You have probably heard the term “First Look” thrown around by someone you know. Now it is your turn to get married and everyone is asking “Are you going to do a first look?!” So what is a first look? First looks are an intimate time for 2 or more people to see the bride and/or groom before the wedding ceremony. They take place is very intimate locations away from guests so the moment can just be shared between the individuals involved in the first look. The groom faces away from the bride as she walks up to him. For us, at this point Brett will narrate the couple’s story to each of them to showcase the journey they have been on that has led them to this moment. The groom turns around and sees his bride for the very first time on their wedding day. It creates a truly intimate and emotional experience.
Sounds pretty amazing right? Shockingly enough there is actually a lot of concern from brides who don’t want their groom to see them until they walk down the aisle. We have heard so many reasons as to why a couple don’t want a first look. Here are some of the most common objections we have heard.
We hear this from so many couples when we first meet and ask why they don’t want to do a first look. They are under the belief that it is traditional to not see your groom before the wedding day. The superstition is that it is bad luck to see each other before the wedding day, and it has been a tradition since….well nobody can tell you how long. The reason is because it isn’t actually a wedding tradition. The idea came from arranged marriages where seeing the bride before the wedding was prohibited. That way the bride or groom did not have a chance to make a break for it if they were not happy with their parents choice, thus breaking the arrangement both sets of parents made. So when your crazy Aunt is upset that you aren’t being traditional…there is no actual tradition to uphold.
“I want the first time he sees me to be in front of everyone!”
Ok let’s really think about this one. Let’s put ourselves in the grooms shoes. He spends the entire day with his boys, hasn’t seen or spoken to you. Those nerves are really going by the time he is being told that it’s time to walk down the aisle. Now he is standing up at the alter, which is essentially a podium…in front of every single one of your family, friends, their plus ones’s, their kids, anybody who is crashing your wedding, etc. All he sees is a sea of people. When you are walking down the aisle, with all of those people, his heart pounding, he is going to be so nervous.
At the level of nervousness that grooms experience when they are standing at the alter, it is so easy to keep those emotions hidden inside you. You want to protect yourself because those nerves make you put up a wall to protect yourself, instead of being vulnerable. Think of it like when you were in college and you had to make a speech in English class in front of 200 students, you were most likely incredibly nervous right? That’s what he is experiencing. Don’t get me wrong, he can still have that reaction you have dreamed of, but your chances are greatly reduced if you wait until the ceremony.
“I want to see his face when he first sees me walk down the aisle”
I totally get wanting to see that reaction when you are walking down the aisle for the first time. All the photographs you see, you have dreamt of this! It really is something special when a bride walks down and sees that big smile on his face and a single tear on his cheek. You may get to see a really sweet expression on his face, but the moment you see in photos. You know, the gasps, the tears that are streaming down their face, that holy $&@$ moment, that doesn’t happen when you are face to face with your groom, that happens the very first moment he sees you. At that very moment, you are on the complete opposite side of the room, he is too far away for you to really see what is happening on his face. By the time you get up to him, he has calmed down and regained at least some of his composure. That incredible real first moment he saw you, you will only have a photograph of it, the memory itself will not exist because you did not see it with your own eyes.
“Well I want to also be emotional when I see him!”
Put yourself in your own shoes, you enter the room, over 100 people looking right at you with their jaws on the ground! It is just human nature to look at those who are looking at you. Like when you can feel that person at the stop light looking at you, so you look over. Yea you are going to look at everyone else. So many brides do this and I actually look for this because Joanna did it at our own wedding! By the time you finally lay your eyes on him, you are already calm and collected by everyone you saw.
“If I do a first look, he won’t be emotional when I walk down the aisle”
Ask any of our past brides. When a couple does a first look, when she walks down the aisle, he doesn’t just get emotional again, he is even more emotional! Whatever he felt during the first look, it is multiplied 10 fold when you walk down! You get to see that expression, not once, but twice.
“Joanna & Brett, you didn’t even do a first look”
It’s very true, we did not do a first look. It’s something we both regret to this day. I will explain why we have that regret in just a bit. If you are wondering “did I cry?”
Sure did, HARD. Here is the thing though, I had to pull out all the stops to make this happen.
- The song “it feel like home” from the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days” had to play when Joanna walked down the aisle. I photographed a dance competition in Nashville years ago and a girl danced to this song, I filled my viewfinder with tears, thinking about Joanna. This had to be the song.
- It had to be sung by our church’s worship pastor. A recording would not suffice. When the chorus came, she had to really give it her all on those notes, loud and proud!
- The doors had to swing open right at the chorus and Joanna enter.
Did it really take all that just to make me emotional? I’m a Cubs fan, so being emotional in public is my thing lol. That’s what it takes sometimes to be emotional in front of hundreds of people though.
Right now I’m hoping I have at least got your attention. You are thinking “ok Brett, tell me more about how a first look can be essential for my wedding day”.
The Best Stress Reliever
On your wedding day, there could be a million things that could happen that could bring you some kind of stress. Hair is taking a little too long, your mother forgot to order Jimmy John’s (that’s like the number one lunch for bridesmaids, almost every wedding lol) whatever it is, some amount of stress and nerves will build up for not only you, but him as well.
Now put yourself with him in a little opening in a field by your venue. It’s quiet, you can hear the little breeze blowing and the one single bird chirping in the distance. He turns around, wearing his emotions all over his face. Then just holds you…..silence….just you.. and him… now how calming is that? That stress, those nerves, they are just going to float away at that very moment. O and guess what? If anything else happens, you aren’t alone! You can both tackle it head on together!
About 30-40% more to be precise. When you don’t do a first look, you are already at a disadvantage with your timeline. You now have to push everything till after the ceremony, how much time do you need? For our weddings, we usually need 30 minutes for family formals, 30 minutes for bridal party, and 30 minutes for Bride & Groom portraits. If your timeline falls behind for ANY REASON, everything else b your wedding day is going to keep happening as is, if there is a delay, that time gets taken out of portrait time. It’s very unfortunate but that’s the nature of the beast. With a first look, not only will you have more portrait time, but if things start to fall behind, you now have a safety net. No matter what with a first look, your gallery will be absolutely gorgeous!
More time to spend with your guests
For your wedding photography, first looks allow us to get a vast majority of your photos done before guests even show up to your venue. All your bridal party, a lot of your bride & groom, and even family formals can happen before the ceremony. This doesn’t mean all your photos of you two are done, after all it’s that beautiful golden evening portraits you are wanting to put on your walls. Your portraits are then broken up into smaller portrait sessions, which allow you to spend more time with your guests, not get sick and tired of a camera being on you, and still get a beautiful gallery at the end of it all.