The Biggest Misconception About a “First Look”
You’ve probably heard of a first look by now, with it becoming one of the more popular wedding trends. The bride and groom see each other before the ceremony, so they can “get photos out of the way” early. And most people today think it’s simply that. Getting more photos done, more efficiently. But I’m here to say that’s not what it is, or should be, about.
The last thing you want your wedding to be about is efficiency or having more photos. Yes, those efficiency maters, but it shouldn’t be the focus of your wedding; efficiency is what makes possible your true focus, which is probably enjoying the day with those you love.
Many of my clients actually opt for the traditional reveal at the ceremony aisle, and that is okay! However, I do believe it’s my job to at least lay out all of the information and let brides and grooms decide what is best for them. So, please, before you set your mind one way or the other, read on and see what this is really about.
“So then why a first look?”
One of the biggest things I hear today when a bride says she isn’t interested in a first look is this:
“I want the first time he sees me to be special.” or… “I want him to get emotional seeing me come down the aisle.”
The thing is, when it’s just the two of you, it’s likely to be more special and more emotional than when all of his buddies are standing next to him watching his expression as you come towards him.
You just got all ready for your wedding – hair makeup, dress and all. You walk out to the ceremony site to see just your groom, standing alone at the alter. He has his back to you, but he knows you’re coming. No one else is there – none of his best friends who are standing up next to him, neither of your parents, no family or friends. It’s just the two of you and your photographers standing at a distance to capture it.
You walk up the aisle towards him, realizing this day has finally come. He turns around and sees you for the first time in the wedding gown you picked just for him, and you see that look of excitement and emotion in his eyes. You approach him and give him the biggest hug, and he tells you how beautiful you are. You get lost in the moment and forget the photographers are even outside with you, as you talk about your mornings. No one interrupts you; you just enjoy the moment and take it all in. Then, on your own time and will, you turn to the photographers and say, “We’re ready for photos.” You start the day out with peace, rather than rushing from one thing to the next. You start the day with each other, the whole reason this day is even happening. Then, you get your wedding party photos done before the ceremony and have some time to rest and touch up makeup before the guests arrive. You get a bit more time to do family photos after the ceremony, and then you get to enjoy a few minutes of cocktail hour with your friends!
A first look isn’t supposed to be about “efficiency” or taking away the emotion. It’s supposed to add to the experience and create more intimacy and peace on one of the most significant days in your lives.
I really could go on, but I’ll let some of my couples share their own stories with you instead. 🙂
“We had a first look before our ceremony and it was one of the best decisions we made on our wedding day. For us, it brought us closer together not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well before the ceremony. The moment we saw each other, was a moment that calmed us and gave our day a more intimate feeling, not just for us, but for all of our friends and family who celebrated with us. It showed unity between us and it allowed us to be alone before our guests arrived. We didn’t have to hide back the tears during the ceremony and could just be more real with each other. We were able to soak up all the emotions that had been adding up throughout our whole relationship. Even though our photographers and videographers were present, it felt like it was only us there. Your wedding day goes by so quickly, so it was nice to slow down everything and really feel and experience the moment at its fullest.”
-Chelsea and Micah
“The first look was one of the most memorable moments of the entire day. It was a paramount and beautiful start to the events that followed, where we got to be fully present, intimate, and in awe of one another. From that point forward it was a whirlwind and I am so grateful Jenna encouraged us to spend that initial time together. I would highly recommend against doing it any other way!”
– Sean Morrison
“Honestly, other than sharing our vows the First Look was my favorite part of the day! Seeing him before the ceremony calmed my nerves. It reassured me that I was doing the right thing which set the tone for the rest of the day! Oh and Did I forgot to mention…we got our best shots of the day during that special moment!”
– Jamie and Kelvin
“Doing first look photos was special because it gave my wife and I time away from everyone else, to not only take in how beautiful she looked, but also share that special moment with each other without having to continue the ceremony immediately. It’s different than sharing that moment with everyone else when she walks down the aisle and you can’t relish that moment as just a couple. It can also help calm any nerves before or the possibility of crying if that’s something you worry about.”
– Brad Ledbetter
– Melissa Ledbetter
We felt that having a “First Look” served as a time to share a personal moment with each other, without an entire audience. We took our vows seriously, and this gave us a chance to be a little silly and express our love with pet names, goofy language, and funny faces…all that we wanted to share with each other, and have documented, but not be seen by our friends and family. It was an uninterrupted and unrushed shared moment that is just as memorable as saying “I do.”
– Nichole and Leroy Patterson
“Our first look was special for us, and I would strongly encourage couples to not only have one, but to have one like we did; in the ceremony room, being able to watch my bride walk toward me. When I turned around to see Kristin walking toward me, the weight and power of the day we’d been planning for suddenly hit me with full force. ‘This is my bride,’ I thought to myself. And I could see in her eyes the same grand and honest response: ‘I am yours.’ before she even reached me, we were crying our eyes out with happiness.
For Kristin and I, the first look was an intimate experience just as memorable as the ceremony itself. The ritual, the words, and the audience would come later.. But in that moment, it was only us, our tears and our smiles. I’m happy we had the chance to cry all those tears of joy; before all our friends and family were watching us!”
– Matthew Farnum