When Dave and I were married four and a half years ago (WOW time flies!) we had no idea what a First Look was. Heck, we knew nothing about getting married except that we wanted too! Before I walked down the aisle I was a ball of nerves. For me it was a matter of butterflies, anxiety, and an overwhelming feeling of being excited. Kind of like your first day of school mixed with the thought of meeting Santa Claus in the flesh. I really had no idea what to think at that moment except that I needed to breath into a paper bag, immediately.
Our "first look" of each other was walking down the aisle. It was beautiful and I treasured that moment as my dad lead me towards my future husband. But what I missed, not seeing Dave before the ceremony, was my husband whispering in my ear "You are beautiful" and his gentle embrace as we enjoyed our moment together. Instead we shared that moment with 100 people staring at us, saying those things with glances from across the room. All while I tried to wipe the tears from my eyes and the snot from my nose. It was raw emotion that I wanted to share with Dave but instead we moved right into the ceremony.
Looking back, if we had known, we would have done a First Look. For us, seeing each other before the ceremony, would have been a time to enjoy each other and reflect on the commitment we were about to make.
So you might be wondering, why people choose to not see each other before the ceremony in the first place. After a quick Google search, this is what I found.
This is an excerpt from www.snopes.com: "Though in older times it was customary for the about-to-be-married to accompany each other on the walk to the church on their wedding morning, modern custom dictates that bride and groom not see each other before the ceremony. Why this is so is a bit of a mystery, with the most popular guess so far postulating that the build-up to the lady's unveiling at the altar possibly keeps the groom from getting cold feet and rethinking the whole matter."
Keeping that in in mind, here are some good reasons why to see each other before:
-The bride and groom are relaxed, after being able to see each other.
-There is no stress from trying to hide each before the ceremony.
-Many of the photographs of the groom and bride along with the bridal party and family formals can be taken BEFORE the ceremony. That leaves time for you to mix and mingle at your cocktail or have a long receiving line, without worrying about interfering with your portrait time. This also means that your friends and family can immediately enjoy their time at the reception.
-Typically if the couple decides to see each other before the ceremony, we have much more time for photographs. This is particularly important the later in the year it gets. With less time and light to work with, the less time we have for portraits with the couple.
- Like, I talked about in my own experience above, the couple get to see each other alone for the first time, instead of in front of a large crowd of people. That raw emotion they are feeling, they can express to each other, privately.
- Likewise, since you are not in front of all of your guests, family and friends, the groom typically feels more comfortable to express himself and will more likely have a genuine reaction upon seeing his bride.
So how does the First Look work?
The bride and groom will typically get dress separately. We will pick a place mutually agreed upon place to have the First Look. I will have the groom arrive at that location first, give him a hug and remind him that this is their moment together and to enjoy seeing his bride for the first time!
I will then give the bride a head's up that we are good to go, and typically she will walk up behind her groom and tap him on the shoulder. From here, I will back up, put on a longer lens, and allow the bride and groom to have a moment all to themselves. The groom and bride feel comfortable to express themselves completely since they are alone together. Typically, some of the most emotional and powerful images that I photograph on a wedding day, come from the First Look. After the couple gives me a signal that they are ready, we will take a few moments to photograph the couple.
There are many benefits to choosing to do a First Look but it is not for everyone. I hope that you have a bit more information to make an educated decision on what is right for you!
And with that, here is my favorite image from OUR wedding day!