wyoming wedding photographer

To look or not to look | A why to have a first look


I’ve ask you the “First Look” question and you either quickly answered “YES!” orrrrr you made the emoji grimace face and you’re just not sure, you really can’t decide. That’s okay, let’s talk about it! 

If you’re not sure what a first look is, it’s when the bride and the groom see each other a few hours before the ceremony and spend some time together before the events of the day begin. Not traditional at all— but what even is tradition anymore!? People are constantly coming up with new ideas and adding special touches to make their wedding more personal….more “them”. No disrespect to the olden days, but the whole “it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding” thing is a bit dated. In fact, the tradition of couples not seeing each other before the nuptials dates back to when marriages were more of a business deal between two families [not very romantic]. Apparently, there was often a fear that one of the parties would change their mind and back out once they actually saw each other [hence the veil], so it became customary for the couple to not even meet until they got to the alter and there was no turning back! [swear to go, google it!] It’s a very old and outdated tradition that is centered around an issue that you guys don’t have to worry about [you guys HAVE met, RIGHT?!]. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to go the traditional route— I will respect your wishes either way! I just want to make sure I lay it all out for you so you understand why I personally love first looks so much!


You get to spend more time with your partner

As you know [or will know very soon], weddings take months of planning. Weeks and weeks of making decisions and arrangements— all for one single day. Your wedding day will go by really, really, really, really fast [I would use more reallys but I think that you get the point]! Ask any newlywed couple. With as much time and energy that goes into putting this day together, I’m always taken aback at the little amount of time the couple actually gets spends together. As you’re planning that perfect sunset ceremony, it’s really common to overlook the fact that you won’t see your fiancé until the sun is actually going down. Most of the day has already passed and now you only have a few hours left of your wedding day to spend together! Not to mention, you’re spending it with tons of guests who also want your attention. Planning a first look a few hours before the ceremony gives you much more time with your love on the best day of your lives [so far]. Why would you want to waste precious hours of your wedding day avoiding the person you are about to spend the rest of your life with?! Because someone from centuries ago deemed it to be bad luck? I beg to differ.

It could be your only time alone all day

Okay so this one is super important! YES— this day is about you guys, but you can’t ignore the fact that you've invited all these people and they are going to expect you to spend some time with them. I know that you have, like, the rest of your lives to spend with one another, but the feels of your wedding day are so real and special, and it’s so important to get that time to connect! Doing a first look gives you guaranteed alone time. Typically, we plan the first look and then schedule about 30 minutes of portraits of you two before calling the rest of the wedding party to join us. If we wrap up this part before we were expecting to be finished, then you guys have time to hang out with your wedding party or maybe run off for some extra one-on-one time. If you want, we can even schedule in some chill time between photos and the ceremony! This is your day, let’s plan it exactly how you guys want it to go. 

It helps to melt away your nervous energy

Just being honest here, you’re probably going to be nervous. Not that you are scared to get married, but you want this day to go just perfect and you might be dealing with some flutters knowing all eyes will be on you. Nerves can consume you, especially if you are not a fan of being the center of attention or embarrass easily. Although it's all going to be perfectly FINE, I’m willing to bet that your fiancé will know exactly what to say to make your anxiety and nervous energy melt right away. Getting the chance to embrace one another and just be together will create a sense of calmness and help you to relax a bit. 


Eat, drink, greet your guests

First looks are typically planned about 3 [or more] hours before the ceremony. This gives us ample time to shoot portraits of the two of you, bring in the entire wedding party, and possibly get the family photos done before you even walk down the aisle. Now, assuming everything goes according to plan [because of course it’s going to], that means after the ceremony you're free to go enjoy your cocktail hour like it's meant to be enjoyed! Traditionally, most portraits and wedding party photos are shot during the cocktail hour, but let’s face it— you put so much time, effort, and money into all of this, you should get to party too! A first look gives you the opportunity to enjoy the amazing appetizers, drink the delicious drinks, and greet all the generous guests who came to love and support you on your special day. It’s always nice bonus to get the introductions and congratulations out of the way before the reception begins. That way, you can spend your entire reception boogying down without people constantly coming up to you, interrupting your dance sessions, trying to have a full-on conversation with you [NOW IS NOT THE TIME, CAROL! I JUST WANT TO DANCE WITH MY BABES!].

