What Stylish Fine Art Weddings Cannot Have



Fine art weddings are a celebration of romance and beauty in the finest art form. They’re bright and airy. They enchant the viewer. These weddings are described using only the finest words…elegant, old world, timeless, delicate, ethereal, feminine, bespoke, light, romantic, airy… The most important element in creating a fine art wedding is the intentional planning and inclusion of selectively stylized details – a few out of place items could take the whole aesthetic off point. In this article we examine which details would not make the fine art cut.


bride and groom in doorway arch of old building



If you’ve found yourself falling hopelessly in love with fine art wedding photography, welcome. I too fell – fell hard – for the beauty of fine art weddings. It is extremely unique from other wedding styles. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t take a moment to honor the other styles. Some are dark and play with shadows, some are retro and use niche lenses, some are saturated with the brightest colors, and others subdued and take on an opaque warmth. Each have their place and you’ll find that what is even more interesting is that certain seasons of life or genres of photographic coverage call for different styles of photography. Let it be known that there is no right or wrong, but simply a preference.

If you want to jump straight to the list of 30 items to avoid when planning a fine art wedding, then skip down five paragraphs. But if you do want a little more of the theory, principles, and explanation, keep reading.


In my blog post What is a Fine Art Wedding? I take you through a very detailed description of how to achieve a fine art wedding, explaining the types of elements to include. Each element is intentionally planned, tying together into a seamless aesthetic. Because of the emphasis of the timelessness, design and style associated with fine art weddings, they are often synonymous with high-class, high-value and luxury weddings. The textures and materials used are natural and in their finest form, pulling in artisan skill and refinement. Finally, the last important point to mention is the use of film (or a very film-like use of digital photography). Due to films artistic nature, rawness, and color palettes you will se many fine art weddings at least partially photographed using film.

collage of bride and groom near old world building

I want to give you some synonyms for what the wedding industry recognizes as fine art wedding photography. Bright and airy, light and airy, natural light wedding photography, film wedding photography, etc. All of these terms are pointing to the same style. Of course, there are small differences from photographer to photographer, but generally speaking, you’re looking at very bright and light images, with subdued colors and the most pleasant tones.

Now I’d like to share some personal experience to add some color here. I have found that as a wedding photographer in Milwaukee, Toronto and Croatia I meet and work with clients that want trigger all the senses. They adhere to all the specifications of a fine art wedding that appeal to aesthetic preferences, but they also want to their guests to feel something very specific – an experience. The clients I’ve had the opportunity to work with dedicate attention to creating experiential events that pair the careful curation of the aesthetics to celebrations of an elevated experience.


The reasons can be many, but looking at my Milwaukee wedding clients, the driver behind the desire for fine art wedding photography lies in the desire to be unique, refined, and more cosmopolitan than the midwest. Clients in Toronto and my Croatia destination wedding clients choose fine art for the notability, potential for publication, and for the upper-class aesthetic. These are by no means the only reasons clients might choose a fine art wedding style, however, with my clients, these are the driver.


Here we’ll discuss the styling details that are omitted when planning a fine art wedding. They may have their place in another celebration, but not in the fine art wedding world. You’ll have two main areas to focus your attention when cross-checking your design. They are practices and details. Breaking it into these categories allows you to determine if your element being considered is service based or design based. For the former, simply don’t purchase or ask for that item to be excluded from styling. For the latter, carefully select your service providers and ensure their default aesthetic is based on the fine art style you’re looking for.


close up of bride and groom about to kiss



Certainly there are elements that are key to a fine art wedding, but are there elements that undermine the fine art aesthetic? Absolutely. In this list you’ll find both aesthetic elements as well as elements that affect the experience…30 of them.

  1. Burlap and doilies

    • instead, consider silk, linens, satins, high quality lace, and velvet

  2. Themes

    • instead consider focusing on a type of ambiance, like low key, high fashion and family oriented

  3. Baby’s breath bouquets

    • instead, consider higher quality flowers for filler flowers that are less mainstream

  4. Chalkboards

    • instead, consider stone, fine paper, and calligraphy

  5. Low-quality frames and decorative items

    • instead, rent high quality items like metal candelabras and easels

  6. Props for portraits at tables throughout the venue

    • instead, hire a photo booth service to isolate the service and keep the fun without having guests modifying the atmosphere with low-quality props

  7. Bubbles

    • instead, consider lavender, olive petals, or rice

  8. Trends (smoke bombs, colored powder other than for cultural traditions, funky lipstick colors, bird cage veils, etc.)

    • instead, avoid all elements that are not timeless and that can be associated with a year or period

  9. A full pallet of bright colors

    • instead, use color sparingly that allows for all elements in the neutral or subdued tones to blend and melt seamlessly into each other and the background, saving any hints of bright colors for the bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets

  10. Cheap tuxedo and suit rentals

    • instead, purchase suiting in timeless colors or rent high end formalwear

  11. Over-estimating how many photos can be taken in a given time-frame

    • instead, choose only the most meaningful family groupings and the most meaningful locations when planning your timeline – quality over quantity – every time; remember, less is more and feeling rushed or overwhelmed with photos will detract from the ambiance of your day for you and everyone involved.

