I get so many questions from my brides about whether or not she and her fiancé should do a first look on their wedding day. Most immediately just write it off, claiming that they don't want to take away from the experience of walking down the aisle and risk ruining THE reaction from their groom that so many brides dream about. Now, before I go any further, I must admit that I, myself, was one of those individuals. My husband and I decided against doing a first look, which ended up working just fine for us. It's not for everybody, and that's completely okay! But before you simply throw the idea of a first look away, consider these few things:
Wedding days go by quickly. It's just a fact. The day may start off slow and relaxed, but the closer it gets to the actual ceremony, time begins to fly! Before you know it, you're making your grand exit after a fun night of celebrating with your closest friends and family. As a photographer, I'm constantly reminding my couples to just take a second to enjoy the moment. Time goes by way too fast. First looks, however, are a great way to just slow down time for a little while, and enjoy a private moment with the man or woman you're about to marry. Time stands still for a little while when it's just you and your best friend, your soul mate, and the person you are about to commit your life to. There are no other distractions, it's just you two.
Which brings me to my next point. On the wedding day, it is rare that a bride and groom get very much alone time together, if any. With all the hustle and bustle of getting ready, taking photos, and then being around your guests, you're basically surrounded by people the entire day. Which is great! But with a first look, it gives you a time to just be together alone. To express your excitement, nervousness, and giddiness over this long-awaited day to one another. There are so many pent up emotions on your wedding day, and first looks allow you to just let those emotions flow freely in a private setting. When you wait to have your first look as you're walking down the aisle, you're not able to share those emotions with your partner as freely as if you were alone. You'll want to tell your bride how absolutely stunning she looks in that dress, or your groom how nicely he cleans up. Heck, you'll want to just embrace them and maybe even cry! First looks give you that opportunity, but without 100+ pairs of eyes staring at you.
And finally, first looks extend your wedding day. What I mean by that is, you'll be able to get most of the family and bridal party portraits done before the actual ceremony, which will allow more time for FUN (and who doesn't like that?!). Instead of having to rush through all of those during cocktail hour, you'll actually be able to go enjoy yourself as a newly married couple with all of your wedding guests without the stress of having to get all the pictures done!
And as a photographer, I have to quickly mention one thing - lighting! If your ceremony is later in the evening, right around the time it gets dark, I strongly recommend to my clients that they choose to do a first look. That way, we can utilize the beautiful light while it's still available to us to do all the photos. Okay, moving on!
First looks are not meant for everyone. Like I said, it's okay to not want to do one, and I like to respect what my couples choose to do for their wedding day. But in all the weddings that I've photographed where the bride and groom chose to do a first look, I can say that it certainly does not ruin or take away from the experience of walking down the aisle. Sure, the groom may have gotten all of his crying out during the first look (although, ladies, cut him some slack if he doesn't cry), but I can assure you, he'll still be beaming ear to ear as you walk down towards him! He'll still think you are the most gorgeous person in the world, and he'll just be so excited to get to marry you, and that's all that matters!