Are you doing a first look? Why or why not? For most couples, there are two primary reasons why they choose not to do it: first, tradition; and second, the emotional reaction of seeing each other for the first time as the bride makes her way down the aisle.

If you've decided you don't want to do one, that's fine! It's your day, do it your way. But if you're on the fence, here's my two cents:

Regarding tradition, most of us have heard that it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony. This notion actually dates back to the tradition of arranged marriages. The reason the groom was not allowed to see the bride before the ceremony is because it was believed that, if he had the chance to see his bride, he would be more likely to call off the wedding. How romantic. The non-traditionalist in me says you and your soon-to-be spouse can probably come up with some better traditions of your own to incorporate into your day :)

As for the emotional reaction to seeing each other for the first time as you walk down the aisle, I totally get it. It should come as no surprise that I love a good, raw emotional reaction. And sometimes it happens and its wonderful! And sometimes, the reaction is internal and not much happens externally. Some people (like me!) are naturally more reserved in front of a crowd and they might not have that monumental external reaction for a dozen reasons that have nothing to do with how they actually feel about seeing their soon-to-be spouse for the first time. Bottom line: there's no way to predict how you and your partner will react, so if you're choosing not to do a first look because you want a certain photo of your honey shedding a tear or falling to his knees when he sees you, there's a chance it won't happen, regardless of whether you've already seen each other.

NOW! Here is why I think first looks are great:

First, if reaction is what you're going for, this is a much safer environment to get that reaction. Just the two of you, away from the crowd, away from phones and cameras (except for mine and I'll try to stay out of your way). Without the pressure of a crowd or a ceremony timeline, you have a few minutes to truly enjoy that first glimpse of each other. You'll likely be running high on emotions and the freedom to be able to touch each other, to hug, to wipe each other's tears, and to tell each other what you're thinking is invaluable. 

Relatedly, by setting aside 15-20 minutes before the ceremony for a first look, you have a chance to just enjoy a moment of quiet together before the day sweeps you away. For my fellow introverts, this moment of peace with your person can ground you and recharge your battery so that you can be ready to entertain!

Finally, as a matter of practicality, by doing a first look, you've made it possible to do all the group photos before the ceremony. This means everyone gets to head right to cocktail hour/the reception right after the ceremony! It also means you're not chasing people down for group photos when they're ready to party. It can be a big time-saver! Also, while I'll still pull you away for a few minutes at sunset for a couple more bride + groom portraits in that beautiful evening light, you're essentially free from photo obligations before the ceremony even starts! 

Ultimately, whether or not you decide to do a first look, your day will be beautiful. As always, feel free to throw my two cents right out the window and do exactly what you want to do!

Why I Think You Should Write Your Own Vows

Hey hi hello friends! Quick question for you: are you writing your own wedding vows? Want to know why I think you should? I'm going to tell you anyway - feel free to disregard!

Most of you probably know this (I usually reference this when people ask how I started shooting weddings), but I'll say it again: I spent my first year of law practice divorcing people. That was also the year I shot my first wedding. Spending a year ending marriages really made me think about the magnitude of the commitment you make when you say "I do," in large part because of the difficulty of ending it when you need to. Marriages can be really hard to end from a legal perspective (I won't go into detail about that here), but it makes sense: in theory (also yes: there are times when it needs to end), marriages are supposed to be forever, so it should come as no surprise that they're not a walk in the park to end. This is why I encourage couples to write their own vows.

Wait what? You may be wondering what writing your own vows has to do with marriage, forever, and divorce. Hear me out: if you're simply reciting the traditional vows, you don't have much pressure to really think about the words. You're repeating after the officiant, likely in front of an audience, and probably looking forward to cake and champagne (or is that just me?). If you decide to write your own vows, you actually have to sit down and think about what you want to say to your S/O. It gives you a chance to clearly articulate what that commitment means to you, why you picked each other, what you intend to be to and for each other forever, and also a chance to think about the tough stuff you'll likely face together (and how you'll get through it together). I believe this exercise can help you think critically about the commitment you're making and what it means after the party is over (not that you won't think about this stuff if you're not writing your own vows). 

I believe that, while your wedding day should be a celebration, there should be room for contemplation leading up to that day, and writing your own vows is a great way to truly think about what your partner means to you and what you want to be for him/her throughout your lives together. So: who's writing their own vows?

Want more tips, tricks, and my two cents? Check out my thoughts on selecting the right makeup artist here: and my advice on preparing for your session here: