5 Reasons Why You Should Do a First Look

I’m a HUGE fan of shooting a couple’s first look on their wedding day. Some couples may not know what a ‘first look’ is. This is when the couple chooses to see each other before the wedding ceremony and their photographer is there to document it. Those tender, magical moments are priceless. I do understand that many couples still prefer to stick with tradition and not see each other until the wedding ceremony. However, please hear me out by reading about 5 reasons why you should do a first look on your wedding day.

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1. Share a Tender Moment Together

Imagine seeing your beautiful bride or handsome groom for the first time with no one else around, (except for your photographer documenting this tender moment). You can say whatever you want to each other and share in a special moment before the wedding ceremony. Most couples get teary eyed when they see each other. And why not, as it’s the most important day in their lives together. It’s really very touching to see people with their hearts on their sleave at that moment.

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2. It Relieves Stress

Most couples are beyond stressed on the day of their wedding. When they do a first look and see each other for the first time, it helps to calm their nerves when they embrance and get to say some loving words to each other. This helps to cut the tension before the wedding ceremony. And talk about being in the moment!

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3. You look your best

When you schedule your first look (and subsequently the formal portraits) before the ceremony, you’ll look your best in your formal photos. This is because you haven’t been sweating in your clothes for hours or been crying through the ceremony. And your family members will also look their best for the formal portraits for the exact same reasons. (P.S. The flowers won’t have started wilting yet!)

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4. More photos of you!

That’s right. You’ll end up getting a lot more photos of the two of you. If you’re paying a professional photographer to take photos, why not maximize the amount of photos that you’ll get. Just imagine how amazing your wedding album will look (or wall portaits) with so many beautiful photos to choose from.

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5. More Time to Spend with Guests

When couples schedule a ‘first look’, they need to make sure to have enough time scheduled to also shoot the formal portrait session right after the first look. That way we get all of the family and wedding party photos taken care of BEFORE the ceremony. This leaves the couple more time to spend with their guests after the ceremony, instead of leaving for a couple of hours to shoot their formal portraits. AND, the guests don’t have to twiddle their thumbs for a couple of hours between the ceremony and reception. It ends up being a nice win-win scenario.

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I’ve given my 5 reasons of why you should do a first look on your wedding day. However, this sort of thing is not everyone’s cup of tea. No worries if you don’t want to do a first look on your wedding day. I’ll work with you on the sort of timeline you would like to do for your wedding photos. I can only give suggestions and the final say is up to you.

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Are you newly engaged? Are you currently on the hunt for a wedding photographer? I’d love to hear from you! Contact me through my contact page and request my wedding photography pricing guide. And if you like what you see, we can also set up a time to meet. I look forward to hearing from you.

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2020 Ottawa Wedding Photo Deal

Happy New Year everyone! Since the new year has begun and I still have a few spaces left on my calendar for 2020 weddings, I thought I’d offer a 2020 Ottawa wedding photo deal. Here’s the scoop:

For any couples who book a wedding photo package with me by the end of February 2020, you’ll receive 1 extra hour of photography coverage on your wedding day at no extra cost. For example, if you book an eight hour photo package, you’ll actually receive nine hours of wedding photography coverage.

2020 Ottawa Wedding Photo Deal

Disclaimer:  This 2020 Ottawa wedding photo deal is available only for wedding clients who sign a contract with me in January or February 2020. AND your wedding must take place in 2020. This offer cannot be applied to any clients who have already signed a contract with Black Lamb Photography.

Contact me to get my wedding pricing guide. I look forward to  hearing from you. In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying 2020.

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Experimental Farm Winter Maternity

Experimental Farm Winter Maternity Photos

A few months ago I shot some Experimental farm winter maternity photos. These two lovelies were fantastic to work with. They were easy going and fun to work with.