It gives us all the time for photos

Now this one might totally be selfish on my end but, like, it’s my job. I need to make sure that you get all the photos that you want on your wedding day, and if we only give ourselves the short time during cocktail hour, we will be forced to rush through things and are more likely to miss something. Getting most of the portraits done and out of the way before the ceremony leaves us a lot more time and opportunity to take more photos [if you're up for it]. Depending on the time of the year, first looks are the only way to get outdoor, naturally lit photos of you and your bae. With the sun setting so early in the winter months, we are extra pressed for time. I really, really hate to rush through my job and when it comes to the bridal portraits [bridal portraits include just the couple], I like to make sure that we have the most amount of time possible to get you the best photos ever. It also leaves room for any hiccups in the schedule, like if the weather isn’t cooperating or we have a wardrobe malfunction. I don’t want you to think of your wedding day as one big photoshoot, but giving yourselves more of a lax schedule gives us time to break up the photos and allows you to be present in the moment. With more time to spend, we will be able to capture REAL moments of the two of you. Wedding photography is an investment, why not make sure that you get the most bang for your buck?!

Don’t worry, you’ll still feel all the feels

I think one of the biggest reasons people have concerns about a first look is that they fear that they will lose that “ WOW feeling” when walking down the aisle. Brides are always worried that a first look will ruin the “she took my breath away” moment when her love sees her. I will have to respectfully disagree. In fact, I would dare to say that it HEIGHTENS your emotions. I want you to think about that moment right now, seeing each other for the first time on your wedding day. Not in any specific situation, it’s not your first look and it’s not walking down the aisle. You are just two beings, in an unidentifiable space, getting to see each other for the first time on the most special day of your lives. What do you want to do when you see each other? Emotions are running high, nerves might be getting the best of you. Your answer is probably, “I want to give them a hug and a kiss and tell them how much I love them and how excited I am that I get to marry them TODAY!” Yeah— totally!! If you wait for the ceremony to see one another, you can’t do any of that! The first looks gives you guys the chance to hold each other close, take it all in, and spend some one-on-one time together before the day really takes off. I promise you will still have that amazing “this is actually happening” moment, even though you saw each other before the ceremony. Once you start walking down the aisle, IT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN! That feeling can NEVER be replaced with anything.


Getting the chance to see one another before the ceremony will help calm the nerves, allow you guys some alone time, and give you the opportunity to slow down and be present during the day. It gives you the chance to breeze through the day a little easier and really enjoy everything that you've put so much of yourselves into creating. I’ve personally become a huge fan of the first look tradition, but I’m a way bigger fan of making your day go the way you want it to go! No matter what you decide to do on your wedding day, I am here for you 110%!


Sarah + DJ | Eagle Manor | Fairton NJ

“I really can’t say enough good things about having Stephanie as my photographer for my wedding day!! Her photos speak for themselves [they are amazing!!] but what you don’t see from the photos is how amazing Stephanie is to work with. She made the entire day, and experience go so smoothly! She made me, DJ, all my friends, and family feel so at ease and comfortable in front of the camera. [I know because they all told me multiple times after the wedding how much they loved working with Stephanie!] Stephanie was so organized and professional to work with but also felt like a friend who was meant to be part of the day. She made us laugh and kept it fun [even if it was freezing cold and 30mph winds], she even put up with the groomsmans silly antics [trying to include a creepy doll in our wedding photos] without missing a beat. I seriously couldn’t have picked a better photographer for our wedding day!!” -Sarah R

Melanie + Ryan | Jackson Lake Lodge | Grand Teton National Park | Wyoming

Stephanie has been my cousin's best friend for a life time. She is very familiar with my family having captured two of my [other] cousin's weddings. I've watched her work develop over the years and it has gotten so amazing that as soon as we got engaged I just knew she had to be our photographer. It was the one expense we were willing to go all out for and we are beyond glad we did. She came out to Wyoming to photograph our National Park wedding and even though the weather didn't cooperate, we know she still got fantastic shots. Stephanie was amazing the whole day, hitting all the key pictures even though she was flying solo! My mom made a comment that when she saw something she thought would be a great picture, she would turn to Stephanie already snapping away. She was on the floor with us all night, dancing and catching all these cherished [and some inappropriate] memories. She was exactly what we wanted as a photographer and I wouldn't trade her work for anything. We will absolutely use her again for all the years to come. -Melanie R