Why wedding 'inspiration' is making you feel crap.


There's something you should know about those perfect looking couples (& their sickeningly beautiful weddings) that you've been saving on your Pinterest boards...


 Chris & Ruth Photography

Chris & Ruth Photography

Most of the time, everything in those images - from the long tables filled to overflowing with beautiful succulents and cascading foliage, to the "too gorgeous to be real brides" with their flower crowns and 'dead behind the eyes' smiles, all wrapped up in the arms of a stranger with an immaculately groomed beard - is staged.  

These faux weddings are known to industry professionals as 'Styled Shoots' and you're seeing them all the time - knowingly, or unknowingly. In fact, SO much of the 'wedding inspiration' that we see online just simply isn't real.

That fake wedding you're currently swooning over was elaborately planned, and funded, by a bunch of creatives - photographers, florists, designers - that exchanged their services for the use of those impossibly flawless images to promote themselves. And it totally works.   

A quick search on google for 'styled shoot' returns 3.5 million results.

What starts as an innocent browse for bouquet ideas can quickly turn into an hour-long trawl through a wedding blog featuring Vera Wang-clad models stood on a boat dripping with florals shipped from the South of France just for the occasion. It’s unattainable, and completely out of your budget.  

The internet is overflowing with this so-called ‘inspiration’ - and it's beautiful. But it's making us feel like crap. 

 Nicole Ashley

Nicole Ashley

 Chris & Ruth Photography

Chris & Ruth Photography

you’re not alone.

Joel & Jess - Jessica Withey Photography - The Wedding Squad

Being a photographer, I've been no stranger to a 'styled shoot' or two (or seven) in the past. Even now - I have an inbox full of other professionals proposing that we collaborate together on a styled shoot. The themes range from 'Beauty & the Beast' to 'Natural & Organic' elopements - & I get it. I really do. Everyone wants to flex their creative muscles, and one of the only ways to show potential brides what you're actually capable of as a creative - is to go all in and show them. 

I, by no means, want to discredit the amazing talent of these people, or condemn anyone who takes part in these shoots - but allow me to explain myself...

2 years ago, I got married to the love of my life - my Lydsy. It wasn't until I was a bride-to-be myself that I realised how incredibly SUCKY it was to be on the other side of those shoots. I'd photographed the same set of stairs at our wedding venue completely covered from top to bottom with elaborate florals, trees (!) & foliage spilling over the banisters. It was glorious - seriously. > > >

I was getting married at the same venue just a short year later, and it dawned on me that I would never walk down that same flowerclad staircase as a bride - we could just never afford that kind of extravagance. 

And so, without even knowing - the bar had been set, and I had to settle for something seemingly less than 'the dream'. 

In reality - if I'd never seen that 'inspiration', the bare staircase would have been enough (seriously, it's breathtaking) but, instead, I had to wrestle with my desire for something more. 

And isn't that just the point ? Those instagram photos that you're obsessing over have raised the bar higher than any bride-to-be with a normal budget can reach. And quite frankly, it sucks. 

 Photo by Jessica Withey Photography 

Photo by Jessica Withey Photography 

So, what do you do? 

Here's a few tips, from a gal whose been there, on banishing those negative wedding planning spirals and how to come out the other side actually motivated to create a wedding that's your own. 

kick comparison in the face

Social media, the world wide web - they're incredible, but they’re not without their faults. A relentless stream of highlights and stringently curated content can make it seem like everyone else in the world is living the dream, and the same goes for wedding inspo.

Remember that what you see online is rarely the truth. Most of what we see everyday is purely there to entice us to spend money. People've gotta pay those bills! 

Keep a level head, and remember that it's marketing, just like that Charlotte Tilbury billboard.

Your love, your story - it's your own and it deserves to be celebrated without the pressure of whether it's going to be cute enough for instagram. 

Inspiration, Not Imitation

It’s SO easy to get wrapped up in what we think we want for our wedding day. Suddenly we're costing up 180 individual potted cacti to give to every single guest… let's be real - do you even like cacti? Did you see that somewhere on Pinterest? Probably. 

Inspiration is all about planting a seed from which your own unique ideas will grow: it’s your once in a lifetime wedding, don't let it be an imitation of someone else's story. 

Treat everything you see as motivation to kick-start your own unique ideas; breathe your own personality into your wedding. I promise you that you, and your guests, will have so much more fun if YOU DO YOU. 


Unfollow the people & the things that make you feel rubbish. 

When it comes to the things that influence us online, it can be hard to separate what’s helping us from what’s hurting us. Take a step away from social media for a sec and get perspective. Why not go back through your own photos of you and your babe and pick out some really memorable days - how can your wedding include that little in-joke - or your mutual love of cats? You are the only inspiration you need. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Where do you find inspiration for wedding ideas? Does it help you or make you feel crap? Let us know in the comments below. 😘

Jessica Withey1 Comment