The day wasn’t too cold and the sun came out halfway through the shoot. So, at least we weren’t freezing during the photo session. I liked their cute Icelandic sweaters that they wore. (They’ve visited Iceland too. I’m jealous.) The sweaters gave a nice homey touch to their pictures.

As with most of my clients, they were nervous to get their pictures taken. However, they soon warmed up for the camera and I was able to get some nice shots of them. Now, if this winter weather could be over soon, I’d be happy about that. For now, you can enjoy looking at these photos in the comfort of your heated home or office. Have a great day. 🙂

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For those who are currently expecting, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me to book your photo session. If you’re just visiting because you’re looking for ideas for your own maternity session, you can read these helpful blog posts:

If you’re on the fence about booking a maternity session, you can take a peek at some of my past maternity photo shoots to see if this is something that you’d like to do. Whether you book with me or not, I highly suggest that you do a maternity photo session. You won’t regret it. It’s a beautiful way to document this wonderful time in your life. But for now, you can take a peek at these past pregnancy photo shoots:

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Winter Arboretum Pregnancy Photos

Winter Pregnancy Photos at the Ottawa Arboretum

Last month I shot some winter Arboretum pregnancy photos with this lovely couple. I was kind of apprehensive to shoot at the Arboretum in the winter, since it’s closed off for the season. I don’t want to put any of my pregnant clients in jeapardy, in case they slip and hurt themselves or their baby. However, this lady is an avid hiker, so this was easy for her. In fact, she already took her dog for a walk here a few days before to scout the location herself.

It was fairly mild and I’m glad there was some snow on the ground. It always gives a dreamy look for a backdground. And snow also helped them to pop out against the landscape. All in all, it was a pretty location with nice lighting (thank you clouds!). I got some really nice photos of them.

Props matter

I liked the unique props they included in their maternity photo session, like the amathest rock to signify their child’s birth stone. I also liked the little Christmas ornament that they can hang on the tree each year as a momento of their little one. It’s those little details that make a photo shoot more personal.

It was a pleasure to work with these two. I look forward to meeting their little one when he or she is born as I’ll be shooting their newborn photo session.

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Maternity sessions are one of my favourite photo sessions to do. If you’re pregnant, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email to book your photo session. 

If you’re on the fence about booking a maternity session, you can take a peek at some of my past maternity photo shoots to see if this is something that you’d like to do:

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Ottawa Museum of Nature Wedding

James & Stephanie’s Ottawa Museum of Nature Wedding

This past September I shot James and Stephanie’s Ottawa Museum of Nature wedding. I’ve been wanting to shoot a wedding inside the Museum of Nature for a number of years. So, I was super happy when Stephanie first contacted me and wrote that that’s where they were getting married.

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These birds of a feather stick together

I met James and his posse at the museum and we shot their photos until Stephanie and the girls arrived. Then we did something I’ve never done before–we did a first look, which also included the wedding party being right there. Normally, I just take photos of the couple in a remote spot, so that they can have their private moment together. However, I learned later on at the reception that these guys all hung out together in university, so that’s why they were all included in that special moment.

We then shot all of the formal portraits, before everyone headed inside for the ceremony. Their wedding ceremony was held in the Queen’s Lanter, which is so beautiful and has lots of natural light. It was a beautiful ceremony with a mixture of laughs and tears of happiness–my kind of wedding.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were filled with lots of fun and laughter. These professed nerds know how to have a good time.

It was a pleasure to be able to document James and Steph’s beautiful wedding festivities. May your new lives together be filled with much love and laughter. 🙂

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Ottawa Wedding Vendors

Stephanie and James’ beautiful wedding day was made possible by the following wedding vendors:

I hope that you enjoyed viewing Stephanie and James’ wedding photos. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me and I’d be happy to send you my wedding pricing guide.

Check out their engagement photos

Finally, if you liked these photos, please check out their downtown Ottawa engagement photos by the canal. Its extra cute because they brought their adorable welsh corgi to be in some of the photos. Too cute!

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Planning the Wedding Day Timeline

Planning the Wedding Day Timeline

One of the most important things to help the wedding day run smoothly is planning the wedding day timeline. Most couples have never been married before, so they don’t know how much time to allot for things within the timeline. I`ve shot enough weddings to know what works and what doesn’t work in the flow of the wedding day. So, I figured that I’d give helpful suggestions to engaged couples of how to plan the flow of their wedding day timeline.

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In planning the wedding day timeline, one thing that most couples don’t understand is now much time is needed for photography. The more time you give for your formal photography time, the higher amount of beautiful photos you’ll receive. I`m not suggesting that you need to give four or five hours for formal portraits. However, I always tell my clients to make sure that there’s at least two hours devoted solely for the formal portaits. This includes family portraits, wedding party portraits and photos of the bride and groom.(If you’re doing a first look, include an additional 15-20 minutes in the formal portrait time.)

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Travel time and buffering

You must also calculate enough travel time between each location and add buffer time on top of that, in case of traffic or stragglers. For example, one couple sent me their timeline (before I revised it) and they gave zero minutes for buffer time. Their timeline had their formal portrait time end at 5:30 pm and their reception entrance (with them walking in as the newly married couple) begin at 5:30 pm. Even though we shot the formal photos at the reception site, how was that timeline even possible?!?!? People just don’t think about buffer and travel time.

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Most couples (including said couple) also don’t account for travel time from the church to the reception site (in their case, it was 20 minutes) as well as buffer time. I told this particular couple that there are always family members who straggle in. Sure enough about 1/3 of their family members were 30 minutes late in getting to the reception site for photos. The moral of this story is: be smart and add buffer time between everything. This also helps your photographer out because they need time to pack up their gear, transport it to the next location, unpack the gear and then get their settings and lighting correct to shoot the next part of the wedding day.

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Ceremony Length: 30 or 60 minutes?

You also need to know how long your ceremony will be. Typically, a religious wedding ceremony is an hour long, while a non-religious ceremony is about a half hour in length. You also need to know that after the ceremony, you’ll spend about 30 minutes with all of your guests congratulating you. If you don’t have time to spend with guests after your ceremony, have your wedding officiant announce near the end of the ceremony that you will be leaving right after the ceremony to get your formal photos taken and that they can congratulate you later at the reception.

Cocktail Hour

It’s also good to leave at least 45-60 minutes of buffer time before guests need to sit down for the reception. This will give you time to freshen up as well as have a drink with your guests and just relax. During this time, your photographer can take detail shots of the reception (decorations, cake, tables) as well as take photos of guests. This is why cocktail hour is a great thing to have in your wedding day timeline.

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Regular Wedding day timeline

My typical timeline (for 8 hours of coverage) would be something like this for a wedding day that has several locations:

  • 12:00-1:00 pm (getting ready photos, etc. I work with the bride/bridesmaids while my 2nd shooter works with the groom/groomsmen.)
  • 1:05-1:30 pm (pack up gear, leave getting ready site and head over to ceremony site)
  • 1:35-2:00 pm (unpack gear, get camera settings ready, photograph guests as they arrive)
  • 2:00-2:30 pm (ceremony) *Note: 2:00-3:00 pm for religious ceremony*
  • 2:30-3:00 pm (friends and family congratulating you)
  • 3:05-3:30 pm (pack up gear and head to park for formal shots)
  • 3:30-5:30 pm (formal portrait time: family portraits, wedding party and couple portraits)
  • 5:35-6:00 (pack up gear and head to reception location)
  • 6:15-6.45 pm (you enjoy cocktail hour/hors d’oeuvres with guests, while my 2nd shooter and myself take detail shots of the reception hall, decorations, cake, as well as photos of guests)
  • 7:00-8:00 pm (dinner and speeches)
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Wedding day timeline (everything at one venue)

