Wedding day first look…should you have one?
When Mike and I were engaged, we struggled HARD with this question–should we or shouldn’t we have a first look? As wedding photographers, we thought we knew the sole benefit for having a first look: ample time for more photos. However, on our wedding day (nearly 5 years ago) we learned a lot about why having a first look is such an amazing option for couples and we’re excited to share our experience. And get this: we didn’t even have a first look!
What’s more, some of our wonderful couples were amazing enough to let us have a peek into their intimate wedding day first look and share their experiences with you. Here it goes, our 5 reasons you should consider a first look!
Wedding Day First Look Reason #1: Time Together
The night of our wedding was a blur, as most everyone will tell you. We got to our hotel room, collapsed on the bed, looked at each other and said, “Oh, HI!” You guys, we had just gotten married and hadn’t spent longer than 2 minutes at a time together. Keep in mind, none of that time was private or uninterrupted. Looking back, we wished we had done a first look for the sole purpose that we would have truly been able to spend time together as a couple before the wonderful chaos of our wedding day ensued.
As husband and wife wedding photographers, we so cherish this time for our couples and with our couples. We love setting you up to see each other for the first time in an intimate place, away from the hustle and bustle. We love the emotion and words you exchange when no one else is around. We love gifting you with this time and allowing you to just drink it all in.
“Our first look was amazing! We absolutely loved the intimate moment of being able to see each other for the first time without anyone else around. It allowed us to take in a moment together before the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day. We would absolutely do it again! We were so ready to see each other that day and don’t know if we could have waited any longer. It was such a magical moment and we would never change anything about it. No matter how many times Haydn’s dad joked that it was bad luck.”- Jake and Hayden Crouse
Wedding Day First Look Reason #2: Time for your loved ones
If you’re planning to have a bridal party (especially a larger one with more than 6 people), or have a larger family, one of the best gifts you can give them is a wedding day first look! A lot of your family and friends like to bring a date, husband, wife, kids, etc. to the wedding. To boot, your folks are going to have quite a few family members they’ll want to entertain and visit with. By having a first look earlier in the day, they’re free to go spend time with their loved ones and visit with guests after the ceremony.
Typically, what takes about 45-60 minutes to do after the ceremony (bridal party photos, family portraits, etc.) can sometimes be done in half that time when done before the ceremony. This is purely a numbers (and hunger) thing! When there are less guests and vendors earlier in the day needing your attention, there’s less distraction and more time to get your formal photos finished. And, when everyone isn’t hungry and running to get to the bar, your chances of having a more cooperative bunch of well fed and relaxed friends and family is much higher earlier in the day!
“Our first look was at one of our favorite spots in the Botanic Gardens, the moon gate. After the whirlwind of getting ready, we were excited to finally see each other and officially start the festivities. It was a very special moment because after over a year of planning, we were finally seeing each other on our wedding day and were about to be man and wife. When the first look moment finally came, Luke was speechless and Annie was radiant. It was everything we could have hoped it would be and set the stage for an incredible day and celebration.”-Luke and Annie Cerbin
Wedding Day First Look Reason #3: Time to enjoy your vows
Before Mike and I were at the alter, we once again thought we knew what to expect. We thought it was just another formality we needed to do before the relaxing part of the day. Boy, were we SO WRONG! Coming down the aisle in and of itself is a surreal experience. There’s nothing that can take away from that moment, not even a first look. However, once we were at the alter together, we both froze. We stared at each other and blacked out a little bit (we have a tendency to do that at major events in our lives). Eventually we started talking over our officiant (sorry Mat!) because we genuinely wanted to calm each others nerves and know how the others day had been.
When it was all over, we turned to the crowd and realized that that was the first time we had looked at anyone else but each other. We were so glazed over from such an out of body experience at the altar that we weren’t able to be fully aware of what was happening in the crowd. Our couples who have had a first look have unanimously stated that they were actually able to enjoy the ceremony and their vows, and appreciate everyone in attendance. Since they already had time together, they were able to soak it all up.
“Our first look was incredible! I tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around, and it was a surreal feeling as we spent that quiet moment together seeing each other for the first time right before our ceremony. It made all of my nerves go away and everything was perfect. He was so darn handsome too! We would definitely do it again!”- Jared and Elizabeth Zinanti
Wedding Day First Look Reason #4: Time for drinks!
