My husband and I chose not to do a first look for our wedding nearly 5 years ago.
Now, I wish we had.
I thought that the moment when Max first saw me walk down the aisle in church was a sacred one that needed to be protected. It’s just one of those traditions that feels weird to break (even though, if you look at the history of it, it’s really not romantic at all… back when arranged marriages were commonplace, the reason the groom didn’t see the bride until the ceremony was because the families wanted to make sure he would go through with the wedding even if he found her to be unattractive!) I honestly don’t remember if my photographer asked me about doing a first look… I think she did, but I was pretty set in my decision not to do it and so it was never really a discussion.
We opted to do a “first touch” instead where Max was blindfolded (I know, I know, it’s SO Pinterest-y and totally dated at this point! Ugh). The photos are cute… but now when I look at them, I’m so bummed that Max is blindfolded! The photos we took in this spot are some of my favorites from the day — I love the light and the greens of the trees behind our church — but I would never print them to hang on our wall because Max is blindfolded with this goofy looking chunky black scarf and it looks way too cheesy!
If we had done a first look, these might have been some of my favorite portraits of the day. Bummer!
There are LOTS of reasons why first looks are great, and I wanted to share some of them so you don’t end up regretting your decision like I did. Here are the top three reasons why first looks rock:
When you choose to do a first look, the moment when your groom first sees you is NOT less emotional than it would be if you were standing at the end of an aisle. It’s still the first time he’s seeing you on your wedding day. It’s actually BETTER this way, because after he sees you, you’ll have the time and space together to enjoy the moment. If he doesn’t see you until your ceremony, you won’t be able to tell each other how amazing you both look while you’re standing at the altar. You won’t be able to share a kiss until 30 minutes later when the officiant says it’s time. You’ll be swept up in the ceremony with everybody watching, so the first look moment is just that — a moment — and then it’s rushed onto the next moment. If you choose to do a first look with just your future spouse and your photographer, you have 10 or 15 minutes to be with one another and really soak it all in. A first look is a special, intimate moment shared just between the two of you rather than a public moment that happens in front of all of your guests. And it’s most likely the only time during the day when it will be just the two of you.
If you choose to do a first look before the ceremony, this could add hours to the time you get to spend with your new spouse. If you don’t do a first look and your ceremony is in the afternoon or evening, you only get to be with each other for a few hours on your wedding day. Your wedding day will fly by, and you only get one… so why not spend more time together with your very favorite person?
When couples opt to do a first look, we build more portrait time into their timeline, which means you get more beautiful photos (woohoo!). And when the first look is done early in the day, you have more daylight for photos… so you don’t have to worry about if it’s getting too dark for portraits after your ceremony (this is especially important for winter weddings!). Also, if it rains on your wedding day, chances are it won’t rain all day… so if we’re taking portraits before and after the ceremony, you’re almost guaranteed to get some good outdoor photos no matter the weather. I once shot a wedding with no first look where it was sunny and beautiful out until about 5 minutes into the ceremony. It poured for nearly the rest of the evening. If we had done a first look and portraits earlier in the day, we wouldn’t have had to sweat it! Instead, we ended up rushing ALL of our portraits after dinner when the rain cleared just before the sun went down. We got what we needed, but it was an added stress and took away from their reception time. Building a first look into your timeline really works all around, because we’ll get to do portraits early in the day when your hair and makeup are freshly done, and you’ll have more time after the ceremony to party with your friends and family!
Ultimately, it’s your wedding and I would never push you to do a first look if you don’t want to! The moment when your groom first sees you is going to be special no matter when it happens. But I wanted to make sure you knew about all the perks before making a decision. Happy planning 🙂
March 11, 2020