DISCLAIMER: I’m a wedding photographer, so I have a selfish bias in wanting to include a first look on a wedding day.
First of all, for those of you that aren’t familiar, a first look is a private moment arranged for the bride and groom to see one another before their wedding ceremony. Some people have an aversion to this wedding day trend because, traditionally, it’s thought to be bad luck to see the bride before the ceremony. Have you ever thought about why that is, though? Allow me to explain.
Back in the day arranged marriages were common practice, and it was often used as a business transaction between families. Typically, the father of the bride did not allow the groom to see the bride before the ceremony because of fear that if he found her unattractive he would call off the whole wedding. Now I can’t speak for you, but that does not sound very romantic to me – the whole deal with the veil is starting to make more sense now too, huh? I know people don’t think of it that way now, but I think it’s important to understand where that thought process of bad luck was coming from.
Now, having said all of that, I can still totally get how some would want to wait until the ceremony to see one another. Maybe you like the theatrics of it, or it’s just the way you’ve always pictured doing things. You honestly just have to go with your gut, but I’d like to share my perspective on the pros of having a first look.
ONE. We’ll start with the simplest of reasons – nerves. Generally speaking, both parties are feeling nervous on their wedding day, or at the very least, emotional. If you’re anything like me you would prefer a private moment with your future spouse, to calm nerves and get tears out of the way. Crying in front of a bunch of people is not my thing, and I’m not about messing up my makeup – but HEY, it may not bother you!
TWO. When it comes to bang for your buck I think it’s also a good idea. You’re going to be making quite an investment in a photographer whose work you love, so I believe it’s in your best interest to maximize your time on portraits. My couples that do a first look almost always get at least 70 extra pictures of just the two of them. Give me more to document and you get more in your gallery.
THREE. Wedding days are cray. You’re going to have a lot less time together that day than you think – you’re going to be worrying about staying on schedule, spending time with your families, and making sure your guests are having a great time. The day, at its core, is obviously about the two of you, so I love arranging five minutes for you both to bask in the beauty of the commitment you’re about to make to one another. I can almost guarantee it will be your favorite part of the day – that is unless dancing your ass off is your thing, then I think the reception is gonna be your jam.
FOUR. Once again, wedding days are crazy, and they never go exactly as planned. What if you’re having an outdoor ceremony and it starts raining? Is that going to ruin that moment for you? Or let’s say you’re having a 7pm ceremony and things are running way behind (happens all the time)…you’re still going to have to make time for bridal party portraits, family portraits, and your portraits. Will you be unhappy if you only have ten minutes for portraits with your spouse?
A few years ago in Charleston, South Carolina and from the beginning the bride and groom had said that they weren’t interested in a first look, so we planned the timeline accordingly. The day before the wedding, as I’m driving into Charleston, I got a text from the bride asking if we could change plans and include a first look in the timeline. She explained how anxious John was, and that he thought his anxieties would be eased if he got to see her before the ceremony. The wedding coordinator and I could not have been happier to accommodate this request, so we got that penciled in and this is how it went:
Looking at these images still gives me goosebumps. He was seriously crouched down for almost a whole minute, regaining his composure, repeating that he could not believe how beautiful she looked. I had tears in my eyes while I was photographing this, and I know my mom was bawling behind me. I still can’t believe they almost missed out on this moment.
Just food for thought for all you lovers out there planning your big day! Hope you at least consider it!