Cocktail hour, anyone? One of the things we hear most from couples is, “We really want to just relax and enjoy cocktail hour!” And we get it! Y’all have a lot of people to see on your wedding day, and we respect that. Anytime our couples tell us this is important to them, we talk them into having a first look. For obvious reasons, having your first look totally frees up your evening after the ceremony to do whatever you want. Care to grab a drink and hit up the photo booth? Go for it! Want to hang with me and Mike and go on a hike for some awesome photo opportunity? Absolutely! The evening is yours to spend however you like. Your guests will be giddy with excitement when they see you walking into cocktail hour to hang out with everyone and share in the festivities!
“Our first look was the perfect way to kick off our wedding celebration with just the two of us. We would definitely do it again!”
–Brian and Maggie Leslie
Wedding Day First Look Reason #5: Time for sunset and reflection
As we mentioned earlier, having a first look truly frees up the rest of your day after your ceremony. One of our favorite things to do is steal our couples throughout the evening for small increments to get different photos at different times of the day. When you don’t have a first look, you’re bound to having your portraits captured quickly and in a small amount of time immediately following the ceremony. There’s typically less of an opportunity to leave later on in the evening. However, it just so happens that the best lighting is usually during dinner. If you’ve already had a first look then leaving during cocktail hour and dinner for a few minutes isn’t a big deal or time sucker. And most importantly, you get time to look back at your wedding reception and once again, take it all in. Our couples who do a first look tell us that their second favorite part of the day was when we stole them at sunset to get a few photos with the perfect lighting and to give them a chance to regroup and see all of their family and friends having fun at their wedding.
Dead Horse Point Proposal | Zachary and Erin | Moab Photographer
You guys, we’re SO excited to share this Dead Horse Point proposal with y’all for a number of reasons. But the number one reason: the groom is my little brother! Mike and I have been married for going on 5 years now. Keep in mind that of the 6 kids in my family, 4 of us are less than four years apart. Needless to say, I’ve been waiting a while for one of my siblings to join us in the journey of marriage.
I had spent some time trying to convince my brother, Zachary, to join online dating in his then newly adopted town of Baltimore, Maryland. He was insanely reluctant. However, after our wedding in 2014, unbeknownst to me, he joined the same site that Mike and I had met on two years earlier. Within weeks he had his first date with the love of his life and gal in these photos…Erin.
Their journey has been a long one: from meeting to their one year anniversary, they had moved cross-country to Colorado, adopted their puppy, Kaida, and added two felines to their family. They moved twice their first year in Colorado, and Zach had something like three jobs that first year. However, in their four years together, they were willing to do whatever it took to accomplish each others dreams. Erin has gone back to school for social work, applied for her masters program, and worked a few jobs herself on her journey to her dream career. They’ve hiked some of the best trails Colorado has to offer, hit up more Rockies games than anyone else I know (which is like, 5 games), and love checking out new breweries.
Since they had been together over 4 years, Zach knew he wanted Erin’s proposal to be epic. Truthfully, Erin is such a sweet and simple gal that she probably would have been happy with a “Netflix and chill” proposal. But when Zach called me to tell me her ring was in route to Colorado (from our family jeweler in West Virginia) and that he was planning to come meet us on our 3 week trip in Moab, Utah, Mike and I were absolutely thrilled! It didn’t take me longer than 10 seconds to throw out the idea of a Dead Horse Point proposal, as it’s one of the most beautiful places in America. Once Zach saw a few photos of the point, he was sold and knew Erin would be, too (despite her incredible phobia of heights). We’ll let them finish telling their story below, so enjoy!
We’re just so thrilled for Zach and our soon-to-be sister-in-law, Erin. We love you both and are so thankful we got to share in this memory with you two.
Love, Mike and Tay (and Colter)
(Our hike earlier in the afternoon at Corona Arch)
How did the two of you meet?
Tell us about your first date!
Tell us your Dead Horse Point proposal story from your point of view.
What are you most excited about for your wedding day?
Zach: “I would say I’m most excited about spending the day with the people that Erin and I love the most in our lives. I’ve never been in a spot were everyone I love is in one place at one time and I’m sure that’s going to be an amazing experience. Also, being able to solidify our love for one another and gain another wonderful family is something that means everything to me.”
Erin: “The thing I am most excited about is being able to celebrate with our families and best friends. They have all gone on this wonderful, and at times difficult, journey. They have seen us at our worse and our best and to know how happy they are for us means the world!”
If you could pick one word to describe your favorite quirk about the other, what would it be and why?
