As a newly engaged couple, you will scour magazines, blogs, and social-media sites seeking inspiration for your wedding. Inevitably, you will see a series of photos that look so perfect you wonder if they could even be real. In this case, it’s likely that you’ve come across a styled shoot. Often featuring one or two statement pieces and full of luxurious details, these editorial projects are commonplace in the wedding industry and beloved amongst professionals. Styled shoots give planners and designers the opportunity to explore creative ideas and work with new teams in a relaxed environment. These shoots become inspirational for couples planning their nuptials, but translating what you see in a shoot to real life can be challenging.
To apply the visuals to your own wedding, try the following:
How Do You Feel?
Don’t start with what you see. Instead, focus on how the images make you feel. Do you get a sense of glamour and opulence or a sweet and romantic vibe from the shoot? Does the couple have a cutting-edge style, or are they classic and elegant? Identify the feeling an image evokes, and take note if it’s what you desire for your big day.
Styled shoots offer a close look at details that often get overlooked while wedding planning. A tablescape can have as many as 100 individual elements on it, and these pieces come together to create a cohesive look. How many chargers are set at each place setting? Did the designer use in-house glassware, or did they bring in color and gold-rimmed pieces? Are the flowers set high above the table, low to the base, or are they mixed? Try working through a picture and list every individual piece, from place cards to menus, the number of candles, and all the different shades and tones that come together. Use this as a guideline when working with your planner and designer on your own concept.
Lighting Changes Everything
The way a space is lit alters every element in it. Most styled shoots are planned and documented during the day – and with good reason, as it allows every individual piece to shine. At an actual wedding, however, you will likely want to bring the room down for a more intimate feel during dinner. I believe that every real wedding should be shot twice: once in white light, and once with ambient lighting. This allows for the most beautiful images, and gives the couple an opportunity to look back on the progression of their day. It tells a better story, and in the digital age there is no reason not to get as many detail shots as you can. You spent months deciding on those menus; it would be a shame not to get a gorgeous photo of them.
Each of us has a good side, and an angle that makes us look our most beautiful. We also have expressions that we hate. Models are experts at presenting themselves to the camera. Study the way the brides and grooms are posed, and then practice standing, sitting, and smiling. Engagement photo sessions give you an opportunity to work with your photographer and practice posing, ensuring that you are comfortable in front of the camera on your big day and that your photographer knows how to make you look your best.
Take the time to study a variety of styled shoots. As you do, you’ll begin to see a pattern in the emotions, details, color, and aesthetic that draws you in. Bring these notes to your wedding planner, and then give your vendor team the opportunity to surprise and delight you with personalized elements and unexpected details that will have your real wedding looking like it was handcrafted for a magazine!