We’re going to begin this weducation session by referencing one of the basic principles of science. That being, with every action, there’s an opposite and equal reaction.
Why exactly is this relevant to weddings, and in particular, to wedding styling? We’ll explain.
Over the last few years, a magical shift has taken place in this industry.
Rather than getting caught up in the pomp of traditional ‘white weddings’ that we’ve all seen in the past, more and more couples (we dare say yourselves included) are opting to create customised, personal celebrations.
From choosing a unique wedding venue to replacing certain traditions (e.g. think dessert bars rather than one single big cake), modern weddings are about saying “Hey, we love each other and we want to get hitched. And we’re going to throw a party that says ‘this is us’ to make it official”.
But back to the science part.
Unique wedding venues (like all of these) are often blank canvas spaces that offer a glorious amount of flexibility to create whatever look and vibe you want.
By choosing one of these venues (action), the reaction that occurs is the need for wedding styling to make the space look amazing.
Which brings us right back to the subject we’re discussing today – wedding stylists: what do they do and do I actually need one?
The short answer is ‘a lot’ and ‘maybe’. It depends how hands-on and DIY-inclined you are, and whether you want to spend your wedding day setting up or sitting back and sipping on champers.
It’s totally understandable that most of us don’t fully understand all that’s involved in the wedding styling game (given that we’re only planning our weddings once – touch wood).
So to really get to grips with this service, we chatted to some of the best wedding stylists in the biz – Ashdown & Bee, Etc. Event Styling, George & Smee, Pippin & Otto Studios, Owl & Bear and The Wedding Designer.
Read on below.
What is a wedding stylist?
In a nutshell, a person or team that works with you to design, set-up and pack-down the event styling for your big day.
There’s no one ‘set’ job description for a wedding stylist but here are some of the things that most can and will do :
- Meet with you to chat through your ideas for how you want your wedding to look and feel
- Work with you to create a personal style for your big day – from the ceremony and lighting to the furniture and beyond
- Hire out styling items from their own inventory of goods
- Source specific items for you on request
- Be there on the day to set up your styling
- Be there after the day to pack-down your styling
So… what’s the difference between a wedding stylist and a wedding planner?
Ashdown & Bee: Usually it’s a little tricky to know where the line between stylist, planner and florist sits. Each stylist has varied services, so it’s best to chat with your professionals and know the full scope of their brand and what they can offer.
We love to incorporate all of the above and tailor each category to best suit the individual client. Other stylists who stick to more of a coordination or decorating service should be able to point you in the direction of fabulous florists and planners to compliment your style and work cohesively as a team.
What are some of the misconceptions of wedding stylists?
George & Smee: It’s not too often that the average person plans their wedding! So it’s totally understandable that couples won’t initially realise what goes into the styling and flowers.
Sometimes a set-up will appear seamless and simple but that’s because we’ve purposely created that look and feel, when in actual fact it could have taken a team of 10+ a day and a half to execute. It can be tough at times and the pressure is astronomical but we love what we do. Both of us just adore our jobs with every inch of our souls.
Ashdown & Bee: That styling is super easy and anyone can do it. Some people also think our job only takes an hour or two (the time when we’re physically at the venue setting up.) Short bump in times actually create more work/stress for us, and more staff are usually required to ensure our level of attention to detail and perfection is attained.
There is a lot of work that goes on behind-the-scenes leading up to the day, on the day and after the event. Our 2 hour ‘bump in’ at the venue usually is a 16 hour day for us with packing vans, collecting furniture/props, bumping in, installation and bumping out at midnight etc.). That’s not including the item sourcing, emails, site visits, returning props/furniture afterwards etc.
Pippin & Otto Studios: That I make a billion dollars a job and spend half the year sipping cocktails on the beach.
That I have many minions working under me and I just point and bark directions (I’m generally a one woman show with either my sister, fiancé or a close friend being on call for bigger jobs)
That preparing for a wedding is a one-day occurrence and I breeze in for a few hours, make the money and leave. It can take weeks, even months to source, upcycle, repair and make styling props for your day. Plus there are many MANY hours of emails and client correspondence.
The Wedding Designers: A lot of people think our job is glamorous! It’s not! We are never dressed fashionably, our bags are full of cable tie cut-offs and twine, and we spend far too much time in and out of the truck moving furniture!
Owl & Bear: Some couples have the misconception that all wedding stylists are also wedding planners. Whilst some stylists are also planners couples do need to research who best fits their needs and make sure everyone is on the same page, couples need to clarify if they are looking for someone to assist in the planning of their entire wedding or just style and design the ceremony and reception.
What are the advantages of having a pro look after your wedding styling vs. doing it yourself or having a friend do it?
