Charleston wedding prices soar as inflation increases

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MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) – Charleston’s beautiful countryside is a popular wedding destination. However, with rising inflation, the total cost is not so romantic.

Fifty vendors were at the Charleston Bridal Show on Sunday, selling their products and services to engaged couples and families.

Kathy Baxley-Stewart, the show’s owner and producer, says it has been very difficult for the hospitality industry to keep up with the staffing levels to produce these events and actual weddings. She says it is currently difficult to get anyone to work.

“In terms of inflation, basically everything went up a little bit,” Baxley-Stewart said. “The cost of renting the auditorium here has actually increased. Basically we don’t. We’re trying to help everyone stay in business and you know it’s tough. We are facing difficult times right now.”

Elizabeth Tramphagen, catering sales manager at Embassy Suites Charleston Harbor, says the average Charleston wedding venue used to cost an average of $13,000 to $14,000. Now the average cost is $15,000-$20,000. She says it all depends on what the couple is looking for.

“They then look at what options are out there and like what they’re doing,” Tramphagen said. “You will have a smaller reception at this point. They will look for smaller venues to cut costs. We don’t see those 300-person weddings anymore. We see smaller ones, like 150, which means you’re like, “Woah, that’s still a lot of people,” but before that, it was still 300-person weddings. You don’t see that very often in Charleston.”

Elizabeth Grace Smith, owner and founder of Capturing Your Happily Ever After Photography, says that not only does she work with the photos and videos for a wedding, but she also helps coordinate the decorations. She says the rise in inflation has forced her prices to rise.

“Not just gas prices, which I’m sure most people are discussing right now,” Smith said. “You know, when it comes to helping set up, walking back and forth through rehearsals, taking photos. If someone also wants a photo on canvas, I mean the prices in the photo industry have gone up.”

Brides-to-be say Charleston isn’t out of the picture for a location, even if it’s costly. Brenna Robinson, a bride-to-be, says that with airfares soaring, she and her fiancé must decide who they really want to be at their wedding and who will actually show up.

“My family and his family are from Charleston, and I also have family in the rest of the United States,” said Robinson. “It sort of lets us decide who’s going to be at the ceremony and who’s going to be at the engagement party as well. That way people don’t have the stress of feeding their kids or making dinner and planning trips.”

Business owners expect their prices to continue to rise over the next year. They also say some of the brides who took part in the show are already planning for 2024 just in case that happens.

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