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To first look or not to first look…

To first look or not to first look

Northernlight Filmworks

The wedding industry is filled with new creativity and ideas. The personality and brand of each couple is able to be portrayed through their big day. Many people fully dive into the new creative styles of weddings and ditch the old traditional ways. Others, however, find that tradition is something to be cherished and followed. Regardless of how you personally feel, there is value in weighing the pros and cons of the treasured first look between the bride and groom.

If you’re anything like me, you weigh the pros and cons with every situation you encounter. My wedding day will be no different. I will look at every possibility to hopefully help capture the perfect day I have always dreamed of. One of the most intimate moments of the wedding ceremony between the bride and the groom is simply when they first lay eyes on each other.

This is such an important part of the wedding as brides and grooms have both spoke of this feeling of having tunnel vision. They don’t even see anything else in the room, they only see each other. While this is sweet and charming some would rather have this deeply intimate moment between just them. The question is whether to have the first look before the ceremony or during the ceremony.


Jane & Jason 1st look from Northernlight Filmworks on Vimeo.

Ryan & Christine first look from Northernlight Filmworks on Vimeo.

Pros of “to first look”:

  • One of the first pros of “to first look” is that both the bride and groom get to experience the first look moment together in privacy. This may be something that they have photographed but ultimately privacy is the main point. The couple will have the opportunity to get a lot of emotion out before the ceremony.
  • A perk to seeing each other before the ceremony is that it allows for time for photos so that photos are not being done between the ceremony and the reception. This can also give the best lighting for the photographer/videographer.
  • If you decide to look this can give you time to calm your excited nerves. Many people describe their significant other as one that helps to relax them or calm them down. This can be a great tool for an anxious bride or groom to comfort one another.


Cons of “to first look”:

  • The ceremony may be less emotional and more practical. I am not saying that the ceremony will not be emotional but you may lose out on that “wow” moment.
  • Traditions can be a con to looking at each other prior to the wedding. Not only does looking at each other follow some superstition, but also it is non-traditional.


Jake and Kristen 1st look down isle from Northernlight Filmworks on Vimeo.

John + Kaitlin 1st look down the isle from Northernlight Filmworks on Vimeo.

Pros of “not to first look”:

  • Speaking of traditions, not looking at each other before the ceremony is more on the traditional side. It goes way back. I’ll let you look up the history if you feel so inclined.
  • One of my favorite pros to “not to first look” is simply that there is this amazing moment between bride and groom. This is something that is not only special to the couple but also special to the friends and family who are also experiencing this day.
  • Excitement follows the bride all of the way until the aisle. The excitement of finally seeing the man she will marry for the first time all day can be overwhelming (in a good way). Those who chose to “not first look” may be more excited for the actual ceremony.


Cons of “not to first look”:

  • A con to not looking is certainly the issue of, “When will photos take place?” Photos may have to happen between the ceremony and the reception, which can prolong many of the other parts of the day. This can also sometimes mean risking the best lighting or light at all for that matter.
  • Jitters/nervousness may be more prevalent without the comfort of seeing each other before the ceremony.


Like I said before, the world of weddings is becoming an increasingly more creative industry. This also allows for more creative approaches to the “to first look or not to first look” debate. In fact there are many alternatives within the realm of weddings that make each special day truly unique to each couple. Nothing is black or white. Weddings are not church bells or Las Vegas.

Katie + Kevin Alternative 1st Look from Northernlight Filmworks on Vimeo.

Alternatives to first looks:

  • Being blindfolded where you can still touch the person but not see them. There is a lot of superstition that follows weddings that stray from traditional but there certainly are ways to get around that.
  • Other brides and grooms may choose to read letters from each other. There are many ways to go about this as well.
    • Some have slid the letters under doors that hold in the anxious bride/groom.
    • Others have stood around a door holding hands while reading the letters that they wrote.


Ultimately the message is simple. Every bride and grooms big day is special in their own way. In the same way that the world is one’s oyster, allow your wedding to be too. Make it your own, whether you choose traditional, non-traditional or somewhere in between. This day is one that while you may obsess over the details and weigh every decision, you will truly be happy when you realize that this day is more than that.


Posted on March 2nd, 2017 in Northernlight Filmworks, Wedding Planning - Tips
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Top Wedding Day Regret

Wedding day regrets

This is the time of year for our team at Northernlight Filmworks where we are busy finishing the last of our edits and spending time meeting with potential clients. At the end of every wedding season, we reflect on the places we traveled and the incredible couples and their families that we get to meet. We often hear from our clients that they cannot imagine not having video and although it is an investment, it is in fact something that increases in sentimental value as time goes by.

We are always respectful that couples have budgets and we never try to hard sell anyone on hiring us for video because we want them to invest in something that means something to them and they understand the value. We can’t stress enough that when you have your priorities set, it’s much easier to stay focused on maintaining a realistic budget.

