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WEDDING WEDNESDAY : A “FIRST LOOK” FROM THE BRIDE’S PERSPECTIVE Sarah's Blog Series: Wedding Planning for the Modern Bride

It’s time for another guest blog post by my Assistant, Sarah!  Sarah is a beautiful writer, and is involved in some of the back end aspects of my blog- so it seemed like a natural fit for her to do a guest blogger series! In addition, she has content very relevant to one of my main audiences (brides!)…because she JUST was one a couple months ago (see her BEAUTIFUL wedding here). We are titling this series “Wedding Planning for the Modern Bride” because Sarah made many decisions about her wedding that are applicable to the now and that are newer ideas. That being said, she accomplished them with a huge sense of class and tradition, and without really having anything overly “trendy”- it was still timeless and completely classic- and I think this is hard to do! She is sharing about a topic I am super passionate about for my couples today but from the bride’s perspective- here she is! 🙂

As Jill’s assistant (and fan of her work!), I get to look through gorgeous wedding galleries filled with the details that each bride most likely spent weeks agonizing over!  I do love the beautiful details, but my favorite photos are always of the first look the groom sees of the bride.  After looking through Pinterest, talking with Jill, and seeing the stunning photos of my older sister’s first look with her husband–I didn’t doubt our choice for a second.  The practicality of the timeline and the desire to have that moment documented forever completely outweighed any concern I had about breaking with the quickly fleeting tradition of not seeing the bride before the wedding.  Not sure if you want to break with tradition and have a First Look?  Jill is ALWAYS an amazing resource and will help you make the best decision for you!  But for now, here are a few of the reasons I (and other brides) have opted for that special moment before the wedding!

1) That Moment is Documented FOREVER!

For years there have been blogposts floating around Facebook and Pinterest of the all-time cutest  reactions from the groom when he first sees his bride, including larger-than-life-smiles, overwhelming tears, and even the Breakfast Club-styled fist pump in the air!  Seeing these photos helped me realize that I wanted that moment in time documented, even if my husband’s reaction was a little less dramatic than others. A few weeks before the wedding, I joked with (and lightheartedly threatened) my husband that if he didn’t have a good enough emotional reaction to seeing my “bridal beauty” for the first time that we would have to go back and do the first look again! Seriously though– each groom’s reaction is different, but very special in its own way. Even though I didn’t get any outrageous tears or a groom doubled-over in astonishment, his reaction was perfect for us. His smile was sincere, his eye were a little watery, and every day that I see that picture, I am transported back to the little alcove in Washington Park where I called his name and told him to turn around and see me… 

First Look 2_0003

2) You Won’t Even Remember Walking Down the Aisle

This next section should probably be included in the first…but it is something I feel so passionately about that it must have its own explanation.  Almost every bride I’ve ever spoken to about her wedding ceremony has said that “I barely remember walking down the aisle.”  Your wedding day in general is such a blur to begin with, but it is especially difficult to absorb your groom’s reaction when he first sees you at the end of the aisle. As a bride it is so easy to be distracted since you have hundreds (depending on the size of your wedding!) of faces staring at you as you walk down the all-too-long aisle, you have to make sure you or your dad doesn’t step and trip on your dress, and you might also be panicking and hoping that the obnoxious itch you feel in your eye is NOT your false eyelash starting to fall off!!!  I would not have had the same special memories if we had decided to wait for the ceremony.  With our first look, I was able to absorb it all and commit every detail to memory.  I was able to spend time with just my husband…on our wedding day!  I remember the overwhelming butterflies in my stomach as I waited in the car while Jill went to direct my groom to the right spot so the big reveal would go off without a hitch.  I can remember the calming words spoken to me Jill and Michael–a couple I ( and many others who know them) deeply respect, admire, and look up to as a wonderful example of marriage. I can remember every step I took on my way toward Jacob and the anticipation building in my heart as it all sunk in–“I’m getting married to my best friend today….”  And most importantly, the very special words we spoke to one another were perfect–filled with the love we had built over the years, but giddy and shaky as if we had just began dating.  These moments I shared with my wonderful husband (probably the only calm moments we had together during the day)  are my very favorite memories from the day–which I can always relive with Jill’s photos. And for that, I am so grateful. 

First Look 2_0002

3) Prime-Time for Makeup and Hair

I was very excited to get dolled up on my wedding day.  I chose Full Blown Salon to style my hair and a few bridesmaids–they were WONDERFUL and fit in with the group like great girlfriends!  Because I had used the wedding as my favorite justification for the absurdly expensive Sephora and Ulta purchases I had made in the months leading up to the wedding,  I decided to do my own makeup on the day of.  With multiple primers, baking my concealer, and a good dose of setting spray–I was determined to have my bridal look last ALL day. Unlike the groom (who generally has a stress-free morning and gets to enjoy a fun breakfast out with his groomsmen before he has to shower and hop in his tux 10 minutes before he has to leave!!), most brides wake up early to begin the beautification process with her bridesmaids. With that being said, when I wanted my hair and makeup to last all day, I needed it to last from 8 or 9 in the morning until midnight when the reception ended. We took our first look photos immediately after I was all ready to go–looking fresh faced and with everything all in tact from the hairstylists. I wanted to be sure that all my effort would be documented at its BEST! Jacob, my husband, was the only one I was determined to see me at my absolute best–and I wanted that moment to be documented.  Had we not decided to do a first look before the ceremony (which also allowed for us to take all of our bridal party photos before the ceremony) , my hair and makeup would not have looked as fresh for photos as it did. I wasn’t sure if it was the nerves or if someone forgot to turn on the air conditioning in the church (now, I know there were issues with the AC), but during our ceremony I was over-heating, red-faced, and glistening with sweat–NOT what I wanted when I was aiming for the bridal “glow from within” look!!!! In addition to those un-ideal conditions, my eyes weren’t dry for a moment in our ceremony. From the minute my dad walked me down the aisle, to laughing at my adorable ring  bearer playing in the middle of the aisle and my flower girl’s decision to start passing out presents in the crowd, to our final “I Do”…I was sniffling, welling up, and flat out crying! Looking at these photos from the ceremony and reception, I am so glad that that emotion is visible.  I am, however, SO thankful that we had already had our first look  photos and bridal party photos–the photos most brides don’t necessarily want to have any running mascara, red noses, or frizzy hair from IL humidity!  

First Look 2_0004

If you are getting married, this choice is entirely up to you!  I couldn’t have imagined my wedding day any other way and I am so happy we set that time aside for just us, and  Jill perfectly captured that special first look instead of having that moment blur by in the ceremony.  If you aren’t quite sure you want to break with tradition and have first look photos taken, your photographer should be S more than willing to chat with you about it and find out what choice is best for you (and if Jill is your photographer, she will be!)!   My recommendation: if you aren’t sure, just look through some of your photographer’s first looks and you will be able to see you see how they capture the pure beauty in every couple seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day, regardless of when it is!! 
Congratulations to all the brides out there and enjoy the wedding planning!! 
First Look 2_0001 First Look 2_0005 Springfield Washington Park Family Photographer_0021
Read Sarah’s first post in this series, about coordinating bridesmaids dresses, here!

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  1. Candi says:

    First looks are my favorite! Such a sweet moment!

  2. Mahlia says:

    You’re so right about all of these reasons for choosing a first look. I’m a big fan of first looks. Plus, you get to party at your reception with your friends sooner!

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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!). 

As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids.  I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!

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