I get a lot of questions about what a “First Look” is, so I decided to share my thoughts about it!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, a First Look is when a bride and groom choose to see each other BEFORE the ceremony on their wedding day. More and more couples are deciding to go this route, and I’ll explain why.
One of the most obvious reasons is Timing. Without a First Look, we are often left with only an hour for all of the photos that the newlyweds will be in together, including family, bridal party, as well as all of the portraits of the bride and groom. With a First Look, we are able to do the majority of these photos beforehand, at a more relaxed pace. This also often gives us a chance to take advantage of better photo locations because we have the time to do so.
Another big one for many couples is Being at Your Cocktail Hour. Without a First Look, the bride and groom typically have to miss most, if not all, of their cocktail hour to fit in all the photos that they want. It’s a shame to miss ANY part of your wedding day after you’ve put so much thought and time into planning every aspect of it, especially the cocktail hour which is purely a fun time to enjoy friends and family. When the couple chooses a First Look, they can typically attend most, or all, or their cocktail hour because we’ve already taken photos!
I think a lot of the hesitation surrounding a First Look is that it breaks tradition. People get caught up on it being too different, and can’t really see past that. Couples may have envisioned a dramatic first sighting of each other from opposite ends of the aisle when the ceremony begins, and I totally get it! Who hasn’t imagined that?! Every bride wants to see her husband-to-be’s face as he sees her for the first time on their wedding day. You want him to be overcome with joy! But from what I’ve seen, his Reaction is often even better during a First Look. It eliminates the distractions and nerves from being in front of a big group of people, and lets each person’s reaction be completely pure. When the first sighting is during the ceremony, there’s no time for the groom to tell the bride how beautiful she looks, that her dress is perfect, that he’s madly in love with her, etc., because they need to move right into the ceremony. A First Look gives you the opportunity to Enjoy a Special and Intimate Moment that is purely for the two of you. You have the opportunity to fully enjoy the moment in private, and take the time to appreciate each other. You can cry/laugh/smile/kiss without holding back! And, of course, it’s a great photo opp!
I didn’t even think about this one until I had several clients tell me why they were so happy they did a First Look; it eliminated their Anxiety. Although everyone is excited about their weddings, for some people it can also be pretty stressful, especially if you’re not used to being in the spotlight. I find that when a bride or groom seems a bit on edge from nerves, their worries seem to melt away as soon as they see their soon-to-be spouse for the first time, and they are able to go into the ceremony feeling much more relaxed and excited.
If you read all this and you’re still thinking, “there’s absolutely no way I’m doing a First Look” then that is COMPLETELY FINE!!! I photograph plenty of weddings where the couples simply don’t want to do it, and their wedding days are just as wonderful. I just wanted to write this to give everyone a full understanding of why it's a great option, so when you're thinking about your own wedding day you make the decision based on what would make YOU happiest, not on what your per-conceived notions tell you. I will most definitely be doing a First Look at my own wedding next April, and it's a moment I cannot wait to experience!