Tuesday, January 12, 2010

enough already with the FAKE WEDDINGS

Hey I was recently married and have recently purged all the wedding related goop from my web browser, but I couldn't help but hop back on your site because I wanted to vent and revisit the whole your wedding is not a photo shoot controversy. I recently came upon some photos on a very popular blog that claim to be from a wedding, but after clicking over to the photographer's website I came to find exactly what I suspected. NOT A WEDDING! That wedding was a photo shoot! It really irks me that they style these so called perfect looking scenarios that we're all supposed to oh and ah over. I think we've talked about how ridiculously unattainable these posed scenes are, but what about the stuff they are totally lacking? The photos are almost always devoid of family and friends or any of the giddy, happy wedding day excitement and sometimes awkwardness that you see in wedding photos that is so great. I love that.

here are the photographs in question. It appears that the couple is a "real couple" so that's why it's supposed to be totally awesome and lovely dovey.

Thanks for allowing me to vent!



Um, Design*Sponge? You do post photos of real homes though, right? That real people actually live in??

(Abbey Lee Kershaw photo by Miguel Reveriego via tobacco and leather)


  1. har har yes i sometimes wonder how people live in the homes on design sponge.

  2. See, I was assuming they made it clear somehow. I mean, I find style shoots a teensy bit beside the point, but whatever, some people are into them, so fine.

    But when they are billed as real weddings? Bullsh*t.

  3. it is *such* a simple fix.

    "...(photos) from a hollywood wedding 'SHOOT' I have been obsessing over..."


  4. I saw this same exact photo shoot on Green Wedding Shoes about a week ago. On GWS, it clearly says: "When fabulous photographer (and recent bride!) Jessica Claire sent me some sneak peaks of this phootshoot she collaborated on with Kate Holt of Flowerwild and Rebecca Stone of Duet Weddings - I knew it would be amazing." See, D*S, that's how you do it.

  5. i thought this was a real wedding too... i'm so confused!

  6. this is exactly why brides obsess about having the "perfect" wedding...

    i was wondering how in the heck this bride had the time to change into two different dresses for the photos... you got me good design sponge. you got me good.

  7. I KNEW IT!
    that was way too perfect to be real.

  8. folks, folks! to err is human! i know shoots have been represented as real weddings in the past, but i'm guessing that since (as nicole pointed out) the same shoot popped up on GWS with a proper description, the photographer wasn't misrepresenting. as i can't imagine why D*S would misrepresent intentionally (what's in it for them, since they feature both shoots and real weddings?), i'm going to go ahead and call non-evil mistake. you've made those, right?

  9. I thought this was a real wedding too, until I saw more images on Jessica Claire's blog. This irks me too... it's not like there isn't enough real weddings happening all over the place.

  10. I don’t think think this was an "error" though.
    Well, maybe d*s actually believed this to be a "wedding." if so, then yes I agree.
    But I suspect this is not the case, in which I think the author of the post should be accountable to some extent their poor choice of language, which is propegating the unrealistic heights often set in the wedding world.

    Further, when many of the commentors *clearly* believed the wedding and the couple to be real, neither the author of the post nor the designer/stylist,who was among the commentors, set the record straight.

    I do not accuse that they were evel doers intentionally trying to trick everyone. I am just dissapointed that people don't take the time to be extremely clear about the difference between a staged event and a personal, human one. (And conscious about the effect it has.)

    Fine line, I guess.

  11. im not quite sure what the issue is. i dont think anyone involved (blog, photographer, couple) have any reason to lie or misrepresent the photos. and i am also not quire sure what affect if has on anyone. whether it is a real wedding or a photo shoot, isn't the point to gather inspiration? pretty sure we've all seen real weddings more 'perfect' than this one. Am I alone?

  12. I am tired of seeing "Anthropologie inspired" photo shoots (and weddings.) it has been DONE at this point.

  13. I had seen that post on Design Sponge but notice in about the second line is says "this event was styled" As soon as I saw the words event and styled I quit looking.

  14. fake is not fun! (Unless it's fake fur).

    It's so funny to read Billy Reid's name - I've only recently found out about him and his designs. He opened his hub/home office in the town where I live and the store is AMAZING. I can't afford a single thing in there but I love the way he's decorated it and I love seeing all his new designs. But still booo to fakeness!

