by: Lauren

So if you follow me on Twitter and you’ve been on in the past 2 days, you’ve probably seen tons of Retweets from me with the #engage11 hashtag. Long story short, it’s like a conference for luxury wedding professionals. Something that caused a little bit of a ruckus yesterday was regarding “styled” shoots- what I like to refer to as “inspiration” shoots. It was stated that brides are not big fans of “styled shoots”. Let’s just say that the reaction of wedding pros was akin to telling a little kid that Santa doesn’t exist. ;) Okay, okay, not that bad, but it was close.

My personal opinion on these photo shoots? I love them for inspiration- which is why I call them “inspiration shoots”, not “styled shoots”. I strive to feature inspiration shoots that are attainable and actually providing inspiration to all of you brides.

Here’s a little insight into the vendor side of photo shoots:

Wedding pros do photo shoots to show off what they can do and their unique ideas. [Example: Pro has idea they want bride to do. Bride can’t quite understand and imagine what idea will look like because she’s a visual person. Pro does photo shoot to bring idea to life so bride can actually see the awesome idea and have it at her own wedding!] Ideally photo shoots should be done to provide attainable inspiration for brides. This is how they started. But as of late they have gotten a tad bit out of control. In other words, providing inspiration, yes- but attainable for brides, no. Photo shoots have become a sort of competition. Specifically a competition of “what-is-the-biggest-mag-or-blog-that-I-can-get-featured-in”.

As a wedding professional (and blogger) who organized and participated in several photo shoots, I always made sure the designs weren’t too over the top, and that there was always some sort of item that I created that brides could create as well. But not everyone has been doing that, which is what then creates a sort of disappointment among brides- because they love what they see, but they can’t always realistically have it for their own wedding. Let’s face it- 200 vintage, reclaimed chairs most likely isn’t going to happen.

Inspiration Shoots: Yay or Nay? via

Photo by Justin DeMutiis Photography, Design by MMD Events


A little insight into the bride’s side of photo shoots:

Honestly, I loved seeing photo shoots when I was bride (and remember I was NOT in the industry at that time). But it could have been because they were still the “new” thing to do, so they were still pretty relevant. But it’s true- some of the things that I saw in photo shoots seemed like I couldn’t have them for my own wedding. There’s just something about seeing what another bride has that makes things seem more “real” I guess.

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE inspiration shoots and I will continue to feature them, as long as they’re providing some sort of realistic inspiration for brides and have excellent details. :) I’m actually thinking about doing a new call for “Style Dictionary” inspiration shoots with more of a focus on details- more to come on that another day. Wedding pros, take this as a challenge. If you’re doing an inspiration or “styled” shoot, work to make sure that is REAL and ATTAINABLE by brides!

And brides, now I want to hear from you! What do YOU think of “styled” or “inspiration” shoots? As much as I love them, I don’t want to be posting things that you hate, and I definitely don’t want to be spending my time and money on doing my own shoots! :) So tell me what you think! YAY or NAY on photo shoots??

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Founder & Editor at Every Last Detail
Lauren Grove is the editor and owner of Every Last Detail. A clueless bride-turned-wedding planner, Lauren uses her experiences and knowledge to educate and inspire brides all over the world.

19 responses to Inspiration Shoots: Yay or Nay?

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  1. Krystal

    While I enjoy a good inspiration shoot every now and then, I feel like all the wedding blogs have been overly featuring them… and some of the inspiration shoots are not that great. I would much rather see real” weddings (or even photo shoots that have semblance of reality!) . Some shoots are just soooo far fetched…

  2. Heidi Mitchell

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Are the inspiration shoots attainable? As a photographer, it seems to me that bloggers/photographers/planners turned them into a way to outdo each other, and the shoots became about them instead of brides. I’m all about realistic, attainable inspiration shoots. Emily & I are still working on one for your style dictionary :)

  3. Alexandra

    Krystal couldn’t have said it better. Some shoots are so far fetched. There is no way a bride can recreate them or planners/designers for that matter set them up in record time (because we don’t have ten hours for one table, we have 2 hours to setup 20) in addition to some of them can drive the overall cost of a wedding up. If it’s attainable, yes… if it goes off the deep end… it’s time to stop. Brides have spoken, let’s give them what they want.

