A few weeks ago, I hosted the Spring Has Sprung Styled Shoot at Flora Corner Farm in Mechanicsville, Maryland with some of the best wedding vendors in the DMV area. If you’ve never hosted or participated in a styled shoot, there are many reasons that a group of wedding vendors might decide to have one. From a photographer’s perspective, you may want to organize one that fits your brand for marketing materials, perhaps using your business colors or venues and styles that you want to shoot more of, to gain marketing materials for your products (like a jewelry designer) or mayyyyyybe your creative heart has been dreaming up some wild ideas with pops of color and alpacas and aim for getting published in a wedding blog. Can you guess which category I fit into? Yes, I am the photographer and mom that goes to the county fair with her family and leaves with a vision of a wedding with farm animals in the bridal party. Okay, and maybe some funnel cake too.
So, how exactly do you even go about planning or organizing a styled wedding shoot? Let me first preface this by saying that this can take a ton of time and commitment and can leave you feeling like you planned a wedding. The Spring Has Sprung styled shoot was in the works for almost 3 months. So, while my wedding season was slow for shooting this winter, all of my spare time was spent emailing, calling, Skyping, meeting and Pinning.
I’m sure there are other ways to go about planning, but from my experience this is what has worked:
Step 1. Create an inspiration board. I am not a florist, planner, baker, dress designer, etc. So, I will create an inspiration board, but once the vendors are lined up, I get their expertise on how to pull together my vision with their services.
Step 2. Determine your budget. Yes, there are expenses and don’t forget that time is money too. If a vendor participates, they may be losing out on a day to book a paying client. Consider how much are you willing to spend and what services you may be able to trade for digital images for each vendor to use for their own marketing.
Step 3. Pick a date. If you want to have a better chance of getting wedding vendors to participate, plan for a date that isn’t prime wedding season. It’ll be a tough sell to ask them to give up a date they could potential book a wedding.
Step 4. Find vendors that fit the style or have a vision that works with your inspiration. I actually did a lot of Facebook and Instagram stalking for new vendors I hadn’t worked with and called on some of my favorite ones I already knew. You can find the email template I use to send to each perspective vendor to share my vision and what is being asked of them. (The most critical piece for me was finding a planner/stylist that could take my vision to a whole other level.)
Step 5. Ask questions and iron out the details. Don’t be afraid get into the nitty gritty of what exactly you need each vendor to provide. If you’re talking to the florist, provide a detailed list: bride and bridesmaid bouquet, 1 boutonniere, centerpiece for head table, etc. Then ask how much it will all costs. Get it all in writing so both sides are protected and there are no surprises.
Step 6. Create a timeline. For my styled shoots, either the planner or I will send out a timeline to everyone involved. Remember to include the location address, what time they should arrive, what to bring, and how long they have to setup their part of the styled shoot.
Step 7. Plan for the unexpected. Add additional time into the timeline for traffic, wardrobe malfunctions, etc. and have a backup plan for bad weather. If it rains, will you change the date, the venue, or have your loved ones use tarps to cover the head table while you shoot? (Yes, that happened to me one year.)
Step 8. Photograph for everyone involved. Remember to properly photograph all the little details and all the services/items contributed. If you are shooting for publication, details go a long way! The Spring Has Sprung Styled Shoot, was by far the biggest styled shoot I have worked on. With more than 25 people behind the scenes, I invited other photographers to participate, and even had my friend, Kristyn from 1426 Photography, provide some behind the scenes photographs for everyone involved, including all the images on today’s blog post. (Thanks, Kristyn!)
Step 9. Say “Thank You”. Be genuine and show your appreciation to everyone involved. A styled shoot is a great way to build relationships with other wedding vendors and create a genuine referral base for your own clients.
Step 10. Edit images and get published. The first part of this is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the getting published task that can be daunting. Not every styled shoot is a good fit for a wedding blog. I use Two Bright Lights for submitting my images for publication. Also, remember that these blogs want to feature fresh, new ideas, and sometimes they may have already committed to publishing similarly styled shoots or the season may be off. Word of advice: plan a shoot that’s like no other! We tell our brides that Pinterest is merely for inspiration, and it’s better when they create a day that is unique to them and one of a kind. That goes for planning a styled shoot too.
Step 11. Share images with vendors and celebrate! Make sure to include a list of everyone involved and give proper credit when sharing images online. If you have submitted to an exclusive blog, they typically will not accept styled shoots that have been shared on other blogs. So, be mindful of this and let everyone participating know when and how they may share images (based on the wedding blogs requirements).
Feel free to email me with any other questions you may have about planning a styled shoot at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to see a sample of the email I send to vendors asking for participation, follow the link below.
A big “thank you” a hundred times to the wedding vendors who collaborated in the Spring Has Sprung Styled Shoot. Fingers crossed, as we patiently wait for an answer on our publication.
Venue – Flora Corner Farm
Bakery – Rosewood Bakery
Stationary and Calligrapher – Lauren Perry Studio
Head Table Sign ” A Love Like This” – Lauren Heim Celebrates
Jewelry – J’Adorn Designs
Hair – All Aglow Beauty
Makeup – Dorsey Beauty
Furniture and Table Décor – Honey Dew Vintage
Guest Sign In Painting – Brittany Branson
Stylists, Planner and Floral Designer – Ruie & Grace
Animals – Mary’s Go Round
Wedding Gown – Imogen In The Meadow
Models- Andrea Kinder, Brian Kinder and Taylor Fitzpatrick
If you are a bride looking for a dream team to create your day, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be blown away by the services of those listed above.
Carla Lutz Photography is a featured wedding photographer based in Southern Maryland and documenting love stories across Maryland, DC and Virginia. Areas include: Charles County, St. Mary’s County, Calvert County, Annapolis, Columbia, Ellicott City and beyond. Now booking weddings for 2016 and 2017. For more details, please inquiry at email@example.com.