3 Reasons Why We LOVE (and highly recommend) First Looks

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The “First Look” has gained a lot of momentum in the last 5-7 years, to the point where it’s almost more common than going the traditional route of seeing each other at the altar. More than half of our couples choose to do a “First Look,” and it makes us SO HAPPY. Wedding traditions are evolving and couples are making more conscious choices about how to spend their time on their wedding day. One of my favorite things about doing a “First Look,” is that it allows for more quality time with family and friends later on, and we are all about making that happen!  Today, I’m sharing the top THREE reasons why we love and encourage our couples to do a “First Look,” so if you’re on the fence about whether or not to do one, or just want to learn more about them, read on, my friend! :)

1. Calm your nerves. There’s a reason why you’re marrying the person you’re marrying – and most likely part of that reason, in some way, shape or form, is because of the calming effect they have on you. Because the sight of them after a long and stressful day at work is just what you need to bring you back down. Because their touch is the one thing that keeps you grounded when tensions are running high. Because they are your everything, your heart, your home, and your comfort. There’s a lot of pressure on a wedding day and sometimes the best way to relax your nerves is to break tradition and simply have a moment, before the big moment, with the one you love.

2. Have a private moment (possibly your ONLY private moment) together on your wedding day. As much as your wedding day is all about you, it’s really not. Sure, it’s about celebrating you and your fiance and your beautiful love, but with lots (and lots!) of other people. People who are going to be around you ALL DAY LONG. People who can’t wait to have your ear for just a minute to tell you how beautiful you look and how happy they are for you, (as they should!). Because of this, it can get pretty tricky to grab a moment alone once the ceremony commences. Want to enjoy your wedding dinner with your new husband and have a quiet moment to yourselves to discuss this incredible day? Well, too bad. Your food is going to get cold and your conversation together will be short and sweet because your cousin Steve, who doesn’t stop talking and flew in from across the country to celebrate with you, has decided that dinner time is the perfect time to pull up a chair and have a long overdue chat. Want to tell your fiance how amazing they look when you meet them at the altar? You can! – sort of. But you better keep it to one quick line because the congregation is ready for the ceremony to start and the officiant isn’t going to wait for you guys to have a quick convo about how happy you are in that moment. That fleeting moment. That moment you will only have once in your life. That amazing, incredible moment where you see the person you’re about to marry for the very first time, all dressed up just for you in the most beautiful wedding attire. You’ll be filled with so many incredible emotions that will overflow and you’ll want to laugh and cry and hug each other and share everything you’re feeling in that moment. But, without a first look,  you’ll be sharing it with 100+ of your closest friends and family and the officiant, who are all ready to get on with the show.

3. Time. Doing a First Look gives you many more opportunities for photos with each other and with your wedding party. If you do a First Look then all of your photos can be done before the ceremony. While your guests are at home getting ready for your “I dos”, you can be location hopping, taking your leisurely time and relaxing during your photos with everyone, instead of running to get them all done between the ceremony and reception. Your guests will be grateful that they don’t have to try and find a local bar to go to to waste time during the 2 hours between the end of your ceremony and the start of your reception, all while you and your new hubby race around trying to make the most of the brief time you scheduled in for not only your portraits but all of your group photos (and family photos!) as well. And, if that isn’t enough incentive, you can actually ENJOY YOUR COCKTAIL HOUR!!! That’s right! You’re paying for it, so you might as well reap the benefits. Attending your own cocktail hour will also give you time to mingle with your guests instead of having to make rounds to all the tables during dinner, which in turn gives you time to actually EAT YOUR DINNER! Amazing! We believe so strongly that a wedding day is as much about the people you love as it is about you. It’s about all of the people you love most in the world coming together under one roof for a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable night. Your friends and fam will come from all over the globe to be there for you, so spending as much time with them as possible just makes sense!

If you’re still on the fence after reading all that then please, let me assure you: A First Look will in no way take away from your walk down the aisle. In fact, it may enhance it! Many of our brides have said that doing a First Look allowed them to truly experience the moment of seeing each other for the first time and be themselves together in that moment. But, the second those church doors opened and they stepped out into the aisle, they still felt that enormous rush of emotion at the sight of their future husband up at the altar waiting, with friends and family looking on. Nothing you do can take away from the emotion of your wedding ceremony. Those feelings of excitement, anticipation, and overwhelming love will stay with you for the entire day, whether at the altar or during a First Look. There is something so special and sacred about walking up to meet your love at the altar, regardless of whether or not you saw them before hand. The two photos above of Sarah and Ben’s First Look, and the one below of their first moments at the altar are a perfect example of this.

Read on to hear what a few of our couples had to say about their First Look experience!

