Documenting REAL memories for soulmates with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

Why you should consider a first look.

If you find yourself asking, “Should I do a first look?” or even, “What is a first look?” This post is for you!

Your wedding day is going to feel like a whirlwind. And even though you are expecting it, you won’t fully understand what this means until the DJ announces last call, the lights come up, and you’re left standing in the middle of the dance floor wondering where the day went.

A FIRST LOOK is where your beloved is set up in a nice, quiet location before the ceremony.  You walk up behind your love and tap him or her on the shoulder or grab his/her hand so they turn around to see your for the very first time before the ceremony!  Meanwhile your photographer captures both of your reactions and those first moments together on your wedding day from a distance. A first look is something you and your fiancé should discuss to determine if it is right for you. This is your wedding. Not your mom’s, not your grandma’s, and certainly not mine. So I would NEVER try to push a couple into having a first look, but I do think it is important to have all the information before deciding what is right for you.

There are a few reasons you should consider a first look and they have nothing to do with photography.  After photographing hundreds of weddings, I know how important it is to see your fiancé’s reaction when he/she first sees you in your wedding attire. Even the most calm, collected person can get nervous on their wedding day. The tension has been building since you started getting ready and now you  will be standing in front of 60-300 of your closest friends and family. You can’t help but think of them all watching you and your fiancé, waiting for your reactions, even as you see each other for the very first time. And when you do first see each other, from the end of an often very long aisle, you won’t be able to talk, hug or kiss. You have to wait until the end of the ceremony for that. Even after the ceremony, it can be difficult to have a moment alone together as all of your guest rush over excited to see you, and you are whirled away for photos.

Now picture this:

You’ve just finished getting ready. You and your partner have spent the morning apart with your closest friends and family. Hanging out, having a glass of champagne or whiskey, listening to music or maybe half watching a game on tv as you get dressed. Neither of you have had the chance to even think about getting nervous yet. Meanwhile, we’ve found a gorgeous, quiet area outside your venue and set your partner up with his/her back facing your entrance. And then we tell your partner that his/her beautiful bride or dashing groom is just behind him/her. We’ve stepped back to give you  some space and it is just the two of you. You walk up behind him/her, tap him/her on the shoulder and he/she just loses it. He/She wraps you up in the biggest embrace and kisses you. You both cry together and you’ve completely forgotten we’re even there. You twirl a couple times and ask what he/she thinks of the dress or the suit and you kiss again. He/She can tell you how beautiful you look and you can say how much you love each other. For as long as you like, because there’s no rush. No guests waiting. No coordinator telling us dinner is waiting. Neither of you are worried about everyone watching, or your friends teasing you later. You can truly be lost in this magical moment.

You will have more time together, alone!

And now, the nerves are gone. The anxiety is gone. Because you get to spend the rest of the day with the person that makes you feel the most calm. Eventually, you look around, blinking as if you were in a daze. You remember you were being photographed, but the smiles on your faces cannot be contained. After this, we move on to the portraits of the two of you. This means you get even more time together! Which equals more photos! More time to cuddle, more time to kiss, more time to soak it all in. This is the way you’ve been waiting for, planning, dreaming of. This is your time to be together, alone. 

And then we bring out your families and friends. We are able to move quickly through your family photos, because everyone is already gathered. They are all waiting for the ceremony to begin. After the family photos are done, we move on to your bridal party. Photos of you, your partner and your closest friends celebrating your wedding day. There will be plenty of time for you to have some fun with them! Finishing all of the photos BEFORE the ceremony means you will be able to actually join your cocktail hour, enjoy the tasty treats you picked out, and spend more time with your guests. Or you can use that time to be alone with your new spouse and really take in the whole day.

There are a couple instances where I would highly recommend doing a first look. If you have planned a sunset ceremony, it will be completely dark afterwards so if you want daylight for your portraits and family photos, you would want to do a first look and capture everything before the ceremony. The other reason is you want a lot of family photo combinations and this is very important to you. Usually there is only 1 hour between the ceremony and the reception. During that time, you have to fit in your wedding party photos, family photos and couple’s portraits. If your list of family photos is more than 5-10 combinations, it will end up taking away from the portraits of you and your new spouse.

