The Jacksonville & Saint Augustine Wedding Guide

Everything you need to know to have an amazing wedding in Jacksonville and St Augustine Florida. Whether your a North FL local or you are new to the area, this expert guide will give you everything you need to plan your amazing day!


Table of Contents

I am not sure if this is popular opinion or not, but I truly believe Jacksonville is Florida's best kept secret. It doesn't get insanely hot like down south, you've got amazing history with Amelia Island and Saint Augustine less than 30 minutes away, world class fishing, beaches, professional football, huge rivers... I mean I could go on and on. I love that it is not so touristy (except during the Florida Georgia game!) and that there is so so much to do! If you are planning on getting married in Jacksonville Fl, Amelia Island, or Saint Augustine, then you are in good company! From incredible engagement portrait sessions to show-stopping venues, the first coast truly does have it all!

+ Jacksonville and Saint Augustine Wedding Guide

+ Wedding Venues in NE Florida

+ Wedding Planners in Jacksonville, FL

+ How to get to Jacksonville

+ Airbnb's near Jacksonville

+ Exciting things to do in Jacksonville

+ Favorite Restaurants

+ Outdoor Activities in Jacksonville

+ How to get to Jacksonville

+ Airbnb's near Jacksonville

+ Exciting things to do in Jacksonville

+ Favorite Restaurants

+ Outdoor Activities in Jacksonville

The Importance of Hiring a wedding Photographer you love

As with so many aspects of wedding planning, you have a ton of choices when it comes to who you want to photograph your wedding. Honestly, it can be super overwhelming! I get it. There are so so many different styles of photographer from editing and presets to use of flash or natural light. Some are a bit old school, some have a ton of experience, some none at all (but you wouldn't know that based on their portfolio!) Some are "light and airy" or "dark and moody". And there are photographers that pose you all day long and others that don't pose you at all. Gah... it's overwhelming!

Okay okay... it is definitely not as scary as it seems, you don't need to be a professional photographer to have an eye for finding your perfect wedding photographer. But why do I need a "perfect wedding photographer" for me, Elly? Glad you asked! Your wedding photographs are truly one of the most important pieces to your entire wedding.

All your planning, all the details, all the beautiful moments you want to cherish for the rest of your life... those are saved for you and for generations to come through the images you have from your wedding. I take images with intention. Every time you look at your wedding and engagement photos, I want you to truly feel your story. All the incredible emotions that happen on your wedding day, I want you to have those moments for the rest of your life. I want you to be able to look through your wedding album and get all the same incredible feels, even decades later. 

So, yeah... the person you choose to capture this incredible moment in your life is super important. But, I promise, it isn't hard to choose! When you are searching for your photographer (I know a good one *ehem*) you need to looooove their photos. Are the images timeless and beautiful? How do they make you feel? 

Choosing a photographer whose images you love is probably a no-brainer, but did you know that you need to equally love the photographer too? Your photographer is by your side on your wedding day more than almost anyone else, and you need to like them and enjoy being around them! Basically, don't hire a photographer that creeps you out, it'll ruin the mood on your big day haha. But more than that, hire a photographer that you absolutely love and click with. You will feel relaxed and have an amazing time, and your photographs will reflect that and be beautiful and authentic. 

The number one regret I hear is that couples wish they invested in a photographer they truly love, and I don't want you to ever be in that boat! Your story deserves to be told in a beautiful and authentic way, and your photographer is the artist that creates those memories, it's an amazing role, and one that I am so honored to serve. If you are looking for a wedding day side-kick that cares just as much about your experience as creating stunning images, let's have a chat and get to know each other! I will probably do a happy dance when I see your email in my inbox!

Engagement sessions are such a vital part of our time together. I love getting to know my couples before the big day and spending time having fun and creating amazing images. There are so many places near Jacksonville for amazing Florida engagement photos. I have a full guide for all my couples to make the most out of our time together, but let me share my top tips so you can get an idea of what makes engagement sessions truly magical. 

Engagement Session Essentials

+ A long flowing dress will make for romantic and beautiful photos. All of my client closet dresses are floor length, flow-y (that's not a word, but it's the perfect word haha). It gives you something to hold and creates movement. Classic, timeless, and always beautiful. 

+  Every single person says they are awkward in front of the camera. Literally all of my amazing couples have said this. That is 100% okay. We are going to have a ton of fun and you're going to look absolutely stunning!

