Alhambra a hot venue

Pope Lawson (right) and Sheila Lawson (left) arrived early Tuesday morning to increase their chances of reserving Alhambra Hall for their daughter's wedding in 2011. The official sign up begins today. Joining them were Chris Altman (second from left) and

MOUNT PLEASANT -- Sheila Lawson staked her claim at 8 a.m. Tuesday to be first in line this morning to book Alhambra Hall for her daughter Erin's wedding reception -- for next year.

"It's kind of fun. We're having a great time. It's beautiful," she said.

She drove by the hall in the Old Village at 10 p.m. Monday to see if anyone else was there.

She had to have the hall for June 18, 2011. Otherwise, there was going to be a lot of conflict, she said.

Weddings, receptions and rehearsal dinners are big business at the town-owned building. Greg Witherspoon drove from Kentucky to help his brother Luke get Alhambra for Oct. 22 of next year.

He arrived on scene at 11 a.m. Tuesday. "Everybody is here for Saturdays. It's crazy. This is all for a year in advance," he said.

Needless to say, Alhambra is a popular venue in the Old Village, offering a picturesque view of Charleston Harbor. At 9 a.m. today, the diligent campers would get their reward when the 2011 booking season opened.

Seth Horton and his fiancee Kelly Dudley were third in line after arriving Tuesday at noon. "I slept in the car," he said. They plan to get married next May. She likes Alhambra because it gave her the freedom to choose her caterer.

Bride-to-be Sal Fox said Alhambra goes for $1,500 per day. "It's a lot less than most places in Charleston. It's a beautiful location and I'm from Mount Pleasant," Fox said.

Leslye Davis' mother Jan Amann drove from Corning, N.Y., to help out with booking Alhambra next April 30. "I didn't want her to be here alone," Amann said. "It's been a party and you get to know people. It's fun."

They slept Tuesday night on air mattresses in a room at Alhambra that the town made available to the campers. "It's a beautiful view," Leslye Davis said.

Not everyone wanted Alhambra for a wedding event.

Orange Grove Elementary Charter School plans an auction there next May 7. Parents and faculty members were taking turns holding down a place in line.

About 20 people gathered Wednesday afternoon in what might be called a line but it was really a scattered collection of people reading, sharing food, socializing and enjoying the weather. Inside, some people slept on air mattresses.

There was a list. Everyone was on the honor system.