What Exactly is a ‘Styled Shoot’?

Even if you’re not in the process of planning a wedding, chances are that you’ve seen a Styled Shoot on a blog, magazine, or website.  But do you understand what exactly it means?

What Exactly is a Styled Shoot


It looks like the perfect little table setting, with the coolest design and cute vintage furniture, so naturally it has caught your attention.  Maybe you’re planning a wedding or a dinner party, so you’re on the hunt for floral centerpiece ideas as well as vendors.  So when you click on the photo and learn that it was actually a styled shoot and not a real event, should you feel a little bummed out?

The answer is not that simple.

What Exactly is a Styled Shoot?

Firstly, let’s talk about what a styled shoot is:  A planned gathering of a select group of vendors and/or creatives that have put together a mock event with a pre-determined design aesthetic for the purpose of adding professional photos to their portfolio, and/or submitting the photo shoot to a magazine or blog publication. The styled shoot may have a model, or models, but it’s not necessary.  It will almost always incorporate a professional photographer, and sometimes wedding planners, catering companies, floral designers, event stylists, hair and makeup stylists, bakers, graphic designers, etc…

Styled shoots take a lot of planning, and often times, money.  That’s why they always look perfect.  Most shoots are donated time and materials by the vendors, and they are not directly compensated.  A styled shoot participant may spend weeks planning just one table for one scene, along with any expenses required to achieve the desired look. So, does that mean that the same design details and materials couldn’t be implemented at an actual wedding or event?


Rising Tide Detroit Styled Shoot
Pixie Dust Events setting up a styled shoot in Detroit

Not necessarily. I can’t imagine that a vendor would use materials in a styled shoot that they don’t have available to their clients.  That would defeat the purpose participating in the shoot and adding it to their portfolio (for marketing purposes).  But, what a styled shoot does not take into account is the actual event/party/wedding, and all of the requirements/timelines/restrictions that live events entail.

While styled shoots do come with restrictions and deadlines due to availability of event space, and lighting/ weather happenings, they are pretty much planned out to the smallest details.  The stylists and photographers typically have the time and space to set up the shots to perfection (or, at least close-to-perfection).


Then What are They Good For?

If you are planning an event with a specific theme or “feel”, and need some inspiration and ideas, this is where styled shoots can become the most useful.  For example, if you were looking for some lighting and table linen ideas for a Moroccan-styled engagement party, and find a cool Moroccan-themed styled shoot, then this will likely help spark your creativity, and give you a starting point.  Now you’ve got an idea of what colors to design with and what type of flowers to incorporate into the party’s theme.  It’s highly unlikely that you can exactly copy a styled shoot for a real, live event.  It’s best to pick 1-2 things that inspired you in the photographs and focus on implementing those into your design plan.


Detroit Styled Shoot Model Bride
Behind the scenes of a styled shoot in Detroit. Dress from Detroit Bridal House, bouquet by Take A Seat Events.

Maybe you are searching for a floral vendor for your upcoming wedding, and find a styled shoot with exactly the type of bouquet you are looking for.  You might have just found your florist – because you already know that he/she can accomplish your goal.  In essence, styled shoots are a fun marketing tool.  Not only do the vendors love to get together with colleagues and plan out the perfect scene, but the end result (photos & maybe a publication in print) are pretty and inspiring.


Does That Mean It’s Not Real?

If you’re a follower of The Wedding Cat, then you know that this site’s bread and butter are the real weddings and real stories from real brides.  Here we love to discuss what brides did and didn’t accomplish for their big day, but we also like to talk about inspirations for the big day.  Is a Ralph & Russo Couture Wedding Dress a reality (for most)?  Or, is it just fun to look at and dream about finding something similar for your wedding?  Think of styled shoots in the same light.

Ok, all of that said, The Wedding Cat participated in a styled shoot this past weekend with some badass creative ladies from the Detroit Chapter of The Rising Tide Society.  Look for all of the details and the pretty pics in an upcoming article!



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One Comment

  1. March 8, 2017

    I like that vendors get to show off their creativity on a styled shoot. It provides inspiration of what a Bride could have. Keep these coming! Informative and fun.

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