Should we do a first look

A First Look - Should we have one?

What is a first look?

The first look is a modern tradition increasing in popularity where the couple see each other for the first time prior to the ceremony. It is a private moment between two lovers away from friends and family, but is also commonly shared between father and bride prior to the groom. I will share my experience from a photography standpoint on whether or not you should do a first look.

first look wedding photography

what to bring wedding details

Wedding Detail Shots - How Should I Prepare & What Should I Bring?

Guidelines for a smooth start

Your photographer will most likely start their day with wedding detail shots. It allows the creativity to be exercised, gets the wedding party used to someone running around with a camera and creates the perfect transition in wedding albums if you’re including engagement photos. If possible, provide the photographer with at least one hour to work on detail shots. A second photographer is recommended to get the most coverage of the morning.

These details typically include the wedding gown, veil/hairpiece, shoes, jewelry, garter, all 3 rings (wedding bands, engagement), and flower arrangements. Additional items you should include will be listed at the bottom of this page.

wedding detail shots Chicago photographer

What can I do for the photographer?

I’m so glad you brought this up! I recommend you gather all the items you want to use for photographs and put it in a container for the Maid of Honor or Best Man to be in charge of a few days before the wedding day (checklist below). This way, you can ensure nothing is forgotten and your photographer can have more props at their disposal!

Ensure all clothing is freshly steamed and free of wrinkles the night before. Bring wooden hangers for the suit and dress, as well as extras for the wedding party if you want to capture them lined up in the master suite. If you bring plastic hangers, expect a shameful nod from your photographer at minimumRemember, whatever you bring is what we have to use! I’ll come with some small accessories like antique stamps and keys, but vintage metal trays, porcelain jewelry dishs and extra ribbon or fabric is a welcome addition.

Typically hotel rooms will have a window and a table. Try to keep the area in front of the window clear so the photographer can stage all your items and use the available natural light. Ask the florist to deliver your bouquets, boutonnieres and any other floral arrangements that you need before your photographer arrives. This will ensure that they are at their peak freshness for wedding detail shots. Also ask your florist for a few extra blooms an stems for stylized detail shots. This is a common request so don’t feel awkward asking them! We’re here for YOU!

wedding details checklist

Bridal Checklist

  • Dress and veil
  • Invitation suite (2 copies of full suite if possible)
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Perfume
  • Something old, new, borrowed, blue
  • All 3 rings (your photo team can get them to whoever will be holding them afterward)
  • Ring boxes and jewelry dishes
  • Bouquet and loose florals (ask your florist for the additional greenery for detailed shots and ensure they’ll be ready for the photographer)
  • Vow book
  • Extra ribbon or accents
  • Items of significance
  • Guest welcome bags or favors
  • Gifts or notes from one another

Groom Checklist

  • Suit
  • Tie or bowtie
  • Cuff links
  • Watch
  • Cologne
  • Shoes and socks
  • Handkerchief
  • Belt or suspenders
  • Invitation suite (2 copies of full suite if possible)
  • Boutonniere
  • Vow book
  • Extra ribbon or accents
  • Items of significance
  • Guest welcome bags or favors
  • Gifts or notes from one another

groom wedding details checklist

second shooter chicago wedding

Second Photographer - Should I Hire One For My Wedding?

Note: When planning a wedding, reach out to your professional photographer as soon as possible. Based on the specific details of your big day, they can help shape timelines and provide important information regarding coverage.

Do we need a second photographer?

This may seem obvious, but you can’t add a second photographer after your wedding already happened. Even the most skilled photographer cannot physically be in two locations at once. With that said, I would strongly encourage a second photographer at any size wedding, but especially at large weddings with 150+ guests. If your budget allows, a second photographer is the most effective way to enhance the memory of your special day!

What does a second photographer do for us?

Generally speaking, the second photographer acts as an extension of the photographer. They provide the ability to capture two locations at once, such as the getting ready process for each person. This will allow the photos to be told from both partner’s perspectives. The second shooter can also cover cocktail hour and reception details while the photographer takes couple portraits – increasing total picture output and offering two unique perspectives on the day!

