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Fun Idea Friday: Photographing the First Look

We have mentioned the first look before on our blog, but after Nicole and Brett’s fabulous first look, we felt that this deserved to be a part of our Fun Idea Friday post. On Fridays we try to blog about something new or different in the world of weddings.

While this tradition isn’t “new”, we think it is something so fabulous it should be a part of everyone’s wedding day. Rather than waiting to see each other when you walk down the aisle, the idea of the first look is to find a private spot before the wedding where the Bride and Groom can see each other all dressed and ready to go –  and savor that moment as a couple. We had one at my own wedding, and it was so wonderful to be able to take each other in privately before our public debut. My only regret – the photographer wasn’t invited!

On the day of your wedding, taking time out to connect with each other is the perfect way to make sure you are focused on a marriage rather than a ceremony. A first look gives you an opportunity to exchange gifts with each other, to laugh together, to cry together, and to love one another without a crowd of people watching you.

Nicole and Brett had their moment in a park. Brett found a secluded place to stand and Nicole walked behind him and put her hand on his shoulder when it was time for him to turn around.

On her way to see Brett for the first time today

Waiting patiently for his bride

Choosing to have a first look is practical for the photographer, because it allows you to take more pictures of the couple before the ceremony rather than having to take time out of the reception. But more than just being practical, this tradition is intimate; a way to touch base with the one you love before you face your family and friends as a single person for the last time.


You can tell by their faces how much these two love each other. We were privileged to be a part of their day and can’t wait to stay a part of their lives.

Fun Idea Friday: Replacing the Rice Throwing

On Fridays we try to write about some fun new versions of old wedding traditions – in celebration of creativity in wedding planning. This week:

Throwing Rice

It was traditional for the guests and members of the wedding party to line up outside the church (or the reception) with handfuls of rice (or paper cones of rice) and gently toss the rice kernels at the happy couple as they exit to the safety of their getaway car and drive slowly off into the sunset. Now we all know rice isn’t very good for the bird population, so some folks have switched to bird seed (ouch) or butterflies (beautiful, but hard to control whether or not they fly when released – like these butterflies below who refused to leave the Bride’s bouquet)


or bubbles (now we actully really like this one if you coordinate the bubble blowing timing well).

But have you ever thought about trying something completely different, like maple tree helicopter seeds?

Our backyard is full of helicopter seeds each spring, and once those seeds dry out, they look gorgeous when you throw them in the air because they take their time whirling to the ground. Why not collect a bunch of seeds in the spring, dry them out, and have guests throw them in the air as you leave the ceremony. This way no one is pelting you with birdseeds or releasing butterflies too early, there’s no mess on your dress, and they are larger and easier to brush out of your hair. Warning: there is some indication that when eaten, maple leaves or seeds maybe harmful to horses, so skip this tip if you are getting married on horseback or on grandpa’s horse farm.

Not into having things thrown at you, but like the idea of a grand sendoff? One wedding we’ve been to gave all of the guests sparklers to light just as they were exiting the reception. These were beautiful and would fit in great for either a July or a winter wedding. The only downside is training your guests to light them at just the right time (and of course being specific that no one throw them!). I am happy to report that no one threw any sparklers at the one we went to.

Want something softer? You could think about flower petals. Rose petals usually fit the bill, as you likely are using roses in your ceremony somewhere so your florist is liable to have tons of extra petals. These are one of the softer options we came up with, just be aware that they don’t fall slowly to the ground, you have to have the right technique to make them seem to float in the air. But you could consider using smaller petals, like daisies, that might remain airborne a tad longer.

Going green? How about paper from a shredding machine? Then you can have someone else sweep it up and put it into the recycling bin – the price is certainly right and it won’t harm the environment. Just make sure guests can’t string together their pieces and get your personal credit card information, or the wedding may cost you more than you thought!

Throwing rice may seem antiquated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer your guests the chance to send you off in style with a little creativity, and a little help from us.

Honey, Do you think we should have kids?

No, it’s not a few years into your marriage and you aren’t wondering if it is finally time to take that life changing procreation plunge.

You are engaged!

But right now, the decision of whether or not to have kids be a part of your wedding ceremony may feel like just as important a question.

Kids are adorable, photogenic, and downright cute, even when they aren’t behaving themselves. If you have kids you are close to, they make a great addition to your ceremony and often provide just the right kind of comic relief. Take Jessica and Jon, who were married in August. They used 4 super adorable kids in their wedding and it was great.

However, let us regale you with a cautionary kids-in-a-wedding tale. Years ago, my cousin got married in Minnesota, and they had chosen to have a very young flower girl (probably around 2yrs old) and her big brother (maybe 4 or 5 years old) as ring bearer.  Everything about the ceremony went beautifully and then it was time for the flower girl to walk down the aisle. Cute as a button that two year old walked down the aisle toward her brother, gracefully dropping clumps of flower petals in the aisle. It was sweet, cute, and lovely. At the front of the church she met her brother and they sat down on the platform in front of everyone where they were expected to wait for the duration of the ceremony.

Let me give you a tip: if you have very young children in your ceremony, let them sit down with their parents after they walk down the aisle. It is hard enough to keep kids behaved during a service when they are sitting right next to you and can be bribed with treats and pencils and toys. It is unrealistic for a two year old to sit still quietly for more than about 2 minutes.

Well, during the ceremony, at one point the flower girl hopped up with her basket and started back down the aisle, picking up all the petals she so nicely dropped. My guess is, that is exactly what they did in the rehearsal! A lady near the front, Mom perhaps, grabbed her hand, shook her head no, and then took her back up to her brother on the platform.

