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.


Pride Is Forever

Equality For All

About 4% of the US population identifies as LGBTQ+. This number is certainly higher, but hate crimes and prejudice alone are more than enough reason for someone to remain silent and follow traditional gender norms. Aside from peers, this discrimination typically comes from police officers, religious institutions, companies or from our government.

LGBTQ+ people and their allies continue to fight for equal rights in regards to marriage, housing, employment, health care, protection from hate crimes and much more. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. However, discriminatory policies still existed (as they do today) and put a halt on true progress in dismantling prejudice. Sterilization, castration, lobotomies and traumatic conversion therapies are etched in American history and some modern day anti-LGBTQ+ bills intend violate civil rights in similar fashion.

💜 If you are queer or questioning and looking for support, please scroll down to the bottom of this post for more resources. If you need  a safe space to speak, don’t hesitate to reach out and I will provide you with tools to educate and overcome. 💜

What is Pride Month?

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to honor the Stonewall Riots (aka the Stonewall Uprising). New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in NYC, which sparked a riot that led to six days of protests when cops became increasingly violent toward the gay community. Police arrested anyone not wearing gender-appropriate clothing, physically assaulted bar patrons and raided other gay bars in Greenwich Village.  As a result of discrimination and abuse from law enforcement, an international gay rights movement was born.


What are personal gender pronouns and why do they matter?

In English, people use pronouns when speaking about us. Often, these pronouns have a gender implied, such as he (boy/man) and she (girl/woman) and are usually made based on a person’s name or appearance. These assumptions can be incorrect and could send a harmful message – that people must dress the gender they were assigned and conform to an identity they are separate from.

To create an inclusive and respectful environment, work on using someone’s correct personal pronouns the same as you would use their correct name. It can be offensive to dismiss someone’s pronouns and refer to them in a way they do not want to be known. Ignoring someone’s pronouns could be seen as  implying that their life does not matter enough for basic respect.

To practice inclusivity, try starting conversations in the future by addressing the pronouns you use and ask politely for theirs. E.g. Hi, my name is Damien and I go by the pronoun ‘they/them’. And yourself?

Sharing pronouns is a fantastic way to disrupt the normalization and privilege of assumption.

What does LGBTQ+ actually mean?

The queer alphabet is a combination of letters attempting to represent all identities in the queer community. Below you will find some words and their meaning. Please be respectful to an individual who identifies as one of these people or groups, for discrimination is all to common in modern society.

» Lesbian refers to women who are sexually attracted to other women.
» Gay refers to people who are sexually attracted to the same sex, most often men who are attracted to other men.
Bisexual refers to people who are sexually attracted to both men and women.
» Transgender refers to people who identify mentally and emotionally as a gender that does not match their biological gender. It also functions as an umbrella term for Trans people, including Transwomen (MtF), Transmen (FtM), and Transsexual which refers to people who alter themselves physically through surgery or hormone therapy to align their physical bodies with their gender identity. Genderfluid and non-binary fall in this category as well, however some will not identify with being ‘transgender’.

Note: Gender identity and sexuality are not the same. Sexual orientation is who you go to bed with and gender identity is who you go to bed as.

» Queer is another umbrella term that applies to all LGBTQ+ people as a whole and is much shorter and easier to say than LGBTQIA2S+. Queer is also a general term for people to identify themselves as if they feel they don’t fit into certain letter or group.
» Questioning refers to people wondering if they belong in the queer community or are still questioning their gender identity or sexual preference.
» Intersex refers to people who are born with or develop genitals with ambiguous sexual characteristics because of chromosomal or hormonal abnormalities. Doctors will often choose a gender for Intersex babies and assign that gender through surgery shortly after birth. Hermaphrodite is outdated and offense and should not be used to describe these types of people.
» Asexual refers to people who only feels romantic attraction and not sexual attraction toward any gender.
» Agender refers to people who identify as neither male nor female.
» Ally is a person who supports the causes of the LGBTQ+ community without identifying as queer or LGBTQ+ themselves. Ideally this term would include everyone in the world who isn’t LGBTQ+, but we’ve got some work to do before that can happen.
» Pansexual refers to people who are attracted to other people regardless of gender. It is much broader than Bisexual, which limits attraction to just male and female. Pansexual is also often related to an attraction to another person’s personality.
» Two Spirit (2S) is a Native American term and applies to people who display both female and male qualities whether in their personality, sexuality or gender identity.

How can I be an Ally and a Friend?

If someone comes out to you (identifying themselves as queer for the first time), it is important to provide a safe space for that person. They are coming from a place of vulnerability and require a heavy amount of understanding and empathy. Take what your friend is telling you as the absolute truth. People generally don’t lie about being queer. It requires a great deal of courage to come out as a new member of such a marginalized group, so remember to be as supportive and validating as you can be.

