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Why people pay for the perfect Instagram wedding

Hannah kisses her fiance while showing her engagement ring to the camera
Image captionStylist Hannah Muller announced her engagement with this photo on social media

Autumn marks the end of the main wedding season in the UK, but for this generation of newlyweds, planning a wedding is perhaps not as simple as it once was.

According to The National Wedding Survey, social media is adding an additional layer of pressure and expense with the average cost for a wedding in 2019 totalling £31,974,

Many couples have forgone wedding planners in favour of taking the reins themselves, turning to social media sites and apps such as Pinterest to plan their big day.

With the price of weddings on the rise, is it possible the pursuit of the perfect Instagram wedding is responsible?

Hannah Muller, 20, from South Africa, is planning her wedding in London and says that Pinterest in particular has been incredibly helpful.

“I’ve definitely seen some amazing venues that I’ve tried to find,” she said. “Pinterest has been my best friend during the planning process. I have a Pinterest board for the wedding and within that I have all the different sections for everything you could think of.”

Many couples – 42% – said they felt under pressure to have a social media-ready wedding, according to the survey, and a quarter said they were willing to go over budget in order to achieve an “Instaworthy” day.

Hannah announced her engagement with a photo of her showing her ring and pictures like these are a popular trend online for couples who want to let followers and friends know their big news. A photoshoot alone can cost around an average of £200.

The desire for an “Instagrammable” day has sparked a boom in businesses dedicated to providing couples with an Instagram-ready service.

Married couple being showered in confettiImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Sandi Chahal runs a party and accessories company, which specialises in confetti.

“Everyone I speak to says they want their wedding to be Instagrammable,” she said. “I think it’s down to the pressure of social media which wasn’t around 20 years ago.

“Our customer base wants confetti that will photograph well and tassel garlands. They send images that they have found on Pinterest to show us exactly what they want.

“That’s when we noticed a trend in a desire for vivid shades and extravagant decor for weddings.”

But Sandi says it is more than simply the desire for a good photo which encourages young couples to splash out on their big day.

“I think there’s more of a willingness to have your personality shine through in your event,” she said. “Social media promotes the idea that your wedding can be a fun event which needn’t be taken too seriously.”

Lauren (right) and her bridesmaidImage copyrightJAMES GOURLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Image captionLauren (right) was married three years ago

Lauren Reynolds, 29, from Hertfordshire, was a self-confessed Pinterest bride when planning her wedding in 2016.

“I had Pinterest boards for everything,” she said. “I looked at bridesmaids and brides’ poses for photographs as well.”

A moodboard of a bride and groom's relationship with photos and notes
Image captionLauren was inspired by social media but combated the cost by doing DIY

“I tried to make most things myself,” she said. “I used a lot of local sites to find items for a photo booth area we made outside on the lawn which worked really well.

“I found our venue on quite a few Pinterest pages, so I could imitate them exactly. Such as where to put flowers and how they framed the room.”

Photographer Georgia Rachel, 24, from Norfolk, believes modern weddings encourage couples to have more fun, though she agrees they are mindful of how the public will perceive their photos.

“I capture more than just the bride and groom standing stiffly and gazing into the distance,” she said. “That style is quite outdated nowadays – couples want to be seen having fun in their photos.”

The style of photography at weddings has changed undoubtedly over the years, but what divides today’s couples from previous generations is the public nature of their weddings.

Although a small number of guests receive invitations, a growing number of wedding photos are now shared on social media, making modern newlyweds more conscious of how their day will translate to their followers.

Marries couple pose for wedding photo with pink smoke bombs in the backgroundImage copyrightGEORGIA RACHEL
Image captionPhotographer Georgia Rachel told the BBC that smoke bombs are trending on social media

“Couples want photos that will trend, or at least get the likes they want,” she said. “The expense that comes with Instagram trends is what hurts a lot of couples. It’s expensive to jump on bandwagons and trends when it comes to styling.

“In my experience, Instagram is causing couples to spend far more on their weddings than they ever would have done before social media. But weddings where the couple aren’t swayed by Instagram often end up being the most fun.”

Joanna and her fiance on a boatImage copyrightRHYS SHEA
Image captionJoanna and her fiance

Despite the pressure from social media, not all brides and grooms are concerned about how many likes their big day will attract.

“I have been thinking about photos throughout the planning,” said bride-to-be Joanna May, from London. “Although I think that’s how you picture parts of the big day anyway.

“We’ve been keen to stay away from ‘fads’ such as smoke bombs. Even though it can look cool, I think they might not date well and I want our photos to feel elegant and timeless.

Joanna showing her engagement ring to the camera
Image copyrightJOANNA MAY
Image captionJoanna also announced her engagement on Instagram

“Overall I’d say social media has definitely helped with getting ideas and communicating them to others, but I wouldn’t say I’ve thought much, if at all, about how the wedding will look online.

“As long as we have beautiful photos, we’ll be happy.”