  15. I showed my Mom a photog's blog I liked, and the first post was a bride-and-groom portrait session that could have been any of the linked "not a photoshoot" examples, except that it actually happened on the day of the couple's wedding at an offsite location from the ceremony/reception venue. They were stunningly beautiful editorial-worthy photos of a gorgeous couple. Her first response? She wrinkled her face and said "Blech. It's entirely narcissistic. Where's the family? Why is she twirling in her dress in 18 photos? Was this a real wedding?"

    My Mom is awesome. And right. And this sh*it has crept into our concept of real wedding photos and sucked the captured joy out of wedding photos and replaced it with an expectation of staged joy. Blech indeed.

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  17. sheesh. i didn't mean to sound like such a grump.

    sowwy. womp womp.

  18. Actually I'm beginning to be completely fed up of the same old photos for real weddings - the dress hanging up, the putting the earrings on, the painted wooden signs saying 'dancing' or whatever, the table with no-one sitting there and artfully scattered whatnots, the expensively 'individual' invites. Sheepsmuch? Excuse me while I sleep and then have an actual party.

  19. yeah the whole wedding shoot thing sucks, and it also sucks that they were stringing readers along as if it is real, just omitting the minor detail that it's a photo shoot

    but what REALLY sucks is the pictures, style, dress, everything! why is everyone gushing? ugggggg-ly if you ask me

  20. the comments make me the saddest.
    i don't think d*s meant to misrepresent.... but so many girls see those shoots and sigh and get sad and pine for and try to recreate something that never was in the first place.

    plus: an empty wedding?! what a sad sad thing.
    my favorite photos from my wedding are the full dance floor, the laughing people at tables, the PEOPLE. it wasn't a hollywood styled shoot, but it was real people having real fun.

    i want to see commenters who aim for that at their wedding: fun. not an unattainable empty wedding.

  21. so, wait. that's not a real wedding? wtf is the point of that? please don't give me that "inspiration" bull caca because let's be honest with ourselves for a minute... your wedding is NEVER going to look like some stylized shoot. do yourself a favor and stop feeling like it should. and you're not a model, ok? chances are, you're going to look like a total moron posing with a cut open pomegranate. for fuck's sake, THIS IS NOT WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT.
    i can just see it now...
    "let's get a couple of hipsters, put them in bitchin' wedding garb, and make it look like they love each other."
    please. go home.

  22. I don't see how this is any different from magazine shoots. It would make sense that as more and more bridal magazine folds, the inspiration sets and styles would move to the professional blog sites that are more affordable to run and produce.

    When I saw those shoots, I thought, "What a beautiful color palette. It would be awesome in my living room" and not "OMG. My wedding is going to look so awful compared to those shots!".


  23. Oh so I totally thought that was a real wedding.

    Even though it was fake, can someone please confirm that that dress is REAL! Cause geez if that dress is just an apparition then I will die.
    The day I saw it it made me happy to know that dress existed.

  24. Bullshit.

    It's a beautiful photoshoot. But it's not a fucking wedding and the 47 people who commented on D*S about how much they 'loved this wedding' really need to know that IT'S NOT REAL.

  25. yes, it did seem to be 'misrepresented' as a real wedding. yes, it does add to that whole idea that your wedding HAS to be perfect and HAS to produce these magazine worthy photo shoots. but you know what? that is why i stopped looking at Once Wed + the like. Because you have the control to not look at them. And you have the control to make your wedding exactly what you want it to be: fun + all about you + your new spouse.

  26. i'm just going to throw this out there...... i know not everybody is a photographer or works in the photo industry but this is NOT uncommon. every photographer produces what are commonly referred to as test shoots. shots that the photographer has in mind and wants to see through, new shots to bring in more clients, something to do in the slow times. it's not uncommon and instead of getting all pissy be happy that she is being creative. and unfortunately the houses on d*s are done the same way. no ones house is that perfect. sure they probably use the homeowners own stuff but the photographer will move stuff around to create a visually appealing photograph. it's not uncommon nor should it be taken personally.... just sayin'

  27. bah. honestly, i don't even get the point of these wedding photoshoots. i guess for all of the vendors - photographer, stylist, blah-de-blah - do get to promote their services and show how lovely they can make your REAL wedding?

    i guess thats the point.

    personally it seems like a waste to me. take photos of a real wedding and show potential customers how their real wedding will look if they chose to select your services.

    whatever. dunno. its 9am and i'm rambling and i'm generally feeling bitter about every vendor involved in the wedding industry process.

    morning :)

  28. Am I the only person who doesn't see the big deal? I mean...why are we getting all worked up about this? Or about the obligatory "dress in the window" shot? Or cutesy wedding signs painted on old barn wood? Can't we just take our inspirations from wherever we like, and go on about our merry ways, having the wedding of our dreams, no matter what that is?

