For the longest time, I (Sandra) wanted to create a dream wedding photography styling kit for styling wedding details. At long last, I’m happy to announce that I have put one together one that I absolutely LOVE!
A styling kit is a collection of items that are used alongside photographing unique wedding day details. It’s a collection of decorative, gorgeous, and practical items that photographers use to enhance wedding day images and elevate imagery.
Styling kits are typically used by wedding photographers during the early morning portion of a wedding day, when the bride and groom are getting ready. But a styling kit can come in handy any time you are photographing objects, including photographing tablescapes during a reception for instance.
Photographs of styled details are special because they beautifully highlight the objects, keepsakes, and wedding day items that matter to the bride and groom. But most of all, these objects are visceral touchpoints for telling the unique story of a wedding day. These kinds of detail shots are perfect for blogs, social media, wedding day albums, and are also now essential when it comes to submitting a wedding for publication on platforms such as Two Bright Lights!
Enter the styling mat. Our number one most favourite wedding photography styling kit item is our styling mat and here’s why you need to arm yourself with one of these babies, too!
Styling mats are lovely linen (or velvet or suede material) backdrops for flat lay photographs of wedding day details. Flat lay photography, otherwise known as photos that are taken from above, was originally been made famous by bloggers and Instagrammers such as Shay Cochrane (she’s basically the mother of flat lay photography!). They are so popular because beautifully they minimize 3-dimensional objects into 2-dimensional vignettes. When styled using powerful compositional rules, flat lays can become works of art that could even stand on their own.
And here’s why you need a wedding photography styling board. You arrive at the bride’s getting ready location but there are literally no surfaces to photograph details that are clean, neutral backdrops flooded by natural light (all keys for great detail shots!).
What do many photographers do? They photograph the wedding stationery, wedding shoes, and rings on a bare kitchen countertop circa 1974 or are desperate start looking for literally any surface they can find, wasting precious time and risking that it really won’t look that great in the end. We’ve all been there! It’s true-to-life. But there’s something to be said about elevating common items to feel as special as they are.
We love how styling mats make everything look more editorial and immediately more beautiful. They provide clean easy-to-transport backgrounds for photographing details without distractions. You can also bring them directly to your best source of natural light. And by using neutral surfaces that match the colours and themes of the wedding day, there is consistency across your galleries.
You can take the DIY approach, from painted foam boards to painted canvasses. But honestly, these will only last a small number of times before they get destroyed or don’t do what you want them to do! Take it from me! We made out own styling mat and it was a huge labour of love! I love it but it doesn’t roll (without creasing!) and that is not so handy on wedding days. It’s not the greatest long-term solution.
The good news for lovers of locally made beautiful products? We ADORE the hand-painted mats from Thistles and Lavender based in the Toronto area! They are crafted with a lot of love by Lindsay, an art teacher who creates them through DM requests on Instagram. These Styling Mats are equivalent to what you’d spend in making one yourself without all of the effort!! They are the most affordable (and possibly most beautiful) mats for Canadian photographers by far. You need to check them out and tell them we send you over!
KISS Books is a very reputable company that makes gorgeous mats if you want something ready-made and simple, but they are pretty pricy, single-sided, and if you are in Canada like us, the shipping is super pricy! If you already have a KISS account, you can log-in here to purchase a KISS styling mat. They also make stunning albums (one of our favourite wedding album companies) if you want to check them out!
Use our link to get a $50 credit to your account after you place an order of $100 or more.
An even better option to consider are these styling mats from Olive & Oak Mats on Etsy! We are so happy we discovered them. Their pricing is very reasonable and their options are so pretty! What’s more? They are double-sided and rollable so you are basically getting two for one (start the car!!!). AND you can get linen on one side and velvet on the other if you want, and they come in the most beautiful neutral shades! Can you tell I’m a little excited about them? We ADORE ours so much and got their double-sided pearl velvet styling mat with white linen on the flip side, plus this cover mat to keep our styling board pristine when using it on the ground! The pearl option is their most popular styling mats and once you get yours you will know why! Check out the Olive & Oak Etsy Shop here.
We love pretty velvet ring boxes! They are our number two must-have item in our wedding photography styling kit. Sometimes brides purchase one as a little gift to themselves (love this) and you can also get it monogrammed for that extra special touch! It makes for stunning photos of those sparkly rings! But not all brides think about this detail. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared!
