Should We Do A First Look?

When we begin working on the timeline for the bride + groom’s special day we always ask the question, are you going to do a first look? Some couples know exactly if they want to or not, but others ask “Should we do a first look?” There are many factors that go into choosing if you’d like to do a first look, some logistical and some traditional. If you are on the fence whether you and your sweet heart should do one before the big “i do,” read on to get the oh so talented Rachel Havel’s perspective on first looks. Although, this decision is ultimately up to the couple, it is always helpful to hear from the pros!



“This is a topic that comes up often with my couples and can really make or break the flow of your wedding day if not properly considered. I’ve really seen all sorts of scenarios with and without a firstlook, so I’d love to shed some light from a photographer’s perspective on this subject.

Lets start by explaining what a first look is. Simply speaking, it is a time that you set aside before the wedding ceremony to see each other. This is a private setting where there is no audience outside of your photographer and videographer.

So why have a first look? There are a number of benefits to choosing to have a first look. So, let’s explore them.

rachel-havel-5Connectedness. One of my favorite parts of a first look is that it’s just you and your groom. You’ve finally made it to the wedding day. After months of extensive planning, the day has arrived and there’s so much anticipation and joy happening inside of you. The first look allows you a moment to press pauseand just be together. Alone. You get to actually embrace each other, say what is on your heart, and reflecton the day to come. You don’t have to wait until the ceremony and portraits to finish to feel like you can finally catch your breath and have a moment together.

Time with guests. This is one of the most pressing reasons that couple’s choose a first look. After your first look, you will move directly into portraits with your groom, followed by bridal party and family portraits. By completing these photos before the ceremony, you free up time afterwards to actually be a part of the cocktail hour and spend more time with your guests. Imagine, you get to actually taste all those yummy h’ordeuvres you picked out.

Stress Reliever. There’s something to be said about walking into such an important event hand in hand with the love of your life. The ceremony is often the pinnacle of your wedding day and can be the largest cause of anxiety. When a couple chooses a first look, there is a legitimate change in the air. There’s a sigh of relief and the anxiety melts away. At this moment, you are facing the day together.rachel-havel-8

All that being said, I totally understand that some couples really want to cling on to the traditional element of not seeing each other before the ceremony. Oftentimes I hear that the biggest concern, really, is the fear of losing that emotional moment of when you first see each other down the aisle. However, what I have seen time and time again, is that the first look actually creates an extra moment for you that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. As for that moment down the aisle, it still happens because it’s still the moment that your lives are being joined together forever.

So should you have a first look? Well, the reality is that there is no straight forward answer to this questions. What you first need to unearth is the answer to another more important question.

What kind of experience do you want your guests to have?
Allow yourself to really envision the day from your guest’s perspective and what you hope they feel as they participate in your wedding. Equipped with this answer, you’ll be able to tackle, not only the question of a first look, but you’ll be able to utilize this clarity throughout the planning process. Ultimately, your wedding day is really about celebrating your new legacy with the friends and family that you love deeply, by creating a welcoming and comfortable environment that makes them feel special.”

Bending the Rules | 7 Wedding Traditions that Are Open to Interpretation

Weddings are packed full of traditions, many of which have become cherished among couples planning their nuptials. However, here at Calluna we believe that every couple should have the wedding of their dreams, whether that be the ultimate traditional wedding, or an alternative soiree. While etiquette and traditions are important, we love when we see our couples bend the rules to fit their flavor and style.

Enjoy! xx, Calluna

The Dress: Many brides still rock a fabulous white wedding dress on their big day, but don’t be afraid to do something different if this isn’t your desired look. Not ready to take the full colored wedding dress plunge? Add a pop of color to your dress by adding a sash or fabulous coat. We fell in love with Page’s blush gown and Emma’s gorgeous dress.



Photo Credit: Kate Holstein (top) || James Christianson (bottom)

The Bill: If we’re chatting with Emily Post (the queen of everything etiquette), tradition delegates the responsibility of the wedding to the Bride’s parents and Rehearsal Dinner to the Groom’s. If your parents or future in laws are so gracious to sign the bill, that is wonderful! As with all things, as we progress we see versatility when it comes to managing the budget. Maybe you and your future hubby have a budget set and want to split it evenly. Maybe you set up a honeymoon fund instead of a registry. Maybe both sets of parents split equally. Whatever the way, we recommend setting expectations up front to avoid any tricky and tense conversations.


Photo Credit:Jenna Walker Photography

The Bridesmaids: Gone are the days where everything has to be perfectly matched. Though we love the look of the traditional matching maids, we are seeing some amazing bridesmaids trends that we simply adore. Some brides choose completely different dresses for each bridesmaid that accentuates the style and individuality of each bridesmaid. Not ready to give your girls completely different styles? Try choosing a color scheme but alternate the style of dress!


Photo Credit: Jessica Christie Photography (top) || Rachel Havel Photography (bottom)

The First Look: Traditionally, Brides aren’t supposed to see their future hubby until the moment they walk down the aisle. This one is a total personal choice for the couple, some brides like to see the surprise on their grooms face as they walk down the aisle, but other brides want to see their groom before and share special moments before your ceremony. If your style is the latter, than first look photos can definitely have their perks!



Photo Credit: James Christianson (top) || Manzanita (bottom)

The Walk: Many brides choose to have their fathers walk them down the aisle on their big day. However, this is another tradition that we’ve seen open to interpretation. Whether you want both your parents to walk you down, a step parent, siblings, a loved one, or maybe you want to walk down solo… don’t be afraid to do it your way. Each bride has different family dynamics, and we think its great to embrace that!



Photo Credit: Tess Pace Photography (top) || Rachel Havel (bottom)

The Bouquet Toss: Some couples love the traditional bouquet toss but others would rather mix up the tradition with other alternatives. If you don’t want to single out the singles at your wedding, try highlighting the couples that have been married the longest! We have seen anniversary dances that leave the longest married couple dancing till they are the last ones standing!


Photo Credit: Laura Murray Photography (top) || Tess Pace Photography (bottom)

The Cake: In the dessert department, some couples go for the traditional wedding cake that feeds all of the guests. While this is definitely an option, we love seeing the ways that some couples are coming up with alternatives. Some couples choose to get a small cake for cutting and feed the guests a variety of other fun sweet treats!


Photo Credit: Tess Pace Photography (top) || Dawn Sparks (middle) || James Christianson (bottom)

Featured Image:: Laura Murray Photography



Molly & Nick’s Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding

We were oh so excited to share the iPhone photos we snapped of Molly + Nick’s stunning wedding and were able to give our readers an insiders look. However, our iPhone photos certainly didn’t do this gorgeous wedding justice! Now we have the pleasure of showing you Molly + Nick’s  picture perfect day through the lens of Heather Gray Photography! She couldn’t have captured this dynamic duo any better! Take a moment to check it out and if you are wanting to see more of this gorgeous wedding check out our portfolio of Molly + Nick!
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:: Vendor Love ::

Venue: Spruce Mountain Ranch | Catering: Epicurean | Beverage Service: Peak Beverage | Baker: Mulberries Cake Shop | Floral: Plum Sage Flowers | Photographer: Heather Gray Photography | Videographer: Pixels Poetic | Music: DJ Jahsonic | Rentals: Event Rents | Lighting: LMD Productions | Hair: The Bridal Goddess | Make Up: Alchemy Mineral Blends | Dress Shop: a&bé Bridal Shop | Dress: Rebecca Schoneveld | Bridesmaids Dresses: J. Crew | Limo Service: Special Time Limo | Guest Transportation: Grace Coach LInes | Ceremony Musicians: Alex Kula + Stefan Gysler (Friends of the bride + groom) | Officiant: Catherine (bride’s aunt)

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