  29. D*S (which I love, by the way) really wasn't clear. Which is no big deal, although they cleared up the misconception about 5 days too late if you ask me.

    But I think the ire stems not from the post itself, but in that we're just TIRED of this CRAP. It's not that this is new or even that grievous of a mistake, it's just ANOTHER ONE that makes you go "GAWDD**MIT!" and want to throw something.

    Besides, I think things like these are so highly stylized that it's almost impossible to use them as inspiration unless you try and recreate the whole thing. Most people AREN'T designers or even really creative, but shoots like this are held up as "inspiration" and people are encouraged to "take elements from them and make it your own!"
    Yeah, okay...
    It's made to seem SO easy and that EVERYONE should be able to do it, while ignoring the fact that people who style these things have lots of schooling and experience. So then a bride takes on the project of trying to translate a photo shoot into her own vision, in addition to all the other responsibilities that she has, and falls flat and feels like a failure. Or even mostly accomplishes it, but still feels like a failure.

    Hence, the yelling about this post.

  30. I think it's hilarious that in 2010 people take photos of fake brides, holding pomegratates. Awesome.

    Along with fake weddings, can we also ban the phrases "oh so" and "it's all about the...", as in "oh so charmingly adorable place settings" and "it's all about the pretty."

  31. @Lyssachelle i'm not sure that i differentiate between fashion shoots and wedding shoots in terms of inspiration. i mean, i know that i'm not going to look like karen elson when i dye my hair bright red, but i'm perfectly happy using a shot of her as inspiration and heading to the drugstore; it's not that difficult to separate out an element. similarly, there were little bits of that shoot that could easily be popped out and incorporated into a real wedding. i saw the bouquets and went, "ooh, note to self, play with some white flowers."

    my beef, which i realize is a bit off-topic, is with the indie counter-infantilization of brides-to-be, e.g. "oh, god, how can women deal with all of the professionals out there trying to make them want things?" shot in the dark: the same way we've dealt with the ads for everything from toothbrushes to lip gloss that've confronted us since birth. that's how commerce works, man; i don't want to paint an oil portrait of it in a darkened studio, but i don't blame it for being what it is.

    adult women should have self-concepts strong enough to get them through professional photos of wedding fripperies; i resent the implication, even if it is incidental and well-intentioned, that we don't.

  32. lauren, well-put. but often our "strong self-concepts" are chipped away at subconsciously. we often don't even realize it's happening. and i'm not blaming commerce- yeah, people who sell over-priced wedding favors for a living are going to try to convince you that monogrammed matchbooks are an absolute must for any wedding worth remembering. obviously.

    it just gets to a point of frustration when para-commercial industries start toting unrealistic images of the "perfect" whatever. because what do they have to gain from it? what the hell does design*sponge care if we all start investing in calligraphied banners?

  33. as a wedding photographer, i also get bummed out when i see photos of amazingly posed shots that just dont look like real life! when i'm shooting a wedding, 90% of the time, the wedding is running late, leaving us with little time to do elaborately set up shots, and it leaves me frustrated alot of the time. fortunately, I'm used to it, and work really quickly with the time that i have with the couple, trying my best to get an epic shot, while running around juggling cameras and camera bags.

    i'm proud to say that the shots on my wedding photography website are from actual weddings, showing the clients that this is what i'm able to attain during a frantic day. fake set up model shoots (as weddings) is a false representation of what you're able to do as a multitasking artist.

  34. @Lauren
    The thing is though, some of these shoots that were not labeled as shoots made me feel pretty awful in the last months leading up to the wedding. I'd pull them up to look at some detail in particular, and then end up feeling bad that my *fill in the blank* didn't look that nice, and then feel confused about how theirs looked that nice, and then guilt... etc. What can I say, weddings mess with your mind. So, if I'd known it was a shoot, I would have thought "Ehh... whatever," Just like you do when you look at Vogue. So it's the LABELING that is the problem. My issue with how I feel about bridal (or high fashion) shoots is another issue. A valid one, but not a photographer or bloggers responsibility to address.