Instead of using the standard company-branded ring box from the jewelry store with a store logo on it, use one of these!
Our favourite option is to support local businesses when we can. And does the one we found ever create beautiful heirloom quality work at a fraction of the price! Our favourite ring box shop is an Etsy Shop called Eva’s Gift Store from Ottawa, Ontario. They have some absolutely gorgeous velvet ring boxes that are hand made with love that you can purchase. So before shelling out a lotta money for an official Mrs. Box, take a look at these which are just as stunning heirlooms, way kinder on your wallet, and made in Canada! If you are a bride reading this, they also can monogram your initial (how awesome is that…).
If I could have only one more must-have item, it would be ribbons! Hand-dyed silk ribbons are perfect for creating visual interest in styling wedding day details. They help lead the eye and create visual interest for detail images that pop.
If you are a DIY kind of person, then head over to Fabricland for chiffon fabric that can be hand-torn creating nicely frayed edges. Get all of the neutral colours – blush pink, white, cream, baby blue! DIY ribbons are easy to make but their edges fray easily which gets annoying when you are styling wedding details.
If you are in it for the long-haul, it’s a nice idea to invest in some nicer ribbon options. And the great news is that it doesn’t have to cost a lot. We stumbled across this gem of a shop called Lovely Heart Things where you can buy hand dyed silk ribbons, hand dyed cotton ribbons, and gauze runners at such an affordable price point! They provide free shipping, too, which is so incredible and unlike most silk ribbon shops! We love their blush hand dyed silk ribbons, sage hand dyed silk ribbons, and their eucalyptus cotton ribbons the most for their subtle neutral shades. Check out Lovely Heart Things on Etsy here.
For years, I lived on struggle street when it came to flat lay styling. I was so frustrated because I was a trained artist before being a wedding photographer. I expected everything to just click, and when it didn’t, I was hard on myself. For all the education you will ever need regarding layflats, there are many choices. But trust me, they are not all equal. You will definitely want to invest in Rebecca’s Yale’s Flat Lay Styling Masterclass. I’ve tried many others, but hers is the most comprehensive. She uses art theory and history as the basis so the concepts are much easier to grasp and apply. She is the industry’s wedding flat lay master and you will have everything you need to begin styling like a pro with her education.
It took me time to land on the perfect styling kit. With so much trial and error, I’m happy to share a the contents of a kit that makes me feel confident when I walk into a wedding day. I’ve included some links below, a few are affiliate links and many are not, but everything listed are items that I truly love.
This one is a question that haunted me for so long. I could never really find the perfect size or format that made me happy. Until I found this gem of beauty that all stylists and photographers will love. The Plano 137401 Guide Series Stowaway Rack Tackle Box System (in Sandstone) finally fits everything, and compactly! When looking online for the perfect storage solution, I spent hours and was shocked to find no perfect solutions shared. So let me save you time. This storage box is IT!
This box turned styling kit master is divided into 6 sections. The best part is it can double as an emergency it too!:
The following list of our kit items will be listed according to these groupings so you can see how you can easily store it all for quick organization and access!
Want to know all of the other items that we have in our wedding photography styling kit?
These are the items that make your flat lays feel luxurious and elevated
These items are what I always know I will need to set up a good flat lay
You never know when a button needs to be sewn or a corsage needs some extra reinforcement. There are certain things you can cheap out on for your kit, but I would avoid that when it comes to items like scissors, thread, and other sewing items. Dollarstore sewing kits never stand the test of time.
Bonus: Make sure you have the BEST light when staying and photographing details. We made a DIY foldable v-flat that is PERFECT for bouncing good light back into styled details. Check out this link here to see the tutorial we followed to make it!
We hope you liked our round-up of our top three favourite wedding photography styling items plus styling kit share! These three starter items (plus having those little extras in your kit) will elevate the feel of your work right away and we know your couples will love the results!
Are you a wedding photographer who is looking to up your impact? Check out our photography business courses review where we recommend our favourites here.
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We're Dylan & Sandra. Married photographers, donut lovers, and obsessed with family and our squishy toddler. We're so glad you're here! Grab a drink and stay awhile for classic + joy-filled love stories in and around the GTA, London, Niagara and the best-of wedding advice!
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