You’re getting married. Congratulations! You’re about to start a crazy, fun, sometimes stressful journey of wedding planning. And at some point over the next few months you and your groom will need to decide, “Do we or do we not have a FIRST LOOK?” You’re thinking that if you see one another before the ceremony it will be less emoational when you walk down the aisle, right? That you’ll loose that “WOW” factor you get when your groom sees you for the first time walking down the aisle. You’re thinking that a First Look might be breaking an age old tradtiion by your groom not seeing you beforehand. I realize there are extreme sides to consider.
So, let’s take a look at the tradition itself. Not seeing the bride before the wedding is a tradition rooted in the days where marriages were arranged and virgins were sold to old men in exchange for cows. No kidding, this is where the tradition came from. Not letting the groom see the bride until the ceremony was a tactic to keep him from deciding she wasn’t worth the price he was paying and backing out. While I don’t think that’s why anyone is carrying on the tradition today, I think it’s worth mentioning if you’re thinking about not seeing your groom based on tradition and how it’s “always been done”.
A lot of my couples have done ”First Looks” and I can say with complete certainty that when they see each other it’s usually a teary-eyed affair about how amazing they both look, how amazed they are that the day has finally arrived, and how relieved they are to see each other and have each other by their side.
I think “First Looks” should especially be considered if you’re in any of the following situations:
Your Ceremony and Reception are at the Same Location: Why? Because you have probably picked a gorgeous location that is perfect for both events of your day. The two of you want to be able to enjoy the grounds as much as your guests, soaking in the views while you stroll around sipping champagne and hugging everyone there. When the ceremony and reception are at the same place, the end of the ceremony is inevitably going to flow directly into cocktail hour. Your guests have nowhere else to go and your venue is going to want to keep them entertained. The idea of leaving all of your guests right after the ceremony to head off for pictures will probably seem incredibly difficult. Even more, leaving yourself with only an hour to do all the pictures of the two of you, your family and your wedding party is way too stressful and tight on time…in other words it’s not giving us the amount of time needed to provide you with the simple, romantic and beautiful images you imagined back when you started planning. So, if you see each other before the ceremony you can take the majority of your pictures (possibly even all of your family and wedding party pictures) ahead of time, leaving you will plenty of time to greet your guests and actually eat some of that delicious cocktail hour food. Of course, if you want to grab a few shots directly after your ceremony you can do that too. But getting most of the pictures done beforehand is a great way to ensure that you will have that same relaxing experience as all of your guests.
You’re Getting Married Before Daylight Savings Begins or After it Ends and You Want Pictures Outside: Why? One word: light. It’s photographer’s best friend. Let’s say you’re getting married November 12, one week after daylight savings time ends. Sunset for that day is scheduled to be about 4:45pm. Your ceremony is supposed to start at 3pm and end at 4pm. That leaves you with about 45 minutes of daylight for pictures, assuming you don’t do a receiving line and jump right into taking pictures the minute the ceremony ends. Again, TOO TIGHT on the timeline. If you do a “First Look,” you can select a location for your pictures, gather together your wedding party (and even family if you would like) and ensure that your fall wedding still has plenty of pictures with the foliage even if the sun sets a bit earlier than it did a few weeks before.
So, you still get the aisle experience. Whether the groom sees you in the dress has nothing to do with the magic of the moment. The moment is huge regardless. You can see and feel it, the emotion is still there. You can calm your nerves. Most of my couples readily admit that they were so nervous and anxious until they saw each other and then the butterflies all went away. Now you have your other half with you and can experience this day together and you can enjoy a moment alone together. If you see each other for the first time at the end of the aisle you can’t talk or kiss, you can hardly touch and you’ll have somewhere between 5 and 300 of your closest friends, family, co-workers and their random dates watching you.
Wouldn’t you rather set up a romantic moment that you can really enjoy? Laugh, hug, kiss, cry (and then have time to fix your eye makeup) and you don’t have to hold anything back because you don’t have to worry about anyone watching (admittedly this moment makes for some truly sweet images too!).