Styling Tips From the Wedding Industry’s Top Stylists

Education Styling Wedding Planning
Styling Tips From the Wedding Industry’s Top Stylists

There is an art to showcasing the months of work that go into a wedding day. So much goes into showcasing the design story of a wedding day, from styling invitations to creating live vignettes to making sure table-tops are photo-ready. Here, you will find tips from top planners, stylists, and industry creatives who shared their insight to help you style wedding days and elevate your work.

Tips from Shira Savada

  1. Truly consider what story you’re telling and how to tell it authentically. Don’t bring your random collection of props, your go-to surfaces, and your favorite spool of ribbon and just do what you’ve done before. Each wedding and each couple is different, so play to that. Consider the linens being used. Is it more traditional or a bit more relaxed? Use materials and colors and other items already being incorporated into the wedding day.
  2. If I could make a request, it would be to never see an invite shot on a hotel carpet again. And if I could add a few more: don’t include scissors in the invite shot. Or shoes. I actually don’t even like rings or ring boxes in there. It’s about the invitation, and I want to spotlight that.
  3. Keep in mind that it’s not just about the composition of whatever you’re styling; it’s also about the angle you’re shooting, the framing, and the light. They all work together to make the best photos.
Styling by Shira Savada. Photography by Squire Fox.

Tips from Beth  Chapman

  1. Have your bride bring her maid of honor or whoever is going to be responsible for getting her dressed and for affixing her bustle to her final fitting. Have them practice the process of getting her dressed and also bustling her gown so that they all feel prepared and can ask any questions to the seamstress.
  2. Instruct the bridesmaids to be sure to bring the shoes and undergarments that they plan to wear on the wedding day with their gown to their alterations appointments. This will help to ensure a proper fit and will avoid fashion emergencies on the wedding day.
  3. Be sure to have an on-hand emergency kit that includes: double-sided tape, safety pins, bobby pins, needle and thread in the color of the maids’ dresses, the wedding gown and the groomsmen’s attire, a lint brush, scissors, Band-Aids, tampons, tissues, Advil, Tums, and stain remover. 
  4. To experience a stress-free wedding day, you may want to suggest your bride hire a bridal dresser. A previous article I wrote helps explain the benefits of a bridal dresser.
Styling by Beth Chapman. Photography by Carla Ten Eyck.

Tips from Kaleb Norman James

  1. When designing with color, I always like to work with multiple shades of the same color. The variation within the different shades adds contrast and variety and also helps create tones that feel consistent. A lighter and darker shade next to each other acts like a natural highlighter, whether it’s with floral or paper goods, linens, or more.
  2. A thoroughly designed flatlay should take into account three key elementals: a backdrop that grounds the design, balance amidst distributing the pieces, and creativity in accentuating with or without props. It’s less about the design of what you’re working with and more about the strength of the way it’s set that makes for a beautiful flatlay. 
  3. A dynamic tablescape should include varying heights. If you’re working with low floral centerpieces, adding in taller glass hurricanes or taper candles adds a dynamic aesthetic shift with the varying heights, causing your eye to navigate through all the details rather than just see a consistently level table and move on. The change in elevation across the tabletop adds not just beauty, but also drama and emphasis.
Styling by Kaleb Norman James. Photography by Lance Nicoll.

Tips from Elizabeth Gopal of East Made Co

  1. I like to think about each wedding as its own individual brand. We spend ample time at the beginning of our design process getting to know each couple on a more personal and stylistic level so we can craft a multi-faceted design that will truly evoke their personalities. People are layered and complex, so our designs include broad themes (color, location, mood) as well as smaller ones (memories, tastes, feels). From the flatlay detail curation to the venue to the tablescape, every detail of the day returns to the cohesive brand we’ve developed for our couple. 
  2. The actual styling of a wedding is typically even more detailed than the design plan. I describe it to our brides like this: say you’re hiring a design firm to build and design a new home for you. The design process encompasses the location, building process, materials, and finishes. The styling process encompasses the next level of detail: staging the rooms with furniture and, finally, personalizing your space with mementos and meaningful touches. Wedding styling creates vignettes (beyond only flatlays) and also allows guests to wander from scene to scene and be absorbed into the true thought of the celebration. 
  3. While specific moments are of course crucial to every wedding celebration, we also focus huge importance on small artifacts and details: the handkerchief your grandmother used to wipe away her tears on your mother’s wedding day, the cufflinks handed down to your groom from his grandfather, the love letters you exchange on your wedding morning that your future children will discover and treasure. A wedding flatlay isn’t just a collection of beautiful details; it includes memories, traditions, and heirloom treasures. Thus, every flatlay should tell a story unique to the couple, and a talented stylist can pull select items that will only serve to enhance the beauty of this story. 
Styling by East Made Co. Photography by Sophie Kay.

Tips from Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather

  1. Elevate your stationery flat lays to add dimension to the shot. Don’t just style it flat. A lack of depth, dimension, and shadow are a trend among bad flatlays. Also, avoid things that are overdone. For example, scissors don’t make sense in a flatlay and don’t include wax sealer with a suite that doesn’t include a wax seal. Basically, don’t throw the kitchen sink into your flatlay work. Focus on telling a story.
  2. Everyone has a crutch, something they do over and over. It’s very important to identity that and try not to fall back on that often. For example, some may always fall back on including ribbon or flower petals. My crutch is including the ring box with invitations. Study your own work and find the patterns and the things you fall back on.
  3. Having time to style at home before a wedding can be really helpful. I’ll even shoot possible options on my iPhone so that on the wedding day I can re-create it quickly if I need to. Also, having those iPhone shots are great on days when you are getting pulled in a million directions because, in a crunch, I can send those photos to the photographer to help them style.
  4. Remember that styling is about more than just invitations: it flows over into the reception. Salt and pepper need to be removed, trash cans and dumb waiters should be out of frame, tables need to be straight, and — a personal preference — pre-set water should be removed.
Styling by Birds of a Feather. Photography by Apryl Ann.

Styling is an art form that is surrounded by solid principles and techniques. More than just moving a few paper pieces around on a canvas backdrop, styling requires a sense of balance, composition, and dynamics. I hope these tips from the world’s top stylist will help with your approach to styling flat-lays, tabletops, and all aspects of the wedding day. What other tips and techniques do you use while styling for your clients?

Lead photo styled by East Made Co and photographed by Stetten Wilson, with florals by FLWR Studio.

Lance Nicoll is a wedding photographer and InFullFrame founder with a background in fine-art and editorial photography. Lance also holds a graduate degree in graphic design with a branding focus and has done brand consulting for the apparel, fashion, and wedding industries. As an educator, Lance has had the opportunity teach college courses for over a decade and holds corporate education camps and wedding industry speaking engagements.