This week we’ve been sharing the third styled wedding shoot that we carried out this year and in the meantime we have organized two more, which we’ll hopefully be sharing with you soon. It occurred to me that it might be fun to give readers an insight into what actually goes into planning one of these. It’s an incredible amount of work! I can’t lie though, it’s fun as well. But firstly, what is a styled wedding shoot exactly? In a nutshell, I’d say that a styled shoot is a collaboration of wedding industry professionals seeking to bring a collective idea to life. The objective of the shoot is usually publication online, in print (or both) in order to inspire future couples and other wedding professionals. Here are the steps, roughly in order, that we go through when putting a shoot together.
All shoots start off with an idea, and the sooner you start collecting images the better. Pinterest is of course brilliant for this and we use a “secret” board at first and go pin-crazy until we can get a good sense of what we want and begin to narrow down our vision. Once the vision is honed a little, we put an inspiration board together with the images that best portray our idea. This board will be sent round when we contact vendors to give them a visual feel for what we have in mind- below is the board we used for our Amelie shoot. Later on, when we’ve picked vendors, we invite them to pin to our dedicated shoot board and share their ideas.
Spoons: Alessandro Guerani | Letters: French Larkspur | Bride: Lemon Lime Photography via Green Wedding Shoes | Dress: Modcloth via Wheretogetit | Cake: London Fridge | Photo Booth: Kristen Marie Photography via Green Wedding Shoes
It helps- not only with the end images in mind, but to actually get other people on board and excited, if you have something even semi-original in mind. For instance both Amelie and Coco Chanel inspired wedding shoots had been done before, but we weren’t aware of any that were shot in Paris. We thought this was an original idea because of Chanel’s connection with the city and since the film Amelie was set in Montmarche.
On the shoots we’ve organised so far, vendors have contributed their services either in order to expand their portfolios, increase their publicity or generally because they have been really talented industry people who are willing to creatively collaborate on what is their art form! But even if you don’t have to pay vendors there will still be expenses- whether there are props you’ll need to buy, travel costs or unforeseen last minutes issues, so have an idea of how much you can spend.
Of course it’s important to pick vendors whose work you admire. Choosing people you also work well with will not only make the day go smoothly but be more enjoyable as well. If you haven’t worked with many vendors before, aim high! Start with the people who you’d most like to work with. They might be busy or say no, but they’ll appreciate being asked, and they’ll most likely remember you next time. One very important thing is to lay out from the very beginning exactly what you expect of the vendors you ask to participate. If you are upfront, that will make it easier for them to be too, and good communication is key. An example list of vendors you might be looking at may include an event planner, photographer, videographer, venue, stylist, model(s), dress/suit suppliers, florist, cake source, hair and make up people, stationery supplier and tableware/prop rental. Once you have confirmed who is on board, it’s a really good idea to create a Facebook group for the shoot as an easy way to communicate.
Are you intending to submit the shoot to a certain blog, will you be featuring it exclusively yourself, or is the goal creative collaboration for its own sake? The objective will need to be communicated to the vendors who are on board. If you’re submitting to a certain blog, you’ll probably want to direct the shoot toward their niche and vendors will need to be aware of this.
A good timeline is really essential. Discuss with your photographer how long they’ll need for each section, for example with the table setting. If you can make a list of all the detail shots that you’d like. If you are working with a videographer leave extra time for them to get footage of setups and details as well. Much of the time vendors can be working independently of each other, for example while the model is changing into a different look with the hairstylist, the photographer can be getting some detail shots of the cake, meanwhile the videographer can be filming the stationery (bear in mind that the cake and stationery will have to be set up in advance for this to work). Don’t forget to leave time for people to take a break, and take into account that things may run over. Have a backup plan in case things go wrong. Will the weather affect you- what if it rains? Even if you’re doing an outdoor shoot you’ll most likely still need an indoor base for your model’s hair and makeup preparation. Don’t stress too much if things don’t go exactly to plan because (bar disaster) with so many creative people around you it will still work out!
If the concept of the shoot is yours, it’s likely you are the one creatively in charge. You might be working with a stylist or planner who will also have a certain amount of creative direction. Of course you will have vendors like the photographer whose vision you also trust implicitly, so potentially there can be a bit of tightrope walking between directing people and utilizing their creative vision. Don’t be afraid to re-direct things if you feel they are straying from your original idea. Making a realistic timeline with proper preparation beforehand will help with this- people knowing exactly where and what they’ll be doing at a certain time will cut down on any confusion and potential stress. If you can, it also helps to go through shot set-ups in the run up to the shoot, for example Lindsay and I practiced the table setting for the Chanel shoot below at home before leaving for France. Even if it’s a very simple set up, knowing exactly how you want things instead of trying to figure out what works best on the day incredibly reduces both wasted time and stress.
If you want to see a little bit of what goes on, here’s a short behind the scenes from our trip to Paris where we did both our Coco Chanel and Amelie shoots on the same trip, which was fun but pretty tiring! It was definitely a learning experience. Hope this post has been informative- feel free to let us know your thoughts and whether there are any more details you’re curious about. Styled shoots are hard work but they’re really worth the effort. A huge part of what is great about them is getting to work with talented, creative vendors who care so much about what they do. Ultimately it’s your vision, but it’s only with the help of others you make it happen.