Our 11th anniversary weekend in Charleston

13 October 2023

We came home from last year’s 10th wedding anniversary trip to Mexico determined to get away at least once a year from now on, even if briefly. Though this year’s trip isn’t as spectacular as last year’s (11 doesn’t have quite the heft as 10 :)), I’d love to share a few photos and details from our weekend in Charleston, if you’d like to see!

The logistics of our anniversary weekend

Though I was pulling for a three-night stay, John’s preference for two nights – for cost considerations – won out. We woke the kids up at their normal time on Friday morning to say goodbye, and then left them in my parents’ capable hands to make the four-hour drive to Charleston. We stayed two nights and left around 10:30am on Sunday to head home.

Where we stayed in Charleston

We booked our hotel late last year. After much research, John chose The Charleston Place: we wanted to be centrally located, and it’s smack-dab in the middle of the downtown action. We considered a number of “trendier” hotels, including the Dewberry, the Vendue, and Zero George, but were surprised by how much more expensive they were than Charleston Place – which itself was already expensive! Charleston Place was absolutely wonderful, and we would definitely stay there again if we had the chance.

What we did on our weekend in Charleston

On Friday, we pulled into Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston, just in time for a later lunch. Since we have both been to Charleston a few times before, we thought it would be fun to explore a new-to-us area on this trip. We ate lunch at the Post House Inn, which is just adorable perfection with a Southern-meets-California vibe – I felt like we were on the set of a Nancy Meyer’s movie. The food was good, too :)

After lunch we strolled the neighborhoods, taking in the adorable and stately homes, and walked all the way out to the Pitt Street Bridge for a view of the marsh. We also may have stumbled upon a certain very famous influencer doing her influencer thing, husband behind the camera, while we walked, purely by chance. We gave them a wide berth and tried to act natural while we strolled past :)

It was about 3:30 when we got back to our car in the village center, and we stumbled across the most charming scene: school had just gotten out, and there were piles of bikes scattered in front of the local pharmacy, with kids of all ages inside sitting at the soda fountain counter, sipping milkshakes and buying penny candy. I was ready to move in to the neighborhood!

After getting our fix of village nostalgia, we drove over the bridge to Charleston proper and checked into our hotel. We had a later dinner reservation, so we got into our suits and took a dip in the rooftop pool, then changed for dinner and walked around the historic district and out to the Battery for a bit before heading to the restaurant. The weather was absolutely perfect, as it was for most of the weekend.

I took this pic to send to Lisa, since I was wearing my beloved Ella heels! Also fun: I’m wearing a dress I borrowed from Bethany in our ongoing clothing exchange :)

John chose both of our dinner reservations, and on Friday we ate at High Cotton. It is classic and steakhouse-adjacent, and definitely a place people go to celebrate occasions – the couple sitting two tables over was celebrating their anniversary, and then the couple that sat down at the table next to us later in the meal was also married on September 15th! The service was particularly friendly and excellent.

The next morning, after a brief kerfuffle over where to eat breakfast (more on that below), we walked over to a traveling exhibition of the artwork of the Sistine Chapel. We hadn’t planned to buy tickets – we didn’t know about it beforehand! – but had walked by the building the day before and thought it looked neat. And it was! We spent about an hour and a half listening to the audio guide, walking slowly around the space, and taking in the art before heading back into the sunshine.

From there, we popped into a few shops on King Street – Candlefish, Savanah Bee Company, Amanda Lindroth, Faherty. I wish we had had time to get to the other end of King, where Lake, Roller Rabbit, and a few other favorites are located, but maybe next time :)

We had had a late breakfast and had a late dinner planned, so mid-afternoon we picked up a few treats from Vivian Howard’s grab-and-go shop, Handy & Hot, then headed back to our hotel to read on the rooftop deck. We did read for a bit, and indulged in gourmet hot dogs that were grilling on the roof, but pretty quickly headed back out on the hotel’s complimentary bikes. We took them all over the historic district and out to the Battery and this was, unsurprisingly, one of my favorite parts of the weekend.

With an 8pm dinner reservation, we had plenty of time to get gussied up, walk over to the Dewberry Hotel, and take the elevator up to the Citrus Club. This is the Dewberry Hotel’s rooftop bar, and several people had recommended we grab a drink there (at sunset, if possible!).

Important to know: they do not take reservations. When we arrived at 6:45, they had one table left, and it was inside (there are only about 4 tables inside total). We gladly took it, especially because even with an inside table, you’re welcome to walk out to the rooftop deck. The view was spectacular – worth paying for the very expensive drinks :)

Dinner was at Charleston Place’s restaurant, Charleston Grill, and it was the epitome of fine dining. It was an incredible treat and we had a delicious and very special evening.

After two absolutely gorgeous days, we woke up to rain on Sunday. We ended up eating at Charleston Place’s more casual spot for breakfast, and while it was delicious and a really pretty space, I think if the weather had been nicer we would have ventured elsewhere – it was a little more than we would have preferred to pay for breakfast.

After that, we hopped in the car and headed home to our babies!