Having two camera operators at once also provides different angles of the same moment, such as saying vows and parent reactions. Family formal sessions are also sped up, reducing the time it takes from ceremony to reception. In certain cases, the second shooter can cover pictures while the main photographer doubles as a videographer. Years of shooting experience allows me to work fluidly without a second shooter, but they enhance the flow of the day and provide nothing but benefits.

You’re still reading? Good for you – knowledge is power! In events of gear failure, a second photographer also provides a second set of backups. My second shooter uses all the same gear so everything remains interchangeable. Ultimately, wedding photography is an investment in memories. These pictures will continue to bring you and the ones you love continued joy throughout life. Paying for a second photographer is a small expense when you factor in how irreplaceable their role can be!

Any parting words of wisdom?

My viewpoint may be somewhat biased, but I also base my opinion on years of firsthand experience as a second shooter. Now that I run my own company as lead photographer, my talented wife shoots beside me as my second photographer.

This brings me to my next point – always ask about the second photographer even if you are not currently interested. This way, you’ll have peace of mind in case you decide on it closer to the date. Some companies hire the first person to respond on Craigslist in order for quick turnaround, so always ask who the second camera operator is. My second shooter knows me on an intimate level, able to sense my direction and flow with the day.

I personally would not hire a wedding photographer without a second shooter and they must have a history of working together. Cosmopolitan Events has a great article on second shooters and they say “Many couples admit that not spending more money on photography is one of their biggest wedding day regrets – and we tend to agree. In most cases, you’ll want a second shooter.”

second wedding photographer chicago

Chicago Unplugged Wedding Photographer

An Unplugged Wedding - No Distractions, Full Reactions

What is an Unplugged Wedding?

An unplugged wedding is when the wedding couple requests that their guests put away cell phones, cameras and any other devices for the ceremony or the entirety of the wedding day.

Are you going to try and convince us to have one?

I would never and I’m shocked that you’d assume so (why yes, yes I am). At the least, you should give heavy consideration to compromising and having an unplugged ceremony but opt for a plugged-in reception. It’s the best of both worlds, really.

You’re paying your photographer a lot of money to preserve the day, and that photographer has gear and years of experience behind the lens. Those phones will only create a barrier between the photographer and the authentic emotion displayed from your guests. Instead of capturing a genuine reaction from your loved ones, the photographer is forced to capture the back of their new iPhone and half their face lit up white.

Your guests will pay more attention to their phone than the actual moment that’s happening. Obviously this is dramatic and I would just shoot a different subject, but what if all the guests are staring into their phone screens? Is that how you want them to remember your special day, or worse – is that what you want to see when you revisit your professional pictures?

As for ‘guest photographers‘, Aunt Karen may take great pics of her garden with that new DSLR – but that won’t exactly translate to great wedding pictures. Her flash could get in the way and ruin your photographer’s shot, or she might even feel brave enough to squat in the middle of the isle when the photographer is trying to get that once in a lifetime moment. Unfortunately, I speak from a place of sadness and experience on that last one.  Photographers are very restricted in the wedding space when it comes to movement (especially in churches) and electronic devices further limit the creative reign you’ve entrusted them with.

chicago unplugged wedding

Is it the end of the world if we keep it plugged-in?

This will always be dependent upon the photographer and their skill level, but people have been successfully running plugged-in weddings for years now. While I have never had a couple regret their decision for an unplugged wedding, I respect the wishes of my clients and will operate smoothly regardless of scenario.

How do we inform our guests?

An early way to let guests know about an unplugged wedding would be the invite. Add a line to the invite or website saying ‘This is an unplugged wedding. Please no photos during the ceremony.‘ Having signs upon the ceremony entrance is a friendly way to remind guests to keep their devices away as well. If you have an order of service, add a line to the front to again remind your guests. If you decide to have an unplugged reception as well, the guest speaker can make a brief announcement asking all guests to put away their phones and cameras.