The Ultimate Guide to Eloping in Charleston, SC: A Photographer’s Perspective

Eloping in Charleston means embracing the soul of the South, with its colorful historic homes, quaint cobblestone streets, and majestic oaks draped in Spanish Moss. The city’s unique blend of history, natural beauty, and romance provides a dreamlike backdrop for couples looking to have an intimate wedding. As a photographer, I have had the privilege of capturing the intimate moments of several couples who have chosen this charming city as the setting for their special day. In this guide, I’ll share with you the essentials of planning your elopement in Charleston, peppered with insider tips to make your day uniquely yours.

Legal Essentials: How to Get Married in Charleston

Before diving into the excitement and romance of your elopement, it’s important to address the logistics. Charleston has made the marriage license process straightforward, with applications now required to be submitted electronically. You’ll need to provide an accepted form of identification, proof of your social security number, and pay a non-refundable fee of $70. It’s crucial to remember there’s a 24-hour waiting period after applying before the marriage license is released, so planning ahead is essential.

Two business days after your application is completed and received, you will be sent your marriage license and an instruction sheet via email. Make sure to review your marriage license for accuracy and immediately notify the court of any discrepancies.

Many eloping couples prefer to have a family member or friend officiate their ceremony. As long as they are an ordained minister, this is perfectly legal in Charleston. Some opt for a different minister or a South Carolina Notary to legally officiate their union before the official ceremony. If you’re considering this route, you’ll be pleased to know I’m an ordained minister authorized to perform ceremonies in South Carolina. I love offering my couples the flexibility to have their ceremony officiated by anyone they choose after we’ve taken care of the legal side of things.

Choosing Your Elopement Setting

Where to Stay For Your Elopement

Your elopement experience should begin from the moment you wake up. Thankfully, Charleston offers an array of exquisite places to stay and get ready. From the historic charm of The Wentworth Mansion to the modern luxury of The Dewberry, there’s a place to fit any theme you are hoping to create for your day. Many of these venues offer stunning spaces for both getting ready and hosting your ceremony. Here are a few of my favorites:

Popular Elopement Locations In Charleston

Charleston is dotted with picturesque locations perfect for an elopement. Between the historic downtown, beautiful parks, and beaches, Charleston has something to fit every taste!

When deciding on the perfect location to say “I do,” it is important to consider how many guests you plan to have, any permitting restrictions, and local events that might be taking place. When I work with eloping couples, I walk them through all of these considerations to help them find the absolute best locations for their unique needs. However, here are a few of my go-to location recommendations:

Vintage Car Elopement In Charleston South Carolina
Downtown Charleston Elopement
Charleston Courthouse Wedding Photography

Making It Yours: Charleston Elopement Vendors

Elopement Planning

There is a common misconception that elopements require less planning than a traditional wedding. While it is true that there may be fewer guest logistics, I believe elopements should be intentional and personalized! That is why I provide all of my eloping couples with activity ideas, location scouting, vendor recommendations, and timeline creation. I also handle all permit needs on behalf of my couples!

Some couples prefer to have another vendor dedicated to planning and coordinating. If this is you, I highly recommend Calhoun Events Studio. Not only do they offer planning and coordination, but they also are amazing florists!

Floral Artists

The vibrancy of Charleston, with its natural beauty and historic charm, provides the perfect inspiration for your wedding florals. The city’s talented florists can create stunning arrangements that reflect the essence of the Lowcountry, tailored to your personal style. Whether you are dreaming of a traditional rose bouquet or a more eclectic wildflower arrangement, your flowers will add a personal touch to your elopement, making your special day truly unique. Here are a few florists who I adore in Charleston:

Hair and Makeup

On your elopement day, every detail counts, especially your hair and makeup. Opting for professional stylists ensures you look and feel your absolute best. Charleston’s beauty experts are well-versed in creating looks that not only complement your personal style but also stand up to the Lowcountry weather. From a natural, glowing look that mirrors the city’s seaside charm to a more dramatic evening style inspired by its historic elegance, there are many amazing artists here to enhance your natural beauty on your unforgettable day. Here are some recommendations:

Attire

Eloping gives you the freedom to express yourself in any way you’d like, from the elegance of a traditional wedding gown to the chic simplicity of a tailored suit. You can choose whatever attire best reflects your personality and complements the backdrop of Charleston. For a touch of pampering, consider a local stylist to help you look and feel your best.

Celebrate with Charleston Cuisine

No elopement in Charleston would be complete without indulging in the city’s renowned culinary scene. After your intimate ceremony, celebrating your union with a fantastic meal is a must. Charleston’s diverse restaurants range from cozy, romantic spots to high-end dining experiences, all ready to make your special day even more unforgettable. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional Southern comfort food, fresh seafood, or innovative fusion cuisine, the city has it all. Here are some of my top recommendations for a memorable post-elopement dinner:

  • Husk: Where the essence of Southern ingredients is transformed into exquisite dishes.
  • FIG: Known for its seasonal and local approach to traditional and modern dishes.
  • The Ordinary: A fantastic spot for seafood lovers, set in a beautifully restored bank.
  • High Cotton: Offers elegant Southern dining with live jazz on select evenings.
  • Magnolias: Upscale Southern cuisine that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.

Remember to make reservations well in advance, especially if you’re eloping during the peak tourist season, to ensure you have the perfect spot to celebrate your new beginning.

Downtown Charleston South Carolina Elopement
Washington Square Charleston South Carolina Elopement

Eloping in Charleston, SC is a celebration of love, history, and natural beauty. As your elopement photographer, I’m here to guide you through the nuances of planning your day and to capture the moments that will tell the story of your love for years to come. Contact me today to go on this journey together, creating memories in the heart of the South that will last a lifetime.