    Totally agree that it was probably a simple mistake - why would Grace do that? No reason. But, also agree with others who say that when it became clear in the comments that people THOUGHT it was real, at least the photographer had a duty to clarify. To not clarify is dishonest, and taking advantage of the situation. As many photographer friends have pointed out, the skills it takes to get great pictures at a shoot are totally dissimilar than the skills it takes to get great pictures at a wedding.

  35. Thank you, Lauren.

    I am in the last month of planning my wedding and while I am dead tired of weddings and pretties. I also know the difference between what I can accomplish and what I cannot. And at the end of the day, that is not what matters anyway. I married the love of my life. That is an ending I can depends on. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

    I do enjoy discussions like these. :)

  36. wedding shoots are lame, and while i can see how they would put pressure on brides-to-be, i don't think that's the issue. i think that if you write a blog, you should be as forthcoming as possible when you're writing about people. whether or not she meant to mislead her readers, they thought it was a real wedding and she didn't correct them. that's kind of messed up.
    ps. please, please, if you're getting married around valentine's day, don't take a photo kissing while holding up red hearts. gag.

  37. Coming back to this for the last time- I am SO. OVER. design sponge. Every time someone challenges something that she posts she either #1 DOES NOT PUBLISH IT (has happened to me several times) #2 starts some self righteous "i do this all the time and no one else gets offended so maybe you can't handle reading my blog" rant, i.e. what just went down with peonies on this topic

    I remember some old gift guide post, where the commenter was clearly upset with Grace's gender stereotypes in the gift choices and she told them that they can take their reading elsewhere

    fuck that blog.

  38. I totally agree with above post and it was something I didn't include in my original note. Since when has it become completely taboo to be critical on a lot of these design*blogs. I guess it makes sense because they all sort of endorse the exact same aesthetic and the oh I'm drinking a cup of tea, reading a book, watching Amelie- isn't life grand mindset. Maybe I'm a little jealous but my life isn't like that. It's full of craziness and clutter. I like to read the newspaper. I don't like to take photos of precious looking abandoned store fronts or stacks of books lined up by color with my plastic camera. If we're moving to a world where blogs trump newspapers and magazines as the medium of choice, I hope people will start to take their writing seriously and be accountable for the things they write.

    I'd also just love to see some ugly people on these blogs. Not that I consider myself and my new husband totally heinous looking, but I feel like part of the worship of these posed photos is based on the way the couples look- skinny, white, indie ideals.

  39. Alison- "they all sort of endores the same aesthetic" -- this is what drives me nuts. Same goes for a lot of these "indie" wedding photo shoots. "I'm going to be so different and have a wedding shot with an 8mm camera and holga and stand under a tree and make a wooden sign" etc etc. It's all lovely, but can we admit that it's not "different"-- you're copying all the other "indie" weddings that look just like that!

  40. They really DO all look the same. This summer I worked on my sister in law's sisters (what?) wedding, and it was 100% DIY - I made the dress, did the flowers, did her hair and makeup, and her sister and I took photos. It was at their family farm. It was pretty, for sure, but IT DID NOT LOOK like the fancytown crazy weddings that, now that I'm planning my own, I've noticed are all over wedding blogs.

    It -does- make me feel a little jealous or whatever that without the spot cash money, I know my wedding won't look picture perfect like these photoshoots. But, it will reflect US and be a celebration & time to spend with my friends and family, & it will be 100% unique and ours. Yes? Yes.

    (http://www.verhext.com/pearl-grey-skies-fireflies is the wedding from this summer)

  41. I think these can be compared to haute couture clothing - it's high fashion, no one ACTUALLY dresses like that, but the point is to take one aspect out of it and incorporate that into your own style. Besides, I'm sure there are people in this world who DO have beautiful fairy-tale weddings.
    And really, these people and weddings look picture perfect because they're a representation. We do this with fashion models. They're unrealistic, sure, but I'd rather look at them with all the makeup than without (and seriously, why celebrities feel the need to go out in public with NO makeup is beyond me. If they want to be like the rest of us, they would put on some base and mascara at least).
    As an aspiring photographer who is interested more in artistic shots than typical family/wedding/senior portraits, I love seeing what other people come up with.
    What's wrong with dreaming, anyway? The world is full of beautiful things, why do we need to berate photographers who also create their own beautiful worlds?