+  Details matter! Make sure you lay your outfit and all the accessories the night before. I am here to help so send me a picture if you want advice! Make sure to leave the smart watches and hair ties at home, and focus on flattering and timeless pieces to accessorize with.  

Jacksonville Wedding Venues

I know that Jacksonville has so many incredible wedding venues to choose from. Below is a list of what I believe to be the most stunning venues in Jacksonville. As a Jacksonville Wedding Photographer of over 10 years, I know what it takes to be a beautiful venue for your amazing day!

Congaree and Penn

Located in Jacksonville, Congaree and Penn is truly a one of a kind venue. There are so many beautiful spots for your ceremony and first look. It is truly amazing! 

Some of my favorite spots are the olive orchards, the 100 acre field, and the rice fields.

The Barn at Cottonwood Ranch

Not your typical rustic barn, The Barn at Cottonwood Ranch is a new and luxurious venue with. The Bridal suite and the grooms suite are located right in the barn, and that makes for a super convenient and relaxed wedding day. 

La Ventura 

Located along the stunning Saint Johns, La Ventura Venue is a beautiful historic house with a ceremony site facing west along the river. That means beautiful sunset photos! I love this venue because it is so close to Jacksonville yet feels like old Florida. 

The Jacksonville Library

The Jacksonville Public Library is an amazing and unique downtown venue. From the beautiful staircase and fountains to the downtown streets for portraits, you will have many amazing places for photo ops. 

Plantation Oaks Farm

Plantation Oaks Farm is a working farm. Bought in 1933 by the great-grandparents of the current owners, this venue has a lot of history!  The main ceremony site, the Oak Lawn, features big doors for a unique entry and views of oak trees and grazing horses.

Located only 30 minutes from Jacksonville, this venue is a premier option for outdoor wedding in North East Florida!

Bowing Oaks Plantation

Bowing Oaks Plantation is another great venue if you are dreaming of an outdoor wedding. The favorite ceremony site at the Jacksonville Venue is located at the "I Do" oak tree. 

One of my favorite tips about this venue is that there are many spots for photo ops in the area. The big oak trees truly are a quintessential part of beautiful Florida, and Bowing Oaks Plantation has these beautiful trees in plenty! 

Wedding Venues in St Augustine

Being so close to such an amazing town like St Augustine is truly such a blessing. With the amount of times I have taken the train tours and immersed myself in the history, I could probably become a tour guide! This beautiful city has a romantic old world charm that is perfect for wedding venues. From outdoor barn wedding venues, to grand historic hotels, St Augustine truly has it all. 

The white Room

Located in downtown Saint Augustine, the White Room boasts amazing views of The Bridge of Lions and has amazing venues options (check out the Villa Blanca!) The White Room is truly a luxury experience that is just simply stunning from the Bridal Suite to the reception.

Chandler Oaks Barn

In absolutely show stopping white walled barn venue set on beautiful "Old Florida" grounds is what you will find at Chandler Oak Barn. Between the old oak trees in the lawn and the white interior of the barn, every part of your wedding day will look picture perfect!

Treasury on the Plaza

Similarly to the Lightner Museum, Treasury on the Plaza is another historic St Augustine Wedding venue literally dripping in class and beauty. With all the downtown vibes that Saint Augustine offers, there are literally endless places to create amazing images.

The Lightner Museum 

The Lightner Museum is iconic. This venue is the epitome of class and elegance and, in the heart of historic St Augustine, is truly a world-class wedding venue. Besides the stunning interior and grounds of the Lightner Museum, St. George street is right around the corner and there are some amazing spots for private photos in the historic district!

River House Events

Located directly along the Matanzas River in St. Augustine, Fl, River House events is a beautiful venue with amazing views. Image getting married along the river as the resident dolphins swim by! Truly a beautiful venue!

Casa Monica Hotel and Spa

The history of this beautiful hotel is a bit strange, but we will forgive Casa Monica because this wedding venue is in St Augustine is top to bottom old world elegance. Directly across the street from the Lightner Museum (part of the odd history I mentioned before), it is truly an unbelievable venue to host your wedding

The Assembly Room

New, industrial, urban. If you are planning on getting married in Saint Augustine, but want a super industrial vibe, then Then the Assembly Room is the venue for you! With concrete flooring, exposed vents, and classic cars, this St Augustine Wedding Venue is the perfect mix of classic and urban. 

