New venues are going strong in Manning

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Two new venues, The Drayton House and Charleston’s Place, opened in Manning in 2017, giving residents new and elegant choices for parties, weddings and more. With their first wedding in March of 2017, the venue has been hosting events since that time, taking part in the joys of Clarendon County lives. Charles Hodge, along with his two sons, Troy and Brandon and Brandon’s wife, Michelle, purchased an almost-200-year-old home from the Drayton family 20 years ago. Over time, they have renovated, turning the stately manor into an elegant venue full of irreplaceable antiques. “We’re actually having a wedding there in December for the daughter of one of the Drayton family descendants,” said Michelle Hodge, who manages the business and books the events. “They came in, and they were just blown away, because it doesn’t look anything like it used to. We did a lot of work.” The manor house boasts a bridal suite upstairs, a grooms’ room downstairs and a fully functional kitchen for preparing food. When the venue is booked for an event, the house is included, not just the grounds. “We had a wedding here this past Saturday,” said Hodge. “The girl got married on the front lawn. They had tent to the right, with the tables and dance floor and bar and D.J. In the house, it was more formal, and they had the cake and all the food. Basically, the party was outside, and the formal gathering was inside.” Hodge asserts they can—and have—perform wedding planner duties, although this is not mandatory. They also keep lists of wedding and party service providers, such as caterers and florists, as a convenience for those who may not yet have chosen providers. “I give people a list, and they choose who they want to work with,” said Hodge. “People no longer have to go out of town to get married in an elegant setting.” Hodge has help to keep the place looking elegant and fresh. She depends on her mother, Christine Coker, to decorate and stage the home for various holidays and events. Coker was integral to the renovation process as well. With a 40-foot-by-60-foot tent available to rent, with tables and chairs included, the three-acre lawn can host large parties including weddings, birthday parties and corporate events. The Drayton House itself is spacious enough to allow for parties of up to 300 people for balls, cotillions, weddings and parties, all in the center of downtown Manning. The Hodge family continues to renovate The Drayton House, as there is one last step to be taken. The current ballroom is long and narrow, and the family plans to complete a grand ballroom, which will be more spacious. The Drayton House is not the Hodges’ only venue, however. Adjoining the property to The Drayton House is Charleston’s Place. Originally built as a boutique, the building stood empty for a time after the boutique moved out. The family held Hodge’s daughter’s birthday party in the building and realized it was perfect as another event venue. Named after eight-year-old Charleston Hodge, as it was her birthday party which sparked the idea, the event hall is unfurnished except for tables and chairs. With hardwood floors and elegant chandeliers throughout, the event hall can be booked for Christmas parties, birthday parties, reunions, engagement parties, bridal showers and other social gatherings. Although it does not have a full kitchen, Charleston’s Place does have a warming kitchen to keep catered food warm until served. A smaller venue, Charleston’s Place will hold 80 seated guests or 100-120 if a more casual social gathering. “I love the excitement and adrenaline of the weddings, and I love to decorate,” said Hodge. “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work.” “I love sharing in everyone’s happiness,” said Coker. To book The Drayton House, located at 304 S Brooks Street, or Charleston’s Place, located at 316 S Mill Street, contact Michelle Hodge at (803) 491-4914.

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