timeline

5 Reason You NEED To Plan On Doing A First Look

You’ve met with your photographer for your wedding day and they ask if you want to do a first look (or maybe they don’t ask (sigh), which is another blog post entirely). Before you make up your mind, check out 5 reasons this wedding day manager feels that you NEED a first look.

  1. Timing

This is probably the biggest reason I strongly recommend having a first look. If your wedding day manager or planner has worked your timeline to its fullest advantage, you would be done getting ready at virtually the same time regardless if you were planning on a first look or not. Where timing gets a little sticky is after the ceremony. The sunset waits for no wedding and getting a little behind in taking pictures after you get married means you run the risk of pushing the rest of the night into crunch mode. Having a first look means you have more time after the ceremony for whatever you need it for and you know you have amazing images from earlier in the day.

2. Calm those nerves

This is a big one as well. Even if you’ve been with your partner forever, you will still be nervous on your wedding day - nervous to be getting married, nervous being up in front of all those people, nervous seeing the love of your life on the day you pledge to be together forever. Taking those 15 minutes to just see each other, talk to each other, touch each other will make all the difference in the world. And you will still feel all the butterflies when you see each other at the end of the aisle for the first time.

3. Enjoy cocktail hour

You spent all that time picking out fabulous food and drinks for cocktail hour and then you don’t get to enjoy it. Why? Because you spend the entire cocktail hour taking pictures. Having a first look can cut that picture taking time in half (depending on when you ask your family to arrive for pictures before the ceremony). We see this as a win win situation for everyone. You get to enjoy cocktail hour, your photographer has more time to capture your wedding day and your guests can even sneak in a few extra minutes with you.

4. Photographers love the extra time

Sometimes timing just is against us and things happen - people are late, dresses don’t fit quite right, spills happen and the time that the photographer would have been able to use to capture detail images and cocktail candids gets eaten up capturing wedding portraits, wedding party and family images. By having a first look, you free up your photographer to grab all the detail shots and fun candids that happen during cocktail hour. Plus they can get creative with the time that they do have to take you to fun location and try interesting poses.

5. Venue disadvantages

You may have found a venue that only gives you a certain number of hours for your ceremony and reception and there just aren’t enough hours for everything that you want to do. Or it is a pretty place, but doesn’t have that “wow” location that you’ve always dreamed about for wedding pictures. By having a first look, you can get more bang for your buck. I know, how will scheduling a first look that takes time work in your limited time favor? Hear me out. Scheduling a first look allows you to pick the spot and decide how long you want the session to last - first date location, favorite park, water background, desert back drop, the choices are almost endless. Plus, you can take as much or as little time as you’d like (just let your wedding day manager or planner in on it so they can schedule the timeline accordingly).

I know there are a few things that may cause you to question having a first look.

It’s tradition.

You’re right, it was tradition, back when couples were part of arranged marriages and the parents of the bride didn’t want the groom to run away. All joking aside, if you are truly tied to the tradition of not seeing each other until you walk down the aisle, consider a first touch or blindfolded first look.

I won’t have that “wow” moment/feeling.

You will have that moment, promise. If you have a first look, you get to have that moment twice. Nothing will take away that feeling of seeing your beloved walking down the aisle to pledge themselves to you.

I have limited time with my photographer.

Most photographers have a time limit on their package. If you are already having them capture getting ready moments, then they will be there pre-ceremony anyway. If you are not having them there pre-ceremony because you feel you need them through the end of the reception, work with your wedding day manager or planner and shift all the must have moments to the time period before the photographer leaves for the evening. Doing this will allow your time to begin earlier and you can have that first look.

First Looks - They Aren't Just For Your Spouse To Be

Some of my favorite moments of a wedding happen just before the ceremony. I adore watching all the details come together, seeing all of the beautiful people and watching all the moments unfold. As a wedding day manager I encourage a first look - it helps with nerves and it allows you to get a ton of the formal, posed pictures out of the way allowing so much more time for couples portraits.

