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the groom’s perspective on doing a “first look”

Boy oh boy, I am excited about today’s post. Because it’s not only ALL about one of my favorite things about the wedding day, but it’s coming from the GROOM’s perspective. Yes, I am referring to the new best wedding day tradition… the First Look. You’ve heard me go on and on about how much I love it but today I am going to sit back and let my actual clients tell you how awesome it is. Over the last couple of years that I have begun to suggest my clients incorporate a First Look into their wedding day plans, I have found that it’s usually the groom who is hesitant about the idea… not the bride. For the longest time this was such a mystery to me but over time I began to realize that men are told over and over their whole lives, “You cannot see the bride before the ceremony!” So it’s no wonder when someone they just meet (that would be me) tells them they should do otherwise, they instantly feel like they are doing something very wrong. Men don’t spend hours and hours pining over wedding blogs and websites reading about the latest ideas and suggestions for your wedding day like women do. So when they hear something like seeing their bride before the ceremony it seems so foreign to them and their natural reaction is a red flag.

So what I did was asked a hand full of my groom’s who decided to include a First Look into their plans to tell me in their own words their honest and true opinion and feelings about it. If you are not sure about doing a First Look, then read what they have to say and I’m certain you will feel differently. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: deciding to do a First Look is one of the absolute most important and best decisions you could make on your wedding day.

I’d like to give a VERY warm thank you to the 6 grooms in this post who not only were rockstar clients but took the time out of their day to send me their thoughts. I appreciate it more than you know and do not take this huge favor lightly. All of your testimonials mean the world to me and touched my heart deeply. I will never forget any of you or your special moments shared with your wife. I am HONORED to have been your photographer and now friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


At first I was skeptical about the first look because I grew up in a small town in southern Mississippi that was very traditional and this was against the wedding traditions. The more I thought about it the more I realized that the ceremony would have a lot of people with all eyes on us. I am honestly not one of the most out going people and felt that my nerves would not allow me to express the emotion and love for my future wife the way I truly wanted. Now looking back on my I could not be happier with my decision because I was able to tell my bride just how beautiful she was and share a very intimate moment that words can not describe. The pictures will always remind us of that feeling. Some other reasons this decision turned out to be the best were we were able to get ALL of the family and bridal party pictures done before the ceremony allowing us more time to enjoy ourselves at our reception. I would recommend this to any guys that are at all nervous about having all eyes on you because it really helps ease that anxiety. If  you’re like me you may start to sweat when you get nervous, and just so happens the air conditioner broke right before our wedding in the church, I probably would have passed out had I not seen my bride before!!

See Deirdre and Duston’s wedding by clicking here.

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When I was first asked to do the first look shoot I was skeptical. I wanted the first look to be traditional in front of everyone to make it magical but I couldn’t have been more wrong, the first time I saw more future wife I felt a wave of emotion come over me and it was nice to have the moment to share with her just the two of us! I really felt like I could show my true emotion and anticipation and was able to focus 100% on my wife to be rather then if other people were looking at us. It was fantastic and I’m so glad that Courtney offered it to us! I would definitely recommend it to everyone! Especially if you wish to make that magical moment more personal and private:)Thanks so much for letting us share the magical moment together:)

See Amber and Luke’s wedding by clicking here. Trash the Dress shoot here.

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I can still remember hearing her footsteps as she approached me.  My heart broke as I thought of our passion and desire for each other.  But then my heart was strengthened as I considered the gift that she is, of the purest kind, from the Lord, for I and I alone.  Then I turned and gazed upon my bride, without any blemish, being presented to me, in secret, in a garden, just her and I.  This being only a picture of what I could experience every morning for the rest of my life.  We needed no one to confirm our love for one another.  In our hearts we had been committed to each other for months.  This was the beginning of making our dream a reality.  A moment worth experiencing and definitely a moment worth capturing forever.  I really don’t think that I would have had it any other way.  Thanks, Courtney, for helping us to remember our “First Look”.

See Julie and David’s wedding by clicking here.


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When my wife (fiance at the time) and I started to look at how we are going to do photography on our big day we were attempting to figure out when and what we wanted to get captured on camera. We had a pretty easy time planning out most of the events before the ceremony and then the idea of a first look came up when we heard about it. It was sort of just thrown around, and I didn’t pay that much attention to it at first. It’s not that I wasn’t really for it or against it, I just didn’t really think about it all that much. Then finally when we started to finalize the shooting schedule a little more we really had to think hard whether or not we were going to include that segment. The more I thought about it the more sense it made to me. The main thought behind it was how excited I was that I would get to see my bride in private, and I could take a little bit of time before the wedding and ceremony really spending a few precious moments together. Otherwise it would be us mixed in with all the chaos of the whole family being there and the wedding ceremony which is nerve-wracking and emotional within itself for every bride, and groom and there’s no moment to relax or breathe and be alone together during that time period. The first look was amazing in every way, I got too see how beautiful she was and Courtney was able to capture such a precious and very private moment just between the two of us and not involving all the other guests. It was incredible being able to share those amazing few minutes just between the two of us, and the feeling of turning around and seeing her right there in front of you was very overwhelming and made me feel so happy that I am seeing the woman I will get to spend the rest of my life with.