The Carriage House

The Carriage House in St Augustine is a super convenient venue located right near the historic district.The string lights really bring the reception to life and make my job easier while still keeping a super romantic vibe to your reception. It’s really the best of both worlds. The barn also has plenty of room for dinner and dancing, without looking too large

amelia island Wedding Venues

The beautiful natural landscape in Amelia Island is the perfect backdrop to some amazing wedding venues. With it's old Florida vibe, big Oak trees, and protected state parks, there is an abundance of amazing spots for photos and show stopping venues to create your perfect day.

Walkers Landing

Big Oak trees and a beautiful marsh would be a stunning backdrop to your wedding. An extension of the Omni Amelia Island, Walkers Landing is a super laid back and beautiful outdoor wedding venue!

Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island

If you want to get married on the beach, but the idea of crazy windy hair and sticky sand sounds more like a nightmare, then the Ritz Carlton Oceanfront Lawn is the perfect wedding venue for you! With views of the water, it is truly a stunning place for both ceremony and recpetion!

Greyfield Inn

While technically not on Amelia Island, this beautiful island wedding venue is absolutely stunning and worth the extra drive (and ferry ride). Cumberland Island boasts souther coastal charm, nationally protected seashore, a romantic historic Inn, and graceful wild horses. Trust me when I say it is 100% worth the effort!

Oyster Bay Yacht Club

There are so so many stunning venue sites at this Fernandina Beach wedding venue! I love the Oyster Bay Yacht Club because it truly gives you that romantic feel and has beautiful indoor/ covered options in case of rain. Truly a win-win

Best Tips for Visiting Jacksonville

Jacksonville is beautiful all year round, but there are definitely pros and cons to each season. While most people visit Florida during the summer months, those are actually considered slow season for weddings! For weddings and events, the most popular months are October, November and March, April and May. So, if you are considering a wedding in Jacksonville keep this in mind as you are looking for a wedding venue, picking a date, and planning! 

How to get to Jacksonville

Jacksonville is home to the Jacksonville International Airport.  While not as large as airports like Atlanta, JIA is extremely easy to get around and extremely convenient. Every time I fly out of Jacksonville, it takes only 20 minutes to get from my car to the terminal (I still arrive 2 hours early, just to be safe!) . The airport connects Jacksonville to the world with international and domestic flights! Jacksonville is also just a 2 hour drive from Orlando, FL and Gainesville, FL and 3 hours from Savannah, GA.

Best Airbnbs near Jacksonville & Amelia Island

Jacksonville is home to many different lodging options from hotels to Airbnb rentals! Here are my absolute favorite options for the beautiful city of Jacksonville and surrounding areas.

More info coming soon!

Exciting things to do in Jacksonville!

+ The Planetarium at MOSH
+ Tour the Catty Shack Wildlife Sanctuary 
+ Explore Amelia Island, FL
+ Airboat tour is Crazy Fish
+ Kayak the Inter-coastal Waterway
+ The Cummer Museum 

My favorite Jacksonville restaurants!

+ Taco Libre
+ Metro Diner
+ Moon Dog Pie House
+ The Bearded Pig
+ Flying Iguana Taqueria
+ Orsay
+ TacoLu
+ Julington Creek Fish Camp

Best Beaches and parks Near Jacksonville

+ Big Talbot State Park
+ Hanna Park
+ Fernandina Beach
+ Alpine Grove Park

The Best Tips for visiting Saint Augustine

St Augustine is a super popular destination town that is beautiful all year around. Similar to Jacksonville, the most popular months for weddings are October, November and March, April and May. So, if you are considering a wedding in Saint Augustine  keep this in mind as you are looking for a wedding venue, picking a date, and planning! 

Best Airbnbs near St Augustine

Saint Augustine is overflowing with amazing things to see and do, and with that comes awesome options for lodging! From Bed and Breakfasts to Luxury Hotels, St Augustine has it all! Below are a few of my favorite vacation rentals from airbnb!

More info coming soon!

