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  • Joe and Jenny

Grove Park Inn First Look session: Jean + Wes

Updated: Mar 12

bride and groom holding hands and walking at the grove park inn

I know what you’re thinking, “First look? Where’s the rest of the wedding!?” Funny you should ask. It’s something we’ve briefly touched on in the past but Jean and Wes actually did it which was AWESOME and they added an element of excitement by also doing a first look on this special day. Some couples, due to a super tight timeline, lack of daylight, or not wanting to be pulled away from their guests too long (or a combination of all of those reasons) have been opting to do their couples portraits in their full wedding attire long before their big day actually arrives. Depending what you are reading or who you’re listening to, sometimes they call it a wedding portrait session, first look sessions, pre wedding sessions, or sometimes they get lumped in with bridal sessions. Whatever you decide to call them is cool, we just think they are awesome! While we are going to be highlighting Wes and Jean’s first look session at The Grove Park Inn, we will be discussing some of the reasons you may want to consider going this route for your wedding!

Ultimately it comes down to how everything will time out on your special day! For Jean and Wes, they had a great timeline, and frankly an amazing wedding planner but they also had to deal with the early sunsets this time of year in Asheville. Often times due to venue guidelines or timing of things like dinner, etc. things don’t always time out for the best lighting, or in some cases, any lighting. It’s not always something you can just say “Hey, we will just move everything up 3 hours to make time for blank,” (in a perfect world!). If you find yourself in a situation like this where there’s likely just not going to be enough light in the day, one option is to consider doing a first look session on a separate day.

bride's veil floating as the bride and groom holding each other in front of the grove park inn
bride and groom laughing while looking at each other
bridal portrait in front of the grove park inn

Think about this, an average full day wedding of 8 hours (480 minutes), on a good day with the right couple, and the right timeline, etc. we will typically get around 30 minutes of couples portraits with the bride and groom. Do the math on that (no seriously!). In this scenario, the bride and groom only spend 6.25% of their entire wedding day timeline capturing photos of themselves together. Also consider this, just in our experience, we ask every couple in some way shape or form during consultations, “What photos are most important to you when it comes to your wedding day?” I can only remember 2 times in the past 3 1/2 years where the couple did NOT answer the couples portraits of us. When you think about it like that, 30 minutes suddenly seems a little light, and by a little we mean way light. Truth be told, we’re happy when we get at least 15-20 minutes on a wedding day as sometimes things move fast, timelines get off by a few, and as the bride and groom, your forced to make choices about your timeline. In most cases we see couples photos get cut short. Thankfully with both of us shooting we can usually capture a lot in a short amount of time, but if 15-30 minutes just isn’t what you have envisioned or you’re almost certain it won’t be enough time to hit all the spots you have planned at a large venue like The Grove Park Inn or The Biltmore, and you’re not able to work it into your timeline for whatever reason. Consider a wedding portrait session on a separate day.

There’s also the scenario where the timeline is set, you have a planner helping you manage the day, everything is solid, but you just don’t want to spend 30 minutes or more away from your guests. With the allure of great company (some who may have traveled far to be here), great food, great drinks, a fun venue, and possibly a live band, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to be pulled away from your wedding for too long, after all, this is your celebration! If you find yourself in this situation, a wedding session on a separate day can be a good solution where you have plenty of time for photos, but on your actual wedding day, you won’t feel pulled away from your loved ones, and the action!

silhouette of the bride and groom holding each other in a doorway
traditional portrait of the bride and groom smiling on the sunset terrace at the grove park inn
bride and groom holding hands on the stairs at the grove park inn
bride showing off her dress
bride and groom dip kissing in front of the grove park inn

We’ve seen all three of the above scenarios as reasons to take your couples portraits on a separate day, but after this year we also thought it would be good to cover one more scenarios which is inclement weather. This year Hurricane Florence forced a lot of couples to postpone or in some cases completely relocate their wedding. Now this may be a little extreme in the example of a hurricane, but if you’re getting close to your wedding day and it’s looking like a 90-100% chance of rain all day on your wedding day, having your couples portraits on a separate day may be a great option to make sure you get them. We’ve seen most venues be as flexible as possible with couples when setting up a time they can come back out after this happens or in some cases beforehand to make sure they get some beautiful photos in their wedding attire.

bride and groom smiling at each other while holding hands
bride and groom laughing as the groom whispers in her ear
bride's hands wrapped around the groom's neck
bride and groom laughing as the groom hugs her from behind

As your wedding day approaches we would encourage you to think about this idea. While it’s definitely not for everyone, and totally breaks tradition, it is something we’ve seen more and more of in the past few years. It allows you to be a bit more flexible with your time, and our favorite reason, it allows more time for photos :)

-Joe & Jenny

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