first look.jpgWhen I ask couples if they’re doing a first look, they either fall into one of three categories: A definite “NO!”, a “Maybe, we haven’t really thought about it”, or “What’s a first look?”

So what is a first look anyway? A first look happens usually a few hours before the ceremony where the bride and groom see each other for the first time, instead of waiting until the bride walks down the aisle. It’s usually prearranged by the couple and the photographer and is built into the timeline of the day.

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But Maria, why would we want to see each other before the wedding? Wouldn’t that ruin the tradition? I get it! Trust me, my husband was very traditional that way as well and we did not have a first look at our wedding. But do you know where that tradition stems from? Back in the day, when arranged marriages were common, the bride and groom were not allowed to see each other at all before the wedding. The ceremony symbolized a done business deal between two families. The father of the bride feared that if the groom found his daughter unattractive, he would call off the wedding, bringing shame to his daughter and the family. So the two were not allowed to meet until the day of the wedding. And the wedding veil over the face? That was so the groom couldn’t see what the bride looked like until the officiant announced, “You are now husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.” Romantic hey?

If I could do it all over again, I’d definitely have a first look and here’s why.

  1. Seeing each other beforehand takes some of the pressure off. I was so nervous walking down the aisle that when I got to the end and saw my future husband, I gave him a hug and a big kiss, because that’s naturally what I would do when I see him. He backed away from me like, “We’re not supposed to do that yet,” and it made for an awkward situation.
  2. It’s a special moment and more time for just the two of you. Believe me when I tell you, the day flies by. If you’re having a later ceremony (between 3:30-4pm), you are spending more than half your wedding day apart from each other. The first look gives you more time together and more photo opportunities.

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3. You get to enjoy your entire reception!  This one is huge and probably one of my biggest regrets. About 50% of your entire wedding budget goes to the reception, you literally owe it to yourselves to be there for it. To this day, I still hear so many great things about our cocktail hour, but we barely got to experience it between we chose to take our pictures between our ceremony and reception. Enjoy your cocktail hour and those who are there to celebrate you!

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4. You will still get your walking down the aisle moment. Every couple (grooms especially) say they’re so happy they decided to do a first look and that it took nothing away from seeing their bride come down the aisle. You will still be just as excited to see one another and you won’t have the urge to give each other a big hug and kiss after being apart all day.
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No client of mine has ever told me that they regretted doing a first look. I’ve always gotten the response, “I’m so glad we did that!” I understand that first looks aren’t for everyone but it’s something that you should really consider doing. It frees up time in your day and makes the wedding schedule a little less hectic. Chances are your marriage isn’t arranged, you two know what the other looks like and you’re not backing out of anything.

Did you decided to have a first look? Comment below!

It was a beautiful September day. Unseasonable warm for this time of year in Wisconsin. One of the hottest days we’ve had all summer. When I drove down the wooded driveway and approached the house, there was a sense of calm. None of the hustle and bustle you’d expect on a wedding day. When I walked into Mauria’s mom’s house, the girls were sitting around the table, finishing up breakfast, drinking mimosas, laughing and listening to chill music. They had under eye patches on-the same ones I had been wearing earlier that morning. I knew right then and there that I was in great company. Mauria introduced me to everyone, but because they were all so close, I had a hard time keep track of who her real sisters were when I first got there.

I met Mauria for coffee a few months back. She told me about her wedding, her bridesmaids and what they were wearing. She went on to describe her wedding as a simple backyard wedding with about 100 of their closest family and friends. When I arrived on site, it was much more than what I had envisioned. The property was lined with tall trees and fields. Mauria and Sarandi were married under a willow tree in her parents backyard and it was perfect. On our coffee date, Mauria had mentioned how artistic Sarandi was. It was one of the things she loved about him. Sarandi was responsible for painting all of the table numbers at the reception. They were beautifully done.

Mauria’s sisters went on to talk about the many phases of Mauria. There was lots of laughter in the audience. Some of these phases I could even relate to. And then they talked about the Sarandi phase, which is her forever phase. Sarandi and Mauria lit each other up the whole day. If there was a brief moment of stress that arose, Sarandi instantly brought a calm to Mauria. It was as if the two just kept front of mind what the day was about: the two of them starting their lives together and nothing else mattered.

I asked them toward the end of the night if there was any last minute pictures they wanted before I headed out. They said no, so I went inside and packed up my gear. When I came back to find them to say goodbye, they were dancing off in the distance by themselves. I always advise my couples to take a few moments by themselves to just take in the day. It goes by so quickly. I’m glad they listened and had their own moment separate from me taking them out for pictures.

Sarandi and Mauria, thank you so much for choosing me to document your wedding day. Congratulations to you two! Cheers to a lifetime of love and happiness!



Special thanks to these vendors for making these photos possible:

Photography: Maria Campbell Photography

Hair: Betsy Arsnow

Dress Designer: Cristiano Lucci

Bridal Boutique: Amelishan Bridal

Groom Attire: Calvin Klein at Men’s Wearhouse

Caterer: Saz’s

Flowers (Bouquets,boutonnieres, corsages): Parkway Floral

Flowers (Centerpieces, Table arrangements): Shoua Vang’s Bouquet

Jeweler: Custom designed at A Trio

Bakery: The Cake Lady

Planners: Cara Turkowski and Dianne Hofmann