What is a First Look?
A First Look is a “non-traditional” wedding day event where you and your fiancé see each other before the ceremony on your wedding day. Some people believe that it is “bad luck” to see each other before the traditional walk down the aisle. This concept actually started back in the days of arranged marriages. It was believed that if the bride and groom saw each other before the ceremony, they would have enough time to call off the wedding. After all, no one wants to be left at the altar, right?
While there are some valid reasons on why you may choose not to do a first look – the “bad luck” reason shouldn’t be one of them.
After 7 years of photographing weddings, I have had a fair amount of feedback from couples over the years regarding First Looks. Here are some of their thoughts on the subject:
Nerves and Anxiety
Yes we did a first look. We would not have changed a thing! It relieved a lot of anxiety and nervousness. I think we were both pretty nervous before that but once we had seen each other, it was all excitement. -MK and Andrew
Many of my former couples stated that as much as they want to uphold the tradition, their actual thoughts where about praying they didn’t trip over their dress and fall on the way to the altar or more concerned about remembering what was lines were rehearsed rather than enjoying the moment of seeing each other at the end of the aisle. After the first look takes place, couples are extremely relaxed and ready to get on with the party!
More Time with Guests
We did have a first look before the wedding and it was the sweetest moment. Leading up to our day, there was part of me that was disappointed we weren’t waiting, but it was also important to us that we were present for our entire cocktail hour and not off taking pictures. In the end, I was very glad that we went with the first look, because it was a nice moment with just the two of us and a chance to collect ourselves before the ceremony.- Gretchen and Paul
Formal photos have the potential to take up the entire cocktail hour, which is why the cocktail hour even began as a thing to do. If you have ever been a guest at a wedding and felt like it took hours for the wedding party to return so that you could eat or get on with the night, then a first look would be right for you. You do not have to sacrifice the photos you want while maintaining a balance of seeing all the friends and family that have traveled to see you. A majority of the portraits can be done beforehand to avoid running out of time later.
We did see each other before the wedding. It was 100% the right choice for us. Walking down the aisle in front of so many people was one of the most anxiety inducing thoughts of the whole wedding process for me, so we knew a first look would be necessary. I don’t remember most of it – it was a blur – but I do remember being able to take a deep breath and look into his eyes, which really helped lower my anxiety level. Linda captured such incredible pictures of us during this moment and she was able to do it without either of us noticing.- Emily and Dustin
Not everyone wants to experience this special moment in front of hundreds of people. It’s not a secret that you don’t get much of alone time on your wedding day either. Make it a point to spend a few special minutes together to love on each other, cry happy tears, or just tell the other “ You look hot!” The big reveal during the first look can be even more magical when feel you are not on stage for everyone’s viewing enjoyment.
Makeup Touch Ups
Our first look was one of the best parts of the day. I knew walking down the aisle, seeing him for the first time, was going to be extremely emotional and I didn’t want to cry like a baby! So the first look allowed that time to be special.- Bev and Josh
After spending money on a great hair and make up artist, you really don’t want that to be ruined by mascara streaking down your face. If you think you may be emotional, your hair and makeup artist can stick around for touch ups after the First Look so that you are picture perfect! Doing a First look allows for a majority of the formal photos to be taken when your hair and makeup looks fresh and when you are feeling like the best bride.
Stick with Tradition
We didn’t see each other or speak to each other before the wedding. I even had to leave the house that he was staying in at midnight the night before because it was technically the wedding day! Case wanted the first time he sees me to be when I walked down the aisle and that was a good decision I think because it made the ceremony really special.- Kelly and Case
There have been many reasons why a First look can benefit your plans for the day. However, don’t let anyone pressure you into it. Photographers like doing it because it ensures our time for photos isn’t cut short if the day starts to run behind. For years, you may have envisioned the moment your fiancé sees you walking towards him at the end of the aisle as being the best part of the ceremony. There are no rules that have to be followed so you both do what feels right for you!