We share a lot of wedding inspiration here on Ruffled, and we love seeing design concepts coming to life and how it keeps pushing creative minds forward. Many many years ago, we even shared a post for brides on how to get the most of styled shoots and how these impeccable and fun concepts could be translated into real wedding budgets.
Today I want to talk to wedding creatives about creating a styled shoot and why they are essential to your business. I created a free Facebook group to chat all things styled shoots and social media, so join us here if you haven’t already!
What is a Styled Shoot?
A Styled Shoot is a wedding setting created by a team of wedding vendors to flex their creative muscles in a collaborative effort where typically everyone provides their services and expertise in exchange for images of their work.
Styled shoots can be the whole nine yards of a full wedding day — ceremony setting, reception table, bouquet, cake, stationery, musician, couple modeling, catered dishes etc or represent just certain aspects of a wedding to focus on a certain concept, expertise or to highlight specific resources.
It can be also created to add new images to a store, promote a new collection, lookbook or venue. It’s a win-win situation because everyone involved receives images of their work.
Flexing your creative muscles to your fullest
Getting to work with vendors without the time constraints of a real wedding
Connecting with new vendors in a new area
Creating content for their portfolios and social media channels
Being published on wedding blogs, magazines, and print publications
Experimenting new techniques you wouldn’t otherwise risk with clients
Designing a concept for your ideal client
It can be used as a marketing strategy and even replace advertising
They can get expensive quickly
It doesn’t guarantee being published
Time-consuming because it can take just as long as a real wedding
Can be challenging to source the right gowns and decor pieces you envision
So where do I even start planning a styled shoot?
Before you reach out to other vendors to ask if they want to work in a styled shoot with you, you need a concept board. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just key ideas to share what your vision and aesthetics are.
Right now, you just want to show potential collaborators what kind of aesthetic you’re after so they can determine it’s a fit for them as well.
Look for vendors whose work you admire in vendor guides, Instagram via hashtags, via recommended vendor lists from venues in your area and create a list of all categories you need for your shoot – floral designer, planner, cake, stationery, dress – then create a master contact list.
Then it’s time to reach out to them! There’s nothing to feel weird about asking others if they’d like to collab on a shoot, so don’t be shy! Share your ideas with them and how you think they can benefit from this collaboration. Remember these are people who may have no idea who you are, so include a link for them to quickly reference your work too.
You’ll get a few nos but don’t be discouraged! Not everyone will be interested, available or be able to donate product or services, but someone will so don’t feel discouraged.
You’ll Need a Timeline
Along with your inspiration board, nail down a deadline for when you’d like to have the photoshoot finished.
Are you looking to have the shoot done by the end of the month? Next month?
If you’re planning a styled shoot centered around a certain holiday, you’ll need at least 30-45 days from the holiday to have enough time to submit.
If it’s a summery shoot, make sure to have it wrapped up before the leaves start to change, for example. Same for spring shoots when the trees are still bare!
Give your vendors a rough idea for when you’d need them for the styled shoot to make sure they are available.
The longer the vendor list, the more challenging it can be to nail a date, so the sooner you give them a date range the faster you can all agree on a date.
You’ll Need an Agreement
Once you have a team onboard, we can’t recommend enough that you have an agreement signed with them.
This agreement clarifies and touches up on everyone’s expectations and obligations. For example, here’s where you clarify who will be responsible for submitting, list everyone’s social media handles and explain obligations to tag everyone, what the images can be used for, etc.
Same goes for everyone sending you product, especially the big-ticket items such as wedding gowns and jewelry. Make sure to clarify who’s responsible for what!
Who’s liable for the gown if it’s damaged? Who pays for delivery fees? How about valuable jewelry, is there a clause in case they get lost, or worse, stolen?
Do you have insurance?
Having an agreement created by an attorney is a solid investment and you’ll get a ton of use and peace of mind in the future!
Delivering and Sharing Images
Clarify ahead of the shoot how long it will take you (if you’re the photographer reading this) to have the images ready and by when you’ll be sending images to your whole team. That way, the other vendors aren’t left wondering and know when to expect goodies in the email.
Send a list of everyone’s urls and social media handles in the same email with your images and kindly remind everyone of the submission protocol you’ll be following if any.