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First Looks and pre-ceremony wedding photos – What you need to know

photography of couple of wedding day in black and white outside wellington parlimentry doors

We’re dishing up the ultimate Wellington wedding inspiration today. Jess and Steve’s stunning wedding was the most perfect Wellington wedding, filled with love, laughter, hugs, tears, and (of course), the good ol’ Wellington wind. 

Jess and Steve chose to do a wedding day first look and have their wedding photos before the ceremony. I get asked about this topic all the time – as couples map out their wedding day schedule. They quite often get stuck deciding whether or not to have a first look and take their creative photos before the ceremony or afterwards. Each of these options has their own benefits. But I’m siding with pre-ceremony photos for today, as we break down the advantages to getting them all sorted early in the day. If you’re not fussed on the tradition of seeing your life partner for the first time as you walk down the aisle, taking the photos beforehand takes off a bunch of the pressure. 

In authentic Wellington style, the city was booming with activity as the dragon boating festival kicked off down the waterfront. Planning out their logistics and timing was imperative to ensure things ran smoothly on the day. So the boys chose to get ready at the QT Hotel – a handy 2 minute drive from the photo locations and the ceremony spot. This leads me onto my first top tip for planning a wedding day first look with photos before the ceremony – timing! 

Timing when doing a wedding day first look
For a 3pm ceremony, the groom typically needs to be there by 2.30pm to meet and greet guests – so, allowing for a 60 minute shoot and 30 minutes of travel time (especially with the busy city streets). It’s best to aim to have the photo session at around 1pm. I typically recommend scheduling in your first look for 12:45pm, allowing for plenty of cuddles, a moment together, and a bit of a buffer if you’re running late.

Reception – a big advantage of doing a first look
One of the advantages of taking your photos before the ceremony is that you can kick off your reception a wee bit earlier. Or book in some dedicated time to mix, mingle and actually spend some quality time with your guests! When photos are taken after the ceremony, you’ll often be whisked away with your bridal party while your guests enjoy the canapes and entertainment. Doing a first look and pre-ceremony photos, you can be right there with them.

The best part of doing a wedding day first look
I absolutely love a first look – and it’s the biggest advantages to doing your photos pre-ceremony! You can enjoy a quiet, special, intimate moment together as you see each other for the first time on the day rather than having a full audience of 100+ guests (with your photographer there, of course!). You can  also choose whether you’d like your bridal party to be there for this moment as well, you control how it plays out. 

Don’t forget the Snacks when doing a first look and pre-ceremony photos
On your wedding day it’s so easy to forget to eat – and while the guests are enjoying the food and beverages, you’ll often be so busy there’s not a chance to grab a bite! Another perk of taking your couple and bridal party photos before your ceremony is the opportunity to take five as a bridal party. You can have a drink, enjoy some snacks, and make sure that you’re not hungry during the ceremony. 

Keep scrolling to check out a few wonderful moments from Jess and Steve’s wedding day in including there very special first look!

(and as always if you want to find out more about my wedding photography here and follow what I’ve been up to on Facebook here.)