The First Look: A Raleigh Wedding Planner’s Guide

Feature photo by Riley MacLean Weddings. Knots ‘N Such is a Raleigh wedding planner.


Wherever you are in your wedding planning process, a question that is going to come up in discussion is how are you going to answer, “First look or no look?” Tradition has taken an evolution in the last few years, so here are three popular options to help you navigate that discussion!


Traditional Traditions


The tradition of not seeing the bride before she walks down the aisle is mostly superstition. Its origin is supposedly from arranged marriages, but the idea is that it is bad luck. This aside, it certainly has its pros and cons!


  • The emotional build-up
  • Extra time to get ready
  • Sharing the big reveal with friends and family
  • Less chance of ruining your dress

  • Lacks intimacy
  • Slightly more nerve-wracking
  • Heightened expectations
  • Requires perfect timing


Raleigh Wedding Planner & Florist

Photo by Lauren V. Allen Photography


The Modern Moment


The modern moment that more brides are choosing is the private first look prior to the ceremony. This is a newer evolution on the older tradition where, with the photographer, the couple have a grand but private meeting. This may be at the ceremony space or in a pre-planned meeting of choice. The photographer prepares the groom in place and then guides the bride to be prepared for the big “turn around” moment. Some couples choose to exchange gifts now, some couples just exchange embraces. They make this moment work for them and allow a moment to “breathe” before the wedding itself.


  • A calm moment of intimacy
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Saves time on after ceremony/cocktail hour photos of the couple
  • Gorgeous portraits filled with genuine emotion, minus the pressures of family

  • Earlier preparation time
  • Tighter schedule with less flex time included
  • The dress has a higher risk of damage with prolonged exposure prior to the ceremony


Bride & groom portrait

Photo by JB Haygood Photography


The “No-Look” First Look


There is one final mid meeting point between tradition and modern. The “no look, first look” or what I call the “first touch”, where the bride and groom still have a private meeting time, just without physically seeing each other, possibly holding hands around the corner or having some other element of decoration as the separation. This is a great way to combine tradition and modern styles, and definitely a conversation to have with your photographer if you are struggling with fully choosing either side.


Raleigh Wedding Planner & Florist

Photo by ASB Photography


There is a moment in planning where decisions must be made, and believe me when I tell you, everyone will have an opinion. Ultimately what it comes down to is: what works for you as a couple, what makes sense with your personalities?  At the end of the day, you are married, so this is just one small step toward the grand finale! Whatever you choose, your groom will definitely be at a loss for words to describe your beauty!




PBD Coordinator

Groom and Groomsmen Attire – Tips from a Raleigh Wedding Planner

Feature photo by Riley McLean Weddings. Knots ‘N Such is a Raleigh area wedding planner & florist.

I’ve seen my fair share of brightly colored wedding attire over the years and I am not just speaking of the bridesmaids. Brightly colored vests among the groom and groomsmen seems to linger and always takes me back to my teen years when my older brother work a hot pink cumber-bun and bow tie with his gray tux. However,  I am here to assure you that there is nothing wrong with going classic instead. In fact, classic style is making a much needed come back.  A simple 2 or 3-piece suit paired with a neutral button up is simple and elegant….dashing even. If you desire color, there are ways to incorporate flourishes without going over the top.  The bride and groom’s attire should complement each other, as should the groomsmen and bridesmaids. The wedding party is a reflection of the happy couple, but this does not mean that the men must all match and look uniform; on the contrary, having suits that all match could be seen staged and not as natural. Here are some tips from a Raleigh wedding planner to consider when choosing the guys’ attire. 


Raleigh Wedding Planner & Florist

Les Atkins Photography

The most common reason to use color among the men of the wedding party is the style and wedding color palette. However, there are other ways to bring pops of that desired color into the attire without sacrificing that classic look and comfort. Consider a colorful boutonniere, tie, pocket square or cuff-links. These accessories can add just enough flare to draw the eye and pull the whole look together.

 When and Where:

McCardell Photography

Will the wedding be outdoor or in? What season will you choose for your big day? What climate is common for that time of year? These are important details to consider when choosing the Groom and Groomsmen’s attire as well. For instance, as a Raleigh wedding planner, I have planned my share of  spring weddings in  North Carolina. The weather is warm and the couple usually wants an outdoor ceremony to mark the season and the occasion. A vest may add an unnecessary layer in the NC heat. So choose light weight and light colors for warmer months. Choose dark and rich items for cooler months. Keep in mind… More often than not, the bride has a change of attire as the night goes on, and the groom will most likely take off his jacket to be more comfortable. And that’s okay once the I do’s are over!


Raleigh Wedding Planner & Florist

Jocelyn & Ryan Photography

Last, but not least, let’s talk about personality. We all know about the mismatched bridesmaid dress trend in recent years – and I’m a fan! In a similar vein… If the groom and groomsmen wore matching suits, their personality wouldn’t shine through nearly as bright. They lose their individuality. Now, no one is saying that these fine gentlemen should upstage the bride. However, these men were chosen for a reason. It would be a shame to take away the personal touches that put them in this position in the first place. Let’s say they all wore a charcoal or navy colored suit, not matching… but similar.  You can always add personalized details to each that represents who they are. If all of their suits did not match perfectly, and the colors were more simple and regal, the appearance of the wedding party will appear more relaxed, at ease, thus providing the perfect atmosphere  and the potential for some amazing wedding pictures.

A wedding is more than just being flashy and making everything memorable.  A wedding is a compromise, the beginning of a lifelong agreement to always talk things out, no matter how difficult.  Agreeing on wedding attire is a good place to start, especially when going for a timeless look that will still look good fifty years from now.

To see examples of my design work and for inspiration, please visit the Poppy Belle Design Gallery to see examples of groom and groomsmen attire. Interested in what I can do for your wedding? Contact me here!