“Should we have a first look at our wedding?”
As a wedding photographer, this is a question I get asked frequently.
Over the years, the first look has quickly become my all-time favorite part of a wedding day. It’s just SUCH a special moment!
Most of the couples I meet with are excited to have a first look. Every now and again, though, I meet with a couple who are divided on the issue. More often than not, it’s the groom who is on the fence. Frequently he’ll express to me that he worries if sees his bride before the ceremony, her walk down the aisle just won’t feel as special.
I can certainly understand and appreciate that concern.
But I’ve got some strong reasons why I think first looks are truly THE BEST!
So, if you’re looking to convince your future husband that a first look is the way to go, here are 10 good reasons you can share with him.
1. It makes for beautiful photos. You’ve got the most beautiful ceremony site ever. You can do a first look there before guests arrive, or you can choose yet another gorgeous area of the wedding venue. As a photographer, I love to give clients a wide-variety of photos from their day and first look photos are always some of my favorites!
2. It can be a private wedding-day moment for just the two of you … or you can include family members. Some couples prefer to keep their first look moment 100% for themselves. When this happens, I’ll put on my longest lens and try and keep my distance so the moment really is theirs. But other couples love to have family and friends be part of their moment. It feels like a mini private ceremony for family before the big crowd arrives.
3. Who doesn’t love a good groom reaction!! Will he cry, scream, smile, or simply be speechless? You just never know : ) But the big reveal has become my absolute favorite part of a wedding day.
4. Grooms tell me it’s one of their favorite moments of the day. In talking with grooms who had a first look on their wedding day, I’m told that the first look was their absolute favorite moment of the day. Most of them tell me that they felt some anxiety on their wedding day (which is totally natural, it’s a big day!), but that they felt calm and relaxed after the first look. This allowed them to be more relaxed and much more in the moment for all the moments that followed … including seeing their bride walk down the aisle.
5. It gives you more time together that day. No matter how hard you try and slow the day down, it flies by so quickly. But by seeing each other earlier on in the day, you automatically buy more time together on the most important day of your lives.
6. Since you’re together more, you can support each other through trying moments. The couple in the image above had one of my favorite weddings : ) A tropical storm blew through and it poured and flooded on their wedding day. Their outdoor ceremony was tented and went on as planned. And they went on smiling, loving, and celebrating … just as planned. The secret to having an amazing time at your wedding is to go with the flow … no matter what happens. But that’s not always easy! So the sooner you get together and spend the day by each other’s side, the sooner you’ll be able to support each other and keep each other happy and calm … no matter what.
7. First looks cut the tension. It’s not just the grooms who feel more relaxed after their first look. Brides also tell me that experience a tremendous build-up of emotions the morning of their wedding. They may even find themselves crying or expressing other emotions that they didn’t know were going to sneak out! But as soon as they have their groom by their side, everything is better.
8. For those prone to lots of tears (eh hm, me), it can be a relief to have that first release of emotions in private. There are those who shed a single tear. Then there are those who cry. Like, really cry. For all the criers out there, a private moment often feels more comfortable and relaxed. And of course, then there’s still time for makeup to be touched up ; )
9.You’ll have time for great bridal party shots and even family shots before the ceremony, which means you’ll be free to enjoy your guests after the ceremony. If I’m being honest, this is my number one reason for recommending a first look. Your day will flow amazingly well if you opt to do photos before the ceremony. And you’ll be free to enjoy your cocktail hour. So why didn’t I make this the first reason? Because even though it makes the day so much easier (and I mean, SOOOOO much easier), I wouldn’t recommend it if couples didn’t tell me all the above reasons, too. I’m a photographer, so of course I want a good schedule for taking photos. But I’m also a sentimental SCHMUCK … and I want to watch people have the best day of their lives.
10. Light matters! So here comes the second reason that I love first looks so much. Ceremonies are often scheduled near sunset, and racing to capture photos before sunset after the ceremony is stressful. It’s stressful for me, but it’s also stressful for you and all those involved in the photos. And sure, we could use flashes or other sources of lighting. But if you’ve chosen the perfect location with amazing backdrops, it’s so much more ideal to have natural light available. Of course, I’m being a little selfish here … but don’t worry, it works in your favor! I want that light because I want to take beautiful photos! And I want beautiful photos to give to you : )
If you go over these reasons but still feel that a first look just isn’t for your wedding … that’s ok, too! Work closely with your photographer to make sure you have a great schedule for the day to keep things running smoothly and to make sure there’s plenty of time after the ceremony for the photos needed. As much as I’d love for every couple to have a first look, at the end of the day, it’s so important to have the day of your dreams … and it needs to be your way.
Kate Callahan is an on-location photographer who LOVES to capture authentic memories for families. She’s available for weddings, senior photos, child photo sessions, and family photography. Kate works with clients throughout the Hudson Valley, NYC, Delaware (and the tri-state area), and beyond. She also writes motivational books for photographers. Find them at Dear Female Photographer.