Interested in a Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel? Here’s our top planning tips to have your big day in this amazing location!
Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel
Pretty Place (a.k.a. Symmes Chapel) is a beautiful chapel located in the mountains of South Carolina. The chapel was gifted by Fred W. Symmes to YMCA Camp Greenville, and sits atop the spot known as Pretty Place with beautiful 180 deg views of the mountains towards the east.
The chapel is a one of a kind place, different from a typical mountain overlook one might find across the southeast mountains. It offers a beautiful mountain view with a touch of practicality! If you love the idea of eloping or having a small wedding at an overlook but would like the convenience of a covered space, seating, ample parking, and restrooms; a Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel might be a great match for you!
Choosing a Pretty Place wedding at Symmes Chapel comes down to many different decisions, and we’re here to help!
We aren’t like typical wedding photographers who just capture your day. Our specialty is in helping you plan your entire wedding day & to help coordinate things on the day-of as well. Just a few things we help you with that you might not have thought about yet:
- What are the best times of day to have your wedding ceremony?
- What compromises might come into play when inviting lots of guests?
- Where will people stay? Are there nearby options?
- How far is the drive for reception options?
Planning a wedding at Pretty Place is quite different than at a traditional wedding venue, which is why we’ve written this guide for you. Below are some of our top tips for planning your Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel!
Can you get married at Pretty Place South Carolina?
Yes! You’ve probably figured this out already, but just to be clear that you definitely can get married at Pretty Place South Carolina! While it is private property, the great people at YMCA Greenville do allow weddings at Symmes Chapel. Recognizing that this is a meaningful and spiritual location for many people, we are grateful that they allow for ceremonies. Read on for more important details like how to reserve your date, cost and more!
Pretty Place / Symmes Chapel | Best for Small Weddings and Elopements
In our opinion, a Pretty Place Wedding is a best fit for a “just us” elopement or an intimate wedding with a few guests. When your group size is small, you have a variety of options nearby for lodging and a reception (beautiful Airbnbs for example!). Once your group is above about 15 in total, then logistics come into play that may or may not be agreeable to your guests. The closest city with the most options for larger groups is Greenville, SC. It’s not that far away, but just over an hour of driving with 30 minutes of twists and turns up the mountain to reach Pretty Place. That means 2 hours of driving for you and your guests to/from Pretty Place if you’re staying in Greenville.
Where to have a small wedding / elopement reception
For group sizes around 15, we love recommending to our couples large rental homes nearby and/or restaurants in and around Brevard, Hendersonville, and Greenville, SC!
Example small wedding timeline
- Getting ready at a cozy Airbnb cabin near Cedar Mountain, Pisgah Forest, or Brevard
- First look at the cabin
- Arrive at Pretty Place; Bride and Groom hidden away separately while guests are seated
- Ceremony at Symmes Chapel
- Guests leave for reception location; Bride and Groom stay for more photos together
- On the way to the reception, more photos together at a waterfall or other mountain view spots
- Reception at a larger Airbnb (rented by the rest of the family) with a private chef; or reception at a private room at a restaurant in Brevard
Just a quick note here — the standard time slot for a wedding reservation at Pretty Place is 2 hours. When making your reservation it’s important to know if this is enough, and that’s where we come in! We help you craft the plans for your whole day, to then decide on what amount of time you need at Pretty Place. Two hours will go by very, very fast and it’s important to book enough time so you aren’t feeling rushed on your wedding day!
Can you have a big wedding at Pretty Place / Symmes Chapel?
Yes! Symmes Chapel capacity is stated to be around 350-400 people; practically around 100 max in our opinion. However, as we mentioned earlier it is super important to be aware of the logistics of having a Pretty Place wedding with a large group.
For example, traditional weddings tend to have the ceremony and reception all at one place, or a wedding at a church with a reception location nearby, a few minutes away. This is a typical expectation of guests (to have a convenient wedding for them, in all honesty). If you are in love with Pretty Place for your day then it’s important to have a conversation with at least some of the guests you intend to invite (especially family). You don’t want to have the additional stress of guests complaining about the drive or distance to/from the Chapel.