Thinking about everything, I was never too huge on certain traditions and what ever else goes with them, but what mattered most was the moment that she and I were able to share between the two of us and to let that amazing moment be captured for us for the rest of our lives to look back on. Courtney captured everything from my first smile to my astonished look on my face when I first saw my soon to be bride. To me it was all very worth it because it really made the whole wedding experience more relaxed and of course amazing, and I was able to enjoy it that much more!

See Julia and Vas’ wedding by clicking here, here and here. Trash the Dress shoot here.



Whenever Brittany first told me she wanted to do a “first look”, I was not sure what to think.  I actually had never heard of anything like this before, go figure.  She explained the whole thing to me and after seeing how excited she was about it I agreed to do it.  Let me just say that, in my opinion, it was the best decision we made about our big day.  Everything was crazy hectic that morning and when you include the nerves…wow it was intense.  That all changed when I went outside to do the first look.
I can still remember the chills going down my spine as I stood there waiting for her to tap me on the shoulder.  You know the feeling you get when you hear that perfect song or incredible voice for the first time?  It was like that times a hundred.  When she touched my shoulder and I turned around…. ahh it was perfect,  everything about that moment was absolutely perfect.  To this day I have yet to find words to describe how she looked, or how I felt, because simply there are no words worthy enough.  When I saw her smile, It was like time stopped, it was just Britt and I, and nothing else in the world mattered. It was our moment and even though it sounds selfish, I am glad nobody was there to take any of it away from us, which made it even more intimate and perfect.  At this time I knew that If nothing else went right that evening it would not bother me at all.  I was no longer filled with nervousness or anticipation, just overcome with even more reassurance that I made the best decision of my life.  The best part is that when she stepped into the church with her father, I felt It all over again.  The first look took nothing away from that moment for me regardless to what tradition might have us believe.

After seeing the artistic talent Courtney portrayed in our engagement pictures, that was the least of my worries for our wedding day.  She has a gift like no other, as if she sees the world through different eyes.  Courtney and Michael captured our first look beautifully, and when I look back at the pictures, I get to relive the experience and feelings all over again.  Because our wedding was at night, the first look gave us a chance to take pictures in the evening sun, which added to the quality of the pictures.  We also had time to take the bridal party pictures before the wedding which made them so much better than ones I have seen where everyone is rushed to get to the reception.  Everyone was relaxed and it shows in pictures.  This made it much easier for the rest of the evening to flow perfectly.  Another plus to taking our pictures before the ceremony was that everyone looked their best because nobody had cried yet, lol.  This was very beneficial for Britt and the rest of the ladies. I also have to give props to Michael for the sweet shots he got of my groomsmen and me, but I did not expect anything less because he has a great teacher.

Looking back on everything, I’m very grateful that we chose Courtney as our photographer and that she told Britt about the first look.  If anyone has any doubts about doing a first look, just trust Courtney and leave the rest to her.  I am soo happy me and Britt did, and it made the best day of my life that much better.

See Brittany and Adam’s wedding by clicking here.




Courtney, just wanted to give a quick “thanks so much” for everything.  I still remember when Danielle came home so excited after she met you.  She was deciding between venues, flowers, photographers, etc and had no clue on who she wanted to use….until she found you.  It was the one decision she made easily and now I understand why.  When she showed me the pictures of your clients online I was like great, she’s a photographer for super models. Now I too feel like a super model!! HAH!  You did such an amazing job and have captured memories that will last us forever.  You truly love what you do and it shows in your work.  It really makes everything go so smooth when you have someone that you can tell enjoys and has a passion for what they do.  I definitely also appreciate the suggestion of the “first look”.  That was a memory I will never forget.  I could hear Danielle’s dress as she approached.  I was so nervous for the few hours before the wedding but as soon as I turned for the first look I became at ease.  Not only did this capture great up close and personal memories but also gave us more time after the ceremony to celebrate the big day!  Yep, you’re a genius!!! Looking at the pictures bring back all the feelings and great memories.  We are both so happy with everything and super ecstatic about how great you were to work with.  You will certainly come highly recommended to all our friends.

See Danielle and Jason’s wedding by clicking here.

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