  12. Weathered wood

    • instead, choose pristine materials such as woods with elegant stains and fine finishes, metals, stones, and plasters

  13. Adding your registry information in your invitation

    • instead, skip this message or suggest a donation to a particular fund in lieu of gifts

  14. Ampersand signs or other kitschy props

    • instead, use larger prop rentals like antique luxury cars, sail boats, settings with respectfully treated animals, European scooters, etc.

  15. A large time between the ceremony and reception

    • instead, respect your guests time by ensuring a beautiful hour for cocktails prior to commencing with the reception.

  16. Overbooking your schedule with items

    • instead, allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy your day by allocating the time you need for photos, but also the time needed to enjoy the beautiful experiential celebration you’ve created.

  17. Untucked shirts

    • instead, ask all individuals wearing suiting shirts to respect a formal dress code until open dancing begins.

  18. Beer Cans

    • instead, use a glass and eliminate the casual nature of cans and definitely skip insulators.

  19. Skipping out on providing some alcoholic beverages for guests (other than for religious reasons)

    • instead, host an open bar or select drinks to treat your guests and set a welcoming tone.

  20. Casual attire

    • instead, opt for formal attire for evening weddings and semi-formal attire for afternoon receptions; this ensures a timeless, respectful, and elegant dress code to allow your images to be in beauty.

  21. Over- or under-decorating

    • instead, hire a planner or ensure you plan a day where all details are included, coordinated, and complimentary to each other, avoiding forgotten corners of barrenness and equally avoiding over the top decor that will not fit the fine art aesthetic.

  22. An aisle runner on grass without a base

    • instead, ensure the aisle runner is run only on a hard surface where where heeled shoes cannot affect the integrity of the runner and cause potential hazards; likewise, the runner should add beauty when used, if it is a nuisance, simply remove it.

  23. Bright colored bowties and socks

    • instead, stick to a formal and classic dress-code; color is ok, but find timeless colors or use limited brighter colors in bouquets and table florals; classic socks ensure a timelessness and elegance in your photographs; nothing derails a fine art style faster than harsh colors.

  24. Wardrobe that does not suit your location

    • instead, select men’s and women’s attire that match the environment and temperature.

  25. Forgetting to send thank you notes

    • instead, conclude your refined hosting by sending thank you notes within two weeks of your wedding.

  26. Cummerbunds (unless they are part of traditional West Asian, African or other cultural attire)

    • instead, choose classic suiting styles that have persisted for decades, ensuring your images will retain a timelessness.

  27. Excessive artificial lighting (when possible)

    • instead, maximize the use of natural light and mimic natural light when artificial lighting is used, when possible; for walls and pillars, consider uplighting to infuse a warmth into the venue and create depth that translates well to the eye and camera.

  28. A venue you don’t adore

    • instead, select a venue that is timeless and special to the experience you wish to create; allow the venue to tell part of the story of your beautiful wedding, look for character and architectural elements that will lend themselves to an enchanting experience for you and your guests.

  29. A mainstream hotel banquet hall (or the like)

    • instead, choose something with more character and style; some hotels have beautiful historic or refined spaces for ceremonies and receptions, look for something that is more than just a space, but rather a space that tells its own story and enhances yours.

  30. A team of vendors that doesn’t cohesively work toward a common aesthetic

    • instead, select a team of artists that seek to operate as a team and deliver you a luxury experience leading up to the event as much as on the day of your wedding itself; ensure you connect your vendors by circulating their contact information.

collage of wedding couple posing in gothic arches

Thank you so much for inviting me into your planning. I truly hope this serves you in your planning. If I can be of help in your photography or for consulting services, please reach out to me. Until then, best wishes.








search by category


Come behind the scenes
as I share about travels, style and my entrepreneurial journey.

Letters from Steph


You're all signed up to receive monthly

Letters from Steph

Looking forward to sharing inspiration with you.