Shooting Formals Before the Ceremony

I know not everyone is open to the idea of seeing their fiance before that emotional walk down the aisle, but hear me out on why it’s worth considering. More and more couples are choosing to get their photos “out of the way” before they take their vows, and then it’s party time for the rest of the night. If your ceremony and reception are several hours apart, then you probably have ample time in between, but if your ceremony and reception are back to back at the same venue it’s important to at least consider doing the formal photos before saying “I do.”

First look at Rivercrest Golf Club

Reason #1
Your hair, make-up, dress and everything are freshly done and you look your best.

Why wait until after you cry to get your portraits? And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the white dress gets the dirtiest in the church. I swear these venues wait until they have a wedding for the floors to be swept- and the girl with the long train is the one doing it. But seriously, you pay to get all done up, why not get the photos taken when you look fresh?

First look at Belle Voir Manor near Philadelphia, PA

Reason #2
The “first sight” shots are often some of the best of the day

I LOVE the shots of the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time in their wedding attire. When you see each other we can set it up to be private or with the families/wedding party present. In this set up meeting, you have the  opportunity to kiss, hug, talk and spin to show off your dress- you can’t do that at the front of the aisle! These are often some of the most “real” shots of the day, and it’s a special moment you and your fiance share together. I promise you, that walk down the aisle is still emotional and surreal. 🙂

Bride and groom first looks

Reason #3
Why try to cram hours of photographs into cocktail hour?

A typical wedding should allow about 2 hours for formals, more if the families or bridal party have a lot of people. Trying to squeeze all the photos into cocktail hour may be possible, but your photographer is stuck shooting just the necessary group shots, and you often don’t have time for artistic or fun photos, and the entire process will feel rushed. Not to mention you miss out on the hors-d’oeuvres! When formals are done beforehand there may be a few quick shots to take during cocktail (for example, if Grandma wasn’t there earlier in the day) but then you are free to get the dress bustled, mingle with guests, and relax and enjoy being a newly married couple!

Ballyowen, New Jersey wedding first look

As a photographer I think this is the way to go for single venue events, and even for weddings that don’t have much time between the ceremony and reception (or have a lot of traveling). As a bride, my husband and I did this at our wedding and it makes the day go so much smoother. I have never, ever even once had a couple say they wish they DIDN’T do formal photos first- in fact, many have said that they are so glad they did it and if any other couples ever need convincing to give them their number.

That being said, as your photographer I am here to serve you and do what YOU want on your wedding day. If you always envisioned seeing your groom at the end of the aisle for the first time, then we will make it work, and look great! I am always happy to help with timeline planning, so feel free to email or call me.

-Crissy