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Becca + Brandon: Embassy Suites Downtown Pittsburgh Wedding Photos


Becca + Brandon: Embassy Suites Downtown Pittsburgh Wedding Photos

After hearing Becca & Brandon's story, I could not WAIT to meet them on their wedding day. You see, these two met when Brandon bumped into Becca (accidentally) at Barnes & Noble, and offered to buy her a new coffee! (Sounds like the start to a great movie, right?!) A little over a month after their first run in, they became "official" when Brandon asked her to "go steady."

Fast forward slightly down the road to the proposal - where Brandon proposed to Becca in their chicken coop (amazing, right? 🐓). Surrounded by their chickens, Brandon kneeled down in the coop (& in chicken poop!) and asked Becca for her hand in marriage.

And in April of 2019, Becca and Brandon tied the knot in a very different setting than a chicken coop - starting with a ceremony at Mount Saint Peter Church in New Kensington, and ending with a gorgeous reception at the Embassy Suites Downtown Pittsburgh! It was such an incredible honor to spend the day with these two, along with their friends and family. Here's to many more years together, and many more chickens!

When the bride and groom ask for the last photo of the evening to be a photo of the two of them with me and my second shooter, no matter how sweaty we are, we are always so honored! 💛


Reception: Embassy Suites Downtown Pittsburgh

Bride’s Dress: Exquisite Bride

DJ: Andy Booth Productions, Pittsburgh Wedding DJ

Cake: Bethel Bakery

Florist: CAP Floral Designs

Signage: Victoria Fiaretti

Makeup: Allison Renock

Hair: Simply Stunning Hair Salon

Invitations: Simply to Impress

Photographer: Jenna Hidinger Photography (Second Shooter: Taylor Dymond)


Jenny + Max: Carnegie Museum of Natural History Wedding Photos


Jenny + Max: Carnegie Museum of Natural History Wedding Photos

Jenny and Max met in college in Melbourne, Florida, and their first date was at the beach! Definitely not something you hear about every Pittsburgh wedding 😏 But the beginning of their story was absolutely perfect (and very in character), considering that both Jenny and Max are marine biologists! Max even popped the question on their fishing boat. Knowing all of these little details going into their wedding, I knew that they would have some great details to tie their love for the sea into their day - and they did not disappoint!!

Jenny and Max chose one of the most beautiful and iconic wedding venues in all of Pittsburgh - the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. With its iconic grand staircase (voted one of the best museum staircases in the world!) and gorgeous rooms modeled after wonders of the world (you’ll see what I mean once you start looking at the images!), one detail that rose above the rest and was so important to Jenny and Max was getting photos with the fish and dinosaur fossils - because it is a true representation of their relationship and mutual love for the ocean! While we did utilize other areas of the museum for photos, it was so exciting to be able to capture images that really reflected the two of them!

Along with photos with the fish and dinosaur bones, there were a number of other unique and personal details sprinkled throughout their day: the first detail I encountered on their wedding day was an olive branch that Jenny had brought all the way from a tree in their backyard in Florida, which I was able to incorporate into some of her bridal detail photos (there are also olive branches in her bouquet!). Another bridal detail of such sweet significance is the Pandora charm bracelet you’ll see in the images below - each of the three sisters (Jenny, her twin, and their older sister) all have the same charms that represent each of their weddings. Such a sweet and sentimental detail!

After getting ready at her childhood home, we hopped over to the Museum for the ceremony in the Museum’s Hall of Architecture, which, according to the Museum’s website, was created with 140 plaster casts from architectural masterpieces from the past, both in Europe and the United States. As a whole, the room was “inspired by one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.” Talk about the perfect place for a wedding ceremony!

