I have confessed my deep love for a First Look numerous times and I tend to point them out in every blog post. There is a reason for this. They’re AWESOME! However, not everyone is aware of how awesome they are, because they get caught up in how “non-traditional” it is, and they immediately write it off.
After shooting nearly 100 weddings, I’ve come to this conclusion. Some brides love “traditions”…. but what a bride REALLY wants when it comes to her groom seeing her for the first time, is a REACTION. Those who are not interested in a First Look usually think that by seeing each other before-hand, they will lose part of that reaction. They also assume that it will not be as emotional or as intimate as it would be if they were coming down the aisle.
What I have found (this is starting to sound like a research paper!) is so ironic! Everyone knows that wedding days are a bit stressful for the bride and groom. The whole day is focused on them, they need to look their best, they need to be on time, the groom has no idea what side the boutonniere is supposed to go on and little by little… the tension grows. It’s before the ceremony and the gravity of what is about to happen starts to sink in and the calm, collected groom who was playing golf just a few short hours ago is now starting to feel a little anxious. So what happens next? The groom waits in a little room somewhere for his cue from the coordinator. It seems like it’s taking FOREVER.
Finally, the coordinator leans her head in and hurries the groom to get ready. With clammy hands, the groom enters the ceremony and what does he find? He finds anywhere from 50-300 people and they’re all looking where? Right at his face… because everyone has expectations and anticipation about his first reaction. This is the farthest thing from a private, intimate moment.
Sure, it’s SO powerful and SO wonderful.. But when you walk down the aisle… you don’t necessarily want your groom to be a nervous wreck. When the nerves are gone, true emotions are free to be expressed!
So if I were to condense what I just wrote… basically, Grooms normally become incredibly nervous on wedding days…. even if they seem cool and collected. For most grooms, the nerves kick in before they see their bride. That is when everything becomes VERY real! Instead of keeping the groom in a secluded space until his time to enter the ceremony, what if you took him to a private place? No people, no on-lookers, no distractions. You let his beautiful bride, the love of his life, quietly call his name and have him turn around to see her for the first time.
He would turn around and finally get his first look at his stunning bride and not only would he get to see her. He could embrace her… cry with her…. kiss her. ENJOY that moment with her for as LONG as they wanted. As she shows him her dress, twirls a few times and then asks him what he thinks… his nerves start to diminish. After all, she’s the one who can make him most comfortable anyway. I’ve had SO many couples tell me how much more relaxed they feel after the first look and are ready to just have fun!
Because they aren’t on a time crunch… they casually move into their romantic portraits. No one is around, the coordinator isn’t announcing “15 minutes left”, and there is no pressure. It is just the two of them and their photographer – capturing the excitement and the joy of their wedding day.
This is their time to be TOGETHER… and to be ALONE (minus the token third wheel photog – aka me – but I LOVE IT!) When does that happen on a wedding day? Without a First Look…. it doesn’t. After their romantic portraits are done, they meet up with their best friends. Their bridal party joins them and because they still have plenty of time ahead, the bride touches up a little lipstick while the boys act like boys. After a few minutes the bridal party portraits begin and they’re FUN. They’re FUN, because there is time to make them FUN. There aren’t any guests waiting impatiently at the cocktail hour and there isn’t a DJ coming to find the photographer to get a time check. It’s wonderful!
After portraits are done, the girls and guys separate and prepare for the ceremony. The guests begin to arrive and the ushers are in place. Pretty soon it’s time for the processional mu-sic to begin and one by one, the bridesmaids make their way down to the front of the ceremony. As the groom clasps his hands, they aren’t clasped out of nervousness but excitement. The music builds, the mother of the bride stands and all of the guests follow her lead. The groom looks up, and here comes the BRIDE!!!
His best friend, his companion, his sweetheart… She’s stunning…. ABSOLUTELY stunning. The closer she gets, the bigger he smiles. Now let me put a disclaimer on here before we continue… My clients are not required to do a First Look by any means! I used to feel bad for sharing this option with couples who were against it, because I didn’t want to push anything on them. However, I’ve seen the benefits of a first look over and over again, and so I only share this because I want the BEST for my couples!! It’s totally okay if couples choose not to share a first look!
It’s just my preference to do one for many reasons…. Keep reading to find out more of the benefits of sharing your first look privately! For brides not interested in a First Look, lets start chatting soon about how we’ll create a special timeline to make sure we fit everything in!
Whew, if you’re still nodding along and reading this – thank you! Here is the cliff notes version of why having a First Look on your wedding day may be right for you.
You’re investing a lot into your wedding photography. With a first look, you’ll receive 40% MORE portraits of the two of you… and those are the images you will decorate your first home with! With a first look, you make the most out of this large investment and get the most for your money.
You actually get to have intimate time on your wedding day with your partner. Most brides don’t realize that when you come down the aisle and totally SHOCK him with your gorgeous-ness… He can’t even tell you how amazing you look. He can’t touch you, embrace you or even SPEAK to you. You have to wait until 30 minutes later when the ceremony is over for him to react and tell you how amazing you look. And after 30 minutes of the ceremony, the reaction isn’t the same as the initial first glance.
First Looks allow you to extend your wedding day. Normally the wedding day would start when you come down the aisle, then the ceremony would end. And you’d rush through portraits so that you’re not late for the introductions and then it’s reception time. With a first look, your wedding day is extended by almost 3 hours! Instead of being rushed for your bridal party portraits… Enjoy them and have fun hanging out with your BEST friends on your wedding day. The WHOLE first half of my client’s wedding albums are filled with images just from this time together before the ceremony.
First Looks allow you to be TOGETHER and alone on your wedding day. A lot of couples opt to read vows or letters to each other when things are more private. You can cry and laugh and cry some more… Normally portraits are a little rushed after the family formals. It can be hard to really get back into that “lovey dovey” mode. Especially with family around! When you have just shared your first look, you’re READY to love on each other, and I always capture some super sweet images during those moments!
You get rid of your nerves! Literally half of my couples who have decided to do a first look, the grooms were not fans of it at first. This is because they have never experienced their wedding day before, they didn’t know how nerve racking it can be. I also have PLENTY of grooms who still react during ceremony (usually even more so) than grooms who haven’t seen their bride prior. They already have those emotions flowing!
Just remember, if you have never seen your partner cry or get emotional, then it can’t be expected that they will be overly emotional on your wedding day. Sometimes, a partner is so excited and just embraces the other – and never cries. That’s okay too!
Just enjoy this amazing day and try not to put any expectations on your partner. If you take this advice to heart, I could potentially be saving you a lot of disappointment on your day.
One thing I have noticed after shooting close to 100 weddings is that the stress and nerves that come with a wedding day can sometimes make it hard for some grooms to truly express their emotions. It’s just a lot
to take in all at once. This is a great reason to share a first look and also a great reason to give some grace to your guy! Sure, you deserve to feel beautiful, but my encouragement to you is to enjoy this time together!
Essentially my friends, the main message here is SAY YES to a First Look! Plus, all of these galleries featured here have such a special place in my heart. I think you can see why! If you have any other burning questions to ask me, or your potential wedding photographer, check out this great read!