The purpose of this post is to help you pinpoint what you want and to stay committed to that. It is all about fulfilling YOUR vision of what this day should be like, not someone else’s vision. We recently met with a potential bride who didn’t want video, until she happened to see one of our edits of one of her friends wedding. Often times, whether it is video, cake, photography, etc, it is important to compare apples to apples. There is poor work or services in any wedding professional you might hire. Regrets are a hard thing to predict and often the only way to try to eliminate or alleviate regrets is to listen to advice from others. We could say to always hire video but we would rather you sit down and answer honestly what matters most to you on the wedding day and then ask yourself; What will matter most after the wedding day? The second question might be a little harder to answer.

An article appeared in the Huffington Post that addresses this question. The article talks about the top 2 regrets. The second regret was not hiring a Wedding Planner and the top regret was not hiring video. Again, it is all about priorities and having a firm grip on knowing what you want. You can read the full text of this article here: Wedding Regrets

Some might wonder why good solid wedding cinema or photography is expensive. Any company that you entrust to capture imagery on your wedding day must have the experience and knowledge. We spend thousands of hours learning and refining our craft. We reinvest in our equipment and attend workshops and schools ranging anywhere from lighting, audio, editing, study of film theory, etc.

Another great article by the Huffington Post expands a bit on regrets to include:
1. Spending too much time walking the room.
2. Letting The Stress take over.
3. Too much booze.
4. Not speaking up.
5. Not eating.
You can read the full article here at The Huffington Post.

Wedding Planning – iPhone iPad Apps

It seems as though there is an iPhone or iPad app for everything. I remember sitting at a very long red light and thought, “wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that let you change the light from red to green?” If only. There are so many applications that we use as tools that help keep us organized and also technical tools that help us do our job better. As you embark on planning your wedding, these are some applications that might come in handy. Whether apps to use during the planning and design phase to the wedding day itself.

(1) To-Do Queue
Lists help keep you on task and actually help you visually see progress, which also aides in reducing stress. There is nothing like the feeling of crossing something off your list. To-Do Queue lets you set priority and due dates. $4.99

(2) Numbers
This is a great spreadsheet application and is great to use with the iPad. A great way to organize your wedding from the expense side of things to keeping track of your guest list. $19.99

(3) MyPantone
This is a great tool to help you create color palettes and work through color schemes for your wedding. All at your fingertips. $9.99

(4) Pinterest
CAUTION Addicting! Set up your own boards within Pinterest and view images that give you ideas or inspiration for your own wedding. Whatever catches your eye from designs, colors to wedding invitations, it’s all here. Set a time limit for yourself because it is very easy to get drawn in to a never ending process of discovery. FREE

(5) The Weather Channel
This one is great to have to keep an eye on the weather for your engagement photos and for the wedding day. Not that you can do anything about the weather, it’s just good to be able to plan around it. Although we filmed a wedding during a downpour, it wasn’t too good for the guests but it was a romantic backdrop for the couple standing in the rain saying their vows. FREE

(6) Wedding Scan
This is a cool little app that allows you to register for any item at any store. $2.99

(7) The Knot Wedding Dress Look Book
This is a great little app from The Knot that helps you narrow down the style of dress you are going for. A great visual tool. FREE

(8) Tripit
A great website to go and plan your Honeymoon is through Kayak but a great little app to keep your travel schedule organized is Tripit. FREE

(9) Day One
If you have ever wanted to start a journal, this app makes it easy to get started. It has a very clean and well organized layout. Start your journal and write in it daily as you plan your wedding and even through your honeymoon and beyond. Life is more about memories than anything else. $4.99

(10) Evernote
This is one app that has a lot of everything all in one place. From keeping track of websites, photos, notes and to do lists, this is one cool app. FREE

Posted on September 13th, 2012 in Uncategorized, Wedding Planning - Tips
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Personalize your Wedding Day – {The Vows}


Each wedding that we film, we approach it by looking for the unique textures, small and large that make up the personality of the wedding.  We have filmed a growing number of weddings where the Bride and Groom have written their own vows.  On one occasion they both wrote them on the morning of their wedding day.   From a storytelling perspective, we love this.  We had one couple write their own vows and they never shared what each had written until they read them to each other  in front of a captive audience.  It was amazing how certain aspects of the vows mirrored each other.   We like personalized vows because it takes the expectation away from your guests.  Many of your guests have attended weddings where the traditional vows were exchanged, but once they hear a deviation from the norm, they seem to be more attentive.  Writing your own vows is certainly not for everyone  but it is well worth considering and adds another layer of a personal memorable touch.

Writing Your Vows Tips by Style Me Pretty
1. When it comes to writing your vows, keep it simple. Your guests and your partner will appreciate it that much more.

2. Some churches do not allow for custom vows. Make sure to check with your officiant before you get your heart set.

3. A great way to include your own vows without the stress of starting from scratch, is to personalize the more traditional vows. A handwritten letter to your partner, read aloud, is a great way to do this.

4. Make sure you are comfortable with the tone of your vows. If joking around is a part of your everyday life, it will feel seamless tucked inside your vows. If you are more subdued, skip the jokes and just say what you feel.

5. If you get stuck when coming up with what you want to say, look to old stories, photographs and memories with your partner. Allow the words to come from those moments.
Northernlight Filmworks

Posted on May 2nd, 2010 in Wedding Planning - Tips
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