Slightly off the beaten path there is a beautiful chapel that has become almost iconic in this area. It sits almost perfectly split between the always popular Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC. You will find it all over pinterest and it’s a place that many have traveled near and far to visit. The breathtaking views, the tranquility of the setting, and the sacredness of this spot are all reasons many have traveled here over the years! Oh yeah did we mention weddings and elopements? For anyone that has spent any amount of time in the wedding industry in either of the cities mentioned above, then you already know I’m talking about Fred W. Symmes Chapel, also known to most as Pretty Place Chapel! In fact, when we moved here nearly 8 years ago now, it took us a few years to learn all of the venues, but within months Pretty Place Chapel was already on our radar. It’s popularity amongst couples looking to tie the knot has only grown over the years and as wedding photographers, it has definitely become one of our favorite places to shoot during that time! We’ve been blessed to shoot all over the country during that timespan and work at so many outstanding venues! As you can imagine, each venue is going to have different characteristics, things that make them amazing and things that can make them a bit of a challenge. Having the pleasure and experience of shooting at Pretty Place Chapel multiple times throughout the years, we’ve noticed some common things from wedding to wedding and couple to couple. These are common wedding challenges that can arise and we thought it would be helpful to go over some of those lesser known things to help you plan the perfect day if you’re wanting to get married at Pretty Place!
As we alluded to above, Pretty Place is located between Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC. This makes it convenient to both locations! You might be thinking, “okay well how is that a challenge?” Like a lot of couples who choose to get married at a Chapel, or Church, usually there’s a change of venues after for the reception. If you’re getting married at a catholic church downtown, oftentimes it’s easy enough to walk from your church to your reception venue in certain cities. We’ve done this several times in Charlotte and Charleston. With Pretty Place, a little more planning is required due to the distance between their location and the surrounding towns with venue options. At a glance here are the more well known towns surrounding Pretty Place and the time it takes to get to each (approximately).
Greenville, SC - 1 hour and 10 minutes away
Spartanburg, SC - 1 hour and 30 min away
Asheville, NC - 1 hour and 10 min. away
Brevard, NC - 32 min away
Travlers’ Rest, SC - 55min
Hendersonville, NC - 45min.
Narrowing down where to have your celebration afterwards has been one of the biggest hurdles we've seen for almost all of our couples here. We’ve seen couples utilize event spaces at restaurants, book more traditional wedding venue, and even golf/country clubs, so there will be plenty of options, it’s just a matter of finding two places where all things align including, dates, times, and the ability to accommodate all of your guests. It can be hard enough finding and booking one venue that meets all of your needs for your big day, as you can imagine two while not impossible can be a little more challenging. Between those two cities of Asheville and Greenville, they are wildly popular wedding destinations and venues can fill up quickly! With this, we would highly recommend inquiring with reception venues from the get go to make sure you can get everything to align because these are going to book up fast, especially during peak season months like May and October. Waiting until the last minute will have you stressing leading up to your wedding day instead of enjoying the process. One of our favorite wedding venues that is close and can accommodate almost anything in terms of size and space is Taylor Ranch just outside of Asheville!
When you are booking with Pretty Place, you have to decide in advance which time slot you will want and how much time you want. There is a 2 hour minimum time slot, but depending on your vision and your family/bridal party you may be better off booking more time. At a lot of traditional venues, if you’re planning on going until let’s say 10pm and then you decide to extend until 10:30pm, easy enough usually, your vendors will all usually have an overage agreement in their contract that will be handled accordingly. Obviously not all venues can extend time depending on location, local ordinances with noise, etc. but in our general experience this process is pretty straightforward. With Pretty Place, there will likely be another wedding scheduled right before or after yours depending on how the time slots all break down for any given date. What this means, if you are running late, you will not have the option to push back because there will be another wedding waiting to come in when your’s is supposed to be finished. So if you already know you’re the type of person who runs late or your mom always runs an hour late to every big occasion (lord knows my mom is famous in our family for it) this can definitely affect the flow of your day. You also cannot plan to show up early for set up for the same reason. In a perfect world there’s nothing to worry bout, but as someone who eats, sleeps, and breathes weddings, we can tell you that they are rarely perfectly on time. So, when it comes to planning everything for your Pretty Place wedding or elopement, we always recommend booking a little more than you think you will need and if you have the budget, definitely hire a wedding planner/coordinator to help with logistics and timing. Even if you’re the person who prides themselves for always being on time, with spotty phone signals, potential car issues, mountain roads where trees fall and block both sides (seen it) possibly hair and make up running over, give yourself a little extra time so you don’t end up having to stress.
