First Look: To See or Not To See? An Interview with Love & Light Photographs

One of the most special memories you will have on your wedding day is seeing your bride or groom for the first time. For many of us, it is just a fleeting moment seen through happy tears while holding on to your father’s arm or standing next to your best man wringing your hands. The flood of emotions is like nothing you can prepare yourself for. How will you react? Will you remember it? Thankfully we have our tried-and-true photographers there to capture all of the emotions of that special moment.

A recent trend that I am a fan of is the “first look”. More brides and grooms are making time before the ceremony to see their future spouse for the first time. For some people, it just works because they want to make sure that moment is captured and set aside time just the two of them before the whirlwind of the day begins.  If you are thinking of having a first look, there are definitely some things to consider before etching it into your timeline. Luckily, Jessa from Love & Light Photographs has agreed to share her experience with us!

Us: What do you think couples’ need to consider if they want to do a first look?

Jessa: The most important being your timeline and how many hours you are hiring your photographer for. If you are considering doing a first look, you will need your photographer present earlier in the day to document this moment! Your photographer or planner can be a great help with figuring our the logistics of this. Typically later afternoon/early evening ceremonies seems to be ideal for the first look timeline, however every timeline can accommodate one!


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Us: How much time should they allot in their timeline for a first look?
Jessa: The first look itself does not take too long! Typically once the groom is in place and waiting anxiously to see the bride, the moment itself takes all of 5 minutes tops. My team and I photograph it quietly while the bride and groom are having their moment and then when they are ready, we move to into a short portrait session- just the two of them! This is when they look their best, so I always take advantage of the gorgeous light and location with a few portraits in this moment. Because of this, I usually allot a half an hour for the first look to ensure we stay on schedule.
How sweet is this groom! His faces says it all!

His face says it all!

Us: We love first looks! However is there a time when you would suggest that a couple NOT do a first look?
Jessa: I would suggest not doing a first look if one of the two partners is strongly against it. I usually am surprised at how much the moment in the church means to guys especially. Who knew guys secretly dreamed of this moment as well? I think communication as a couple and hearing each other’s wishes is extremely important. As much as it is convenient to get photographs done before the ceremony, it is still YOUR wedding day. However here is the clincher.. usually missing cocktail hour is the trade off to sticking with tradition.
Us:  What time is ideal? How do they figure out that time?
Jessa: Time for the first look completely depends on when your ceremony is, where you are getting ready, and the season.  However a good rule of thumb is two to three hours before the ceremony start time.  For example, if your ceremony is at 5:30 pm, a first look at 3pm would be ideal.  This way we can move right from first look and bride/groom portraits to wedding party photos and then also do immediate family portraits.  Then, you can be tucked away and relax/touch up for a half and hour before walking down the aisle!
I love her face! Clearly so excited to see her groom!

So excited to see her groom!

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Us: Any funny/cute stories about a first look you could share?

Jessa: I’ll say two funny things about the first look and both involve the groom.  This is usually the first time in the day I am seeing the groom (my second shooter is with him in the morning) and he ‘s always so nervous while we are waiting for the bride to walk down.  My favorite questions include. “Where do I put my hands? in my pockets?  Do I turn this way?  Is my hair okay?  Do you need any water Jessa?  Are you okay Jessa?  Is she coming yet? Now? I think I hear her.” which is so adorable.  Also, a cute story that I want to share is that one of my grooms cried during the first look AND when he saw his bride again down the aisle as if he hadn’t already seen her 15 minutes earlier.  I wanted to note that this has happened on a few occasions…a first look doesn’t necessarily take away from the ceremony as I originally thought.  It almost adds another layer to the day.  A few quiet moments alone to be yourselves before the big show.  It’s always one of my favorite times of the day!

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Big thank you and all photo credits go to Jessa at Love & Light Photographs!

Water Witch Club Wedding Published in The Knot New Jersey magazine

I am so excited to announce that Gilded Lily Events has been published in the Spring/Summer Knot NJ for Janice and James’s wedding that we designed in May with stunning photos by Pat Furey Photography. I knew this wedding was going to be good from the beginning! When I first met with Janice (you may remember her bridal shower) and James, they told me that they had booked the Water Witch Club in Highlands, NJ. This New Jersey gem is still unknown to many and is one of the best kept wedding secrets (well until recently!). The Water Witch Club has been called “one of the most breathtaking locations in New Jersey”.  Located in the center of historic Monmouth Hills, this historic house built in 1905 is offered to the public on a very limited basis  with only 12 events held during the year.  This venue is your home away from home and immediately makes your guests feel comfortable with the cozy wooden porch and relaxed atmosphere. It is like having a wedding in your own backyard.


The Water Witch Club is covered in rich, dark wood and definitely one of my all-time favorite things about this place. No carpet or wallpaper to interfere and will allow design whims run wild. Janice and James wanted to lighten up the space with light, airy colors. The contrast between the dark brown wood and the blush and minty green was perfect for a spring day in May.




Some of my favorite elements from this wedding werevthe signage. Kate of Mary Kate Moon outdid herself and we took full advantage of the chalkboards that Dovetail Vintage Rentals has in their inventory. The large schoolhouse chalkboard made an amazing escort card display and still one of my favorites to date. We used a vintage freestanding school chalkboard for their cocktail drink menu which I highly recommend for any event.

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Janice had the pick of the litter with the flowers that were available in May. She and the bridesmaids carried a hand-tied, garden style bouquet full of  anemones, ranunculus, peonies, garden roses, seeded eucalyptus, pink spray roses and hypericum berries. I can not thank Dorian at Wallflowers enough for bringing our floral dream to life. These flowers are out of this world! We created the centerpieces with a variety of arrangements in milk glass and clear hobnail jars also from Dovetail Vintage Rentals.


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There are just so many details that I love about this wedding that I could go on and on! Luckily, you can find more photos on Green Wedding Shoes here:

Here are a few more beautiful shots from Pat Furey right before they became husband and wife!

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The icing on the cake of this wedding was our feature below in the Knot! Check it out!

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