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To do a first look or not, that is the question! As a wedding planner it is my job to ask all the questions to ensure nothing gets forgotten and that the wedding timeline gets executed accordingly. One of the many questions I ask couples is “Do you wish to do a ‘First Look’?”. Sometimes they know for sure if they want it or not, and others have no idea what I am talking about! It’s a major factor in the timeline and should be decided upon early in the planning process, before finalising your ceremony and dinner reception times.

Tradition vs First Look

Traditionally the couple do not see each other before the ceremony! The groom’s first look at his bride is when she walks down the aisle, just like the photo below of a wedding in Budapest at Saint Stephen’s Basilica! Some even think it’s bad luck for the couple to see each other before the ceremony. 

Traditional First Look in Saint Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest | Eskuvoi Fotosom

I totally get why brides choose the traditional option, I did, and I have no regrets. My husband teared up when he saw me enter the doors of Saint Stephen’s Basilica at our wedding in Budapest. He sent a ripple effect of tears through the congregation and I’ve been told even amongst the tourists in the back wings!

It’s also tradition that after the ceremony the official photos are taken. This is often at a unique location where just the two of them escape to with their photographers and videographers. It’s a chance to have some private time together. I personally enjoyed having our time away during our wedding portraits. It was our chance to celebrate, we sipped champagne in the limo and the smiles for our photographs came naturally as we were so delighted to be officially married and relieved too that the ceremony had gone according to plan.

Create a fun First Look with your dog! | Iryna’s Photography

What is a first look?

A first look is a planned moment before the ceremony where the couple get to see each other without their guests. It’s usually an intimate moment in a secluded setting that will be captured by the wedding photographers and videographers.  

I have witnessed first looks and some amazing photos afterwards, that prove it has its appeal. If you are on the fence and undecided which way to go, I have compiled a list of pros and cons with some epic first look photos to inspire you!

Tears of Joy | Miranda Anderson Photography

Why do a first look? 

The Pros:

Your makeup and hair will be freshly done and looking perfect for your photos! It’s easy to get it messed up a little if you wait until after the ceremony. Your guests will undoubtedly want to give you kisses and hugs to congratulate you. That’s bound to leave you with a couple of hairs out of place and lipstick traces both on you and your groom! Your bouquet will also be looking its best!!

You can schedule all the wedding party photos before the ceremony, so afterwards the only formal images left to take are family photos. 

You’ll be able to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests and have some time to chat with family and friends. That can be difficult to do later in the evening, especially if you are planning a formal sit down dinner.

The first look is a great opportunity to give your dress a trial run before all eyes are on you at the ceremony. Unless you have taken part in beauty pageants or are a fashion model you have probably never worn a dress anything similar in shape to your wedding dress. More than likely you will hide the dress from your fiancé from the time you collect it from the bridal salon, you may not get an opportunity to try it on again until the wedding day! Having that extra time in your wedding dress for the first look can be  especially beneficial if your dress has a long train or veil. You may discover that it’s a bit more cumbersome to move in than you expected. If you are finding that anything is uncomfortable or you would like your train or veil to hang a certain way, then you can let your bridesmaids know how you would like it positioned when you walk, sit, stand and knee in it!

You won’t not have to worry about the sun going down for your photos. It could work out to your advantage having a first look, especially if your wedding is in the winter months and you are planning outdoor photos. The short days mean the sun can be down as early as 4pm, depending on where you live.

By having a first look you can calm those pre-ceremony nerves. The ceremony is by far the most nerve wracking part of the day! All that build up to seeing each other for the first time can leave you with butterflies in your stomach that may not subside until much later in the day. Some brides and grooms have admitted they don’t remember much of the ceremony as they were so riddled with nerves.

Delight in Connemara, Ireland | Aoife Herriott Photography

Why not to do a First Look!

The Cons:

A bride may not get the reaction she was looking for. Some grooms may feel the need to have a big reaction especially when there is a photographer ready on the sidelines. If he is the type to keep his emotions bundled up (and unfortunately a lot of guys do), then the bride could be left a bit disappointed!

It’s not completely private. Like I mentioned above your photographer(s) will be present plus your videographer(s) and at the very least your maid of honor and/or wedding planner, to be on hand if you should need anything!

