Creating Stationery for a Styled Shoot!

Amber Lynn Photography

So you’re doing a styled shoot! Yay!

As someone who created stationery for 13(!) styled shoots last year, I’ve learned a couple things…and because I love you (and I wish someone had told me all this stuff a year ago), I put it all into this handy guide! Read on for all my styled shoot stationery tips and tricks you’ll want to know before you dive in!

FIRST OF ALL, WHAT’S A STYLED SHOOT?

We’re starting off the basic question you might be too embarrassed to ask! If you’re new to the wedding industry, styled shoots are basically pretend weddings that allow wedding vendors to show off their creative ideas and talents. Everyone creates beautiful things, a photographer works their magic, and a beautiful “wedding” is born.

Ashley Ludaescher Photography

BUT, WHY?

You’ll have to talk with the person coordinating the shoot, but the usual end goal is to get published in a wedding publication, which gives all of the vendors some exposure. Sometimes vendors just want photos for their website & marketing, to highlight a new venue, add to their portfolio, or because they’re bored out of their minds (thanks COVID!).

Ashley Rae Photography

I WAS ASKED TO CREATE STATIONERY FOR A STYLED SHOOT! NOW WHAT?

Before I get started on any designs, I love to have a quick chat with the shoot coordinator to hear about what they have in mind for the shoot. This gives me a good idea if I’m the right fit and it’s something I want to invest my time and money in. There are plenty of styled shoot horror stories out there (and I’ve had a few interesting experiences myself), so it’s important to have clear expectations, on both sides, from the beginning. Here are a few important things to ask:

What is the goal of the shoot?
Do you have a mood board or Pinterest page for this shoot?
Who are the other vendors?
When can I expect to see photos & how may I use them?
Can I see some examples of styled shoots you’ve done in the past?

If the shoot coordinator is having trouble answering any of these questions, I usually take that as a red flag. I also try to steer clear of anything being thrown together in 2 weeks or less (unless it’s with vendors I know and trust).

Some stationers also require the shoot coordinator sign a contract, which is a great way to ensure you and your stationery don’t encounter any styled shoot snafus. You can find a great (and affordable!) Styled Shoot Agreement from Holly at Sablewood Paper Co.

Once we determine I’m a good fit for the project, I get into the fun stuff – all the nitty gritty details of what style of stationery they’re looking for! You’ll definitely need to know the color palette and overall style of the shoot so you can create stationery that accentuates all of the other components.

I also like to check in with the coordinator to see if there are any details they want me to include in the stationery, like a specific date, venue, ceremony time, or meal choice. Most coordinators are super-flexible and give me free rein to create, but it’s always best to check BEFORE you design a whole suite.

Here’s my list of questions I ask the coordinator:

  1. What pieces do you need?
    • Invite
    • Details/map
    • RSVP card
    • Envelopes/liner
    • menus (quantity?)
    • place cards (quantity?)
  2. Do you have any specific requests for:
    • Couple’s names
    • Wedding date/time
    • Venue
    • Wording formality
    • Menu items
    • Place card wording (“Bride”, “Mrs.”, names, etc.)

CREATING THE STATIONERY!

This is the fun part! Styled shoots often leave lots of room for stretching your creative wings, so use it as an opportunity to test out that new idea you’ve been mulling on, to showcase something you do really well, or a new item you offer!

Kelley Williams Photography

WHAT PIECES DO I NEED TO CREATE?

Obviously check with the shoot coordinator on this one, but I’ve given you a basic list of what I usually include down below. The main thing to remember here is that the photographer will be taking pictures of your suite while it’s laying flat. This means if you have anything on the back side of your suite, you’ll need to include an extra piece so the photographer can get both sides in the same photo.

Oana Foto

Here’s my checklist of items I send for a styled shoot:

  • Invitation front (and back, if needed)
  • RSVP card front (and back, if needed)
  • RSVP envelope, addressed & stamped
  • Details card/map
  • Outer Envelope front, addressed & stamped
  • Outer Envelope liner (not folded)
  • Stacked invitation suite with wrap/ribbon/wax seal/etc.
  • Menus
  • Place cards

PRO TIP: I also like to include a handwritten thank you note to the coordinator and a handful of business cards that she can pass out to her clients.

WILL I GET PAID FOR MY WORK?

Short answer: probably not. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Sometimes there is a budget that allows for vendors to at least get reimbursed for materials – but this has only happened once in the 13 shoots I did last year, so don’t get your hopes up.

Since you’re likely not going to make any money directly from the shoot, you’ll want to consider the value that you will get. For example, you’ll have the opportunity to network and develop some great vendor relationships (that can lead to referrals for everyone!).

You’ll also end up with photos of your work to use on your website, social media, and marketing materials. Just make sure you properly credit your photographer’s (and everyone else’s) work! If those photos get published, then you give a little boost of exposure that certainly can’t hurt!

SHOOT DAY!

Kelley Williams Photography

If you’re able, it’s always fun to attend the shoot and see how it all comes together! You can also walk your photographer through your suite pieces and point out anything you’d like them to highlight.

If you can’t attend the shoot, feel free to share anything the coordinator and photographer should know via email and even take a quick photo of your suite laid out for inspiration.

AFTER THE SHOOT

No matter what the goal of the shoot, you’ll need to wait for the photographer to actually edit the pictures. If you’re trying to get published, you may not be able to post any of your work or the photographer’s photos on social media, so be sure to check on the publishing plan with the shoot coordinator before hitting the “Share” button!

Loveridge Photo & Film

MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

I’m about to give you a little tough love here, so hike up your big person undies. Styled shoots are SO much fun and it’s easy to get swept away by all the gorgeous photos, but more than likely, even if your styled shoot happens to get published, it’s not going to bring you instant stationery fame and success.

Sigh.

Here’s the good news, though! Styled shoots are a great way to gain experience and build your portfolio! If you’re just starting out and haven’t had many (any?) paying clients yet, styled shoots are the perfect way to experiment without the pressure of impressing a couple for the biggest day of their lives. Use this as a chance to play with printing logistics, test out a new paper or vendor, or get creative with that wax seal!

Kelley Williams Photography

My favorite part of the styled shoots I’ve done is all of the wonderful “friend-ors” I’ve met! As I mentioned, styled shoots are an awesome way to collaborate with planners, photographers, and other vendors you admire and are such a fun way to network. Who knows, you may get your next client as a referral from someone who loved working with you on a styled shoot!

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