After discussing and witnessing many first looks with my couples, and as a bride-to-me myself considering what to do, I decided to share what I have learned from the "first look" experience as a photographer and from what my couples have said. I hope to shed some light on the things to consider and what not to worry about leading up to your decision to first look (or not!)
A new trend for weddings is having a 'first look' where the couple sees each other prior to the ceremony, allowing the bridal party photos and bridal portraits to be done pre-ceremony and making a fairly seamless transition from ceremony to reception. Trying to decide to do a first look or not? As any couple would agree, seeing each other for the first time is an exhilarating moment on your wedding day. It is one that couples are often most excited about, but (like with anything wedding related) there can be divided views on how this all goes down.
The biggest pro to the "first look" (if you are considering this over seeing each other the traditional way at-the-alter) is seeing your partner for the first time! This may seem like an obvious one but, unlike the traditional scenario where the bride meets the groom at the ceremony and exchange excited smiles in front of your audience of guests, the first look gives you the chance to hug, kiss and talk to each other before this. You get to decide who shares this first experience together, if you want to have this moment with just each other a first look might be exactly what you want!
The wedding day can be somewhat overwhelming and exhausting (especially for little ones) and some of the wedding party may have a very short attention span for photos. A first look means getting the bridal party photos done and out of the way! This is a major plus for catching everyone while they still have energy and patience. An added bonus is, everyone's hair and make-up is freshly done and ready for the close-ups.
Having all of your bridal party photos done pre-ceremony is especially awesome if you want to attend your cocktail hour with your guests (a time traditionally used to photograph the bridal party after the ceremony, and before the reception starts). If you are planning to have a large wedding (100+ guests) this is also a great opportunity to put in face time with everyone eager to congratulate you. This means less rounds to make later on during your reception and more time for dancing! It's not a full champagne campaign yet however, your photographer will still steal you away for some photos of just the two of you at some point during the cocktail hour to get some portraits as an officially married couple! I have been told this is a really lovely time to take a much needed break from the crowds and excitement and enjoy some (albeit brief) one-on-one time as newlyweds.
All of this sounds pretty great however, my biggest concern is, won't seeing my fiancé before the ceremony take away from the magic of seeing him for the first time walking down the aisle? I looked through my archives of wedding photos and compared both the traditional and first look experiences of my couples. I can confidently confirm that the first look appears to be no less magical than first seeing each other walking down the aisle - what it truly seems to come down to is personal preference! There is nothing wrong with sticking to how it has always been, its tried and tested and we know it works. If sticking to tradition is not something that's imperative to you both, than perhaps a first look makes sense on your day.
I spoke to several couples about their first look experience and if they would do it again the same way, time and again I have been told that walking down the aisle and exchanging wedding vows felt just as exciting as they would have imagined it to be if they hadn't seen each other beforehand.
Stay tuned for my next blog post for 5 essential tips to help set-up a flawless first look!