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Columbia Business Monthly

Confluence Aims to Bring New Luxury Wedding Venue to Charleston’s North Area

Aug 23, 2023 04:29PM ● By David Caraviello

Right now, it’s just a tract of land off Interstate 26 near Ridgeville, but in her mind’s eye Pauletoria Waltz can see the potential. There’s the 10,000-square-foot building with marble floors, chandeliers, and a grand staircase; a bridal suite, groom’s quarters and warming kitchen; tables and chairs set out for over 300 guests; and all of it on 10 landscaped acres that can be used for an outdoor wedding ceremony. Getting from idea to reality, though, requires managing $3.9 million in start-up costs.

“I’m used to big numbers — that $3.9 million doesn’t scare me,” said Waltz, who for 16 years has worked as a project manager for the Department of Defense. “It does make me swallow a little differently, because it’s my money, and not Congress’. So, there’s definitely a different mindset there. But from a managerial perspective, I know I can handle it. And I know what this event center can do.”

Called Confluence, the proposed luxury wedding venue in Charleston’s North Area is the vision of Waltz, a Pineville native and The Citadel graduate who for years has used her project management skills to help plan weddings for friends and family members. Confluence is her effort to place all that knowledge under one roof — and toward that end, Waltz has entered the $30K Power Up competition hosted by Integrated Media Publishing and Erik Weir.

“There are a lot of event centers in the Lowcountry, but there is still a niche that hasn’t been tapped into,” said Waltz, now a Goose Creek resident. “I wanted to focus more on the Charleston area outside the city limits — Summerville, Moncks Corner, Ridgeville, Nexton — where there is still a need for something like this. Downtown is running out of real estate, and everything is heading the other way, and I want to be ahead of that wave. They’re building houses like crazy in this area, so why should you have to drive 40 minutes to have a decent party?”

‘People have been asking for it’

According to Waltz, who organized Confluence into a limited liability company in April of 2023, all of the Charleston-area wedding venues capable of handling over 300 guests are on or near the downtown peninsula, such as the Gaillard Center or Charleston Place Hotel. A venue like Confluence would be a first for the North Area, Waltz added — and she believes the demand for it is ready and waiting.

“I am not at all worried about whether people are going to use it or not. Because people have been asking for it,” she said. “I am in a closed network with a lot of event planners and decorators, and every day they have destination brides coming in, and they’re asking for this, and it’s not here. So, from a marketing point of view, I’m not worried about its success. I know what our area needs, and I know I’m capable of giving them that.”

But first, those $3.9 million in start-up costs. Waltz said she’s found the parcel of land near Ridgeville that she wants to buy, but she needs the seller to be patient as she works through the loan process with the U.S. Small Business Administration. According to Waltz’s business plan, the land would cost $540,000, and construction of the venue $3 million. Tables, chairs, and linens would cost $40,000, and three months of overhead expenses (such as payroll, mortgage and utilities) would run $32,000.

Waltz believes demand for the facility would allow Confluence to be profitable in its first year of operation, which she hopes is 2025. Rates for a weekend wedding with 350 guests would run roughly $8,000, she said, with weekday weddings costing $3,000.

“Right now, I’m basing my numbers off no more than four to six days booked every month for the entire year,” Waltz said. “And even at six dates per month, at $8,000 per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I’m still breaking even. I’m looking at about a $30,000 per month mortgage payment, and SBA rates are about 6.5 percent at the moment, so I’m never going to be in the hole.”

$1 million in revenue by 2027?

Waltz’s figures show Confluence’s total revenue climbing from $717,000 in 2025 to $1.075 million in 2027, and net income increasing from $180,666 to $520,969 over that same span. She is open to taking on investors, as well as offering naming rights to parts of the venue. She envisions a small management team of an event coordinator, a venue manager, and herself.

Right now, everything hinges on Waltz’s SBA loan coming through in time to buy the land. Once that is completed, “I plan on giving my contractor that first down payment so they can start,” she added. “I am not worried about the logistics behind all of this. Because I know I have done all of my due diligence to get the process started.”

Waltz said that any winnings from the $30K Power Up competition — in which the top finisher will claim $15,000, while second place earns $10,000 and third place $5,000 — would go to offset Confluence’s startup costs. And she hopes her final product will offer brides an alternative to hotels and country clubs which can have limited office hours, and often don’t allow events like wedding receptions to be booked online.

“I want to be able to cater to the out-of-state brides in different time zones,” Waltz said. “That’s one thing that always irked me when I was helping people find venues. First, they have office hours. And second, a lot of them don’t have their schedules online. And then if they do, you still have to wait until they’re open for you to call and make sure that the date is still available. That’s a lot of waiting, and some people don’t have time for that. I want to set peoples’ minds at ease, because what’s the No. 1 rule in event planning? Don’t pick a day until you’ve picked a venue.”