After the ceremony and photos around the museum, we headed over to the grand Carnegie Museum Music Hall Foyer for their reception. Its large, marble columns and scenic balcony overlooks make it the perfect spot for a dream reception! And here is where even more meaningful details came to life! Just to name a few: the groom’s cake, modeled to look like crabs in an ocean with Old Bay Seasoning; Old Bay Seasoning on the cookie table for guests to take home; the most adorable fish, mermaid, and sloth cookies; signature drinks, including the “Captain’s Tea” and “Mermaid Mule”; and to top it all off, Max and his mom danced during their mother-son dance in fishing boots!

The attention to detail and thought behind each piece of the wedding day completely blew my mind! What an incredible honor it was to be a part of this beautiful day. Congratulations on your marriage, Jenny and Max! There are officially two less fish in the sea 🐟🐠 (I couldn’t resist!). Enjoy a sampling of their images below!


Ceremony: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Hall of Architecture

Reception: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Music Hall Foyer

Bride’s Dress: The Exquisite Bride, Maggie Sottero Designs

Bridesmaid Dresses: Joanna August

Invitation Design: Nicky Armstrong

Menswear: Jack’s Tuxedo

Hair: EnV Hair Studios

Floral Design: Dan’s Florals

Cake: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Groom’s Cake: Tasty Bakery

DJ: Andy Booth Productions

Videographer: Dorosh Documentaries


3 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Wedding Photography Investment


3 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Wedding Photography Investment

The definition of “investment,” according to Google, is a “thing that is worth buying because it may be profitable or useful in the future,” as well as “an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”

If there’s one thing in relation to your wedding day that you’ll spend money on that could be seen as an investment, per the definition above, I think wedding photography would be it! Wedding photos are one of the few things you’ll have left from your wedding day that will allow you to re-experience everything that happened on your wedding day - the emotions, the joy, the tears, and even the decor and details that you put so much thought and love into! And most importantly, your photos will let you experience the beginning of a new adventure with your now-spouse!

As a wedding photographer, if you’re one of my brides (or considering becoming one of my brides! 😉) one of the most important things to me is that you get the most out of your investment. But how, exactly, can you maximize your investment? I’m all about practical steps, so below, I’m sharing three practical ways to maximize your wedding photography investment and get the most ‘bang for your buck’ (one of my mom’s favorite sayings!) when it comes to your wedding photos!

1.     Have all of your wedding events in the same location… or at least within close proximity.

Having all of your wedding events in the same central location has some major benefits! Going from location to location takes time, which will eat into your wedding day photography coverage. For example, many brides book between 8 to 10 hours of “continuous” wedding day coverage, meaning that if your coverage begins at 12PM, it will end at 8PM, regardless of what events happen during that timeframe, whether ther e are events for your photographer to take photos of or not. If you book 8 hours of wedding day coverage, but are driving between different locations (getting ready location, ceremony location, photo location, and reception), and all are about 20 minutes from each other, that’s 60 minutes of wedding day coverage you’re paying for that your photographer is not taking photos during! However, if you book 8 hours of coverage and do not have to travel between locations, you’ll actually get the full worth of your 8 hour coverage investment!

2.     Ask your photographer how much time to leave for photos… then plan for that amount of time!

A full time wedding photographer will typically photograph anywhere from 20 to 40 weddings each year, dealing with and planning the logistics of each of those weddings. If you’re planning a wedding, you’re more than likely pretty brand-spanking-new to this, and you’ve probably never had to think about things like how long you should leave for things like family photos, bridal party portraits, and/or photos of you with your new spouse on your wedding day! Lucky for you, your photographer has ample amounts of experience in this area – so be sure to ask for their help when planning your timeline! As photographers, we want you to ask for our help, because we want to make sure we have enough time to take the dreamy wedding photos you’ve always wanted!

3.     Sneak out during your reception for some sunset photos or epic night shots!

Once the reception gets going, it can be fun to leave the party for a few minutes to get just a few more photos of you with your new spouse! I usually consider this not only “bonus” portrait time, but time for my couples to have a few minutes to themselves. And I’ve never had a couple tell me that they regretted leaving their reception for a few additional photos, whether it be an epic night photo or a few “golden hour” (or sunset) portraits! Many of these photos end up being my favorites (and my couples favorites!) from the entire day.

