Styled wedding photoshoots have become increasingly popular in the past few years as a way for wedding vendors to showcase their talents and contribute to the current wedding trend dialogue. The purpose of creating a wedding photoshoot is almost always the same: to get photos of your style and aesthetic to showcase in your portfolio and to get published on a wedding blog. Planning and executing a wedding photoshoot, however, can seem daunting. Here’s how to plan and execute a wedding inspiration shoot.
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The first thing you need to do, before you start finding vendors or pinning inspiration on Pinterest, is to define WHY you want to design a photo shoot. The reality is, photoshoots can be expensive. If you are spending your time and money on something like this, you obviously want to make sure it’s worth it.
What do i want to accomplish with this wedding photoshoot?
Maybe you want to try your hand at interpreting a new trend that you’ve seen floating around these days (hello marble accents!), or perhaps you really want to get your work featured on a major wedding blog. Whatever the reason is, make sure you have a clear mission written down. That way, when you are going through the motions planning, you have something to look back to.
My goal for this photoshoot is to build my portfolio with images that represent my aesthetic and ideal wedding. I would also like to get my work featured on a major wedding blog, preferably Green Wedding Shoes.
It’s important that you come up with at least a basic idea of for the design of the shoot before you start pitching it to vendors. This gives them an opportunity to decide whether or not they want to participate, and allows you to visualize the style that you are going for prior to jumping in headfirst.
If you don’t have an idea of a theme quite yet, don’t be afraid to see what’s popular on the blogs or on Pinterest. But remember – once you see something published, it’s not a new idea! It’s okay to be influenced by a design, just try to bring your own twist and voice to it.
- I start my design boards on Pinterest, where I pin images representative of the overall vision that I’m going for. I don’t really discriminate – I will flush through them later.
- Once I have a solid Pinterest board, I go through it, deleting any images that don’t feel cohesive. It’s okay to keep detail shots that may not fit into the overall vision, just don’t use them on your design inspiration board (save them for later).
- Choose 6 to 10 images that REALLY represent the look and feel of the shoot. Try to include florals, linens, photography style, specific textures, and colors.
- Use these 6 to 10 images to create a design inspiration board – try BlogStomp or Canva as a way to put them all together.
- Once you have your overall design inspiration board, specify the elements that you want to embrace in the final product, such as color, texture, flowers, season, or theme.
The design inspiration board is great because it gives both you and potential vendors a visual representation of what exactly you are going for.
YOU WILL ALSO WANT TO SPECIFY WHAT EXACTLY YOU WANT TO CREATE AND TAKE PHOTOS OF. For example, do you just want to do a tabletop and cake display, or would you like to include models as well? Do you want to do a lounge area or ceremony site? What about food vs. desserts only?
Finding a Venue
I have found that confirming a venue can be the hardest part of planning a photoshoot. The first thing you will want to do, before getting in touch with potential venues, is to write down a list of requirements that you have for the location, such as indoor vs. outdoor, lighting, style, natural elements, etc.
Try venues that you’ve worked with in the past first – they tend to trust vendors that they have experience with. Another option is to get in touch with newer venues in the area. Often they want photos to use of their space as well!
A photo permit should only be required if you are shooting in a public area – I much prefer to use wedding venues for photoshoots. Less of a hassle!
Now for the fun part! Use the design inspiration board you created to pitch your idea to potential vendors. The main vendor you want to focus on confirming first is your photographer. Here are other vendors that you will want to consider, and some notes about working with them.
*Disclaimer – the notes included with the below vendors are just my personal experience doing photoshoots. Some may have different guidelines or preferences when it comes to donating services or products for you to use.
Ideally, all of the vendors that participate in a photoshoot see the benefit of having a styled inspiration shoot in their portfolio. If you find someone is difficult to work with, or has extensive requirements for participation, it’s probably best if you try to find someone else.
- Photographer: Services donated free of cost in exchange for collaboration.
- Florist: Services and product donated free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos. I have never worked with a florist on a photoshoot that requires the planner or designer cover the cost of flowers.
- Rentals: *Product donated free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos. Will typically charge for labor and delivery.
- Stationery: Product donated free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos.
- Cake: Services and product donated free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos.
- Hair and Makeup: Services donated free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos.