View more of our destination proposal photography here: https://taylorjonesphotography.com/san-diego-sunset-cliffs-engagement-proposal/
Salida Colorado Engagement Session | Katie and Danny | Salida Colorado Photographer
It’s rare that we shoot an engagement shoot for a couple, but not their wedding. But when we heard that Katie and Danny were flying in from all over the country to get their Mount Princeton Hot Springs wedding planning done, we were thrilled at the chance to be in one of their chapters during wedding planning. Even though these two had their photographer friend flying in from California, I was so excited to meet them and hear their story. Capturing their love was extra icing on the cake!
We spent the morning floating around parts of Salida and Nathrop, Colorado looking for the best spots to snag a view of Mount Princeton, the mountain that made me move to Colorado some 8 odd years ago. One of our favorite places to hike happened to have “lots of trees”, which is what Katie told Aly (Knot Just Another Wedding), her wedding planner she wanted for the session. Trees she wanted and trees she got! Hearing about Katie and Danny’s love story was truly wonderful. Both active military, these two have been running around the states trying to get their wedding day planned for this coming summer. Lucky for them, they’ve got the best in the industry on their team! With only 48 hours in town, Katie and Danny were able to knock out a ton of wedding planning (thanks to Aly) and even coordinate getting their mountain engagement shoot done! What a whirlwind for them!
Thank you so much, you two! It was an honor to be apart of this chapter in your engagement and we wish you the BEST wedding day ever!
View more of our engagement photographer here: https://taylorjonesphotography.com/engagements-gallery/
Sapphire Point Elopement
Y’all, I’m so stoked to share Coty and Brycelin’s Sapphire Point elopement with you today! First and foremost, anyone who calls me “ma’am” with the sweetest southern accent is, in my book, the coolest human being on earth. From the first time I chatted with Brycelin on the phone, I knew we just had to work together! Planning their Colorado elopement from the warm comfort of Georgia, these two wanted some ideas on the perfect location for their wedding. Immediately, we started brainstorming, and once I mentioned Sapphire Point in Breckenridge, they were sold! Along with their sweet 6 month old baby girl, these two were ready to say their vows and begin their marriage.
What initially started out as just the 3 of them quickly escalated to four, then five, then six…and eventually ended up with 9 loved ones surrounding them on their wedding day. The sun was shining on this bluebird Colorado day and it truly was one of the coldest days we’ve seen in a long time! For these southern spirits, it was almost TOO cold, but they earned quite the merit by hiking in four feet of snow in the name of photos!
Congratulations, Coty and Brycelin!
View more of our elopement photography here: https://taylorjonesphotography.com/rocky-mountain-national-park-elopement-adam-jhori/
Phoenix Arizona Desert Wedding Photographer | Justin and Courtney Hale
We are so stoked to share our friends Justin and Courtney’s Arizona desert wedding with y’all today! How many brides do you know would literally wear a trash bag on her wedding day in the name of adventure and beautiful photos? Well, Courtney was that bride, and Justin was the lucky man who got to marry her!
Mike and Justin are friends through work at Racer X Magazines. When Justin told us he and his fiancé were getting married at his folks house in Arizona, we were honored to be apart of it! Mentions of side-by-side rides out into the desert at sunset, a personal chef, and an beautifully intimate setting on New Years weekend had us drooling! These two have one of the most endearing “swiped right” stories as well as one of the funniest first dates! Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Hale! We love you guys and can’t wait to see you soon!
Mike and Tay
How did the two of you meet?
Tell us about your first date!
Justin, how did you propose?
How did you guys choose to have an Arizona Desert wedding?
What was the most fun part of wedding planning for you?
What was your most memorable moment from your Arizona wedding day?
What are you most looking forward to in marriage?
If you could pick one word to describe your Arizona Desert Wedding ceremony, what would it be and why?
What advice do you have for couples planning their wedding now?
View more of our destination wedding photography HERE.
Salida Colorado Adventure Elopement Wedding | Andy and Jill Akin
You know those people you meet and have an immediate connection with? For me and Jill, this was the case before we even met! From the first time I heard from Jill via e-mail, I knew we just had to play a part in their story. Her initial message was one filled with love and sincere appreciation for she and fiancé Andy’s long journey to each other. As she described their Colorado Adventure Elopement coming up in just a few short months, her fervor was contagious and we immediately scheduled our coffee date!
