As you start looking for wedding inspiration, you will almost certainly go to Instagram and Pinterest to start saving images that excite you. Social media is full of beautiful imagery to inspire your wedding décor and design, but there's something you might not know about those photos... Many of them (if not most!) are not from real weddings; they're from styled shoots! Often the couples you see aren't even married, and the cakes are usually dummys...
What is a styled shoot?
A styled shoot is where wedding suppliers come together to design and effectively "act out" a real wedding day. This is done on a collaborative basis, usually with each supplier providing their own work and supplies purely in exchange for the photographs taken on the day and the publicity associated with the shoot. The majority of styled shoots aim to get published in one of the many stunning wedding blogs you come across during wedding planning!
Shoots that I have worked on appear in Bridal Musings, The English Wedding Blog, Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, and Your Glos & Wilts Wedding Magazine to name a few. You can view these styled shoot in my portfolio.
Why do suppliers stage weddings?
Many wedding suppliers are creators and artists at heart, so styled shoots are a fabulous way for us to be able to try out new ideas, test colour schemes and trial more unusual wedding themes in a "safe space". With styled shoots, we're able to let our imaginations run wild, which helps us improve and hone our skills. If something works well on a shoot, we take that forward into our wedding work, and if it doesn't quite turn out as expected, we learn from it moving forward!
We take your wedding day seriously and only want to provide you with the absolute best service and our best work. Your wedding day is not the time for us to be testing out any crazy ideas!
Why are they so important?
It's uncommon for couples to have a very clear aesthetic in mind for their wedding day; most people struggle to picture what that "perfect" day will look like. Often, we need imagery and recommendations to find out what is even possible before we can work out our likes and dislikes. Styled shoots produce the images that show you all sorts of ideas, colours, and concepts to help you pick and choose which elements you'd like to include in your big day. In reality, the majority of weddings are not going to look like photo shoots, but elements of your big day can certainly be inspired by editorial pieces!
Also, as a wedding planner especially, styled shoots are an excellent way to get to know new suppliers and almost give them a test run before recommending them. We get to see how everyone communicates, collaborates, and delivers their work. On shoots we really get to know the faces behind the businesses, which is invaluable to you as our clients. We know who is likely to turn up late on the wedding day... and we know who will go out of their way to work with your ideas and ensure you really enjoy your special moment!
So, it's important to keep in mind that those beautiful Pinterest weddings are likely staged. Why is that important? Because as helpful as social media is, it can give you unrealistic expectations for your big day. You don't tend to see any sort of costings mentioned with the dreamy photos you see, and you certainly don't see how much time went into setting it all up so perfectly! Sometimes what you see in a photo is just not feasible for a real wedding day.
For an insight into how styled shoots are put together, watch the behind the scenes footage below by White Villa Photography and Films, taken at a shoot I was part of earlier this year. View the full shoot gallery and see the suppliers involved here: A Regal English Wedding.
The video shows a beautiful, regal, opulent shoot at the stunning Clearwell Castle. Of course you can recreate elements of this at your own wedding day, however I would like to point out a few things that you should keep in mind:
Weather and lighting has a huge impact on your wedding photos. This shoot was mainly outdoors and we had a lovely bright day to work with (and of course, we had no set timings to so we could work around the light). As we all know, the UK has very unpredictable weather and you should always have a wet weather plan. Luckily, Clearwell Castle has beautiful rooms inside to utilise, but this is something to check before you fall head over heels for a venue from a photoshoot - not all shoot locations will be practical for a wedding.
Touch-ups happen throughout the day on a shoot. The hair & makeup artist will often top-up lipstick and fix the model's hair ready for photos, and someone will always fluff the dress and adjust the train. Everything is perfectly placed for the photo. Of course, you can have this on your actual wedding day as well, but it's something to bear in mind! Many hair & makeup artists will offer a staying service, and you can assign one of your bridal party the job of fluffing the dress if you don't have a wedding planner.
Logistics for a real wedding are very different to those of a shoot. In the video, you can see the beautiful table setting was positioned just in front of the Castle entrance. This was for dramatic effect and clearly makes an incredible image, but in reality you're not going to have your wedding breakfast here.
But don't worry!
That doesn't mean you can't have a Pinterest-worthy wedding! You absolutely can. You suppliers will work with you to create something inspired by your favourite images, and give you something within your budget that represents you as a couple. No-one wants a copy-cat wedding anyway!
At the end of the day, you are what makes your wedding day special, so don't get too bogged down with making everything look picture perfect.
Wedding days are profoundly real moments, and reality is so much more beautiful than a staged photo.
If you're interested in chatting more about your wedding plans, then it all starts with an email! Click here to fill in a simple enquiry form and I’ll be in touch soon to arrange your free, no-obligation consultation!