“I was a bit torn over the whole First Look business since it’s not necessarily traditional. Sabrina was really pushing for it so I conceded.  I think I was actually a bit speechless when I saw her.  It definitely took the edge off and put me at ease before we got into the ceremony. It reminded me that it was just us, nothing else, other than some fancy clothes.” – Aaron + Sabrina

The first look was definitely one of the most memorable moments of not just the wedding but of my life. There is a certain nervousness that comes along with the first look. In all honesty, I wasn’t too keen on doing a it when we first started the process of wedding planning. I had heard of them before but wasn’t very enthralled by them. I always had this notion that the first time I would see my bride would be when she walked down the aisle. As it turned out, doing a first look was one of the best decisions we made. I knew exactly where she would be coming from but there was so much nervous excitement regardless. When Stacey tapped me on my shoulder and I turned around I was absolutely blown away by how stunning she looked. She’s always beautiful but on that day, in that moment, I’ve never seen someone so beautiful in my life.” – Brad + Stacey

Initially, we weren’t planning on doing the first look, but Jenn convinced us that it would be a really beautiful moment where it was just the two of us before we began the day of craziness. I have to say, it was such a special moment. I will carry every detail with me for a very long time from the tap on the shoulder to the look on Chris’s face when he turned around. Having the amazing photos to remember it by and a few moments with each other was priceless and I absolutely would do that all over again. Thanks Jenn!” – Kristin + Chris

The first look was really incredible. I admit I was pretty nervous, especially waiting to see Laura, but once we were together all the nerves just went away. It was great to enjoy the moment: just the two of us, surrounded by trees, and away from all of the craziness. Just to see how happy Laura was – that was probably my favorite moment of the day.” – Nathan + Laura

Tom and I always knew we wanted to do a First Look. I think it was more about the timing of the day than anything else. We were excited at the idea of being able to enjoy our cocktail hour with all of our guests and not having to rush through photos between the ceremony and reception, or making our guests have to go find something to do to kill time in between. We were, however, both a bit concerned that doing a First Look might take away from the ‘big moment’ of me walking down the aisle.  After all, we only got one shot at a wedding day and we wanted to be sure that we did it right. Luckily on the morning of our wedding, our First Look was absolutely perfect. To be able to see each other privately, to hug, to laugh, to share our feelings about the day and how our mornings went, to just have a moment together to breathe before the chaos of the day set in, was just everything. I honestly don’t think that my day would have gone as smoothly if we hadn’t had this opportunity. It calmed my nerves and really helped both of us to just relax and soak everything in, together. Once we got to our ceremony space we went our separate ways until it was time for our wedding to start. The second Tom left my side I felt emotion welling up inside me – a nervous and excited anticipation of what was about to happen. It didn’t matter in the slightest that we had just spent a couple of hours together, or that he had already seen what I looked like in my dress and veil. When those doors opened out to the aisle and I saw him standing up by the altar… words simply can’t describe that feeling. There is truly nothing that could have taken away from how we both felt in that moment. Needless to say, tears began flowing and didn’t stop until long after our ‘I Do’s’. Thinking back on everything now, nearly 4 years later, I am still so overjoyed that we did things the way we did.” – Rachel + Tom

So the moral of the story is, if you’re considering a First Look in any way then you should absolutely go for it!! You’ll be calmer overall, you’ll be able to truly feel all of your emotions (instead of trying to maintain your composure in front of the 150 people whose eyes will be glued to you as you walk down the aisle), and you’ll be able to spend more time with all of the people who came from far and wide to celebrate your love.  I feel that it’s SO IMPORTANT to clarify, though, that there’s no wrong answer here. Whether you decide to do a First Look or not, your wedding day will be one of the most incredibly amazing days of your entire life!  Over the years we have seen all of the many ways that this option can enhance the wedding day experience, so we wanted to share! :)

Married friends: Did you do a First Look on your wedding day? Are you glad you did?! We’d love to hear all about it in the comments!!!

kate + ron // Times Beach Nature Preserve and Larkin Square

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If you know anything about Buffalo, you know that we love our food trucks. And if you love food trucks (or just food in general) and you love making the most of the fleeting summer, then you know that the place to be on a Tuesday night in Buffalo is at Larkin Square, where the food trucks and the people pile in to enjoy live music in the amazing heat of the summer along with some seriously great eats. Really though, if you’ve never been to Food Truck Tuesday then you best get moving. It was thanks to this awesome Buffalo right of passage that our wonderful couple, Kate and Ron, first met!

Kate: “One of my closest friends and I decided that we were going to make an effort to attend as many Food Truck Tuesdays as possible during the summer, and sent out a blanket invitation to all of our friends each week to join us. That fateful June evening, Ron happened to be golfing with one of our mutual friends who had promised to meet up with my friend and I at Larkin Square after their round. Ron didn’t drive, so he was forced to tag along. My friend and I arrived at Larkin Square early to avoid lines, so when Ron and I officially met I was already shoving poutine in my face while attempting to balance my glass of wine. Naturally, love at first sight!