  42. What bothers me is the subversive way the media (and design sponge now officially is dumped into that category for me) has been eroding women's self esteem and sense of internal self worth from the moment we can read-understand language coherently.

    This isn't news- there has been SO much research in the medical, social and psychological sciences that has proven that women, in general, have low self-esteem and externalize self worth.... starting noticeably in teenage years.

    So- to the commenter who basically said that if a woman-bride feels insecure, that's HER problem..... my reaction is: great, now not only do we need to be able to fight the thousands of degrading and unrealistic stereotyped ads per day, but if we do feel the effects well that's our fault too. Right.

    Yes we are all thinking and intelligent adults, but if advertising didn't work, then it wouldn't be a Billion dollar industry (and neither would the diet industry be worth Billions of dollars). We are influenced by what we see and hear- it's a fact.

    So this blog- who posted "a california wedding that was styled and photographed" to readers who don't know that a photoshoot can also be termed "wedding", has (perhaps inadvertently, but then did she change wording? nope, she accused readers for being too insecure and overreacting) added to the entire "wedding and media machine" that perpetuates some weird "myth".

    if you don't actually get married (handfasted, joined, whatever) than I don't consider it a "wedding".

  43. So- to the commenter who basically said that if a woman-bride feels insecure, that's HER problem..... my reaction is: great, now not only do we need to be able to fight the thousands of degrading and unrealistic stereotyped ads per day, but if we do feel the effects well that's our fault too. Right.

    well, yes: it is in fact her problem. as eleanor roosevelt put it, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. not every advertiser is an oppressor, nor every female consumer a victim; with all due respect, "us/them" neither promotes progress nor does us any immediate good.

  44. Personally I saw the wedding shoot photos, bookmarked the flowers for inspiration, and moved on with my life. It's great inspiration and even if your wedding doesn't look as "glamorous" who cares- especially if you are doing it for the right reasons?
    Would you really rather see a bride in a dumpy looking gown with carnations because it's "real"?

  45. 1. Magazines. Movies. Television shows. Hell, BOOKS! They all present us with things that are *not real*. (Besides reality TV. A separate rant altogether). Yes, media does show us unrealistic depictions of women. I wish that models weren't so horribly skinny, photo-shopped, etc However, I think it is ridiculous to try and somehow condemn anything that is fictional. Magazine shoots, movie weddings, wedding shoots-- real or fake-- are often the result of a lot of money and a lot of talented designers. I am planning a wedding right now. And I do NOT have a lot of money or talented designers. I know that my wedding will not look perfect or magical. But do I hate on every pretty wedding thing I see?? No! I know my wedding won't look like that, nor do I want it to! But I love the beautiful shoots for what they are. I know that I can incorporate some of those things into my wedding, and make it a pretty, fun, personalized, imperfect but wonderful experience. Just like I can look at Natalie Portman and think, wow she is beautiful and perfect looking, and still prefer to be just ME. I love being inspired by fictional things, because they inspire me to dream and create within my own reality. I don't have any desire to cry or throw things just because I can't BECOME these things. I like me best. If I didn't, I don't know how I would get up in the morning!

    2. Perhaps she should have said "photo shoot" instead of "wedding." And you know what? She said she would do that in the future. Victory!

    3. These blogs are in NO way attempting to be replacements for newspapers, or even academic commentaries at all. If you hate the pictures and the lifestyle they represent, oh my god, don't read them! There is a whole internet of other blogs and sites! Some women love them and are inspired by them, and if they make you feel insecure/angry/irritated, then MOVE ON. I personally get my news from NewYorkTimes.com. And my warm fuzzies from these blogs. Stop hating, use that energy to like yourself more.

  46. practical, schmactical said...

    Coming back to this for the last time- I am SO. OVER. design sponge.

    Thank You! I am so sick of her and how people fawn over that blog, it is highly overrated, she is very self righteous, judgmental, and a hypocrite yet no one sees it, very few do. I am over her too (have been for a long time), it is annoying and everything looks the same, hillbilly chic.

  47. I never dreamed people would fake weddings. I guess when you just see photos you don't know if it is real or a photoshoot.