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Cover photo from Charleston Wedding Photographer planning guide

Planning your wedding in Charleston

A Comprehensive, Do-It-Yourself Guide

Your guide to getting married in Charleston. Planning is the key to having a stress free day and an experience you will treasure as the happiest day of your life. Here we present everything you may want to consider when planning a wedding in Charleston. You may not do everything on the list and that's fine, but some things are essential such as the bride, the groom and the officiant. We have photographed huge weddings with hundreds of guests, weddings with no guests and everything in between.

Having photographed literally hundreds of weddings, we get to observe and participate in the entire process. We have also planned and executed two successful weddings for our own daughters. We always help our brides with suggestions and choices based on our experiences. This led us to include a vendor page on our website as a resource for brides getting married in this area. We include only vendors we know that will provide excellent customer service.

The first consideration is WHERE you are going to have your ceremony and reception. We have photographed hundreds of weddings in Charleston and the surrounding area and worked in all kinds of locations including backyards, people's homes, docks, resorts, beaches, churches, historic homes, plantations public and private, parks, gardens, dedicated event facilities, even a barn. Some people have ceremony and reception in the same place. Others, usually people who want a church wedding, elect to have the reception in a different location. The vendors section of our website has a list of our favorite venues in Charleston for ceremonies and receptions. There are also websites and apps for smartphones that will give you sunset time for every day of the year so you can plan your ceremony and reception time of day.

Old Santee Canal Park -

First Presbyterian Church Moncks Corner -

Outdoor or not
Charleston is a great place to have an outdoor wedding. The weather is great most of the time. When it rains, it often clears up quickly afterwards. We have photographed many outdoor weddings in Charleston, but we do recommend you have a backup plan if you're getting married outside.

Timing - You also need to decide on WHEN to have your wedding. Once you figure out what is most important to you about the wedding, then you can move forward with this decision. For some people, it is having certain people there. Some people have to work around their work schedule. We have had several brides tell us the photography was the most important thing to them. This is because when everything else is gone, the pictures will be what lasts to help you re-live every event and detail of the day. They chose their date based on our availability. Most of these were brides who had been bridesmaids in weddings we had photographed so they had seen us work before and wanted the quality of photography and the close working relationship we develop with our clients.

Food and Beverages
Charleston excels in this area. There are a large number of outstanding restaurants, caterers, and venues that provide excellent cuisine in the area. Here are a couple that we know will give you good food and good service.

Tom Smith Catering -

Regal Catering -

Wedding Cake
The tradition of cutting the cake and feeding each other is one of the most popular events at the reception. Most brides find a cake that reflects their own personal style.

Artistic Cakes by Linda -

Wedding Planner
Some brides hire a wedding planner to oversee every last detail of their wedding, some elect to do it themselves. If you decide to do it yourself, we recommend you get someone to serve as a "day-of" coordinator and a few experienced people to help out. If you don't want to hire someone, hopefully you can find a bossy relative or friend who would be willing to pitch in and do this for you. If you don't have a "go-to" person assigned on your wedding day, everyone who has a problem will be running to the bride. Whether you hire a planner or not, you will need to plan a timeline for your wedding day and list all of the events and when each one will take place. This should cover everything from getting ready through the end of the reception.

Honeymoon Locations
People getting married in Charleston have a unique opportunity to save on travel cost for their honeymoon by choosing to honeymoon here. With the food and things to do, the amenities, super-nice hotels many of which are in walking distance of downtown, bed and breakfasts, beach houses make this a top honeymoon destination.

Charleston has a large number of chain and independent dress shops where you can shop for your wedding gown. Downtown Charleston and Mt Pleasant are the most popular locations for dress shops. You can also look in North Charleston.

Bridals by Jodi -

Clothing (bridesmaids, groomsmen, reception wear, parents, lingerie)
There are several chain stores in the malls and shopping centers that will sell or rent tuxes. A lot of grooms, especially in the warmer months, will go with matching suits and just buy them since the cost of renting can be about the same depending on what you are getting. If you want tuxedos check out Barron's Department Store in Moncks Corner. They have top quality tuxes for sale and rent at very reasonable prices.

There are jewelry stores all over Charleston, Mt Pleasant and North Charleston, but if you are looking to economize there are also several department store chains that carry a wide selection of jewelry as well as Pawn Shops.

Our favorite hair salons are Nouveau Salon in Summerville, Flip Side Salon in Moncks Corner and Salon DV8 in Goose Creek which also does wedding day make-up as well as hair and they will come to you on wedding day.

If you need to lose weight prior to your wedding day, allow enough time for whatever program you decide to go with to work and settle in at that weight.

You should consider if you want to be tanned or not on your wedding day and how your tan will look with the shade of your dress. If you decide to go with a shade other than creamy white skin, make this decision months in advance and test the look in the same type of lighting you will have at your wedding.

If you decide to have spa treatments prior to wedding, don't forget to include time in your wedding day schedule to get to the spa and back.

Who is going to do your makeup and makeup for the bridesmaids, moms, grandmothers, etc. on wedding day?

Don't forget to register for wedding gifts at your favorite shopping locations.

Your florist should be able to recommend sources for decorations that compliment your florals. Take advantage of their experience.

The top two DJ services in the area are Sinclair Ray's The Music Maker and Jay Maxwell. Both are excellent and will play exactly the kind of music you want at your reception. They can provide ceremony music as well if you like.

Sinclair Ray

Jay Maxwell's Music By Request

"Who pays for what?" is the most frequently asked question. There are hundreds of other questions from the meanings of traditions to when to send out invitations. Emily Post is a famous resource for guidance on this topic.

Emily Post -

We have used All Occasions rentals in North Charleston. They work with Snyder's if you need the items delivered and picked up.

All Occasions Rentals -

Based on international awards for quality of photography itself and wedding album design, the top three photography studios in the Charleston area are NuvoImages, Linczak Photography and Tammy Bevins Photography.

* Tammy Bevins Photography -

NuvoImages -

Linczak Photography -

Photo Booths
The Music Maker rents photo booths. These have become one of the most popular activities at weddings lately.

Sinclair Ray -

Doug Farmer of Charleston Wedding Officiant always does a great job. You should always ask your wedding photographer if someone on their staff is licensed to marry you if your officiant doesn't show up for whatever reason.

Doug Farmer -

Our favorite florist in the Charleston area is Diane Thrower of Diane Thrower weddings.

Diane Thrower Weddings -

Marriage license
A marriage license is required to get married in Charleston County, so don't forget to get your early, and have it with you the day of the wedding to be signed by your officiate.

Best wishes on your wedding!

signature of Tammy Bevins Charleston wedding and beach photographer