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Hi, I'm Michaela, the heart behind Lovely & Planned. This blog is all about elopements and destination weddings, but you'll also find general tips and advice on wedding planning. I'm so happy to have you here! Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while!

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How to Budget for a Styled Shoot

A styled shoot is a brilliant way to perfect your skills, connect with other like-minded vendors, build your portfolio and boost your SEO and social media presence. 

But before you get way too excited and jump right into planning your first shoot, you need to know that styled shoots can be very costly, and you can quickly end up spending hundreds of dollars on one project.

Wait, what!? 

You may have heard that styled shoots don’t cost anything because vendors happily collaborate for free in exchange for the images. 

Although this is true for some vendors, you can never assume that everyone will provide their time, services, or products completely free of charge. Some vendors may give you a discounted rate, while others volunteer their time but not their product, and sometimes you even have to pay the full price.

[Related: The Pros and Cons of Styled Shoots for Wedding Professionals]

While there are no strict rules when it comes to how to budget for a styled shoot there are some general guidelines that make it easier for you when you are trying to determine your overall budget.

So, let’s take a closer look.

How to Budget for a Styled Shoot?

First things first, the one initiating the shoot usually pays for any costs which may arise. Here is a list of the most common expenses: 

Transportation fees

Sometimes, vendors like furniture and decoration rental companies may ask you to chip in on transportation costs or even to cover the entire transportation costs. 

Shipping Fees

Usually, the vendor pays for the shipping costs. However, the organizer pays the shipping fees if items need to be returned. If items are shipped internationally, remember that customs taxes may apply. 

Cleaning Fees

A bridal boutique may lend you a wedding dress, but you need to pay for the dress cleaning. The same can apply to suits and shoes.

Styling Accessories

If you are doing the styling, you may need to buy additional props that match your theme and color scheme. Think of ribbons and ring boxes, or even accessories for the flat lay styling such as wax seals, vintage stamps, or styling mats. Sometimes you may also want to use fruits, chocolates, or other food items for decoration.  

[Related: What Is a Wedding Flat Lay and 20 Ideas What to Include]

Model Fees

Professional models hardly participate for free, and they can be one of the most costly expenses of the entire shoot. A wonderful way to save costs is to ask real couples if they want to participate in your wedding shoot. 


Some vendors may ask you to pay a deposit for example for wedding dresses, shoes, jewelry, furniture, or decoration items. 

Transaction fees

If you work with international vendors, you need to budget for transaction fees. For example, if you plan a shoot in South Africa and the jewelry vendor from the UK is asking for a deposit, the bank’s international transaction fees are an additional expense you need to cover. 


Catering is often overlooked when you budget for a styled shoot, and therefore can easily blow your budget. So make sure, you factor in money for snacks and drinks for the day of the shoot from the beginning. You don’t have to provide a complete meal, but it’s nice to offer snacks such as sandwiches, muesli bars, fruits, or cookies, and most importantly, water and coffee. 


I personally like to give little Thank-Yous to everyone who is on the set on the day of the shoot to show my appreciation for all the hard work. 

I hope I could shed some light on the expenses that you may need to cover when you are the organizer of a styled shoot.  

Remember that these are just some general guidelines based on my own experience! Every shoot is different, and every vendor has their own opinion about contributing to a styled shoot.

Most importantly, you need to know your budget and find vendors that help bring your vision to life within your set budget. Be honest and upfront about it from the beginning.

Expert Tip: I highly recommend having written agreements with every vendor who is part of the shoot. This agreement should outline who covers the product, service, and time costs. This way, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you are asked to pay for items and services you haven’t budgeted for from the beginning. 

If you have any more questions, feel free to email me directly at michaela@lovelyandplanned.com or get in touch with me right here. I’d love to hear from you!

Love, Michaela


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