For weddings that have everything take place at the same venue (getting ready, ceremony, portraits, reception), the timeline (for 8 hours of coverage) would be something like this:

  • 1:00-2:00 pm (getting ready photos, etc. I work with the bride/bridesmaids while my 2nd shooter works with the groom/groomsmen.)
  • 2:05-2:30 pm (take details of ceremony location, photograph guests as they arrive)
  • 2:30-3:00 pm (ceremony)
  • 3:00-3:25 pm (friends and family congratulating you)
  • 3:30-5:30 pm (formal portrait time: family portraits, wedding party and couple portraits)
  • 5:30-6:15 pm (you enjoy cocktail hour/hors d’oeuvres with guests, while my 2nd shooter and myself take detail shots of the reception hall, decorations, cake, as well as photos of guests)
  • 6:30-8:30 pm (dinner and speeches)
  • 8:30-8:45 pm (first dance, parent dances, beginning of party/dancing
  • 8:45 pm (cake cutting)
  • 9:00 pm (Event coverage finished)

Notice how much more of the timeline is able to be covered when there`s no travel time? I love, love, love wedding venues that can do everything on site. You don’t have to waste time packing and unpacking gear at each location and to drive from one place to another. (Thats why I think wedding venues like Stonefields, Evermore, Strathmere and LeBelvédère are fantastic venues to get married at.)

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Wedding day timeline (First look timeline)

More and more couples are opting to do a first look in order to lessen the amount of time that their guests have to wait between the ceremony and reception. I love shooting the first look. It`s a special time that the couple can see each other privately before the wedding ceremony. They’re always wonderful to photograph. Check out the timeline for doing the first look and portraits before the wedding ceremony.

  • 12:30-12:50 pm (First look photos and a some photos of the couple)
  • 12:55-2:45 pm (formal portrait time: family portraits, wedding party and couple portraits)
  • 2:50-3:25 pm (pack up gear, head to next location, unpack gear, get camera settings ready, photograph guests as they arrive)
  • 3:30-4:00 pm (ceremony) *Note: 3:30-4:30 pm for religious ceremony*
  • 4:00-4:30 pm (friends and family congratulating you)
  • 4:35-5:00 pm (pack up gear and head to reception venue)
  • 5:00-5:45 pm (you enjoy cocktail hour/hors d’oeuvres with guests, while my 2nd shooter and myself take detail shots of the reception hall, decorations, cake, as well as photos of guests)
  • 6:00-8:00 pm (dinner and speeches)
  • 8:10-8:30 pm (first dance, parent dances, beginning of party/dancing
  • 8:30 pm (Event coverage finished)
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Save 30 minutes in your wedding timeline

Finally, in planning the wedding day timeline, you can save 30 minutes by having your wedding officiant announce during the ceremony that the couple will be heading straight to the reception venue and so all guests should head to the reception venue. Then they can congratulate you during the cocktail hour. By doing this, you will be able to either have your one hour reglious ceremony and not have it affect your timeline, or you can have an extra 30 minutes in your timeline to start your reception 30 minutes earlier. Thus, the dinner can begin at 5:30 pm, which will give an extra 30 minutes for reception/dancing photo coverage.

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Contact me for my pricing guide

I love shooting weddings and I’d love to hear from you if you’re looking to book a wedding photographer. Contact me for my wedding photography pricing guide. All of my regular wedding photography packages include two professional photographers, a complimentary engagement photo session and a custom USB of your edited wedding images.

If you found this blog post was helpful, you might like the following:

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A Bicycle Built for Two

Mark & Felicity’s Wedding

Ok, so a bicycle built for two wedding was a bit misleading. However, there were two bicycles involved (well, three to be exact). I digress. So, about four months ago, I shot Felicity and Mark’s Ottawa wedding at the Rideau Sports Centre.