If someone is seeking comfort in your friendship, let them know they are safe and the conversation will remain private.  Thoughts of dismissal and rejection are normal feelings when opening up about sexuality or gender identity, so it is important to move the conversation at their pace and respect any boundaries they may set.

Attend community events such as parades and other spaces where allies are invited. Move your money to support organizations or businesses that take a stand with the LGBTQ+ community. Simply listen to what your friend has to tell you and support them by being vocal in life and on social media.


Why is LGBTQ+ equality important?

2020 marked the deadliest year on record for violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people since HRC began tracking data in 2013. At least 37 transgender and gender non-conforming people were killed. More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans faced discrimination of some kind in the past year, including more than 3 in 5 transgender Americans. 3 in 10 transgender individuals postponed or avoided medical treatment due to discrimination.

LGBTQ+ individuals experience high levels of discrimination in public spaces, at school and in the workplace. Wedding vendors, homeless shelters, adoption agencies, apartment rentals, daycares, hospitals and therapists are just some of the services many LGBTQ+ Americans find difficult or impossible to access. The government has abandoned its own people, so it’s up to the people to even the odds.

LGBTQ+ Resources

Visit GLAAD for an LGBTQ+ Resource List separated by category.
Visit CDC for LGBTQ+ Youth Resources. Visit Planned Parenthood for more youth resources. Visit Lambda Legal for LBGTQ+ youth resources by state. Visit Youth Allies for more organizations by category.

Dial 800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


Black Lives Matter

What is Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter is an international social movement formed in the United States in 2013 after the acquittal of Trayvon Martin‘s murderer, George Zimmerman. The mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and domestic terrorists, especially in the form of police brutality.

But don't ALL lives matter?

The simple answer is this: All lives cannot matter until black lives do. Black lives mattering does not suggest that black lives are more important than all other lives. Instead, it’s pointing out that black people’s lives are extremely undervalued in the US and are constantly jeopardized by systemic racism.

Even the founding fathers never meant ‘All‘. The phrase “All me are created equal” actually meant “All white men are created equal”. At the time of it’s conception, Black men were only considered three-fifths of a man, and women were left out completely.

Nobody is saying black lives matter more, they’re just saying black lives matter, too. The phrase ‘All Lives Matter‘ was created as a direct push-back against the Black Lives Matter movement and is far from being an innocent term celebrating the worthiness of all humanity. It implies that all lives are equally at risk, and they are not. According to professor of critical race theory, David Theo Goldberg, “All Lives Matter” reflects a view of “racial dismissal, ignoring, and denial“.

Talking about racism makes me uncomfortable.

What you’re feeing is what minorities have felt for a long time, and the only way to rid everyone of it is to acknowledge racism and who perpetuates it.

Remember, white privilege does not mean your life is not hard. It means that your race is not one of the things that makes it hard.

Discomfort should not mean silence. Looking away won’t change the real-life consequences that others experience. So the next time you feel uncomfortable and would rather look away, ask yourself: Why is your discomfort more important than the very real wounds that are being inflicted on others?” -Nam Kiwanuka


Cops can't all be bad, right?

American police were formed from slave patrols in the 1700’s designed to empower the white population. Their duty was to hunt and capture runaway African-Americans that tried to escape slavery. The slaves were met with extreme violence and the justification for this abuse was that black lives do not matter. Take modern day Chicago police for example, killing Black people at 22x the rate of white people from 2013-20, and most of these killings began with a traffic stop.

Police supporters often use the saying ‘a few bad apples‘ when referring to the widespread police brutality amongst people of color (POC), as if the problem is small and only involves a few bad cops. The truth is, all police officers enforce a racist and broken system which makes them inherently bad. They stand behind a ‘blue wall of silence‘, a term used to describe the informal code of silence amongst police officers when it comes to the wrongdoing of their colleagues. This makes it impossible for a ‘good cop’ to exist.

Police shot and killed 1,026 people in the past year (2020), killing black people at more than twice the rate of white people. There were only 18 days in 2020 where police did NOT kill someone. On top of all this, their behavior during peaceful protests continues to show their lack of regard for human life even when being filmed. Nearly 1,000 instances of police brutality were recorded in the US anti-racism protests last summer (2020). This number stands as a reflection of the very real problem minorities are facing in their daily fight for equality.

So what can I do to help?

Donations offer some of the biggest support in helping victim’s families, bail out protesters who have been arrested wrongfully and provide aid to the underprivileged. Here are some US Organizations that you can fund now to show support and help the fight against racism:

Black Lives Matter || National Bail Fund Network || National Police Accountability Project || A Second U Foundation || Black Visions Collective || The Bail Project || Campaign Zero || Nix The 6 || Color Of Change || The Loveland Foundation || Southern Poverty Law Center

Follow and support these pages on Instagram:

If you would like me to add your organization to this list, please reach out and I will give it my time and consideration. Thank you.