7: Shawnee Custalow, Queer Wedding & Boudoir Photographer

We talk to queer wedding and boudoir photographer Shawnee Custalow about all sorts of things, including queering up your wedding, the gendered bullshit of the color pink, sheep shearing, and living forever by drinking more wine.


Somehow, we discussed flavors of asshole. WTF?

Amanda’s Rule for Home Improvement Projects

You can only go to the home improvement store once a day, at the beginning or the end of the day. If you need something and you don’t have it, you just have to figure it out.

Her chicken coop is now so cute that it may already be on Pinterest.

Amanda's adorable chicken coop. Photo by Amanda Summerlin, of course.
Amanda’s adorable chicken coop. Photo by Amanda, of course.

Cindy’s Wedding Planning Subscription is Launched!

…after only three-ish years of working on it. In need of professional wedding planning at a really affordable monthly rate? Get 25+ video lessons, workbooks, spreadsheets, and professional templates, personal on-demand planning help in our private Facebook group and live monthly planning calls for just $37/month. Check it out and subscribe at ChooseYourOwn.Wedding.

Everybody freaks out 6-8 weeks before the wedding.

It’s totally normal. Chill the fuck out.

Book your Anti-Panic Chillout Call or Timeline Magic session here.

Get your magical light painting and other awesome portraits from Amanda here.

Meet Queer Wedding  and Boudoir Photographer Shawnee Custalow of Shawnee C Photography and the Love Yrself Project

Shawnee is a queer wedding and elopement photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. She travels all over for weddings, and was in Brooklyn, NY when we spoke. Shawnee’s Love Yrself Project focuses on queer and body-positive boudoir.

We both met Shawnee at {un}convention last year – an amazing wedding industry conference put on by Catalyst Wed Co. We answer the question we know you were all silently asking: Is cursing ok on the Super Gay Wedding podcast? [Spoiler alert: Fuck yeah!]

The gendered bullshit that is the color pink.

Shawnee’s hair is pink and it’s freakin’ awesome! We talk about our mutual dislike of pink and whether that means we’re gender rebels.

Do you know there is such thing as gendered tools? They’re pink and about 20% smaller, sized just perfectly for our little lady hands. Some googling reveals that there are WAY more of these bullshit tools than there should be. (There should be zero, by the way.) Home Depot alone has 21 options, one of which is The Actual Worst: a “kitchen drawer” tool kit. Just in case you were wondering where women belong.

This is a metric fuck ton of gendered bullshit. Photo by Cindy.

Jamaica: Still Super Homophobic

Maybe don’t go there for your queer honeymoon. It’s not a place to go be adventurous if you’re queer.

The Shittiest Thing That Shawnee Has Seen Happen to LGBTQ+ Couples

Where the vendors realized they were queer after they’d been hired, but before the wedding happened, and dropped them.

When parents or other people important to the couple either don’t come to the wedding or they show up and they’re awful.

Photographers and planners spend the most time with couples, and we have to be super solid for them – reassure them that everything is fine, and support through those difficult moments.

Shawnee’s Favorite LGBTQ+ Wedding Moment

When couples (and it happens more often with queer couples) take a tradition and turn it on its head, put whatever they want into it and make it their own.

When couples take time for themselves, alone, during the wedding day — usually right after the ceremony. Most couples don’t realize how overwhelming the the day will be, especially the ceremony, and taking a short break to process can be very necessary.

She also loves when folks who are queer, but in opposite-sex relationships and not necessarily out to all of their guests, sneak little queer details into their day like wearing rainbow socks, for example.

Can the world just be so awesome that everyone can just be themselves?

What Wedding Pros Sacrifice to be Available for Couples

(With a minimum of whining.)

Don’t get us wrong: our job is awesome. We all travel to really cool places to hang out with awesome people and make wedding magic.


It’s really hard! We miss so much stuff in our personal lives: our partners’ birthdays, our friends’ weddings…

What is a weekend?


We don’t have them. We have Mondays.

On the flip side of not having had a weekend in a decade, we LOVE doing all sorts of things in the middle of weekdays, when nobody else is doing it. Tuesday morning at the grocery store? Empty. Weekday matinee movie? Theatre to yourself.

On the flip side of the flip side, a lot of restaurants, museums, and other service industry businesses are… closed on Mondays. Womp womp.

For the etymologists and Downton Abbey fans among us, evolution of the word ‘weekend’:

What We Do When We Travel + Our Reviews of ‘Junk’ TV Somehow Leads to Why We are Doing this Podcast

Nah, no summary, you just gotta listen to this part. We go off on a lengthy tangent about crafting, woodworking, sheep shearing, and Colonial Williamsburg.

Ishitani Woodworking: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7FkqjV8SU5I8FCHXQSQe9Q

Primitive Technology: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL3JXZSzSm8AlZyD3nQdBA

It’s pretty hard to live in small towns full of old white people as a queer person. It’s lonely, and sometimes not too safe for LGBTQ+ folks.

And hey — that’s one reason why we’re doing this podcast! We’re trying to talk to people around the country and connect LGBTQ+ wedding pros and couples with each other.

LGBTQ+ Wedding Planning Advice from Shawnee:

  • Do whatever you want. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should do your wedding. Don’t feel like you have to plan your wedding in any specific way.
  • Make sure that you work with vendors that support you and that you jive with! You’re going to spend a lot of time with them (especially your photographer and wedding planner) on your wedding day and you want them to feel like a friend. And it makes our jobs easier as a vendor if we’re working with clients we get along with!
  • Don’t forget that lots of wedding pros travel! So if you can’t find LGBTQ+ vendors near you, expand your search.

We accidentally get really morbid and talk about dying.

But only because we want to reassure you that this podcast will live forever. Drink more wine.

Wanna hire Shawnee? Here’s where you can find her:

Wedding Photography: shawneec.com

Boudoir Photography: loveyrself.com

Facebook: @shawneecustalowphotography

Pinterest: alovelyphoto

Instagram: @shawnee_custalow

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