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  • Meet Caroline

    A few things you should know about me...I am passionate about creating wedding photos that are natural, romantic and timeless. My approach to portrait time is to create timeless imagery that captures you two and your unique love in an honest, but gorgeously composed way that looks almost candid. Not a model? No problem! I believe it's a photographer's job, not yours to help you look and feel comfortable in front of the camera! I work in both medium format film and some digital. Film because of its beautiful, soft, fine art qualities and perfect skin tones, and digital because of it's reliability in low light situations.

    In my spare time I read, write poetry, music and mentor other women. Brunch is my favorite meal of the day and my drink of choice is a French 75.

    But enough about me... I look forward to hearing more about you and your wedding plans!

FAQ: Should I Do A First Look On My Wedding Day?

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Mark’s ecstatic reaction when he saw Mara for the first time in her gorgeous Vera Wang gown was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

I often get asked why so many of my couples are doing first looks these days.  While I always leave it up to the bride and groom to decide what is the best fit for them and their wedding day, around 85% of my couples this year opted for a “first look.”  For those of you who don’t know what it is, a first look is the moment when the bride and groom see each other for the first time in a private before the ceremony.   If you are wondering if a first look is right for you, this post outlines some of the benefits and the common objections I hear.   Best of all, I get to share a testimony from a bride of mine about her experience.  Hopefully this post will help you decide whether or not a first look is the best choice for your unique wedding day.

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Christina and Alex’s tearful first look in the snow was incredibly heart-warming.

 4  Reasons To Consider A First Look

1.  It’s an Emotional, Romantic Moment You’ll Always Remember

It really is.  It’s important to me as your photographer that your first look is a genuine, relaxed real moment together – not a cheesy, gimmicky photo-opp.  After setting you guys in place, we stand back , allow the bride to walk up to the groom on her own time and give you both some space to share the special moment without interruption (we use long lenses to achieve this).   Many of my brides have told me later that this was one of their favorite memories from their wedding day.

2.  Getting Your Nerves Out

A lot of my couples have shared with me how nervous and anxious they were about the wedding day until they were together. What a great reason to see each other sooner rather than later, so you can start having fun!  Some of my more private couples feel that seeing each other for the first time is a personal, emotional moment that they’d prefer not to have in front of  hundreds of their friends.   These brides and grooms  know that on the altar are they more likely to hold back their tears and emotion anyways because they are uncomfortable expressing how they are really feeling with so many eyes on them.  The privacy of a first look allows them to show their real emotions to each other and still have it captured in photos.  Rather than feeling restricted by the formality of the ceremony, they can embrace, talk about how the day has gone so far, and the bride wants to hear the grooms’ initial reaction to how she looks.   Although a lot of my couples who cry during the  first look still cry again during the ceremony, they are able to go into the ceremony feeling more excitement than nervousness.

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Jim anxiously anticipating seeing Adrianna for the first time on their wintery wedding day at the Bowery Hotel.

3.  More Time with Your Guests + More Time With Each Other = A More Relaxed Wedding Day

Choosing to do a first look is the easiest way to guarantee a more relaxed wedding day.   When my couples chose to do a first look, the day often goes like this: The bride and groom get ready early in separate rooms.  They meet for their first look about 2 1/2 hours before the ceremony (depending on if transportation time needs to be added in).   They have an hour for portraits which usually allows us to get a wide variety of photos at a relaxed pace.  Then we take 45 minutes to an hour for family photos and bridal party photos.  Having that much time for photos allows everyone to be much more relaxed because if something goes wrong (a family member is late to portraits,  a bridesmaid’s dress rips etc) there is plenty of buffer time built in so no one needs to worry or feel rushed.   After all the formal pictures are done, my couple has thirty to forty-five minutes to rest and relax before the ceremony.  Not once during the day do they have to feel guilty or stressed or rushed to get back to their guests during photos, because photos are all done by the time guests arrive!   After the ceremony,  the bride and groom are free from photo obligations and can enjoy the entire wedding day with their guests.  The cocktail hour, the dinner and maybe even steal away for a little alone time to take in together how big of a moment this is.

4. More Photos and Better Photos

Unless you have a scheduled break of a few hours between the ceremony and reception,  not doing a first look generally means less time for photos.   My couples who don’t do a first look, almost always have to do  all their photos during cocktail hour and that means we have less than hour to get all of your family, bridal party and bride and groom portraits.  This means bride and groom portraits often get cut to as short as 15-20 minutes which means we have to stay very close to the ceremony and reception site.   When we have more time, we have options like taking a golf cart down to the property’s beach, driving to a nearby forest reserve, or taking  time to walk around the venue’s property and make full use of everything that your gorgeous venue has to offer.   It keeps the pace of portraits relaxed, which means you look and feel more relaxed too!  (For more ideas on how to help your wedding photographer give you the best possible photos check out THIS post.)

