I have been involved in my fair share of bridal styled photo shoots over the years, and have even put one together in the past with a large crew singlehandedly..but it's been a few years and my creative brain was itching to plan another one of my own. As you can imagine, it takes an army to create something beautiful sometimes, which is why I solicit the help of amazingly talented local wedding frien-dors (Wedding vendor friends) whom I love to surround myself with..in order to execute it! I wanted to write this blog mainly to go over the process of putting a shoot like this together, and also to show off and introduce you to some of the fab vendors I work with.
First off, it takes inspiration and an idea! I have always been very inspired by nature and the outdoors, so I knew I wanted to have it in a place that was unique and beautiful. One of my favorite places to hike is in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I have roots there. I learned to ski the second I could walk at Boston Mills/Brandywine which is right around the corner. The hiking trail behind Happy Day's Lodge is absolutely breathtaking, and I knew I wanted that to be our location. The stone stairs and moss covered cliffs would make you believe you were somewhere other than Ohio. I also pull lots of inspiration from Pinterest..seriously..what did people even do before this site?! Here is the link to my inspiration board for this shoot. I invited all vendors involved so they could also pin their inspiration based on mine.
I wanted to give each vendor the creative freedom to take my inspiration and run with it, based on the color palette, textures and vibe of the shoot. This can always go one of two ways..people get it..or people don't. Sometimes you have to buff out misunderstandings with these things..for example: This shoot was taking place in the woods which may lead people to believe the theme is rustic, but I wanted to make sure the vibe was more romantic, and less rustic. I think as creatives we are very visual people, so it helps to have visual aides in this case. Creative freedom is so important to me because I feel the more you put your trust into someone and just let them do their thing, they will produce their best work.
After creating my inspiration, I go through a period of up to two months prior to the actual shoot date to put the feelers out on which vendors might be available to help and when. The end goal of these types of shoots is to get them picked up by wedding blogs and featured so readers can get inspiration of their own for weddings, or even potentially hire the vendors involved for their own weddings. The people involved will also get copies of the photos from the shoot for their own personal use. Styled shoots are a great way to build or update your business portfolio. After a few months of trial and error with nailing down vendors for each specific category, we choose a date and set a time. The more vendors involved, the more detailed the shoot will be, and the more likely it will be featured since there are more details!
About a week or two out from the shoot date, I make sure to organize pick up and drop off times with the vendors supplying me with goods for the shoot, and make sure the people who will be present for the shoot know all of the final details. The more details communicated the better, so everyone can be prepared especially
on an outdoor shoot where the weather could be less than ideal.
After a day or two of running around to collect the items needed to make the shoot perfect, I send out one final email confirming the address and time. These things rarely go on without a hitch, so of course after ordering the perfect ring box to display the rings..I left it at home nearly an hour away from the shoot location. A week before the shoot..I also realized we needed a cake or at least a decoy cake. I had to scramble to find someone with availability to make us one last minute, which was not easy..but I did it! Listen, if that is the most that goes wrong..I consider myself lucky. Howeverrrr we had one other little hiccup..the park ranger approached us as we were just finishing setting up and ready to shoot.. to let us know we needed a permit to shoot in a national park. Who knew!? He also let us know he had gotten multiple complaints since we were blocking the natural staircase with our pretty set up. He asked who was in charge and of course I had to own up to it, and he said he had to take my social security number and give me a warning. I had no intention of leaving quickly after he warned us, so luckily he didn't swing back around. I'm pretty sure he knew we were harmless and just wanting to create pretty photos! Anyway..here is me getting written up while holding lipsticks to touch up our model.
The hike back to the location was about 10-15 minutes, with no bathrooms and no place to change. Sometimes you have to rough it and bring sheets to make your own changing room. After some final touches and touch up's..we were ready to shoot! Set up took about an hour and a half, so we had to get moving in order to keep the park rangers happy. We shot for a couple of hours, and packed up shop and got out of there before dark! Great success! Not everyone was able to actually attend the shoot, but here is a photo of those who were after we were able to say "That's a wrap!"