But first looks aren’t just for couples!

I also strongly encourage (if it is at all possible, I know sometimes it just can’t happen) a first look between a bride and her dad, a groom and his mom, a bride and her mom, a groom and his dad or any other combination. Having those moments when a parent sees their child, all decked out and about to walk down the aisle about to become someone’s amazing spouse, recorded for all time is so very precious. Images evoke memories and these memories can be so emotional that I want to ensure that if it is at all possible to arrange, it happens. Taking those five minutes now will be so worth it in 20 years!

Ask your photographer to help make this happen!

When your photographer reaches out and asks about your must have images, ask to have this moment added in to the mix. It can be done just prior to your first look with your future spouse and won’t add that much time to your timeline. Keep it sweet and simple and have your makeup artist on stand by to do a little touching up before you cast eyes on your fabulous spouse to be!

3 Things to Consider Before Hiring a "Part-Time" Wedding Vendor

Let me tell you a story. It is 4:30 in the afternoon of an amazing day.

I have a super cute couple that will be walking down the aisle at 5:00.

My assistant and I are in the reception hall setting up the final details when a friend of the bride asks me

where the flowers for the bride and bridesmaids are.

I’m slightly perplexed as I spoke with the florist and she assured me that everything was set and ready to go. I go over to the bridal suite and look around. I see a cascading orchid bouquet that is falling apart, a few individual calla lilies and not much else.

I text the florist (this is the only way she will communicate as she has a full time job that doesn’t allow her to take phone calls during the day) and ask where the bouquets are at

and I will never forget her response

“when I went to the wholesaler yesterday, the roses that the client wanted didn’t look right so I just substituted individual calla lilies instead.”

I was floored and the bride is almost in tears.

Communication was rough all along with this vendor, but for her to make the call to just change the order, without prior knowledge or agreement of the client was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

While I took up this huge mistake with the vendor I was driving to the local Trader Joe’s (this was a destination wedding) picked up some gorgeous white roses, created beautiful hand tied bouquets and my couple walked down the aisle on time (this is the main reason I highly recommend you hire a wedding coordinator by the way).

So there is a happy ending and a moral to the story.

Throughout the whole process this vendor was difficult to talk to, she could only meet on certain days, at certain times and would only communicate through text. She would not return phone calls, would not confirm details and was very unprofessional. She was a weekend warrior and didn’t take the commitment she made to clients, that paid her, very seriously. While not all part-time vendors are this egregious when it comes to taking care of clients, it does happen more often than not.

In the end my team was able to save the day, maintain the timeline and stave off tears and stress, but we shouldn’t have had to.

When choosing your vendors, don’t be afraid to ask the question – “Do you do this full time?” and if the answer is no find out what limits their job will place on their ability to do their job properly.

1. Limited availability

Part-time vendors usually can only meet when they are not working or do not have other life commitments. While all vendors will have limits to their availability most full time vendors will have ample options during the day and at night, during the week and on weekends.

2. Unable or unwilling to utilize all forms of communication

Part-time vendors usually cannot take personal phone calls while they are working their “real” job. They may also be limited as to when they can check and respond to emails and text messages. Full-time vendors can answer their phones whenever they are not with another client or working with another client and have fewer limitations as to when they can respond to email and text.

3. Unprofessional business approach

Part-time vendors have a tendency to skip the necessary items to running a business – business licenses, insurance, contracts, back up plans and staff. Full-time vendors know that they are holding your dreams in their hands and they want to ensure that you have every confidence in them and their business.

While my story had a mostly happy ending, the vendor never apologized for the stress and drama she caused. She didn't willingly refund any money. She didn't care and that is probably the hardest lesson that clients that hire part-time vendors may have to learn - some of them just don't care about their clients.