I wanted to share our first e-mail, because upon reading our blogs, she knew immediately that we appreciate an epic love story:
“I want to share our story with you because it is a special one. Andy & I emailed on a dating site in summer of 2012. I only stayed on that site (or any other dating site) for 2 weeks & then went back to the real world. We never met at that time, only exchanged emails during the 2 weeks that I was on the site. We both went on to spend the next 5 years happily single & to separately do all of the things that bind us today- hike, camp, kayak, ride bikes, & travel the world. Most of time we were within miles of each other, as we both love our Smoky Mountains & spend much time there. Also in the meantime, in December of 2012, my friend asked me, as a gift to her, to write down all of the things that I desired in a life partner. Being solidly single, I reluctantly did this & then stored that list on a shelf for over 5 years.”
“Five years later, in summer of 2017, Andy shows up at my studio door as a “client.” He’d booked an appointment unbeknownst to me to meet the girl who was still on his mind after 5 years…and in the end we found out why. God had been giving him direction for 5 years, but Andy was following his own will. Until one day when he just told himself, “I’m going to meet this girl just to get it over with so that I can move on from it.” Well, we’re moving on, alright- TOGETHER! After Date #1 (which was 13 1/2 hours, but who’s counting?), I was packing away some items from my bookshelf & ran across the list that my friend had asked me to make. And I got chills as I read the extensive list & realized that I ALREADY KNEW AFTER ONE DATE that Andy met all but 2 of the things on the list. Date #2 sent my heart aflutter because the last 2 items on the list were revealed to me & checked off. This man was TRULY my heart’s desire, the man of my dreams. This was completely unexpected for both of us given our ages & amazing single lives that we staunchly led, but there was no denying that he was designed for me and I for him. We knew that we would be married & that our lives were going to expand in unfathomable & thus far unimagineable ways. We are 37 & 47, neither of us have been married, and neither of us have children. When we told our families & friends that we’d met the person we were going to marry, PURE SHOCK was running loose in Tennessee! No two were more shocked than Andy & I. We still are.”
“He proposed in January, COMPLETELY surprising me! I was so caught off guard that when he asked, even though he was down on his knee (both knees actually!) I asked, “Are you serious?” He WAS serious, and I said, “YES, OF COURSE!” & jumped all around. Now we are simply READY TO BE MR. & MRS. and get started on the incredible journey ahead.”
Their story truly is an inspirational one and we’re thrilled we got to play a role in capturing their Colorado Adventure Elopement memories! Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Akin! We adore y’all and can’t wait to see you in Colorado again!
Taylor and Mike
San Diego Sunset Cliffs Proposal
My best friend, Emily, is an amazing writer. So is my husband, so lucky for you at least one of them has chimed in with impeccable storytelling capability. I’m always intimidated by these two because they’re capable of transparently expressing their hearts in an eloquent fashion. But here’s my best shot at describing one of my favorite proposals I’ve ever had the honor of being apart of…
Emily and I met in college and immediately became best friends. Our similar energy and humor had us rolling on the floor in laughter and immediately creating memories and spending weekends with each others families. I knew she was a special gal and a lifelong friend right off the bat. Emily is also a very private, introverted person. And if you know me, I’m the exact opposite. So…when I got the message, “I just had a really great first date,” I was intrigued, because Emily NEVER tells me about “great first dates” until weeks later. The only the ones I heard about immediately after were the ones that went awry and had some comical relief (see below Q&A).
Fast forward a couple weeks and I received the following: “I feel like I’ve known him for years. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me. We watch The Office reruns together. Taylor, I’m [freaking] flabbergasted. HE IS MY PERSON. IN EVERY SINGLE WAY.” And I knew…my best friend had found her forever person. (And yes, I just sifted through a years worth of iMessages and hilarious selfies to find these messages.)
I’ll leave the rest of the storytelling to my amazing writer friend and the photos, my favorite form of storytelling. Congratulations, Emily and Matt! We love you guys and are so thrilled for this next chapter in your lives.
Taylor and Mike (and Colter)
How did the two of you meet?
What are you most excited about for your wedding day?
Tell us about your first date!
When did you know you wanted to marry each other?
Tell us about your Sunset Cliffs proposal from your point of view!
If you could pick one word to describe your favorite quirk about the other, what would it be and why?
Yellowstone National Park Photographer
We aren’t sure how it’s happened, but we’ve managed to travel to Yellowstone National Park after almost all of our major life events. For our one year anniversary in February 2013, we headed to Jackson, Wyoming to rent an adorable cabin and snowshoe. The day after Mike asked me to marry him, we packed up my Corolla with the dogs and all of our camping gear and headed north to Yellowstone through Idaho. After shooting Mallory and Steve’s Montana Wedding, wildfires redirected us to the park on our motorcycle during our last couple months of pregnancy (so, our baby moon!) It was actually in Grand Teton National Park that we decided we were going to name our son, “Colter”, after John Colter . Naturally, when the opportunity presented itself in 2018 to return to Yellowstone with our son, we couldn’t pass up a couple free weeks in July to head back to one of our favorite parts of the country!
