For some couples, it is very important to them to see their partner for the first time at their wedding ceremony. I get it, it’s a tradition that people love and have probably envisioned in their heads over and over again. Because of this a lot of people don’t give first looks a chance when it comes to planning out their wedding day. Or they listen to their parents who don’t want them to do it. So whether you are trying to decide on your own, or want to share with someone why you are doing a first look, I hope this will help. See, I am a big fan of first looks. As a Cleveland wedding planner, I find that they help make the day run smoothly and allow for so much more breathing room.
What is a First Look?
Before we jump in, I do want to make sure you understand what exactly a first look is and what it entails. A first look is a special moment between the couple, where they see each other for the first time BEFORE the ceremony. It can happen with your wedding party and immediate family watching over. Or as I recommend, just between you two….and of course your photographer and videographer to capture every second of it. We pick a secluded spot, get everyone into position and then book it out of the way. When your photo/video team is ready they will tell you what to do. Then while they capture it all while you take some time to drink it all in. Seriously, take your time. You won’t get this special moment again, so take it all in. This is the start of a very big day.
Top 10 Reasons to Have a First Look on Your Wedding Day
10.) You get the most out of your photographer and videographer. With a first look, you get MORE photos! By starting the photo train early, you can get all of your personal and wedding party shots done before the ceremony begins, and then you still have time during cocktail hour for family photos and anything else you missed before. It also gives your wedding day team time to shoot the reception area when they might not be able to normally because they’re trying to get all the basic ones captured. No first look and you have to cram everything into the cocktail hour which really limits what you can capture. You spend a lot of money on your day, so why not get more photos for your money?
9.) You can have your pictures taken anywhere you want. You can even have your pictures taken at multiple locations before the ceremony starts. Let’s say your heart is set on getting photos by the lake but there’s just no time to get there between the ceremony and reception. Enter the First Look.
8.) Daylight. Yep, lighting is a perk of a First Look. If your ceremony starts in the afternoon, and your photos are being done afterward, depending on the season you are now racing the light. If you do your photos before, you get beautiful natural light that isn’t fading. It can completely change the look and feel of your photos, just ask your photographer.
7.) Walking down the aisle can be nerve-wracking. Am I going to trip? Is my veil on straight? Am I smiling too much? Not enough? Did my parents get to the right seat in the front? Am I giving the right reaction? Am I doing this right? I had a groom once that didn’t want a first look. But the night before the wedding he was so nervous to give the right “reaction” he was becoming ill with the thought of all eyes on him. So we changed the plan to a first look, and it completely calmed his nerves. The stress of “getting it right”, all 30 seconds of it, can sometimes get in the way of enjoying it. A First Look gives you the opportunity to control the situation and not feel the pressure of all of your guest’s eyes on you. And by the time you walk down the aisle, your jitters will be gone, and you can truly enjoy the moment.
6.) You are guaranteed to capture “the look”. Capturing the first time you see each other during the ceremony is really difficult. There are so many variables and the timing has to be perfect. And if you only have a single shooter, who are they going to focus on? Having a first look means that THE shot is going to happen. Everything is set up and planned. The photo and video team can get the perfect angle, leading to the perfect shot.
5.) You get time alone. So often is the case that things are timed so that there is very little breathing room for the couple. You don’t want to keep your guests waiting, right? So you rush from one thing to the next, getting pulled and pushed in multiple directions. It’s exhausting, it’s overwhelming and halfway through the day you are just over it. With a first look, you get those moments alone, together. Probably one of the only moments you will get alone together until the day is done.
4.) It gives you more time for photos, plain and simple. Traditionally photos happen during the cocktail hour. That means your photographer has about 45 minutes to get all of your photos done. And that’s if you are having everything in one location. If there is traveling involved you now have to figure that time in there too. A First Look is planned to give you 2-3 hours to take photos. That also means you can have more FUN taking your photos. Who doesn’t like having FUN?
3.) Cocktails and Mingling. With all of the photos out of the way, you can actually enjoy your cocktail hour mingling with guests and thanking them for attending. You paid for it, you should enjoy it.
2.) There’s time to relax before the ceremony. Yes, sometimes it can mean an earlier start time, but when you are done with your first look and initial photos, you can relax again. Enjoying the entire day together with some close friends.