If you want to know who was involved in this stunning shoot which I cannot share just yet..here are their business names and links! It never ceases to amaze me how much talent there is in this city and how fortunate we are that they are all so sweet! I can't thank this crew enough for all of the hard work they put in to making my vision come to life. It is always so gratifying to see things come together better than you could have even imagined. Without further hesitation..here is the list of these rockstar vendors!
Photography: Emily Millay Photography
Emily has always been a dear friend and favorite vendor of mine. Her photography skills are second to none, and she creates the dreamiest of photos. She has a real eye for catching moments you may not realize are even happening, and making them pure art. I went on a once in a lifetime trip with Emily & Haley (below..of Lather a Salon) last April to Iceland, Ireland and France to capture styled shoots in each country and it was truly an amazing experience that I will always be thankful for! I am excited to say she will be photographing my wedding in September :)
Videography: Storybox Cinema
I met Chris through a photographer friend of mine, and was immediately obsessed with his work. The minute I watched one of his wedding films for the first time I got serious goosebumps and cried. No joke! He just moved to Cleveland recently from Seattle, and we are all here to welcome his talent with open arms :) I will also be using his services for my wedding..and I can't wait to see the detail he captures!!
Styling: A Charming Fete
This was my first time working with Lauren Hibbard of A Charming Fete on a shoot..and let me tell you she knocked it out of the park! I always love working with Team Fete because they are so well organized and have simply amazing style and taste. You guessed it..I am also using them for day of event coordination for my wedding!
Makeup: MkleinmanArtsitry (Thats Us!)
Hair: Lather Salon
Haley has been cutting my hair for a few years now and is a master at all things hair. Her fun personality and eye for detail is truly impressive, and I love working weddings side by side with her! She also attended the trip with Emily & I last April..and nailed each style for every shoot perfectly. She offers many different services, so be sure to check her out if you are in need of a new stylist!
Suiting/tailoring: Davide Cotugno Executive Tailors
Marisa of Davide Cotugno Tailors and I met at a bridal event a few months back, and I just knew I needed to involve her in the shoot somehow. They offer custom suiting among many other menswear options at their shop. If you are looking for custom work for your wedding..look no further!
What can I say..always a favorite for wedding gowns and accessories!
Florals: The Red Twig
I met Mishell at a bridal event a few months ago and was wowed by her floral installations. She is so talented and has a wonderful eye for floral design.
Rings: Wanderlust Jewelers
I have had my eye on Wanderlust for a couple of years now, and knew I had to include their beautiful work in this shoot. They make custom engagement rings and wedding bands that are so unique and different.
Hair accessories/earrings: Entwine Bridal
I met Lisa at the Cleveland Flea's bridal event, Local Union a little while ago and took her card knowing I would contact her for this shoot. Her bridal accessories are so delicate and intricate as well as perfectly handcrafted. If you are looking for accessories for your hair or jewelry..you need to check her out!
I've known Kim for a while now, and was so excited when she told me she was interested in participating in this shoot. I love her writing style and her style in general. If you are looking for custom wedding invites, signage, or other calligraphy Kim is your go to gal.
Cake: A Cupcake A Day
Shawna and I have known each other for a few years now, and she totally saved my butt on this shoot with a last minute cake! Check out her fab cupcakes and confections in Medina square :)
Textiles/linens: Drift Lab Textile Co.
I met the ladies of Drift Lab Textile Co. just a few weeks back at Borrow Rentals open house. They hand dye fabrics with natural materials to create beautiful pieces for your home or wedding. They can custom dye to match your wedding colors!
I carry Ice+Jam to sell to my clients and love their genius packaging and hydrating lipsticks. They are so pigmented and moisturizing, and come with a little mirror in the cap! See..I told you..genius!
Models: @mimoedm @linds_spit
You guys saved my butt when I was having trouble finding a couple to model in the middle of a Monday afternoon...so thanks a million!!