How to get to St Augustine

St Augustine is right in between 2 major cities, Jacksonville and Daytona. Flying into Jacksonville International Airport would give you about a 45 minute drive to downtown St Augustine.  Jacksonville is also just a 45 minute drive from Jacksonville, FL , 1 hour from Daytona, under 2 hours from Orlando, and 3 hours from Tampa, FL.

favorite SAint Augustine restaurants

+ Ice Plant
+ Fiction Doughnuts
+ Maple Street Biscuit Company
+ The Floridian
+ Prohibition Kitchen
+ The Conch House
+ Beaches at Vilano
+ The Kookaburra

Outdoor Adventures in St Augustine

+ Kayak Matanzas River
+ Anastasia State Park
+ Climb the Lighthouse
+ Swim in Blue Spring State Park

Exciting things to do in Saint Augustine

+ San Sebastian Wine Tasting Tour
+ Shopping on St. George Street
+ Explore the Fountain of Youth
+ Ghost Tours
+ Pirate Cruise

Q: How many hours of photography do we need?

A: Music to my ears! Honestly, out of all the hundreds of couples I have photographed, 95% have told me they are awkward in front of the camera. I want you to know that feeling that way is 110% okay. That's why I am here! 

This goes back to why hiring a wedding photographer you absolutely love and are comfortable with is soooo important. If you hire someone who creeps you out, you're going to feel awkward and uncomfortable all day. Creating real relationships and amazing experiences is the bread and butter of my business. I want you laughing, relaxed and having an amazing time on your wedding. When it is time for your engagement session or bridal portraits, I pose you in ways that are actually fun. 

Being awkward in front of the camera is what practally all my couples say, but honestly that lends even more to the fact that I love gallery delivery day! You will be blown away by your images if you hire someone you really click with, promise! 

But... if you are truly worried about being weird in front of the camera, then read on.....

Q: I am awkward in front of the camera, is there any hope for me?

A: Yes, 100%, absolutely! If you can book your engagement session with your actual wedding photographer, then I 110% recommend you do that. Why? Because you need to be comfortable with the person who is photographing such an important day in your lives. You need to see their process and what you look like in the final product and have an experience together! 

I know certain cases don't allow for that (like destination weddings). But if you can swing it, it is a must!

Q: Does our engagement session have to be with our wedding photographer?

A: Jacksonville and Saint Augustine venues are extremely popular, so as soon as you know your wedding date that you want - book it! Most couples book their wedding venue 9 to 18 months in advance. So it is top of the list when you just get engaged (other than celebrating and soaking up every moment of course!

If you have a venue in mind that you absolutely love, I highly recommend  being flexible on the date you want to get married. If your preferred Saturday date isn't available, a Friday or Sunday date may be! And bonus, many vendors give discounts on weddings that aren't on Saturday! 

If you don't already know your perfect venue, I highly encourage you to check out my best of the best North Florida Venue Guide. You'll have a great idea of what venues you are interested. And because I want you touring venues will as much insight as possible, I also created a list of awesome tips for picking a venue like a pro. So know that you don't have to feel overwhelmed, I am here to help!

Q: Jacksonville Wedding Venues are getting booked up! How far in advance should I book my venue?

As a Jacksonville Wedding Photographer for over 8 years, I get asked a lot of questions, here are a few of the commonly asked ones


A: Although the average wedding coverage I recommend is 8 hours, no two weddings are alike! 8 hours is definitly the bare minimum I would reccomend in order to truly capture your wedding day. But some couples really need 10 hours. 

Personally, I always book my couples at the 8 hour package and as they create their timeline, they can add more. I want you to know exactly what you need, and since I get booked 9 - 18 months in advance, it's hard to know that until closer to the wedding!

Hey there! I'm Elly, and I am honestly so amazed you made it all the way down here. This guide had a ton of info. Please give yourself a pat on the back or pour yourself a glass of wine to celebrate, you're awesome!

So why am I so passionate about photography? It came out of a desire to capture authentic emotions. Real humans who are in love. I developed my style of photography & editing through many years as a portrait photographer first before diving deep into weddings. Throughout that time I realized that the intimate moments in between the poses were the ones most cherished. My wedding work has been seen in places like The Knot, Wedding Wire, The Carolinas Magazine, Wedding Chicks, Zola, and many other leading industry publications. I'm sincerely grateful for every single one of them, and for the others yet to come.

But none of that matters without the experience, the fun, and the results that everyone feels when they look back through their photographs. I am always so honored to be there for my couples and photograph one of the most important days of their life. I would love to chat with you about your wedding! Let's connect today and chat!

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