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What I love about first looks is that the couple often feels more free to express their truest emotions when alone than they do at the altar in front of all their friends.   David could barely contain his elation at seeing Lauren for the first time on their wedding day.

 

But before you take my word for it on the benefits of doing a first look,  let’s hear from Suanne, a past bride of mine whose first look photos still get me misty-eyed:

“When Perry and I decided to do a first look, it was entirely for practical purposes. Knowing we had a very full day, we wanted to fit our portraits in when they would be the most convenient for our guests. We hated going to weddings that had long gaps between the ceremony and reception. (Really, what ARE you supposed to do with that time if you’re from out of town anyway?) We also did not want to rush our photos or look stressed out. If our portraits waited until later in the day, the chance of us being late or needing to rush would be higher.  So a first look made a ton of sense to our efficiency-driven selves.

Once we did the first look, I was so thankful for the time we got to spend with each other before the day spiraled into blurs of people and schedules.  Perry and I are both introverts – our big wedding was going to take a toll on us, as much as we love all our guests!  The first look was our private chance to savor the moment, take it all in, and remind each other that we were in this together – now and for forever.  We could fully relax, re-energize, and encourage each other.  Seeing Perry made me less nervous about all the things to come.   And Caroline and her second shooter were perfect at being observers without intruding on the moment.  To this day, my favorite photographs and memories are of our little moment under the willow tree.”

Check out their adorable first look under a willow tree:

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A Few Common Objections to Doing a First Look

1. Tradition/ It’s “Bad Luck”

It’s understandable that growing up with this tradition many brides and grooms would feel torn.  They don’t want to break tradition, but they feel limited as it doesn’t allow them enough time with their guests or to get all the beautiful  photos they want.  Some of my couples that have more traditional weddings, think that the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding has spiritual significance behind it.  However, that’s not the case.  The tradition actually originates from the days of arranged marriages when two complete strangers were arranged to be married without meeting first, it came from a fear that the groom might be spooked by her appearance and call whole the thing off.  I guess that means it’s only bad luck to see the bride if you two have never seen each other before the wedding at all!

2. “I’m afraid a first look will lessen the emotion of the moment the groom sees the bride coming down the aisle”

This is the biggest objection I know – every bride dreams of walking down the aisle and seeing her normally self-controlled  husband, unable to contain his emotion and she’s concerned that seeing each other before will lessen the power of that moment.  I have never seen a couple be emotional during their first look, that then wasn’t during the ceremony.  In fact, most of the time my couples are even more emotional during the ceremony than they were during their first look.  What you have to take into consideration is, that moment between a bride and groom is emotional not because the groom is seeing his bride in her wedding dress for the first time but because of the incredible significance of what is happening: his future wife is walking towards him, about to pledge herself to him for the rest of her life and he’s about to make a commitment to do the same in front of all their closest family and friends.  It’s a powerful and moving moment regardless of whether or not he’s seen her in her wedding dress already.

Just to prove it to you, here are three emotive grooms who had already seen their brides earlier that day during the first look:

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Perry was trying to hold back tears as Suanne came towards him down the aisle.  It made no difference that they had seen each other just thirty minutes before.

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It’s not difficult to see the depths of emotion going through David’s mind as Lauren walked towards him down the aisle.

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Mark and Mara’s first look was full of laughter and tears and their ceremony was exactly the same!

 

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing so many other special first looks over the years – here are a few that came to mind and still make my heart melt:

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Jill can barely hold back tears as she sees James for the first time on their wedding day at Bryant Park Grill. . James face clearly says, “I can’t believe how lucky I am”

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N and T’s first look on the rooftop of the New York Palace Hotel looked straight out of an old-Hollywood movie. I love how T stood back to check her out.

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Adam and Barbara couldn’t contain their excitement upon seeing each other for the first time in this pretty little forest reserve near their New Jersey venue.

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Ryan was positively beaming at the sight of Jenny at their wedding day at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay.

 

 

Christine Han - September 10, 2014 - 9:58 pm

This is SO on point and well-written, Caroline!

Lily Belle - September 10, 2014 - 11:08 pm

LOVE this

Adam and Barbara’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Wedding | New York Wedding Photographer

 “…for aught that ever I could read,
could ever hear by tale or history,
the course of true love never did run smooth.”
―  A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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A Shakespearean comedy like A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the perfect inspiration for a wedding.  Though things often go awry (mostly due to misunderstandings) there is always, without fail, a happy ending.  And in a Shakespearean comedy, that happy ending is almost always a wedding.  But Adam and Barbara have even more special ties to A Midsummer Night’s Dream than just a shared happy ending.  Pulling together a unique wedding that reflected who they are and their unique love story was important to them, and as I talked about in their engagement session blog post, both of them are nature, poetry and theater lovers.  Their wedding took place on June 21st, the summer solstice, which is traditionally “midsummer night,” making their theme all the more perfect.

