I’ve been trying to grab the time to write this little guide for you for ages! A few days’ holiday last week meant I could scribble down a few notes, so here we go!
Styled wedding shoots are a BIG thing for wedding suppliers. They’re by far the best way to build a solid marketing campaign for your brand – and they’re fabulous for any visual wedding business. Today I’ll give you a quick overview of what styled shoots are, why you should get involved in one, how it all works and what not to do!
Wedding styled shoots in a nutshell:
Usually, the person whose idea it is will do most of the organising.
A little team – photographer, florist, dress designer, venue stylist etc – work together for free for one day
You’ll all get beautiful images of your work
Everyone share the images on instagram etc, crediting everyone else every single time
Shoots are usually published on wedding blogs and in print magazines
What are styled shoots all about?
- They’re a brilliant way of collaborating with other suppliers in your area or niche – and of making friends and gathering an industry support network around you
- They’ll enable you to build a beautiful portfolio for your brand
- The images from your styled shoot will be a fabulous starting point for your marketing campaigns and social media
- Styled shoots can help you create your branding with cohesion and consistently beautiful styling
- And with a few exceptions, no money changes hands: styled shoots will only cost you in time and materials – everyone works for free
Let’s clarify some misconceptions:
Styled shoots won’t cost you money. You don’t have to pay the photographer, stylist, venue hire, bridal boutique, decor hire companies…
Styled shoots are collaborations with everyone working hard to create together, with a shared purpose to cross promote ie share your own work and each other’s
Styled shoots: a step by step ‘how to’ guide
Pulling together a collaborative styled shoot is hard work – so be prepared!
- Plan your shoot.
- What’s your overall objective?
- How will it look (themes can help: boho, whimsical, English country garden, urban chic…)
- Pinterest is your friend – create a simple moodboard you can share
- Reach out to suppliers you’d like to work with
- This is hugely important: the right photographer / fashion / floristry will make your shoot. (And the wrong ones will break it.)
- Include team members who’ve featured on blogs before, or who pay to advertise with a blog – it’s a good ‘way in’ to getting featured
- Organise everything carefully. Keep spreadsheets. Have clear roles (who’s in charge of submitting to blogs? Who’s bringing lunch?) and maintain communication with everyone in a supportive way
- On the day – Be calm; be friendly, help each other. Florists have a huge amount of work to do setting up; hair and make up will take a couple of hours. Have a clear finish time, look after outfits (a smudge on a dress could cost you – be super, super careful with everything!) and work to a time plan (2pm in the gardens; 3pm on the balcony; 4pm on the beach; 5pm vacate the venue for example)
- Be patient. If you’re not the photographer, be aware that editing images takes time. Allow 6 weeks or so for images to be ready. This might mean you have to plan your shoot well in advance if you’re looking to feature in a specific publication or at a certain time of year. (Autumn shoots with an autumn vibe can be tricky when it comes to timing!)
- Plan submissions and sneak peeks. Know which blogs and magazines your shoot will be submitted to – ideally, plan where you’ll submit before you even contact your suppliers at step 2! Make sure one person is in charge of submissions, and keep everyone up to date with how submissions are going. You’ll also need clear guidelines about which images can be shared as sneak peeks, and which have to be kept exclusive until your publication date
- Share and credit. The hard work of a photoshoot starts AFTER the big day. Everyone involved should share the images for a long time afterwards, crediting properly on websites, tagging on social media, and saying how bloody lovely all the team members were to work with! Once your shoot has been published on a wedding blog, share and credit again. When that blog’s exclusivity is over, repeat steps 6 and 7 multiple times: don’t ever aim to only feature on one blog. You can have your shoot featured on blogs big and small, on blogs in the UK and US, on niche and mass market blogs, in national wedding magazines and local publications. Keep it going… you can get several years’ BIG marketing from one well curated styled shoot.
Styled shoots: some key things you should DO:
- Be clear. Communicate – consistently – the blogs you’re aiming for, the look, the timings and arrangements for the day
- Select collaborators carefully. Really carefully. See point 2 above. (I’ve seen beautiful shoots with appalling photography. I’ve seen stunning styling with awful dresses. I’ve seen ‘boho’ shoots with basic florals. I’ve been sent more than one shoot where the models didn’t turn up on the day. Your team HAS to be perfect, and professional! (Sometimes it’s worth hiring professional model couples – there are loads on insta!)
- Thank people. Always be aware that everyone is working super hard behind the scenes to pull this off. Be grateful and you’ll make friends for life.
- Know your blogs. Don’t even consider submitting to a niche blog if your look doesn’t fit: traditional styling won’t work on a blog full of alternative couples, bold and vibrant photography won’t work on a ‘fine art’ wedding blog.
- Read my ‘10 top tips for wedding photographers to help you get featured on wedding blogs‘
And our little list of styled shoot DONTs:
- Never deceive your potential clients. If you’re using images from a styled shoot on social media, don’t pretend it’s a real wedding.
- Don’t expect too much: when all collaborators are working for free, don’t present a list of demands (e.g. we need a floral arch and a big pedestal arrangement and six buttonholes and two bouquets and table arrangements and they all have to have expensive peonies in a very specific shade of white and I don’t like sunflowers or anything yellow and oh can you do a flower crown for my dog too?)
- Don’t be lazy! Be prepared to spend days working on your shoot, planning everything then rushing around on the day and then ESPECIALLY contacting blogs and publications afterwards, and sharing on your social media.
We’re ALWAYS looking for beautiful styled shoots to feature on English Wedding. Here’s how to submit a styled shoot to our wedding blog – we’d love to see it!
Join English Wedding – our content comes from our wonderful members, the amazing independent wedding businesses who make UK weddings the BEST in the world. You guys are incredible and we want to support you and help you get featured and SEEN by all of the lovely couples out there planning their weddings. You’ll find everything you need to know about joining us on our membership page – prices start from £60 for the full year!
Further reading: Coco Wedding Venues’ Ultimate Guide to Styled Shoots is fantastic
Ruffled Blog’s Styled Shoot 101 is a useful and realistic read (yeah; it’s not guaranteed you’ll get published, but by following our tips you’re in with a really, really strong chance.)
Read Dirty Boots & Messy Hair’s guide to epic styled shoots – it’s really inspiring!