An unusual venue

As much as anything else, choosing The Riviera Theater as our wedding venue put our planning into motion. The theater met all of our criteria. We wanted to be inside to avoid that thick Charleston heat (ultimately the wedding day was a beautiful 85 degrees). We wanted the ceremony and reception in the same place to make it easier for out-of-town guests. And most of all, we wanted a unique setting in which to be married.

Built as a movie house in the Art Deco style in 1939, but more recently used as an event and conference center, The Riviera far surpassed other options. That's saying something. Because we had also consider interesting venues like the South Carolina Aquarium and Hibernian Hall.

We ran into the Riviera fairly late in the process after looking at venues including historic homes and the Daniel Island Country Club. But it was obviously the place to be. From its magnificent facade, we entered into a marble entryway featuring historic glasswork and other little touches that show the craftsmanship of the era. We liked the theater-style ceremony area, which has a curtain backdrop that hides the reception ballroom. Murals in the ballroom really sold us on the venue, and later inspired much of our decor.

One perk that we were lucky to take advantage of with the (relatively) cool temperature was the rooftop terrace. After the ceremony, as seen in the top photo, we exited directly to the outside where our wedding party and family joined us for post-ceremony photos. We enjoyed the view overlooking historic King Street and later returned for more photos at sunset.

During the ceremony many guests were left wondering where we'd host the reception. While they enjoyed cocktail hour in the downstairs lobby, the Riviera performed its quick transformation: By simply pulling the theater curtain, which served as the ceremony backdrop, it revealed the connected ballroom.

We didn't spend a lot of time looking at the Riviera marquee, but when we did, it made for special moments. First, as we gathered for the rehearsal, a man with a long pole and a pile of heavy metal letters worked to arrange our names for all passers-by to see. We got some great photos of that process. Second, the marquee really came to life at night -- we'd never seen it illuminated -- and made for an exciting setting for our exit into a black cab.

The theater provided many interesting backdrops for photo opportunities. In the one above, we took advantage of the theater's original seats for an image with the entire wedding party.

We could not have been happier in another venue, and even a year later we still hear from guests who reminisce with us about how great the theater was for a wedding.

To read about the theater's history and see more photos, visit this Riviera Theater history page.

Side note: Less than a month after our wedding, we adopted a bullmastiff from the local animal shelter. We named her Riviera.

All photos taken by Liz Duren.