You have your perfect partner, your beautiful dress, and the band which symbolizes eternity with that person. Now you’ve got a big decision: to do a first look or not?!
Let me just take a moment here to tell you WHERE “seeing your wife for the first time walking down the aisle” came from: arranged marriages. In ancient times, it was very common for female children to have either arranged marriages or be purchased by their future groom so-to-speak. The root word “wedd” of Anglo-Saxon derivation actually means a “pledge” or “vow”. This either referred to the groom vowing to marry the woman or it meant the barter money or trade agreement with the bride’s father for his daughter. The tradition of taking his hand and placing the groom’s on the bride’s is symbolic of the “passing” of his property or duty. Thus, when the groom saw the bride for the first time at the altar, he couldn’t run away or breach the contract to the father! WHOA!!
Modern times are a lot different. More and more, couples are opting out of the ancient tradition for “first looks!” Speaking from behind the lens (and behind the scenes), I cannot explain enough the emotion that is shared with just the bride and groom with no one else around. There is a moment of calmness–which is HUGE on a wedding day–and the bride and groom finally get a wonderful moment together after the build up of the entire morning getting ready.
And… from a pure photography timeline perspective (and after shooting over 100 weddings), the fact that you can get ALL of your formal photos done BEFORE the ceremony is the biggest thing ever for enjoying wedding day! Couples spend so much time, energy, and money on the reception, and their guests have traveled hours and days to see them, so why wouldn’t you want to spend as much time as possible with them?! I’ve been at some weddings where you have family photos for 30 minutes after the ceremony, then another 30 minutes for bridal party, then another 30 minutes for bride and groom photos, AND THEN the bride and groom finally show up to their reception. AND they are super stressed because they’ve been rushed through photos to make it to their cocktail hour at the last minute. The guests are also getting hangry and impatient. Remember, they are there to see the BRIDE and GROOM, not mingle for hours with each other. … AND THEN the bride and groom sneak out again for sunset photos for 30 minutes. That’s a total of a MINIMUM of 2 hours not at your reception!!! How crazy is that?!
I’ve also heard from numerous grooms that seeing their bride before the ceremony made it that much more special and didn’t effect their feelings at all when their bride walked down the aisle! I promise you, that magic when she walks down the aisle is still there! Its honestly like getting TWO FIRST LOOKS! You get one alone and in solitude to take the whole day in, and then one in front of all of your guests! Not to mention, first looks give you HOURS more with your future husband/wife on your wedding day! That’s really the kicker!
I talked with friends and past brides who have chosen first looks, and this is what they said:
“I think we chose to do one because we wanted to have that intimate moment to ourselves and be able to hug and kiss each other without everyone watching. We were both very nervous and don’t like being in front of people, so I think it was the right choice”. -Britney C.
“Honestly, it came down to logistics. We wanted to join the party and enjoy the evening with our guests as soon as the “I Do’s” were over”. – Danielle W.
“We wanted all our pictures taken care of beforehand and decided to have our first look ahead of time and continue with pictures before the ceremony so we all had time to relax and just be together before the ceremony started. I think it really helped with my nerves!”- Jenna C.
“I felt like it would be one of the only times during the wedding that Ty and I could just spend time together. I felt like it really helped us take in the enormity of the day.”- Ani P.
“I never thought I wanted to do a first look, but the more I thought about it and planned for the wedding, I loved the idea of us having some time as just us before the wedding chaos began! I loved that he got to see me first before anyone else and we got to have some moments together and soak in the most important day of our lives!”- Catie A.
“Jayme and I ultimately decided to do a first look simply because we wanted to share that intimate moment privately; despite Jayme’s initial qualms with the idea. When we were going to see each other for the first time, we were both nervous, emotional wrecks. However, all of those anxious butterflies dissipated when Jayme turned around. It was, and forever will be, the best moment of my life. We were able to cry together and cherish the calm moments before all the craziness. The first look was so special and we both highly recommend it!”- Hayley M.
To sum things up, first looks are special, intimate moments for the couple to see each other before all of the rest of the world. It is a time where the world stops for a good luck kiss, a comforting hug, and a joke to ease the stress. As a photographer and hopeless romantic, I absolutely love and look forward to making sure that moment is beautifully captured! And, I absolutely love getting in all photos before the ceremony so that the bride and groom are not stressed about getting all their photos in, and have as much time together with their loved ones!
MY SUGGESTION: ADD IN FIRST LOOK PHOTOS!!! 🙂
***Also… add in first looks with just your mom and just your dad! Those moments are PRICELESS and so full of love!
Here’s a couple awesome articles that may offer more insight into why first looks are a must!