Looking for those beautiful, textural images that capture all of your couple’s wedding details in one place? Flat lays took off in the 2000’s when showcasing a brand’s full product line in an efficient and aesthetic format was paramount with online marketing reaching new heights. Its origin, however, is even more fascinating. An article from Kinfolk shares the story well:
“In 1987, in the quiet afterhours at Frank Gehry’s furniture shop, a janitor named Andrew Kromelow invented what has become one of the most ubiquitous aesthetics on Instagram today. As Kromelow cleaned Gehry’s shop, he would gather stray tools and experiment with arranging them in a grid-like pattern. He called the practice “knolling,” after the hard angles of Knoll furniture, a popular brand that Gehry was designing for at the time. Today, knolling more often refers to the art of spacing out objects on a flat surface at tidy angles to one another and photographing the arrangement from above.”
For those in the wedding field, we’ve adopted the term “flat lay” over the years as a simple expression to explain our process of arranging and documenting kindred details together in a pleasing way. As a graphic designer, this process is a joy to facilitate for my brides as it shows off their thoughtfully curated belongings they’ve chosen for their wedding. It’s a lovely microcosm of their style. Enjoy some tips on how to craft them quickly and beautifully during the day-of rush.
Add Depth with Shadows
Stacking your elements to create layers of shadow can naturally add visual interest. Use a lens cap, your phone or simply other small pieces of paper to prop up your favorite elements – usually the main invite card. Seeing directional light gives an energy and liveliness to your otherwise innate objects. Even soft shadows that show off your layers add interest.
Request Florals or Bring Your Own
Ask your bride ahead of time for the florist’s contact info. Simply reach out and ask if they can bring along some extra blooms with the bride’s bouquet so that you can incorporate them into the invitation photos. Another easy tip is to order small dried petals or leaves online to add in tiny textural details. I often look up “dried flowers” on Amazon and order a variety set. These natural and organic elements break up the hard edges of invitation suites and the metallics of jewelry.
Utilize Nearby Fabrics and Surfaces
Sometimes you don’t have a fancy (often expensive) canvas mat available to lay out your details on. Take a minute and walk a lap around the venue or getting ready space to see what options exist. Often it’s best to do this when you first arrive to a wedding regardless. Look out for marble counters, tile floors or even a bridesmaid dress or veil to act as a very on-brand backdrop choice. Even a smoothed out hotel bedsheet can work wonders.
Choose A Focal Point and Build Off It
The main wedding invite is an easy go-to. It shares all of the essential information that a bride may want to recall years down the road and it’s often the largest piece of stationary. Give it some height with a lens cap underneath it and get to crafting! Add ribbons underneath, tuck other stationary pieces around it and flourish it with blooms. Having a clear center point will balance your photo and give you something to build from.
Lost for where to begin? Treat it like a puzzle and simple lay out every detail you have while spacing them out evenly. Play with jewelry chains to create playful movement and find additional venue decorations that you can incorporate.
Make time for it!
Flat lays take an unexpected amount of time to carefully gather and arrange all the elements. Don’t expect to knock these out in 10 minutes while you capture hair and makeup shots in between. Build time into your timeline and discuss with your bride if these are a priority. If so, a half hour is ideal if not more. If time is tight, request to hold onto the details throughout the day to potentially capture before the ceremony or over dinner. You can always capture invitation suites at home if need be, but you’ll miss out on the opportunity to incorporate jewelry, florals and other day-of details.
Invitation Suites (in order)
Minted + JChar Designs
Unknown + Kindly Delivered
Unknown + Grace Metz
Honeybee Creative + JChar Designs
Bess Paper + Peterloon Details
Minted + JChar Designs