Every wedding professional is working toward some sweet spot they dream of reaching in their business. And we're all depending on and working with images to try to help us get there. The quality of photography in the wedding world has skyrocketed over the last several years but we still see room for improvement, particularly in the styling arena.

MIStake #1

Images are often too busy or poorly composed and leave us confused or overwhelmed.


In our line of work, great images generally have one clear subject. We want to move from images like this . . .

. . . to clear and more concise images like this . . .



When there is no attention paid to the references beyond the strictly visual, images can feel confused, empty, or illogical.

Why is there a skull on the dinner plate?

Or you might have asked a question like: Why is there an ornate tablescape with really expensive flowers and contemporary china with a table and four chairs that look like they're from a garage sale setup in a field of high grass?


There is a language of the visual and material world that communicates more than meets the eye. Tied to every visible line, shape, color, texture, and so on, there are invisible, embedded sets of meanings, values, and references. Some fabrics speak of summer, some of winter, for example. When we begin to understand and work with the unseen, we become artists, creating and communicating in a language with intentionality and meaning.

Do you see how all of these images feel like a cohesive set? And within each image everything is cohesive - visually, but also in quality and reference. Notice, too how all of these images are beautifully composed (and photographed so magically by Jose Villa) are excellent examples of  clear, simple subjects where our eyes know where to go  and can travel the frame easily, like we talked about in Mistake #1.


Due to a combination of the way images are shot and the way they are edited and laid out later, most of the imagery we see in the wedding world falls short of the enormous potential for great storytelling that is latent in our line of work. If we can learn to be more beautiful and clear storytellers we will find so much more success and satisfaction with our work.


Think about how differently you would approach a wedding (or even a styled shoot) if you were trying to tell a story. How could you incorporate the elements of introduction, characters, setting, plot, climax, resolution, themes, and point of view into your photo story? That is what we want to publish! Beautiful stories.


Learn More with wedding styling 101



If you've struggled to book your dream weddings, get published, or put a ton of effort into a shoot only to have it not turn out at all like you hoped, you've likely found yourself asking questions like:



An in-depth course on


(Basically a giant FAQ answer session)


About Emily + Joy


"Styling is the number one reason images don't make it onto Once Wed. Remembering what a struggle it was early on to make beautiful images consistently, we realized it would be a win for everyone to share our hard-earned knowledge with those newer to the scene—both to give back and to continue elevating the submissions we receive. What we wouldn't happily pay if we could've known then what we know now!"

Emily Newman, course author

Emily is the founder and editor-in-chief of OnceWed.com. On a daily basis, over 760,000 people will be exposed to more than 1.5 million images that have been pinned directly from Once Wed.

"By this point, we've both been working in front and behind the camera for 26 years between the two of us. Occupying many different roles in the field has been a rich teacher. Understanding the needs and perspective of the photographer, stylist, designer, and editor, has given me a really unique insight on what makes an image great in the wedding world. You'll save yourself so much time, sweat, and money if you can learn from our mistakes."

Joy Thigpen, course author

Joy has worn many hats through the years including photographer, stylist, creative director, editor, designer, teacher, and is featured with top publications and brands.


Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 9.51.47 PM.png


Printable Worksheets
Q+A Webinar with Joy and Emily
Joy's Styling Checklist
PLUS: 5 Step-by-Step VIDEOS
The course is delivered via pdf and includes exercises to deepen your learning. 

What You'll Learn


 PART I : Aesthetics

What it is and how it informs ours lives and art, how to look beyond an object and see the underlying meaning it represents, and how to develop your aesthetic voice.

PART II: What Makes A Great Image

Learn about all the elements required to make a great image, how to tell your story clearly and concisely, and how to create beautiful and compelling photo stories and layouts.

PART III: Rules of Styling

The rules of styling for any situation; how to work with content and composition to consistently create great styling.  

PART IV: How To Style Details

The nuts and bolts of styling the various visual elements that comprise a wedding or photoshoot including paper, flowers, models and more. 

PART V: How To Book Your Dream Wedding

Publishing, your portfolio, and approaching your work in a way that will attract your dream wedding clients. 


What Students Are Saying....

