First Look

Benefits of Doing a First Look | Bride's Planning Guide

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One of the #1 things that always gets discussed at my wedding consultations is: “Should we see each other before the ceremony or not?”

First Look from two perspectives

First Look from two perspectives

First Look for outdoor summer wedding

First Look for outdoor summer wedding

When I meet with couples for their initial consultation, I tell them that my clients usually end up being about 50/50 on this decision.I am a strong advocate of the “First Look” or “Reveal,” but I don’t push my clients in either direction.I want you to feel comfortable in the decision you make, and most people who *don’t* want to see each other have very strong feelings about it, so I don’t push the issue.It is very sacred for some people that the groom first sees the bride on the wedding day when she walks down the aisle. I totally respect that decision!

I thought it might be helpful to walk through the pros of doing a first look for those still weighing their options.By seeing each other before the ceremony, you take some pressure off each other (especially the groom waiting in front of your entire guest list!).You get to see each other for the first time in a much more private moment, shake off some of those nerves, and spend a couple of minutes together before all the hustle and bustle (see what I did there?!) of the day.

First Look from second shooter's perspective

First Look from second shooter's perspective

First Look at fall golf club wedding

First Look at fall golf club wedding

Aside from that, the First Look is a good idea because it allows us to get most of the important photos out of the way before the ceremony, which gives the couple more time at the cocktail hour and less time keeping the guests waiting for their arrival.Before the ceremony, we can do photos of the the couple, bridal party, individuals, and some family photos.That leaves just any remaining family groups for after the ceremony, and a quick stop at an alternate location for more couple photos, and possibly a bridal party pose or two.I recommend that all my couples choose at least one alternate location for their photos aside from the ceremony and reception spots, just so they have some variety in their gallery and album.Locations that are personal or special to the couple are always encouraged!

First Look under shade tree at country club

First Look under shade tree at country club

Developing Your Wedding Day Timeline

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starbucks coffee at the bridal salon

starbucks coffee at the bridal salon

wedding retro getaway Thunderbird car

wedding retro getaway Thunderbird car

fun times with wedding party on football field

fun times with wedding party on football field

wedding reception venue and cake cutting

wedding reception venue and cake cutting

gray peacock blue wedding party on UI campus

gray peacock blue wedding party on UI campus

Once you have your ceremony time scheduled (this may be predetermined by the church/venue or up to you), you can start to plan the other parts of your day. The caterer will want to select a reasonable time to serve dinner somewhat based on your ceremony time as well, but it will be up to you to decide how much time you need between the ceremony and reception. And to determine that, we need to know if the you — the couple — want to see each other prior to your walk down the aisle. A “First Look” or “Reveal” is when the wedding couple choose to see each other before the ceremony. There are many reasons this is a good idea — it saves time between the ceremony and reception, it takes some pressure off the couple at the processional since they’ve already had a private moment together, and it also gives you overall more time together on your big day. A First Look is definitely not necessary, and I by no means would ever require anyone to do one. I’d say about 50 percent of my clients choose to see each other before the ceremony. If you checked out my previous post on “golden hour” and sunsets, you may have noticed how important it is to factor sunset time into your timeline as well. Even if you don’t want to or can’t sneak away from your reception for a few minutes, it’s important to check the sunset time for your date just so you know how much daylight you have to work with in general. If you’re planning a December wedding, chances are you will need to do a First Look because there may be no time for portraits after the ceremony. Be sure to talk with your venue(s), wedding planner, caterer, and possibly the DJ too to verify all the times work with each of them also. Below is a sample wedding timeline that I go over with potential clients at their consultation. I don’t often start photographing as early as 9am, but that is just a general guideline I put in to give you an idea of a full day. Typically, I start photographing around lunch time, depending on the client’s wedding collection and number of hours I am scheduled. Also, many Catholic churches have earlier ceremony times because they have to keep their Mass schedule for Saturday evenings. Family pictures don’t generally take as long as people think; it doesn’t make sense to have your extended family stick around waiting, so I like to get those groups rounded up quickly, then pare down the larger groups to smaller and smaller groups, and release the groups as they are finished. Sample Wedding Timeline - WITHOUT First Look or Reveal 9am - Hair appointments? 11am - Bride’s makeup ?12pm - Travel to church/lunch? 1pm - Bride gets dressed 1:15pm - Bride & Bridesmaid photos (some immediate family, optional) 1:45pm - Groom & Groomsmen photos (some immediate family, optional) 2:30pm - Getting ready candids/exchanging gifts/details photos by Holly 3pm - Ceremony 3:30pm - Getaway/receiving line ?3:45pm - Family pictures ?4pm - Wedding party photos at alternate location 4:30pm - Bride & groom portraits ?5:15pm - Arrive at reception site? 5:30pm - Announce wedding party? 5:45pm - Cut cake/start dinner? 6pm-7pm - Dinner? 7pm - Toasts? 7:15pm - First dances ?8pm - Bouquet/garter toss This timeline is just a general guideline and can definitely adjusted as needed and curated based on your own preferences and vendor needs. I am happy to help any of my clients completely customize their timeline as well! Happy planning!!

First Look | Champaign-Urbana wedding photography

Occasionally my clients opt to do a "first look" prior to the wedding, which basically means that the bride and groom take a few minutes to privately see each other for the first time. Since traditionally the bride and groom wait for this moment to happen when the bride first walks down the aisle, I rarely get the opportunity to photograph this moment in good light and with more picturesque surroundings. Cara and Josh were married on May 8, and they decided to do the First Look. The benefit to this is that we get to do most of the wedding party photographs prior to the wedding, which means we need less time between the ceremony and reception for pictures. Another reason I like when couples choose to go this route is that it makes that initial "seeing each other moment" more private and gives the couple a chance to share a few words and maybe even a gift. I will never pressure my clients to do a First Look, but if you think this is something you might like to do, give me a call or email and I'll walk you through how we can orchestrate it at your wedding. It's worth a thought! :) Here are a few images from Cara and Josh's first look: HBP_0534_blog We had Josh turn his back to where Cara would be coming from. Then we had her maid of honor fix her train at the top of the steps and we had Josh turn around and then they walked toward each other. This was Cara before descending the steps: HBP_0536_blog After taking a few moments to look each other up and down, they share a couple moments of raw emotion with a kiss: HBP_0542_blog This is why I love what I do! HBP_0561_blog If you'd like to see some more First Look samples, just let me know!!

And here are a few other ones that I like but didn't blog in the other post: My assistant for the day, James, took a few of me in action (which I sometimes forget to ask for, so I'm glad he got a few!!). DSC_1240_blog Here's me with Jay Cluver, one of my favorite local videographers! DSC_1207_blog Sometimes I'll catch the eye of the bride or groom during the ceremony. Cara happened to look over at me as I was standing at the end of the line of bridesmaids. Sneaky! :) HBP_0979_blog Here's another one that James took that I just love. Beautiful! I love the detail it shows in the bodice of her dress: DSC_0128_blog And another one I took of the bouquet and the family handkerchief that was tied to it. HBP_0511_blog