Styled Shoots – the 411

You might have heard the term Styled Shoot while paroozing Pinterest or the countless wedding blogs the web has to offer.  These shoots, when published by a wedding blog or magazine, provide visual inspiration to help couples plan their day.  What exactly is a styled shoot?  A Styled Shoot is simply a collaboration of wedding vendors that piece together a specific theme to showcase their work.  Typically the photographer or wedding planner might have additional goals to have the work published and credit each participating vendor.  This is a happy moment for most photographers as it provides a certain level of validation, and it’s rewarding to be recognized.

So whats the problem you might ask? Pretty photos giving me inspiration to plan my wedding day and the photographer (and makeup artist, hair stylist, cake designer etc) get accredited in some way? That’s a bonus!

There is no problem with them. So long as you as a bride KNOW what is a styled shoot and what is a real wedding. It can be very hard to tell and, let me tell you – Pinterest, blogs and web pages are FULL of them. So saturated with them that Im a tad concerned that couples might be feeling like their weddings, or worse yet THEY wont measure up to these perfectly perfect, organized events photoshoots; not a hair out of place on the stunning model.  Everything about these shoots are controlled with precision.  The lighting being the biggest one.  Shot in the perfect location where the sun is at the perfect spot in the sky, and rescheduled if there is a threat of rain.  At the alter you wont get that.  Whether you are getting married at a church in front of God, a beautiful country club, or a private backyard, chances are you wont be able to control the light too much aside from the time of day you decide upon.


Justin & Melissa’s Real Wedding Ceremony at Tangle Creek – split lighting.

You also aren’t likely to have a stylist fussing over you, although that would be cool. A maid of honour is a great one to have your back and an eye peeled for stray hairs, but she is human after all, and the odd thing can slip past her.  Even your photographer might be too busy making sure sure your photos are exposed correctly, composed in a complimentary way that he or she is looking at the big picture might not see that your bangs split, or that your necklace clasp is along side your pendant instead of at the nape of your neck.  And you MIGHT think that’s what photoshop is for, which it is a godsend at times; should not be relied on to remedy all these little things.  You really need to talk with your photographer about their photoshopping styles – what they do and dont do to establsh a realistic expectaton.

Weddings are not usually magazine perfection.  Just know that.  They can come close, especially if your expectations are not based on a Pinterest board, and you’re relaxed about your wedding day planning. Understanding that not everything will go as planned will make you a happier bride on the first day of your marriage.


Bride & Groom having fun after their London Wedding Ceremony – dont you love her mint green flats!!!

So Jen? Do you do styled shoots?  You bet I do!!!! I LOVE them! For me a styled shoot is a fantastic opportunity to express myself as an artist.

  • It hones my skills – especially the art of posing.

Styled Trash The Dress Session in Alliston

  • It allows me to plan and create and is a direct reflection of my tastes.  If Im diggin powder blues I get to shoot powder blues.  If Im crushing on a boho barefoot beach wedding get to show the world that deep down Im a hippie that hates shoes (well, not all shoes…  actually love shoes… but barefoot is pretty awesome too) I think most girls love wedding planning and just because Im happily married doesnt exclude me from that group.  I could totally get married again. To my husband that is!
  • I get to be girly.  My styled shoots are typically all uber feminine.  You know Im a mom to 5 boys right? Nuff said.

Pretty sunset styled bridal shoot at Stevenson Farms

  • I get to socialize – and even more so – I get to be part of a team. Meeting new wedding vendors, forging amazing relationships that often turn into long lasting friendships.  Seeing everyone become inspired and create these master works is really cool and I love it. I love seeing people get pumped up about something!
Shelburne Golf & Country Club_0004

Multi Vendor (TuesdaysTogether Barrie) Styled Bridal Shower shoot for the Rising Tide Society at Shelburne Golf & Country Club


Behind the scenes at the RTS Shoot at Shelburne Golf & Country Club – Some of my photographer friends – Right to Left – Mark Evers, Alex Ferguson and Hyla Gallow with Model Kristen Au.

  • Details.  Styled shoots have really helped me be strong at noticing the details you carefully chose to include in your wedding day.  It does also help me spot stray hairs, crooked ties and smudged liner on a real wedding day.

A real bride’s Jimmy Choo Shoes

My shoots.

  • Feature real women – not hired models
  • Do have skin smoothing sometimes to slightly enhance natural beauty (especially with today’s super sharp camera equipment…)
  • Never photoshopped to make someone skinner or curvier as I celebrate all women, and men of all shapes, sizes and ages.

Styled shoots are near perfect.  Weddings and marriages are not.

The Woodlot Restaurant Toronto Wedding Photographer-24

Weddings are about family <3  This is me (left, in black) with extended family that I only metthe day of this wedding I shoot at the Woodlot Restaurant in Toronto! Photo courtesy of my second shooter Brad Quarrington.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and it helps clarify how a styled shoot is executed verses a real wedding, and perhaps what to be wary of when choosing your photographer.  Be sure to  ask to see entire real weddings to determine how they perform under ‘real time’ and see if their style matches yours.


Stevenson Farms Styled Shoot

Beattie Pinery Styled Shoot

Megan and Mike London Real Wedding

Melissa & Justin Tangle Creek Real Wedding