Welcome

A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE

I'm so excited to be working with you and we can’t wait to get to know you better over the next several months! I know that a wedding planner is one of the many investments you're making for your wedding day and I'm so honored you are thinking of working with me!

Having  planned/coordinated so many events over the past few years, I tend to get asked the same things over and over again. So I thought it would be beneficial if I put together a guide that walks you through everything from having a first look to timelines and some tips.

- vanessa

Please don't hesitate to let me know if I can offer any additional guidance throughout the  planning process!

That moment the Bride and Groom see each other for the first time on their wedding day is magical. And this is true whether the couple chooses to wait until the bride walks down the aisle or chooses to do  a “first look’ prior to the ceremony.

First looks—a private moment couples choose to spend together prior to the wedding ceremony—have become more popular over the last few years. About half of my couples this year have chosen to do a first look.

While I consider myself a  person who values tradition, there are definitely a few good reasons to consider  a first look.  Here are my 3 reasons to consider a ‘first look’:

Is a First Look Right for You?

If you're wondering whether a first look is right for you, stop here.

Once the ceremony begins, the day takes off quickly. A ‘first look’ is an opportunity to enjoy some quiet time alone, enjoy each other’s company, and reflect on all this day means before your day takes off.

Wedding days can be a whirlwind and they tend to fly by. There’s much to do, and a lot of people to see and to catch up with. I always encourage my couples to take a few minutes every so often during their wedding to stop and soak in everything that’s happening.

1. A first look cuts through the chaos of the day.

When there is no first look, the majority of the pictures have to be taken after the ceremony. Family pictures are generally done as soon as the ceremony ends because it’s the easiest time to round everyone up. Next up is full bridal party, and then bride and groom portraits. This generally runs into cocktail hour.

A first look opens up time prior to the ceremony for full bridal party pictures and, sometimes, for a few bride and groom portraits (although bride and groom portraits are typically best at sunset). This allows the couple to get the most out of cocktail hour, which makes the rest of the evening feel less rushed.

2. IT MakeS more time for Pictures without sacrificing cocktail hour.

If you’re expecting poor weather on your wedding day, it might be best to plan on a first look because it gives you more options for pictures. If it’s pouring rain after the ceremony, you’ll be thankful you had pictures done in advance.

And the last reason is for all you cryers out there. If you know the tears are going to fly the first time you see your other half the day of your wedding, a first look will give you time to freshen up before the ceremony.

First look or not, the first time you see each other on your wedding day will be special.

3. Avoid possible bad weather and/or have time to freshen-up after crying

Wedding Day Timeline

building the perfect

Whether you choose to do a first look or the traditional "no see before the ceremony" I will work with you on making sure you have the best timeline and plan.

If you're choosing to go traditional, you'll need two different sets of photo times: images taken before the ceremony and images taken after the ceremony.

You'll need to plan for about one hour of pre-ceremony bridal photos (bridesmaids and bride's family) and about one hour of pre-ceremony groom photos (groomsmen and groom's family) at separate times. You'll also need 15 minutes of combined bridal party portraits, 15 minutes of combined family portraits and at least 30 -45 minutes of couple's portraits after the ceremony if you're not doing any portraits together until after the ceremony.

Whether you're planning a first look or sticking with tradition and not seeing your groom until you walk down the aisle, i have tips to help make planning your timeline as easy as possible!

If you're doing a first look, photos can be done all at one time, taking an average total of 2 hours pre-ceremony .

If you choose a traditional aisle reveal, I will help you keep your ceremony time in mind when planning your wedding.

If you're planning a sunset ceremony or an evening ceremony, it's best to do all photos before the wedding, as daylight is crucial to getting amazing portraits for your families, bridal party and your couples portraits. 

I like to look out for my couples.

12 p.m.

Photographer arrives at Bride’s getting ready location and assistant photographer arrives at Groom’s getting ready location.

12pm - Getting Ready

Note: If something is going to delay the beginning of the day, it’s often Hair & Make Up.

1:15 p.m.

Groom + groomsmen depart for ceremony site.

1:15pm - Guys Depart

1:30 p.m.

Bride and bridesmaids depart for ceremony location. 

1:30pm - Ladies Depart

1:45 p.m.

The first look takes place. 

