Bride Vs Groom » Wedding Experiences & Guidance for the Bride & Groom

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Well, we’ve been talking an awful lot about the First Look this week and we couldn’t resist featuring as our story frame one frame from Zara & Rich’s epic first look overlooking the sea. It’s a moment of quiet contemplation and nervous anticipation for Rich and one that stopped Zara in her tracks as she paused to take a breath before continuing on to see her soon-to-be husband. Perfect.
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The receiving line: the traditional method of greeting each guest as they prepare to sit down and enjoy the wedding breakfast. But is it the most efficient way to make sure you’ve greeted each and every guest or simply a waste of time? Let’s see what our expert debaters make of it…


In the Red Corner, arguing against the formal receiving line, well she never did quite understand the British love of queuing after all, it’s Dom “The Tog Bride”

In the Blue Corner, arguing for the receiving line, although come to think of it he is only really happy to stand in line if he gets fish & chips at the end of it… it’s  Matt “The Gormless Groom”

Receiving Line Vs Just Take a Seat


Dom: Receiving lines can be hugely time consuming and often you don’t even get to say more than a quick hello to each person anyway as even if you only spend a minute with each guest, if you have 60 guests that’s already an hour of your day taken up and means the people at the back will have been waiting longer than most rides at Alton Towers!

Matt: But even if the conversation is nothing more than a hello you can be sure you have at least spoken to every one of your guests whereas otherwise you might well miss people completely.

Dom: Really the only sensible time to have a receiving line is before the meal when everyone is hungry and just wants to sit down and eat rather than have to wait to be formally introduced. Plus by that point you’ve probably already spoken to a lot of your guests, is there any need to re-introduce yourself more formally?

Matt: Receiving lines give your parents a chance to be introduced to all of your friends, many of whom they may never have met and also helps introduce the bride and groom to some of their guest’s partners who they may not previously have met or even friends of the bride that the groom doesn’t know and vice versa.

Dom: Whilst the receiving line often starts with nice chats with all the guests, by the end it can easily become a case of trying to push people through as fast as possible which isn’t particularly enjoyable for the people further back or for the members of the receiving line themselves who by that point are generally pretty tired of hugs and handshakes and looking forward to sitting down!

Matt: The day goes by so fast and it’s nice to make sure you’ve at least taken some time to speak to each of your guests and if it doesn’t happen at the receiving line you can end up spending your whole evening being pulled aside to say hello to different people without getting the chance to relax and cut loose.

Dom: Whilst the guests may appreciate the sentiment of wanting to make sure you’ve spoken to each of them, after already potentially had to stand around waiting for group photos and having probably not eaten yet they’d probably appreciate being able to sit down and eat more!

Matt: The receiving line is a long-held wedding tradition and, when you have 50 guests or more, is considered good etiquette and the polite thing to do.

Dom: It’s very difficult to judge how long a receiving line is going to take and that can cause big problems for the caterers trying to judge when to have the food ready. It also adds extra nerves for the speakers who may be wanting to get their speech over and done with.

Matt: If you’re looking for a classic traditional, elegant wedding then a formal receiving formal line is very in keeping and helps set the tone for the evening

So those are our thoughts but where do you stand? Leave a comment or place your vote below!

Receiving Line Vs Just Take a Seat
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Well, after a few technical hitches on Wednesday we decided to give you a little more chance to have a read all about Matt’s views on the first look and why it’s worth considering. But it got me thinking about a post I wrote some time ago all about the first look and, as it’s officially #throwbackthursday, we thought we’d keep in the first look spirit and share it with you once again! So here we go with one of what we like to call our “classic” posts…

Wedding First LookWhen I wrote my piece last week on letting go and giving 100% to your wedding photographer, I was stunned and delighted by the reaction. So many wedding photographers and bloggers retweeted and shared it I was jumping up and down with excitement! It was just awesome that so many people found it helpful but it did lead on to another question that I didn’t expect… so many brides-to-be emailed and tweeted me the same question…

WHAT is a First Look?

First Look by Ed Peers PhotographyAs a wedding photographer I almost forget that a First Look isn’t a common and immediately understood household term. When you are working in the industry it’s so easy to get caught up in that assumption and just expect everyone else to sleep, breathe and ummm eat weddings! First looks are most definitely still not common in this country and in fact even as a wedding photographer I am personally yet to photograph one as seeing your partner for the first time whilst walking down the aisle is still the traditional thing to do.

Now this post is most definitely not a declaration that every bride and groom in the UK should do a First Look! But I do want to give you the facts so you can make up your own mind… every couple is different and who knows, the first look might just be the perfect solution for you!