I felt like the luckiest wedding photographer in the world when Barbara and Adam asked me to photograph their wedding.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream has special meaning for me as well, in fact, in high school I directed a production of it for my senior project.  Needless to say, I quickly found Barbara and Adam to be kindred spirits.  While I was bursting at the seams with excitement for their Midsummer Night’s Dream wedding,  I had no idea just how beautifully executed it would be.  I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a venue so transformed as what BRRCH achieved with the florals at Old Tappan Manor.  A standard New Jersey ballroom was transformed into an enchanted forest complete with birch-bark escort cards, bell jar centerpieces, and tall vases of branches gave guests the feeling of dining alfresco.  For the chuppah/sweetheart table, BRRCH created a canopy of branches, wisteria and other florals.   Barbara’s gorgeous bridesmaids were decked in pale blue or lavender and each had their hair full of flowers.  Barbara called hers a “helmet of flowers,” but I think it just looked like they each took a roll down a hill of wildflowers.   And have you ever seen such dapper groom or groomsmen?  In his plum three-piece suit, Adam was getting as many compliments as his stunning bride!

Despite how gorgeous every detail of this wedding was, it was Adam and Barbara’s tears,  laughter and the heart-melting glances they shared throughout the day that really stole the show.  I’ve never seen a bride and groom have this much fun on their wedding day or guests be more pulled into the couples’ love story.  There was not a dry eye in Old Tappan Manor during either the ceremony or toasts, and I am not an exception. The Midsummer Night’s Dream theme permeated not only the decor, but their vows, which were love poems they had written to each other.  Even Barbara’s Dad, in honor of their love of poetry and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, made a gallant attempt to give his toast in rhyme, much to Barbara and Adam’s surprise and delight.

If it wasn’t for these photos, I think I’d have to pinch myself that this wedding was not a dream.  Did the bride and groom really just perform “Best Day of My Life” like pro-entertainers?  Do I really get to photograph a bride in a deciduous forest with a head full of flowers?  I wasn’t surprised by how much I liked their family and friends however.  When I like a couple as much as I like Adam and Barbara, it is usually a given that their family and friends will be just as warm and hospitable.  My amazing assistant shooters Mekina, Leandra and I were treated like a part of the family.   I loved having those ladies be a part of my team again.  It was also a blast to work with Love and You Video once more.  (You’d think it’d be impossible to get the amazing footage they do given that I never see them throughout the day, but they do!)

 

Susan Helfer Golden - August 22, 2014 - 3:02 am

Caroline – Barbara and Adam are two very special people and you captured their essence beautifully. I have to say, I have never seen such gorgeous, creative wedding photos. These are amazing!

Leandra Brown - August 22, 2014 - 4:40 pm

Gorgeous!

Susan Helfer Golden - September 19, 2014 - 11:25 pm

I can look at these photos over and over again – brings a huge smile to my face everytime. Love them….

Published in The Knot Magazines: New York and New Jersey

Twenty-six years ago today,  I did something really amazing that I’d like to celebrate: I was born.  *Takes a bow*  “Thank you, thank you very much.” Gabriella at The Knot magazine must have known my birthday was coming up when they emailed me about Jackie and Rob’s engagement photo taken in Hoboken, NJ in front of the New York City skyline.  “We just added a story about how couples met and I found this adorable engagement shoot on your blog. We would love to feature this couple in our story in The Knot New Jersey!”   Five minutes later they emailed me about Christina and Alex’s rowboat engagement session for The Knot New York.   What a present!  Needless to say I was thrilled for my two lovely couple, and of course nothing strokes a photographer’s delicate ego more than seeing their photos printed on the glossy pages of a wedding magazine.  It’s going to be a great day! :)  I was also thrilled to see a lot of my closest photographer friends featured as well- go pick up a copy today!

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Leandra Brown - August 8, 2014 - 9:53 am

Congratulations Caroline! :) That’s such a great Birthday present! :)

How to Help Your Photographer Get You the Best Wedding Photos Ever

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So you picked your wedding photographer; you love her personality, her style, her work.  But let’s be honest: she’s human.  You’ve seen her wedding photos that are good and her photos that are AMAZING.  What can you do to help your photographer do her very best work for you? Here are a few tips to help your photographer get you her best wedding photos ever:

1.Trust her to use her Creative Eye

Skip the shot list.  You may have seen a photographer do photos in front of a fountain or a gazebo on your wedding venue’s property,  but remember, you didn’t hire that photographer for a reason.  You hired YOUR photographer because you love the way she composes photos, creates scenes, uses light and creates candid moments.   She may see lighting issues you don’t see, or she might realize how awesome the light looks in what you thought was just a drabby little staircase, or and how magical it’s going to look when its blurred out in the background of your photos.   If you want her best work, trust her to do what she does best.  Give her a general idea of where you want to go and leave it to her to find the magical gems you would have never looked twice at.

