Wineries typically have an old-world, romantic feel, but once you see the stunning details of this gorgeous wedding at HammerSky Vineyards, you’ll be convinced that a winery can totally pull off a modern vibe.
A MODERN INVITATION
A MODERN MONOGRAM
It doesn’t matter what kind of wedding you’re having, your invitations are going to set the tone from the second they hit your guests’ mailboxes.
To make sure guests knew this would be a fun, but modern affair, we started with a bold color palette. Shades of blue, yellow, and salmon gave a summery feel, while a modern monogram kept the invitations feeling “grown up”.
WAX SEALS and MODERN SHAPES
Color was not lacking in this wedding and we counterbalanced all the blue with pops of salmon pink in the envelope and wax seal. A chintzy floral envelope liner brought a feminine touch without being overly romantic.
Especially unique was the layered diamond invitation, designed carefully to display information along the visible edges so guests don’t miss a thing!
Calligraphy often has a fussy, romantic feel – unless it’s done by the right hands! We pride ourselves on our take on modern calligraphy. Our modern style is a little bit fun, a little bit sassy, NEVER stuffy, but always classy. (Was that a haiku?)
THE BIG DAY
WAX SEAL PLACE CARDS
We brought some cohesiveness to the day with a wax seal place card, featuring the same salmon-colored hydrangea seal that held the invitation together. And what is a place card without our modern calligraphy? Nothing special. So of course we used some shimmery salmon ink to add a pop of pink to the tablescape.
LAYERED TASSEL MENU
We loved the layered look of the invitation so much that we just had to carry it through to the menu too! Shades of blue and yellow, along with some modern typography, gave this menu a fun and interactive feel. And, hello, can we talk about that layered tassel?!? You can guarantee guests took that menu home, because it was just too good to leave behind!
An edible tablescape?! Sign me up! This gorgeous centerpiece featured beautiful blooms AND delicious treats from the garden in all the stunning hues of the couple’s palette.
Let’s face it. Taking pictures of pieces of paper just isn’t the same as capturing an adoring couple on the biggest day of their life.
But there is a difference between good stationery photography and GREAT stationery photography – and whether you’re a professional wedding photographer or a stationer looking to expand your image portfolio, I’m here to let you in on all of my secret tips for achieving swoon-worthy photos of stationery!
o1 – Choosing a Surface
This should be obvious, but I’ll go there anyway – ya need something to put your stationery ON before you photograph it. Now, what that something is…well that’s up to you.
Here are a few helpful hints when selecting a backdrop for photographing stationery:
Choose a neutral color that compliments the colors of the invitation. Bright & bold is OK as long as it still allows the invitation to shine!
Avoid super-busy patterns, they just eat up those invitations and the photo becomes all about the pattern.
Texture is always welcome, but make sure it doesn’t compete with the invitation vibe. A busy texture plus a busy invitation only make for stressed out eyeballs.
It should be relatively flat – iron out any wrinkles and make sure you have a clear, well-lit space to lay it on
Avoid using shiny materials, as they also compete with the invitation for your eye’s attention.
You’ll want something about 2′ x 3′ to give your invitations enough room to breathe. And here are a few of my favorite items to use as backdrops for photographing my stationery:
White poster board (the not shiny side works best)
Upholstery fabric – it’s usually fairly sturdy so I don’t have to iron it too much and comes in mild colors/patterns/textures that compliment a wide range of invitation color palettes
Velvet, suede, & velour – have a rich feel, also don’t require a ton of ironing
Muslin – very inexpensive and has a linen look, it will force you to become best friends with your iron
Vinyl photo backdrops – you can find them in a variety of colors and prints (marble is my favorite) on Amazon
Styling mats – fabric mats that you can just roll out as needed. They’re a bit of an investment, but pick a few key neutral colors and you’ll be set for life!
My styling mat collection
02 – Laying Out the Invitation
The absolute BEST thing you can do to elevate your flatlay photography is, well, elevate everything!
Seriously, do not just flop the invitation pieces on your styling surface and call it a day. Instead, put something underneath each piece to give pieces different heights and create some visual interest. I usually use acrylic table number stands, washi tape, or my kids’ LEGO bricks, but honestly anything flat and rectangular will do the trick (pack of gum? sure! deck of cards? yasss! that little plastic box your SD cards came in? perfection!)
03 – Make Sure Everything Is Straight
There is nothing that irritates my brain more than a slightly askew piece of stationery. Yep, I’m that person.
Just take a few test shots and make sure everything looks straight and evenly spaced out. Sometimes things look good when you’re viewing it in 3D with your eyes, but it’s super obvious something went awry when you see it in 2D.
A few other tips on laying out your stationery:
If you’re using your iPhone, take advantage of that grid you can put over your photos and use it to make sure you’ve got everything lined up.
Sometimes stationery isn’t perfectly flat, so don’t be afraid to gently bend it if there’s a bit of a curve to it.
The invitation piece should be the focal point, so put it in the center and with the most elevation. The other pieces can fall in around it, slightly lower.
Arrange pieces the way we read – left to right, top to bottom (in case you were wondering…) – to keep things pleasant for your viewer’s eyes and brain.
04 – Tell A Story
Ok, finally to the fun part – accessorizing your flatlay! You want your flatlay to tell the visual story of your couple and their wedding. The items you add to your flatlay help tell that story, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!
Here are a few of my favorite styling goodies I always keep stocked in my styling kit:
Silk ribbon (variety of colors & thicknesses)
Shells and beach glass
Tiny acorns and pinecones
Bride and groom place cards
Of course florals are ALWAYS a beautiful choice and add so much visual interest to the flatlay. Just make sure whatever you’re using doesn’t compete with the invitation and that it all still flows from left to right and top to bottom.
AND NO SHOES ALLOWED! Plopping a pair of shoes next to the invitations in a flatlay is just about the biggest pet peeve there is among stationers (besides chicken stamps and paper shortages). Shoes with stationery don’t bug me that much personally (especially if they’re really good shoes), but how about we just don’t do it so everyone’s happy, mkay?
05 – Find the Light
Try to photograph your work in an area with lots of diffused natural light. Avoid direct sunlight because you’ll end up with lots of crazy shadows. Low light will make your invitations look dingy or force you to increase the exposure to a point where the text and artwork on your invites gets washed out.
I also recommend investing in a few Lightroom presets to give your photos a cohesive look and simplify the editing process. You can also make your own presets!
Enjoy Your Beautiful Photos!
You’ve got all the tools for a successful stationery photo shoot, now go take some photos and watch the compliments roll in on your beautiful flatlay photography!
Need Flatlay Accessories?
Shop our collection of place cards, escort cards, and Styled Seconds to add to your styling kit!
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.
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!).
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:
What pieces do you need?
place cards (quantity?)
Do you have any specific requests for:
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!
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.
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
Outer Envelope front, addressed & stamped
Outer Envelope liner (not folded)
Stacked invitation suite with wrap/ribbon/wax seal/etc.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!