So the First Look originated in the USA and is a fairly new idea for your wedding, it has been championed by USA photographers like Jasmine Star and has risen in popularity over the last few years. The idea of a first look is for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding in a private spot organised normally by their wedding photographer. The first look can take place anywhere but it needs to be somewhere which is secluded (you don’t want to run in to any of your guests in your wedding gear!) and preferably somewhere in a gorgeous location so that the photographs will be doubly as beautiful!

Now being primarily a documentary wedding photographer myself it may have risen a few eyebrows that Matt and I decided on a first look. Most people would probably have expected us to go with the pure documentary approach and it certainly was a pretty out-there decision… especially as it was the day before! But we chose to go for it as we knew we had only one day of beautiful sunshine and we really wanted to take advantage of it! But there were other reasons to choose to have a First Look and, with the benefit of hindsight…

I would still have had the first look even if it had been gloriously sunny all week.

Bride and Groom First LookIn a normal traditional wedding ceremony, when the groom sees his bride for the first time it’s a wonderfully magical moment there is no denying it. But magical as it may be it does, sadly, last just seconds. Before you have a chance to even properly look at each other you are asked to start the ceremony and then honestly the day is such a whirlwind before you know it it’s 10pm and, if you’re not careful, you’ve not had any time alone with your new husband at all.

The First Look enables you to have as long as you want alone with the man you’re about to marry (well… alone aside from a stealthy, ninja photographer!) I was honestly so lost in the moment that our photographer Ed managed to creep right up to Matt’s shoulder before I had even registered he was there! The photographs he took of that moment are so incredibly precious; you can see the expression on Matt’s face when he first sets his eyes upon me and it gets me every time! I really will treasure it forever. It is documentary in it’s own way, it may start off as a posed concept but when you tap your husband-to-be on the shoulder and he turns around and see his face… wow!.

It most definitely felt real to me.

The other point in considering a first look is the extra time you get to have your photograph taken. Now if you’re not into photographic portraiture then the First Look might not be for you, and that’s absolutely fine. If you don’t want the big set pieces of your wedding day and want to purely avoid the cameras and pretend they don’t exist until you get those pictures back then that’s exactly what you should do, and you’re more likely to really get the best out of seeing your partner at the head of the aisle.

If, however, posed photographs of you and your husband are something that’s very important to you and you long for the big epic canvases of you both hanging proudly over the fireplace then you should definitely consider the First Look.

The First Look gives you more time to take photographs in places that it would normally be impossible to reach after the ceremony, gives your photographer full rein to really exercise their creative potential and allows them to explore ideas that just aren’t possible to squeeze in between the ceremony, groups, confetti, guests and dinner! The First Look is also really quite relaxing and a lot of fun; you’re not worrying about keeping your guests waiting, you are both just in the moment excited about the prospect of things to come and buzzing from all the adrenaline! We got so many wonderful photographs from our first look and the portraiture afterwards that we simply wouldn’t swap for the world. Don’t get me wrong, we also did get some fantastic posed images on the day of the wedding too (the storm didn’t hit until we were safely inside for the reception!) but we didn’t have to spend our wedding day running around trying to get variety in the shots, and we weren’t kept away from our guests and the wedding itself for long periods which was a lovely position to be in.

The shots taken in the mountains and in the mist would have been impossible to get on the wedding day itself and they have proved to be some of our favourite pictures from the entire wedding gallery. Every time I look at them they make me smile and fill my heart with glee knowing that we definitely made the right choice and I couldn’t be happier about it.

There is no doubting that by having a First Look you do give up something: walking down the aisle to see your groom for the first time moments before you become husband and wife is special. But as a bride who walked down the aisle twice (having completed the legalities in a UK civil ceremony as well as our Destination Wedding) I know that for me the most special part was tapping my man and husband-to-be on the shoulder on that incredible cliff-top over looking the sea and seeing his look for the first time when he saw me in my dress not for one second but for ten whole minutes.

It’s a moment you need time to take in and a moment you will truly remember forever.

Wedding photography by Ed Peers

If you’d like to hear more about the arguments for and against the First Look check out our Friday Fight-Out post on the topic here!

All images courtesy Ed Peers Photography

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  • Kayleigh Herbertson - October 3, 2014 - 12:48 pm

    Have to say, my first take on this was “no, no way” but hearing your experience has made this something I’ll probably consider. I’m so afraid I’m going to cry at my wedding I’d honestly just be concerned at wasting the money for a load of photos I won’t want to look at.ReplyCancel

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matt-avatar WhitenedAfter the big day it seems for most couples their memories of the wedding become a blur of happiness and emotion and whilst the details may become less clear over time there are always certain stand-out moments that will never fade from your mind. For me the biggest of these was the first look.

The first look is an idea seen relatively rarely in the UK but one that in our opinion is always worth considering. For those unfamiliar with the concept the idea is for the bride and groom to see each other in their wedding attire for the first time in a private moment away from prying eyes rather than solely as the bride reaches the groom at the head of the aisle. It’s an idea that, whilst sounding intriguing and potentially a good idea for some couples, I was pretty sure wasn’t really for me.

