Had someone explained to me eleven years ago, or even suggested, a First Look for my wedding day, I would have absolutely done it! It wasn’t until I entered the Wedding Photography industry that I started learning more about First Looks and why they can be an amazing part of your wedding day! If you aren’t sure about this tradition, this blog will explain why it would be a romantic addition to your wedding day celebration that not only adds to the experience but also reduces stress. Please know that I would never want any of my couples to feel pressured to go with this option. However, I do want to make sure that I share all of the benefits of a first look, because there is a reason why couples do this and LOVE it!
I have confessed my deep love for “First Looks” numerous times on my blog 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, or, they are just unaware of another option, like I was 11 years ago. Well, from what I’ve gathered from brides who go the traditional route is that they want a REACTION. They want their groom to be so surprised and overcome with joy when they walk down the aisle that he bawls at the first sight of her! Isn’t that EVERY girl’s dream? Who doesn’t want that reaction?
After experiencing my own wedding and shooting first looks…. 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 beforehand, 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 que 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 80-300 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. … walking down the aisle can be one of the BEST PARTS of your WHOLE wedding day!! It’s magical!! ….. But for couples who choose to do a first look, when the bride walks down the aisle… the groom isn’t a nervous wreck…he had spent the morning with you and your best friends and the pressure is OFF. By the time the ceremony rolls around he’s ready to ENJOY your beautiful day!
The nerves were gone and 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 because when they see her, everything becomes VERY real! So when the nerves start creeping up, 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…. and 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… and 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.
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’s 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. 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 to spare… the bride touches up a little makeup 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 music 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! 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 ok if couples choose not to share the first look! It’s just my preference to do one for many reasons….
For brides not interested in a First Look, I recommend you start chatting soon with your Wedding Photographer about how you can create a special timeline to fit everything in! There’s also an option to have a “Dadday/Daughter First Look” as well. This is for all of the brides who have a sweet spot in their heart for their dad. I have to admit that Daddy/Daughter first looks make me a little teary. For a lot of dads, this is when everything feels real and it hits him… “My baby girl is getting MARRIED!” These are precious moments to photograph and I highly encourage any daddy’s girl to make time in their timeline for this moment. It doesn’t take long at all! The hardest part is making sure dad shows up on time! If dad doesn’t show up on time, the whole timeline can get thrown off, or we’ll have to skip the daddy/daughter first look. Another sweet idea is having the father of the bride escort the bride to her first look!
To see what a Wedding Day timeline would look like with a First Look scheduled in, click “How to Plan a Photography Based Wedding Timeline”.