But the real reason I advocate for a first look is this. Once upon a time I was married. On my own wedding day, the first time I was alone with my husband or even in a room with less than 10 people, was when we got in the car to leave. To me, that is heart breaking. This is the day you’ve been dreaming possibly since the very early stages of dating, before they even popped the question. This is the day you marry your best friend. Wouldn’t it be lovely to spend as much time together as possible? If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, you gain so much extra time together to share even more laughs, exchange even more kisses, and make even more memories.

Your day will feel longer and MORE relaxed, because you weren’t feeling rushed.

You are investing a lot into your wedding and your wedding photography. Doing a first look gives you a lot more time to get all the photos and capture all the moments you want. A First look allows the day to feel more relaxed instead of rushed before the ceremony and not rushing through the portraits to get to the reception because you have hungry guests waiting.  creates a more stress-free day and also means you can join cocktail or steal away for a few minutes with your new husband or wife.

There is ONE thing I will try to convince you to do on your wedding day. Whether you opt to do a first look or stand by tradition, find time to slow down, to be alone, to take in everything that is happening and the monumental importance of the day. Pause for a moment when you reach the end of the aisle to squeal “We did it!”, steal a few minutes to be alone before cocktail hour ends or slip away from the reception to take it all in. This is your day. Make the most of it.

Alexis and Justin make me swoon.

If you’re still worried that a first look will ruin your groom’s reaction when they open the double doors and he sees your at the end of the aisle, moments away from becoming his wife, I want to introduce you to Justin and Alexis. Justin is one of the sweetest grooms I have ever had the pleasure of working with. And honestly, their pictures need no words, because his reaction both during the first look and watching Alexis walk down the aisle is raw, authentic, heartwarming, and really quite beautiful.



But seriously, look at that face! Have you ever seen anything more touching!

Documenting REAL memories for soulmates with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

Apr 16, 2019

3 tips to Succeed

Beliefs dictate action.

Last Friday, I took a last-minute job photographing a healthcare convention and left in tears.

No, not tears of boredom.

But tears of joy and inspiration. Just like my last minute trip to the Dominican Republic with Pack Retreats, the universe had put me in the right place once again.
I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Vinh Giang speak. And while totally captivating and entertaining, this message seemed like it was meant specifically for me. It was like something in the movie where the rest of the room fades away. It just happened to be what I needed to hear at that particular moment. 
Vinh said in order to jump as high as you can go you need three things. 

1. Perspective. If you can only see a challenge or a problem from one perspective, it is easy to become blind. The more perspective you have, the more opportunities you are able to seize. And to gain more perspective you should collaborate with people you never thought to collaborate with before. People outside of your industry with different perspectives.

2. Influence. This one was huge for me. Vinh said you are a direct reflection of the top five people you spend time with. Influence is a powerful thing you should surround yourself with people that you aspire to be more like. If you want to be a speaker, you should spend time with brilliant speakers. Spending time with the right people opens your mind to new possibilities.

3. Beliefs. Step 1 to accomplishing literally anything is to believe that it is possible. Only by believing to your core that something is possible will you begin. And only after taking step 1, will step 2, 3, 4 become apparent, easy and even fun.
So if beliefs dictate action, where do your beliefs come from? What do you believe to be possible for you? Who are you spending time with and are they supporting the belief you have in yourself? 
I will do the most impossible things. You can too. You just have to believe. Who’s ready to take step 1?

If this message spoke to you the way it spoke to me, I urge you to check Vinh Giang out at his website here or find him on youtube here.

You can find the link to this speech on youtube here. Make sure you watch all three parts. It moved me to tears and really changed my perspective. Thanks for being the inspirational voice when I needed it, Vinh. You’re currently number 1 in my top 5.

Documenting REAL memories for soulmates with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

“You are magic. Don’t ever apologize for the fire in you.”

This one goes out to all the dream chasers. The courageous, forging their own path, heart followers. The daring to be different, I can have more believers. The 2 am, coffee in hand, quietly, still chugging along-ers.