Practically speaking, you will need to allow for at least an hour drive, both to / from Greenville, SC (for example) to have viable reception options for large groups. That is two hours out of your day that not only you but your guests as well will be in the car. We don’t mention this to dissuade you from having a Pretty Place wedding, but just for you to be informed of the logistics involved!
Top Planning tips | Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel
Which season is best?
It might seem that “everyone” wants to get married in the fall; after all there is nothing quite like gorgeous autumn colors as your wedding day backdrop! One might think this is the best time to have a Pretty Place wedding. However there are pros/cons to each season – here is our take on each one!
- Spring: This is a great time to be at Pretty Place if you want to have milder weather than winter and also want to be away from peak season tourist traffic. Pretty Place is on top of a mountain but at a relatively low elevation, so you’ll see the first hints of spring in the valleys below. This is a good time of the year to book lodging and reception options south of Pretty Place (like around Traveler’s Rest and Greenville) since these areas will green up and bloom first!
- Summer: Our favorite time of the year to be in the mountains! While it may be hot down in the Greenville area, the air will be milder at Pretty Place. However, we would avoid times towards mid-day for a ceremony or photography as the sun will be high overhead and cast unflattering shadows. This is also a perfect time to visit a nearby waterfall for photos together as well!
- Fall: Definitely an awesome time of the year with crisp mornings, mild afternoons, and all the amazing color. Keep in mind though — many others are thinking the same thing! More about the pros/cons of a fall Pretty Place wedding below!
- Winter: Pretty Place is on a low elevation mountain just north of Greenville, SC so winter weather is typically not as drastic as the higher mountains in NC. There may be some snow to deal with but we feel like this is a great winter option as far as mountain locations go! An added bonus is that the days are shorter, so if you want that epic sunrise look you’re not getting up as early as in the summer.
Weekday or Weekend?
When planning a small wedding for our couples we always recommend a weekday if possible. You’ll have the most availability of wedding vendors, there will be less of the visiting public around on your wedding day, and the chapel itself costs less to reserve during the week as well.
However the great thing about a Pretty Place wedding is that you can reserve Symmes Chapel for a private event. So even on a weekend you can have some expectation of privacy for your ceremony.
Sunrise or Sunset?
Facing towards the east, Pretty Place has the best views of the sun at sunrise. There is nothing like catching the rising light as a new day dawns, just as you are exchanging vows!
However, there is the obvious question about sunrise – are you willing to get up at around 2am to get ready and then arrive at Symmes Chapel to be exactly on time for sunrise? Do you think your guests will also?
An alternative time is sunset; the mountains in the background will light up similar to an Alpenglow at the end of the day, and you’ll still have a gorgeous backdrop. There’s also less people visiting at the end of the day, and a better chance of booking Symmes Chapel with late notice. Or yet another idea is to have a late afternoon ceremony and then venture out to another spot which has a great sunset view for photos together (we know many of course!)
Either sunrise or sunset or anything in between, it’s important that your photographer knows how to capture you in all situations! Pretty Place can be a challenging place to take photos for the inexperienced, as you are essentially in the shade of the chapel with bright light in the background. You’ve come all this way to experience the amazing backdrop; you’ll want to make sure that your photographer can capture you in this beautiful setting and not have the landscape “washed out.”
Do you need a reservation for a Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel?
For any wedding ceremony, YMCA Greenville requires a reservation. Please don’t try to have a small, quick elopement or small ceremony here without booking a time. The upkeep of the Chapel takes resources and support; besides, it’s practically impossible to have the chapel to yourself without a reservation.
Symmes Chapel Wedding Cost
For the most up to date info, check out the YMCA Greenville website, but the pricing ranges from about $2000-$3000 (weekday vs weekend) for a two hour time block; you can also add on hours as well.
If you want to elope in October
Be very careful with expectations for your wedding day if you choose October. Especially for an October weekend, even booking a private event at Symmes Chapel, you’ll need to be ok with the possibility of others being close by to your ceremony. If your time block is the first of the day you should be the only ones there but then in all likelihood you’ll have people showing up a bit early for the next time block. It’s just a fact that October has tourists all over the mountains.