1.) Your ceremony will start on time. With my couples, I always add in extra time for those “running late” moments. Add into that your First Look, and you’ll be sitting around waiting for your wedding to start. It really comes down to the first look, and of course my amazing time management skills. But really, a first look gets everything started off on the right foot to run smoothly and on time.
BONUS: I have been married for 12 years at the writing of this blog, and I still vividly remember the first look I had with my husband. We were on the back porch of the house we rented for the weekend. Our wedding party and family were on the porch above looking down. He turned around and when we got closer to talk he covered my eyes from the sun because it was bright out. We had a few moments alone and that’s when the day really started for me. I felt happy and calm and off we went on our golf carts to take pictures. It was so special and still holds a huge place in my heart. Trust me, you will not regret it.
So there you have it. It still may not be your cup of tea, and that’s fine, but at least you took the time to consider it. And maybe if we sit down and chat about it in person, I can help ease any more fears you have about it. Contact me now and let’s set up a time.
Featured Image by: Vesic Photography
If you’ve ever watched any wedding-related movie or television show, then you’ve probably caught on to the stereotypical archetype of the couple’s wedding planner or coordinator. They’re often portrayed as radical control freaks that sometimes have an attitude or act as though they can do no wrong and always with an earpiece. Fortunately for couples delving into the wedding planning process, these character attributes are nothing more than plot enhancers.
In fact, a well-rounded wedding coordinator can be a valuable asset to making your wedding one for the books. You don’t simply hire a coordinator to help bring your wedding timeline to fruition, but you hire them to help solve major problems.
Working with a wedding coordinator in Cleveland can ultimately save you money in places you wouldn’t quite think of. Here’s how:
Now wedding coordinators don’t typically create your budget, you do that. But they give their insight and advice on where you should be placing your monies to make the most out of it. I have a special budgeting program that each of my couples have access to that helps you see where your money is going, and what is left to spend. That way you can reallocate funds as you have extra or find that you just NEED that cotton candy champagne topper.
Experience Can Help Prevent Costly Mistakes
Most freshly engaged couples don’t have much experience in planning a wedding. Sure, they may have helped a friend, family member, or a member of their wedding party, but they’re relatively clueless for the most part. And this naivety can ultimately force couples to make some pretty costly mistakes. Mistakes equal money.
Perhaps they’ve signed a contract without realizing what they’ve actually signed up for, or they booked a caterer that barely knows what they’re doing, let alone can’t perform to the level that they need to.
This is where an experienced wedding coordinator, like me, can become vital. Let’s just say I have planned a few weddings, have likely experienced these same problems and have been forced to find solutions to help countless engaged couples before you. I also take a look at your contracts to make sure there are no red flags. If we can stop problems before they happen, we are better off.
With years of experience comes trusted relationships with both venues and other wedding professionals. Wedding Coordinators spend time building these relationships and, based on their success (or lack thereof), will recommend working with those that they can trust will perform 100%. By using a recommended wedding professional, not only do you get top notch service, but you don’t take the chance of them not showing up or not performing to the best of their abilities.
As part of my industry connections, I also get insider information about new services or products that these wedding professionals offer, new venues that are in the works, and sometimes even getting an advanced look at new pricing for established services.
Time is Money
When it comes to saving you time, your wedding coordinator does just that.
With their experience they have developed all sorts of tips and tricks to help you as you plan. From advice for you as you progress, creating your timeline, coordinating the wedding day team, even sourcing items for you to rent or buy.
With so many weddings under their belt, they know what local companies carry what for rent. Or where to purchase something online. And if they don’t, they have a close knit group of wedding professionals and mad google skills to figure things out for you. So instead of wasting a bunch of time online or on the phone trying to find specific chairs for your sweetheart table, your wedding coordinator can point you in the right direction the first time. That’s time that you don’t need to waste when you knowingly have an A-list coordinaotr on your team to handle these tasks for you.
Wedding coordinators aren’t miracle workers, but with the right one in your back pocket, you will be less stressed on your wedding day. You can sit back, relax, and live in the moment.
If this sounds like the wedding experience you desire, contact me today and set up a consultation call or reach out for more information on how we can help you achieve your wedding day goals.
I want to start by saying that this blog may not be the most exciting for a couple planning their wedding. It will be educational and possibly filled with some heavy topics, but this is an important one that I feel compelled to write about today. See, as a wedding planner, I see the behind-the-scenes of a lot of businesses in the area. Many of them claim to be “inclusive” to the LGBTQ+ community, but one look at some simple documents that they provide their couples can tell you they’re not. You cannot be “inclusive” if you still use the terms “bride” and “groom” on your intake forms or contracts. Simple as that. And that’s just the starting point of interactions that couples have with wedding professionals. I hope this blog will inspire you on how to change your everyday life and that it is a valuable tool for educating other business owners in the wedding industry.
