January 18, 2021
When it comes to the details of your wedding day, this is a big decision for many couples. The First Look. To have one, or not to have one. And there are lots of opinions and sometimes lots of conflicting feelings that come along with the decision. Chances are, you may already feel strongly one way or the other about this decision from the beginning. While I would absolutely never push to go against something that you feel very strongly about on your wedding day, I do want understand the reasons why I am Pro First Look!
First of all, let’s go ahead and make the timeline argument. It’s true, a photographer will almost always vote for a first look for the sake of the timeline! There are a lot of photos to fit into a standard 8 hour wedding day. It may sound like so much time but I literally do not stop on a wedding day just to be able to capture it all! If you opt for a first look with your partner, you automatically give me the opportunity to get up to 25% more couples portraits on your wedding day! It also will ease the time strain on after ceremony portraits and help you get to your reception MUCH quicker. When a couple chooses a first look, we usually only have a handful of family formal portraits to take care of immediately following the ceremony. If there is no first look, I need a minimum of a full hour (and at least that much daylight remaining in the day) before you arrive at your ceremony because we have to take care of all family, full wedding party and couple portraits in that small window of time. And if you are a couple that doesn’t love a ton of photos, you are likely going to be anxious to be done with posed photos by that time in the day. Let’s be honest, those portraits of the two of you are the main reason you’ve hired me, I don’t want you to rush through them or cut our time short because you are worn out or just so excited to visit with your guests!
Second, I want you to consider your stress level and overall emotional well being on your wedding day. Wedding days are long. They start early and if you are like most couples, your ceremony is usually in the late afternoon or evening. That means you will spend all day building up the anticipation in your head. For my brides who tend to run on higher levels of stress in general, I think first looks are the perfect way to do away with a lot of that stress early in the day. First Looks usually happen about 30-45 mins after you get into your dress. That means, once you are ready, you see your groom almost immediately and it alleviates SO MUCH of the stress of the day. My brides almost always turn to me after their first look and take a deep breath, saying, “wow, I feel so much better now!” Not to mention, on a day that is all about the celebration of you and your groom, wouldn’t you like to spend more of the day with them?
Finally, and most importantly, having a first look allows the two of you to have a quiet moment to yourselves, in the middle of a chaotic and whirlwind day. There is so much magic in the moment your groom sees you walking down the aisle toward him for the last time before you are his wife. And there definitely IS. There is also a formality to it. You are in front of literally all of your family and friends with every single eye on the two of you and your reactions. With a first look, you have that moment to yourselves. Instead of just being able to take your hand at the end of the isle, he can sweep you into his arms. He can hold you, kiss you and share his words and emotions with just you for those first few moments. Plus it gives us a relaxed, joyful moment to lead into the formal shots of the day and I get the most genuinely happy photos from that time! And in 100% honesty, based on my experience, a First Look has never diminished the emotions expressed or felt as a bride walks down the aisle.
So I leave you with this. It’s a personal choice and some couples struggle with the break from tradition that comes with the decision to share a First Look. But I just urge you to consider what you would gain on your wedding day, rather than dwelling on what you think you are giving up. And ladies, always remember, try not to put too much pressure on your groom when it comes to the first time he will see you. If he is not an overly emotional person, he may not cry and that is OK. The two of you can have a wonderful and sweet moment together without an overpouring of emotions from either of you. Give yourselves some grace when it comes to the expectations that you have. Embrace emotions but don’t force them. And remember to just enjoy the moments because they will fly by!