Guys, Kirsten + Dakota’s September 1 wedding was like something out of a fairy tale. They were married at Le Petit Chateau in Bozeman, Montana, surrounded by so many loved ones. Something I’m seeing more of - that I’m absolutely loving! - is couples who have chosen to have larger weddings making time during their day for moments of intimacy as well. Kirsten + Dakota did this during their first look by opting to exchange the vows they wrote for each other at the same time, rather than during their ceremony. It was beautiful to watch them see each other for the first time in the privacy of a tucked-away corner, then to read the thoughts the other one had going into the day.
They also chose to have an unplugged ceremony (allll the praise hands). For those who haven’t heard of this, an unplugged ceremony is one where the couple has requested that guests not use their phones, tablets, cameras, etc. during the ceremony, allowing each guest to be fully present. You know what I saw, instead of people trying to get “the shot” with their phones? I saw a groomsman reach over to grab his wife’s hand while Kirsten came down the aisle. I saw friends take the hand of the person next to them and give it a little squeeze before letting it go to wipe away a lone happy tear rolling down a cheek. I saw family glance at each other and smile before reaching over to squeeze a shoulder. Big picture, I saw Kirsten + Dakota’s friends and family observing, contemplating, and being in the moment with each other and it was so beautiful.
After the ceremony, everyone ate, drank, and danced and it was a freakin’ blast. My favorite moment? Probably Kirsten coaxing her mom into a round of shots ;)
Scroll on through for some favorites from their perfect late-summer wedding day!
Hat tip to all the vendors who made this day so perfect:
Venue: Le Petit Chateau | Hair: Ethereal Hair & Makeup | Makeup: Running Bare Aesthetics | Dress: Plume Bridal | Tux: After 5 and Weddings | Florals: Carr’s Posey Patch | Catering: Sadie’s Catering | Desserts: Lux Spirited Sweets | Entertainment: Moshunal
Eden Strader Workshop, Pt. 2: you guys. I never, in a million years, thought I'd be a fan of studio bridal sessions. But I am. Eden put together this bridal session with nothing more than some pink paper as a backdrop. No epic views, no stunning bouquets. Just Alexa, a gorgeous haute couture wedding dress by Jean and Jewel, and some tulle and pink paper. And it was so much fun.
I'll always love the adventurous sessions that require boots and some trekking, but friends, there is something totally unique about capturing a bride with nothing else on which to rely. This opportunity forced me to think hard about creating visual interest without relying on the normal crutches. It forced me to think about her facial features: what did I want to draw attention to? The dress: how could I emphasize the way the layers move when there was no wind to catch the layers? And, perhaps most challengingly, how to get it all done in 5 minutes. That's right. We had no idea what to expect with these shoots: no idea about the location, type of session, props, lighting conditions - nothing. Then we were given 5 minutes each to direct Alexa and get our shots. Holy Hannah, guys. The student in me LOVED this challenge and now I'm mildly obsessed with studio bridal sessions.
So! Are you thinking about a bridal session, but not sure you want to dirty your dress before your big day? Let's do a studio session! Scroll on through for a few favorites from this session!
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!