Camping with a 7 month old has it’s challenges, but we were so proud of our little goober. He slept like a champ, played in and ate so much dirt, and his chill little personality made driving and camping for 10 days so much fun! Honestly, the hardest part was that he was so excited to be sharing a bed with Mom and Dad (and Mason and Copper) that he didn’t want to fall asleep! PARTY TIME started as soon as we all climbed into bed with him in our little camper.
We hope you enjoy some of our favorite shots from our trip of beautiful Wyoming and Montana. The Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountains in this area are so rugged and intimidating, and we hope we captured their essence.
And a couple cell phone shots 🙂
Ouray Colorado Family Photographer
I’m not going to lie, when folks book their photo shoot with me nearly a year out, I get so excited! When Lauren reached out last year to say she and her sister were surprising their dad with a Ouray Colorado Family Photographer session while on vacation, I could not wait to meet them. Lauren, her husband and their two boys, her dad, and her sister, Courtni, and her husband were all traveling to Ouray, Colorado from the midwest for their annual family vacation. When we got to Top of the Pines, Lauren informed me that her fathers house is filled with family photos covering the walls. Nothing warms my heart more than knowing that family photos grace the walls of folks homes. Social media is great and all people, but prints are purely magical. They’re tangible and nostalgic.
Now, I have found that by making farting noises, most boys warm up to me quickly. However, these boys needed a little more persuading for their sweet smiles. So, when all else fails in the fart-noise-making department, letting little boys jump off things is a sure fire way to win their hearts. Within minutes, Lauren’s boys had sticks in their hands and found a big wood pile. With a simple countdown and enthusiastic, “JUMP!” the boys immediately became starry eyed and game for anything we wanted to do for their family photos. And to boot, these two kiddos were some of the most affectionate and loving kids I’ve ever met. Their adoration for both mom, dad, Grandpa, auntie and uncle was so endearing. At any point, you would find one of the boys holding someones hand.
In true Colorado form, we were graced by Mother Natures beautiful lighting with a diffused and golden sunset. I can honestly say that I’m counting down the days when Lauren and Courtni and I can get together again when they’re back in Colorado! Thank you guys so much for having me capture this time for you!
For more information about your Ouray Colorado Family Photographer, check out our Family Portrait Gallery!
Planning your Ouray Colorado Wedding? Check out our Wedding Gallery!
Sawmill Reservoir | Breckenridge Colorado Family Photographer
I was ecstatic to shoot this family session at Sawmill Reservoir, a hidden gem and easy hike in downtown Breckenridge. Shooting extended family sessions is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. There’s something about the WHOLE family coming together on vacation to have this time documented. Audrey messaged me to say that she, her husband, her parents, two siblings, 3 year old son, 3 nieces, 1 nephew, brother-in-law and sister-in-law were all going to be in Breckenridge for their family vacation. And they wanted this special time, celebrating their parents 50th wedding anniversary, captured! Did I mention she was pregnant with triplet girls at the time, too?
Naturally, most families have a little reservation, nerves, and questions when wrangling 13 people together for an extended family session. But let me tell you, you really can’t not have fun at these sessions! My goal at these sessions if for everyone to have fun. Being from a family of 8 (which is growing yearly), I totally understand the pressure and stress of getting a lot of people together and happy all at the same time. So, trust me, as a mom, daughter, and photographer, I feel you when you’re organizing outfits, food schedules, nap schedules, etc. Once you get everyone to the session, it’s up to me to take over and make it a fun experience and capture those truly candid and hilarious moments. Even if those moments include one little brother spitting at his sister!
What’s more is there’s truly nothing like watching big family dynamics. There’s inside jokes, allies, and love––so much love! When Audrey told me that she was pregnant with triplet girls, her sister, a mother of twin girls, looked at me and said, “Yes…she’s been trying to outdo me her entire life!” I never feel more at home than when I’m with a big family cracking witty jokes at one another. Meeting Audrey and her family, and celebrating her parents 50th wedding anniversary, was truly an honor and I can’t wait to see how this family continues to grow! Thank you so much for having me capture this time for you all!
For more information about our extended family sessions at Sawmill Reservoir in Breckenridge, Colorado, visit our family gallery page!