Today’s travel pick is from one of our favorite photographers, Donna Von Bruening. She travels the world shooting weddings but specializes in the place she calls home: The South. Here is the romantic resort she frequents in her down time. It’s one our our favorites, too, especially for destination weddings!
“My job as a Savannah-based destination wedding photographer takes to me to finest resorts across the South but one in particular owns my heart: Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, SC. Not only do I work there often, shooting gorgeous destination weddings, but it’s one of the few places I return to regularly as a guest. What keeps me coming back? The world seems to slide away as I enter the main gate and roll down the 4-mile drive, passing tidal creeks, salt marshes and a parade of centurion Live oaks before I reach Wilson Village, which faces the May River.
The village is centered around the remnants of a 1912 mansion once owned by Richard Wilson, Jr, the stone columns and staircase now serving as a permanent reminder of a life well-lived. (They also make an amazing backdrop for wedding photo shoots.)
Gaslamp-lit brick roads connect the chapel, Buffalo’s Café and the post office with River House, the gathering point and reception area for the Inn at Palmetto Bluff.
By the river sits a Shaker-style chapel, which is popular for destination weddings —that’s why I work here so often!
Spanning 20,000 acres, Palmetto Bluff expertly balances development with preserved wild landscape, giving you room to breathe and recharge. There are private residences for rent but we love to stay in the Inn’s cottages. Inside, the décor is casual, yet refined Lowcountry luxury: whitewashed paneling, wide-plank wood floors, vaulted ceilings with fans, a gas fireplace, separate dressing area, expansive marble bathroom and the best rain shower and steam room on earth, I swear. I always request a cottage along the May River so I can watch the tides change.
My husband and I have celebrated three anniversaries here, and while our time is about leisure and reconnecting, there are bikes, binoculars and wildlife guidebooks at each cottage gently encouraging exploration via miles of bike trails or smaller tributaries off the May River. In the afternoons, we mosey over to the River House for a Southern pastime called “porchin”: Basically, we plop on an overstuffed couch or sway in a rocker enjoying the homemade cookies and lemonade. The lawn fire pit works well for this too.
Dining at PB is a nod to the rivers leading to its shores. We always order local shrimp or oysters in season, and love the homemade chips and onion dip at Buffalo’s. But for a romantic dinner, we enjoy The River House. One stormy evening, I mentioned to the waiter how much I love the rain. After a few minutes, he asked us to move tables. To our surprise, he arranged for a private candle-lit table on the porch so we could watch the storm roll in off the river. It was divine!
When the sky is clear, we always end a perfect dinner around the fire pits with some s’mores and our favorite sipping bourbon, Blantons.
Palmetto Bluff lets us get lost in river life and reconnect with each another. That to me, in a word, is perfection.”
They also do amazing destination weddings at Palmetto Bluff. Need proof? Ask these two!