In many ways, it is true to say that you can't learn how to be a really great stylist - and much like an artist, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However you can absolutely improve your skills and technique, which will come in handy if you are a real bride planning your own wedding or if you are a vendor organising a styled shoot or attending a real wedding without a stylist booked.
- Create a brief. This is absolutely the first step in setting the scene for your decor and styling. Think about the atmosphere you want to create, textures and materials you are drawn towards, colours you feel at home with. The design plan should ultimately fit beautifully with the venue itself, let that scene guide your choices.
- Colour. Pick a palette not just one colour, and create a digital moodboard (even if it’s just a pinterest board of images!). Make sure to have co-ordinating accent colours, and don’t be afraid to add a pop of something bolder in there if necessary. Contrast can be a good thing.
- Find the right suppliers.I can’t stress this enough. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and other suppliers for recommendations and referrals, but do keep an open mind and do your research. It’s essential you get the right person for the job, and they won’t necessarily be those your friends have used before. We all have our own personal style, so don’t be afraid to reach out and make new connections. If looking at venue supplier recommendations in particular, then double check that they are the right fit, and be sure to ask if the venue receives commission from those bookings.
- The Boys. Luckily ill-fitting hired suits are much less popular these days, but I'll stress again - get the groom at least to invest in a great suit he'll wear for years and years. It's a very sensible part of the wedding budget to spend on and he deserves to feel special too.
- The Girls. Please save the photographer hours of editing and do a quick check that hair and make up is in place throughout the day (I carry spare hair grips at all times!). Tuck tags into dresses, and adjust accessories if they need it. Keep a mini sewing kit nearby, you'd be amazed how often I have used mine!
- Accessories. Don’t forget about these with your photographer, and make sure to set them aside with a pretty boxes for the wedding day. It may even be your normal day-to-day jewellery - and remember to wear your engagement ring to the ceremony too (on the right hand).
- Stationery. Order an extra full suite of your stationery and make sure the photographer receives this in advance to arrange and shoot on the day if possible. Otherwise they can always take it home and style + shoot it themselves afterwards with less time pressure.
- Florals. A huge part of the wedding design and styling. Your brief and florist should be well aligned with a coherent plan. Ask them to also provide some spare stems for styling stationery and accessories (see above).
- Tablescapes. Think about the practical use of the tables, as well as layering and eye lines. Each place setting needs to look beautiful, but also a joy to eat at. Make sure the linen complements the florals and the stationery, and think outside the box on cutlery and glassware.
- Candles. You can never have too many candles or too many flowers. Sadly some venues won't let you use them, and battery ones are acceptable alternatives if so. If you do have them, make sure to get 8 hour burn tea lights and non drip taper candles. Light them early as they twinkle beautifully in photographs and if scented, will really change the atmosphere of a room.
- Sweet treats. The cake can either be an amazing centerpiece or a bit of a DIY fail! I’ve been on the receiving end of some terrible cakes for both real weddings and styled shoots over the years. I always carry spare ribbon and edible glue for that reason! Remove existing ribbon if necessary, add lots of fresh flowers, and choose your angle wisely.
- Sometimes less is more. I’ve seen vendors and real brides attempt to gather lots of details and decor together in one place and the result is messy. Give your props space to breathe and shine!
Ensure you tell your photographer that they can move items to allow for better composition!
What works for guests or for practical reasons, might not work best for your photos. When they capture detail shots, they shouldn't be afraid to manipulate the scene in some way. Removing distracting elements, placing things in better light, repositioning items so they work well together. I promise that will provide you with much more attractive final images for your album.
Of course if you hire a fantastic photographer and professional wedding stylist then you can relax and ensure that everything is being looked after for you in advance and on the day. Your wedding styling should be a natural extension of all the other planning activity - ultimately creating a personal, intimate, elegant and memorable event for you and your guests.
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