  4. christina

    Inspiration shoots all the way Love them I draw new ideas and concepts from them styled hmmm yah that’s wat the undoable wedding ideas are styled its like a model with perfect everything. Including healthy eatting habit and not below her natural body weight uuuhhhh its just not real so INsPIratION alll the way I love them <3

  5. Karen Schlink

    I 100% agree with Heidi. I’m also a photographer and whenever I do an inspiration/styled shoot, I always, always, always want to make sure it is something a bride on any budget can accomplish- whether it’s using items from Etsy, details you can make yourself, or something that any wedding planner can easily find, I just think that’s what these shoots should be based around- INSPIRING brides to think outside of the box, use their creativity, and have a wedding that truly meets their needs! :) Awesome post, Lauren!

  6. Amanda

    I don’t usualy comment – but I just had to! My first thought is that Lauren is super right – brides are visual and “inspiration” shoots help us bring to life creative ideas – and sell them to those brides who are just so visual they won’t try anything they haven’t already seen. Where I differ from all of you is the part about everything being “attainable.” It’s like fashion – if I wanted to learn about attainable fashion I would never read Vogue – but I do – because I want to be wowed and amazed and I want to see something beautiful. Fantasy wedding shoots should just be taken for what they are – artistic expresion – beauty for the sake of beauty. Why isn’t that okay? And just like all inspiration – there are ways to bring the lofty ideas down to reality – after all – it’s not like these shoots are CGI!!!
    P.S. If you want 200 mismatched vintage chairs – call MMD Events and ask for I heart Vintage – we’ve got you covered!

  7. sarah

    I think style shoots are great, but they have gotten out of control lately. It’s to the point where 90% of them seem to be completely out of touch with anything a couple would actually do for their wedding. I see these over the top ones as similar to vogue magazine fashion shoots… more of art work than an actual advert for what to buy/do in the current season. blogs need to mix in more doable shoots and save these over-the-top for fun daydreaming type posts!

  8. kate

    i don’t mind the styled shoots from time to time…however i mainly come to blogs to see real weddings. Real weddings just seem more personal and attainable…

  9. Natalie {Bayside Bride}

    I agree with you! I think that styled shoots are fun to view & look at when they are attainable and show examples of how brides can actually achieve something similar. For example, doing a styled shoot and having a DIY craft within the table setting.. Then having another post that shows the bride how she can also make that item. :) Just my thoughts! Great post!

  10. Ashley Paz

    I’m really glad that this has all come to light with the styled shoots. I am a wedding planner/ Event Designer in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area, and part of what I do is inspiration shoots. One of the things that just drives me insane is when stylists loose touch of their original style element and everything begins to get way too muddled. Restraint is something that I think brides appreciate, and when they are looking at a shoot where every single detail is the current trend it is just overwhelming.

  11. Lauren Kinsey

    I absolutely agree with everyone that inspired shoots need to be attainable for the bride. For the shoot that we just completed (which the most lovely Lauren just featured! :) ), this was the main focus. The idea behind it is for brides to see things in terms of what their wedding COULD be, and not just what they can afford. For example, all the china we used came from my grandmother’s collection that was passed down to me. But, this same idea could easily be achieved by scouring antique stores for mismatched pieces (hello gorgeous), etsy, even Goodwill (i’ve scored some AMAZING things at Goodwill!).
    Also, Styled shoots gives photographers a chance to just “play” without having the time constraints of a wedding day, as well to stretch yourself creatively. Maybe for styled shoots, we could suggest ways to make the same ideas obtainable for brides?

  12. Jenn

    Amanda is so, so right. First thought is real is better, but if you don’t have avant-garde, over the top, theatrical art to draw from, brides won’t push the limits. Plus, two brides can interpret the same “unobtainable” styled shoot in two very different ways. Just my two cents.