I know the struggle is real. REAL HARD. But it is also so worth it.

There will be people that tell you that you can’t do it. They might tell you that you are being childish, flighty, unrealistic. But I am here to tell you that they are WRONG. They say you’re a dreamer like it’s a bad thing. They might tell you that you live with your head in the clouds.

They don’t see you. But I do.

I see you get up every morning and try again, even when yesterday didn’t feel like a win. I see you working two jobs, or tucking your kids in and then getting back to work in the makeshift dining room/office. I see you working, going to school, staying up all night at your computer because after work you had dinner to prepare and bedtime stories to read. I see you smile when people ask about your “real job”, and when they call your life’s work a hobby. I see you. Working hard, working your butt off for this dream that you are making a reality.

You have created something from nothing.

And THAT is something to be proud of. Despite the naysayers, the critics and even that scared little voice inside you, your heart roared louder. You looked fear, the odds, the expected, and even the norm, straight in the eyes, and said, “This is something I have to do.” Pursuing your dreams is not for the faint of heart. It takes a strength that they cannot begin to comprehend. But don’t let THEIR fears stop you.

You, my friend, are FEARLESS. You are courageous, fierce and strong. A life of mediocrity would never be enough to feed your soul. For within you rages a wildfire. And this passion that burns within you will not easily be put out. Your passion burns brighter than your fears, and because of that you know that you could never settle for a conventional life. Because of that you will achieve greatness others dare not dream of.

Today you might feel like a delicate candle, flickering in the wind of their doubt. And maybe even your own doubt. Don’t lose hope. That tiny flame can ignite and set the whole world on fire. YOU can set YOUR whole world on fire. I believe in you. Lets pour some gasoline on this dream and chase after it like it is the very air we breathe. Like this is your one shot, your one chance, your one life to live. Make it worth it.

Keep chasing, keep following, keep believing. And don’t ever stop chugging.


Documenting REAL memories for soulmates with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

Hurricane Wedding | Clearwater Wedding Photographer

It was the day before the hurricane, and all through the bay, every creature was stirring, Irma was on her way.

But seriously, as Hurricane Irma was approaching, so was Charles and Tiffany’s wedding. We were basically glued to the weather channel and had downloaded 3 new weather apps just trying to stay updated on when it was supposed to hit. We were hoping against all odd that the wedding wouldn’t have to be canceled. Find out later this week if crossing every finger, wishing at 11:11, and searching for lucky pennies did the trick!

In the meantime, check out these two love birds and don’t forget to check back later. This is a story you won’t want to miss!

Documenting REAL memories for soulmates with a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

I almost can’t believe it is October already! Seriously, where has this year gone? But, believe it or not, it is officially fall. We are even feeling a little bit of it here in Florida. The mornings and nights are a little cooler and the breeze is lovely. Don’t even get me started on that gorgeous golden light which has me even more excited that wedding season is in full force. Before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us too. (yay!)

October is also my birthday month. Between that and knowing we are quickly approaching my favorite time of year, has made me pensive. It has made me want to slow down a little. My little guy turns 10 in November. I want to keep him little for a while longer. Since I can’t, I am feeling the need to be more present, to enjoy the little things that mean everything.

 “October is about trees revealing colors they’ve hidden all year. People have an October as well.” JM Storm

With my favorite time of year (also the busiest) fast approaching, I am going to make a conscious effort to slow down and spend more facetime with the people that matter the most. I am all about being vulnerable and wearing my heart on my sleeve. But even I can become guilty of not putting myself out there enough, not revealing enough of my colors in order to seem stronger, or more successful, or like my life is pinterest perfect.

This October, my birthday month, is going to be about more dinners with neighbors, more adventures with friends, more snuggles while reading Harry Potter with my favorite guy. These are the things that matter. And I refuse to use busy as an excuse.

I came across this list of fall must do’s and we will be checking off as many as we can. S’mores are definitely happening at our house tonight, because yum.

What is on your Fall Bucket List? I need to make sure we don’t miss ANYTHING!

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