Planning for the Seasons in Charleston

We may be in the South, but Charleston still has some pretty distinct seasons and it’s helpful when planning a wedding or engagement session here to understand them more thoroughly. I’m originally from Maine, so the schedule of seasons I grew up with is vastly different from what we have here in the South. The wedding season here in Charleston is much longer than in other parts of the country, but you may be surprised at when it ISN’T.
For simplicity’s sake I’m going to organize this from spring to winter, since that’s how wedding season is here. I’ll discuss benefits of each season, as well as drawbacks.

SPRING (March – May/June-ish)

Woman in lavender in front of blooming wisteria in Charleston in March photographed by Kelsey Halm Photography
Wisteria blooming on Meeting St. in March
blonde woman in lavender dress in front of white stone building and flowers in March photographed by Kelsey Halm Photography
Charleston in March

Spring in Charleston is officially my favorite season! (I’m a fall-lover if we’re talking about the north, but in the south spring wins every time). Technically we don’t have an “off” season in Charleston since the weather isn’t too cold ever, but most people agree that spring season starts in March. (FYI: I included June-ish as “spring” just because June is usually the wrap of spring wedding season, but June is officially summer in Charleston).

The wisteria usually blooms in March (although peak week is REALLY hard to predict, and it doesn’t bloom for long), as well as the azaleas. If you’re looking for a colorful time to visit but don’t want to be too hot, I’d suggest March or April.

The downside of spring is that some days are still cold (cold in Charleston isn’t cold like northern states, but since we’re by the ocean it can be a damp-cold so it feels colder than it is), but that’s really the only downside I can think of. Spring really is my favorite season for everything here.

film portrait of bride beside pink flowers on the street in Charleston photographed by Kelsey Halm Photography
Bridal portrait in March
film portrait of bride running through cedar trees in Charleston
St. Michaels in March

Spring wedding season is usually busiest starting in April, so planning a wedding or an engagement session earlier in the spring should be easier as far as scheduling. As the weather warms up the season also picks up, so be prepared to book fairly far in advance if you’d like a later spring date.

Engaged couple on a brick street in Charleston by a iron garden gate photographed on film
Downtown Engagement in April
Pink flowering tree in downtown Charleston photographed on film by Kelsey Halm
Early April in Charleston
Wisteria in March
Couple sitting on a porch step under lavish flowers blooming in Charleston in April
Late April in Downtown Charleston
pink flowers on a white gate in Charleston
Late May in Charleston

SUMMER (June – August/Septemberish)

Engaged couple wearing pastel pink hugging under pink crepe myrtle in Charleston
July in Downtown under a Crepe Myrtle
Downtown Charleston in August

Summer in Charleston is HOT, and the weather definitely doesn’t end in August, but since “fall” wedding season kicks off in September I decided I’d round the season off in August.

The great things about summertime in Charleston are long days, flowers in bloom (though not as many as spring), and plenty going on. Long days mean fairly early sunrise sessions, and fairly late evening sessions, and weddings with PLENTY of daylight. There are lots of visitors in Charleston in the summer months, so be prepared to book reservations for food early, and have lots of traffic.

The bad things about summer is that it’s hurricane season (technically running from June – November), it rains almost every day, and it is HOT. If you do choose to plan your wedding in the summer, please know you will be hot, so be prepared to be sweaty (not sexy, I know, but it’s true).

Bride and groom hugging under spanish moss live oak at Middleton Place with pastel bouquet
Middleton Place in mid-June
Mother and daughter dancing on the beach by the water in Charleston
Folly Beach in July

Summertime engagement sessions or anniversary sessions in Charleston are great. Although it will be hot (trust me it only takes about three minutes to be sweating) it isn’t unbearable, since the session is only an hour or two. Jasmine and crepe myrtles are both summer blooming flowers, and are all over downtown Charleston.

Crepe myrtles and spanish moss in Hampton park in August
Hampton Park in August

Let’s talk about summer rain for a quick minute. In Charleston during the summer the forecast almost ALWAYS calls for rain everyday, and it often does rain everyday. Here’s the thing, generally speaking the rain doesn’t last very long at all, so when you see a rainy forecast for your ENTIRE visit don’t freak out. In a whole summer I usually only have to reschedule a couple of sessions because of weather, most of the time all we need to do is shift our time by a little bit and we’re all set!

Couple walking down the street together in late August in Charleston under pink crepe myrtle
Late August in Charleston
Ivy on a stucco wall in historic building
July at Thomas Bennett House
July at Lowndes Grove

Fall (September – November)

Fall in Charleston feels like summer in Charleston, except maybe slightly cooler and with more hurricanes. Hurricane season peaks at almost the same time as fall wedding season, so if you’re having a fall wedding here (or anywhere in the south) please buy wedding insurance!

The crepe myrtle lasts into early fall, usually, but otherwise it’s mostly a season of green. All of the plants and vines and trees are at their peak, so you won’t find many areas without lush greenery.

Bride and groom holding hands walking through downtown Charleston in September
Downtown Charleston in September
Early-blooming Camellia at Magnolia Plantation in October

Since wedding season in the fall (especially later fall) is often even busier than spring, I would suggest planning far ahead to schedule any sort of engagement or portrait sessions.

Bride and groom walking together groom holding her train with white rose bouquet
Private home in Charleston in October
White gazebo under spanish moss at Magnolia Plantation photographed by Kelsey Halm Photography
Magnolia Plantation in October

Wedding season in Charleston really doesn’t slow down until November (and there are still weddings even later in the year), so if you’re hoping to schedule family photos for the holidays, plan ahead!

WINTER (December – February)

Winter doesn’t feel like a property winter here in Charleston, instead it just means shorter days with nights sometimes dipping into the high 30’s. We’ve lived here for almost ten years, and it has only snowed once.

Engaged couple kissing on a cobblestone street in Charleston during the winter
Downtown Proposal in February

The sun sets early during the winter, so if you plan to get married during this season keep in mind the abbreviated daylight. Most of my couples choose to have a first-look to make sure they have time for portraits before the sun sets, or they schedule early ceremonies.

I’on Chapel in December

Camellias are stunningly in bloom during the winter, and since nothing else really is they stand out! The average temperature during the day is usually 50’s or 60’s, and some days in December can still hit 70’s and even 80’s. It’s a slower season overall, so scheduling a wedding or an engagement session will likely be easier.

Black and White image of bride by a window at the William Aiken House
January at The William Aiken House
Engaged couple laughing together on a winter street in Charleston
December at sunrise in Downtown
Spanish moss dripping from an oak branch by a horse paddock
Charleston in January
Bride running into the sunset in golden grass on the marsh in Charleston South Carolina
December on the marsh

To wrap it all up, Charleston is beautiful in all seasons. You can plan a wedding or engagement session in any season, but if you asked me the best time I will always say spring. The best flowers bloom in the spring and the weather is the most comfortable. Summer is a great time for the beach, or to test your heat tolerance. Fall is exciting, but sometimes because of hurricanes. Winter is comfortable and pretty, but can be a bit chilly and short days.

Enjoy the seasons!

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