I realize that most of you reading this are planning a wedding for the first time. If you are not familiar with some of the modern additions to todays weddings, you might not know what a First Look is. Today’s brides are all about thinking outside the box, doing unique things, and suiting their wedding to represent them as a couple and throwing a lot of “traditions” out of their Wedding Day Itinerary. There are surely still brides that love “traditions” and vow to include them in their wedding, but what most brides truly want is to see and take in that moment when her groom sees her for the first time before they become man and wife.
Simply put, a First Look is a quiet moment shared together, alone, before the ceremony and the receptions festivities begin and the days events quickly unfold. As a wedding photographer, I remain discreet and back a ways to give the couple their privacy while documenting from just far enough way I cannot hear what they are saying to one another. I only choose the spot for my couple’s first look, I let the rest unfold between them naturally and authentically.
For most weddings that include a First Look, we incorporate it into the wedding day timeline approximately 2 hours before the ceremony time to assure that there will be no guests around and the couple has complete privacy for their special moment. Most first looks take place with the groom positioned facing away from the direction his Bride-to-Be will be approaching him. He will await her arrival with eyes closed, or even blindfolded if you want. Typically the Bride will walk up and tap her Groom on the shoulder and he’ll turn around and see her.
The Bride’s reaction to her Groom’s reaction after seeing her is just as special. I make sure to position myself and my second shooter in such a manner that we can capture all of the emotion of this special quiet moment between the two of you.
Choosing to do a first look is a very personal decision. I want to share some of the benefits of doing a first look.
• Having more time with your guests.
Most likely, friends and family will be traveling from far away to attend you wedding. Do you want to make sure you have more time to spending catching up and talking with your loved ones? Do you want to actually attend your cocktail hour and mingle with more than just a few guests? Gaining this valuable time is one of the biggest reason’s my couples choose to do a First Look.
• Having a moment to take it all in and just be alone with each other.
One thing most grooms won’t say out loud is how nervous they are to see their Bride for the first time. They don’t know how emotional they will get and are probably full of anxious excitement just as much as us girls are. However, we know we are going to cry and it’s totally fine if we do. (Not saying that a man cannot cry, or that it’s not super sexy and moving when he does) Having this quiet moment with each other will calm both of your nerves. Just think about when he holds you, it’s one of the most calming things, to just be hugged and held. This will be one of the only truly quiet moments of your wedding day. After the ceremony, things just keep moving right along and many bride’s claim that their wedding day went by so fast they wish they had been able to had more time to take it all in.
• Having more time for portraits of the two of you.
Because no one is around during your first look, we can easily move right into doing some intimate portraits of the two of you. There is no rush right after the ceremony to get photos done and have to speed through the process of the family formals, bridal party portraits and your formal portraits. I like to have the Bridal Part join into the portraits with the Bride and Groom, but save the family formals for right after the ceremony, as these will be your photographs as Husband and Wife as your two families come together. Some couples want to get all of their formal portraits out of the way before the ceremony and will also include Family Formals at this time. Again, every Bride is different, and the decision of what you want is the best decision for your wedding.
I never require any of my clients to do a First Look. I just want to share with you about this possibility in case you aren’t familiar with it or hadn’t even thought to consider it. I help all of my couples with their wedding day timeline, and will still give you gorgeous photos with or with out a First Look.
This is something I love chatting about with my couples that are more traditional, but still want that intimate moment together before the ceremony. If a First look isn’t for you, we can put a blindfold on your groom and do some sweet photos together that way. You will be able to see him, be he won’t be able to see you. I will guide you together and you can’t still share some sweet intimacy with him blindfolded. Another way couples can do a private moment is by standing on opposite sides of a door, or hallway, or even a wall and holding only their hands together while staying on opposite sides of the wall so that you can’t see each other. Lastly, I have had couples enhance their special moment or “First Look” by adding in an exchange of gifts, letters, perfume or even reading their vows together privately for the first time. The possibilities are endless, and I would love to hear any suggestions you have in the comments below!
One last thing I want to mention is doing a first look with your Dad or Grandpa. On your wedding day your dad will most likely be giving you away. For me, it was my grandpa. If you want to take a moment to make your day extra special for your dad, grandpa, or someone else who means the world to you, I recommend doing a first look with him/her also. Maybe your mom was a single mom and raised you up into the beautiful woman you are today. Maybe she should have this special moment with you. It would be a perfect time to give her a little gift too. Just an idea, as I am quite the sentimental type. I had a custom embroidered handkerchief made for my grandpa. It’s something he’s always done is carry around a cloth handkerchief, so what a fitting and special gift for the man who’s like a father to me.
Planning a wedding is no easy or quick task. It is full of so many details and decisions. I leave you with this. Remember, this is your day. This is the day you will marry your best friend. This is the day your family will witness your two lives coming together to make the ultimate promise to one another. Make sure to create a day that is a resemblance of you two as a couple. Weave your personality and likes into it as much as you want. Make it different, make it unique. But most importantly, make sure you plan a day that is true and special to you.
Want to see what I’m currently up to and a little sneak peek behind the scenes? Follow me on Instagram!