In the build up to our wedding the moment I was most looking forward to by far was turning around to see my beautiful bride walking towards me with our friends and family looking on, knowing that we would soon be husband and wife. The idea of already having seen each other before that moment had little appeal to me as surely that would ruin the one moment I couldn’t wait for amongst all the stress and expense of planning a wedding.

I was wrong.

Our first look came about almost accidentally. Having decided to have our wedding on a beautiful island we were gutted to discover that a tropical storm was due to hit on the day of our wedding. As the photographs were one of the most important things to us and it looked like the shots we had dreamed of were going to become impossible on the day we decided the only way forward was to do a photo-shoot in the beautiful weather of the day before. If we wanted to have those shots in our wedding outfits though that meant a first look became inevitable. Seeing little other choice I reluctantly agreed and so I found myself high on the cliff tops looking out to sea awaiting the arrival of the most beautiful bride I would ever see.

Despite my trepidation at the thought of spoiling the entrance of the bride in the church, the first look turned out to be far and away my most perfect memory from the day and one that didn’t actually have any effect on the way I felt when I saw her in her dress for the second time at the doors of the church. As she walked up the aisle my excitement and emotion was focussed on the excitement of what was about to happen, but I was so grateful that the first look had allowed me the time to fully take in the incredibly emotional and exciting experience of seeing her for the first time. In the church there was no time to truly live the moment – once she was beside me the ceremony began immediately, but at the first look we had all the time in the world to be together for a private, incredible moment without holding back our emotions.

So if you haven’t considered a first look it’s definitely worth thinking about, it might just become your favourite moment from your wedding, particularly if you ensure that you truly mark the occasion with the perfect location and the time to enjoy it fully. I for one have the picture of our first look hanging proudly on our wall and think about it regularly.

But sometimes a picture’s worth a thousand words and I think there’s no better way to tell you what a first look is all about than to share with you the photos from Zara & Rich’s incredible first look that took place in a beautiful, secluded spot on the Yorkshire Coast. The looks on the faces of this unbelievably happy pair tells you everything you need to know about what a first look truly can be.


Photos by York Place Studios

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Over the last several weeks we’ve been sharing with you some fantastically tasty DIY wedding cake ideas and today it’s time for our final (for now at least!) recipe from the folks at We’ve had Candy, buttercream, berries and Peekaboo layered cakes and this week we have some rather festive flagged cakes for your wedding favours! So get the oven warming, make sure you have all the ingredients and ready, steady, BAKE!!!


A cupcake display takes the hassle out of serving your wedding cake. No cutting, plating, or utensils needed! The best thing is while you’re usually limited to two or three flavors in a wedding cake, with cupcakes, you can easily make a wide variety of flavors to satisfy everybody’s tastes. Chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting? Why not. Vanilla with strawberry? Sounds delicious. Red velvet with cream cheese? Yes, please! But don’t forget—decorating is one of the most important details. Get our easy step-by-step instructions for making these charming cupcake flags below.

​Cost: about $1 per cupcake (about 62p)

Serves: 1 cupcake per person


  1. Cupcakes
  2. Buttercream frosting
  3. Toothpicks
  4. Non-toxic, multi-purpose glue (such as Elmer’s)
  5. Patterned or scrapbook paper


  1. Using an offset spatula, frost each cupcake with about 2 tablespoons of buttercream frosting. Be sure the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.
  2. To create the paper flags, cut patterned paper into strips about 1/2-inch wide and 3-inches long. Fold each piece of paper in half, and then secure to a toothpick using a small dab of glue in the crease. For a double flag, fold the paper so they are not perfectly overlapping. Trim the edges of the flags to create forked tips.
  3. Stick one or several paper flags into each cupcake.
  4. Use items you already have to display the cupcakes, but try to stay within a theme. For example, we used a mix of galvanized planters, trays, and potted plants. A mix of elevations will add visual interest to your cupcake display.

Our Cake & Frosting Recipe Picks
​Many grocery stores and bakeries will let you purchase baked, unfrosted cupcakes, but if you’re handy in the kitchen, it’s easy to bake a batch (or several) yourself! We love Add a Pinch’s recipe for chocolate cupcakes.

Savory Sweet Life has a scrumptiously simple recipe for Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. For a snow white version, try substituting the unsalted butter for shortening and adding a 1/2 teaspoon of butter flavoring. Using clear vanilla extract and butter flavoring will also help prevent your frosting from becoming slightly tinted.

TOP TIP: Make your cupcakes extra-special by filling them with a delicious surprise. Use an apple corer to remove a small bit of cake, and then fill the cavity with jam, custard, ganache, or mousse. Yum!



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