The Pros and Cons of Styled Shoots for Engaged Couples

Styled Shoots and Wedding Inspiration photoshoots are something you will come across a lot on Wedding Blogs, Pinterest and the websites of wedding designers like myself. You are probably wondering what they are all about… who are they for… why do we do them?

Styled Shoots are as much wedding inspiration as they are a chance for wedding professionals to collaborate, network, and express their creativity. For me, styled shoots are like a big collaborative art project. Often it is our chance to develop our design skills, try out new concepts, and create portfolio pieces that showcase our aesthetic as creatives.

Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at The Meadows at Firefly Farm Preserve in Raleigh, NC - December 2017
Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at The Meadows at Firefly Farm Preserve in Raleigh, NC – December 2017

The Downside to Styled Shoots

There are pros and cons to styled shoots. For couples planning their weddings, styled shoots can set unrealistic expectations. Since a wedding inspiration photoshoot usually only features styled vignettes, we are free to spend a larger budget on the decor, dedicate more time to each design, and aren’t as limited to logistical constraints like limited time for set up or transportation. A design that we create for a styled shoot could be replicated at a real wedding, but it might be expensive.

Photo by Jessica of Three Region Photography from our Twin Peaks Styled Shoot in August 2017 at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC
Photo by Jessica of Three Region Photography from our Twin Peaks Styled Shoot in August 2017 at Motorco Music Hall in Durham, NC

Another thing to consider is that some styled shoots have hired models rather than real couples. Most of the styled shoots I have organized featured real couples in love (with the exception of the Twin Peaks shoot, due to scheduling conflicts). There isn’t anything wrong with hiring models, but it is important to note when you are browsing Pinterest. I choose to feature real couples in an effort to make wedding media more inclusive of us “regular people” (i.e. not super hot and flawless models with perfect hair).

Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at McDonald Artisan Farm in Aberdeen, NC in July 2017
Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at McDonald Artisan Farm in Aberdeen, NC in July 2017

The Upside to Styled Shoots

I would say the biggest benefit for couples is that they can see what the vendor is capable of when they are left to their own creative devices! A styled shoot is a great opportunity to try out a new design idea that is then part of the vendor’s portfolio to inspire the couples they work with. Styled shoots are also a great way for wedding vendors to network and get a feel for each other’s workflow prior to working together on an event. This can be extremely beneficial to couples because their vendors will be comfortable working together and already have examples of the work they can provide you!

The Pros and Cons of Styled Shoots and Wedding Inspiration for Engaged Couples | Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at McDonald Artisan Farm in Aberdeen, NC in July 2017
Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at McDonald Artisan Farm in Aberdeen, NC in July 2017

Wedding Inspiration Overload

We wedding pros love doing styled shoots and to be honest, a lot of what you see on blogs and Pinterest is styled shoots. Usually blogs will label these shoots as “Wedding Inspiration” to indicate it isn’t a full wedding, but the reality is most images are seen out of context on Pinterest or other Social Media. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the design elements you see online and it can be disheartening when you learn the cost to recreate such a look. My advice is to use the styled shoots and inspiration images you find on Pinterest to inform the direction you would like your designs to go, but then trust your vendors to create a mood board and decor plan that are in line with your aesthetic and budget. And try your best not to keep “pinning” after you have made a decision or selection with an event partner.

The Pros and Cons of Styled Shoots and Wedding Inspiration for Engaged Couples | Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Botanical Styled Shoot at Oakland Farm in November 2016.
Photo by Ana Teresa Galizes from our Styled Shoot at Oakland Farm in November 2016.

Your Wedding Does Not Need to be Publication Worthy

Now that you know that a lot of the “weddings” you see on blogs and Pinterest are actually styled shoots, I would like to you relax a little bit. Most people are not going to have weddings that go viral. I submit a fair number of the weddings I do to blogs and publications, and sometimes they get featured, but sometimes they don’t AND THAT IS TOTALLY FINE.

You and your partner are William and Kate, you are not Kardashians, you aren’t Gwen and Blake. The publishing rights to your wedding are not being sold to the highest bidder. You have the choice to share your wedding on blogs after the fact or not, but even if you do want to submit your wedding, don’t stress out about impressing the internet.

Design a wedding that is beautiful and meaningful to you and your partner. Your guests probably won’t even remember the centerpieces if we are being completely honest.  Do what feels good to you and don’t worry about what other people think or what other people are doing!

I would love to hear your thoughts about styled shoots or wedding inspiration and how it has been helpful to you! Leave a note in the comments! 

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