Kate: “I actually had to talk Ron into a first date! We had already hung out so much as a group, and were doing so many different things together on a regular basis, that an official date didn’t really seem necessary. Our relationship fell into place so naturally that realizing we should probably tick off the normal dating boxes at some point didn’t cross our minds. Plus we had already bought Bills season tickets for the year, so we were fully committed. But like most ladies with an affinity for Jane Austen novels and the dramatic, I like to be wooed, and I like dinner, so I asked Ron if we could go out to eat for an ‘official first date’, and he had to choose where we went. We went to Amici’s in Kenmore, and have gone there for each of our anniversaries since! (Funny side note: for the first 3-4 months we were dating, the only places Ron would take me to eat were Italian for some reason. I had to beg him to stop with the Italian for a while because the carb-loading was getting to be too much.) Our first date was on August 2, 2014, notable because after dinner we went to hang out with some of my friends, and Ron disappeared for most of the evening to watch the Andre Reed Hall of Fame induction speech by himself in the living room instead of socializing.

Kate: “We got engaged on May 21, 2017 at 10:15 am in our bedroom with the dogs fighting over a toy trout on the bed as I answered the easiest question anyone has ever asked me! I woke up around 10am thinking that we had brunch with his parents at noon so I asked Ron if he wanted to have some coffee in bed and start a new Netflix series we had been talking about watching (The Keepers, worth a watch!). I went down to make coffee, and then he followed me down which I thought was odd but he said he wanted water instead of coffee. (He was really getting the ring out from behind the cable box in our living room.) Then he continued to weirdly follow me upstairs, and followed me around as I put pillows on the bed to watch TV. As I was just about to get annoyed that he would NOT leave me alone, I turn around and he gets down on one knee and asks me to spend the rest of my life with him. He’s also pulled some stunts before so I may have said no and to stop being mean a few times before I believed it was actually happening. I haven’t stop smiling or staring at my hand since!!

Kate: “After he proposed he told me that we weren’t actually going to brunch with his family, that his family and a bunch of our friends were coming over with food to spend the day and celebrate with us, and he even called my boss to request I have the next day off from work to continue the celebrations. We went downstairs to start the obligatory phone calls and FaceTiming of my parents, who were traveling from their home in Charlotte to Indianapolis that day, and all of our other friends and family. About 10:45 the doorbell rings and Ron asked me to get the door, but I was preoccupied trying to get a picture of myself, my new bling, and the dogs and told him it was just my best friend who he’s met a million times so he could go get the door. He opens the front door and I am more than a little shocked to see my Grandma and parents walking up to the front door instead! Ron was able to get them to come to town to celebrate with us as well! The day was complete and magical. I’m definitely the planner in our household, and so I never in a million years thought he would be able to pull something like this without me knowing a thing. (Looking back, three different people asked me to go get my nails done with them the day before and I rejected all of them, but I never put two and two together). There were apparently a million different ways the day was supposed to go, but this way was my favorite. It was 100% us, low key and private. We love our home, and we love being with our boys, Mr. Darcy and Sammy.

Kate: “Ron and I are perfect complements. He really makes me a better, calmer, more rational, spontaneous, carefree person. Being together is so easy and natural because we both understand and appreciate the importance of also having our own interests and friends as well as alone time. Spending time together is still our favorite thing, but our relationship has never been work. We’ve both known since early on in our relationship that this was going to be a forever thing, so we’ve maintained that mentality throughout any issues or obstacles or irrationality on my part. We don’t pretend to be anyone other than our real selves around each other, and that’s who we each truly love. We also laugh, a lot.

Kate: “We value our friends, family, each other, and dogs. Our friends brought us together, our family provides love, support, and amazing examples of how we want to frame our own marriage, we have so much fun together and always love each other even if we don’t like each other very much, and our boys are our pride and joy and make our lives even more full of love and complete our little family.

Kate: “We are very much homebodies, we love spending time together with our dogs at home. Anything we can do that involve our boys is a positive in our book. We aren’t quite to the anti-social level yet, we love when friends come hang out with us at our home! Ron is a grill master so we love any excuse to host a BBQ!! Ron is a true Buffalonian through and through, and so naturally Bills season means we have standing plans on Sundays. I am a huge hockey fan, go Bruins!, and Ron grew up playing hockey and played for St. Joes in high school and continues to love the sport to this day. (One of the first things he every said to me was that he was All-State in hockey in high school. My flirtatious response was, so? Luckily our sense of humor and ability to tease each other is one of our most endearing qualities as a couple). We have a standing bet at our house that whenever the Bruins and Sabres play during the regular season, the winner gets to fly their flag on the house for a week.