Working with, and learning from Emily & Joy opened my eyes to a new way of seeing dresses, flowers, hair, ribbon, and paper. Joy & Emily are holding nothing back in this course. The exercises, example photos, and content throughout the course are invaluable.
— Rylee Hitchner, photographer
This course was an absolute game-changer for us. Our dream is to walk into a photo shoot or wedding with multiple vendors who have taken this course so that everyone is on the same page—we tell ALL of our vendor friends to invest in Wedding Styling 101.
— Tart Event Co., planners and event designers
It’s easy to forget sometimes, that we are artists. Each wedding is unique, but it’s easy to start going through the motions like we’re working on an assembly line. This course awakened an urgency in me to create lasting and meaningful art, each time I pick up my camera.
— Adrian Michael, photographer
It taught me to seek inspiration in ways I’ve found so useful & fulfilling. Also, when consulting with couples, I now ask questions about who they are, what’s important to them & other elements of the wedding, helping me reflect their personal style & design cohesively.
— Sarah's Wedding Garden, florist


All wedding professionals rely heavily on images to communicate their capabilities and book new work. 


We will take you through it all, step by step—it's easier than you think.





Is there a payment plan?
Yes! You can purchase now with Affirm and set up a monthly payment plan.

Can I gift the course to someone else?
Absolutely! Each license issued is tied to a single userthe person who purchases the course, and one single device (computer or tablet). After you purchase the course, contact us here with the name and email of who you'd like to gift the course and we will send it to them. 

What sort of results can I expect?
There are immediate and long-term results that you can expect with this course. In the short-term, you will be able to quickly gauge where your images, portfolio, or styling can be improved. In the long-term you will be able to hone your individual aesthetic and skill in creating beauty that is a reflection of your core values. We firmly believe that this will bring solid results in your businessnot the least of which is getting published and attracting your ideal clientele.

What if I'm not a photographer or stylist?
The course is designed for all wedding professionals who have a hand in the creative and visual aspects of an event. In addition to photographers and stylists, this course will be of great benefit to wedding planners, day-of coordinators, event designers and floral designers. 

Does the course cover photography skills?
While the course does cover elements of great images, we do not focus on the technical aspects of photography such as aperture, ISO, lenses, film, etc. We highly recommend the workshops offered by Jose Villa, Erich McVey and Jonathan Canlas for those kinds of topics. 

I've been styling for years (or I'm already a professional stylist). Would I still benefit from this course?
It is always helpful to see things from someone else's perspective. Very seasoned stylists, even those who teach styling, have trained with Joy and found it beneficial. This content can affirm your existing practices as well as offer new insights in how to advance your skills. This content is unique because it addresses the needs of the photographer, the stylist, and the editor all rolled in together. 

How long will it take me to do the course?
The course has been designed in a series of easy to digest sections that you can work through at your own pace. If you are purchasing the course in the height of your busy season, you can skip through to the highlights and the exercises for quick results, and then work through the rest of the content when you have more time. 

Can I share the course with a friend (and split the payment)?
Unfortunately, no. Each license issued is tied to a single userthe person who purchases the course, and one single device (computer or tablet).

What's the format?
The course is delivered via .pdc files (proprietary encapsulations of .pdf files, created through third-party software). Upon completion of your purchase, you will receive license information and instructions on how to download the software to access the course content. 

Once I've purchased the course, then what?
The course is available to you for download. There are a few steps to getting there. We are using a secured platform to deliver the course content. This involves you downloading some software and registering your license; this will be explained in more detail once you've purchased the course. Immediately upon purchasing the course you will receive an email confirmation. Then, it can take up to 72 hours for the rest to be sent to you. Please also feel free to visit our user guide

What, exactly will I receive?
Once you've registered your license, downloaded the software, and clicked on the link with the course materials, on your computer or tablet you will see a folder named Wedding Styling 101. Open this and you will see the course subfolders (1 per module), with pdfs + bonuses.

Will I receive everything at once?
The course won't be available to you immediately after you purchase it. It can take us up to 72 hours for your license to be issued. Once we've done that, you will receive two emailsone with a link to the course foldersclicking this would begin the download of the course to your computer or tablet, and one with information on how to activate your license and install the software required for viewing the course. Please also feel free to visit our user guide.

How much time do I have to access the content?
Your license for Wedding Styling 101 is valid through November 2016. The course won’t be accessible after this time as our license for the software that we are using to deliver the course expires then. We encourage you to take notes as you work through the course content, and keep in mind that you will get the most out of it if you spend some uninterrupted time with the exercises and actively apply what you’re learning in your weddings and styled shoots. 

What’s your refund policy?
As this is a digital and downloadable course, we're unable to offer a refund since there is no way to receive the product back once it's been downloaded. But we're committed to offering a great learning experience and would love to hear if something's not working to see if it's something we can solve. We want to help if we can. Email us via our contact page.

What if I'm not sure if this course is for me?
Still unsure if this course is for you? Drop us a line here and we'll happily answer any of your questions. 

I've completed my purchase but I still have questions about the content or process to access the course. 
Please visit our user guide for more information.  



Follow us on Instagram @weddingstyling101