Full disclosure and reality check - I have worked with loads of "part-time" vendors, but you would never know that they were running their business part-time. They are fabulous!! At the beginning of my journey I was a "part-time" vendor, but none of my clients knew it. It has a lot to do with you as a person, how well you can handle multiple tasks and how you structure your business. I won't say that you have to steer clear of "part-time" vendors, but do your due diligence and understand exactly what you will be signing up for. 

Happy Wedding Planning!

Wedding Day Timelines Decoded - What They Are & Why YOU Need One!

Your wedding day timeline – one of the most essential items to have on your wedding day, yet one of the most difficult items to put together, maintain and utilize. What is one, why do you need it, what goes in a timeline – great questions!

What is a timeline?

Your wedding timeline is a listing of the major and minor events and the approximate time of day they will occur. It can be as extensive and detailed or as simple as you wish. A good rule of thumb is to start your timeline when the first vendor begins providing services or when the first person from the wedding begins getting ready. End your timeline when the last vendor has finished providing their service or picked up their items.

Who needs a timeline?

If you have a coordinator that is handling the management of your wedding day, they will have a timeline that they have developed that incorporates all of the information they need to ensure that your day runs according to your plans (as much as possible). Your coordinator will connect with your vendors and will include all of the information, timing and details that will affect the flow of the wedding. There should only be ONE timeline. I emphasize this because you will have other vendors that will try to create their own, which is fine, as long as in the end, their version and the version that your coordinator is working from have the same information. Remember it is the coordinators job and responsibility to maintain the timeline and flow of your wedding.

If you do not have a coordinator to manage your wedding, you have a few options. You can see if another vendor is creating a timeline and utilize it to plan your day (most photographers and DJ’s will have some form of a timeline). You can also use our easy template to create your own timeline. Finally, some coordinators will create a timeline, with the information you provide, as an a la carte service.

Before you start with any of the options make sure to have the following information easily accessible –
• Location and time of rehearsal, wedding ceremony and reception
• Vendor name, arrival time of all vendors (both services and products) and day of contact information
• Names and phone numbers of all wedding party members
• Final guest count
• All vendor contracts – from these you will be able to get the start time, contracted length, end time, meal requirements, final balances, etc.
• Speak with your photographer about how long each session of pictures will take. This is the most important item as it is the framework that the timeline is built upon.
• Build your timeline in a block or cushion format rounding up whenever possible

Why do you need a timeline?

Weddings have lots of moving parts with lots of people. All of your vendors are focused on providing you with the best product and service. Without some coordination it is inevitable that something will not occur when it needs to or something will be overlooked. If everyone involved with your wedding knows where they need to be, when they need to be there and what they will be doing the chances of something not going quite right will be reduced.

How to communicate your timeline?

The easiest way to communicate your timeline is through your coordinator. They will contact all of your vendors, get their relevant information, and send them a draft timeline to make sure that there are no adjustments that need to be made, coordinate the final timeline details with you and about a week before your wedding they will send out the final version. Your coordinator will also bring copies of your timeline to the rehearsal to share with your wedding party and to make any last minute notes and changes.

If you don’t have a coordinator you can follow the same steps, however you will be the one adjusting the timeline at the rehearsal and will be responsible for communicating it to your vendors. You will also be the go to person when a conflict occurs. The key to dealing with these conflicts is to empower your vendors to take care of them, within reason. Ask that they exercise their best judgment and communicate with all involved parties.

The key to a successful timeline is to understand that it is a GUIDE, not GOSPEL. Things will happen, people will be late, photo sessions will run long, and things may be forgotten. In the end, the “I Do” is the only part of the timeline that is important.


Sweet I Do's is a wedding planning company located in Surprise, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix). We specialize in wedding day management (also known as day of coordination). We help you create an amazing, unique and totally "you" wedding that allows you to be in the moments making the memories, not worrying about the details. From contract review and timeline creation to day of management, set up and tear down, we're focused on ensuring our couples, their families and friends experience a stress and worry free night to remember.