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2. Allow Double the Time You Think You Need

If anything goes wrong on a wedding day, guess what’s the only thing you can cut time off of?  You guessed it: the photography.  The more rushed your photographer is, the less chance she’ll be as creative and seeing those opportunities for jaw-dropping photos or the amazing moments unfolding.  To avoid this, make sure to leave extra time for photos and any traveling between locations.  Especially if you aren’t doing a first look, make sure your cocktail hour is sufficiently long to fit in all the photos you want.  I recommend 45 minutes to an hour for bride and Groom portraits. Why so long?  This allows us to walk around the property to different locations,  to play with different techniques and most of all to give YOU time to get comfortable in front of the camera and for me to discover what angles and poses are the most natural and flattering for you.  If you are considering doing photos off site, which I sometimes recommend if the venue doesn’t offer many options, leave double the time you think you need for travel.  Keep in mind that photographers have a lot of equipment to pack and unpack at every location, so be sure to leave time for that as well.

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3. Make and Manage Your Family Photo List

Everyone wants family photos, but no one wants to pose for them.  To keep them moving as fast as possible, I ask my clients in advance to provide a list of each shot they want with each family members name listed out. Moving from larger to smaller groupings allows us to move through the photos very quickly by pulling people out rather than having to repose a group several times.  Always make sure family knows when to arrive for family photos and I recommend telling them 10  minutes before the real start time if you don’t want waiting on your notoriously late aunt to hold up the day.  I do not recommend family photos in the middle of cocktail hour as gathering everyone can be impossible.  Doing family photos directly before or after the ceremony usually works best.

Sample Family Photo List:

-Harry, Ginny, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Fred, George, Ron

-Harry, Ginny, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur

-Harry, Ginny, Molly, Arthur

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4. Consider an Engagement Session

Though I don’t require that all my couples do an engagement session (and indeed for some of my out-of-state couples it’s not possible), but I do highly recommend it whenever possible.  So many brides and grooms come into their  wedding day unnecessarily nervous about the photo portion of the day, and the photographer ends up spending the first 15 minutes getting you relaxed and warmed up.  That’s time that she could have been getting “Best-Photo-Ever” material, if you had already been warmed up to your photographers style of working before the wedding day.

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5. Sunset Photos

It’s true what they say!  On a sunny day,  the 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after sunset gives of the most beautiful, soft, light.  That’s why us photographers call it “Golden Hour.”   If it’s at all possible to do your portraits during this time, or to take 15 minutes for sunset photos, I highly recommend making time for it.

6. Complimentary Videographers

Your photographer, whether they know it or not, has a method for getting her best photos out of her clients.   Some photographers, like myself, chat a lot to their couples to keep them feeling relaxed and at ease and to create candid moments during portraits.  I will also move very fast from one pose to the other to keep clients from getting bored or feeling embarrassed or stiff.   I never interfere in the real moments of the wedding day or ask couples to “redo” their first look or cake cutting or to smile at the camera during moments like that.  Whether you know it or not, the videographer you hire could affect your photographer’s ability to  get those relaxed, candid-looking portraits  or real candid moments if they have a different method.  In my case, I do not produce my best work when I work with videographers who are directing the couple during portraits, interfering with real moments (or even worse, trying to create cheesy fake moments).  Chances are your photographer has a list of videographers that she loved working with who were a great compliment to her style and a list of ones that were not.  Check in with your photographer for her recommended videographer list, and if you don’t see what you are looking for on her list, talk to her about it.  What kind of video are you envisioning?  Show her vendors you are looking at and like.  She will probably be able to tell from their website sample videos if she thinks it would be a good fit or not.

 

To Keep in Mind: Obviously picking a gorgeous venue, a great florist, an amazing wedding designer etc.  is going to make some weddings photos stand out more than others; however, the above tips paired with an excellent photographer will help your photographer give YOU her best photos for YOUR unique wedding story and venue.  The fact is, weddings are living breathing organisms.  Every wedding is different and every day plays out differently.   While no wedding is perfect, and a good photographer should be able to adapt to any situation that might come up, the above are just a few tips to help avoid unnecessary problems that can affect your photos!

 

Jim Pollard - August 5, 2014 - 2:33 am

Beaut of a write up Caroline

Bob Patterson - August 7, 2014 - 3:09 am

Dan Moore Designs, check this article out.

Bob Patterson - August 7, 2014 - 3:10 am

Dan Moore Designs, check this article out.

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