The cost of weddings in Jacksonville: What does social media have to do with it?

Story by: Kara Scarbrough

Over the past decade, weddings around the country have evolved into a much bigger deal than they used to be. From the largest pieces of the wedding such as the venue, to smaller details such as table decorations, prices are being increased.

“Costs have gone up on food, alcohol and venues,” said Tara Lee, owner of LoveLee Events Jax. “There is a major hardship on finding labor to produce all of these things in Jacksonville.”

Owner of Dairing Events and wedding planner Adair Currie pins the average price of weddings in Jacksonville between $30,000 and $45,000. On a larger scale, the average wedding in Florida last year was $30,000, which is $2,000 more than the average wedding in 2021, according to The Knot’s Annual Real Weddings Study.

From the perspective of a traveling bridal hair and makeup artist, Haley Hiss has seen an increase in what her clients spend.

“I think the world of weddings has grown,” said Hiss. “I attribute that to Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, all of that good stuff.”

The introduction of social media to the industry has had a huge role in what newly engaged couples are exposed to. This adds pressure to spend more to get that perfect day.

“On social media, you see these amazing, beautiful weddings and it’s just not achievable sometimes,” said Emily Santora, a teacher who was married in June of 2022. “Sometimes social media made me feel a little bit sad about my options.”

Bride-to-be Abigail Richard has had similar experiences with her planning process, but does credit social media platforms such as TikTok for helping her find inspiration for her big day.

Both of these brides started out their planning process with a set budget, but soon abandoned them. Richard listed details, such as bridesmaid gifts, as little things she did not expect to be so expensive. Santora always aimed for cheaper options while planning her wedding, but splurged on what was most important to her, such as her florist.

Something both of these brides agree on is the importance of photography to their wedding day. Photography was the first thing Richard booked, while Santora regrets not putting more thought into specific photos she wanted on the day. Carli McGowan, photographer and owner of CRM Photography, believes photography to be integral to couples in her experience.

“You can look at a picture of your first kiss or your first dance,” said McGowan. “And it will evoke a lot of emotion and bring back a lot of memories.”

McGowan also sees couples value photography to utilize on their social media pages.

“People want their Instagram to look really good,” said McGowan. “They’re not going to have their photography not look great on their Instagram.”

Whether or not social media plays so much of a role in a couple’s decision making, at the end of the day, weddings revolve around people.

“Depending on who you have around you,” said Santora. “It can really make or break your wedding date.”