You will have to get up earlier! If you are like me and enjoy your sleep then the first look may not be for you. It means you will have to start your beauty prep earlier to be ready well in advance of the ceremony. You don’t want to have puffy eyes from lack of sleep on your big day!

You’re family and friends will not get to witness your initial reactions to seeing each other for the first time!

First-look-photography-outdoor-oheka-castle-new-york-greg-finck-photography-at manicured-gardens-groom-waiting-for bride-under-floral-wedding-archway
Greg Finck Photography

Now you have all the major pros and cons of doing a first look. Hopefully they will help make your decision a bit easier. Whichever you choose, enjoy it and take the moment in!

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Shopping for your wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. Can you picture how your wedding dress will look? Have you imagined it since you were a little girl? Maybe you’ve watched every episode of ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ or even started looking for your wedding dress before you got engaged? Or perhaps, like me, you thought you would never get married, so you never had wedding dress dreams.

While dreaming about your dress is a great starting point, the reality is that wedding dress shopping can be rather overwhelming. However this guide will help you prepare and stay calm on your quest to find the perfect dress.


Alessandra Rinaudo wedding dress on bride in Budapest bridal salon
Photo courtesy of Diora Salon Budapest



As the saying goes, fail to prepare and prepare to fail!

– Do your research by checking out bridal magazines.
– Sift through real brides on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
– Create a Pinterest board with all your favourite looks.
– Watch bridal fashion shows online.
– Take screenshots of styles you would like to try.

Make notes of elements you like or don’t like. Go directly to the boutiques websites to look through their galleries, then call to check if they stock your favourite styles or designer gowns.


Wedding dress shopping notes on Ipad



Wedding dress shopping will be fun a experience but it can be very exhausting. It’s on another level to your usual high street shopping or mall visit. Imagine trying on 10 dresses per salon and multiplying that by each salon you visit? You are sure to get confused and forget how you really felt in your favourites. Limit yourself to one bridal store per day and make notes as soon as you can after your appointment, jotting down names or codes of your favourites. You may forget these things in the midst of trying on loads of dresses, so it’s always good to have a list of the wedding dress pros and cons to refer to as well as price and how it made you feel! Give yourself time to go home and really think about the choices you saw.


runaway bride RB230 wedding jumpsuit
Photo courtesy of Runaway Bride Ireland



Sometimes it is the unexpected one that will end up surprising you. If you are not sure about a certain silhouette, fabric or embellishment, try it on anyhow! This is necessary until you find the one that will create your desired statement. Even if you don’t have an idea of style, trial and error is all part of the process to discovering what dress will make you feel like a goddess. Whether it be a strapless sheath, a ball gown or a mermaid fit to show off your curves, be it dramatic or understated, you won’t know it’s the one until you try it.

‘How many wedding dresses should I try?’ you may ask! The answer to that is really up to you, but I believe as many as it takes to find the perfect one. Follow your gut instincts!


hayley paige wedding gowns on rail in wedding salon
Photo Ashlee Mintz courtesy of Jennifer’s Bridal



I’ve had brides ask me in the past ‘What do I wear to a wedding dress appointment?’ Firstly well fitting underwear is very important to make you feel good about yourself. To get the full effect of the dress, wear a good multiway bra or at least a strapless one and seamless, form fitting undies preferably skin toned. The correct undergarments can make the difference between a wedding dress fitting well and one fitting perfectly. It will also  let you focus on the details of the dress instead of your underwear showing through!

Try to wear comfortable, hassle-free clothing that’s free from awkward zips or buttons and easy to remove! 


RB1620 Runaway bride wedding dress with pearl beading
Photo courtesy of Runaway Bride Ireland



Try to have your wedding shoes purchased in advance, if not, bring a shoe with your preferred heel height. This is important for the seamstress so she can accurately pin the hem of the dress and show you how it will look once it will be altered to your desired length.


arabella blossom wedding shoes by harriet wilde
Photo courtesy of Harriet Wilde Shoes London



Another question I get asked by brides is ‘ Who to bring to a wedding dress appointment?’ If you are a confident shopper who always makes good decisions and you know your style, then by all means go alone. There is no harm or shame in it! You will end up saving time and possibly money by  not making decisions you regret later. Listening to the opinion of others can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unable to figure out what you want yourself!