  13. Kim {Something Spectacular/Something Floral}

    Because everyone has become accustomed to highly stylized inspiration shoots, if the designs are scaled back to more modest and simple styles of décor (which is the most realistic and attainable for the majority of brides), will viewers/brides be satisfied with what they see or will they think/say the shoots are “not good,” “plain,” “boring,” or “too simple”?

    As a formally educated visual artist turned floral artist, I appreciate the more elaborate and unique designs and shoots for their creativity and artistic value. As an artist, those are the types of shoots that truly inspire me and get my creative juices flowing. I do understand, however, how an “over the top” photoshoot can leave a bride disillusioned and disappointed when she takes the photo to her planner or florist and discovers that the tablescape setup and décor in the photo would cost nearly $1000 per table to duplicate. If a bride (or planner, florist, etc) looks at a highly stylized shoot as simply inspiration — a springboard for ideas — and not literally, they are a fantastic consultation tool.

    In 10+ years in the wedding/special event floral business, over 90% of our clients choose their bouquets, centerpieces, and other décor from photos in our portfolios, website, etc, or from photos in books, magazines, or online. Most brides are not comfortable with rough concepts and verbally described designs and cannot visualize something without a photo. That’s why bridal magazines (and now online magazines and blogs) are so popular. Brides view them for the photos and ideas, and that’s why it is so important to have a vast portfolio of work in a variety of colors, styles, and price points that brides can view. If the majority of your clients tend to choose conservative and/or low cost styles but you want to include more exotic or extravagant designs in your portfolio, inspiration shoots are perfect for that purpose. Even if that particular concept or design is out of a bride’s reach or budget, a wedding pro can explain ways the same or a similar look or concept can be designed but in a more conservative or low cost way.

    Long story short, I think stylized/inspiration shoots have tremendous value. I think brides would miss the shoots they’ve become accustomed to and would soon discover a serious lack of variety and lack of new ideas if photoshoots were scaled back to only what’s attainable (which is all relative — every bride’s budget or DIY skill level is different) to the majority of brides or if they featured only real weddings.

  14. Natalie Clamp (chic Sweets)

    Great article Lauren. My issues come with everyone doing the same type of shoots. I was going mad with everyone bringing the same “vintage-type” shoots to the table. I think as wedding professionals we shouldn’t take feedback coming from engage as a negative but as motivator to bring something that is not only unique, but accessible to our brides.

  15. Alicia @CharityWedding

    I think you made some excellent points but I agree with what Amanda said. Often times Vendors do inspiration shoots to push the limits and show what they can do. They are not supposed to be real weddings so the thought that they should be attainable doesn’t really make sense to me. I think they are a way for vendors to be incredibly creative and sometimes they will create something realistic and sometimes they won’t. I agree that these shoots are almost an art form and not just a quick wedding set up to show couples how things might look. As a Bride I loved looking at these shoots and still do. I love to see the creativity of people and the things they can come up with when there are no time constraints.

  16. louise @ bijoux bride

    I love inspiration shoots! But i do agree that some have become ott. inspiration shoots are there to do just that ‘inspire’ and as brides become more creative and prepared to do more diy i think they appreciate ideas that can be interpreted their own way. its also great to explore new trends and ideas, rather than just the current ones!

  17. Glamour and Grace

    Great post Lauren! I really don’t understand the fuss about inspiration shoots. As a bride, I was never disillusioned about them or felt like they were unattainable. They are inspiration and meant to be taken as such. That is what magazines and blogs are for, to give inspiration. Just as when brides look at a real wedding, they take ideas and details they love to make something their own. Even the real weddings that have been in Martha Stewart and Brides for years have been high budget and unable to recreate for most brides. And I don’t even see why brides would want to completely recreate a real wedding anyway. Every thing on blogs should be taken as pieces and details and inspiration for creating your own day!

  18. Laura

    I totally agree with Megan (Glamour and Grace). I definitely appreciate the artistic opportunities of an inspiration as an event planner/designer, I value the opportunity to work with other vendors because of the shoots, which in turn become invaluable relationships for my clients. I would much rather have my client be inspired to create than be bored and settle for something she doesn’t love wholeheartedly. I’m always up for a challenge! :)

    LOVED this post, Lauren!

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