All of the photos in the slideshow below were taken during “bonus” portrait time!

Happy planning, friends!



Favorite Epic Night Photos


Favorite Epic Night Photos

Epic night photos aren’t always a possibility with every wedding, due to variables like location and timeline, but when epic night shots ARE able to happen at a wedding?! They are MAGIC. And because I love them so, I wanted to share a few of my favorite “epic night shots” with you today!

If you are interested a night photo like one of these below at your wedding, here are a few quick tips:

  • Make sure your photography coverage lasts past sunset. These photos are possible after the sun goes down, when it gets dark!

  • Make sure both you and your new-spouse are okay with leaving your reception for a few minutes. It’s always helpful for both parties to talk about leaving the reception for a few minutes beforehand, so there are no surprises!

  • Make sure either you or your photographer lets your DJ know that you’ll be leaving for a few minutes. The very first time I ever set up an “epic night shot” I completely forgot to tell the DJ, and everyone panicked because the DJ announced the garter and bouquet toss, and no one knew where the couple had went! It’s safe to say that I ALWAYS talk with the DJ now before pulling a couple away for a night photo!

And without further ado… below are a few examples of some of my all time favorite night shots! 💛


Amanda + Chris: Allegheny County Courthouse Elopement


Amanda + Chris: Allegheny County Courthouse Elopement

Amanda and Chris’s elopement was technically my very first wedding of the 2019 season! And let me tell you - the more elopements I photograph, the more I completely fall in love with them! The intimacy and stress-freeness (is that a word? 😉) the couples I work with experience when eloping is like none other!

Their elopement took place on a Friday morning at the Allegheny County Courthouse, on the beautiful Grand Staircase. Integral Weddings officiated the grand occasion, and after their short (but sweet!) ceremony, we took a few photos with family, then spent the next hour and a half walking around Pittsburgh with the new Mr. & Mrs.!

Amanda and Chris, what an honor it was to work with you! It’s easy to see how much you love each other, and that you’re truly the best of friends. Congratulations on your marriage and on this new season of life! 💛

Also, I need to give a huge shoutout to Jill of Jill Gearhart Photography for helping me carry equipment, and for adding some additional photos to Amanda and Chris’s gallery (you’ll see a few photos of hers sprinkled in below!).


One Clever & Revealing Question to Ask at Your Vendor Consultations


One Clever & Revealing Question to Ask at Your Vendor Consultations

Do you ever have one of those moments where you’re just not really sure what to say?

I had a wedding photography consultation with a couple a few years ago (who I absolutely love!) who asked me an AMAZING question. And only a few months ago did I recognize the significance of it!


“Who would you hire to photograph your wedding?”


Whoa. No one had ever asked me that before (at least, not a potential client!). First, I explained that I had in fact already gotten married, and that we had hired an amazing local photographer and absolutely loved our photos. But then they asked me again:

“If you could hire anyone to photograph your wedding, who would it be?”

Well, they got me there.

So many options raced through my head – local photographers, national photographers, international photographers - but a married couple from New England stuck out as the top pair in my head. Not just for their work, but for their incredible heart and connection that leaps out of each and every once of their images!

We moved on from this topic of conversation, and I didn’t think about this question again until months later, at the couple’s engagement session, when they were telling my assistant why they had decided to go with me as their wedding photographer.

They explained that they had asked multiple photographers the same question they had asked me: “Who would you hire to photograph your wedding?” And, believe it or not, one of those photographers said that they would hire me.

I was stunned when I heard this. Completely flabbergasted. Totally in shock! This question – though simple and straightforward – had landed me this booking. I felt kind of bad at first, sort of feeling like it was unfair that I had said someone out of state, and that this photographer had mentioned me. But then I realized: this couple? They were geniuses!

Who better to ask about hiring a wedding photographer than a wedding photographer? They know the industry, see SO much wedding work, and have tons of connections… so, again, who better to ask? And what better question to ask?