You can always take your Mum and bridesmaids along to the first fitting or bring them back for a second try on before making the final decision. However if you are more comfortable having a second opinion then only bring somebody along that you trust, who knows your personal style and who’s opinion you value.


wedding dress with 3d lace flower cape mwlcarla
Photo courtesy of Ivy Road Photography



This may be one of the first major down payments you make for your wedding. Don’t shock your groom with the news that you have blown the majority of the budget on your gown. Have a budget and stick to it. If you try on dresses that you can’t afford you are just setting yourself up for failure. It’s possible you will end up loving the dress you can’t have!

In addition to the price of the gown you should also calculate the cost of alterations. These are considerably more than your average day dress due the delicacy and detail of wedding dresses. Enquire with the seamstress once you know what alterations are required and ask for an estimate for alteration costs.




Accessories can change everything! Maybe you need just a little embellished belt to finish the look. If you feel right in the dress but feel there is something missing ask your bridal consultant for a veil to try on. A veil can really seal the deal and it can be quite an emotional moment.

Give your shopping companion the task of keeping an eye out for accessories. They can snap some photos of prospective pieces so you can look back and choose from them once you have found your dress. It will save you time and energy rather than going around the bridal stores again looking specifically for a veil, tiara etc. and leave focused on finding your wedding dress!


made with love bridal rosey veil and v-cut wedding dress
Photo Courtesy of Made With Love Bridal



Move around as much as you can in the dress. Walk around and keep it on for as long as your appointment allows. A dress that may seem light at first may seem rather heavy and awkward after wearing it for a length of time. If there are sleeves, then raise your arms. Try sitting in the dress and if kneeling is a requirement for your ceremony, then go ahead and do it if the shop assistant allows. More than likely you will need to be able to dance freely in it too, so consider moves that will be in your first dance as bride and groom. You want to ease through your first dance especially and not be worried about tripping up or it catching your heel in your dress.

Also consider the season you are getting married in! Will your dress have you break out in a sweat? Or will you end up covering up the most beautiful details of your dress with a coat or cape due to chilling temperatures.

You have to feel stunning not just walking down the aisle and posing for photos but also moving around in it, dancing and wearing it continuously for possibly 12 hours or more.


Bride wearing Scottie dress at Made with love bridal
Photo courtesy of Made With Love Bridal



Don’t let the bridal consultant, sales assistant or any of your entourage pressure you into making a decision. If it’s the tenth salon you have visited then your girlfriends may just be wishing you to finally make a decision. A sales assistant may be trying to persuade you into a dress so that she can make her monthly sales quota. Listen to your gut feelings, not someone else’s opinion. You have to feel completely happy with your decision. Unless you are planning a change of dress at your wedding, you will be in it all day. Maybe it will take trying on a few more dresses to convince that it is the one or not.



Remembering the exact shade of your wedding dress will be difficult as it can be 6 months or more between the time of your first wedding dress appointment and your first fitting. Even if you take a photo it won’t reveal the true shade as the bridal store lighting will affect it. The only true way of remembering it is with a fabric swatch! 

If you are planning on getting accessories like a veil then it’s a good idea to have a sample of your dress fabric to match up the colours. Likewise when shopping for your bridesmaids dresses and your partners attire, a fabric swatch on hand will ensure their clothing colour compliments yours.


Jaton couture wedding gown with decorative lace appliqué bodice
Photo courtesy of Ivy Road Photography



Unless you are on a flying visit abroad to a boutique, there is no need to make a rush decision about your dress. Even if you do, they should be able to accommodate you through the phone, by answering any queries you may have and accepting the deposit with your credit cards details. It’s always best to sleep on it for at least one night. If you are still in love with the dress the next day, call the salon and give them all the details they need.

If you can’t find your dress, don’t panic! Take a break from the search if you aren’t under any major time constraints! You know how they say ”you’ll find ‘the one’ (husband/wife) when you stop looking!’, well the same can be said for your wedding dress! Focus on some other wedding details for a while and you may just find your dress when you least expect it!


