Ever ask a Charleston local what they love most about autumn in this coastal town? We’ll tell you: it’s oyster roast season! This distinctly Lowcountry tradition combines our favorite pastimes: quality time with family & friends, a fresh no-frills meal and an occasion to revel in gorgeous fall weather with Charleston’s most scenic backdrops.
Don’t miss an opportunity to share this genuine Charleston experience with your wedding crowd. Oyster roasts are a great way to kick off festivities as a mid-week welcome celebration or as a fun, casual rehearsal dinner – especially with a perfect setting like The River House at Lowndes Grove (and your friends at PPHG events to take care of every detail). Before you get shuckin, here’s the lowdown on how to host a Lowcountry oyster roast this fall!
Charlestonians have been oyster-obsessed since the earliest settlers arrived (nearby Awendaw is home to a 4,000-year-old shell ring where prehistoric Native Americans covered and steamed local shellfish). Our mineral-rich riverbanks, salt marshes and tidal creeks are havens for abundant natural reefs of Eastern Oyster clusters.
The season typically begins in September – following the rule of “R” months – but Charleston really hits its stride in November and December, when crisp sunny days give way to radiant fall sunsets and clear, starlit nights. Local harvesters pluck fresh clusters straight from the cooler waters, which give the delicate meat its clean, slightly briny flavor with a sweet finish.
During a roast, live oysters are steamed in a special roaster while the crowd gathers around tables set with oyster knives, towels and the essentials: saltine crackers, cocktail & tabasco sauces, lemon wedges and boiled peanuts. (Insider tip: oyster knives & gloves personalized with your monogram make great favors your guests will want to hold onto!)
If you’ve never shucked an oyster, start with the shells that are already slightly open, since they’re much easier to pry. It’s always smart to hold the oyster in your gloved hand or towel (oyster shells are sharp!) then use your knife to work from the base, or hinge, until the shells pop apart.
Not much for getting your hands dirty? Opt for passed shooters or oysters on the half-shell. Guests will love these personal mason jar presentations, complete with a miniature Tabasco bottle! Lowcountry Boil, also called Frogmore Stew, is another oyster roast staple with local shrimp, smoked sausage, potatoes and corn cobs, red rice and hushpuppies.
When guests aren’t shucking, lawn games like bocce and cornhole keep the outdoor fun rolling to a backdrop of bluegrass music and rustic fire pits. Want to really up the “wow-factor”? Treat your guests to an Ashley River cruise and arrive by boat to our private dock from nearby Charleston Marina.
And after you’ve eaten your last oyster, nothing beats the riverfront sunset!