Before all the weddings I shoot, I meet with clients to discuss the layout and timeline for their wedding day. During these meetings we discuss whether or not the couple will do a first look. The first look is an opportunity for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony and share those first moments on their wedding day together. Some couples already know they want to do a first look, many times it’s because friends of theirs who got married prior did a first look, had a wonderful experience, and highly recommend it. Other times, couples say they hadn’t given it consideration or they are on the fence about it. I’m grateful that even my couples that haven’t given it much thought are open to hearing more about it!
Many of the couples I work with decide to do a first look which I absolutely love!! So the question is…why do so many couples opt to see each other before the ceremony? Here is a breakdown of the benefits of having a first look. Also, I’ll share some first look photos I love!
Sharing intimate moments with each other – the first look is a chance to spend time alone on your wedding day. It allows you to enjoy and savor those moments for just the two of you, away from guests and the hustle and bustle of the day. It allows you to focus your attention on each other, share laughter and tears, and talk to each other in the time just before you say your vows and commit yourselves to each other. The first look photos are often the wedding photos most filled with genuine joy and emotion. This is the time of day when I’ve seen some of the most beautiful moments are shared.
Transition into couple photos – right after the first look is the perfect time to go into couple photos. You just saw each other for the first time and are feeling incredibly blissful. This is when genuine photos can be captured. The photos will feel less posed and more natural because you are already feeling romantic and in the moment after just having seen each other for the first time.
Calming nerves – the first look is a chance to get rid of wedding day nerves. It is normal to feel nervous before the ceremony. By doing a first look, you can talk to each other and get the nervous jitters out. Then, you can go into the ceremony feeling like the pressure is off.
Timing – doing a first look provides much more time for photos without being rushed. Right after the first look, I typically do bride and groom photos first. Then the family and bridal party photos are done. One of the best parts of doing a first look is that it lends itself to a much smoother timeline for the day. Usually there is only an hour between the ceremony and reception when guests are having cocktails. An hour is not a lot of time to do bride and groom, bridal party, and family photos, especially if you have a larger bridal party and family. If a first look is done, all of these photos can be done prior to the ceremony.
Also, many couples tell me they want to attend their cocktail hour. By capturing formal photos before the ceremony, it frees not only the bride and groom but also the family and bridal party during the cocktail hour. The reception goes by so fast, many couples want the extra time to spend with their guests. This gives the bride and groom time to mingle and catch up with out of town guests. Many brides worry about a first look taking away from the awe factor of walking down the aisle. I understand wanting the awe factor, it’s an incredible moment that everyone wants. The truth is, nothing could take away from that moment. It’s just as special after you’ve done a first look, if not more. Because you saw each other before the ceremony, you are more calm and relaxed. As you walk down the aisle, you can appreciate your family and friends surrounding you. Some of the most powerful photos I’ve captured have been when the bride is walking down the aisle and the groom is fighting back tears, even after seeing each other before the ceremony. The first look and the walk down the aisle are both beautiful and emotional in their own way.
I love when a bride and groom opt to see each other before the ceremony. I have never worked with a couple that wasn’t happy they did a first look. That being said, I never pressure couples into doing them. More than anything, I want my couples to be happy. First looks are not for everyone, but when working with couples I like to explain their options so they can decide for themselves. Regardless, it is my job to make sure my couples are happy, have a smooth timeline, and photos they love!!