I’m writing this blog for a two-fold reason: first, from a bride’s perspective, I wish that I had asked this question to my vendors when I was getting married: to my DJ, to my florist, to my caterer, possibly even to my wedding venue. I really think it is an easy question that reveals so much!

If I don’t believe in my product or service… why would anyone else?

And second, from a wedding photographer perspective: why didn’t I throw my own name into the ring? Part of me wonders why I didn’t think: I wish I could photograph my own wedding! But that thought didn’t even cross my mind. For obvious reasons I couldn’t, but it reminds me that if I don’t believe in my product or service… why would anyone else? That’s a mindset and perspective worth shifting.

To the couple who asked me this thought-provoking question: thank you. So much. You know who you are, and I am so thankful for you!

To the bride who might be reading this: try asking this question at your next vendor meeting. I’m sure it will give you some answers that you’ve been looking for!

And finally, to the business owner: look at your product or service through your client’s shoes. Would you hire yourself to provide the product or service you’re asking your client to pay you for?

Thanks for reading, friends!


My Biggest Hang Up with First Looks


My Biggest Hang Up with First Looks

There are SO many reasons to love first looks. That intimate moment between just the bride and groom before the ceremony?! It’s almost always my favorite moment of a wedding day! My husband will sometimes photograph weddings with me, and every time we photograph a wedding with a first look, he inevitably will turn to me and say: “I wish we would’ve done one of these!”


Yes, first looks are amazing, intimate, and can be really helpful from a timeline perspective if there isn’t quite enough time for photos between the ceremony and reception, or if you want to attend your cocktail hour (click here to read an article I wrote about the pros of having a first look!) – but I do have one pretty big beef with first looks, and it’s something that I don’t see many people talking about.

The light.

Because first looks happen before a wedding ceremony, most of them take place around lunchtime, or when the sun is highest in the sky. And if you’re getting married on a farm in the middle of July with a first look at noon… the light (unless it’s an overcast day!) has the potential to be pretty harsh, and sometimes, quite unflattering. And if you opt to have all of your photos taken before the ceremony, all of those photos you’ve seen with glowy, soft light with a bride and groom frolicking through a field… they’re not really attainable. Because it’s just too bright. Those photos with glowing, golden sunlight are taken a few hours before the sun sets (or a few hours after the sun rises).


Well, first, I’m going to let you in on a little secret – just between you and me. A lot of wedding photographers love first looks because, the majority of the time, there is not enough time allotted between the ceremony and reception for us to get all of the photos we need to. So, when the photos of the bride & groom, bridal party, and sometimes even the immediate family happen before the ceremony, things are a bit more relaxed, because there is more time. And that’s what we want for you most – for you to be able to enjoy your day without being rushed!

Most couples don’t allot enough time for photos because A) they don’t want to make their guests wait too long, or B) the venue told them they have an hour between the ceremony and reception for photos. And, trust me - I believe those are completely understandable reasons to be cautious about the amount of time you allot for!

But let me tell you something, friends. This day happens once for you. And you are investing in these photos. And you know that saying about how “good things take time”? Well, the same goes for wedding photos, which also take time! (If you’re wondering how much time you should allot for photos, for a sample timeline, click here!) I like to suggest leaving at least a full hour and a half (not including travel time) just for bride and groom, bridal party, and family photos (or about a half hour for each… if not more!).


The key is: whatever you choose to do, make sure you leave enough time for your photos. That’s it! If you choose to have a first look, amazing! If you choose to forgo a first look and have the majority of photos taken between the ceremony and reception, that’s great! But don’t be afraid to plan for an extended cocktail hour (i.e., a cocktail hour longer than an hour) so that you can get the photos you’ve always dreamed of!

 Happy planning!


