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How to style an INSTA worthy Flat Lay.

It's no secret that I'm still learning how to style my flat lays for the invitations I design. I am by no means, an expert in this area. However, through my experience I've learned some tips and tricks on how to make them look more professional, while also being open to learning even more. Throughout this blog post want to share what I've learned through trial and error, while doing some more research in the field, in the hopes of expanding my eye and getting even better at flat lay design.

Follow along if you want to grow your expertise too, and feel free to comment with any other tricks and tips you have learned that I haven't touched on!


I'm still learning which backgrounds make my invites POP. I've had a lot of trial and error, but I have learned some things along the way that I feel really add to my flat lay designs.

Shaytionery Tips: Choose a background that inspires your branding. You'll want your followers and clients to STOP scrolling and take time to admire your photo and skills. This can be tricky, because so many people are attracted to different things and styles that inspire them. In the realm of things, your background should be something that when people stop scrolling, they don't even need to look at the Instagram name to know that it's YOUR work. Create a brand for your work. I've played around with everything from plain wood, plates, linens, chargers, marble cheese boards, paper, fur rugs, to even just the beautiful places during my travels in Italy. Lately, I feel that the most eye catching for my brand and followers tend to be the fur rug backgrounds, they create a warmth and add a romance to my invitation designs. I highly suggest playing around with various backgrounds before settling with your brand.

a sunlit shaytionery flat lay with fur rug background

Professional Tips: According to a known Flat Lay professional Unica Forma, she recommends making your own flat lay board so that you can add texture! I would love to try this tutorial out and it seems pretty easy (less than $30.00) Whether you’re a stationer a foodie, a photographer, or just DIY fanatic, she agrees that this is the perfect backdrop for any flat lay design. I would love to check this one out, I feel that the white pictures on Instagram really do draw more attention while scrolling too and I mean, how gorgeous does that flatlay look below?

Click here for the DIY tutorial.

Unica Forma's flat lay DIY board

Step 2: The LIGHTING.

Shaytionery Tips: Natural light is the best option for a Flat Lay. I literally setup my table and backdrop right next to my best sun facing window in my house, and catch the sun at it's high point of the day (typically 1:00-2:00 for me). This will allow your invite to stay it's true color, while also getting some great light leeks. This is truly the best option when it comes to flat lays because you can also edit your photos easier when they are well lit and in general sunlight and warmth tends to catch followers eye more than a darker space.

Professional Tips: According to Unica Forma- "Put your styling board by a window. You want natural light, so use it wherever you can. I usually set everything up by the window in my house that gets the best afternoon light. Sometimes I set up by the sliding door in the back of the house too. (We get less light to the back of our house with the exception of a ~20 minute span when the sun hits perfectly, so I usually just stick to the window.)"

So we both agree on that one as well- windows are your best friend in the flat lay world.

shaytionery window light leaks

Step 3: add DIMENSION.

Shaytionery Tips: I always add dimension to my flat lays, I use the silliest things for this, such as votive candles, lids, or anything with just a little height. This is so important when you're adding multiple things to your flat lay (ex invite, rsvp, envelope, details cards) By adding dimension you allow the eye to dance around your design and make other elements stand out, a flat lay should feel like art to you.

Professional Tips: Unica Forma "If you are taking a picture of 4 cards and an envelope you want some to be closer to the camera than others. Give a little shadow. You can use anything small enough to put behind your item. I’ve even used stacks of staples before LOL. Get creative"

adding dimension with a small votive candle to create shadows and height to my flat lay

Step 4: add FLORAL.

Shaytionery Tips: I love a pop of nature, especially when it comes to an invitation, it really helps make the paper feel alive. I typically use dried flowers or if the invite design is especially tropical or filled with botanics i'll mix in some real florals. I just love the touch it gives to my flat lay.

Professional Tips: Unica Forma "Use real flowers vs. fake. I used dried flowers because they’re reusable forever, but faux flowers look just that. Fake. You’re taking photos up close of your flat lay, so really you’re just showing hella detail on the fake stems on that hydrangea you just bought from Hobby Lobby. Save em for your vases, not your flat lay photography."

mix in real florals, crystals and items that bring your design to life.

Step 5: gather MATERIALS.

Shaytionery Tips: Before I even start photographing my flat lays I "gear up" by hauling everything I think I might want to play around with in my design. This can include various envelopes, handmade paper, candles, ribbons, twine, stickers, etc to really elevate my capture. It's so fun to get creative and play around with my ideas. I also often include my crystals in the shot too, just to add another fun element to capture your eye.

Professional Tips: Unica Forma "Use the right props! Finding props is never ending, but good ones make a difference" She likes to add vintage stamps, ribbon on the spool, velvet ring boxes, ring dishes, and cheesecloth to add texture.

Caitlinobryantdesign: "As long as they compliment the main subject matter and further the story you’re trying to tell, props are a great thing to add to flat lays. Everyone will have their own preference when it comes to prop use, but personally, I tend to style things a little more sparingly (most of the time)." She likes to include more practical stationery elements like small scissors, ribbon, ink bottles, calligraphy pens, wax seals, vintage postage, place cards and greenery. And often will blend with some theme related items such as beach shells, autumn leaves, or etc to match the invite.

add touches of the wedding theme to elevate your flat lay design.

Step 6: have FUN.

Shaytionery tip: HAVE FUN. Your flat lay design should be inspiring to you and capture what you want to be remembered for. I love going with my own unique aesthetic and I can't wait to take what I've learned while writing this blog post and add it into my flat lay design days. I am currently looking into purchasing a velvet ring box because that sounds so romantic and so Shaytionery. I especially love the look of homemade ribbon on the spool as well. My favorite go to trick is to add some sort of matching ribbon to your design, this just make it come together nicely and adds a spark to your flay lay.

how you should feel designing flat lays

Over all, you should blast your fav hype music and dance around to your favorite tunes, this shouldn't feel like work to you! Flat lay design days should be that exciting moment where you get to capture your craft. I love flat lay design days and I hope you will too.:)

Thanks for reading and please comment below with any additional flay lay tips you might have.

Happy designing my friends,


Shay (Shaytionery)

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