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Why do a first look?

First looks are becoming more and more popular—and for great reasons! Couples are choosing to forego tradition in exchange for a private moment together before their wedding. Many exchange sweet letters, pray together, or have their portraits taken before the ceremony to speed up the timeline. On the fence about first looks? Here’s some pros and cons—

You get a moment alone.

A wedding day is like a performance. You walk down the aisle to the music, say the words you’ve rehearsed, perform your first dance in front of your friends and family, and try to greet and thank all of your guests throughout the night. All eyes are on you all day, and it’s exhausting. Your first look may be the only time during the day when you two get to have a full conversation, and it’s definitely the only private moment you’ll get. Many brides say it calms their nerves, too! It’s very normal to be nervous on your wedding day. Both of you probably will be. That moment to take a breath may help you shake off the butterflies and get ready to walk down the aisle.

Your husband-to-be may react differently when you walk down the aisle.

Even if you don’t believe it’s bad luck to see each other before the wedding, you make a trade off when you decide to do a private first look or not see each other before the ceremony. One of the must-have shots for some brides is the first moment the groom lays eyes on the bride. It’s up to you to choose whether you want that moment to be in private or during your ceremony. The image is equally beautiful and meaningful! My groom put on a big cheesy smile, even though we had just seen each other moments before. It doesn’t dull the excitement of the wedding ceremony.

You get to your reception quicker.

Traditionally, the time between your ceremony and reception is reserved for portraits of the bride and groom, the wedding party, and your families. If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, you can get most of those pictures out of the way, getting you and your wedding party to the dinner table quicker, and minimizing the time your guests have to wait for you to arrive before they eat. You may even save some money on cocktail hour! Plus, this means the photographer is able to get to cocktail hour before the guests have changed anything about the way you have set up the room, so the reception room you designed so carefully can photographed and forever documented.

Walking down the aisle isn’t quite as intense.

After having a private moment together, taking pictures with your bridal party, and lining up for the ceremony, the jitters are gone and that first emotional moment has happened. There will be many wonderful moments during your wedding day to look forward to, but the build up to the first look has already come and gone by the time you start the precession. For me, walking down the aisle was a sweeter moment. Instead of being nervous for the big entrance, I had just shared a deep breath outside with my husband, and was ready to walk towards him and say our vows. We did our first look right before the ceremony, so we still maintained the build-up and element of surprise.

You have a series of images to cherish forever!

During a private first look, the you all are free to react however you want. Being in front of a crowd of people sometimes stifles that freedom and changes the reactions a bit. After, you will not only have the memory of the conversation and time you spent together before the wedding started, but you will have a series of photographs where your true personalities really show. Your groom might pick you up & spin you around, or maybe just plant a kiss on your forehead. These things don’t often happen during a ceremony.

Alternatives options—

Some couples choose to exchange letters, or stand on opposite sides of a door and have an image taken together that morning without seeing each other. Some even have conversations while blindfolded! I love first looks, and I have chosen to have one for my wedding. But, no matter what anyone says, it is completely up to you and each option is equally memorable and meaningful.


Hope this was helpful!

Happy planning,


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Your engagement announcement was probably met immediately with questions about your wedding date, where you will tie the knot, or the size of your wedding party. It happens fast. It’s hard as a bride-to-be not to get overwhelmed at some point during your engagement.


There’s blogs and magazines dedicated to helping brides plan. There’s Facebook groups of hundreds and thousands of brides and their questions. There’s Pinterest – which is an endless sea of ideas and suggestions and nearly impossible standards. It’s information-overload out there, and while those are all helpful tools, it’s hard to know where to start. Plus, everyone and their mother seems to have ideas about how your wedding should look.


This isn’t going to be a checklist, or how-to article. This is just a reminder to you about keeping you & your fiance at the heart of your wedding planning.


Some days, it will be about family. It will be about what your in-laws or your grandmother wants. It will be about who they have to invite or whether they want alcohol there or not.


Some days, it will be about money. What you can afford, what you wish you could make happen for your wedding. It will be discussion over who is paying for what and when. It will be frustration over finances, and gratefulness over generous engagement gifts.


Some days, it will be about creating the perfect event. It will be about your DIY projects and the lovely flower arches and donut walls and mason jar trends.


But every day should be about your relationship. Remember to continue to date each other. Don’t just plan a wedding, but plan a marriage. Pick your battles with your wedding plans by prioritizing the few things that mean the most to you. Don’t settle on those top priorities, but be flexible with the rest.


I’ve seen every kind of wedding under the sun. A tent in a field, vineyard weddings, a barn wedding, a historic manor, pretty farmhouses, a campground wedding, and everything in between. Some with decadent details and custom made decor, and others with just a couple strands of lights and flowers on the table. Some with guest lists of 300, and others with 25 close friends and family there to celebrate with them. Budgets from $2,000 to $20,000 +.


You know what they all had in common? Happy people celebrating the start of their lives together. The perfect event does not exist. Your wedding will not be the picture you have in your head of your ideal wedding. It will be even better.


And the pictures I have taken at these different weddings don’t showcase any frustration or budget woes or the fact that the bride didn’t get to invite as many people as she may have wanted initially. They showcase the happy and the celebrating and the friendships and the love! They’re equally beautiful and wonderful and sentimental albums.


The most memorable details from my wedding were not the ones I planned at all. It was the fact that my groom had no voice and all three of his sisters took turns reading his vows to me. It was the first time they had heard them too, so they couldn’t help but choke up. It was the moment when I heard to song my daddy had picked out for us to dance to during the reception. Or, the moment when my new sister-in-law told me she was pregnant! (whispering in my ear and not trying to steal my thunder of course, but I couldn’t help but do a little happy dance!).


Whatever kind of wedding you are planning, and whatever your frustrations or pain points with that are… just know that it’s going to be perfect!


PS –
I just got my wedding prints up on my walls, and I’m feeling much “more married” now. I LOVE looking through my photos, and do so whenever I have some down time in the evenings. They allow me to see the moments I wasn’t a part of – to watch my friends and family experiencing my wedding and relive that night all over again. I can’t describe the feeling of being on that “wedding high” during the day… it’s a bit euphoric, and afterwards the little details aren’t so clear. I couldn’t tell you about what the officiant said or anything about our toasts. But, I will tell you I remember the energy in the room and the friends who shared the day with me. It was truly the happiest day of my life, and I’m so glad I not only have my pictures and prints, but my video to rewatch for years to come!



Follow Jo on Facebook and Instagram too! Look forward to live videos, bride stories, advice, pretty images, and more!


Just getting started planning? You need my wedding day timeline templates, built for all seasons and kinds of ceremonies! These are tried and true guidelines for having a stress free wedding day schedule, while still capturing all your must-have photos. I’ve used these to coordinate dozens and dozens of weddings, and rarely need to make a tweak. 

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline Templates


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