5 Crucial Questions to Discuss with Your Fiancé Before You Begin Wedding Planning


5 Crucial Questions to Discuss with Your Fiancé Before You Begin Wedding Planning

As the famous Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

Have you ever thought about preparing to plan your wedding? (And no, I’m not talking about that wedding Pinterest board you’ve had for the last 5 years 😉). It might sound kind of strange, considering the fact that wedding planning itself has to do with preparing for a wedding day. But one of the very best pieces of advice I could give to couples is - before doing ANY type of planning - to prepare to plan.

The questions below were carefully collected and crafted over years of meeting with engaged couples. Many couples aren’t sure what to expect or how to proceed with planning because they’ve literally never done it before. It’s like, you get engaged, and all of a sudden you’re supposed to know exactly what to do, how to plan, what wedding vendors cost, etc.?! I don’t think so!

As a recent bride myself (August 2015), even with WORKING in the wedding industry while planning, I felt overwhelmed with where to start and what I should be focusing on. So today, I’m excited to share five crucial questions to discuss with your fiancé before you begin wedding planning, so that you can plan your wedding a bit more prepared!

1.     What makes us excited about marriage?

First things first: even though you have a wedding to plan (yay!), it’s so important to focus on the marriage you’re working towards, not just the wedding day. Consider this your invitation to close your Pinterest browser and pump the breaks on creating your wedding website.. It might sound silly or obvious, but knowing why you are excited about marriage and why you want to get married is so much more important than any sort of budget or priorities when it comes to your wedding day.

This first question is actually one of my favorites to ask couples when I meet with them at our initial consultation. In my mind, it sets a tone for talking about the wedding day: through the lens of marriage. I hope that, by starting with this question, we’re putting what really matters first and constantly pointing back towards the ultimate reason for the wedding: the marriage.

2.     What are our priorities when it comes to our wedding?


Let’s face it: weddings can be expensive, and sometimes a budget can force you to choose what’s most important. Knowing your priorities when it comes to vendors will help you decide where to allocate the majority of your budget.

When Nick and I were planning our wedding, we decided to name our top three priorities (it might be a different number for you): the venue, the photography, and our honeymoon. We decided to allocate the majority of our budget to those three categories, and then do the best we could with other expenses associated with our day. And to be honest? I’m SO glad we set those priorities from the get-go, because it helped drive our decisions for many of the other choices related to our wedding day. For example, we said “no” to floral centerpieces and created them ourselves. We said “no” to a big cake and got a small one for us to share, with sheet cakes for guests in the back. We said “no” to a lot more other things, too, but it allowed us to say “yes” to things like our dream venue, an amazing photographer, and an unforgettable honeymoon in Disney.

As a sort-of side note, something else that was a priority to us was marriage counseling, which was something we budgeted for and pursued in the months leading up to our wedding day (yes – before we were married). We knew that, while we could put tons and tons of effort into our wedding day, if we didn’t focus on building a solid foundation for our marriage from the start, all of our wedding planning would be in vain!

3.     What should we expect to spend on quality vendors?

It’s important to know what seasoned vendors in your area charge before deciding on a budget for your wedding day. If photography is one of the priorities for your wedding because you know it’s one of the few things you’ll have once your wedding day is over, know what a quality, seasoned photographer charges in your area, and make that a priority in your budget. In contrast, even if something is not a priority – for example, your cake – know what the going rate is for a seasoned baker anyways, so you can know what to expect to allocate in your budget for someone who might be newer to baking, or even to a friend who might be interested in helping!

4.     Are there any connections who can help us with the parts of the day we’re willing to compromise on?

Speaking of a friend baking your cake – if there are parts of the day you’re willing to compromise on that aren’t a part of your “big three” (or whatever number) priorities, consider your connections. We were blessed to have connections with a caterer who was willing to give us a friends and family discount, as well as a florist who pretty much did our wedding flowers at cost (just because she loves arranging flowers!). But here’s a BIG tip within this question: never expect someone to do something for you for free, or even discounted. Many people who want to “break in” to the wedding market (who may have another full time job) are willing to do things a bit cheaper than those whose full time income comes from bookings, which is totally fine! But it can be tough when someone asks you to give a discount for a service or product that literally puts food on their family’s table.

