I will be the first to admit that I am NOT the best at this sort of thing. Ideas for styled shoots usually start as me dreaming this big huge dream, becoming overly excited and telling someone else about it, getting vendors together, picking a date… and then forgetting about it until the week before. At which point I think kick myself for not getting my crap together earlier, panicking that I’ve asked all these people to donate time and resources to something that may be a total flop, and then end up blubbering about how bad of a business owner I am to Matt with a glass of champagne in hand. It’s not pretty.
Needless to say, I don’t recommend this route. Fortunately, it’s always ended up working out because that last week is spent feverishly planning, shopping, and sometimes DIYing/life-hacking some sort of prop, but still. Not the best route to take if you prefer a stress-free living!
If you prefer to take the LESS stressful route, then here are some helpful tips to aid you in making the most of a styled shoot!
1. DO come up with a Pinterest board of how you envision things coming together! The more clear details you can provide at the outset, the easier it’ll be for other vendors to say “yes” and get on board.
2. DON’T take on the responsibility of coordinating/designing if your talents don’t lay in that area. Instead, find an amazing wedding designer/coordinator and ask them to get on board, and be very open about how much/little you’re hoping they’ll take on for the shoot.
3. DO aim high! Ask a vendor you’ve been dying to work with to participate!
4. But DON’T be too disappointed if they decline. They may be crazy busy, or perhaps they already have a couple of styled shoots line up that month and don’t think they can handle another. Give grace and chug along!
5. DO test your equipment before showing up to the shoot. I don’t recommend going out and getting a brand new piece of equipment the night before and counting on said equipment for the shoot the next day, without ever having opened the box.
True story: I did this at my last styled shoot with an octabank and flash bracket. Despite me knowing how to use an octa, I sat there for 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get the bracket to fasten onto my light stand, wasting other people’s time. In the end, the limousine owner, Jack, ended up just holding my octabank in the air, which ended up working out pretty well… but yeah, spare yourself the embarrassment and test ALL your equipment before arriving.
6. DON’T forget to adequately thank everyone involved- they’re giving up time with family, or time they could have spent working, and sometimes in addition to money they’ve spent. Floral designers especially- they have to pay out of pocket for those blooms, don’t take that lightly. Make sure every member of the team knows how grateful you are!
7. DO be clear on what everyone will need to bring/do for the shoot! Unclear expectations can lead to things being forgotten or only half-done on the wedding day!
8. DON’T just re-iterate everything else you’ve seen that’s trending in the wedding industry. Try to come up with something new, or come up with a fresh perspective of something that’s already popular!
9. DO make sure to realistically give yourself enough time to plan.
10. DON’T treat the vendors you’re working alongside with anything less than the same respect you’d treat your couples. Deliver and submit the images quickly, and be good about returning emails in a timely manner!
And in the spirit of styled shoots, here are some favorites from the Harry Potter styled wedding shoot I did a few years ago with Bree of Capitol Romance! I went back and re-edited them, because my old editing style was, let’s be honest, atrocious. See the shoot in its entirety on Green Wedding Shoes!