Owl & Bear: Having a pro looking after your wedding styling is stress free! You can leave it in their hands and know that everything will be taken care of. There is no need to stress about how you, your family and friends are going to set up and pack up everything and still have a great time (trust me, this never happens!)
Having a pro look after your wedding styling also has the benefit of that they will know all the best places to hire wicked items so that you have the raddest styling out there! (and you aren’t hunting around 5 different Kmart stores to get the quantity of jars you need!).
Ashdown & Bee: A professional stylist works on weddings and events every week, so generally have quick solutions when things go wrong behind the scenes (and they always do!.
What are the benefits to hiring a wedding stylist?
George & Smee: You could use a stylist if you:
- Are stuck for design ideas or have too many ideas
- Want to see your vision come to life
- Have no idea where to start
- Have a difficult venue or location
- Are given a short bump-in & out time
- Don’t want the stress of doing it yourself
- Don’t want to burden your family and friends
- Want to be prepared for potential disasters- like rain
- Don’t want to pack up
- Want to focus on being gorgeous and loved-up
Etc. Event Styling: Stylists LOVE trend spotting and are often very creative thinkers. If you’re truly wanting to brand your day, then a stylist will design bespoke concepts just for you. This gives a unique and intimate feel to your day. We love hearing guests walk into the room and say ‘Yep, this is so Nicole and Justin’. This is when we know we’ve successfully styled a day just for our couple.
Pippin & Otto Studios: We will be here for you to bounce ideas off, help you find solutions to any problems that may arise and make friendly suggestions about what will work and what might not. We can retrieve quotes for you, co-ordinate bump in’s and bump out’s, liaise with the venue and have everything ready to go on D-day. Plus we have some killer connections.
Why do you think wedding stylists are important when there are so many brides that believe they can DIY?
Pippin & Otto Studios: There are totally brides out there that can DIY. If you’re super-organised, time rich, know exactly what you want and have the connections to achieve it I don’t doubt for a second that you wouldn’t be able to follow through.
The beauty of having a stylist on board is that you can customise their level of involvement. The planning and the build up alone can be extremely stressful so it’s important to consider hiring a stylist to take some of the pressure off.
Not sure where to find 50 x multi height birch tree tea light candle holders? No worries, we’ll do it for you. We’ll do the time consuming, detail related jobs for you so you don’t have to think too hard about them in between worrying where to sit aunty Rita. Because if she’s too close to uncle Bob, there might be a scary altercation.
What are some of the things that you do that couples may not realise are part of the job?
Etc. Event Styling: Early mornings. Very late nights. Hundreds of emails and phone calls. Logistics management. Coordination and meetings with your suppliers to ensure everyone is on the same page. Scheduling. Debriefing. Ordering. Hand-making. Lots of ladder climbing. Cleaning. Ironing (I never iron at home, only table cloths and napkins haha!).
And although we absolutely adore our job, our families and friends do bear the price we pay in eating dinner by the computer instead of the table or missing weekend activities to suspend florals from a wedding arbour. We are so passionate about our role in your day but are so lucky our families and friends respect this of us during wedding season.
George & Smee: There is sooooo much more to our jobs than just making a room look pretty. From getting up at 4am to go hand-select flowers from the markets, to staying up until past midnight to do the pack-down. On weekends we don’t really sleep, which is why our Sundays and Mondays mean everything to us.
We personalise each event so this often means, painting, making and creating new and old things for hours. We also dedicate a lot of time to our quoting and design briefs. It’s essential that we get this perfect, as it’s the brief that guides what gets packed in the truck and the styling on the day.
There are also situations where we have to step in as on-the-day coordinators when we haven’t really been employed to do so. We make sure the other vendors are across what they’re doing and everything is running smoothly because at the end of the day its important to us that everything is just right for our couple.
After we have packed up an event comes the cleaning. Each and every piece needs to be checked, cleaned and sorted in the warehouse and one of the biggest parts to this is cleaning the candle wax of everything, which takes forever!
Why should I consider hiring styling items instead of buying them outright?
Etc. Event Styling: A lot of DIY brides tend to buy items in bulk for centrepieces etc. The thing is, a stylist may have these for hire or can outsource them for you instead – and often at a cheaper or same rate as your retail purchase price.
They set them up, pack them down and you don’t have to worry about storage, organisation, logistics or trying to resell them post-wedding.
Because there are a lot of DIY brides out there, we’re hearing it’s becoming harder to on-sell wedding items because the market is becoming flooded with this and too competitive. You often end up storing these items for months and selling at a much, much lower price in order to just get rid of them.