5.     What can we actually spend?

Or, as an article from popular wedding blog Junebug Weddings puts it: “How much money do we want to spend? Vs. How much money can we actually spend?”

It’s one thing knowing how much a service or product costs, but it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame knowing how much you can actually spend for that service or product! Knowing your priorities, knowing how much your “priority” services/products cost, and knowing how much you have left to spend on your “compromise” services and products will give you a rough idea of what you can actually spend on your wedding day. The keys here are to be realistic and to know what you feel comfortable spending.

And now that you’re prepared to begin planning - happy planning! If you’re in need of some additional resources to help with your wedding planning and preparation, feel free to scroll through the blog archives for more tips, tricks, and advice related to wedding photography and behind!


6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue


6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Choosing a wedding venue is typically the first thing you’ll do after getting engaged – which totally makes sense! Venues tend to book up super fast (especially in the spring, summer, and fall here in Pittsburgh), so most couples feel the pressure to make sure they lock one in for the season they want quickly!

 But before you commit to a venue, a word to the wise: be careful not to book too fast, without getting the most important pieces of information from your list of potential venues. There are six specific things that I often see overlooked when couples book their venues that are important to remember before signing on the dotted line!

1.     Rain Plan

If it rains on your wedding day (God forbid!), are you happy with the rain plan your venue provides? Do they have a rain plan? Will it cost extra? Where will the ceremony be moved to, if you were planning on an outdoor space to say your vows? And are you okay with that option? Are there any locations you could use for photos if there’s a downpour on your day? (Overhangs, indoor spaces, etc.) It’s important to have an idea of the rain plan before you book so you can make sure you’re okay with it, in the case of inclement weather!

2.     Event Location Proximity

Are all of your wedding day events (getting ready, ceremony, pictures, reception) taking place in the same location, or will you be driving between locations for different parts of your wedding day? From personal experience, one of the BEST decisions we made in regards to our wedding day was the decision to have everything happen in one central location – which meant no traveling between different locations. This reduced stress, was cost effective (we didn’t have to pay for additional transportation, or pay our photographer for a 20-40 minute drive), and saved a ton of time!

3.     Mandatory Vendor List

Does your wedding venue allow you to choose your own vendors, or does it require you to pick from a pre-made list? Many wedding venues have working relationships with vendors local to their area, and if they love working with them, they’ll add them to a list of preferred vendors. While many venues will allow you to bring in other venues and only offer the list as a guide, some venues will require you to choose from those specific vendors. Which is great – unless you have another company in mind for that specific vendor category. Be sure to ask so you aren’t caught off guard after already signing a contract!

4.     Amount of Shade

This might seem like an odd one to throw in, but it’s one of the first things I look for when I’m checking out a venue as a wedding photographer! Why? Many times, portraits of the bridal party and bride and groom will take place at times of the day that aren’t typically known to be the best for photos (a few hours before sunset is typically the best time, while mid day and mid afternoon can be the brightest/most unflattering time for portraits!). Having a plethora of shade to work with for mid-day portraits ensures that your photos will be evenly lit and flattering!

5.     Guest Travel

Where is your wedding venue located in proximity to where most of your guests will be coming from? Or, if the majority of your guests are coming in from out of town, is your venue within close proximity to hotels in the area? Some wedding venues are far out in the middle of nowhere, which means lots of extra driving. If you have a lot of guests coming in from out of town, consider choosing a venue within close(r) proximity to a hotel to accommodate them!

6.     Set up & Clean Up Timeframe

If you are decorating parts of your ceremony/reception, when are you allowed to come in and start decorating? And likewise, if you are required to clean up the decorations from your own venue, how much time will you be given to do so? My husband and I opted to get married on a Friday so that we had the entire day before to set up! The couple whose wedding was held at the same venue the next day only had that very day to set up their décor. For us – we didn’t want to have to deal with that on our wedding day. We just wanted to relax and be present with friends, family, and each other!