It was a beautiful sunny day. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot either because I had Felicity and Mark ride and walk their bikes for lots of photos. I loved how Felicity’s wedding dress was both beautiful and functional. The skirt was short enough as well as loose enough to allow for her to ride a bike. And her vintage style shoes were still able to allow for her to push the bike pedals, rather than unfunctional high heels. Awesome!

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‘Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do
I’m half crazy,
All for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage
But you’ll look sweet
Upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.’

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When Felicty first contacted me and told me that she and Mark are avid cyclists and that they wanted to incorporate their bikes into their wedding, I was all over that idea. And I was doubly excited when they said that they’d also have a two man bicycle to ride for some of the photos. (Apparently, it’s a lot harder to ride a two person bike than I previously thought.) With all of these bikes, Felicity was adamant that this was not a bike themed wedding. As to whether it was or wasn’t bike themed, I’ll let my viewers be the judge.

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Finally, I just wanted to say that their reception was awesome because they had a live band play the whole night. They played ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond, and I swear for the following week I had that wonderful chorus in my head. Yaassss!!! I had a fantastic time photographing their wedding. Congrats Mark and Felicity. It was a pleasure to be your photographer. 🙂

Ottawa Wedding Vendors

Their wedding day was made possible by the following Ottawa area vendors:

If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, or know of someone looking for a photographer, I’d love to hear from you (or you can just pass on my info to the person who needs my type of services.) Drop me a line anytime and I’ll be sure to get back to you right away.

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In the meantime, please check out Felicity and Mark’s cycling engagement session in Ottawa.

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ALE Amberwood Lounge Wedding

Chris & Rahel’s ALE Amberwood Lounge & Eatery Wedding

This past September I shot Chris and Rahel’s ALE Amberwood Lounge Wedding. I’ve never shot at Amberwood Lound & Eatery before, but I must say that it’s quite a pretty wedding venue in the Ottawa area. The restaurant is beautiful inside and the golf course is pretty, with some large weeping willows that were perfect for some outdoor photos

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We were blessed that the rains from the morning finished before their wedding began. It was pretty windy, but still managable for an outdoor wedding on the terrace. Afterwards we ventured out on the golf course for portraits. It was my first time having to wait between tee offs in order to take photos, but we managed well enough. There really were some beautiful spots around the golf course and the restaurant.

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Harry Potter Theme

Rahel is a HUGE Harry Potter fan. So, why not have a Harry Potter themed wedding. Some of the Harry Potter elements included were: a Platform 9¾ photobooth area, centre pieces, flying keys wedding favours, Harry Potter paper flowers in the bouquets, potions at the bar, mirror of Erised seating chart, directional sign post, guestbook table and marauder map footprints. There was also the owl, Hedwig (at least I think so). And my goodnes, the gorgeous cake had some golden snitches on it. It was pretty cool to see so many elements throughout. And from what I hear they had a Harry Potter themed potion drink from the bar. How cool is that?

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The Food

I’ve eaten a lot of wedding food over the years, but I gotta say that Amberwood’s food is excellent. I mean, the starter was pear salad with candied nuts, goat cheese, butter lettuce and champagne drizzle. Hello! Yes!!!! Next was roasted heirloom tomato bisque with basil relish and grilled cheese. For an extree I had the chicken dinner and it had this amazing sweet chili sauce on it. It was SO good!

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The Dancing

This was my first time shooting a wedding with Ethiopian dancing in it. Pretty much everyone got up on the dance floor to try out traditional Ethiopian/Eritrean dancing. It was pretty cool to see. There was even one part in which Chris and Rahel were dancing under a shawl canopy. It was all so different and so beautiful to see. I like when people include cultural elements into their weddings.

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Ottawa Wedding Vendors

Chris and Rahel’s beautiful wedding day was brought together by the following Ottawa talent:

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Please be sure to check out Chris and Rahel’s Ottawa arboretum engagement photo session that we shot last summer. For anyone who is engaged, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me and I can send you my wedding photography pricing guide.

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