Day of Does: A Styled Shoot, Part I

Part I

Happy off season, everyone! Since my next wedding isn’t until January, I’m filling my days with projects, marketing plans, and writing…lots of writing. Day of Pittsburgh has grown from my side hustle to my main gig, and I’m trying any and everything to grow during these winter months!

So far, I’ve expanded our day of services to include marriage proposals, bridal and baby showers, and bachelor/ette parties! I’m running a contest to win a free proposal coordination, and am checking in with all of my 2018 couples to collect as many photos for my portfolio as possible. I’m really leaning into that ‘throw everything at the wall and see what sticks’ game plan.

Also! I qualified for The Knot’s 2018 Best of Weddings! That was a huge goal of mine when I launched. Hooray!

My last wedding was in mid-October, and for the last month, it’s been a time management dance between: What should I be working on right now? to panicking that I haven’t booked enough weddings for 2019, to Chill! This is your down time, enjoy it! When there’s no deadline, and no boss breathing down your neck, where does your sense of urgency come from?

That’s the thing I love about owning your own business. It’s on you! There is no downtime. Which brings me to my off season goal: Plan and direct a styled shoot!

When I first started Day of Pgh and discovered the concept of a styled shoot, I recoiled. I found them offensive, fake, and to be honest, dumb. It’s everything I hated about the wedding industrial complex:

  • Unattainable expectations: Perfect in pictures, but logistically impossible.

  • Dripping in unnecessary expense: You don’t need all that crap on your table!

  • *Shouts aggressively at the newly engaged* Your wedding doesn’t count unless you have ALL THE THINGS!

As I’m writing this, and really thinking about why I felt this way, it came down to insecurity. When a jaw-dropping image from a styled shoot executed by my Pittsburgh colleagues popped up on my Instagram feed, it made me feel inferior. My impostor syndrome kicked in and dared me to delete every photo I’ve shared of the beautiful real weddings I’ve coordinated. Because how will I ever be that good? Might as well stop trying. Comparison is the thief of joy, y’all.

It also hits on a fear that’s always in the back of my mind: That I’m not creative. I pitch my planning services as a magic wand of logistics, Google Sheets, and structure, because that’s were my confidence lives. Even as my fiance and I plan our wedding, our timeline is finalized down to the minute, yet I find myself second guessing the aesthetic decisions we’re making. I think this fear is rooted in being creatively responsible for events I had to plan—and receiving very negative feedback—and didn’t want to plan…which is a story for another post.

That fear is such BS that I’m laughing out loud. I’m creative AF inside and outside of my business. Wait ‘til you see what my dance team does in April. Have I mentioned I coach the Duquesne University Dance Team? It’s the biggest thrill of my life.

Anyways, I spend my first two seasons owning the ‘styled shoots are dumb’ mentality and passive-aggressively ‘liking’ all the photos from them on my feed. Cool.

Earlier this fall, I met and instantly clicked with Pittsburgh wedding photographer Kathryn Hyslop at the grand opening of LUXEredux Bridal Boutique in Lawrenceville. Naturally, the topic of styled shoots came up.

Two proseccos deep, I blurted out: What’s the point?!

Newsflash…there are multiple points!

  • Push the envelope: It gives wedding vendors a chance to flex their creative muscles without having the expectations of the couple’s preference. You can literally redefine what a wedding looks and feels like.

  • Attract your dream client: Sick of burlap, ivory, and peonies? Do the opposite! A styled shoot is a visual representation of the kind of weddings you want to plan. It will attract couples who want what you’re posting.

  • Get published. Nationally.

  • Network. With. Other. Vendors. Couples (especially in Pittsburgh!) hire vendors trusted by other vendors. Need I say more?

I was a convert, and decided to lean into my fear. I took Kathryn to coffee a few weeks later, and we started brainstorming. She was on board to be the photographer! Next, we needed a venue. And a vibe.

I’ll be updating this series as the planning continues!