First looks are relatively newer in wedding traditions, and not fully embraced by everyone. The great thing is there's no right or wrong. It's whatever you choose! Here are some things to consider when deciding on whether to have a first look.
Cry your eyes out, and then freshen up!
We're not saying you won't cry when walking down the isle, or watching your beloved walk down the isle. I'm sure there will be plenty of weepy moments and happy tears during the ceremony, but by seeing each other in advanced you'll be able to fully let those moments out while in relative privacy. You, your spouse to be, and your photographers, of course. Don't worry, even though we'll set the moment up it'll be just you two taking each other all in and having a moment by yourselves. By conducting this emotional moment away from all your guests it might save a more self-conscious groom or bride from tearing up in public.
1. It calms the nerves.
If you’re the type of person that gets nervous near crowds, doesn’t like to be the center of attention, or gets anxious easily, then this is a great option for you. We’ve found that most of our clients are super nervous just before the ceremony, and those that thought they wouldn’t be suddenly get a little freaked out. Lets face it, your wedding is probably one of the biggest days of your life. Depending on how involved you are in the process and your personality type, there can be a lot of internal stress built up to that moment of seeing each other for the first time. Don’t let it freak you out though; you can one hundred percent get through it. However, doing a first look will give you peace of mind knowing that your significant other will be there for you to help calm those nerves. Time and time again we've seen the stress fly away just after the bride sees the groom for the first time. It’s almost like a weight is lifted off their shoulders.
2. More opportunities for pictures.
This one is probably our favorite because, let’s face it, we want you to have more opportunities for great pictures. At the end of the day all that’s left is the photography to look back on. Traditionally all the photos happen during cocktail hour; couples photos, bridal party photos, and family photos. If your wedding party and/or your family is even moderately large then you're going to be squeezing a lot in a small amount of time, and insuring that cocktail hour is strictly for your other guests.
3. More time with guests.
Speaking of the cocktail hour; it really should be enjoyed! By having a first look you'll be able to have most of your couples photos done prior to the ceremony. We also like to schedule the wedding party photos following the first look as well. That way when the ceremony finishes we can finish up family formals quickly, leaving you and your fiance more time to spend with your wedding guests, and enjoy that cocktail hour you specially planned for.
4. Location variety.
Not every venue is a gem. Sometimes couples choose locations because they need a space that can house 400+ people and options are limited. Sometimes their favorite views are 100% not a place/space where you could get a bunch of guests, much less a permit to host a party there. Opting for a first look (and scheduling enough time) gives you the choice to have great couples photos with beautiful backdrops, even if those places aren't wedding venues at all!
5. Freshen up.
Lets say you're getting married in the mid-summer. You know what that means; hot weather that will make you melt. With having a first look you can get those beautiful outdoor photos, with everyone looking fresh and stylish, and no one's makeup melting off or having sweat stains showing up. You'll be able to do the photos, then have time for everyone to get back inside, freshen up, and cool off. The alternative is photos after the ceremony, when everyone has been in the heat for a good part of an hour, and has had plenty of time to melt.
6. A little privacy.
This is an intimate moment. The calm before the storm so to speak. A wedding is a production with lots of moving parts and everyone wanting your attention. Having a private moment to soak it all in with the love of your life is often the last time you two are going to be alone together for the rest of the day. We orchestrate the first look in a way that we're not too close. So that you're given that moment, and space, together. Nothing to hear but each other's tears, laughter, heartbeat...and perhaps the click click click click of our shutters nearby.
7. Introverts Unite!
Some of us are introverts, and the idea of having such a powerful moment played out in front of everyone can be overwhelming. Utilizing the first look can help you, or your introverted fiance, to emote without the pressure of onlookers.
8. Family Time.
A little bit above (reason #3) we touched on having more time with guests by having bridal party photos prior to the ceremony. Another popular choice has been to have family formals prior to the ceremony as well. This works especially well when the family isn't large (less than 20 people) and can be relied on to arrive on time. It means that you go straight from walking down the aisle, to having those glowing couples photos together, and making your grand entrance into the wedding reception. Your guests will be pleasantly surprised that they don't have to wait around (in what can sometimes seem like forever) for the party to get started.
9. Calm before the storm
If you're in the wedding industry you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Weddings, especially the bigger ones, can be a circus. They can be bright, and loud, and colorful, and spectacular all wrapped into one. But if you think you and your fiance are going to spend the day together...you're cute. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will want your attention. You'll spend the first half of the day apart; dressing and getting ready. Your family and friends will want to hug you, kiss you, give you all their well wishes and congratulations. By the time the day is over you will have realized that you've spent almost none of it alone with your new spouse. Having a first look will give you those moments; breath each other in, and really take in the wonder that is happening, and that it's all because two people fell in love.
10. Planning a prank
We have yet to have a Bride plan on pranking her soon-to-be spouse, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, or mean that we don't secretly hope one of our Brides does this and we end up with some epic and fun photos to share far and wide! We've seen some great first look pranks, the popular one being a groomsman getting in a wedding dress and him doing the first look, or the Bride doing the first look in a full on dinosaur costume! This isn't the most popular thing, but for those extra fun couples who want to keep things light and full of laughter, it might be the perfect option!
As much as we love first looks we know that they're not the right choice for every couple. Here's a few reasons to NOT have a first look.
Not an Early Bird
Not everyone wants to get up earlier then they absolutely have to. This is especially true for night-owls and those who plan on partying late throughout the night.
The Princess Experience
Others want that fairy tale experience and feel like a Princess, and that includes the Prince(s) seeing their soon-to-be spouse walking down the aisle for the first time. After all, that's how Meghan Markel, Kate Middleton, and we suspect Cinderella, did it!
Share the Moment
Some want this moment played out in front of all their friends and family; solidifying the moment and making it meaningful not just to you, but to those loved ones in attendance.
No Mess on the Dress
That dress better be pristine and perfect going down the aisle, and the odds of it getting dirty goes up with doing any types of photos outdoors. Considering a large majority of our Brides and Grooms choose outdoor venues, we can completely understand this. Your dress might get a wee bit dirty. If we go to a park, garden, or pretty much anywhere outside, we can't guarantee that there won't be a speck of dirt on the bottom of your dress or shoes. Does that mean it'll get dirty enough for guests to notice? Not really, and often not at all, but if you're worried of risking it then it might be better to pass on any pre-ceremony photos.
Picture Perfect Marriage
If you do your portraits before the ceremony, you won't actually be married in your portraits. That bothers some people, doesn't bother others, but should be considered. Will it be less meaningful to look at those portraits later, knowing you weren't actually married yet or wearing your wedding bands?
Steeped in Tradition
The last, and probably the most popular, reason to not have a first look is tradition. Weddings are often steeped in tradition; something new, something borrowed, something blue, etc..etc... Keeping with this tradition is a nod to all those in your family who've done the same on their wedding.
Whatever you decide, first look or no, know that there's no wrong way to go about it. Just remember that everyone is coming together to celebrate you two and the love that you share, and that's what's important.