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If you're in the middle of the wedding planning process, you're probably trying to decide whether or not to do a first look. As a wedding photographer for the past 10 years, I've photographed dozens of weddings a year and have seen what works and what doesn't.

Here are my 5 top reasons that you need to have a first look on your wedding day.

  1. First looks provide an intimate and emotional moment for the couple before the ceremony starts. Many of my couples prefer this to seeing each other for the first time that day while all the wedding guests eyes are on you.

  2. They help to calm nerves and alleviate some of the pressure before the ceremony. There is just something about being able to go into the majority of your wedding day being together. Dealing with the opinions and stresses that unfortunately come with weddings can be so much better with your soon to be husband or wife at your side.

  3. A first look can be used as an opportunity for a more relaxed and intimate photo session with the couple. One of the saddest things for me as a photographer, is when the wedding timeline is so packed that there is barely any time for photos of the couple. First looks help to make sure that you receive more photos of just the two of you.

  4. First looks provide a private moment for the couple to exchange personal vows or letters. This is such a sweet time to share messages with each other that you don't necessarily want to read or share with all of your wedding guests.

  5. A first look can help to schedule the wedding day, allowing for more time for things like family or bridal party photos. This way, after the ceremony is over, you get to mingle with your guests instead of leaving them for photos.

Wedding Venue: Bishops Lodge

Makeup Artist: Betty Rose

Are you planning a proposal? Congratulations! What an exciting time. As a wedding photographer for over the last decade, I've seen and heard about my fair share of proposals and I've gathered a few tips for you as you are planning to propose.

#1 Make sure to document the proposal. Whether you have a friend hiding with an iphone, or a professional wedding photographer or videographer, please make sure you find someone who's job is to document the proposal. This will be a time that you both will treasure forever and want to look back on it.

#2 Rethink making it public. I get it, proposing in front of a big crowd of people definitely can up the wow scale of a proposal but I would usually recommend keeping your wedding proposal at a less crowded location. This can not only take some of the pressure off you, but also tends to make your future fiancé less nervous also. You're worrying less about what everyone is thinking or being in the way or having that obnoxious group of people that are hurling insults at you.

#3 Keep it sincere. Don't worry about saying the perfect words. This is someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. They already know you. If your love language to each other is playful banter, incorporate that into your wedding proposal.

#4 It's okay if they know that it's coming. A wedding proposal doesn't have to be some big surprise for it to be romantic. For a control freak like me, I had a hand in picking out my ring and had a basic idea of when the proposal was coming.

#5 Try to bring some nostalgia into your proposal. Whether it's a location that holds a special memory Or an activity you love to do together, incorporating your past into this beginning of your forever future goes a long way.

What tips would you add for planning a wedding proposal? Drop them in the comments below!

There is one thing that all of your married friends will tell you about their wedding day.

That it sped by SO fast.

Often I'm provided wedding day timelines that are so full that it's a real struggle to get everything in that we need to. Want to know that first thing to go when the timeline is running behind?

Pictures of just the bride and groom together.

They decide they haven't really been able to spend anytime with their guests, they want to enjoy cocktail hour and socialize and drink. Then later on, they are sad that they don't have many pictures together.

This is where a separate bridal session comes in and saves the day!

5 reasons to have a separate bridal session

1. It opens up your wedding day timeline (explained above)

2. It allows your hair and makeup to be fresh for pictures

3. It allows you to have a variety of locations photographed. Make it an adventure session somewhere epic that you couldn't invite 150 people to.

4. It gives you a reason to get in that beautiful dress that you spent thousands of dollars on and thought you wouldn't have an excuse to wear again.

5. It allows you to have pictures with just the two of you around without wedding guests watching you and making you feel even more awkward than you already do getting your picture taken.

Which reason is the most valuable to you?

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