One of the biggest questions to ask yourselves when you start planning out your wedding:
To First Look or not to First Look?
It can determine the entire schedule of the day, and so often I have brides come to me completely torn between the two.
I wrote this post to help any brides + grooms struggling to decide between seeing each other before the ceremony or waiting to walk down the aisle!
Perks of Planning a First Look
1. Reduces stress
When you choose to have a first look before your ceremony, you are no longer obligated to do the "stay out of sight" dance. When you spend the first half of your wedding day avoiding running into each other, it can often create schedule complications or just inconveniences when you have to constantly make sure that you aren't going to bump into each other.
It also gives you the opportunity to do as many pictures as necessary before the ceremony. When you do the first look, you are able to do your bride + groom portraits, bride + bridesmaids, groom + groomsmen, and full wedding party (WHEW) all before the ceremony; leaving you with only a few family group pictures to worry about fitting in between your ceremony and reception.
2. intimate moment
Everyone's biggest concern with doing a first look before the ceremony seems to be that they don't want to take away from the excitement when he sees his soon-to-be wife for the first time. But let me tell you... a first look takes away nothing. I have seen plenty of grooms that did first looks that are still completely overwhelmed with emotion at the alter.
If anything, it gives you an intimate moment to have together. The rest of your wedding day together will be spent with guest and the wedding party.
A first look gives you a moment before the madness. Just a few moments together before the rush of the day.
It gives your future husband something special: the chance to get to see you before everyone else gets to. When he sees you for the first time at your ceremony, he is seeing you at the same time as your 100+ guest are. But a first look gives him the privilege that he doesn't have to share with everyone attending. You get a moment to talk to each other, hold each other, express your excitement and how you feel to get to marry your best friend.
3. controlled atmosphere and scenery
When you plan your first look before the ceremony, you can choose to have it anywhere. You can include your wedding party and have them watch, or you can keep it simple by just having the two of you there. You can choose a spot that has the best lighting that your area or venue has to offer, a secluded little spot that gives you and your future spouse more privacy, a balcony, or you can even chose to have it at the alter.
The possibilities are endless with a first look.
4. spend your entire wedding day together verses just getting to see them after the ceremony
Need I say more?
You forfeit half of your day to trying to avoid running into your future spouse.
By choosing a first look, you chose to spend your wedding day with your significant other instead of only spending a few hours at your reception with them.
Your wedding day will fly by in a blur, it all happens so fast! I reccomend getting to spend as much time with your love as you can the day of.
5. spend reception time with guest vs taking pictures
No matter what you do, you will have some pictures that you have to wait and take in the window of time between your wedding ceremony and your reception. But when you decide against a first look, it leaves you trying to fit all the pictures in after the ceremony and before your reception. By the time you get through family photos and wedding party pictures, you are starting to feel crunched for time and your guest are waiting at your reception for you to make your grand entrance! There's nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing a freshly married bride and groom have to cut their couple portraits short because they need to get to their reception.
After all, the whole day is about the two of you!
Haley and Ryan, who got married earlier this year at the Pharmacy Museum in the beautiful city of New Orleans, decided to have a first look for their wedding. And because of this, they were able to do all of their pictures before the ceremony! After their ceremony, as they walked down the aisle, they stopped to hug and thank each of their guest for coming to their wedding. It was such a special, incredible part of their wedding that wouldn't have been possible if they had not done a first look.
Still unsure? Let's hear from a few of my couples that chose to have a first look!
"Seeing Trey before the wedding was definitely worth it. Having that alone time and seeing his reaction up close made everything better. I would recommend this to any bride because you can get a special moment with your spouse, it calms your nerves down and allows you to do your pictures before the ceremony." -Maddie Howell
"There's a lot of tension before the wedding. You're taking pictures and getting ready and everyone is asking you a million questions. There's so much build up, and having a first look lets you forget all about it. It reminds you of what matters the most on that day." -Robbie Schaefer
"This day is about you and your best friend! I couldn't imagine not seeing my best friend on the most important day of our lives until after the chaos." -Kelsey Connor
"It gave us both a minute to breath, without family and guests. We were able to soak in the moment of "oh my gosh, I am about to get married to this handsome, perfect guy!" We have talked about if it would have been better to wait until the ceremony to see each other. We disagreed. He was able to look at me, without interruption (my veil, my dress, my shoes, my hair, the little things). And he didn't have to worry about trying to see those things during the ceremony. We were able to concentrate on each other and completely take in the entire ceremony. It also made the day longer. It flew by.. I can't imagine having to wait/waste four hours before the ceremony now that it's over. Every second counts. Spend time with your soon to be husband as much as possible the day of our wedding, because it will be gone within the blind of an eye." -Haley West
With all of this being said, ultimately, it is up to each bride and groom to determine if a "first look" fits their wedding. This is one of the most special days in your life, and it's very important that you have what you want! As a wedding photographer that has seen a lot of the inner workings and behind the scenes of weddings, I simply want to inform any brides and grooms to-be of the benefits that come with having a first look prior to their ceremony.
What are your opinions?
Do you think a first look is a good idea for future brides, or do you prefer the traditional way of a couple seeing each other for the first time during ceremony?
I want to hear from both sides, brides that didn't have a first look and that did!
Also, if you are engaged and overwhelmed with all that comes with wedding planning, check out my 15 Tips for the Newly Engaged!