Your wedding day is a day that you will never forget. Seeing your loved one stand at the alter waiting for you to join is a sweet and special moment for everyone involved. Traditionally, Walking down the aisle was the first time a bride would see her groom on their wedding day, but now that isn’t always the case. Many couples have decided to have a more private first look including only the bride, groom, and the photographer before the ceremony begins. The decision to keep with tradition and forego a non-traditional first look or to share a moment with your loved one before the ceremony has proven to be confusing for some couples. To help make this decision a little easier we have asked some of our previous brides and photographers and compiled a blog that can help you decide on whether or not to have a first look.
Keeping with tradition and saving your first look for your ceremony comes with its benefits. Sweet pictures of the groom seeing his bride for the first time as she glides down the aisle is always a magical moment. One of our brides Megan Crane shared with us this memory from her big day: “I have enjoyed attending weddings since I was a little girl, my favorite part of a wedding is hands down when the groom sees the bride for the first time! It's like for a minute they are alone in their own world. At our wedding, the excitement of seeing Justin [Her Groom] built up all morning and well into the evening. When I saw him for the first time walking down the aisle, my heart exploded with anticipation, excitement and the most love I have ever felt. It was truly magical, like a fairy tale moment that I have dreamt of my entire life.” This is one reason couples choose to stick to tradition. This also allows all of your guests, especially the parents of the bride and groom, to share this special moment with you.
Justin & Megan Crane
Photos: Simply Morgan Photography
choosing to forego a first look doesn’t mean that you have to give up a private moment with your groom before the ceremony. Many couples share special gifts, vows, or even a prayer with one another, typically on either side of a door holding hands to connect them, without having to physically see each other before the ceremony. One of our brides Rachel McMahon shared with us why her and her husband decided to do just that, “From the start, my husband had always said he did not want to do a first look, he wanted to go the traditional route, which I was totally fine with. I liked the idea of writing our own vows, but my husband felt like sharing our personal, intimate vows in front of our guest would be a little uncomfortable, so he had the idea to write our own vows, share them privately before the ceremony without seeing each other and to do traditional vows during the ceremony. At first I was skeptical, as I had never seen this done before, but I thought it was the perfect compromise for us both.
Ryan & Rachel McMahon
Photos: Abby Breaux Photography
Fifteen minutes before our ceremony, Ryan and I shared the vows we had written for each other privately with just our photographers capturing the moment, and IT WAS PERFECT! Not only was it so reassuring to hear his voice before our big moment but it built the suspense for our ceremony and allowed me to get my tears out and under control. Our decision to do this was by far my favorite part of our big day, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”
Andrew & Vanessa Bearden
Photos: Andrea Marie Photo
If you’re nervous on your big day seeing your loved one before the ceremony can significantly calm your nerves. It gives you a moment with one another to truly remember what the day is about before the craziness of wedding day celebrations take over. It can also allow for more relaxed and raw emotions because the moment is just between the two of you. One of our brides Rebecca Phromalla shared with us why she choose to do a first look: “For us, having a moment to ourselves on our day was so important. With a first look, we were able to share each other’s excitement and joy before the ceremony. Being able to completely give into the emotions that we were having and taking that time for us was one of my favorite parts of that day. I am so happy that we did a first look because both of us were so overcome with emotion when we did see each other, and we were able to express ourselves privately in such a beautifully intimate moment.”
Alan & Rebecca Phromalla
Photos: Dasha Crawford Photography
Another benefit of having a first look is that it enables you to take more photos before the wedding begins so that you’re more likely to be able to actually make it to cocktail hour. Bride Rebecca Phrommala said, “Another perk to doing a first look was that it allowed us to take most of our photos together and with our bridal party before the ceremony, saving time afterwards so that we could quickly join family and friends!” Having a first look also allows your photographer to capture intimate pictures of the two of you together. During the ceremony this can be harder because the bride and groom aren’t standing together until the bride reaches the alter. Photographer Hillary Nichols from Hillary Leah Photography shared with us her and her husbands decision on whether or not to have a first look, “Personally, my husband and I had a first look. It was such a sweet intimate moment. He was against it from the beginning. But, a fellow photographer friend mentioned that she loved first looks because you don't share that moment with anyone else. YOU get to see your spouse for the first time alone and don't share that with anyone but yourselves. That stuck with him and changed his mind about seeing me!"
Photos: Hillary Leah Photography
Although the decision to do a first look should be based off of what you and your groom want there are also logistical reasons to consider as well. Photographer Hillary Nichols talks about these logistics by stating, "As a wedding photographer, I always allow my clients to choose whether or not they want to do a "first look" on their wedding day. I don't like to sway, but rather educate my clients on what their photo timeline looks like AND the lighting. I always encourage my clients to shape their timeline around their first look decision. For instance, if you are getting married in the Winter and do not want a first look, have an earlier ceremony time to make sure you aren't fighting daylight or stressed about fitting pictures in before it gets dark. Always consult with your photographer before print invitations to make sure your ceremony time allows for the pictures you want and not feel rushed. Don't forget about a first look with your mom, dad, and/or gal pals!"
Choosing to do a first look or choosing not to is only one of the many decisions that you will have to make during your wedding planning process. We hope that this blog will help make this decision a little easier. As always, Happy Planning!!