- Dress: *Product donated (rental) free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos. May charge a fee for shipping and cleaning of dress.
- Bridal Accessories: *Product donated (rental) free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos. May charge a fee for shipping.
- Menswear: *Product donated (rental) free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos. May charge a fee for shipping.
*May require a signed contract of liability for products or services. Annette Stepanian has contracts available for photoshoots, if you would like to protect yourself from liability of services or products.
I also love getting in touch with both wedding and non-wedding vendors to see if they are interested in lending their products for us to use when styling the photoshoot, such as a jewelry designer, ring boxes (such as the Mrs. Box), and other accessories. They will typically send the item free of cost in exchange for collaboration and photos.
A NOTE ABOUT MODELS
Most models for photoshoots aren’t going to be professionals, but it is possible to find professional models that want photos for their portfolio. If you are having trouble finding models, definitely ask the other vendors involved in the shoot if they have any leads or previous clients that may be interested. The wedding dress will be in a specific sample size, typically 4 to 6, so you will want to find a female model that already fits these measurements. The menswear vendor can typically send a suit or tux in the size of your male model as long as you have their measurements.
Planning the Day
Consider the day of your photoshoot almost like a mini-wedding day. You’ll want to plan out things to make it flow as easy as possible for the rest of your vendors. Make sure you confirm the times that you are allowed to shoot from your venue, and go from there.
If possible, try to do a walkthrough with your photographer before the shoot, so that you can plan the different vignettes and shots that you’ll get depending on the lighting. Remember that most photos look best as early in the day as possible, and later in the afternoon. Since a photoshoot is a chance to really showcase all of your talents, try to work with your photographer to ensure that best possible lighting for each shot.
- Setup: If your rentals can’t be delivered before the day of the shoot, you’ll want them to be delivered as early as possible.
- Layout: I like to do layouts so that I know exactly where each vignette will take place. Once I do the layout, I will also give an order to the shot list. For example:
|Vignette 1: Details||Various||1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.|
|Vignette 2: Dessert Station||Area 1||2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.|
|Vignette 3: Tablescape||Area 2||2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.|
|Vignette 4: Lounge Area||Area 1||3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.|
|Vignette 5: Bridal Portraits||Bridal Suite||3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.|
|Vignette 6: Couple Portraits||Lounge Area, Outside||4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.|
|Vignette 7: Details||TBD||5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.|
As you can see, I’ve waited until later in the day to do the couple portraits so that (a) they have time to get ready, (b) they can use the vignettes that I’ve already set up as part of their setting, and (c) they have the best lighting outside to utilize.
I prefer to do details early in the day so that we don’t forget anything at the end. If you have vendors sending in accessories and other small details, you’ll want to try and get stylized photos of those individually for their portfolios. I also prefer to get to the site early to set up and style various detail shots that the photographer can take care of right away, such as stationery, the wedding dress, bouquet and boutonniere, etc.
A Note About Sharing Sneak Peeks
I LOVE SHARING SNEAK PEEKS ON INSTAGRAM. Obviously you’ll want to leave some things out to share when your feature goes live, but people LOVE seeing what you’re up to! I say, share away. Blogs aren’t going to mind if you’re sharing photos that you take on site the day of – they won’t even mind if you blog the professional photos before they get around to publishing it! Just make sure that you credit all vendors involved in the photo, if not the shoot entirely.
After the Shoot
You’ll probably be anxious to get the photos and start the submission process as soon as you’re done shoot, but remember that this is when the photographer’s work really starts. It’s a good idea to set expectations from the beginning as to how long it will take to get photos, how they will be delivered, how many shots you can expect, etc.
I like to send a group email immediately after the shoot is done, thanking all the vendors involved and (possibly) sharing a sneak peek photo from the photographer. It’s best if you give a list of everyone that participated, including their social media handles, so people can credit accordingly.
Once you get the professional photos back, you’ll want to start the process of submitting the final product to blogs. Either you or the photographer can take care of this process, but you will likely want to do the write up for the description, since you were the one that planned and designed it! Celebrate the feature when it comes out too – this is a big accomplishment, and having these photos will be GREAT for future clients to see your style and aesthetic!
Photos by Brian Tropiano Photography
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