First Styled Shoot: Stepping Stones Garden

Styled shoots were one of those things that wedding professionals often talked about but I never personally knew how to get there. Even just the sound of a styled shoot sounds daunting and only for the “elite”. When talked through the process with my amazing team leader (Taryn), my thought was “that’s it”. What am I missing? It’s like this light bulb went off. It’s a wedding without the guests?

As I did my daily work at Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals how could you not dream of all these possibilities and themes that could be someone’s wedding. The Skagit Valley Wedding Tour was happening in about a week. As I tell her about my visions to one day have a styled shoot, merely how all our great ideas together unfold (last minute, and amazingly) she threw the idea of, why not have your first styled shoot the day after the wedding tour.

Now, first off, this weekend felt like we had four good sized weddings going on with all our linens out at the tour, nonetheless actually having a couple large weddings out that weekend. I stumbled around on the idea, coming to the conclusion of, well if we have so many rental items out already what could a few more hurt, right?


My first styled shoot was last minute, truly last minute. Taryn came up with the grand idea of using the talented Shamay’s floral design that we were going to be using the day before, providing me with floral that somehow matched perfectly with my not one, but two themes I had dreamt up. Days later at the Skagit Valley Wedding Society meeting, Taryn flags over Leilani, (Owner of Leilani Photography). Taryn tells her about how we’re trying to throw a styled shoot together within a matter of days. Bless her heart, Leilani saves the day! In a cheerful voice she agrees to help us out.

Wedding Planner, Check.

Wedding Rentals, Check.

Floral, Check.

Wedding Photographer, Check.

At this point I’m realizing we’re missing one huge factor….a wedding venue!? Taryn (having the great ties in the wedding industry she does) makes a call to Kendra. Owner of the beautiful Stepping Stones Gardens. Where she has no problem with us using the venue. In that moment, somehow all the moving pieces were working together. Days later. The styled shoot was taking place. Since I hadn’t done a styled shoot before, I had so many questions. How early do I setup? Did I pack enough of everything? What if when I get there things don’t look the same as they did back in the showroom?



I planned to show up at the venue four-five hours before Leilani would arrive. Thinking that was more than enough time to set up four small tables, and grab some lunch. As I start to set up the first head table, I start to come to the realization maybe I should have given myself more time? An hour in and I have a two person head table to show for it. I thought It’d be different to try to set up these four tables in unrealistic yet really cool spots. What I didn’t realize is that entails carrying the tables, chairs, table setting ware, linens, floral, decor and any other odd ends to these different locations spread out across the venue. I get to setting up the second themed “guest” table. In my mind this was the table I was least worried about, done the demo table for it, it was supposed to be easy peasy. Of course, this was the table that I really had to work with and learned how important it was to bring spare linens in a variety of colors, just in case. A little tweaking of the table and things fell into place.

Time was one of those things that surely slipped away. I was working on the second themes “guest” table, realizing I was down eight or so napkins. How could that happen? I honestly can’t say. After lists and lists of the exact numbers of things and thinking it thoroughly through. It just shows you that you can plan all you want and there will still be slip ups. Taryn brings the rest of the napkins over when she heads our way.




Around this time, it’s t-minus thirty minutes. Leilani arrives, preparing and checking out the locations. As I make mad dashes across the venue (which felt like constantly), do to my decor being at different locations. I realize, I’m starving. Lunch? It was a nice thought, but how was I supposed to know four tables could take five hours!

The thing that I struggled with most and I think what really took so long was this wasn’t someone’s wedding and their vision. This was my chance to be portray my vision and show. As Leilani starts to photograph the tables that are done at this point, I’m perfecting those little details that only I would notice. The last head table gets thrown together.

For a good fifteen minutes to a half hour, I sit there, eating my Pb&J, and for the first time I get to step back and see what was in my mind be put to life. Only for me to have to break it all down. That’s something no one told me about. At a wedding with guests, they get to enjoy it. For a mere thirty minutes I got to stare at my and these other wedding professionals work to have to immediately break it down. For the moment of sadness and that quick thought of do I even like doing styled shoots. Here I am, dreaming up my next styled shoot and looking/laughing at the lessons learned from my first one.

Venue: Stepping Sotnes Garden Photographer: Leilani Photography Rentals: Skagit Valley Wedding Rentals Floral: Flowers by Shamay Planner: Eastwood Events

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