WedShed note: we thought we’d chime in here to say she’s right. We bought furniture and styling items for our own weddings and guess what? Despite trying to flog them off on Gumtree and eBay, they’re still sitting in the garage a year later.
What are some of the things that effect how much your services cost?
George & Smee: There are so many cost considerations that can affect the price of your styling package and its super important to be across these before you book your venue.
Often couples book a venue without realising they’ve signed a contract allowing only a 2 hour bump in time… or their room is only accessible via 3 flights of stairs. Anything is possible when it comes to our packages but these things will influence the quote.
Here are some of our top considerations that might affect your styling quote:
- Travel required
- How much furniture and décor is desired
- If lighting is needed
- Flowers and hanging greenery (this is a big one)
- Size of the team needed
- How long it may take to set up
- How much time is allowed to set up (the less time, the more staff required)
- Site visits
- Supplier management
- Bump out procedures
How many hours would you say you work with a couple on average in total (both before and on the day – and after)?
The Wedding Designers: We spend around 150 hours planning and prepping your wedding. From the initial enquiry to the creative brainstorming, picking out the right styling pieces, cutting out your menus and binding your bouquets.
On the day we can spend up to 12 hours putting up lights and installations, wiring your cake flowers, lighting candles and putting out the place cards. Then we come back in the next few days and pack everything down, clean it all and put it away neatly!
Pippin & Otto Studios: On average, I’d say at least a good two weeks worth of full time hours goes into a normal job for me. This includes all the nitty gritty such as emails, sourcing, meetings, proposals (which sometimes can take up to 5 hours alone), site visits, prop prep, set up, pack-down, delivery, pick-up and travel.
How labour intensive is your job?
Ashdown & Bee: Extremely!! Sometimes we feel like we move house every weekend… A lot of the job involves packing the van, unloading at the venue, carrying up stairs or indirect paths, then packing items back up and re-loading them.
THEN there is unloading the van at our studio or if we’ve outsourced, then re-loading and taking to the supplier and unloading. PHEW.
Pippin & Otto Studios: I’m essentially a glorified removalist. Remember J-Lo from the “Wedding planner” all polished and in heels? Picture the opposite.
George & Smee: Well let’s just say if you work for us you won’t need a gym membership. We are constantly running around, lifting and carrying things. I think we could create a new work out routine called ‘wedding stylist on a Saturday morning’
Owl & Bear: SO friggin labour intensive!! I think people underestimate how much is actually involved in styling and designing a wedding! I have so many bruises and cuts from moving couches, bars and tables and the odd rose that stabs me with death thorns now and then. And loading and unloading our truck is like a massive game of Tetris!
If it’s cheaper for couples to find their own styling items and pieces, can you help by consulting on images and providing recommendations?
Ashdown & Bee: Yes of course, this is all part of our job! We work with our client’s budget and their ideas and props to make it all work together cohesively.
Do you have different price structures?
Yes – wedding stylists have different price structures depending on the level of work and also the amount of stuff hired. All stylists will provide a custom-built quote based on the unique elements of your wedding and your budget.
What’s your biggest wedding tip you can give couples planning their weddings?
Etc. Event Styling: Trust your vision, ensure you can relax and still have a laugh, ensure you have a great relationship with your suppliers and most importantly, please have fun!
The Wedding Designer: Keep it simple, focus on what it important to you as a couple and don’t forget what the day is really about!
Ashdown & Bee: Select a few key elements that are super important to you both e.g. abundance of floral, oversized neon signage etc, and throw your budget at these elements and keep the rest minimal and refinded.
Also, we love to create a talking point or wow factor in every space we design so recommend doing the same!
George & Smee: If there is a particular vendor you want to work with, ask them to recommend other suppliers you might need. Don’t book a venue without being across how it could effect your vendors. Always have a plan B in case of rain. And Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to organising your ideas
Owl & Bear: Don’t underestimate how much is involved in planning a wedding and hire a stylist! 😉
Pippin & Otto Studios: I have heard SO many couples claim, “We’ve got this, it will be easy, Aunty Kat will light all the candles and Grandpa Joe will set up the chairs and ALL WILL BE GREAT, SMOOTH AND PERFECT”.
Often all does not end up great, smooth and perfect but it can be a lot easier for a reasonable cost. A lot of my jobs come from people who realise months – sometimes weeks – before their day that a hell of a lot more is involved than they initially thought. And I get so much lovely feedback from couples who tell me their day would not have gone nearly as smoothly if they had done it all themselves.
Also HAVE FUN! People get so caught up in the stress of a wedding they forget the actual purpose of it. At the end of the day, if you’re surrounded by the people you love after just marrying the person of your dreams then how could it not be the best day ever? We’ll just be in the wings helping you make it your own with a few personalised details.