What is a First Look? The First Look is, quite simply, a few precious minutes set aside for the Bride & Groom to see each other and enjoy a a bit of quiet before the wedding.
Wait, before the wedding?? How does that work? Yes! Before the wedding! I set aside a few minutes before the guests arrive and the nerves completely take over, and give you a chance to just be. I usually scout out a quiet location beforehand, get the groom in place, and step back to photograph the bride approaching her beloved. I capture that bit of precious emotion, and then let you enjoy a few minutes alone together— to connect emotionally, and to really talk to each other and drink in the sweetness that is your wedding day. Most wedding day schedules are so full of people and family and events that the bride & groom don’t have a chance to stop and take a breath until late into the evening. The First Look gives you a chance to start the day with each other.
But our favorite part of a wedding is the look on the groom’s face when his bride walks down the aisle. Doesn’t the First Look obliterate that? Not in my experience! The emotion of the First Look moment is different in many ways from the emotion of the Walking Down the Aisle moment— the first tends toward sweet, tender, and intimate emotion (think of a quiet whisper spoken in your lover’s ear), and the second tends toward exhilaration, and grandeur, and awe (exchanging vows in the sight of many friends and family). I actually think that it adds to the emotion of the “walking the aisle” moment, because the nervous anticipation has passed, and the bride & groom have had the chance to connect, emotionally, before the ceremony, which makes the visual depiction of “coming in and coming together” more full and complete.
Yeaaaaahhh, still not sold. All of that emotional stuff aside, are there any other reasons you can give us for seeing each other beforehand? Oh, definitely. Let me list them out for you:
• Pictures!!!— When couples choose to see each other before the ceremony, it often gives us the chance to do almost all of the formal pictures before the ceremony, too! This includes bridal party pictures, family pictures, and some couples’ pictures. I usually reserve a bit of time right after the ceremony for more “we’re married now!!!” pictures, but that is a very small fraction of the after-ceremony time that pictures usually take. It also gives us some location flexibility, so you have really amazing, romantic wedding day pictures without a ton of stress. I would especially encourage this if you plan on an evening wedding. After-ceremony portraits after dark are not recommended.
• Creativity— If bride & groom portraits rank close to the top of your “wedding day priorities” list, then I strongly encourage you to plan on a First Look. Creative, beautiful portraits require time and planning, and though they can be done after the ceremony, doing some before is like removing stress as a factor in the equation.
• Nerves— Regardless of what kind of personality the groom has, he is always, without fail, a ball of nervous excitement before he sees his bride. It’s inevitable. As soon as he sees her, though? It’s as if the nervousness literally melts off of him. Brides deal with some nervous excitement, as well, but that’s usually not as predictable as the groom’s excitement.
• Time & Privacy— As I mentioned earlier, a wedding day is often so full of people and scheduled events that the bride and groom can go the entire day without any time together! Planning in a First Look ensures that you get at least a few moments alone, and gives you the chance to actually spend the rest of the day together, instead of just in each others’ presence. It’s essentially time just for you.
• Friends & Family— Weddings are one of those sweet, monumental life occasions for which friends and family are willing to sacrifice much. Travel time, travel distance, time off work, gifts, generous help in a million different ways, the list goes on and on. When couples plan in a First Look and complete all of their formal portraits before the ceremony, they have freedom and flexibility to spend time mingling with the friends and family that traveled so far and gave so much in time and resources to make their day special.
Wow. We love this idea. How do we go about planning it, though?No worries! I’m more than happy to talk through your schedule with you, and make sure the day flows in a way that is thoughtful and stress-free. I also have several sample schedules from past weddings, if you’d prefer to a starting point.
“First Look Couple”up there might be sold on the idea, but even though we get what you’re saying, we’re both more traditional people and would prefer to wait until the ceremony to see each other. Is that a problem for you, as a photographer? Not at all, that’s absolutely fine. The most important thing is that you’re happy with your own wedding. It honestly doesn’t matter to me either way… as long as you do what is best for you. I love the First Look for all the reasons listed above, but mostly because the couples that choose to do it have made that decision because it’s what they want. After all, it is your wedding!
What if we want really good portraits, we want to spend time with our guests, and we want to wait until the ceremony to see each other? Is there any way to make this happen? With proper planning I think that anything is possible, but the easiest thing to do is to plan on an After-Wedding Session, where you both get back into your lovely wedding attire on another day, after the wedding day is over, and we spend a couple of hours on portraits of just you.