Now about that kerfuffle. A few friends had asked if we were planning to do any marriage-esque exercises on this trip. (If you recall, we had a full slate of questions to work through last year, which was really wonderful and added so much to our trip.) For year 11, we did not have any formal activities planned… but apparently God had an informal one planned (ha!).

Let’s set the scene. It’s Saturday morning, and we’re trying to decide where to eat breakfast. We both want bagel sandwiches. I am harboring a teensy bit of bubbling resentment for John booking our other meals unilaterally. (Which, I know! I should have been nothing but grateful that he chose such spectacular spots for us!) We decide to try one place, but see another coffee shop on the way there that looks super cute. We duck in, but there are a bunch of people there, it’s a small space, and it’s a little confusing what’s actually on the menu. We leave. We arrive at the original place. It is… unassuming, and I am not thrilled. Turns out they do not have bagel sandwiches. Now no one is thrilled, and everyone is hungry.

John suggests we go to Caviar & Bananas, a breakfast spot we’ve been to on many trips to Charleston before. We proceed to get in an argument about how what I value in vacation restaurants seems to get dismissed (me), and how I seem ungrateful and illogical (John, I can only assume). We huff along to C&B. We order bagels. We eat them. We make up and continue on with our vacation, and it is lovely.

On the car ride home, we listened to a sermon on James 4:1-12, called “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.” John cued it up, and I can only imagine this was not an accident, ha. It’s worth a listen, but for us, the upshot was that though we like to think that the reason we experience conflict is because of other people, really (according to James) the reason we experience conflict is because we are not getting something we want, something we feel entitled to. We feel that other person is keeping us from it.

James goes on to say that conflict points to the presence in our heart of two things that have nothing to do with the other person – idolatry, and a lack of trust in God. The key to overcoming the conflict is to humble yourself, admitting that your idolatrous desires are fanning the flames. The other person might be at fault, but the reason you’re raging and bitter is because your idolatrous heart has latched on to something other than God that you think is necessary for happiness.

Boom. We turned off the sermon, and both were able to name the things that we were coveting the previous morning – the things that we felt we were being kept from – that led to our argument. It’s not that what we desired was all bad, just that it was leading us to mistreat another person.

Anyway, I know those are some big Christian words (covet! idols!), and the sermon certainly put it more elegantly than I did, but it was sweet to see that God didn’t let us finish our weekend without healing the sore spot. And though we didn’t necessarily set out to learn a new truth about relationships, He had something else in mind.

There’s never a dull day in marriage, am I right? :) Thank you, as always, for coming along for the ride!

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October 13, 2023 7:43 am

We are newbies to marriage with only 2.5 years under our belt, but this was so relatable I just had to comment. I’m thankful that we aren’t the only ones who get in tiffs (even in the best of circumstances like vacation!) but that we can also relate to experiencing grace & resolution from the Lord and our spouse. I was nodding my head reading the whole story, thanks for sharing!!

Kelly Strawberry
October 13, 2023 9:25 am

This reminded me of a marital tiff we had in Denver this July. I was pregnant, it was hot, we had walked for miles, Brian was grumpy, and we both needed food asap. I picked the first restaurant we approached after all the walking….Tupelo Honey. We had never been, but Brian felt the need to make a snarky comment that the restaurant I picked was a chain and the original is in Raleigh!!! LOL!!! Funny now, but in the moment it led to arguing and then the ever-familiar silent treatment, but by the end of the meal, we agreed it was our best dining experience of the entire trip!
Low expectations always, am I right?! :)

October 13, 2023 10:22 am

I say if you haven’t argued with your spouse on a vacation, are you actually even married? Haha I could write a book about the stuff we’ve learned from our vacation kerfuffles. From me screaming at my husband in Canada before we accidentally hiked up a mountain without water or food, surrounded by mini avalanches taking place, to the infamous Kyoto argument after getting lost for 2 hours (only to realize we were just 1 mile away from our hotel lol). Oh, life.

Kristen M
October 13, 2023 12:31 pm

Hangry vacation vibes are always 100% the worst – this has totally happened to my husband and I (and I much more embarrassingly must admit – me and my kids!) Being out of routine lends itself to mealtimes being off and I think that’s why it’s so much more likely to happen! My husband and I have a phrase we totally got from The Office episode where Jim and Pam start counseling together – “To speak my truth…” and it’s actually a really useful (and slightly jokey) way to say to the other – I’m not blaming you but I need to share how I feel about this situation that happened. And it’s a very helpful tool!
This looks like a lovely weekend – Charleston is never a disappointment!

October 13, 2023 1:03 pm

Our church just finished a sermon series on James and dang it if it didn’t punch me in the gut over my own selfishness every single week 😂 also, what did you think of Handy & Hot? There is one in Durham I’ve been wanting to try!

October 14, 2023 9:21 pm

Such a precious Anniversary gift from God to finish with life brought from his Word for your moment. Thank you for sharing this :) Vacation tainted by conflict is something I’ve experienced multiple times- our10th Anniversary had one of our biggest conflicts ever!

Our women’s group is about to study James – I’ll listen along to this series, thanks for the head’s up!!

October 18, 2023 12:56 pm

You look really good in bright pink! It even gave you a light tan