Who Are You To Speak On This Topic?
Before you go asking, “Who are you to speak on this topic? Aren’t you a straight, cis-gendered wedding planner?” Yep, I am. And I would never say that I am the perfect person for this topic. I am just sharing my experiences and the education that I have received on the topic. Because even I had to make changes. See even though I have two moms, marched in LGBTQ+ parades and protests, volunteered for GLSEN for three years……I naturally had a heteronormative mindset. When I started my company, my business was established and written with the idea that I was “inclusive” when in actuality I was just “accessible”. But I knew I wanted to be different, so I asked questions and educated myself, and made the changes necessary. And you can too.
What Is Heteronormativity?
So let’s go back to the main topic here, what is heteronormativity? By definition it is “of, relating to, or based on the attitude that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality.” (Merriam-Webster) Heteronormativity is where it is assumed and promoted that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation and that people fall into male and female roles.
In the wedding industry, there is this “Bride” obsession. Take a few moments and just search the internet. Look at big wedding planning sites, look at local wedding pros, read some wedding blogs, pick up a wedding planning magazine. How many times do you see a Bride and Groom before you saw an LGBTQ+ couple? What about Bridal Shows, Bridal Suites, Bridal showers, etc. People are raised to believe that a “Bride” has been dreaming about her wedding since birth. It is assumed that “the bride” is the one planning the wedding while “the groom” just shows up. As a wedding planner, I get calls and emails from companies all the time boasting about how many “brides” they have in attendance at their shows, or how many “brides” utilize their website or service.
But SPOILER ALERT, not every wedding has a “Bride and Groom”. Some have two brides. Some have two grooms. Some have weddings where the couple doesn’t want to use any of those terms. So how do you think they feel when they go to a wedding professional’s website and don’t see themselves represented? And not just once, but over and over again. Wedding planning is a special time that is celebrated, but how can you feel special and celebrated when you don’t feel included? Heteronormativity harms LGBTQ+ couples because it makes them feel invalid and unrecognized. And they deserve to be recognized and celebrated. They need to see themselves in blogs, on websites, in magazines. They need to know a wedding business is inclusive and when they read your intake form…..they know right then if you are or aren’t.
Bobbi Frohman Imaging & Design
How Do We Change That?
The very first thing you should do as a wedding business is to take a look at your website, questionnaires, intake forms, welcome packet, etc. Look at how you refer to services or items you sell. Every time I go to a venue and they show me the “bridal suite”, I cringe. Look for heteronormative terms and change them. Right now. This would be the best first step in removing heteronormativity from your wedding business.
Second, never assume titles. Instead, ask your couples what they would prefer for their pronouns or title. Or if a couple presents them without asking, make a note of it and use it. When a couple goes to my website and fills in my lead form, they are asked their names and preferred pronouns. When we have our consultation, they are asked what they want to be called. And anything is an option in my book. Bride, groom, merrier, nearlywed, their name, goddess…whatever! Ask what they prefer and then to only refer to them as that throughout the rest of the wedding planning process. Also, add your pronouns EVERYWHERE! Your website, your email signature, your social media. Something as simple as that can show that you recognize and are open to any and all pronouns.
I also want to mention the wedding party. Notice how I didn’t say “bridal party”? Tradition is out the window and a lot of couples are doing mixed-gender wedding parties. There may be a Man of Honor or a Best Woman or a Person of Honor. Before you start asking people to line up for the ceremony or for the introductions into the reception, be sure to ask each member of the wedding party what they would like to be referred to as.
Examples Of Inclusive Language
Here are just a few other options of ways to change your language to be inclusive:
- Bride/Groom: Partner, Merrier, Nearlywed, Celebrant, or Client
- Bride and Groom: The Couple, Clients, Nearlyweds, Merriers, Celebrants, Partners, The Brides (if there are two women), The Grooms (if there are two men)
- Bachelor & Bachelorette: Bach Party or Pre-Wedding Party
- Bridal Party: Wedding Party, Wedding Squad, Entourage, or Honor Attendants
- Bridal Suite: Wedding Suite, Green Room, Getting Ready Suite, Couple’s Suite, or Honeymoon Suite
- Bridal Portraits: Wedding Portraits, Pre-Wedding Portraits, or Formal Portraits
- Bridal Shower: Wedding Shower or Pre-wedding Party
- Bridal Show: Wedding Show
- Bridal Gown: Wedding Gown
- Bridal Bouquet: Bouquet
- Flower Girl: Flower Child, Flower Attendant
- Menswear: Formalwear, Attire, or Suits
Any Change Is A Change In The Right Direction
As I said before, when I started my company, I was not as inclusive as I thought I was. But I learned what I needed to change and you can too. You have been raised in a culture where heteronormativity was, well, the norm, so you have a lot to unpack and reverse. That is not something that happens overnight. But there are so many resources out there that can help. If I was to recommend any it would be Equally Wed Pro. They have a fantastic certification course for becoming LGBTQ+ inclusive.
Remember, as long as you are taking consistent steps to move away from heteronormative thinking, then you are taking steps in the right direction.
Photo by: Johnny Joo
When wedding planning, one of the biggest questions that will come up, mostly from others, will be “Are you having kids at the wedding?”. Let’s break it down this way, you’re going to fit into one of these two types of people:
ONE: Ah, the squeals and cries of delight as a child is twirled around the dance floor. That totally makes me smile.
TWO: If one more kid trips on my dress on this dance floor, or cries one more time, my head is going to explode. This is why I didn’t want kids at the wedding.
If you fall under group number ONE, please continue reading. If you fall under group number TWO, please stop reading and refer to my blog on how to properly tell your guests your wedding is adult only.
So now that I know I have the attention of the right couples, let’s move forward. While wedding planning, you have decided to have kids in attendance. Awesome. But you also know like most people do, that kids have the attention span of a gnat. (I am a mother myself so I can say that.) What do you do to ensure that they have a fun time, but so do their parents? You make them feel special and give them something to do.
11 Ways to Entertain Kids on Your Wedding Day
1. If you plan to use bubbles for your exit of the ceremony venue, or maybe as part of your grand exit, what better way to treat the kids right than by getting them bubble guns. Young kids already have a hard time blowing bubbles, and bubble solution is like a magnet to dress clothes on anyone under the age of 18 (or over for that matter). Contain the solution and make it easier for them. BONUS POINTS if you get the ones that light up.
2. If they are your children or close to you, have them help with the ceremony. Be it as an assistant usher, or a reading/poem. Just including them in the wedding ceremony gives them something to look forward to. That means they pay more attention. Not always, but it helps. Just remember that it will not go perfectly and you must have patience.
Photo: Johnny Joo
3. Have an activity table set off to the side for just the kids. Fill it full of crafts, coloring books, toys, and puzzles. Things that will keep them coming back for more. TIP: When it comes to the crafts ALWAYS use self-adhesive items, never glue. And NEVER small items that suck to clean up like glitter. You think bubble solution is bad, wait till little Bobby shows his mom his newly decorated tie with Elmers and glitter.
4. Don’t have room for a table? That’s ok. As you are shopping for your wedding items, keep an eye out for fun things they can do individually at their seat. Then you create a little box or bag that they can have at their table to entertain them in their seat.
5. If you have space at your venue, have a separate room for the kids to disappear to. Fill it with fun, games, and a movie. More importantly, have a babysitter that will be in the room so that parents won’t have to worry. It keeps them entertained and their parents can still kind of get a night off.
Photo: Amy Galon Photography
6. Desserts. What kid doesn’t love desserts, or more importantly frosting? I know my daughter could care less about the cake, all she wants is the frosting. So make it fun for the kids. Have an area set up when they can decorate their own cupcake. In fact, make your entire cupcake bar a DIY station, and then all of your wedding guests can have some fun. There is a local company that does this for you. Their name is Crave Custom Wedding Cakes. They do all the decorating, but your guests pick it all out, so this does cut down on any potential messes. TIP: If you make the bar yourself, put down a drop cloth – tape down the edges if necessary. It will make cleanup a lot easier on you or the staff you hired.
7. Here’s something that will serve multiple purposes: a favor and entertainment for your guests. What I’m talking about is a photo booth. There are so many different kinds out there now that they can fit within anyone’s budget. Keep it simple with some DIY or go all out and get a Mirror Me Photobooth. Wedding guests of all ages will appreciate the fun this can bring to your event. Plus, with everyone getting a print of their images, that covers your favors as well.
8. You’re more than likely going to have wedding toasts made by someone important to you. Maybe by a wedding party member, or a family member, either way, it’s pretty much going to happen. So instead of having the kids toast with their soda or water, give them something fun: Milk and cookies. Honestly, just give everyone milk and cookies. I like champagne, don’t get me wrong, but milk and cookies are so different and so fun, and who doesn’t like milk and cookies?! Plus starting dinner off with some dessert first…..um….ok.
9. Is your wedding outdoors? I know there is a small window in Ohio that we get amazing weather that’s also dry and warm, but if you plan it right, you can have a lot of fun planning an outdoor wedding. Make sure while you’re choosing between wedding cakes and linens, that you fit into your budget something for yard games. Again, not only is this for the kids but for the adults as well. TIP: Get a bounce house. They’re cheap to rent and have a huge impact and if you get a big enough one, adults can jump too. I recommend reaching out to Jump With Us. In fact, scrap you’re whole vision and just do a carnival-themed wedding and then give me a call so that I can be your wedding planner. I am so in!
10. Your bouquet toss. Kinda fun and also kinda archaic. I remember being a single lady at a wedding and being pushed onto the floor to catch the bouquet, and frankly, I found it embarrassing. It has honestly started to become a very old tradition, and not always done anymore. All that aside, whether you decide to through a bouquet or not, you should throw a candy bouquet for the kids. It’s like the wedding version of a pinata.
11. MY FAVORITE: Set up a photo scavenger hunt for the kids. Place a card at their seat and on it list items they must find at the wedding. If they have a phone, they can use that and have their parents send them to you. On the list should be pictures that you want of your wedding day. Things like: a couple dancing, your dinner, someone wearing blue, someone toasting, etc. It’s kind of fun to see what the kids capture and it’s always from their perspective. It really can get you some fun pictures too. Take it up a notch and if they complete the hunt have a prize they can win. I would certainly have someone else being in charge of the prizes though. Perhaps your Wedding Planner, DJ, or Bartenders could have the items they can get when they’re done.
Hopefully, that gives you a few ideas as to what you can provide for your young guests on your wedding day. As a wedding planner, I thank you for doing everything you can to help keep the children from destroying items you have rented. As a parent, thank you for giving me my sanity for the evening.
I will preach over and over again, that your guest’s experience should be a top priority when planning your wedding. There are many things you can do to help ensure they have a great time. From the smallest detail to the amazing entertainment you book, it all comes together to ensure a great time for your guests at your wedding. One of the best ways to ensure a great time, and keep your guests energized throughout the evening, is by offering late-night snacks.
Here are my favorite Top 8 Late Night Wedding Snacks:
Build-Your-Own Nacho Bar
Like many good things in life, this one can get a little messy. Get a small plate with chips already laid out, and then have bowls full of various toppings. Make sure to have all the favorites, like pickled jalapenos, ground beef (or ground turkey), queso cheese, cilantro, and pico de gallo.
Alone or added on with your nacho bar, tacos are always a big hit. And it’s super easy to make high-quality ones, and with multiple filling options—anything from shredded beef, roast pork, cheese, avocado, and so on.
Cookies, brownies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, tarts, there are so many yummy options that come in mini sizes. What else could you ever ask for? I’ll leave it at that.
Another versatile option, and an all-around favorite, are burger sliders. You can have vegan, vegetarian, and meat-eating options so everyone is satisfied and represented.
Can you really go wrong with a classic? It’s cheesy and filled with carbs to soak up the alcohol, and if they take a piece to go it’s always good cold in the morning.
Gourmet French Fry (or Tot) Bar
Getting potatoes of various colors and then making fries out of them might be the next big thing for food spreads. When a bunch of different colors is represented, the result is dazzling and beautiful, and very much unlike what we’re used to with standard fries.
Soft Pretzel Bar
Salted or without, and complete with dips of all flavors. Again, carbs are great to soak up the alcohol and there is just something about a nice warm, soft pretzel that not only boosts your energy to keep dancing….but makes you happy inside.
Anything That Can Be Miniaturized or Handheld
Think mini chicken and waffles, grilled cheese and tomato soup in a shot glass, Asian steamed buns, ice cream sundaes, mac and cheese…….seriously, the possibilities are endless. You just want to make sure that it is something that people can eat easily, with little mess and if possible one-handed while they are dancing the night away with a drink in the other hand.