I Might Have It All Wrong About First Looks + I Get My KJ Moment


Another wedding sneak peek coming at ya!!! This was a special day for me because this wedding was the last of my summer dates. First summer in the books!! I cannot believe in just my first year of business I’ve had the privilege of shooting 7 amazing couples on the biggest day of their lives.

Tim and Rachel had a beautiful day from start to finish. I could easily walk through the entire day in all it’s beautiful details with you, but I want to save that for another time. This week, I want to share just my FAVORITE parts about the wedding day as their second photographer!

I shot this wedding as a second for Ben Palmer, a personal friend of mine. Ben and I served together at Passion City Church on the production team until he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams for cinematography and digital visual arts. Normally a videographer, Ben came back to the DMV area just to photograph this wedding, and asked me to come along to help him out. It was fun learning alongside him as we both shared what we knew about wedding day tips/tricks and creatively tried different things to serve the couple well. I know it was a big day for us both!

I have two highlights from this day:

First, the moment I saw the bridesmaids in their dresses I nearly melted. There is an image taken by Katelyn James (y’all know by now Katelyn is mah gurl!!) of a line of bridesmaids in mismatched, blush dresses holding their bouquets. One bridesmaid in the shot is in a beautiful beaded dress, and there are different textures and materials that make the dresses fit so beautifully yet uniquely together. I dreamed of taking images like that of my clients’ bridesmaid ensembles!

Well when Rachel’s girls stepped out to meet us for the First Look, I got my wish. There they were, four beautiful women dressed in different blush/pink tones, and the maid of honor was in a rose gold SEQUIN dress!! You better believe I lived that opportunity up, and here it is!! My favorite of all the editorial style shots I took that day…

Channeling my inner KJ with this dreamy bridesmaid shot!!

Thank you, Rachel for having such BEAUTIFUL bridesmaids and great dress taste 😉 Your gals were absolutely stunning.

Editorial junkie version of me aside… on to my other favorite part of the day (and these are in no means in any particular order).

The moment Rachel walked down the aisle.

Tim and Rachel had a First Look, and I’ll be honest guys… I have been a traditionalist my entire life when it comes to weddings. First Looks were never my preference. I shot this part of the day, doing my photographer duty but still on the fence about whether I would push my couples to have a First Look or not on their own wedding days. I know the benefits it presents the photographers as far as timeline goes, but did it really serve the couples?

If you know me, the MOST important thing about my business is that my clients have the DREAM day they’ve always wanted. I want my clients to feel and experience all the things they’ve been waiting for, in a stress-free, “sit back and watch it unfold like a movie” kind of way. So if First Looks don’t serve them in this way, I didn’t want to recommend them that strongly if my couple didn’t request one already.

But two things have been changing my perspective: 1. Katelyn James (no surprise there, right) and 2. Tim & Rachel’s wedding. Let me explain…

  1. Katelyn James sells a Bridal Guide template that she uses to educate her brides on how to plan their wedding in the most photography-friendly way to get the most out of their experience. I am almost finished producing my finished template. Part of that guide explains reasons why every bride should have a First Look (I’ll have to dedicate a whole separate blog post to this one day… it’s a game changer). In reading it and considering it over time, I’m slowly coming to believe it really does serve couples more than just allowing extra photo time.

    See, since I put such a high priority on making my couples feel comfortable and enjoying every romantic and joyful moment of the day, a First Look would have to provide just that — meaningful moments they’ll cherish forever. I was always under the impression a First Look takes the magic out of the walk down the aisle, but KJ explained it actually multiplies it!! Again, I’ll explain the whole philosophy in a future post, but let me tell you how Tim and Rachel edged me further into believing in this “controversial” component of the wedding day…
  2. Tim and Rachel had a First Look. And while theirs was a little unconventional, having their bridal party looking on from a ledge above their meeting spot, it was still a sweet moment. Tim did not strike me as an overly emotional groom, so I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t cry during the First Look. But boy did he SMILE!! Rachel and Tim were ear-to-ear, laughing together, admiring how one another looked, then moving on to their bridal party portraits. It’s just about how I thought all First Looks go.

    But I’m a hopeless romantic… One day I hope my groom-to-be gets choked up or at least a little teary-eyed when he first sees me. I was indifferent about their First Look until I watched Rachel walk down the aisle to Tim…

    Already having seen her, I didn’t expect much more of a reaction from anyone in the bridal party. But when Tim first got a glimpse of Rachel, I watched him lose it. He cried more than I’ve seen a groom cry in any of the other weddings I photographed this summer! And that’s a really precious thing!! Despite already seeing her, the magic was still there… reality hit and he saw his beloved walking down that aisle in all her beauty and it overtook him — she was his, forever.

I think most girls picture that walk down the aisle like the happy ending of a Disney movie. Most girls want their future husband to react when they see them in that white gown, floating toward them like an angel. It’s an experience you plan to only get once.

Rachel got what most girls dream of. And they had a First Look. I’m going to have to challenge what I know about First Looks and dig a little deeper into how to make this a special moment for my couples in the future. So if you’re on the fence about a First Look, or you had one and loved it, would you comment or message me about it?? I’d love to hear what your reservations are, or were. I’d also love to know, for couples that chose to have one, did you ever regret it? What did you love about it? Why did you choose to have one??

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