Traffic can be heavy, so getting anywhere will take more time. Also – plan far ahead (like at least year in advance) as lodging, vendors and everything you would need for your wedding will book up quickly for this peak season. YMCA Greenville takes reservations for the next year as early as February of the current year and Pretty Place books up quickly!
Hire the right help
Speaking of hiring vendors, the number one priority should be hiring a photographer that has experience in the outdoor setting of Pretty Place / Symmes Chapel. A close second is hiring someone that can help you with the planning details too. Why do we say that?
Planning a Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel is not like booking a traditional wedding venue. YMCA Greenville is very responsive as far as securing your date on their calendar – but all the remaining details will be entirely up to you. There is no “venue coordinator” to help with your day or people to contact on their side for wedding planning. You will need an experienced advocate who can make sure everything is taken care of on your day!
Deciding on planning details like what time of day for your ceremony, what you need to bring, vendors that will travel to the chapel or to your Airbnb (and also help finding that Airbnb / lodging), how to work around other wedding parties or visitors that might be there before / after your ceremony, best reception spots nearby — these are just some of the details to handle. You already have so many things to deal with for wedding planning, so it’s best to hire the right people to help you through the whole process.
Of course, handling all the planning and coordination details for small weddings is what we specialize in, so please reach out to us and we would be happy to help!
Timeline Advice — especially for sunrise!
You might see the typical advice for a morning ceremony to have your vow exchange right at sunrise. We totally get it, as it’s quite poetic to have the sun come right over the horizon just as your ceremony starts.
However we’d like to offer an alternate idea — if you like the idea of a first look, time that for sunrise and then have your ceremony time slightly after sunrise!
We always lean towards a timeline that gives you some private time with each other both before and after your ceremony. With a first look, we like having the bride and groom arrive at the chapel before the guests have arrived, and to arrange the first look at sunrise. Both inside and just outside the chapel are great spots for photos together and you can really take advantage of this time to have swoon worthy photos at sunrise!
Then just later, with the sun a little higher above the horizon, the chapel seats “light up” from the glow of the sun. In our opinion this is the best time for your ceremony with all your guests!
Where and How to Reserve your Date
If you do end up choosing to DIY a Pretty Place wedding at Symmes Chapel (although we would not recommend planning things on your own) you’ll need to contact YMCA Greenville and make sure you understand all the details for your wedding day there. Their policies change from time to time, and you don’t want to be caught by surprise with your plans.
For more info about booking a time block at Pretty Place for your wedding, here are some useful links below:
Get your marriage license for the correct state
Don’t forget you will need a South Carolina marriage license. Check out our blog post on How to get married in SC or NC for more info!
Nearby Photo Locations | Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel
Where to catch Sunset
Another fun way to structure your day if sunrise isn’t a viable option, is to have your ceremony at Pretty Place and then venture out together to another mountain top with a great sunset view. We know all the best ones in the area of course!
We love taking couples to waterfalls, especially after a summer sunrise elopement! Either on the SC side or NC side, we have the best places cataloged which are only a short hike. Some are locals secrets which can be super private. After sunrise is a great time to have a picnic too!
Mountains and waterfalls are nearby but also other hidden gems as well. Why not have a little adventure on your wedding day, for just the two of you?
Where to stay nearby
Great Airbnbs for an elopement or small wedding at Pretty Place
For a Pretty Place wedding at Symmes Chapel, if your group is small (less than 15 people) then we’d highly recommend an Airbnb in Cedar Mountain, Brevard or Pisgah Forest. We are Airbnb hosts ourselves and maintain a list of recommended properties / hosts that our couples have had a great experience with! Some of our favorites below:
Lodging options for larger groups
For larger groups you’ll most likely need to secure lodging in Greenville, SC; also Brevard and Hendersonville can work too. Remember that it’s about an hour one way from any of these places (half of that on twisty mountain roads) so your guests will need to be aware of that! Some recommendations below on where to stay:
Ready to plan your Pretty Place Wedding at Symmes Chapel? We are here to help!
Even for a small, intimate wedding experience or an elopement for two, there are LOTS of details to handle for your big day. Why not take that stress off of your shoulders entirely? If you are ready to create an amazing day in the mountains, reach out to us today. We would love to help!
Mark & Carolyn