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  • Darry Matthews

Our Anniversary Vacation in Charleston, South Carolina


At the end of January, we celebrated our fifth anniversary by taking a long weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina. We realize it was a few weeks ago, but better late blogging than never right? ;-) Anyways, this trip was absolutely PERFECT. The sights, the sun, and most of all this: spending time with each other.

We left the chilly Shenandoah Valley on a Friday afternoon and headed south. As it was late, we grabbed a hotel for the night in Charlotte; which also gave us an excuse to drop in at Amelie’s French Bakery. This eccentric cafe was one of our favorite places to frequent when we lived in North Carolina. Guys, everything there is sublime! From the cappuccinos to their macarons that just melt in your mouth, it’s always worth standing in the crazy long lines for a chance to order.

After splurging at the bakery, we drove the last 2 hours of the journey and finally arrived in historic Charleston. We were greeted by the most delightful temperatures and were instantly charmed by the GREEN trees with sweeping Spanish Moss. It was love at first sight. Who wouldn't fall in love with this charming city?

We rented a house Saturday and Sunday, choosing to have a blend of scheduled plans and flexibility. One thing we like to do when we travel to a new city is getting on Trip Advisor and book a guided walking tour. We find that you get a good grasp on the area especially if it's just a weekend trip. We spent much of our time walking through alleys, taking in the cobblestone streets, Rainbow Row, and Longitude Lane. Hearing the history of this southern city from locals added so much life to what we saw and helped us know how to plan the rest of our vacation.

Charleston was indeed a unique place. With its pastel architecture and stately trees, it looked like it came straight out of a storybook. Every home had its particular charm and we couldn't help but take pictures of every nook and cranny.

Of course, Marlene can’t travel anywhere without trying out the local coffee. We wouldn’t say she’s a coffee snob, and she’s not a caffeine addict, but she was just aching for the chance to sample a locally roasted brew. While on the way to visit Angel Oak tree, we discovered that Muddy Waters Coffee Bar was in route. We gave it a try, and the place was an instant favorite. They had a drink on their menu that Marlene wanted to try for TWO YEARS! The lavender honey latte.

She ordered.

She sipped.

She LOVED it! It was like a bucket list dream come true!

Not only was the coffee scene fantastic, but the food was too! We fully intended just to eat local, southern cuisine the whole time there, but instead, we came upon some lovely little shops whose aromas stole hearts! One unique place was the tiniest cafe called Callie's Hot Little Biscuit.

It was built in what was formerly a narrow alley. When we say narrow, we mean it. The building was probably 10ft wide and 100ft long. The manager told us about the history of the eatery as she kneaded biscuit dough BY HAND. She explained how they only had enough space to stock a week's worth of supplies, and the waiting area was risky at best, but those little biscuits were worth the hassle! Darryl opted for a biscuit topped with egg, bacon, green onion, and cheddar cheese while Marlene got a three pack mini biscuit sampler. The manager was right! So, so worth it!

Then there was the gourmet donut shop serving up delicious pastries including a blackberry & honeycomb donut with the name “Honey I’m home.” It’s the perfect name for a perfect donut! Our favorite dinner spot was this tiny and unassuming hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. A place we will always remember. Since we moved from North Carolina to Virginia, it has been hard to find good Mexican food. This place was exactly what we had wished for. Every. Single. Bite. Was. Perfection! It was so good that we went two nights in a row!

Now you are probably thinking," it sounds like all they did is eat and drink coffee." Well, that's not entirely true. ;-) Another thing we did was reach out to local photographers through a photography Facebook group. It's been WAY too long since we've had pictures taken of us. Darryl always likes to quote the old saying, "the Cobbler's children don't have shoes." So we decided to change this and offered to trade sessions with a local photographer.

Then Grace Paul reached out to us. She was terribly excited to trade sessions, and it worked out to have them at Magnolia Plantation. Grace is not only a great photographer, but is also a wife and a fantastic mother to three energetic little boys. We had to put all our energies to use when we pulled out our cameras. We were amused by how Britton & Cooper’s quick little feet were always ready to find the nearest puddle. Our admiration went to whole new heights seeing her skillfully be both photographer and mother!

Grace and Ty, we loved this session with you guys! You guys have the most adorable little family, and baby Oliver’s smiles completely stole our hearts. Grace, your eye for composition is incredible, and it was an honor to meet you! We can’t wait until our next visit down to have an opportunity to hang out with you and chat over coffee!

Now it was our turn to be in front of the lens. Has it really been five years since we had portraits done? This circa 1676 plantation was the perfect place to break this trend! This plantation truly embodies the southern charm of Charleston. We felt so privileged to have lovely portraits captured at this picturesque place.

All in all, this getaway was our best anniversary trip yet. It couldn't have come at a better time, and it was so nice (and needed) to connect with each other without distractions. It's so refreshing to get away with those you love and REST. We left lots of cares in our inboxes, which gave us the chance to recharge and come back ready to take life by the horns.

We may have gone a little overboard with the photos, but this place is a photographer's paradise! Here's a look at Charleston, South Carolina


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We are Marlene and Darryl, a travel obsessed, Home Goods loving couple that photographs joyful brides in Virginia and beyond. Thanks for stopping by!

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Marlene and Darryl are wedding and portrait photographers based in Harrisonburg, VA.

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