1:45 First Look

Note: The First Look can take place at the getting ready location, ceremony, or reception location. It’s up to you! 

2:00 p.m.

Bride & Groom + bridal party portraits.

2:00pm - Portraits

3:00 p.m.

The ceremony takes place.

3:00PM Ceremony

3:30 p.m.

Family portraits.

3:30pm  Family Portraits

Note:  family portraits  are taken right after the ceremony because everyone you need will be easy to grab. If you can give your family notice that we’ll be taking pictures immediately after the ceremony, that will also ensure that no one wanders off. I’ll help you create a list of family portraits before the big day. 


4:00 P.M.

Additional Bridal Party and Bride & Groom Portraits

4:00pm Portraits

4:30 p.M. 

Cocktail Hour

4:30pm Cocktail Hour 

Note: The great thing about doing a First Look is that it gives you more time at cocktail hour. 

5:00 P.M.

Introductions & First Dance

5pm Introductions

5:30 P.M.

Welcome toasts & salads followed by speeches and entrees. 

5:30pm Dinner

6:00 P.M.

Sunset Portraits

6pm Sunset Portraits

This is usually the best light of the day!

6:30 P.M.

Dancing begins

6:30pm Dancing

7:15 P.M.

Cake cutting followed by bouquet toss.

7:15pm Traditions

8:00 P.M.

Dance the night away or celebratory departure

8:00pm Dancing or Celebratory  Departure

1 p.m.

Photographer arrives at Bride’s getting ready location and assistant photographer arrives at Groom’s getting ready location.

1pm - Getting Ready

Note: If something is going to delay the beginning of the day, it’s often Hair & Make Up.

2:00 p.m.

Groom + groomsmen depart for ceremony site & take pre-ceremony group photos. 

2:00pm - Guys Depart

2:15 p.m.

Bride and bridesmaids depart for ceremony location and take pre-ceremony group photos. 

2:15pm - Ladies Depart

3:00 p.m.

The ceremony takes place.

3:00PM Ceremony

3:30 p.m.

Family portraits.

3:30pm  Family Portraits

Note: family portraits are taken right after the ceremony because everyone you need will be easy to grab. If you can give your family notice that we’ll be taking pictures immediately after the ceremony, that will also ensure that no one wanders off. I'll help you create a list of family portraits before the big day. 


4:00 P.M.

Bridal Party and Bride & Groom Portraits

4:00pm Portraits

5:30 P.M.

Introductions & First Dance

5:30pm Introductions

6:00 P.M.

Welcome toasts & salads followed by speeches and entrees. 

6:00pm Dinner

7:30 P.M.

Sunset Portraits

7:30pm Sunset Portraits

This is usually the best light of the day!

8:00 P.M.

Dancing begins

8:00pm Dancing

8:30 P.M.

Cake cutting followed by bouquet toss.

8:30pm Traditions

9:00 P.M.

Dance the night away or Celebratory Departure

9:00pm dancing or celebratory Departure

1. If you're getting married in the summer months, a "not-so-heavy" snack or lunch time before portraits is always a good idea for you and your bridal party to avoid hungry bellies and passing out!

2. If it's going to be hot, a cooler of cold waters and frozen washcloths can help keep a wedding party cool - especially if the men are wearing lots of layers.

3. Make sure and have your bouquet delivered in time to make an appearance for the detail shots and for your first look. Often they are delivered in water and need to be dried off before use. Having towels handy can help.



Additional Tips

AFTER coordinating MORE THAN 50 events in the past few years, i'm happy to share a few additional tips

4. I always recommend the bride go into hiding 30 minutes before the ceremony at the absolute latest. Guests typically arrive early to weddings.

5. To help make family portraits go smoother, it's best to have a breakdown of what portraits you'd like and it's really wonderful if both sides of the family have a chance to have their input on what portraits they'd like before the wedding. 

6. I'd love to help you plan your timeline. If you'd like my input, don't hesitate to email!

I can't wait to start planning with you and getting to know you! If you haven't scheduled your chat session yet, let's get that in the books. Feel free to email me any time at
 info@vanessavalerius.com.

If you have any questions or would just like to chat, I'm here for you. I hope this guide helps make the process of planning your wedding details much easier and less stressful. I can't wait to chat with you soon! 

THANK YOU!