How & Why I Style a Wedding Day

Confession: If you had asked me even 10 years ago what wedding styling was, or why it was important, I wouldn't have known. It's a concept that is relatively new in the wedding world, and has only been a part of my career for about 7 years, but now I can't imagine any of our clients' weddings or my role without it. 

Styling is not the same as event design. It definitely isn't the same as wedding planning. When I refer to my role as a stylist, I'm talking about the time and skill I use to actively prepare details for editorial style photography on a wedding day. The term "styling" has been pretty trendy over these past few years, but I think it's often misunderstood or disregarded as something frivolous. So let's clear that right up. 

When you see photographs of wedding stationery, bridal accessories, tabletop place settings, and perfectly lit rows of candles in magazines,  you're looking at content that has likely been styled purposefully for each image. Often when I tell people this, they're taken aback at first. It's a natural reaction to think "so this is all fake?" But let's think about this a bit more deeply... Many items and environments at a wedding may be styled to have a visual presentation worthy of editorial coverage, but that does not mean they're not real. Furthermore, if something is worthy of editorial coverage then that's wonderful, because your guests are surely worthy of having the opportunity to experience it in real life. The reasons styling are such a critical part of our process for weddings are twofold: 

1.) Our clients deserve to have the best possible photography from their wedding day. I work hard to ensure that happens by enacting a thoughtful selection process to pair each client with the photographer that I genuinely feel is the very best fit for them, and then by working closely with that photographer to set him/her up for success. Wedding days are fast-moving and full of moments that need to be photographed. If your photographer has to spend time styling details and art directing, that's less time they have to be photographing you. Your photographer also doesn't always have full familiarity with the design plan and all of the aesthetic details in the way that I do as a creative director. I'm going to think like an editor and help ensure that your entire wedding is represented thoughtfully, thoroughly, and cohesively in those styled detail images. Am I saying that photographers don't think like that as well? Not at all. Some do. The best photographers do. So if I'm partnering with a photographer who shares this goal and is on the same page about all of this, then we really make a powerhouse team! 

This is an iPhone snap taken by Callie Davis of  Nancy Ray Photography  from a recent wedding. I had no idea she took this but love that it shows a bit of the process. Those images of the invitation suite and paper items will be so meaningful to our bride and groom! 

This is an iPhone snap taken by Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography from a recent wedding. I had no idea she took this but love that it shows a bit of the process. Those images of the invitation suite and paper items will be so meaningful to our bride and groom! 

2.) Our business model depends on it. Simply put, it's imperative that we have great quality photography to show our work in our portfolio, and in publications. We do eight full-service weddings per year, which means we have only up to eight full wedding design projects to share with the world each year. We limit this number so that we can serve our clients well, and that's a business model we've championed for years because we know it truly makes a difference. Our clients may learn about us by attending a wedding as a guest, or through a personal word-of-mouth referral, or they may find us in a magazine, or on Instagram. However they learn about Rebecca Rose Events, we know this to be true: they are going to do their research before reaching out to have a meaningful conversation about working together on their wedding. What do I mean by "research"? You guessed it... they're going to review our portfolio and seek out images of our work. In other words, by the time we hear from them, they probably know our work backwards and forwards. If we're not sharing recent design work, we're not going to be hired. Plain and simple. This is the reason that interior designers bring in photographers to photograph before and after images. This is the reason that restaurants bring in photographers to photograph dishes for new menus or showcase events. This is the reason that fashion designers and stylists request images of couture gowns they design for their clients. If nobody can see our artistic work, then we're not marketing our business well. 

Bottom line: if I'm intentionally styling design elements and details on your wedding day - everybody wins. Your photographer can work at a level of optimal efficiency, you receive the very best photographs, and we ensure that everyone has what they need. 

Lastly, I want to say this. Styling requires knowledge and skill. It's something I study. It's a part of my livelihood that I work hard to continually improve so that I never stop growing as an artist, and so that my work can always be at its best for our deserving and discerning clients. It takes practice, and technical know-how. Styling isn't just a trendy buzzword we throw up on our website and on our client proposals for no reason. I believe wholeheartedly that this part of our approach to wedding day production matters every bit as much as the work that our logistical team performs in coordinating a wedding day. 

I hope that sheds a little light on this subject! 


P.S. Stylist is just one of many roles. If you're curious about the different roles in the planning/design industry as they relate to weddings, check out this post I wrote in early 2016. Happy reading!