So you are newly engaged, and have a million decisions to make. Picking a date, finding a venue, looking at ceremony time options, and discussing a first look. Wait, a first look? Did you even know that was option? Your wedding planning list may already be a mile long, (or neatly organized into a binder) but make sure “discussing a first look” is on there!
If the idea of adding another thing to your to-do list is scary, let me help break down a first look for you.
Before I start though, what does a ‘first look’ even mean? A first look is the moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time a few hours before the ceremony. This is a pretty vague definition, which gives each bride and groom a lot of room to make the first look their own. Which brings me to my top 7 reasons why you should do a first look on your wedding day.
There are no rules with a first look. You can make it as simple or elaborate as you want. You can have everyone watching or you can have it be just you and your husband. A first look can even be done in a special location! I have photographed a first look under the bride’s favorite climbing tree from her childhood. That bride started her wedding day with her future husband at a place of great importance for her. I loved that idea! The possibilities are (almost) endless! Not to mention, there are many options for the actual first look! You can have your groom blind-folded or sneak up behind him and tap his shoulder. (I will break these down in a future blog post!) If all these possibilities are giving you a headache, ask your photographer for advice. We love first looks and are pros at setting them up!
This is probably my number one reason to do a first look on your wedding day. Imagine you are walking down the aisle. Your soon-to-be husband is there at the end smiling at you. You are surrounded by 50-300 of your (closest?) family and friends. You get to your husband and stand quietly as the ceremony starts. At most, you can hold his hands. If that is your dream first look, that is great! (If this is you, check out this great article!)
However, when I got married, I had a different vision. My mom helped me into my wedding dress and my bridesmaids helped with finishing touches. My maid-of-honor carried my train out to the patio of our venue. She fluffed my dress and ran inside. There, outside in the beautiful (yet brisk) summer air, was my future husband. I walked up behind him and tapped his shoulder. He turned, tears in his eyes, and smiled. We hugged, we kissed, we talked. I even showed him my favorite dress detail, the buttons that went all the way down my train. None of this would have been possible if we had waited to see each other until the ceremony.
After reading my last section and maybe even grabbing a tissue for those tears (no, just me?), you may wonder if that made the ceremony less special. My simple answer, no. Seeing each other early did not make walking down the aisle any less special. You just read my first look story above, so let’s jump back in. A few hours after our first look, it was time for the ceremony. We scheduled a break between photos and the ceremony. During that time I was nervously waiting in my bridal room with my bridesmaids. When it was time to walk down the aisle, I grabbed my dad’s arm and walked through the doors. There, at the end of the aisle, was my soon-to-be husband fighting back tears.
From my groom’s perspective, he said seeing me come down the aisle made everything suddenly feel real and he was hit will all the emotion again. My husband and I were lucky enough to share two very important moments together on our wedding. One earlier in the day alone, and a second in front of all of our friends and family. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Doesn’t everyone want to spend more time with their groom on their wedding day? Doing a first look let’s you start out your day with your future husband! Well, maybe not start the day, but after you are all done in hair, make-up, and getting dressed! Instead of taking some photos and waiting for the ceremony, you get to see your groom right away. This was a huge plus for me when considering a first look! We got to see each other at 12:30pm on our wedding day and then we were together the rest of the day. (Minus the break before the ceremony!) The two of us were starting our lives together, so what better way to go through the day then together!
Just so we are clear, I am not saying you won’t enjoy your wedding if you skip a first look! But doing a first look allows you to be present during social hour and the reception. Traditional weddings mean the photos have to be done between the ceremony and reception. That means a lot of time that you will be away from your wedding. With the first look, you are done with portraits before the ceremony even starts! That way, you can relax and enjoy the downtime after your ceremony and before dinner is served. This is one of the best times to socialize with your guests! By having all the photos done, you can spend time with your friends and family, which is why you invited them, isn’t it?
This may be the number one reason most photographers give for doing a first look. If you do a first look, you will have more time for portraits. That means more pictures of you and your groom, more bridal party pictures, and even more family pictures! By getting all the photos done before guests arrive, you avoid distractions and the possible time crunch. If you save the photos for between the ceremony and reception, you tend to run into two issues. With guests around, everyone will want to talk to you and sneaking away for photos may be difficult. Also, there is the possibility that the ceremony/receiving line may run late, which cuts into the picture time. Doing a first look gives the photographer more control over the photo timeline, allowing for less of a chance that a photo is missed.
Ok, I said earlier that my number one reason was interacting with my spouse. However, this is also my number one reason. (Two number ones, is that possible?) Doing a first look can help lower your anxiety on your wedding day. Personally, the idea of standing in front of 250 of my friends and family kinda freaked me out. If I would have added the extra pressure of seeing my husband for the first time, I might have passed out. Doing a first look helped take some of that pressure off of the ceremony. After the first look, I was no longer worried about all the little things that go into a wedding day. Seeing my groom put my mind at ease. Granted, I was still a nervous wreck right before the ceremony, but at least I only felt that way for a half hour, instead of the entire afternoon.
So there you go! My top 7 reasons why you should do a first look! Hopefully, after reading this post, your decision to do a first look is an easy one!
Need to cross a few more things off of your to-do list? Check out my other wedding tips!
Alecs Kay Photography is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer in Fargo, ND