Wedding dress shopping, bridal try on, wedding dress store



Finally, try to approach the process in a relaxed manner, avoid being stressed out, hungry or overtired. These issues can really affect your mood and hinder the choice you make. Enjoy this epic, once in a lifetime shopping experience!


Wedding dress shopping list:

  • DO your research in advance
  • DON’T make more than one appointment per day
  • DO try on multiple styles
  • DON’T wear the wrong underwear
  • DO try to bring your wedding shoes
  • DON’T Bring a big entourage
  • DO have a budget in mind
  • DON’T forget about accessories
  • DO test the dress for comfort and flexibility
  • DON’T give into pressure
  • DO get a sample of fabric
  • DON’T rush your decision
  • DO relax and enjoy the process

Now you are all set with your list of wedding dress shopping do’s and don’ts.



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There are many positives to having a weekday wedding and now more than ever couples are considering a midweek celebration. The multiple postponements of weddings in the last number of weeks due to the Corona virus, has resulted in a backlogged 2020 Autumn-Winter season. It has also left a lot fewer dates available in 2021. If that is not reason enough to convince you, then read on for more advantages.

bride and groom wedding celebration with champagne tower wedding decor detail photo by ivy road photography
photo credit-Ivy Road Photography

Wedding Date Flexibility

1. Possibly the biggest bonus is that you are more likely to secure your dream date at your dream venue, with most couples opting for the weekend. You have to consider if you want a Saturday wedding at a venue that you don’t love over a weekday wedding at your top venue choice. Subsequently you don’t want to book a random date or possibly have to delay your celebration by a couple of years just because it’s the only Saturday that your venue can accommodate you.

Rustic Wedding table decoration in Brody Studios Budapest
Dream Weddings Budapest-photo credit Pinewood Weddings

Secure Your Preferred Wedding Vendors

2. That photographer that you have been following for months on Instagram is probably booked every weekend until 2025, but not on a Wednesday! Likewise,other vendor professionals like Dj, band, hair and beauty stylists will also have room in their calendar midweek.

Reduce Wedding Costs

3. It can be significantly more affordable with many venues reducing their pricing for weekday events, some by almost half the price of a Saturday wedding. You may also be able to negotiate a discount with your other suppliers by using the midweek element as a bargaining tool. Who doesn’t love a discount!

wedding reception at The Writer's Villa Budapest
photo credit Pinewood Weddings

Have An Intimate Wedding

4. Is the thought of having to invite second cousins, third cousins and colleges of colleges giving you anxiety attacks? Or are you secretly wishing to drastically reduce your guest count from 400 to 75? Then choosing a midweek date will benefit you enormously! It’s likely a lot won’t be able to take time off work or be able to take their children out of school. By having a small intimate wedding you can practise social distancing much easier. The key is to give your nearest and dearest plenty of time to plan and you’ll get that intimate celebration you’ve been dreaming of!

Desktop with wedding photo of bride and groom holding hands, flowers on the desk

Have A Relaxed Celebration

5. You’ll avoid the crowd and won’t feel like you are part of the production line of weddings at the registry office or church. This will naturally make your event more relaxed for you, your guests and your photographers. There probably won’t be another bride in sight!

Wedding in Budapest at Buda Castle
Savoy Terrace Wedding-photo credit Ana Szabo Photography

Extend Your Celebration Over Several Days

6. Instead of making it just a weekend celebration, you can make it a very relaxed week long celebration! Whether it’s a local or destination wedding, you can plan out a few small events with your guests. Anything from excursions, dining together or heading out for some evening entertainment. If your immediate families haven’t all met each other, it’s a good opportunity to bring them together for a casual get-to-know each other over dinner at home and look through old family photos.

Mid-week weddings are trending in Budapest! Couples are planning their destination wedding in Hungary on Thursdays and then continuing their celebration into the weekend by doing activities in Budapest and exploring the Hungarian countryside!


You may be met with some reactions of surprise when you announce your wedding day, try not to take it personally. It is doubtful that everyone will be able to attend but they should understand that this is your big day. It’s okay to be a little selfish in this situation, especially if you both are financing your wedding  and trying to reduce costs.

You will never be able to please everyone, so put your happiness first when deciding your wedding date. If you feel good with your choice then it will ultimately set your wedding planning off to a positive start!