There are many questions a bride really needs to ask her potential wedding photographer, but there’s one question that is often overlooked, and it could make all the difference in the world. Here it is:

Are the images you’re showing me from a styled wedding shoot
or are they from an actual wedding?

See, when you go to bridal shows or meet with potential photographers, they’re going to try to put their best foot forward by showing you their very best “wedding” images. You may notice that the word ‘wedding’ is in quotes. That’s because many photographers show you incredible images that never actually happened at any wedding ever. They were made in what is known in the industry as a “Styled Wedding Shoot.”

A Styled Wedding Shoot usually involves a couple of models and multiple wedding vendors at some amazing location. We dress the models up in the hand-picked dress and grooms-wear. We have a florist place arrangements and a stylist helps dress the set. We add killer props and create a “make believe” wedding. We choose the perfect time of day, and we have time to not only pose the models, but we can bring any kind of equipment we want and need to get an amazing shot – and we get plenty of “do-over” time. There is nothing left to chance at these shoots. Everything is processed to perfection – and well, that’s the problem.

A Styled Wedding Shoot produces incredible images that are not at all indicative of what a photographer can produce on a real wedding day, without models who know how to pose or props and flowers from vendors or fantastic lighting equipment that one would only normally use in a studio.  Not at all.

If you’re a bride, you need to ask every potential photographer: “Are the images styled  or did they really happen at a wedding?” If they’re showing you images from a Styled Wedding Shoot, make sure you’re asking to see images from an actual wedding. In fact, ask if you can see the results from an entire wedding. Any reputable photographer should have those readily available for you.  Seeing an entire wedding will give you a much better idea of what a potential photographer can produce during a real wedding.


Andy Armstrong is a 12-time international award-winning Master Photographer who is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. He specializes in portrait, commercial portrait and fine art portrait photography. Andy Armstrong captured the image that is shown in this article on Josh and Amanda Rivait’s wedding day near Nashville, Tennessee. It required special, portable lighting and an assistant.