Thanks for reading through, and happy planning! 💛


The Pros and Cons of Having a First Look


The Pros and Cons of Having a First Look

The topic of a “first look” is often highly debated among brides and wedding professionals alike. If you’re unfamiliar with what a “first look” is, essentially, it is where the bride and groom plan a time before the ceremony to see each other – just the two of them.

 But before we move on, a quick disclaimer: the very last thing I ever want to do when talking about a first look is make someone feel bad for choosing to opt for a more traditional route of the groom seeing the bride for the first time while walking down the aisle. Heck, my husband and I opted to not have a first look, because we both decided that we wanted to keep that aspect of our day a bit more traditional! But with that being said, I do want to share some pros and cons of a first look to help those who might be on the fence!



You’ll have more time together.

Pros and Cons of First Look.jpg

This is a HUGE one, and one I wish I would’ve considered going into my own wedding day! On your wedding day, you’ll come down the aisle, get married, jump straight into portraits, then jump straight into the reception – there’s barely any time to have a relaxed moment together. But with a first look, you’ll get the majority of your photos done before the ceremony, and will therefore have much more time to enjoy just being together (plus, you’ll get to attend cocktail hour – which leads me to my next point!).

You’ll get to spend more time with your guests.

If the majority of your photos take place before the ceremony, you’ll most likely be able to attend the majority of (or part of!) your cocktail hour! This is a great way to make sure you get to talk with the majority of your guests and enjoy the party you worked so hard to plan!

You’ll feel less rushed.

Have you ever been to a wedding where there was a 3-5 hour time gap between the ceremony and reception? Me too. I remember being antsy, hungry, and ready for the party to start by the time bridal party made it to the reception. Doing a first look means being able to do the majority of your photos before the ceremony, which cuts down time between the ceremony and reception for your guests.

You’ll be less nervous.

I’m naturally more of an introvert, so being in front of a crowd of people gives me a little bit of anxiety. If you’re like me, consider doing a first look. You’ll get to experience that moment together – just the two of you (plus your photographer, hopefully from afar ;) ) – without anyone else around. There’s no pressure to react a certain way, no onlookers, just a private moment between the two of you.

You’ll have more time for portraits!

Sometimes on a wedding day, things run behind. The ceremony goes a little over, the receiving line is unaccounted for in the official timeline, or the transportation to the reception takes a bit longer than expected – which all cut into photo time. Having your photos taken before the ceremony means that you can plan a bigger time chunk without having to worry about everything running behind and arriving late to your reception or making guests wait for you!

*As a side note, if you’re getting married in the winter months, the sun will set a bit earlier in the day. Make sure you pay attention to when your photo time will take place in relation to when the sun sets so you aren’t taking photos in the dark!



Your fiancé will see you before the ceremony, so the “down the aisle” moment will be a little different.

It’s true, that moment down the aisle you’ve always been dreaming of may feel a bit different since you will have already seen each other.

You’ll have to start getting ready earlier in the day.

With a first look, you’ll need to be “photo ready” earlier, which means you’ll have to start getting ready earlier. It can be helpful to ask your photographer when he/she thinks the first look should happen, based on what time the ceremony is set to begin. Then, you’ll be able to ask your hair and makeup artists how much time hair and makeup will take, and when you will need to start getting ready.

Lighting during the first look isn’t always ideal.

The best time of day for photos is a few hours after sunrise, or a few hours before sunset. The biggest thing I get hung up on with a first look is the light! Most first looks happen in the middle of the day, when the light is harsh, so sometimes it’s tough to find a good spot with flattering light – especially for photos with large groups of people (like a bridal party!).

 First looks have both their pros and cons, but when it comes down to it, all that really matters is what you want your wedding day to look like. If you want a first look, do it. If you don’t want a first look, don’t do it. But whatever you do, make sure you weigh your options so you can make an educated decision either way!

Happy planning!