The Wallflower Photography Blog


The single biggest wedding-day scheduling question that all brides and grooms must answer is whether they are willing to see each other before their wedding ceremony or not. If they will, we can take care of their portraits early in the wedding day, before the bride and groom make their first public appearance.

There are several advantages to this. Who hasn’t been to a wedding where, right after the ceremony ends with a first kiss and triumphant march up the aisle, the bride and groom disappear for an hour or so, leaving all their guests to sip (or chug) their drinks at a “cocktail hour” and wait for them to return. That wait can seem extra-long for both our newlyweds and their guests if it’s at the dinner hour! It’s really nice if the bride and groom can receive all those post-nuptial hugs and high-fives from their loved ones immediately after their ceremony, and then launch right into their reception.

Another advantage of the pre-wedding portrait session is that makeup, hair and clothing are still at their freshest. No mid-vow tears have been shed, no wind has whipped that carefully styled coif, and the dress hasn’t been dragged across the ground yet, thus negatively affecting the portraits. (Of course, there’s also the risk that these things will happen during the portrait session, and lead to some last-minute retouching before the ceremony!)

All things considered, we usually recommend that our clients schedule their portrait session before their ceremony. In these cases, we like to plan a “first look” (also known as a “reveal”) between the bride and groom. Simpler is usually better: We position the groom at a scenic location with his back to wherever the bride will approach from. When she gets close, she can speak his name, tap him on the shoulder, or otherwise signal him to turn around and admire his blushing bride. It might sound a little cheesy and staged, but it’s often an emotionally powerful moment, and one that close family and wedding party members love to watch.

Here’s how Cheryl and Bobby’s first look went at their Thornewood Castle wedding, which was a beautiful day that I’m looking forward to recapping soon:

Photo one of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo two of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo three of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo four of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo five of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo six of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo seven of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo eight of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo nine of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo ten of first look between bride and groom before wedding at Thornewood Castle, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

It’s a whole lot easier for us to get great photos of first looks than when our brides and grooms see each other for the first time at the start of their ceremony, when they are still separated by a long aisle. We get to place the couple in optimally scenic locations, take better angles, and delay the actual first look until the two are much closer together.

However, despite the advantages, some brides and grooms simply don’t want to see each other until she’s walking down the aisle toward him. That’s okay, too! Laura and I can certainly empathize, since we were the same way. One sweet thing we can set up for these brides and grooms is an around-the-corner visitation. Brittiny and Brian clearly enjoyed their brief no-peeking chat and hand-holding before their wedding ceremony at the Church of St. Patrick, as you can see in the next set of photos:

Photo one of around-the-corner visitation between bride and groom before wedding at Church of St. Patrick, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo two of around-the-corner visitation between bride and groom before wedding at Church of St. Patrick, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo three of around-the-corner visitation between bride and groom before wedding at Church of St. Patrick, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo four of around-the-corner visitation between bride and groom before wedding at Church of St. Patrick, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo five of around-the-corner visitation between bride and groom before wedding at Church of St. Patrick, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Photo six of around-the-corner visitation between bride and groom before wedding at Church of St. Patrick, by Wallflower Photography of Tacoma, Washington

Planning pre-ceremony first looks or around-the-corner visitations gives us great photographic opportunities, while creating memorable moments for our brides and grooms. If you’re currently planning your own wedding, think carefully about whether you’re willing to see each other before the ceremony, and if not, whether you’d like to have a sight-unseen rendezvous around a quiet corner.

Coming soon on the blog: our recap of Brittiny and Brian’s wedding, which — in addition to a lovely ceremony at St. Pat’s, arguably Tacoma’s greatest old church — includes getting-ready photos at Hotel Murano, portraits at the Museum of Glass and a reception in Union Station. That’s like an all-star list of T-Town wedding venues!

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