Guests and Transportation
If you live in the mountains around western North Carolina, you are no stranger to the challenges that can come with cell phone signals around here, or lack thereof should I say? Pretty Place is one of those places that can feel a bit like an adventure getting to it. In the 8 years we’ve been here, and the many times traveling back and forth to Pretty Place we remember most routes like the back of our hand now, but we can also tell you from experience, you will likely lose phone signal on the way there from a good distance out. What this means for you, be consistent with your directions and make sure all of your guests have the exact address or written directions. For convenience, they do have basic written directions on their website under the FAQs, link here.
Where things can get a little funky is directions looking different for different people depending on their mobile app of choice, google maps vs maps, or waze (to name a few). Heaven forbid your app cuts off in the middle of your route or your phone dies on the way there, or even if a different map app takes you visually to a different spot. These are all common things we’ve seen ourselves and heard of people experiencing when navigating to some of the more remote areas in WNC or that part of SC. Based on the experience of having seen it go smoothly, we find the easiest thing to do is have a transportation service hired to shuttle all of your guests. If that isn’t an option or you don’t want to do that, sometimes carpooling with designated drivers can be helpful, and at a minimum in our area, we recommend google maps as it seems to be the most accurate. Having a good transportation plan in place is going to help ensure everyone makes it, everyone makes it on time, and lastly that nobody gets lost. If you’re not sure where you’re going, it can be a very easy place to get lost, and as I’m sure many have experienced, if you miss a turn or go the wrong way while using GPS and the signal is gone, it won’t be able to adjust to correct your location, so take your time, have a plan, and have a plan for your guests.
Something super important to know for the quality of your images, you will almost always have a lighting situation at Pretty Place us photographers call backlighting. Now at Pretty Place, depending on the time of the day, it may not be directly backlit in the classic sense but with the ceremony taking place under a covered pavilion, where you’re standing and where the background is will be at two different exposures. With this, there are different techniques for shooting in this lighting situations, however not all photographers are going to be comfortable shooting in this situation or able to deliver a clean well lit image without blowing out the background or having a darker subjects. All this to say, make sure when hiring your photographer for your big day they are comfortable shooting in this lighting situation and ask to see some covered pavilion backlit ceremony examples to make sure they are delivering images in that situation that you like.
Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE the fact that Pretty Place has a bridal suite for bridal parties to get ready or just have a place to get tucked away when all of your guests arrive. Where the challenge can be and we’ve seen sometimes is with larger bridal parties. It’s a little tight and can feel too small quick. At most, we recommend getting dressed here, but we usually recommend our couples get an offsite spot for their getting ready photos if that’s something they value.
One of heads up we like to give our couples getting married at Pretty Place is be prepared for any kind of weather. Generally, Pretty Place is open during the months where the weather can be absolutely perfect, but this area can also get unexpected weather quickly. This could mean snow when it was supposed to warm up or a random warm day when you were expecting a cooler day. The most common thing we’ve seen are bride’s, bridesmaids, and guests struggling to stay warm when it’s a little cooler out. You could very well have a beautiful spring day in April, but we’ve also seen a snowstorm in mid April in the area. With that, it’s not a bad idea to bring a shaw for your ceremony, and a jacket for in between photos. Definitely let your guests know it’s a good idea to bring a jacket just in case.
Almost every couple we work with wants to take sunset photos! You can probably see where I’m going with this, imagine sunset at Pretty Place right!? The only challenge here is Pretty Place faces the opposite side of the sky. It’s not to say you can’t get a beautiful or vibrant sky, as oftentimes the sunset side is warm, but the cooler side of the sky can transform into beautiful blues and magentas. But, we are saying that technically you won’t get a sunset here. Why is that important? It’s more for the flow of the entirety of your day and what time you plan to have your ceremony as well as if you planned on doing golden hour/sunset photos. You may want to do the sunset photos at your venue vs stay there for sunset or scheduling your ceremony around sunset. You can get a beautiful sunrise here, but that’s not usually practical for a large traditional wedding.
Pound for pound, Pretty Place is one of our absolute favorite venues! It truly is an iconic spot that has continued to grow in popularity throughout the years. With it’s unique location, comes a few unique challenges that you won’t necessarily find in most basic wedding planning articles. We hope it helps you better prepare so you can avoid any issues on your big day! If you have more questions or were interested in learning more about Pretty Place, here’s a helpful link: