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.
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.
Every couple dreams of pulling off an epic wedding. But doing that takes a fair amount of hard work. There are months of planning and countless stressful nights to create a day of memories that will last a lifetime.
Are you making the right choices to ensure your wedding ceremony and reception stand out from the crowd? Or are you quietly fitting in with the rest of the wedding pack?
No matter what, no couple should ever have to worry about whether or not their wedding is unapologetically them or stress out that the day goes off without a hitch. They also shouldn’t be anxious about keeping their guests occupied with “wow” moments.
You hire me for just that reason! I’m the one that can bring “wow” ideas to the table for you. I help execute them or make sure the wedding day team has what they need to get it done, and done right. That’s not something you should be thinking or worrying about.
One of the most effortless conversations we can have is about adding moments of surprise and delight. These moments can help to entertain your guests and give them a long-lasting impression. And as your wedding planner, it’s important to me that you recognize your guest’s experience is important too.
Here are just a few ways that you can start planning “outside the box” and add a bit of surprise and delight into your wedding day:
Dream Up A Memorable Entrance
They say first impressions are everything, so why not make your wedding stand out right from the get-go?
Grand entrances can be an impressive experience for both the couple and their wedding guests. Say you want to entice your guests as they enter the venue space. You can opt to entertain them with live musicians or other performers as they mingle for cocktail hour or make their way to their designated tables. Your dramatic introduction can happen at either the ceremony or the reception (or both if you’re feeling fancy).
Another way to make a memorable entrance is by going over-the-top to introduce the happy couple and their wedding party. Try and recreate elements of your love story. Think of creative and unique ways to highlight how you met, your favorite activities to do together, or anything in-between.
No matter your budget, you can easily elevate the reception space with luxurious decor. But don’t get me wrong, luxurious doesn’t always mean more money. See your design elements can be something as simple as throw pillows or fabric-rich tablescapes to more off-the-wall and adventurous endeavors such as hanging installations or over-the-top light shows with accompanying music. These lush elements can help set the mood for the reception and put guests in the right vibe and headspace for the event.
Personally, I love hanging installments over sweetheart tables, head tables or dance floors. People will be taking a lot of pictures of you to in those spots. So make them extra photogenic.
Craft Different Scenes
Storytelling is a great way to bring your wedding to life. Every couple has a unique journey, whether it’s your family history or your extraordinary love story. Either of these can easily be divided up into stations.
Want to incorporate both partner’s family history and culinary traditions into your wedding menu? Try dividing each cuisine type into a section of the room and scatter in tidbits of family tradition and history throughout the tablescapes.
Another way to break up your reception area is by creating seating areas. Comfy chairs and couches with coffee tables. It brings people in for conversation when they need a break from the dance floor. Include wedding décor and pictures of you, and it’s like you’re inviting them into your living room.
But seriously, creating “wow” factors can be easy. Sometimes it just takes diving deeper into you as a couple to find the fun things to focus on. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and let’s start a conversation that can lead to the “wow factor” your wedding deserves.
As a wedding planner and wedding officiant, I have seen my fair share of wedding ceremonies. One thing I have come to learn is that a lot of couples like to have a unity ceremony, but tend to stick to the traditional sand pouring or candle lighting. And while both are great options, there’s so many more out there that can be more personalized for your wedding ceremony.
It’s a great way to show the blending of your families so you might as well make a big deal about it. My couples are all about making the day personalized and a reflection of them. A unity ceremony is a perfect way to do that. Take a look at this list on different ways to incorporate a unity ceremony into your wedding ceremony.
Unity Ceremonies for your Wedding Day from a Wedding Officiant
Wine or Beer Mixing
Who doesn’t love a good drink, especially when you’re celebrating and especially when you are standing in front of a bunch of people. Now you can have your unity ceremony and drink it too. You could mix your favorite white and red wine, mix up a cocktail using your favorite liquors, or even make a Black & Tan. It’s a fun way to show you are coming together and get a little refreshment too.
Love Letters in a Box
Going along with the wine, perhaps you would like to each write your own love letter to each other to be opened on your first wedding anniversary. It is something beautiful to display in your home and a wonderful thing to look forward to. Then on your anniversary, you can relive the magic you were feeling on your wedding day. Keep it going by rewriting a new love note to each other and open them again year after year. And don’t forget the wine!
As I mentioned before there is the traditional sand ceremony, where you have different colored sand and you mix them together into one container. It’s really popular and simple to do, but as a wedding officiant, I don’t prefer them. If the container is not sealed or moved properly then the original design gets mixed and it doesn’t look as nice as the first pour. Instead, look into glass pouring. It is where you take small colorful pieces of glass and mix them like the sand, but afterward, you get the colorful mix turned into something for you to display.
Canvas Art or Paint Pour
So before you freak out about the mess this could make, there are ways to do it where your attire will still stay safe. Small squeeze bottles instead of cups. Putting a catch under the canvas to collect the paint. Using a brush to paint the canvas in an eclectic way, instead of pouring it on. Doing something like this can be very colorful, easy to include multiple people like children, and creates artwork to hang in your home.
Take it up a notch and allow your guests to add their own flair to smaller canvas that you can hang with your joint one. Now you have a conversational piece.
This unity ceremony is more traditionally used for those couples who wish to include their faith in their wedding. It’s used to show the joining of two people and god into their marriage by intertwining the ropes together. Having your wedding officiant give a blessing on the ropes or pass it between family members before braiding can add an even deeper element of love. Another way to use this is to include your children in the ceremony. You would each represent a rope, and by the end, you have blended your family into one.
Handfasting/Tie the Knot
This is a traditional Celtic ceremony in which your hands are joined and wrapped with rope, ribbon, or even an heirloom fabric. With blessings given over your hands by your wedding officiant, it can create beautiful imagery. Candace and Josh did this in their wedding ceremony and used a special hand-tying formation that when released and pulled it actually tied the wrap into an infinity knot for them to display in their home.
Remember, this is just a small list of ideas for your unity ceremony. You are only limited by your imagination as to what you can do for yours. Take a look at your relationship, your favorites, your interests….how can you take those and turn them into a unity ceremony. Something so personal like that can really make your wedding day a unique reflection of you as a couple.
Many people opt to have a signature cocktail or two on their wedding day for guests to enjoy and I fully support this decision. Not only is it a great way to save some money if you wish to limit your bar, but it’s a fun way to connect to your guests. ESPECIALLY if you make them personal.
How to Personalize Your Signature Cocktails
If you wish to have two cocktails available, pick two drinks that each represent you. It can be your favorite drink or something you come up with. The most important thing is what you name it. Use your Alma Maters, your favorite TV shows, your Hogwarts House or even just your names. Call it something that people will see and immediately relate it back to you.
You can also just have a single cocktail option and then name it after something that represents you as a couple. The sweetest version of this I have seen was a cocktail created with the couples two favorite alcohols and then titled “The Barretts”.
Top 5 Signature Drinks
Here are my personal favorite signature drinks for your wedding day. They are simple, classic and easy to incorporate. You can find these recipes and more on my Pinterest page too.
Everyone loves a Mojito. It’s refreshing and tastes great, but it’s also light. There are so many flavor options you can add to it too.
Apple Cider & Fireball
So simple, few ingredients which keeps the cost down, and it perfect for a fall wedding.
Again, many flavor options to pick from so it doesn’t have to be orange juice. Especially because orange juice can become heavy. This one with pears is unique and light on the tummy.
My personal favorite is Whiskey, and you cannot go wrong with a Whiskey Sour. Add cranberry for the holidays or keep it classic.
From Halloween to Christmas to something Patriotic, you can find any yummy signature cocktail themed to match.
Choosing a bridesmaid dress for the females in your wedding party is no easy task, but it can be one of the most fun parts of the wedding planning process. Inviting the special women in your life to be your bridesmaids; your sisters, your lifelong friends, your cousins, and special family friends; is a way to seal important friendships during this very special time in your life.
Tips on Choosing the Right Bridesmaid Dresses
Naturally, it’s the couple who will be the focus of attention on the wedding day, but it’s important for the bridesmaids to look gorgeous too. Choose something simple and not overdecorated or detailed, but which will make your bridesmaids look elegant and sophisticated.
It’s important to choose a dress style which will flatter everyone’s figure. This is never an easy task, but empire waists and A-line or princess skirts will tend to suit most shapes and sizes. A very nice alternative, and one I recommend, is to choose the fabrics and colors and allow each individual bridesmaid to choose her own dress style. Separates are definitely an option too. Mixing and matching separate tops and skirts makes it easier to find a style that suits each individual bridesmaid.
Always keep a budget in mind for your bridesmaid’s gowns. Some times you can find sales or dresses even cheaper if you go to the right store. If you have your heart set on a more expensive gown, or one of your bridesmaids is financially unable to purchase the gown, you might consider helping out or give another dress option. Having someone be a part of your big day is more important.
Classic Looks for Bridesmaids
Any kind of formal gown, semi-formal, or evening dress can be chosen as a bridesmaids gown, so you have literally thousands of options. Satin, organza, chiffon, georgette, tulle, lace, brocades, and crepe are all classic fabrics for bridesmaid dresses.
You should think about the time of year you plan to hold the wedding, and how this will affect your gown choices. Choose lighter fabrics for summer, and a sleeveless or even a strapless dress style. If your wedding is planned for a cooler time in the year, long skirts and sleeves are best, or include a shawl or wrap as a gift.
Though a lot of people tend to choose their colors according to the time or season of the year, it’s not really necessary. If you want a color that isn’t typically seen in the winter, do it anyways. My only recommendation is to make sure they match your floral choices so your gowns will tone in nicely with the bouquets. Discussing your color ideas with your florist will make the job of choosing colors much easier. In the end, black never goes out of style.
Accessories for Bridesmaids
The simplest look will tend to work best, so accessories should best be kept to a minimum. Often a simple pair of earrings or necklaces are all the jewelry you’ll need. If you want to give a gift and keep things uniform, you can also gift jewelry to your bridesmaids to be worn on your wedding day.
Keep comfort as well as style in mind when you choose shoes for your bridesmaids. Very high heels may be uncomfortable to stand in for any period of time. I once wore 3.5″ heels and personally was in pain because I don’t wear heels regularly. So keep that in mind as well as the fact that the bridesmaids will most likely be wearing the shoes for the wedding ceremony and the reception. Choose shoes which will be comfortable to wear all day, then dance away the night.