remains its purpose today. Their exclusive caterer is Chef Bingo Starr of the Carriage House Restaurant.

St. Catherine’s at Bell Gable
Fayetteville, Arkansas
From an intimate elopement to an affair with up to 250 guests, St. Catherine’s provides personalized packages to meet the bride’s requests. From a creekside toast to a ride in a 1902 Mercedes limo, the venue creates a different world of serenity and calm with its stunning beauty and fairytale-like atmosphere. With over 2,000 weddings in its history, for owners Lowell and Ann Boynton, they take pride in the truth that “dreams do come true.”

Stella Plantation
Braithwaite, Louisiana
For classic old-world charm and Southern grandeur, Stella Plantation is the ideal vista for beginnings. Their unique offering, a vast variety of ceremony locations, both indoors and outdoors, from which to choose—the lazy tree, the sloping oak, the main house steps or a row of 250-year-old oaks lined perfectly with the main house. Stay the day or make a weekend of it with overnight accommodations in the plantation house, ideal for the bridal party. And with no time limits, noise or permit issues, a fireworks or lantern sendoff is perfection.

The Barn at Sycamore
Arrington, Tennessee
With the Barn at Sycamore accommodating up to 400 people, it’s the ideal choice for large parties. Whether the “I Do’s” take place in the barn or on the island surrounded by a two-acre lake, this Southern setting offers endless charms including a 100-year-old sycamore tree, making it an excellent location for dramatic portraits. Whether your story is rustic, elegant, formal or casual, The Barn at Sycamore can bring your vision to life.

The Jefferson
Oxford, Mississippi
If its space you require, look no further than The Jefferson. And once there, it is obvious why brides fall in love. The structure was built out of reclaimed materials from all over the southeast—cotton warehouse doors from Virginia, windows from South Carolina, steel beams from Georgia, chandeliers from a church in Tennessee, thus manufacturing its own unique personality. And with tall ceilings, some 36 foot tall, the ambience is electric.

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