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Advice from Past Brides | Engagement Sessions & The First Look

having been a bride myself, i definitely would have done some things at my wedding differently if i knew what i do now after living through it. with that, i am so excited for this to be the first of many posts in this weekly blog series called “Advice from Past Brides”, where myself and some of my amazing past brides can share the lessons and experiences we all have learned on this journey, helping those who are still in the planning stages to make the absolute most of their fairytale day!

janelle and sean got married at the lougheed house on august 16, 2013, and during the planning process, like most couples, they struggled with making a few decisions. do they really need engagement photos? is the first look a good idea, even though it is said to be unlucky? these are questions i get from almost EVERY couple i meet, so i was super excited when janelle offered to do the first post on what she had learned – to see the blog post from janelle & seans AMAZING day, check it out by clicking here – and with that, i give you one of my incredible past brides, Janelle Kent! <3

Why I {We} did the Engagement Session & The First Look | Advice from Past Brides #1~janelle kent

You’re a bride-to-be in one of the various stages of planning and you’re making many, many decisions (with or without your fiancé). Everyone around you is suddenly an expert in the wedding field and has a ton of advice on what you should and shouldn’t do. And while they mean well, you might just be ready to rip out your hair because all of their tips conflict with one another. The bottom line is that this really is your day and you can design it to be what you and your handsome man want…unless someone else is paying, then it gets tricky, but that’s a whole other topic.

I don’t want to give you more advice, but rather share my personal experience in case it sheds light on or gives you your own, “Aha!” moment.

ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS. Maybe you always wanted to take those super romantic snapshots with your man, perhaps you think it’s cheesy or maybe you won’t be able to convince him or yourself to do it. I was there, in all of those spots. I really wanted to take them because we didn’t have any nice photos of us together and this was my opportunity to get him to agree. I knew there was slim to no chance that I would be able to convince him that it was something that he was going to enjoy, and I was a little embarrassed to tell friends and family that we were doing them because nobody had done them before and according to them it was, “Such a waste of money.” But then I thought, never-mind what everyone else thinks, I want them and future husband will see the light. I didn’t know in that moment how much I would come to appreciate that decision or how much of a favor I was doing myself. I like lists, so here’s one on why I am so thankful that we did our engagement session:

* The benefits outweigh the cost and most reputable photographers out there offer packages with the engagement session included

* You get to know your photographer. So. Important. I tend to be awkward around new people, so taking pictures with strangers was not going to be a walk in the park. Working with Meg and Scott during the engagement session let me know what to expect at the wedding and get comfortable with them, and myself.

o Your fiancé gets to know the photographer. If he’s anything like mine, he hates getting his photo taken, loves you but doesn’t want to be in the “spotlight” and can’t imagine why something like this should take an hour or so of his time.

o After the engagement session my fiancé didn’t miraculously come to love getting his photo taken but there were some dramatic changes in his overall comfort level and demeanor once the wedding photos came around. He was an entirely different person at the wedding and we had far less awkward faces and poses on his part in when compared to the engagement session.

o He’ll never admit that doing the engagement photos was a good idea, but he recently commented on how he’d be okay with doing family photos one day and I take that as a victory.

* You get to know what your fiancé is like in front of the camera. This is really important for you to know and manage hehehe. For example, I knew that I would need to coach my fiancé on how to move his eyes without moving his whole head.

* I got beautiful pictures of my fiancé and I together (not to mention great ones of us alone too!)

* I was able to give those photos to parents and grandparents – super sweet gesture loved by mothers and doting grandparents and great gifts for the thrifty brides.

* If you’re super worried about matchy-matchy, really posed – I’m talking about awkward engagement photos the ones we’ve all seen next to the awkward family photos posted online – take the time to research photographers and find the right one. The good ones make it a natural process that ends up looking great.

THE FIRST LOOK. Is it really a good idea to have your groom see you before the ceremony? Will all the magic be lost? Isn’t it bad luck? I thought all of those things and my fiancé did not want to do the first look. However, the best decision I made during the whole wedding planning process was to do the first look and get my groom on board.

* You don’t lose the magic of seeing his face when you walk down the aisle because you get to see it up close and personal. I had a long walk down the aisle and in the end I never would’ve been able to see his initial reaction from so far away.

* In my opinion it is not bad luck. I read a lot of articles that suggested the age old tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other before the wedding actually came from the times of pre-arranged marriages. You couldn’t see each other in case one or both of you changed your minds and ran in the other direction. Plus, for me, it’s not something that everyone does and that fact alone appealed to me.

* The first look allowed us to share a beautiful, very personal time together that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. It was incredible. The excitement, the primping, and the anticipation rose all day and then capped off when he looked at me like I was the beautiful woman in the world. And instead of straining my eyes to see it, we embraced and told each other how much we loved one another. It was a moment rivaled only by how lovey-dovey the proposal was. I will cherish that moment with him for the rest of my life. It’s kind of hard to explain in words the feeling, but the best way I can describe it was peaceful and exhilarating at the same time. The feeling of love that spreads from your heart to your toes.

* I was able to take him in, all dapper and such done up in his suit J what a handsome man I was lucky enough to be marrying!

* Meg and Scott were amazing during this time. They captured the whole thing without being intrusive and the photos we got are outstanding. They might be my favorites ~ They have his facial expressions as he heard me walking up, his initial reaction and ogling J when he turned around, my reaction, our

clearly evident, nauseating love for each other, and there are some sexy ones too – all G rated of course. I really can’t wait to put those prints up in sequence so that I can take that moment in every day.

* We had an evening wedding and the first look meant that we got all of the wedding party photos done before anyone walked down the aisle. This was important to us so that they could just start eating and drinking once the ceremony was done. They seemed to appreciate it as well.

* There was WAY more time to visit with guests and enjoy the evening having done a significant portion of the photos beforehand. Neither of us felt like the night went too fast because we got to be a part of the evening.

* Finally, the thing that really solidified why the first look was the best choice for us. Words from his own mouth:

“I am so glad that you suggested the first look. I had some nerves going for a couple hours right before and when I saw you every one of them melted away. I was no longer nervous to say my vows in front of 80 people because you were so beautiful and sexy, I couldn’t wait to say those words, put that ring on your finger and seal the deal making you and me us officially.”

i would LOVE to hear your own personal thoughts and experiences with engagement photos and the first look, and if you enjoyed janelle’s post (isn’t she an incredible writer? she is a teacher so it comes naturally for her ;)) it would be amazing for you all to show her some love below by clicking “like” or leaving a comment in the comment section!

i can’t wait to share more planning tips and advice next week, so until then, happy planning! <3

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