The First Look

I love First Looks. I love them because, as a bride, I remember spending the morning getting my hair and makeup done, then getting into my gown and feeling so excited; it was my dream gown. I remember sliding into my high heels and buckling the clasps. I remember fastening my veil and touching up my lipstick.

But I also remember feeling unbalanced. Like I was so excited, but my excitement felt lonely because I wasn’t sharing it with my best friend. The moment I saw Kevin though, everything felt so right and beautiful and perfect. The excitement of our wedding day could finally be shared. Because we had our First Look, we were able to relax and spend the majority of the day together as a result.

Now I’m a wedding photographer and the biggest reason I love First Looks is because I remember my own experience. I want my clients to enjoy their wedding day together like we were able to. I want them to be able to shed those jitters and to hang out together. I want them to be able to hug and kiss and tell each other how amazing they look. I want them to spend this wonderful, important day with all of their family and friends, but most importantly, with their best friend, with the person they feel most comfortable with.

So what is a First Look? A First Look is a private moment prior to the ceremony when the bride & groom see each other for the first time. What results is that they can spend the majority of the day together and also complete their portraits ahead of the ceremony, which frees up time afterwards for cocktail hour and the reception. Because of the way a First Look affects their wedding day timeline, my couples who choose the First Look end up getting more time for photos, which wonderfully results in more photos!

Since 95% of my couples share a First Look, I asked some of my past couples to share their experiences.

Andrea: “I didn’t want to do a first look, but I wasn’t totally against it. In my head, I really wanted the first time we saw each other to be when the doors opened and I was walking down the aisle – I was worried that by having a first look it would take away from that moment. We ended up doing a first look because of timing. Our ceremony was later in the afternoon and with how much time we were going to have in between the ceremony and the reception, it was going to cause a lot of rushing around – which was the last thing I wanted. My number one goal for the day was to keep us, our families and our bridal party happy and calm – and rushing around was going to make that hard to accomplish. We ended up moving all family photos to before the ceremony, and before family photos James and I did our first look. It was actually really amazing. I loved that we had some time for just the two of us – because we didn’t have that again until hours later after the reception, when we were tired and ready to crash. It was a perfect time to just talk about all that was coming up in the day, and share how our mornings went. I loved it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. It kept the day moving nicely, gave us a rare private moment, and didn’t take away from the moment I walked down the aisle – it was less nerve wrecking, but still really special.”

Stephanie: “My husband and I didn’t really have to debate on a first look, we just both kinda wanted one. I think it is such a special moment to share with each other. The day is so crazy and hectic (in a good way!) that looking back, this was one of the few moments we had that was just so intimate and raw. Once we saw each other, all the nerves and jitters just melted away. Emily was there capturing the moments, but honestly, there could have been 100 people there and we wouldn’t have noticed anything because were were just so in the moment with each other. The whole day is spent celebrating with family and friends and this is just such an important moment to have between the two of you.”

James: “I thought the first look process was a nice way to spend a bit of one-on-one time with my soon-to-be wife ahead of the ceremony. It allowed us a chance to see each other ahead of the ceremony and certainly made the moment she entered the sanctuary less nerve-wracking (for me, at least). I had supported the idea of the first look and am glad that we ultimately went ahead and did it – I’d certainly do it all over again and would recommend that couples seriously consider it when planning out their big day.”

Emily: “My husband really didn’t want to see me before the ceremony at first. I thought it was romantic that he felt so strongly about it but it also really stressed me out thinking about having to plan for pictures in between the ceremony and the reception. Then we talked to some people who had recently gotten married and they explained that with a first look it can actually be more romantic because it’s such a private moment that the two of you get to share. I’m definitely a more private, reserved person so I loved the sound of that. Eventually I got my husband on board with it too after explaining that to him. We were way less stressed because we didn’t have to worry about the guests waiting and rushing through pictures. The free time we had between the ceremony and reception was then a nice little chance to relax.”

If you’re a bride and groom, I hope you’ll consider sharing a First Look. I have yet to have a couple tell me they regretted spending so much time together on their wedding day.
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