Tip 2: If you ignore tip number one, when kids start mis-behaving, bring them off the platform and sit them next to their parents.

Our little lady started to talk to her brother. Just whispers. Apparently someone had the foresight to stock her little basket with gummi bears in order to keep both kids quiet and happy. But flower girl was not happy about the way her brother was sharing the gummies and had to yell at him, loudly. He was mortified and clapped his hand over her mouth while shouting “BE QUIET”.

I cannot remember anything else about that ceremony except the look of horror on the Bride’s face that the kids were ruining her wedding. Now, it may have been one of the most fun weddings I was ever a guest at, but I am not sure the Bride would agree!

Kids are “unpredictable as weather” (to quote from the Sound of Music). They make a great addition to your ceremony, but you need to be realistic about how involved you want them to be, and have a backup plan in case your little ones shower you with personality. For some, a little comic relief from a little innocent angst may be just what you need. But beware… for better or for worse, having kids will change your life!

Its Like Rain on Your Wedding Day


You’ve made all your plans, sent all of your invitations, paid the caterers, the photographer (maybe even Captured Emotions?), the DJ, the florist, the cake decorator, and you wake up on the morning of your outdoor wedding, only to discover


While Alanis may have been a little off on her definition of irony, it often still comes as a surprise when the world doesn’t appear to be as joyful as you are. But just because there’s a little rain in the air does not mean you can’t have that beautiful wedding of your dreams. In fact, rain is traditionally a sign of good luck for your nuptial day. After all, when you are tying the knot, what can make the knot harder to untie than getting the ropes wet? 

A few weeks ago we photographed a beautiful rain-filled wedding, and this Bride and Groom did not let a little moisture ruin their big day. We just had to be more creative about where we took the outdoor portraits! We waited for a break in the rain, found a tarp to put down so her dress wouldn’t get dirty, took some outdoor photographs standing inside the gazebo, and still took tons of indoor photographs too.

If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, here are some tips for when Mother Nature blesses you with some extra “good luck”. 

1. Consider having personalized umbrellas as favors at the wedding. If it’s sunny, folks can use them to provide a little shade. But if you are blessed with some showers, your guests will stay dry and fabulous and you will look ultra prepared. Plus they will remember your fabulous day every time they pull out an umbrella. Try if you need a place to price out personalized rain gear.

2. Buy a pretty tablecloth that coordinates with your wedding colors. If it stays sunny, you will have a tablecloth that reminds you of your special day. If it rains, you can use it to stand on damp ground without getting your dress and shoes muddy or wet. Odds are good it won’t be raining all day and you want to be prepared to get some portraits in between the showers. 

3. Bring a pair of back up shoes with higher/chunky heels. That way, your dress will be a few inches higher off the ground when you need it to stay nice while travelling between the ceremony and the reception. 

4. Rent or buy a cape. They are so beautiful over a dress. While more common at winter weddings, you can usually get one from your local wedding dress shop and it will keep the water off your dress. 

A little water on your wedding day, or even a tropical storm, is no reason to panic. Just be prepared and you can swim in your good fortune – no matter what the weather has in store.

Do you have your own rainy day wedding ideas? Leave a comment and let us know what you came up with.

Fun idea Friday – New twists on old traditions


We thought it might be nice every so often to pay some homage to those creative brides and grooms who wanted to put a new twist on an old tradition – creating something unique to their personalities. So here are some great ideas we’ve found for taking traditional wedding elements and changing them up a bit, for a quirky new take on old ideas.

The Unity Candle

Now a unity candle is a beautiful tradition. The bride and groom’s mothers each light a single candle, representing their respective children at the beginning of the ceremony. Then during the ceremony, the bride and groom each take their candle and together light one larger candle, representing that age old idea that the two have now become one through marriage. Its truly lovely, and plenty of brides still want this symbol as part of their wedding.

Potential Problem Number 1: You have to keep the candle, but you can’t keep lighting it after the wedding day or it will disappear into nothing as the wax melts.

Solution: Rather than have a candle you can’t light again or it will eventually melt away, why not consider using an oil lamp instead? Have members of your family or wedding party fill the lamp with oil while they share personal memories or readings of your choosing. Have someone other than the bride and groom carefully put the wick back in the top, and then bride and groom light the oil lamp together. Now you have a keepsake you can re-light again and again and hand down to your own children someday. Plus, every time you light it, you can remember how grateful you are for all those people who have helped to guide you and support you along the way. Oil comes in just about any color so it is easy to match to your wedding colors and then replace later with something that coordinates with your room decor. Added bonus, you have a lamp to use when there is a power outage!

Potential Problem Number 2: It involves fire – which might make you or your parents uncomfortable.

Solution: Consider a wine ceremony – mothers of the couple bring onto the platform two different bottles of wine. The couple pour their respective wines into a shared goblet, creating a mixture which they both drink. No fire involved, and it might just turn out to be your new favorite flavor of wine. This website has some other great ideas for unity events:

Potential Problem Number 3: You can’t include friends and other family members who have helped to make you the person you are today (what if your stepmother raised you but you can’t insult your real Mom by not including her). This may be especially important to you if one or both of you have kids you want to include, or feel closer to non-relatives and want to honor them too.

Solution: Think about incorporating a sand ceremony. It’s a similar idea – have family or friends fill a beautiful vase with different colored sand. This has become very popular in the past year and is really great for people who have more complicated family situations. For more sand ceremony ideas and a place to buy vases, try visiting this website: