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Welcome to Charleston’s Wedding Quarter

Photographs by Thomas Leger & Sarah Knowlton

October 4, 2010

Welcome to Charleston’s Wedding Quarter

We visit with the dressy gals at Maddison Row about life in the nuptial neighborhood

Loop around Cannon, Spring, King, and President streets downtown and you’ll spot sweet signs hanging from the front porches of fresh-faced old homes and painted across chic new construction business window fronts, too. The signs belong to the nearly 20-some wedding-related businesses have set up shop in the area in the past few years: first Tiger Lily florist, then event planners Kristin Newman Designs and W.E.D., then sweetsmiths Sugar Bakeshop, then couture wedding gown purveyors Maddison Row in August 2008. Since those first few opened their doors, a flood of other bridal biz folks have followed suit and the neighborhood has experienced a charming revitalization thanks to shop owners who have caught the attention of everyone from the New York Times to Southern Living to Vogue and all the top national bridal mags, blogs, and sites as well. We asked the dressy gals from Maddison Row—founded by Laura Kirkman Pelzer, recently sold to Brenda Spadoni-Urquhart, and now managed by longtime wedding pro Lindsey Nowak—to tell us about life in their nuptial neighborhood.

Charleston Weddings: Why did you move the shop from Ansonborough Spring Street?
Laura Kirkman Pelzer, founder and former owner of Maddison Row: I really needed to move because of space and the next goal was to not be on King Street. (Tourist activity is disruptive to a specialty, appointment-based business. When you have an appointment and lock the doors, it turns people off and if they are unlocked and people come in, they are distracting to the person with the appointment.) So I was drawn to the Spring-Cannon area because it wasn’t on King but was close to it, was near several planners I worked with through my brides, and the neighborhood included established restaurants like Hominy Grill and Lana—it’s always good to have those nearby because brides like to have brunch or lunch! I also fell in love with the opportunity to have an old, traditional but new corner space as an anchor store to the wedding district. Last? I liked being a part of the changeover in the neighborhood.  

CW: What do you think attracted so many businesses to the area?
Lindsey Nowak, manager of Maddison Row: Lots of reasons! Being a bit “off the beaten path” has a big appeal. And everyone has a quaint space, so nothing is huge or overwhelming. Also, everyone is focused on their one profession; everyone specializes in something different so you literally can spend your entire day over here and have your wedding planned by the end of it.

CW: What makes the area so ideal for brides?
LN: We all work together to support and encourage each other. I can have a bride in here for her appointment and she mentions she hasn’t started working on her save-the-dates yet. I can call Ami from mac & murphy and tell them a little bit about her and they can see her after she leaves here. We also are lucky enough to have Anne Bowen of stems bring flower arrangements to the store so I send brides to her. On occasion, especially during trunk show events, we have delicious goodies from WildFlour or Sugar so girls stop by there as well.

CW: What’s the best part about being in the Wedding Quarter?
LN: I love the relationships that we have with the businesses over here. We are in a very specific industry and everyone really has the same vision or goal of making the brides’ experience unforgettable; in whether it be a flower consult, cake tasting and proofing of her invitations we all want the brides to feel special and appreciated.

CW: Cannon and Spring are major thoroughfares in town…how does that help exposure?
LN: It helps expose us to clients that might not know we are here. I have a ton of people call and schedule appointments because they stop at the light at the Spring and President streets intersection and look into the windows where we have our dresses displayed. When we change the gowns out I know we’ve got a “winner” when I get phone calls, honks, and thumbs up when I look up from my desk. Our location is our best advertising.

CW: Where do you stop in in the area?
LN: Everywhere! We love Wildflour and I am a sucker for Sugar’s lemon cupcakes so I stop by there often. I get all of my stationery, thank-you cards, and birthday cards from mac & murphy, Anne from stems is so amazing with flowers, I use her as much as I can. Todd from A Technical Event Company orders and changes all of the light fixtures in the store for us and helps us get the lighting just right to show off the dresses at night. I have lunch at Lana and run upstairs to say, “Hi,” to Newman and Morgan at Kristin Newman, we order lunch from Black Bean Company about twice a week… I love everyone over here!

CW: Any good stories about your neighbors?
LN: When we had boys living in the apartment above us, our brides would leave after their appointments, and I did hear the guys upstairs congratulate them on their engagements and ask if they found their dress. It was kind of cute—three college boys congratulating a bride is rare—but that’s why I love this area so much.

Want More Wedding Quarter?
• Find a map and a list of Wedding Quarter businesses here.
• Read tips from an area planner—Calder Clark Designs’ Calder Clark—on creating kids’ tables at weddings here. And see a stunning wedding she spearheaded here.
• Last, be sure to check out the simple kids wedding crafts that area stationers mac & murphy dreamed up here.


Tue, 10/05/2010